My Kid’s Favorite Books to Read Themselves

I have 2 kids in elementary school and I am constantly on the lookout for new books to keep my kids interested in reading.

My son just turned 9 and he has always been a pretty good reader but at first, he wouldn’t choose to read on his own unless there was some sort of incentive (like the Summer Reading Program at the library). Recently, though, he has been devouring books up in his bed! It’s amazing. I will share with you some of the books that turned him into a book-obsessed boy.

My daughter is a different story, however. She is 6 (almost 7) and a little behind with her reading skills, and she gets frustrated easily if she feels like she isn’t doing a good enough job. So I’m always telling her how hard she is working and how proud I am of her and that usually gets her more excited about reading. She’s been trying to show off her new skills since she started a new reading group at school so she’s been reading a lot more lately. I think she’s also seen how much her brother loves to read, and she is trying to keep up ūüėČ

I’ve added Amazon links for each book/series. I’ll start with the younger books and work my way to the bigger chapter books.

BOB Books

These books were a lifesaver when my kids were just starting to read! They come in different levels, so even now, I can find BOB books for my daughter’s level. I have found these at the library before, too. They are usually repetitive, so it really helps kids start to feel confident. I highly recommend these for new readers!

Gerald and Piggie

Both my kids are in love with this series! It’s pretty easy for them to read themselves, full of funny times and sweet friend moments, and most the stories are written in word bubbles. My kids love to trade being Gerald or Piggie and reading just their parts, so they love to act out the lines. It’s pretty entertaining. For ages 4-8 years.

Fancy Nancy

Some of these books are a little harder for my 1st-grade daughter to read, but you can find different levels for these books. So just choose the level that your little one is currently reading if you want them to read it on their own. Fancy Nancy is perfect for my fashionable daughter who started creating her own outfits at 2 years old. lol. She definitely has her own sense of style (as you can see from the photos above… she made that out of fabric and ribbons!).

Fly Guy 

This series is another one that both my kids love. One of the first chapter books my son was super excited about was Fly Guy so it holds a special place in my heart. It’s about a Boy and his pet fly and it isn’t too hard to read if you’re just transitioning into easy chapter books. For ages 4-8 years.

The Princess in Black

I will admit that these books are a bit more challenging for my daughter. We take turns reading these and I usually have to help her with some words along the way. The story is really cute and fun; it’s about Princess Magnolia who moonlights as The Princess in Black (she saves the goats from the monsters who sometimes come out and try to eat them). It’s definitely silly but my daughter thinks it’s great! For ages 5-8 years.

Press Start! 

My son loves this book so much! We got this one from the library and he rereads it before bed almost every night. It’s kind of like a comic book mixed with a video game and is¬†a pretty fast read. There is a¬†second book in this series coming out in May, too. If your kid likes video games, try this one out. This is for age 5-7 but my son loves it and he just turned 9. It’s below his reading level but he doesn’t care, he just likes the story!

Captain Awesome

We always find these at the library, and my son has always been into superheroes so this is right up his alley. These are for ages 5-9 so he hasn’t been reading these much anymore, but he used to love them last year.

Rainbow Magic

These are a bit hard for my daughter to read but she begs me to read these to her. I can usually get her to read a sentence or two, and then I’ll read a page, but I have a feeling that she will be ready to read these by herself pretty soon. These are full of magic and fairies, two things that my daughter loves. These are for ages 7-10.


This is the first big series that my son has read all the way through. He’s basically OBSESSED with these books. My son loves that there are random illustrations and comic type pages throughout the books.¬†They are super funny¬†and great for ages 8-12.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I freaking hate this series, but I did tell you this blog post was going to be books that my kids love to read themselves so I do have to add this one to the list. At school, my kids can check out books from the library and read them in school or at home, and my son keeps checking out these stupid books. But he loves them! He thinks they are hilarious. I do not and wouldn’t choose to get him these but at least he is reading, right? For ages 8-12 years.


I hope this post helped introduce you to at least a few new books to try with your kids.¬†I‚Äôm a family photographer in the Portland, Oregon area and I’ll be blogging about my photography sessions, raising school-age children and what moms should know when they‚Äôre looking to hire a family photographer. If that‚Äôs interesting to you, follow my blog to get email updates straight to your inbox, and/or follow me on Facebook. Thanks for reading!

My Favorite Places to Take Family Photos Around Portland Oregon

If you are looking for some ideas for where to take family photos in the Portland Oregon area this year, I’ve made a handy little list of my favorite spots. Of course, there are plenty more that I didn’t list, but this is a good starting point. These are not in any particular order.

The Top Of Powell Butte

If you have children who don’t mind a small hike, parking at the visitor’s center and walking up a bit to the top or even almost the top of Powell Butte is a fun spot to take family photos. If you go at the end of the day, the sun sets on the opposite side of the view of Mt. Hood, so you can get a nice shot of the mountain in the background. There are plenty of trails, trees, and open spaces.

Hoyt Arboretum

You could spend all day walking around here! I love that they have all different kinds of trees in one area, so if you want Maple trees, just go to the spot on the map that says Maple trees… done! There are so many different trails here, you could definitely get lost here so be sure to start at the visitor’s center and grab a free map. I will admit that even with a map, I still got lost, so bring a phone with GPS, too! Or just bring someone with a great sense of direction ūüėČ

Downtown Portland

It’s usually not where families choose to have their photos taken, but it’s actually really fun! It’s easy to find cool walls or architecture that add some extra interest to the photos, like a fountain¬†or a graffiti wall. So if your family’s style is a bit more city than country, going downtown would be perfect for you. This works at any time of day because the tall buildings block¬†harsh sun and the light bounces off streets and buildings for awesome lighting.

