We are always looking for books to add to our To Be Read list over here. 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’ve decided to try something new.
Once a month I’ll put together a list of all of the books we’ve been reading with some of our thoughts on them. Sometimes they’ll 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.
Skim through and see what looks good—for you, for your kids, for a gift. And let us know what you’ve been reading!
On Our Bookshelf | October 2017
Samantha, age 11 | middle-grade fiction book picks
This month, Samantha has absolutely torn through books by Barbara Dee. I picked up a couple of books for her at the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival (Star-Crossed and Truth or Dare) and she finished both within two days. I picked up three more at the local library (Halfway Normal, Solving Zoe, and Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life) and she devoured them just as quickly—in fact, she’s already wondering when I can go to the library to pick up more.
She found the books “realistic and relatable” and went on to say that she loves Barbara Dee’s books because she likes the way she writes. “I like how she puts so much emotion into her characters and I like how she words things.”
Other books she’s been into this month include Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee and the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series by Chris Grabenstein. I read the first book in the series with her and thought it was a lot of fun. We both enjoyed how thoroughly the pieces in the puzzle of this story linked together—and she loved that Mr. Lemoncello reminded her of Willy Wonka. She quickly read book two after we finished the first one and is eager to move on to book three.
After we finished reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library together, we moved on to Michael Buckley’s The Sisters Grimm series. She’s read it before, but thought I’d really enjoy it and she was so right. It ties together a bunch of classic fairy tales in a fun and interesting way and puts two kids in the middle of a very big mystery as they become fairy tale detectives.
Ellie, age 6 | picture books and beginner chapter books
Ellie is a stinker. I realized recently why she’s been picking the same books to read to me over and over again each night. The little booger memorizes them so that she doesn’t have to do any work! Smart, but momma’s totally not letting that fly when working on reading skills.
Newly banned favorites from the reading practice category include Thank You, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (a part of the Mr. Panda series) and Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani. Both are cute and very simple—perfect for beginner readers… and for sly little foxes looking to memorize their books. We will definitely keep reading these. Any books that make kids excited about reading are keepers in my book—these two just won’t count towards her nightly reading homework.
To keep things fresh, we moved on to the classic Spot books by Eric Hill. Our local library has a great selection of them and they’re simple enough that they don’t discourage her (she just really wants to be able to read without sounding words out).
As for the books I’ve been reading to her, she brought home Jean Reagan’s How to Babysit a Grandpa immediately followed the next week by How to Babysit a Grandma from her school library. These books, which give kids silly step-by-step tips, are both hilarious and sweet at the same time. It reverses the role of the child and grandparent while celebrating their bond. We loved them!
At bedtime, we’ve been making our way through Jane O’Connor’s Nancy Clancy chapter books. These feature the star of some of our favorite picture books, Fancy Nancy, as a slightly older and more mature third grader who is still as fancy and creative as ever. In these books, Nancy gets herself into more complicated predicaments while still using big words and having a fabulous flair for the dramatic. We’re currently on book four and loving them.
Jen, age mind your business | adult fiction
I’ve been painfully slow in the reading department this month and have managed to make my way through just one book: Salman Rushdie’s The Golden House. Marketed as a “modern American epic set against the panorama of contemporary politics and culture—a hurtling, page-turning mystery that is equal parts The Great Gatsby and The Bonfire of the Vanities,” I was super excited to get into it.
It wasn’t as much of a page-turner as I had hoped.
Part of the problem for me is that I steal time to read in the first place. I do it when no one needs me or I don’t need to be doing something. Usually, that leaves me with just before bed—if I’m not too tired and I haven’t allowed myself to be dragged into the dark hole of Instagram. That means books that are easily digestible work much better for me. While I really liked the story (enough so that I did read the entire book), there were a lot of really long asides that made it difficult to follow when you don’t have large chunks of time to devote to reading. I just couldn’t get lost in it.
A couple of days ago I started rereading Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, an eery and suspenseful classic that I already know I love. I’m only wondering whether I should put it on my Kindle or continue reading the hard copy I started it on. I love reading the actual book, but the Kindle makes it so much easier to read it at night with the light out. Decisions!
What are you reading?