Reading Refuge Refocus

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I've taken a break the last few years from blogging. Instagram is my favorite place to hang out and quickly share updates on what I've been doing. You can find me @reading_refuge or @victoriousventure.  I am not as obSEUSSed as I used to be.  I still love children's books and reading but I've shifted my focus to creating a Reading Refuge in my home and in our community.

When I started this blog was a stay-at-home mom who volunteered in our community, church and school.  I also did freelance public/media relations and other freelance work from home.  Three years ago I took a job at our local high school as an ESL advocate.  That means I advocate for the students who are learning English, many of whom are refugees or immigrants. I have been working with the refugee community for the past eight years. It has opened up a whole new world to seeing the challenges these families face as they are displaced from their dangerous homelands.

I strongly believe that if you "read a refugee a book he'll read for a day, teach a refugee to read and he'll read for a lifetime." I currently have a little free library in my office at school for ESL students to take books home to trade or keep.
We had a donation drive and were able to get all of these beautiful Usborne books for their classroom.  It is difficult to find more age appropriate books on their level.  Our school library doesn't have any beginning reader levels.  These books were eye catching and gave them a variety of fiction and non-fiction options.  If you haven't ever checked out Usborne you can contact a salesperson in your area to take a look. Thanks to my friend Coralie at Usborne for helping us get all of these at a discount with our donations.

We have over 52 languages spoken by the students at our school. We have some ESL students who are just learning their alphabet and learning to use the computer for the first time, and other students who came during elementary school and they are on track to graduate and attend college.

I have also had plans to build a little free library for my front yard that will be called the Reading Refuge.  I believe that reading creates a refuge for all of us.  A place to get away from the worldly challenges around us.

Here are a couple reading refuge spots I created in our home.
We built an addition on our house to create this library room.

And our reading loft has most of our children's books. The rest of their books are in their bedrooms.

I hope to continue sharing our reading adventures on this blog but it will not be as often because we will be creating more reading refuge opportunities. Join us on Instagram @reading_refuge.

Dream Author Panel and Our Favorite Family Books

Monday, May 15, 2017

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors?  
I've taken my children to meet authors at local events when possible but I'd love to attend a book conference to meet a large group of authors at once. I thought it would be fun to share my dream author list if I could pick any author/character past or current to be on a book panel. I am sharing my choices and each of my family members' lists. 
As always I encourage you to check books out at your local library first but I provide links to Amazon (affiliate) so you can see more descriptions and photos. If you purchase items, I receive a small percentage. Thank you.

 My Dream Author Panel choices would be:
  1. Dr. Seuss (Theodor Giesel). Of course. He passed away while I was in High School but I'd love to hear him speak if I had the chance. I'd have so many questions to ask him. I'd love to go visit the museum in his home town.
  2. Malala Yousafzai (I am Malala). Our family volunteers helping refugees in our community and her story is very poignantly written. Malala now takes refuge in Canada and inspires women all over the world.
  3. Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie series).  Our family dresses up and volunteers as pioneers at a local historic park weekly each summer. (This is the Place Park)  We love living history and connecting to the past. My children love Laura's stories.
  4. Mary Poppins (P.L. Travers). I'd want to meet the character. I dressed as her for Halloween one year. 
Our Mary Poppins and Bert costumes for Halloween.

My husband reads the most in our family. He finishes a book about every three days. He would love the chance to see these authors at a conference.
1. J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings author)
3. Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time fantasy series)
2. Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy: Mistborn, Reckoners, Stormlight, Evil Librarians, Warbreaker, Elantris, and helped complete Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time)

My 13-year-old daughter would love to see:
  1. Jessica Day George (Dragon Slippers, Tuesday's at the Castle series). She's met her several times but would love to see her on a panel.
  2. Nancy Drew.  Although written by many ghost writers, penned by Carolyn Keen, she'd like Nancy Drew herself to be on a panel.  
  3. Wendy Mass (The Candy Makers)
  4. Brandon Mull (The Candy Shop War, Spirit Animals, Fablehaven, The Beyonders) He is a favorite of my son and daughter. They met him at our local Comic Con.
  5. Roald Dahl. (Matilda, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, The B.F.G.) He is a favorite to read-aloud in our house.

My 11-year-old son would love to see:
  1. Brian Selznick (Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck, The Marvels)
  2. Tom Angleberger (Darth Paper Strikes Back, Origami Yoda series) My son loves origami!
  3. J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter himself. 
  4. Dragonology- Dr. Ernest Drake (make believe author).  A mythological book that inspires my son to draw pictures of dragons like this:

My youngest son is 6 and has loved finding books to read on his own. Although he is getting more into short chapter books, his favorite picture books to re-read are:
  1. Jihyeon Lee (Pool)  He loves wordless picture books that he can make up his own stories to.
  2. Mo Willems (Elephant & Piggie and Pigeon Drives a Bus series)
  3. Jon Klassen (This is not my Hat series)
  4. Jeffrey Brown (Darth Vader /Star Wars / Jedi Academy series)

EventBrite is the site I use to sign up for the majority of my events and conferences and I use them when planning events to keep track of who is attending.  Check them out if you are planning an event. They were free to use and have great tools for managing the attendee list. (This post is not sponsored.)

