what we read - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

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.

I can’t believe it’s March already! February seemed to fly by, but we did manage to squeeze in some good reads…

What We Read | February 2018

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Legends of the Lost Causes book review - #middlegrade #fiction

Samantha, age 11 | middle-grade fiction book picks

Sam kicked February off reading Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester. Set in the Wild West, this book has everything from zombies to a gang of orphan avengers. You can see her full review of the book here.

She also dipped her toes back into some realistic fiction with Wonder by RJ Palacio. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now—I haven’t seen the movie because I so badly want to read the book first. If you haven’t heard of it (or at least haven’t read what it’s about), it’s the story of a middle-school-aged boy with a facial difference who is heading into a mainstream school for the first time. The book switches perspectives so that readers get to see the point of view of different characters in the story.

Samantha loved this book because she thought it accurately depicted school and the way people act at that age. I like that it tackles things like empathy and acceptance—especially for this age group.

What We Read - The Big Bed - picture book

Ellie, age 6 | picture books and beginner chapter book picks

A new picture book that we read and absolutely adored was Bunmi Laditan’s The Big Bed. Laditan, the hilarious woman behind The Honest Toddler, wrote this book for parents just as much as she wrote it for kids. It’s the story of a little girl trying to make her argument for sleeping in her parent’s bed. It more or less turns the struggle of getting kids to sleep in their own beds inside out as the smart little girl tries to convince her parents that her dad should have to sleep elsewhere. I’m pretty sure my favorite page is when the girl tells her dad he has his own mommy and the picture shows him curled up on an older woman’s lap, sucking his thumb. It’s really cute and definitely worth the read.

Another new one we loved was Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller. When it comes to teaching kids about kindness and empathy I am all in (check out my random acts of kindness printables for a great way to get the kids involved in spreading kindness in your community). This book gets bonus points for its cute watercolor illustrations and incredibly diverse characters (not only are the people a variety of different colors, but there are different religions represented as well).

A little girl named Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress. While most of the class laughs, the narrator remembers that her mom always tells her to “be kind.” So she tries to be kind to the girl… which doesn’t seem to help. The rest of the story is an exploration of the different ways you can be kind (from giving to helping to paying attention) and how even tiny acts of kindness can make a big difference. I loved this one so much that I even read it to my Girl Scouts troop. They loved it too.

As for early chapter books, I’ve been reading her My Little Pony: Rainbow Dash and the Daring Do Double Dare, which was definitely not my idea. I generally loathe licensed character books. This one isn’t terrible though. It doesn’t talk down to the kids (a huge pet peeve of mine in kids lit) and I like that the story centers around Rainbow Dash’s love of books. Plus, Ellie is eating it up and any book that leaves her excited to hear more is a win in my book.

what we read - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Jen | adult fiction book picks

I managed to read two whole books last month, which I’m really excited about. It means I do have time for it… if I just step away from the Instagram at night.

The first book I read was Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and I really loved it. The main character, Eleanor, is eccentric and blunt and unlike any other character I can think of. She lives a very isolated, very regimented life—until one day she and a co-worker witness an old man falling on the sidewalk. This chance encounter opens up a whole new world for Eleanor and unravels the one she thinks she’s living in. The combination of a dark and suspenseful subplot, humor and a touch of sweetness completely won me over.

I also squeezed in What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan. I was slightly wary about this one at first because I generally can’t handle books that involve bad things happening to kids. They send my anxiety through the roof (this one did that for sure). I was intrigued by this one though. It’s from the perspective of a mother whose son has been kidnapped. The public has completely turned on her after a disastrous press conference and she can’t trust even her closest of friends. It’s really suspenseful and keeps you guessing who the kidnapper could be. I really liked it, but found the ending disappointing, something that was echoed by other people in our online book club (revived this month!).

If you’re interested in joining our Paperback Posse, we’re reading The Stranger In The Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel this month. Just click over to our Facebook group, click join and we’ll add you.

What have you been reading?

Interested in more of our favorites? Check out 30 Picture Books Your Family Is Guaranteed to Love.

what we read February 2018 - picture books, beginner chapter books, middle grade fiction, adult fiction - #bookstoread

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.