I have loved Kate DiCamillo for a long, long time. This weekend, I loved her even more than I had before.
She reminded each of us of how important it is to read to your children. It doesn’t matter whether you are a parent or a teacher. Just read. DiCamillo talked with great detail about her second grade teacher who read The Island of the Blue Dolphins. She know this time spent reading with her class and her teacher contributed to her wish to be an author. And she says this even though she grew up in a house surrounded by books and a mother who read out loud to her.
I feel the same way. While my parents read each and every night, I also know my favorite part of fourth grade was when we all laughed aloud listening to my teacher reading Blubber. And I remember falling in love with my new school when my fifth grade teacher read aloud from Tuck Everlasting.
Read aloud, be it in a family or in a classroom, contributes to literacy development for sure but it also builds a community. Our school launched a One Book, One School initiative this year and all families were given a copy of The World According to Humphrey. The other day, a friend told me how much her children now love Humphrey and how they have read many more books about their favorite classroom rodent. Later in our conversation, she said something three times in typical Humprhey fashion and we both laughed. We got the inside joke because we had read the same book.
There is something incredibly powerful about reading in community and I do hope that the read aloud message stays alive in families and in schools. I am nervous watching my children grow and seeing read aloud time fading from their classrooms. I haven’t heard of it at all in Caroline’s middle school classrooms and the read aloud time even in Katherine’s third grade classroom seems pretty limited.
Hopefully, this year will be an anomaly for the girls and reading aloud will feature again in their classroom lives. In the meantime, we’ll keep reading at home especially with powerful reminders like the one I listened to this weekend.Read more
The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose tells the story of an adorable squirrel who enjoys a visit from his cousin. Nancy Rose sets up scenes in her backyard until a squirrel sneaks in for a photography sessions. Really clever and super fun to think about.
Hank Has A Dream by Rebecca Dudley tells the story of a little critter who flies. What makes this story interesting is when you realize that the author created all the pieces of the illustrations by hand. The detail is just amazing.
Edgar’s Second Word by Audrey Vernick is a love letter to both siblings and books. Hazel sure is excited to be able to read books with her baby brother especially when he asks.
Lion Lion by Miriam Busch and illustrated by Larry Day. Where is lion? Well, you think you know but guess what? You really don’t! Both Katherine and I were pretty surprised by the ending in this one!
Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato tells the tale of an elephant who feels awfully small in the big city until he meets a friend.Read more
Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy hosts a monthly reading round up called Quick Lit and today is the day. Well, yesterday was the day but I don’t tend to post on Sundays so I’m going to pretend that today is the day.
This list seems to speak clearly to the fact that there has been snow on the ground and freezing cold temperatures since last month’s Quick Lit. I’ve clearly had plenty of time to read.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. After many attempts in the past, Caroline finally read The Hunger Games. She had lots of things she wanted to discuss with me and given my poor memory, I had to re-read The Hunger Games in order to have any kind of intelligent conversation. I was taken again with the amazing story telling ability of Suzanne Collins. I sure would love to spend a day with her learning about her craft.
The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister. I really wanted to love this book and at times I did. The book was a bit Water for Elephants and a bit The Night Circus. The story is told by a female magician who is on the run after being suspected of her husband’s murder. I almost wish the story had been a straight narrative instead of one told by the character. Perhaps then, I would have been more drawn in to the tale.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Hands down my favorite book of the year so far. I will be reviewing The Girl on the Train at Great New Books next month so I won’t say anything else for now.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places is one of those young adult novels that I am glad is in this world. While about grief and suicide, there was hope in it as well. Definitely a book worth reading.
Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat. I am in a parent book club that is run out of Caroline’s middle school. The group is made up of some current middle school parents but also many woman who have been in the club for up to twenty years. I love the group because we all come from such different places. We spend a lot of time discussing the book and so far, we’ve read a few books that I wouldn’t have chosen to read on my won. I didn’t love Brother, I’m Dying but I’m anxious for our discussion later this week. I have a feeling this will be one of those books that I enjoy more after having discussed it.Read more
I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.
I believe in kissing, kissing a lot.
I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.
I believe that tomorrow in another day and I believe in miracles.”
