The One Thing That Has Brought Our Family Together: {Review & Giveaway}

UPDATE: The winners of this giveaway are Mrs. R., Colleen B and Erin K.

I have two kids in junior high now, three in school.

And I feel like I owe all parents of kids age 10+up, a big fat apology.

Because. Y’all. We have spent years trying to parent intentionally, slowing down our lives, limiting extracurricular stuff. Then this season started and I’m looking at the calendar in shock. With just one after-school activity each and church stuff, it looks like it’s going to explode.

And I’m so thankful the ignorant, naive Kristen from years past, started one very important habit.

If there has been one thing that has strengthened our family and kept us together, around the table, around a chair, around each other, it’s reading together.

Not only have our kids fallen in love with reading (yes, they are the ones with flashlights under the sheets because they just need to finish the chapter, Mom), they have fallen in love with reading together.

We’ve gone on wild adventures and learned about different cultures together. Books have led us into deeper community with each other. They have urged us to ask hard questions, press into our struggles. They have been a catalyst to richer family life.

We read around the table after dinner regularly. We also read individually with each of our kids. We pat the space next to us and say, “Let’s read, together.”

And as my kids have grown, the books have grown with us. But no matter how old they are, they want to read.

I have to tell you about the latest one that has captured my family, all of us.

My husband reads to our first grader every. night. She loves it and looks disappointed when I step in to substitute. I love that they love this time together. She is reading on her own (you know the sweet first grade KIND OF READING THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO STICK A FORK IN YOUR EYEBALL), but there’s just something about reading a chapter book together that is special.

Plus, it’s a lot quicker.

photo copy 3

Begin, the first book in the Growly Series by Phil and Erin Ulrich started out as their book. It’s an epic adventure about a little bear named Growly and my daughter begs for another chapter every time they finish one. Last night they finished chapter 17. What’s funny is I can tell you every single thing that’s happened in the adventure so far and so can my son. We just couldn’t not listen! It’s wholesome family reading at it’s best and it’s also illustrated beautifully.

photo copy 2

The vivid descriptions make it easy to imagine exactly what’s happening in the story. It’s a great book to read to your 4-7 year old and children 8-11 would enjoy reading it on their own. We can’t wait to read what happens next to Growly! It’s sure to be adventurous.

The other night it was getting late and my hubby was busy with work, so I picked up where they left off. A few paragraphs in, my husband found us cuddled up reading and asked us what had happened so far. I handed over the book and smiled.

I’m not sure who loves Growly more! You can get your own copy here for $8.99

Growly Sig 2

The author Erin, who is also my blog designer and a sweet friend, sent us a copy to read together and today she’s giving away three copies. Hop over and check out the book and the amazing pictures and leave a comment here to be entered.

And please, make time in  your crazy busy lives to read together. You won’t ever regret the adventures it takes you on!


  1. 4

    Erin H. says

    Books are a family favorite around our house as well. My husband is the playful parent, I am the cuddle-up-and-read parent (though he enjoys reading with the kids as well!). Even if I am reading a short picture book to my preschoolers, if my older children are in hearing distance they can’t help but come over and squeeze in…even if it is a 10 minute story…even if they have heard it 100 times. Growly sounds like a perfect book to read as a family – something to entertain all ages and we have 9, 7, 5 and 5. Thanks for the giveaway Kristen!

  2. 5

    Amber says

    This sounds like something my son and I would love to read together. I laughed out loud at your comment about listening to your 1st grader read! :)

  3. 9

    Andrea Shirey says

    Would love this for my 7 year old son. He has a hard time sticking with a chapter book and we’ve been searching for just the right one. Maybe this is it!

  4. 13

    Amy McG says

    We would love to have a book that we could all read together! We love reading, but we need to spend more time together reading as a family. Love it!

  5. 17

    Carla says

    Oh, this sounds like a wonderful series! I love to read and my boys enjoy it too! Some of my favorite motherhood memories are reading books with the boys and going to the library!

  6. 19

    Leanna says

    I would love to read this to my girls. We have started and stopped and started and stopped a routine reading together…would love this book to be the book we read when we start up again and don’t stop this time:)!

  7. 20

    Cara G says

    We adore reading and are always looking for new books to share with our kids (6 and 3 1/2 x 2). Thanks for giving a chance at this book for free! :)

  8. 22

    Anne Brooks says

    I love to read with my daughter Jude and she loves it as well! We are always looking for our next read. Thanks for the opportunity to join the Growly adventure :)

  9. 23


    Looks like a great book! I’ll add it to my amazon wish list :) Our family tradition is a gift of a new book each Thanksgiving. This one looks just right for my almost 5 year old who loves to be read chapter books. Thanks!

