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.
Nothing about this month was particularly leisurely for me. March was filled with birthdays and snow and school closures. But we did manage to squeeze in some solid reads in the middle of all of the madness. Here’s a little peek at what we read…
What We Read | March 2018
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Samantha, age 11 | middle-grade fiction book picks
Samantha started the month off reading The Super Life of Ben Braver, which she absolutely loved. You can read her full review of the book here.
For school, she has been reading Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix. This one takes place in the future, where having more than two children is forbidden. Families that do have additional children are forced to keep them in hiding. Luke is one of those children. He’s never left his family’s farm and now that a new housing development is being built behind it, he won’t even be allowed to leave his house. One day he sees a face in a neighboring window and discovers another shadow child, which changes everything.
Samantha was really into this one but was totally shaken by and not too thrilled with the ending—it ended on a cliffhanger, but it’s the first in a series.
She also recently watched A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, which got her interested in checking out the book series by Lemony Snicket. She’s read the first few so far and was seriously impressed with how closely the TV series followed the books.
Last but not least, she read a bunch of books in the Emily Windsnap series in preparation for the newest book, Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island. We just bought this one this week and she hasn’t gotten a chance to read it yet, but if it’s anything like Liz Kessler’s other books I’m sure she will be rapt. I’ve read most of them to her and enjoyed them just as much as she did. I’ll let you know what she thinks of the latest book in next month’s What We Read post, but keep your eye on my Instagram if you’d like to know sooner!
Ellie, age 6 | picture books and beginner chapter book picks
Our biggest read this month has been Ellie’s school’s One Book One Read pick: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. She adored this book saying “it’s good, good, good, good, gooooood!” when I asked her for her final opinion on it. She’s an animal lover, so it makes sense that she would love it. She adored being able to get a look at Ivan’s thoughts.
Inspired by the true story of a gorilla named Ivan, this Newbery Medal winner is told from his point of view. Ivan has lived in a glass enclosure at a shopping mall for decades. He rarely thinks about his life before the mall—until a baby elephant named Ruby who was taken from the wild moves into the mall. Lots of change comes with Ruby. Ivan rethinks their home and the art he makes and his past—and decides to change things for the better.
This book was really sweet and also sad and written in very short but meaningful chapters. There is some violence depicted that could be upsetting to little ones. I completely skipped the (super short) chapter where Ivan remembers his family being killed by humans. I told my daughter that it happened, but I thought the details would be too upsetting for her. Aside from that, we really love this story.
On the weekends, we continued reading the chapter book series she was loving last month. My husband is in the middle of reading The Jewel Fairies collection to her (something Samantha also adored at this age) and I’ve started a new My Little Pony book with her: Pinkie Pie and the Rockin’ Ponypalooza Party! I’m really hoping to try the first Zoey and Sassafras or a book from The Fix-It Friends series with her next… mostly because the licensed character books don’t do it for me. Still, if it makes her excited to read I’ll grin and bear it.
As for picture books, Macmillan Books sent us a brand new one that was pretty cute: My Pet Wants a Pet by Elise Broach. It’s about a little boy who really wants a pet. Once he gets a pet, his pet wants a pet and then that pet wants a pet and it goes on and on from there. It’s very silly and Ellie thought it was hysterical. I like that it ended on a really sweet note.
Jen | adult book picks
Since I’ve read a lot of relatively heavy books lately, I decided to check out Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin for something a little bit different. This one is about a young congressional intern who has an affair with her married boss which alters the entire course of her life—but leaves his intact. The book switches perspectives between all of the women the affair effects: Aviva, the girl at the center of the affair; her mother, who tried desperately to end it; the Congressman’s wife, who continually finds herself turning the other cheek; and Aviva’s daughter, years after the affair.
This is the sort of book that you love more and more as you think about it. There was witty banter, a look at slut-shaming and double standards, and reinvention. The male characters weren’t thoroughly fleshed out, but that’s because this was a decidedly female book. It looks at a woman’s point of view from all sides of a high-profile affair. It was a quick and light read that really sits with you afterward. I enjoyed it.
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel was our Paperback Posse virtual book club pick for March. A few people in our group were asking for nonfiction book options and my pal Janine (who has been doing the work for the book club since it started back up—thanks, Janine!) found this one. It’s about Christopher Knight, a 20-year old who dropped everything and disappeared into the woods in Maine for 27 years. He didn’t have a single conversation in all of those years and survived by stealing only what he needed from nearby cottages.
A National Geographic Best Book of the Year, this one is an interesting portrait gleaned from a journalist’s interviews with Knight. The book explores the outdoors and the idea of solitude and human relations. I enjoyed it, although I would like to get deeper into Christopher Knight’s brain and understand his motives better. Also, if I’m being completely honest, I think this one could have been an article or a series of articles instead of a book. There came a point when I felt no new information was being shared and the author was just connecting Knight to other hermits and writers who loved solitude—which is fine, but not exactly what I was looking for.
What have you been reading?