The Stars Beneath Our FeetI subscribe to The New York Times and usually on Fridays they publish an article about new books they are recommending.  I glance through it and think “this one looks good, but I have so many on my TBR lists that I just can’t put another one it.”  Before Christmas, The Stars Beneath our Feet by David Barclay Moore was in one of the Friday lists.  In the brief description in the NYT it mentioned LEGOs, I was hooked.  I made a point of writing it down immediately so I could get it out of the library.  I am always looking for books for my 12 year old son.  This one seemed perfect for my LEGO loving boy.

I read it myself to make sure it was ok.  It was.  I imagine we might have had some discussions if we read it aloud together.  It takes place in Harlem and the lifestyle is drastically different than ours.  Lolly, the main character, is dealing with the death of his older brother.  He finds refuge in LEGOs and with some new friends.  Moore creates characters that are real.  Struggling, helping, trying to survive in their world.  These characters make an impression on you.  They did on my son.  As I said, my son, has no first hand knowledge about life in Harlem.  Isn’t that what books are for, to teach children about other worlds, to open their eyes to other peoples life?  I worked in exactly the area where this book takes place.  I could picture the characters in my mind.  Hopefully, my son could do the same.

I recommend this book, but I also suggest reading it on your own first.  It will help when you discuss it with your child.

Happy Reading!

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My parents bring me Architectural Digest magazines whenever they get them.  I love to look through the beautiful houses and gardens.  I often rip pages out and save them for our “someday house”.  This month’s issue was no exception.  An article about a family with seven children in Oxfordshire, England had a picture of their dining room.  On one wall was a huge painting of a page from Dr. Suess’  Oh the Places You’ll Go.  Simply perfect!  And, this idea doesn’t have to wait for our “someday house”!

Happy Reading!

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I read this blog post from Parnassus Books https://parnassusmusing.net/2018/01/17/14-picture-books-kind-citizens/#more-28438  If you aren’t currently signed up to receive the “musings” from Parnassus Books, I highly suggest you do.

This particlular post was about books to read with children showing them to be kind to one another.  I got to the book Love by Matt de la Pena.  I haven’t read the book yet, but I did link to the article in Time Magazine http://time.com/5093669/why-we-shouldnt-shield-children-from-darkness/.  This article is so beautiful, and so important.  Books can transport readers.  If one book, one illustration, can help a child to “feel” than it was worth it.  Often times, children do not have words to express how they are feeling.  Books can help them find those words.  By reading them with your children, you can also have discussions about the characters feelings, and usually get a glimpse into what your child is feeling.

Five years ago was the Sandy Hook shooting.  My son was in 1st grade at the time – the same age and grade as all those beautiful angels.  At first, my husband and I chose not to say anything to our children.  But, of course, our son, was up with the sun the next morning and watching the news.  Fortunately, he talked to us about it.  We explained what had happened.  We could not reassure either of our children that it would not happen to them, but we were able to talk about our fears, which was the best thing we could do at the time.  By being able to express our feelings with our children we were able to give their feelings a voice, too.  Many children do not have that opportunity.  For this, we have books.

Kate DiCamillo writes a beautiful response to Matt de la Pena.  (http://time.com/5099463/kate-dicamillo-kids-books-sad/)  She talks about recognition.  A recognition of her feelings.  If children can feel that their emotions are recognized and validated in a book, it makes it that much easier for them to express themselves.  These articles are so important, not just because they are validating what these authors are doing, but because they are helping children to express themselves.

Reading aloud to children on a regular basis can give them so much.  One of the reasons it is so important to me is I feel it is a stepping stone to discussions with my children, sometimes about difficult subjects, and sometimes we just laugh about things that happened in the book.  No matter the reason, if it helps your child to connect with his or her own feelings, then keep reading!

Happy Reading!

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What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen Cover Imagehttp://www.elmstreetbooks.com/book/9780316356541

A friend recommended this book to me.  She did warn me that it was intense.  It is very well written.  Kate Fagan tries to understand what was happening to Maddy through texts, social media posts and talking with her friends and family.  Nobody will ever know what was happening inside Maddy’s mind, and that is heartbreaking.  This is an important read for parents and teenagers, and for teachers and coaches.

In this fast paced, pressured world for our children, please know that NOTHING is more important that your life.  I don’t imagine that there is any parent, coach, teacher, professor, brother, sister, or friend that would disagree.  Please know that there is always someone to talk to, and if that person cannot help, they will help you to find someone who can.

I’d like to say Happy Reading, but it isn’t right.  I welcome comments.

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Ok, I’m back.  We had Christmas and New Year’s and a whole lot of sitting around by the fire, plus shoveling out of Snowmageddon and dealing with the bitter cold.  Plus, I started a Whole30 (3rd time, so I know what to expect).

My son and I finished The Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum (#2 in The Wizard of Oz series).  I went to the library and got about half a dozen new choices for our next book – including The Legend of Bagger Vance (my son is a golfer), Huckleberry Finn, and Tom Sawyer.  He barely looked at any of the choices.  He wanted me to go back and get the next in The Wizard of Oz series!  And, he wants me to read all 13!  He very rarely requests books!  So exciting!

