We are always looking for books to add to our To Be Read list. We look for books of all levels: picture books, beginner chapter books, middle-grade fiction, and books that busy moms can enjoy. Figuring I can’t possibly be the only one out there who is hunting for good reads for a variety of age levels, I put together a list each month of the books my family has been reading. Sometimes our thoughts on them will be gushy and glowy. Other times they’ll be lukewarm. Either way, we’ll let you know if we think they’re worth your time.
How is it that January feels like the longest month of the year, yet I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s February already? Somehow I can remember very little about the last month, yet I feel like it’s been an epically long time since the holidays. I can’t be alone, can I?
I feel the same way about our January reading. When I sat down to write this list, I had a tough time remembering what was this month and what was last month. I blame it on a long, cold, gray winter—all the days start to bleed together a little. The only bright spot is that it’s perfect reading weather! So let’s get to it.
On Our Bookshelf | January 2018
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Samantha, age 11 | middle-grade fiction book picks
Samantha’s love for all things Rick Riordan has continued to burn strong. She recently finished re-reading all of the books in the Percy Jackson universe and lovingly refers to herself as a “total fangirl.” At this point, I think she would have a difficult time deciding whether she likes Percy Jackson or Harry Potter more—which is saying a lot.
She is set on me reading the Percy Jackson books to her at night—but only after we finish making our way through the Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. We’re currently on book six of eight and still very much into the wild and crazy adventures of the Grimms as they battle fairy tale creatures and work to save their parents. These books are fun and smart and feature quirky and flawed protagonists. I’m loving them as much as she is.
Samantha also broke away from Percy Jackson long enough to devour The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. This book has won tons of awards—including the 2017 Newbery Medal. It’s about a town that sacrifices a baby to a witch in the woods each year to appease her, thinking she will destroy the town if this ritual is not obeyed. Unbeknownst to them, the witch is kind and feeds the babies starlight before sending them to live with loving families in neighboring towns. One year, the witch accidentally feeds the baby moonlight, which fills her with magic and forces the witch to raise her as her own. As the girl reaches her thirteenth birthday, everything begins to change.
Samantha adored it and I can’t wait to read it myself!
Ellie, age 6 | picture books and beginner chapter book picks
For Ellie, books this month have revolved around a steady diet of Pete the Cat and magical fairy animals.
As her reading skills improve, she’s slightly less daunted by seeing more words on the page (read: more work). Because of that, we’ve been able to move on from very elementary books with single sentences on each page to slightly more complex early readers. This month, that has translated into a whole lot of Pete the Cat by James Dean.
More specifically, she’s been into the I Can Read! books. Recent favorites have included Pete the Cat and the Lost Tooth and Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat. Right now these books strike the perfect balance between simple enough and silly. They’re slightly challenging (she still hates sounding things out), but the stories keep her wanting to know what happens next.
As for the books I’ve been reading to her, she’s been very into beginner chapter books about magical animals. I’ll admit that these are not my favorites, but I totally understand why she likes them (she’s very into mystical creatures like unicorns right now). I’m more than willing to read books that I don’t love in order to keep her interested in reading. Some recent favorites include: Magic Ponies: Winter Wonderland, Kylie the Kitten: Fairy Animals of Misty Wood, and Paige the Pony: Fairy Animals of Misty Wood.
The stories are cute and positive and filled with messages of kindness—they’re basically perfect for their target audience… and slightly torturous for parents. 😉
Jen | adult fiction book picks
Even though the month felt super long, I only managed to get through one full book. I blame Instagram and my inability to stay away from it before bed. But that’s a whole other blog post.
Instagram is pretty solid for book recommendations though. I saw pictures of The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn all over my feed. After it was repeatedly compared to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl—two psychological thrillers I loved—I decided I had to check it out.
I have to say, it did not disappoint. It started out a little slow, which had me second guessing it at first, but consider it a slow climb that leads to a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat rollercoaster ride. There is an unreliable narrator (“I feel as though I’m falling through my own mind”). There is intrigue (you’ll find yourself wondering what the heck is going on again and again). There is a murder… maybe?
Anna, an agoraphobe, thinks she witnessed a murder while looking out her window. But when the police find no body and no evidence, everything starts to unravel. Did Anna really see a murder? Or is she losing it? You will not be able to put the book down as you get closer to finding out.
What have you been reading?