Our ‘coffee table’ is an ottoman and any ‘coffee table’ books that are on it tend to be in a pile along with many other books. All that said though, I have recently developed a thing for books that are fun to read when you have a minute to spare and just want to sit and flip through something fun.
Here they are in no particular order…
My Ideal Bookshelf. Each spread of this book contains an illustrated bookshelf and an essay written by a famous person. The shelf features their favorite books and the essays tell a bit about them as readers. There are writers and artists and chefs and dancers featured and I could sit and read about their loves for hours. Or three minutes as if often more realistic.
By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review. My favorite section of the New York Times is the Book Review Section and my favorite section of that section is By the Book. In By the Book, authors answers a series of questions about their reading lives and each time I read it my ‘to-be-read’ list grows. This book is a collection of 65 of these interviews.
Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found. This book by Sophie Blackall is a bit hard to explain but it is completely lovely. Imagine love notes to strangers paired with Blackall amazing illustrations. It’s a perfect little midday pick me up.
The Best American Infographics 2014. In trying to figure out how to explain this book, I glanced at the jacket which is always a mistake. Now I can’t come up with a way to describe it in my own words so I’m going to ‘borrow’ the words that I found there. “In the era of big data, where information moves faster than ever, info graphics provide innovating and influential bursts of knowledge.” And this book is full of them. Fascinating facts in visual fast moments of time.
Humans of New York. The book that was inspired by the blog. I read about someone new that I wish I could meet every time I open the pages.
“How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world. How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway… And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness.”
Watching: I finished The Affair a few weeks ago and am now counting down the days till House of Cards comes back. In the meantime, I am watching a bit of Criminal Minds. It’s the perfect show to keep me on the treadmill just a little bit longer.
Listening: I have been listening to Amy Pohler’s, Yes, Please while running and in the car and it is hysterical. I often find myself laughing out loud and wishing I could have Amy over for dinner all the time. I think winter would be a lot more pleasant if we all had a comedian visit every so often.
Wearing: This is my least favorite time of year for a number of reasons. A big one is that I am so sick of wearing jeans and sweaters that I could scream. My fleece lined tights arrived the other day and I am finding that they really are warm enough to make wearing dresses totally bearable. I am so incredibly glad for the change.
Eating: Not much exciting. I am feeling pretty uninspired in the kitchen. I have sort of the same feeling about food as I do about clothes at this time of year. I’m just about over all the cozy, warm meals and ready for new food but anything grilled or salad-y just seems too cold.
How about you? Apparently I could use some inspiration!Read more
The other day I was out for lunch with a friend right down the street from my most favorite bookstore, The Curious Reader. We stopped in on the way to our car and as often happens, I discovered a new treasure.
As we were chatting, Sally walked over to the new picture book shelf and handed me A Fine Dessert, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. When Sally presents a new book like this, I know it means we need to add it to our library.
A Fine Dessert’s subtitle is a perfect summary; ‘four centuries, four families, one delicious treat.’
The book begins with a mother and daughter in Lyme, England in 1710. We read along as the duo pick blackberries and then turn them in to a delicious dessert. The same scene is replayed with different adults and different children over three more centuries. With each new pairing, we see a glimpses of changes in societal norms and cooking processes. This book is a story but also a history that just begs for conversation.
The girls and I read this book on a night when we did not have a ton of time for read aloud. We finished reading and it was clear that the girls had so many questions that they were not going to sleep until we had talked a bit. There were big questions about slavery and women’s roles and small questions about refrigeration and methods for making whipped cream. I read both the author and illustrator notes at the end of the book which were extensive and we still talked more.
This book is quiet and probably will not catch the eye of a child walking by but it is a keeper. Any book that teaches a lot of history in a small space and brings two siblings together in conversation is worth a space on our shelves for sure.
Books like A Fine Dessert, ones I wouldn’t be drawn to on my own, remind me of the power of independent book stores. As much as I appreciate the ease of Amazon and the free-ness of the library nothing can beat a bookseller who knows you. Sally knows our family and she knew we would like A Fine Dessert so she put it into my hands and it will now hold a favorite place on our shelves.Read more