The Land of Oz is much like the first one with a group of new friends going on an adventure.  I found the characters in this one to be much more entertaining.  Tip, a young boy, creates Jack Pumpkinhead, and they begin their journey, along with the Saw Horse that they made together.  Along the way, they meet HM Woggle Bug, TE (Highly Magnified Woggle Bug, Thoroughly Educated – because, before he was magnified, he hung out in a college classroom.)  More characters come along the way in their search for the real Princess of the Land of Oz.

This book was published in 1904.  Its a fun read, good vocabulary and great characters and plot, with a little suspense.  I highly recommend!

Happy Reading!

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Product DetailsMy daughter and I are just about to finish reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.   I read it when I was in 7th or 8th grade.  I knew it was a classic because we had to read it.  As I got older and tended to read more books of my choosing, I did go back and read other John Steinbeck books and loved them.  The way he writes is beautiful.   There are so many books to read (just take a look at everyone’s TBR lists), how do we define a classic?  I remember everything about Of Mice and Men (and it was a VERY long time ago that I read it).  Was it because of my teachers?  Was it because of the the books they chose to teach?  Was it because of the writing? And, are what books are considered classics today?  (I would certainly put The Book Thief on my new classics list)

While most children are not still read to at the ages of 12 and 15, I know that my kids don’t mind it.  I also know that we read books that they never would have picked on their own.  I usually give them a choice of about 5-7 books.  If we don’t like it after a few chapters, we agree to stop.  My daughter and I have read Jane Eyre and Great Expectations.  My son and I are currently reading The Land of Oz, and next on our list is Tom Sawyer and/or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I know for a fact that he would NEVER read these books on his own.  What classics are you reading to your children.  I would love to make a new TBR list of classics to read.

Yet, another reason to read to your kids as long as possible.  It’s not just about picture books.

Happy Reading!

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My son and I just finished reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  Did you know that there are 13 books in the series of Oz?  My daughter and I had read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it.  My son enjoyed it, too.  So much, that we are now reading Book #2 in the Oz series, The Land of Oz.

The characters in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are the same as are in the movie, but of course, we get to know them so much better in the book.  It is a delight to see the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and of course, Dorothy and Toto come to life in your imagination.  Everyone in this world takes an adventure like Dorothy does with her friends in order to find that one thing that they think is missing from their life.  Everyone can relate to this story.  It’s a fun read aloud for children of all ages.

Happy Reading!

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So, Harry Potter has been around for a long time (20 years to be exact – why didn’t LEGO resissue the Harry Potter LEGOs to time with the 20th Anniversary?).  I remember a teacher friend reading it way back when I was single.  I read the entire series when the kids were very little.  My daughter was capable of reading it by 3rd grade but admitted that she was afraid.  Many of her friends were reading it, and she was feeling left out.  We decided to read it together.  I read Books 1-5 aloud to her.  By the time we got through #5, she told me she was done and wanted to do #6 and #7 on her own, which she did in about 2 weeks!  And, she has re-read the entire series at least twice.  I read the 1st book aloud with my son.  He was ready to move on to read them on his own immediately after that.  He loved them.  And, now that they have read the books, they watch the movies as well!

If you’re thinking your child is not ready for some books, read  them on your own.  If you think the subject matter is okay, suggest to your child that you read them aloud.  Any questions they have, or comprehension issues can be dealt with as you are reading.  I think it would be a win-win for everyone.

Happy Reading!

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My daughter and I just finished reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  As my daughter has entered HS and is writing a lot for several classes, this seemed to be a good fit for right now.  It was a little slow for a read aloud, as there is no dialogue.  But, we both enjoyed it.  And, it is always good to hear an author’s writing process.  Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors, both fiction and non fiction.  This non fiction book, as it states on the cover, is basically “Some instructions on writing and life”  This is very true of Bird by Bird.  There is some advice for writing and making yourself a better writer.  There is also some advice on life and making your life better.  Its a good read, for older children.  There is some foul language, but . . .that’s part of life.

Happy Reading!

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Ok, so I know this is supposed to be a blog about books to read to your kids, but, I’m sure you read, too.  I pre-ordered this book back in September.  It is written by the very talented Kate Spencer.  I knew her mom (the dead mom of which she writes) and her dad.  I loved her mom, and miss her.  I always say if you read a book and you cant put it down (no matter the subject matter), then it is a success.  This was a tough read for me, but I couldn’t put it down (success!).  While I knew some of the details of Martha’s illness, Kate really gets to the heart of it.  I cried because it was sad, maybe sadder because I knew Martha.  But, there was more laughter than tears.  Laughter, remembering how wonderful and funny Martha was. Laughter, picturing Kate’s dad doing all typical Jim stuff for which we know and love him.  This book is a beautiful love letter to Martha, and also to anyone suffering a loss.

“I like to think of our lives this way; we start with one stone at the bottom and slowly build upwards, experiences and moments balancing precariously on top of each other, making up who we are.  And when elements knock the rocks over, we rebuild, with the same pieces but a new shape.  We are different, misshapen and unsteady, but still whole.”

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