-Ralph Waldo Emerson
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I feel so very lucky to be a part of Great New Books. It was over a year ago that I was asked to join this team blog and I have loved every minute of my time with this amazing group of women.
Each week, one of us recommends a favorite new book on our site. We do not accept books for review so all of the books we talk about are titles that we have found on our own and loved. I knew I would love being a part of a group that talked about books but this group has become so much more than that. After the weekly post goes live, our fantastic leader, Jennifer King, sends out a group e-mail. This e-mail is part business but it is also friendship, support and humor. Each week I look forward to our check in and I truly love to open my e-mail each Wednesday morning. I know I will learn more about the women behind Great New Books, their families and what they are loving and what is scaring them in their lives. We have become a sounding board, a support group and a cheering section. Of course, we also share the books that we are currently reading so every Wednesday you can be sure my to-be-read pile grows taller.
As we reach the end of the year, we will be sharing group posts, the first of which runs this week.
Please head on over to Great New Books to discover our favorite book of the year and share your own and maybe learn a bit more about these women who I am proud to call my friends.
I was in Providence for a few days this week and drove by my school as I often do when I am home. I attended Lincoln School for Girls from 5th grade until I graduated. At the time, I didn’t think too much about going to all girls school beyond the annoyance of it as a teenager sitting around a lunch table.
As an adult, I feel so very lucky to have had the experience of growing up in a community of girls. Of course, it wasn’t all rosy but there was an awful lot of support. We were all leaders and students and athletes. We did it all and never questioned that we were the ones to do it. My years at Lincoln were just as empowering as any brochure about single sex education claims the experience to be. In college and beyond, I never questioned my ability to lead and to think. I participated in classroom discussions and questioned professors. I never even considered dumbing myself down to impress a boy.
I was in a bit of a rush when I drove by Lincoln earlier this week and hadn’t intended to stop but a series of banners demanded to be photographed. Lining the street in front of Lincoln are banners celebrating the wisdom, leadership and intelligence of girls. With a hat tip to the “Like a Girl” video that I wrote about earlier this year, Lincoln clearly knows how to celebrate all the awesome things a girl can do.Read more
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I read this book for my book club and probably wouldn’t have read it if it weren’t for book club. I liked it and am glad I read it and it reminded me of why I like being in book clubs. They really do push you to read beyond your comfort level.
We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride. I liked this book about how the paths of strangers come to cross until I couldn’t stand it. The ending ruined this book for me. That said, I really, really liked it until then so I think I might still recommend it!
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. After meeting Elizabeth Gilbert this summer, I was very excited to read this book. I began reading it and then some book cut in line. I don’t remember what it was but it must have been for book club or for a Great New Books review. Regardless, when it was time to get back to Signature of All Things, I didn’t feel compelled to do so. Until… two of my reader friends asked me recently if I had finished Signature yet. I decided it was time to do so, so I did and I am so glad. This book is truly the saga that it is described to be and well worth the time it takes to read all 500+ pages.
This weekend was Katherine’s Holiday Show. When she began her journey in to the world of dance, I truly thought it would be a blip on the radar. Rob and I have no (and mean no!) rhythm and Caroline’s foray in to the dance world revealed that she very much takes after her parents in the rhythm department.
Therefore you can imagine our surprise when Katherine began to truly love dancing. For awhile, I thought her love affair would not last but we are years in to this journey with no signs of stopping. You can’t help but feel happy when you watch Katherine on the stage. Her joy is contagious.
It all seemed like it was going to be a bit much and in truth, our weekend was filled with rehearsals and shows, with late nights and sore feet. But it was also filled with friends and teamwork, and lots and lots of dedication.
If truth be told, I used to agree with the people who thought that the real athletes played sports and the rest of the girls danced. The more time I spend with dancers and the more closely I watch the older girls, I understand just how strong and flexible and truly talented these girls are.Read more
Every so often I receive a request from an author or publicist to review a book. I usually decline because I truly want the books that I feature in this space to be of my choosing. I worry that if I review books that were suggested to me, I might loose some of the authenticity that I value in my reviews.
So needless to say, when Alison from Writing and Wishing reached out to me about This House Needs a Mouse, I took a little bit to decide.
This House Needs a Mouse begins with a mother’s search for a family mouse that will eat all the crumbs in their house. As time passes, the family outgrows their house with a mouse and must move on. When a new family moves in, they are not pleased with their inherited rodent and seek out a cat to take care of their perceived problem. As it turns out this is not a mouse who will go away easily and over time, the family comes to appreciate the mouse for who he is. In the end, people and rodents live happily ever after.