  10. 24

    Jaclyn says

    My daughter loves to be read to and is begging for longer stories, but it is so hard to find chapter books with appropriate content for such a young kid. I would love to check this out!

  11. 25

    Lisa Rawlins says

    We love reading and my kindergartener is already reading and would love this! My 3 year old enjoys us reading to him as well and often pretends to read. Great fun and family time.

  12. 26


    I’ve been wanting to read this! My 5-year-old finally has the attention span to read some longer books, and I’m looking forward to all the adventures we’ll read through together. :)

  13. 27

    Sarah says

    We would LOVE to win this book. We have three little girls 3-5 and all if them live to be read to. One in particular falls asleep every night “reading” a book. :-)

  14. 28

    Mary says

    Would love to check these out! We are starting this habit with my 3 year old and just beginning to read some easy chapter books with him.

  15. 29

    rebecca says

    We love to read together, and we’re always on the hunt for a new book. This sounds like a fun one to add to our collection!

  16. 31

    Amber says

    This sounds like the perfect addition to our growing library of chapter books! My first grader is also reading independently, but we still LOVE to read together and finding something that will keep little brother entertained as well is a definite bonus!

  17. 33

    Sarah says

    Our family loves to read as well. With two girls and two boys, we always are looking for “family” books. This looks like it would be perfect.

  18. 34

    Rachel LaManna says

    Looks like a great book (and series) – love the illustrations too! We are just beginning the reading every night with our 18 month old – would love to have this in her collection for future reading.

  19. 35

    Deb says

    That’s awesome! I read to my kids daily, I have been looking for a good first chapter book for Sophia, thanks for recommending it!!

  20. 36

    Bethany says

    My 4 year old daughter would love this! Weve just started reading chapter books aloud together, but it’s really hard to find some for her age! Some things are just too advanced for her right now, not to mention I closely monitor everything she takes in. If anyone else has ny recommendations I would greatly appreciate it!

  21. 37

    Kristina says

    We read together every night, but this is not in our library – actually the first time that I have heard of this series. I will look to purchase this for my K and 4th grader. The older one reads to the younger one quite often :) It’s starting to be a new tradition in our home.

  22. 43

    KR says

    Looks awesome! We do the same thing….we love to read together (7, 9, 12). We just finished End of the Spear based on your recommendation and would love to read this, too! Thanks!

  23. 45


    What a fun thing! Our kiddos are still very little, and I’m grateful that we are already reading to them often. We always read at bedtime, which makes for a long bedtime routine, but I know I will be glad that we do it. Thank you for this giveaway!

  24. 48

    Dana Sheets says

    This would be fantastic, we read almost every night with each other! We have an eight(almost nine) year old, a four(almost five) year old, and a twenty-one month old!

  25. 50


    This looks so wonderful!!
    have y”all read the Wilderking series?? I defy a single person in your book-loving fam NOT to puffy heart LOVE it!

  26. 51

    Staci says

    I love reading to my boys ages 10 & 5 and am always looking for new, wholesome book recommendations. Thanks for sharing your life wit me…you are such an encouragement! God bless.

  27. 53

    Brandi says

    My husband and I have been talking about starting this read together habit. This may be the *push* we need to get it started.

  28. 54

    Rachael says

    My son would LOVE this book! He is just 5 and I have been looking for books exactly like this! HE loved reading and I want to encourage it whenever possible, and good books are the best way!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. 55

    Marie says

    Would love a new book to read to my 4 almost 5 year old. Love the precious time of reading and adventures together…and all the cuddles :)

  30. 60

    Jodi H. says

    We love to read in our house too! It’s so important to instill a love for reading at a young age. My little girl is starting to read chapter books too and I’m looking forward to be able to give her some of the books I read as a young girl.

  31. 62


    thank you for this giveaway. I home school my three girls (7 (tomorrow!), 9 and 11) and we love read as a family! I’ve never heard of these books and we are always looking for new favorites! My eleven year old recently found a set of Trixie Belden books that were my Mom’s. It’s so good to enjoy the books…together. :)

  32. 64


    I am about to become a grandma for the first time and can’t wait to read old and new favorites to our grandbaby. We are a ridiculously bookish family. And we love it.


  33. 65


    LOVE this! My kids are 7 and 5. My oldest is in 1st grade and this summer I started being intentional about reading with them! I’ve been reading the Narnia series to both of them, reading the Magic Tree House books with my oldest and my 5 year old and I read Beezus & Ramona every day while we’re waiting at school pick up for her big brother.

