Warning Lights and Railroad Hats

Have you ever thought about how the Aircraft Warning Light at the top of The Empire State Building gets changed? Me neither! I’ve watched TV shows, read books, and even built a LEGO model of the iconic building, but I had never once thought about how the light at the top needs to be changed from time to time.


I love it when Bubba and I come across a book that makes you think about completely random things like Aircraft Warning Lights, and the other day we had two books (back-to-back) that did just that!


The first one was called, The Top Job by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. This book begins on Career Day at a school. The students are telling their classmates all about the interesting jobs their parents do each day, so the class learns about parents who are jewelers, UFO hunters, and racecar drivers. When a little girl gets up in front of the class to talk about how her father changes light bulbs, all the kids start laughing. Those laughs quickly disappear as the girl describes the journey her father takes to change the light bulb on the top of the Empire State Building. By the end of the book, the teacher is asking if the class could go to work with the girl and her father sometime!

Top Job

The second book was called, Stormy’s Hat: Just Right for a Railroad Man. It’s written by Eric A Kimmel, and it tells the story of a railroad man (Stormy) who is searching for the perfect hat to wear on his train. He tries a cowboy’s hat, a fireman’s helmet, a pressman’s hat, and others before he finally listens to his wife (Ida). She designs and makes a hat that meets Stormy’s specifications, and once the other railroad workers see how well it works, Stormy and Ida open a factory to produce their hats for all the railroad workers who want one. It’s Ida’s design that we still see today!

Stormy's Hat

Just like the aircraft warning lights on the Empire State Building, I had seen railroad hats hundreds of times. And just like those warning lights, I had never really thought much about railroad hats. I had never thought about who came up with the design, and I definitely never thought about why it’s shaped the way it is, but the story behind it was really interesting.


I love stories like these… stories that make you think about something you see all the time in a whole new light! I’d highly recommend checking these two books out… and if you know of any other picture book like this, please leave a comment and name of the book!

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A Library Card For The Youngest Kids

Bubba loves cars. And trucks. And tractors. And trains. And boats. Basically, he loves anything with an engine that moves! He’s been in this phase for a while now, and I don’t see any signs of exiting the phase any time soon. For example, we recently went to a graduation where he held on to a blue matchbox car the ENTIRE time (the drive there, during the whole 2+ hour ceremony, and on the way home)!


There’s only one non-engine-powered item that Bubba will hold on to with the same ferocity… His library card!

My First Library Card

A couple months ago, our library started offering a “My First Library Card” to children ages birth to six, so I made sure Bubba got one of his own!


The idea behind the card is to have it act like a training card for the littlest of kids and to help foster their love for reading. The card allows Bubba to check out up to 10 books at a time (without fines) and expires when he turns six. At that time, he’ll get a regular “big kid” library card. How cool is that?!


Obviously I’m not the only person who thinks the card is pretty cool – Bubba holds on to it like it’s one of his cars, trucks, or tractors. Before we start walking over to the library, I hand him his card. When we get back home, I have to pry it from his fingers! He doesn’t want to let it go! I’m always surprised when he willingly hands it over to the librarian to be scanned, because he never willingly hands it over to me!


I’m so glad our library started offering the “My First Library Card,” and I hope others will do the same! It’s kind of nice having something other than a car or truck in his hands once in a while!


Bubba and his card


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Fight Summer Boredom with a CWIST

If you have a chance today, head over to The Onmibus Publishing’s website… I wrote a guest blog about a website that will help parents fight summer boredom!  I’m not sure how long the post will be on their website, so go check it out!  Here’s the link:


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Is It Normal to Know Your Library Card Number By Heart?

Here’s an interesting fact about me: I never lose or misplace anything!  Seriously… just ask my wife!  Wait, maybe you better not!

I seem to be losing/misplacing things a lot lately… so when I couldn’t find my wallet the other day, I was more than a little concerned!

I’d had my wallet at a restaurant on Saturday evening, but on Sunday morning I couldn’t find it anywhere!

Unfortunately, the restaurant that we had dinner at was closed on Sunday, so I spent the entire day searching the house and thinking about all the things I would need to do if my wallet wasn’t at the restaurant when I called on Monday morning.

Like most people, I thought about how I would need to cancel my credit and debit cards and get a new driver’s license (and I really liked the picture on my license!)…

I love this picture, but my wife has never been a big fan of it!

I love this picture, but my wife has never been a big fan of it!

but the first thing I thought about when I thought I might have lost everything was replacing my library card!

That’s right, the first thing I thought about was replacing my library card!

library card

To be more precise, I thought about how I would need to learn a new library card number if I had to replace it.  Is that normal?  Does anybody else know their library card number by heart?  I can’t be the only person, right?!

Luckily, my wallet was still there when I called the restaurant the next day so I didn’t need to get a new library card (or driver’s license)…  Disaster averted!


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Excited About Signed Books

A few weeks ago at the Illinois Reading Conference, I had the opportunity to add a bunch of books to Bubba’s signed books collection. I always enjoy adding to his collection, but I’m going to have to come up with a new place to keep them all because his collection is growing pretty big!


Some of the books that were signed for Bubba

Some of the books that were signed for Bubba


There were a TON of amazing authors at the conference, including Mary Pope Osborne, Jon Scieszka, Eric Litwin, James Patterson, Andrea Beaty, Nic Bishop, Candace Fleming, and Dan Gutman! It’s hard not to be excited with a line-up like that… and whenever I have the opportunity to take a picture with an author, I always use my “excited face” (because my students get excited when they see how excited I am to meet an author)… so here are some of my favorites from the conference:


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Besides getting books signed for Bubba and pictures taken with some amazing authors, I also got to listen to many of those authors talk about their books, their writing process, and their personal stories.


It was an amazing couple of days!

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An Amazing Act of Generosity

A couple months ago I wrote a blog about how my Guys Read Club caused me to become a suspect in an armed robbery case. A lot of people seemed to like that post… including Bethany Barton (an author and illustrator from California).

After reading my blog, Bethany sent me a message on Twitter and asked if my Guys Read Club would like a signed copy of one of her books… and long story short, she sent the kids a signed copy her latest book, This Monster Cannot Wait!

Barton 1

Barton 2

I don’t know of any other authors who would do something like this, so please consider visiting her website and supporting her!

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Revolutionary Website for Parents – A Guest Blog

If you have a chance today, head over to The Onmibus Publishing’s website… I wrote a guest blog about a revolutionary new service for parents that’s like Netflix (but instead of getting movies delivered to your door, you get LEGO kits)!  I’m not sure how long the post will be on their website, so go check it out!  Here’s the link:


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