From the author:
“A beautifully illustrated children’s book with a difference, This House Needs A Mouse is a fun tale of a mouse who seeks a life outside of his caged existence, and through a series of events, finds himself free and experiencing life with all its ups and downs. It’s not just a read-along for your child, this book aimed at 3 to 8 year olds, is a teaching tool for budding readers and writers. Filled with mentor text such as alliteration, vivid verbs and purposeful repetition to name a few, This House Needs A Mouse is educational and delightful.”Read more
A few years ago, I gave a presentation at our local community school called “Give Books as Gifts? Yes You Can!” I then turned the presentation in to an article and it was featured in a few regional parenting publications. The other day, I wondered if I had ever posted the article here and a search reveals that strangely, I had not.
This seems like a pretty good time to remind everyone that books really do make awesome gifts. I have a few posts on my mind about specific titles for both children and adults that are upcoming but for today, I thought I would share the basics of why it actually is cool to give books as gifts!
Give Books as Gifts? Yes, You Can!
Did you know that there is a positive correlation between the amount of print in a child’s home and their independent reading level? While simply having more books in the house will not make your child a better reader, it does help. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress found that children with a high interest in books have, on average, 80.6 books in the home while children with a low interest in reading have only 31.7 books.
These statistics may convince grown ups that giving books is a good idea but the books must still be fun for the children.
Gift givers should remember to:
Give books that are easy to read: Children, like adults, enjoy reading easy books and books that are just right for their reading level. Children do not enjoy or benefit educationally from reading books that are too hard. Gift giving is not an ideal time to challenge a child. Let teachers do that and give gifts that are fun. For a child to truly comprehend a book, they must read it with 98% accuracy so choose books a child can read on their own.
While reading easy books, children can focus on meaning and enjoy humor or suspense while gaining ‘mileage’ as readers. They can process many words and build up rapid word recognition. And most importantly, while reading easy books, children are happy and that’s what reading and gift giving are all about.
Find great books on a child’s reading level at Scholastic Book Wizard. Enter the title of a book that your child can read easily, determine its level and then search for other titles at the same level.
Give new books, not just your old favorites: Like it or not, children do judge books by their covers. Adults often fall back on books they liked as children when giving gifts but this is not always the best idea. While many books have stood the test of time, there are also wonderful new titles available that appeal to today’s children.
To find new titles, get to know a few children’s literature book bloggers. Occasional visits to a few blogs will help you to know the current titles that children will love. Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 Productions, Jules Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, Jen Robinson at Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Colby Sharp at Sharpreads consistently recommend great books.
If you prefer looking for titles between the covers of a book, try A Family of Readers edited by Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano for some great, current recommendations.
Give different types of books: Different kids like different types of books. Often a child who doesn’t like to read is the child who has only been presented with one type of book. Some children love the stories held in fiction while other, more fact loving types need non-fiction to enjoy the reading process. Still others will develop a love of poetry if it is presented in a fun way. See the side bar for a list of current books in different categories.
All children love receiving toys as gifts but if given well, books can be equally popular. When receiving books, children can have a good time and sneak in a little bit of learning without even knowing they are doing it. With just a bit of thought and planning children can shake a present and say, “Yeah! Another book!”Read more
There are lots of times that I wonder what I was thinking by agreeing to be our home and school president this year. Last night was not one of those times.
I love a good book fair so a well run Books Before Bed is pretty much one of my favorite things on the planet. Thanks to an amazing book fair committee and a super supportive principal, our gym was hopping with readers last night.
I thought I would let you in on the fun!
And then there are my favorites.
Children pouring over books together.
And one little girl, so caught up in her book, that she was able to ignore all the noise around her.Read more
Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead tells the sweet story of a little boy who sets off in a hot air balloon to “see something new for a change.” Along the way, he makes new friends and has many exciting adventures.
The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan with pictures by Hadley Hooper paints a simple description of Henri Matisse’s many childhood inspirations. The colors in the book make you want to run right out and grab a set of paints.
Maple and Willow Together by Lori Nichols is a perfect sister story. These sisters love each other, fight and then make it all right. The story felt so true to life as the mom of two lovable sisters.
Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier and Kris DiGiacomo may be my favorite current alphabet book. I tend to dislike alphabet books if truth be told but this one is so smart, you just can’t help but love it. I’l just give you a little preview… Did you know, for example that with the D, a dice makes ice? Me neither but now you do!
This Books Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne is laugh out loud funny. The book does indeed eat a dog along with many other things and it is up to you, the reader, to rescue the victims from the book’s grasp.
The Best Book in the World by Rilla has gorgeous illustrations and lovely language about the power of books. That said, this may be a book loved more by the grown ups than the children. I couldn’t get enough of it but Katherine wasn’t so sure. Perhaps I just shouldn’t have read it right after This Book Just Ate My Dog.
Wednesday by Anne Bertier is a genius of a book. It is part art inspiration, part reminder to work together and part fun. Follow the adventures of a square and a circle as they transform themselves and their day in to a big adventure.
Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo tells the tale of a cactus who looks for love in all the wrong places until he finds the perfect friend.