Book Guide by Kate Brightbill


I love books.

As a child, I was either talking or reading. My mom told me that if she just needed a few moments of quiet, she would say, "Kate, didn't you just get a book that you wanted to read?" and I was always game to go to my room to pore over it. 

If I was playing, I was talking. If I was coloring, I was talking. Always talking... so reading calmed me and kept me quiet and interested for long periods of time. My family loved when I read, and I loved when I read, so it was always a win-win.

These days, I find myself with far less time to sit and engage with a book, or even a magazine, but my love for books runs deep.

Hands down, our favorite books are from Chronicle Books. My favorite cookbook, the prettiest children's books that are worth displaying on the girls' shelves, the most interactive endlessly fun books... Chronicle really just manages to get books right. 

Because books are a great last-minute gift, and because so many of the gifts wrapped beneath our own tree are books, I wanted to share with you some favorites for friends and family that may be on your wishlist!


one. I find pretty coffee table books to be a lovely gift. I've received several over the years and I'm always thrilled when I open them. I may not have time for stories with hundreds of pages of text these days, but I'm always up for flipping through books with gorgeous photos of pretty places and spaces. My favorites are Victoria Smith's See San Francisco and Anne Sage's Sage Living.

two. I'm personally loving cookbooks that offer ideas for healthy meals to inspire my dry well of meal planning. Amanda Haas is a friend AND the incredible chef who works as Williams-Sonoma's test kitchen chef, and she created (HANDS-DOWN) my most earmarked and cooked-from cookbook, The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook. Beautiful recipes full of flavors, and practical ways to create healthy meals regularly and stock the pantry and fridge. This is the perfect gift for a friend working to be healthy in the new year, without sacrificing flavor and appeal. 

three. for a friend who loves arts and patterns, Pattern Studio is inspiration. It provides ideas for those stumped with how to explore their art further. This one is under my tree for my artistic pattern-creating sister

four. I've referenced this series of books so many times as my favorite children's books, so I cannot leave them out. These books are interactive books that tell the reader to push here or shake the book or leave a handprint, while also teaching concepts like mixing colors and cause/effects. The newest in the series is called Let's Play, and it follows the similar concept to the first two. These are a go-to gift for children and have been for years. I find ages 3-6 enjoy it most, but younger and older may like to engage with the book too.

five the Flora books. Ohhhh I love these. The illustrations are gorgeous, the colors are incredible, and the girls can create stories for themselves as they go through the pages. Sophie has these displayed on her shelf whenever they are not being read. They are gorgeous.

six. This story is a brand new one called Bunny Slopes. It's absolutely adorable. Kids shake the book and tilt the book to guide the bunny on the slopes. It's another one that my children devour-- it seems to be a pattern that my children (and a lot of others?) enjoy the books where they feel they have a part in the outcome because they are engaging all the way through in a tangible way. 

Maggie reading  Mix it Up  last year // photo by  Sarah @ModernKids

Maggie reading Mix it Up last year // photo by Sarah @ModernKids


Thank you, Chronicle Books, for partnering with me on this book gift guide. Select books were sent for review, and others we have purchased on our own over the past few years. All opinions are our own. We truly love all the stories and books we have from Chronicle, and were so pleased to be able to share our favorites with you.

Books to Love: 01 by Kate Brightbill


Our bookshelves are packed. I'm REALLY good at donating toys, passing all the clothing hand-me-downs in the right direction, and purging excess... except when it comes to books. Books we collect and it's hard to let them go. I was a reader as a child, and it makes me SO happy to see that my kids are loving books the way I have. 


Our bookshelf holds a ton of paperbacks, because let's be honest: you get the most bang for your buck! As Sophie has become a more advanced reader in first grade, the goal is quantity vs. quality in this particular scenario. Before we were accumulating the $2 books through book orders, she had basically memorized all of the books at her reading level.

We've begun a solid collection of the inexpensive paperbacks, and will continue to add to that, BUT we also want to purchase stories for the ages. We love the kind that will stand up to wear and tear, and have the scrawled childhood names of my kids in their first page, and will be read to the next generation as well. 

While Sophie is a great reader, the majority of our books are still being read aloud by Brian and me. I have read my fair share of terribly dull stories, so a huge bonus to loving the book is keeping it entertaining for parents AND kids. 

Here are our January picks for each of my kiddos:

Maggie 1. Mix it Up > this is the sequel to Press Here. Both are brilliant and I recommend them as the perfect gift for preschool ages (2-5 year olds). Mix it up is a fantastic book that asks kids to interact with the pages and "mix colors" with their fingers or hands and even by physically shaking the book. I would have absolutely loved to have this book as a child. Maggie is particularly in love with it, and she has memorized the words so that she can "read" it to herself at quiet time regularly.

Sophie 2. The True Story of The Three Little Pigs > We've had this one for awhile (I may have recommended it before), but it ended up in the back of the shelf and we hadn't read it in ages. I heard Brian laughing from the other room recently, and went in and he was reading this story to the girls. I actually sat in and listened because it really is entertaining, and I love hearing my girls giggle. "All the wolf wanted was a cup of SUGAR!" followed by a shriek of laughter. Sophie can read it herself now-- probably best for 5-7 year olds, and she does because it's a good one (also, we have it in hardcover and will keep it forever, but it's only $6 in paperback now if you prefer). 

Jack 3. Trains Go > The illustrations in this book are GORGEOUS. I love them so much that I actually looked into finding prints of the trains inside for Jack's bedroom, but so far no luck. The book does not have many words, but it has train sounds and Jack has been really enjoying it. I actually set Jack on his boppy pillow for tummy time on my bed as I get ready in the morning, and I set this book in front of him for him to enjoy the pictures as I quickly get dressed for the day. It honestly looks hilarious to have him "reading" books at 4 months, but he seems to love it, so I'll keep doing it! ;) 

There you have them: January book picks for kids! SO many more book picks to come this year. :)


Photos above by Modern Kids. Affiliate links included in post.

Library Trip: 01 by Kate Brightbill

The library is almost a weekly visit for us. Maggie turned two and ripped her first library book ever and cost us $10, but apart from that, it's amazing to let my kiddos soak in book after book after book for free. Their bookshelves are packed with books they own, but they literally cannot get enough. Even Maggie knows if I'm trying to pass off one of their books as a "new" library book (I tried it today because I was nervous about the book rip rate, haha), and they want new pictures and new stories.  

I thought I may start sharing some of the books we love once in awhile. I love getting recommendations from friends, so I'll pass on some of the books that were extra popular with us:  


Clockwise from top left:

Charlie and Lola- So far, we've loved every Charlie and Lola book. We check out a new one every time we go, and they are SO CUTE, and have bright and cheery, fresh ways of displaying the words on each page. 

Princess Kim and Too Much Truth- Funny little story about telling the truth. 

Animal Spots and Stripes- Maggie LOVED this one. Vivid pictures of animals. 

Miss Lina's Ballerinas- Obviously a hit with my 4-year-old. Rhythmic phrasing, which I enjoy reading out loud, because it's way easier. Just being honest. ;)

ABC: A Child's First Alphabet- the hardcover, un-rippable type of book that teaches letters with perfectly detailed pictures. 

Purple Little Bird- Super-cute story of a bird who discovers how much he loves colors. 


There you have it. Read away!