This image shows all our favorites together. Easy to save to Pinterest so you can remember books to grab the next time you're at the library.  
Leave a comment below telling me which authors you've met or would like to see on a book panel at a conference.

Announcing the obSEUSSed Little Free Library Coming Soon

Thursday, March 2, 2017

In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, March 2, I have a special announcement to make. I am building the Obseussed Little Free Library and plan to open it this spring in front of our house. I've been planning to build one for the past five years and finally have my plaque so I can get started.

This blog will start to shift focus a little as we will start to highlight our journey building a Little Free Library and becoming librarians in our neighborhood. Of course our library will be designed with a nod to Dr. Seuss. I'll be filling it with a variety of children's books.
Some of you may wonder what a Little Free Library is. It was started as a community book exchange and became a non-profit organization helping other communities organize and run book exchanges (libraries). The book exchange idea is to "Take a book, return a book." Individuals may decide to build a small library holding 20-100 books to place in their front yard, community park, garden or publicly accessed area with permission. The goal is to promote literacy and create places to connect communities of book lovers.
Little Free Libraries are spreading across the nation and the world. It looks like there are about 23 registered in Salt Lake City currently but I know more are operating and may not be registered. "By November, 2016 there were 50,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world. They are represented in 50 states and more than 70 countries." (from

We have had several little free libraries popping up around the area.  One of my favorite libraries in our neighborhood that we frequent is the Vickmorr (Instagram @vickmorr). My kids love to stop by and trade books. They always have fun themed books for special holidays or author celebrations. 

They added a lot of new books, decor and more to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday today.

Another one that I love to follow on Instagram is Sir Owen, the little free library. (Instagram @sirowenlfl).
This is also in our town. Isn't it gorgeous! They have a little bench next to it and set up a Christmas tree for the holiday season. Their posts are very creative and the way they interact with their patrons is inspiring.

I will continue to blog about children's books, activities and crafts but I will also venture into young adult books as my oldest child just became a teenager recently.

We'll keep you posted on our progress for our obSEUSSed Little Free Library.

If you're looking for some additional fun ways to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday, check out 20 of my favorite obSEUSSed with Dr. Seuss activities, crafts, snacks and party ideas here.

Follow me on instagram where I post more frequently than I do on my blog. (Instagram @obSEUSSed_victoria)

Plus I’ve collected more than 1,500 ideas on several Pinterest boards.  Check out boards for Dr. Seuss parties, classrooms, crafts, Grinchmas, activities and more
obSEUSSedPinterestBoardVisit Victoria Saley @obSEUSSed's profile on Pinterest.

Read with your children today. That is the most important thing.

Best Dr. Seuss Games for Families Review

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Our family loves Dr. Seuss and we love board games (we own over 100) so I want to share a new Dr. Seuss game we tried this month and share our favorite Dr. Seuss games your family will love.
Wonder Forge, the company that creates a variety of Dr. Seuss and other children's games, sent us Thing Two and Thing One Whirly Fun! to review.


I let my 6 and 11 year old sons open the game and they figured out how to play it by themselves. Then they taught me.  You set up the house in the box with the furniture pieces in their appropriate places. The mom is on the sidewalk on her way home. You draw cards that tell you to spin Thing 1, a crazy spinning top that is a fun toy on its own. Thing 1 makes a mess in the house. Other cards tell you to pick up items of a certain color or in a certain room. Other cards tell you to move Mom closer to the house. The goal is to have the house picked up by the time Mom gets home.
Here is a video clip of my kids playing the game.


My kids loved making Thing One spin and watching it make a mess. In fact, if it didn't knock very much down they decided to double spin to try to get a few more pieces. The game was easy enough for them to set up all by themselves although the cardboard room divider was not very strong and ripped through the top corner the second time we played the game. A little tape can hold it for future use.
My favorite thing about this game is that it promotes cooperative team play. Everyone takes turns making messes and cleaning up trying to get clean before Mom gets home. There isn't just one winner. The game moves quickly so they can play several rounds in 15 minutes. If they didn't beat mom the first round, they can try playing again. Play until you win. 

I also love that the game is very affordable and makes a great gift for only $17. (On sale right now for only $10 with Amazon Prime). I've also seen it on the shelf at Walmart. I am an Amazon affiliate and appreciate you using these links if you decide to purchase. I was given this game free to review but will by buying one to give as a gift for a friend.  We really love the Dr. Seuss games by Wonderforge. 

