Smarties, I’m thrilled to introduce you to this week’s Smarty Mom, Carrie Wielechowski! I have known Carrie for six years as our oldest started kindergarten together. Over the years, I’ve watched Carrie grow into her various roles of volunteerism, most recently as the leader of our second grade book club.
Carrie is in her element influencing children to read the most incredible books and finding the most clever crafts to tie in perfectly with the monthly book selection. I look to Carrie for her guidance in our family reads. She truly has a gift!
So I found it most fitting for you all to get to know Carrie!
Carrie’s Smarty Mom Stats
Mom of: Grace(11), Helen(8) and John(3)
Married to: Tim, 16 years
Years in Charlotte: 10
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom extraordinaire
As leader of a 2nd grade book club, how do you find age appropriate and inspiring books to read?
My mom is a retired teacher and she hooked me on children’s literature! I grew up in the 80’s reading the classics (Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume) and now I enjoy reading current kid’s lit and finding titles to hook my kids on books!
I often check out on-line children’s literature blogs before heading to the library or the bookstore. These are blogs written by librarians and teachers and they keep up with the world of children’s books. They review books, interview authors and provide helpful lists, so you can find quality books in the category your child is most interested in (adventure, funny, mystery etc.). Here are my favorites:
“Read Kiddo Read” book lists for all age groups, infant to teen.
“From the Mixed Up Files” blog – This is a great blog about books for middle grade readers.
INK blog – (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) A great resource for readers who like science, history, biographies- just the facts!
“Chicken Spaghetti blog”– Awesome book lists from all over the web, makes it easy to find award winners and popular picks.
Another fun reading resource on the web is “Librarything”, a website which allows you to create a virtual library (a list of all the titles you have read, or would like to read (showing the book covers)). My daughters and I have individual accounts and it is a great way to keep track of what we’ve read. The website then offers suggestions of what to read next (based on what you have enjoyed already). They love entering the books they finish and seeing their personal library on the computer!
The best kept secret in Charlotte for quality children’s literature is the Cardinal Lane Book Sale held in early June of each year at a warehouse in South End. Great selection of children’s lit for 40% off or more. The staff is very knowledgeable as well. I let my daughters spend an hour just browsing and choosing. We splurge for books at this sale, and then they have a stack of great titles to read throughout the summer!
What is your favorite book that you and your girls have read together?
The Penderwicks: A summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits and a very interesting boy by Jeanne Birdsall (great for girls ages 8-12, reminded me of a modern day Little Women!)
How do you find questions to engage the young book club readers?
Books open the doors of the world to children: other times and places, other people’s experiences, their emotions including their joys and hardships. It is interesting to hear what parts of the book stand out to our book club members. We usually start by talking about what happened in the beginning, middle, and then the end of the story. What were we surprised about? What did we think of the characters? Another good question for young readers is, “Has that ever happened to you? Or what would you have done if you were the main character?” We always ask our members for their “favorite” part or scene, and they all love to share!
How do you find activities that compliment the book for each meeting?
Second graders are still developing readers, so we try to make our book club meetings not just about the text of the story, but about bringing the book to life. So we usually tie an activity to each meeting.
For example, when we read If I Lived 100 Years Ago, by Ann McGovern, each mom and daughter brought in an item from a century ago. We searched our homes for antique items! The girls looked at one of the first cameras made, “a boot buttoner “that laced women’s high button boots and a doll from one of our member’s grandmothers. It made it easier for the girls to imagine what life was like back then.
It can also be fun to do what the character does in a story. After reading The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh, a story about a pioneer girl, we sat outdoors on a blanket for our book discussion and tried beef jerky, cornbread and toffee candy, like Sarah did in the story. Then we all went for a short hike in the woods. It is fun to come up with activities that will help the girls remember our chosen books.
What is the funniest thing your kids have ever said?
In church this past week, the lights were dimmed, Mass was just beginning and the organist began to play and sing. John, my 3 year old, earnestly asks in his best, whisper-in-church voice, “Mom, is that God singing?”
What is your favorite spring activity to do as a family?
Everything outdoors! This year, both my girls are participating in Rodney’s Kids Triathlon uptown at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center, so we have been doing lots of running and swimming since the weather has warmed up- We also love to shoot basketball in the driveway and the girls love to rollerblade with their friends in the neighborhood.
Favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
Jason’s Deli- Love the salad bar, a variety of choices for the kids and of course the free soft serve ice cream!
Favorite gal pals lunch spot
Cowfish for burgers and sushi and book talk on favorite adult titles! (Best recently, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand)
Best date night outing?
Red wine and Italian food at Fiamma or catching up with our friends at Good Food on Montford.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since becoming a mom?
Peanut butter really does help get gum out of hair!
Which reminds me of my favorite sayings “Patience is your ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears!”
Patience, oh so critical on a daily basis in motherhood!
Favorite thing about being a mother?
Bedtime reading of course, and watching their eyes shine when they tell me about something funny that happened at school.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still carpooling to school and sports with my youngest! Spending time watching my kids grow and set out for their next chapter in life.
I could not live without my…
Family and friends, morning coffee and my library card!