George Rogers Park

We call this place the Faux Beach because it’s like a beach, but it’s on the Willamette¬†River. The sand is actually more like dirt and rocks but the kids think it’s just as fun. This would be such a fun summer photo spot. We could start out on the beach in sun dresses and/or shorts and then play in the water toward the end of the session. The last time I took family photos here was 2014 and I included a¬†photo from that session along with a couple¬†iphone shots from a playdate. I obviously need to take some photos here again because it’s such an excellent spot, you just need to be willing to drive out to Lake Oswego.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

Every spring we make it out to the tulip festival in Woodburn because it’s probably one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen. Walking down the rows of tulips just makes me happy. There are plenty of great photo spots here. Near the store, there is usually a setup with an old car and/or some huge wooden shoes and of course tulips. Then there are the tulip fields with scattered benches, tractors, and a windmill. Plenty of photo spots, as long as you don’t mind the crowds. I can usually photoshop out most of the background people, though. This year I’m doing Spring Mini Sessions here, so check out my facebook page for more info.

Rocky Butte

I love this spot because it’s like an outdoor castle up on a hill. There are stone steps on one side and a dirt ramp on the other, and when you are on top you are surrounded by stone walls and lamps. There’s also a big water tower on top. You get an awesome 360 view so if you are able to come here at either sunrise or sunset, you’ll be able to capture the view really well behind you in your family photos.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

When you feel like walking around a super pretty spot filled with lakes, bridges, trees, and trails, then you should come to this place! When you first walk in, there is a long bridge that I absolutely love. Then you walk down to a small lake with a trail all around it and plenty of ducks, and after you pass that you get to the large lake with a walking trail along it. I haven’t gone in the spring yet, which I’m sure is full of flowers, but when I went in the fall, there were lots of leaves to play in and plenty of fall color in the trees.

Foster Floodplain Natural Area

I’ve done tons of sessions here because it always has great sunset lighting, there are plenty of interesting trees, a cool bridge, open field, and really just an all around versatile spot no matter the time of day. It’s also pretty close to where I live and there’s usually not many people around so it’s my go-to place.

Binford Reservoir

One day I was looking at google maps, saw this spot, and hoping it would be a good photo spot I drove out to Gresham to check. I fell in love. It’s this tiny lake where people sometimes go to fish and there’s a trail around the side of it with a little bridge behind. You can also follow the trail across the street and find another bridge and nature trail. This is just such a cute spot, and it had great color in the fall. I can’t wait to check it out this spring, too. This spot works for sunset sessions (as you can see from the above photos), but I really think just after sunrise would be extra amazing because the sun would be behind the lake. That’s on my list of things to try, for sure.

I hope you enjoyed this post, as it took me hours to decide on and compile all these! I’m sure I’ll find more favorite spots as time goes on, so I’ll update this as needed. I’d suggest bookmarking this post so you can go back to it next time you need a spot for family photos. Or just message me and I’ll help you figure out the perfect spot for your family.

What Did My Son Get for His 9th Birthday? | Portland Oregon Children’s Photographer

For my son’s 9th birthday, my husband got him this:


Of course, my first thought was, it doesn’t go too fast, does it? Luckily, it doesn’t, and my son can easily turn off the motor just by tapping the break, so it’s pretty safe. He found this little gem on craigslist for super cheap¬†and fixed it up. My husband is so crafty! It may not look that beautiful, but it runs great! It still needs a sticker on the front for some decoration, though. Here’s my happy 9-year-old posing on his bike for me…





We have a motorcycle¬†helmet for him but he says it hurts his ears ūüė¶ #bigearproblems

Playing in the Sun | Portland Oregon Child Photographer

This weekend we finally got some sun! It’s been so rainy, my kids were going a little stir crazy being stuck inside after school every day. Sunday ended up being amazing! We played basketball, jumped on our trampoline, went to the park for a little bit, and went out for lunch. These two definitely got out their energy because they were both passed out in random places by 7pm¬†on the first day of Daylight Savings (when they really should have wanted to stay up an hour later than their bedtime).

iPhone photos of my daughter sleeping on the floor(in a hat?), and my son sprawled out on the couch. The story here is that my son was watching videos with Daddy and fell asleep, and my daughter decided she was going to take a “cat nap” (see the ears on the hat?), set out blankets on the floor, and then actually fell asleep.

Rowena Crest Detour with my Mom | Portland Oregon Photographer

My mom and I rode home from my sister’s house together and had a mini adventure. I had always wanted to stop at this beautiful spot called Rowena Crest. It’s close to The Dalles and it only took a few minutes to get to this spot from the freeway, so I talked my mom into it (it really didn’t take any convincing). Since there was snow pretty much everywhere except the roads, we got some super fun shots of this winter wonderland. I highly recommend checking this place out if you are driving past!


Here is my gorgeous Mom!IMG_5193SM

And this is me, thanks Mom for taking these last two photos for me!IMG_5203SMIMG_5206SM

The Jauken Family| Portland, Oregon Lifestyle Family Photographer

Last weekend I went out to Centerville, Washington to visit my sister, and I got the opportunity to photograph their family in honor of their youngest little guy turning 1 in just one month! I have no idea how it has already been almost a year since he was born. He is one of the happiest babies around, and he makes all sorts of cute faces. Sometimes I think he looks like Kiefer Sutherland, does anyone else see this or am I crazy? lol.

So I basically followed them around all morning doing what they normally do and didn’t really direct them at all, which isn’t normally how I do things but I think it turned out great!

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