    We’d LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to meet Growly :)

  34. 70

    Lisa says

    Our family loves reading together too!! Thanks for the tip on the book – we love finding new books and series of books that we can enjoy together. And I totally get that reading that makes you wanna stick a fork in your eye….tee hee hee

  35. 75


    As a teacher, I LOVE when parents promote reading aloud at home!! This book is available on kindle amazon prime, even to borrow, but it is captivating, and fun! I want a real copy to share around!

  36. 76

    Jodi says

    Very cool! Our family loves to read books together, too! I’m always on the look out fir good books that we can read, and Begin looks like an interesting family read that I’m adding to our book list.

  37. 79

    Carol Gifford says

    As a first grade teacher, this would be awesome to have a copy. I also have young grandchildren who love books and being read to. Looks like a great story.

  38. 80

    Kelly says

    Would you share some other titles you are reading with your older kids? Our 13 year old devours books, but still enjoys a read aloud too.

  39. 81

    Tiffany Clark says

    My kids love reading!!! And I know they would love this book…anything with adventure is right up their alley!


  40. 86

    Jodi DeJong says

    My boys would love this book! Reading aloud all snuggled on the couch is one of our very favorite things to do! Thanks for the giveaway!

  41. 92


    Looks like a fun book! I’ve just been thinking that I need to start reading my 4 year old daughter chapter books, but haven’t been sure what might be age appropriate and engaging for her. This could be a winner!

  42. 94

    Rachel says

    What a great idea! Would love to try that out with my 1st grader…who is also learning to read (I feel your pain!)!! This book sounds like it would keep our 4 yr-old entertained as well.

  43. 98

    Amanda says

    I would love to read this :) Right now we are reading through the Bible using the Child Training Bible. My daughter picks a color every night and we read those scriptures together. It is great for both of us!!

  44. 101

    Jennifer says

    This book looks gorgeous! And I’m partial to the fact it’s half written by an Aussie as I married one as well and that’s where we live!

  45. 102

    Brittany says

    We have reading lovers and reading not so lovers in our house. Luckily most of us are reading lovers. We try to read together as well. This would be a fun book.

  46. 109


    My 2nd grader, who previously hated reading, is now an avid reader. My almost 5 year old is just starting out. This would be a wonderful addition to their “library”.

  47. 118

    Rochelle D says

    I am always looking for good books to read my kids. I’m hoping to cultivate a love of reading in each of them!

  48. 120

    Sarah Jackson says

    This would be awesome for a read aloud. I actually just started looking for chapter books to read with my kids!

  49. 124


    love this! we used to read together more when they were little but have gotten away from it in recent years – definitely need to get back in the habit!
    Kathy k

  50. 125


    I read to the kids every night…none of us would have it any other way:) This book looks adorable and since all 4 of my kids are under 10 I think it would be perfect for us!

  51. 126

    amykay says

    that book looks great! we just started reading the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe to my almost 4 year old. we are having to do a lot of rewording and reminding of the storyline, but she loves it and is getting more out of it than I even imagined! we’d love to read about growly next!

  52. 129

    Niki Blake says

    I would LOVE to win and my 7 year old would love for me to win too!!!

    thanks for the opportunity!

    Niki Blake

  53. 141

    Heather Salisbury says

    OOOOOoooooh! We have a first grader too, and yes my eyeballs hurt from reading with him . . . hee hee. Thanks so much for the recommendation. If we don’t win it we will most definitely be trying this book! Beautiful drawings!

  54. 145

    Beverly says

    Family read alouds are such special time! My kids yearn for it. We have five children and read as often as we can, but it is a challenge as the kids get older because of schedules. Thank you for offering this giveaway. I would love to win!

  55. 146

    Elaine D. says

    My sons would love this! We love reading and always have ten to fifteen library books chexked out at any one time!

  56. 149

    Mikaela says

    My boys love their books. A few weeks ago my husband started to read the Chronicles of Narnia to our 5yr old. He is completely enthralled by it. He can hardly wait for the next chapter each night after prayers. Our almost 3yr old likes to listen in too, but usually falls asleep before the end of each chapter.
    Those Growly books look lovely and I’m sure the boys will enjoy reading them.

  57. 150

    Holli T says

    My husband reads with our 5 year old every night and my 2 year old loves to be read to. My mom instilled a love of read in me and I love that both my girls already show an interest. If we don’t win a copy, I will be buying one, my 5 year old would love this story!

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