We own a huge stack of Dr. Seuss games.  We have reviewed several in the past.  Check out the 

TOP 6 Dr. Seuss Games- 

These are the games my kids play the most. I asked them and they voted on their favorites.

1.  What's in the Cat's Hat - Fun to hide objects from around your house inside the hat and have children select question cards for clues. See my review here.
2. Super Stretchy ABC - Dr. Seuss style Twister with letters. Helps children with letter recognition and sounds.
3. Thing Two and Thing One Whirly Fun!
4. Dr. Seuss One Fish Two Fish Search Game (currently unavailable on Amazon) See my review here.
5. Dr. Seuss Charades Game - Even kids can play charades with picture cards. See my review here.
6. Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! Game - A very active game. Fun for parents to try to play along. See my review here.
Not all are available on Amazon at regular prices anymore but you can check ebay or your local classifieds. I've also picked up an extra The Cat in the Cat I Can Do That! game at the thrift store to give to a friend so check there for games not in stores anymore. Again, these are my affiliate links.

Below my son is on the Super Stretchy ABC Game, a kid size twister where kids take turns recognizing letters and sounds.

Here are a few vintage games I have but they don't get played as often.  All the new games from Wonder Forge are much more kid friendly. I'd love to turn some of these vintage boards into wall displays or craft with them somehow but for now they sit in the game closet.

Click here to Visit Wonder Forge to see all of their Dr. Seuss games and puzzles. 

*Disclosure: I received a free copy of the 'Thing Two Thing One Whirly Fun’ game from Wonder Forge for review. We previously owned many of their games because we love them. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Wonder Forge games can be found online or at local stores like Toys 'R Us, Target and Wal-mart. They also offer many other pre-school and grade school appropriate games such as Richard Scarry's Busy Town, Curious George and Chugginton series. 

Thanks for stopping by. Take a look around for more Dr. Seuss book/craft/activity/celebration ideas.

Voting for the Cat in the Hat this Election

Saturday, October 29, 2016

(This is a children's book blog and is not affiliated with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, although I share a lot of activities and crafts featuring his books.)

Are you struggling with knowing who to vote for? Look no further. I've got the answer for you.  It is time we had a leader who can make a difference and who cares about our children's future.
I suggest to you, The Cat in the Hat for President in 2016.

Dr. Seuss Vote Election Cat in the Hat President
Yes, I really am undecided this year due to not having a strong lead candidate.  We won't be debating actual candidates here or in the comments, but I think the campaign Dr. Seuss Enterprises is running is brilliant.
Dr. Seuss Vote Election Cat in the Hat President Fundecided
Head over to the Cat in the Hat for President Campaign Headquarters and you can vote for your favorite cause to receive a $10,000 donation.  Isn't that a great idea?

You can choose to support Education, Ocean Conservation, Environment, Fighting Hunger and Kindness.  Easy as two clicks. Fighting hunger is leading as of when I voted.  Share the link with your friends and encourage them to vote too.

I found this book at our school book fair a few weeks ago.  It is a great introduction to the election process put in Dr. Seuss style rhyme and easy for younger children to understand.  
Dr. Seuss Vote Election Cat in the Hat President book

Read and Discuss with Your child
This is a perfect book to read with your child then follow-up with a discussion on their age level about the current election and explain to them who you plan to vote for and why.  Doing that actually made me think harder about the current candidates and who I would feel good about telling my kids I'm supporting. It made me think about which candidate would make the best impact on our future for my children's lives. 

Teaching Children About the Election
My kids had some great comments and told me things they had heard at school too (some nice and some not so nice - other students are listening to their parents and learning a lot).  As we discuss politics we should be aware of listening ears and let it be a teaching moment for our children.  I used to take my children with me to the voting polls but now with mail-in ballots I showed them my ballot to let them see we are voting for more than just president this year.
We watched a little bit of a debate together but I decided it was not appropriate for my kids to continue watching.  I read through the transcripts the next day on my own then told them about certain topics.  My 5th grader is learning about the voting process, electoral college and branches of the government at school this year and will have a mock opportunity to vote.

Family Vote
It would be fun to have your own mock election at home and make slips of paper for each person with the names of the candidates and have them vote then tally the votes to see if there is a consensus or tie.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises held a press conference at Dr. Seuss' childhood home to release their new book.

Dr. Seuss Vote Election Cat in the Hat President WAMC

I really want one of these yard signs.
Dr. Seuss Vote Election Cat in the Hat President yard sign

Now click over Dr. Seuss to VOTE! for your favorite cause now.
Dr. Seuss Vote Election Cat in the Hat President sq

Leave a comment below with suggestions of how we can teach our children about the election or politics in general. (Please no debating the current candidates.)


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