It’s been another great week for picture books! I’ll list them in the order I liked them best and give you a few thoughts. In the morning as we start our day I read a picture book (I sometimes make him read, but the morning goes a lot better for everyone if I don’t make him ‘work’ first thing, lol). Sometimes we just talk about the story or the time in history and sometimes we explore more with writing or videos. He always has to sum it up or include important points in his journal. All in all, most days it takes 10-25 minutes.
I love this writing/illustrating duo. Their books are timeless even if they seem like a quaint story of a time gone by. Clover is told that she has to stay on her side of the fence because white people lived on the other side and blacks stayed on their side. But one summer she always saw a girl sitting ON the fence and in time made her way to the top of the fence too. I adored this book and the hope it gives for the children of today paving the way to a better future.
It didn’t take us long to realize that this book overlapped with The 5 O’Clock Band that we read last year. This was more about a moment with Bo Diddley that Andrews had when he was just a young boy with a beat up trombone he found on the street. Gage loved this true moment in time and we had fun with the photos in the back. Loved it. As always, Collier sparkles as an illustrator.
This eye-catching book is a great starting point for a discussion about race. It starts with the story everyone has and how it’s impossible to know the whole of anyone if we just look at the outside. He uses the example of shedding our skin as we move through life and how preferable that would be. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Unfortunately, that isn’t the world we live in so a real conversation must happen after the book is done. But it was visually appealing and a conversation starter.
Ellen’s parents and others celebrate when it becomes legal for them to be married in the eyes of the government. Until then, jumping the broom was the way slaves married. I loved the celebration of new beginnings and progress being made. It didn’t have as much detail about the tradition as I would have liked, but it was a good starting point and I loved the illustrations.
This inspiring story of a boy finding the courage to do something unexpected is gorgeously illustrated. Langston was good at basketball, but he ADORED dancing. A sweet story sure to appeal to younger kids.
I liked the idea of this book based on the few details about the man that we know. Stephen was of several slaves who gave tours of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The cave is the biggest in the world and he made a few discoveries during his 20 years. The story was a little to little for me to really love it, but the history at the back was interesting.
The first black woman to get her pilot’s license in 1921 had to go to France to learn to fly. I loved the additional pages with timelines and photos in the back It was also fun to read about this period because of how it relates to Jason’s great grandfather who learned to fly in this era.
What does Black History Month look like for our homeschooling? I checked out 28 picture books. We are using two for month long lessons so they’ll show up later and we’re reading, watching, writing, talking about one book a day. Yes, this means even weekends we’ll have books to read. Our first three have been terrific.
My Name is James Madison Hemings is for older kids who you can have deeper conversations with. Thomas Jefferson had 4 children with his slave Sally Hemings and this is their story from the perspective of one of the sons. How would you feel if you lived in one room under the terraces built in the hillside with your three siblings and mother while your father had his other family in the palatial Monticello? What if your father listed you as property, next to the sheep and hogs in the farm book?
There was so much to unpack and it led to great discussions about how people who do great good can also do bad things. By focusing only on the good doesn’t that show an incomplete picture of history? I could go on, but you get the idea 😁. We also watched a video that I’ll try to link to below. Such an important story.
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave was a real man who made approximately 40,000 pots with poetry sometimes carved in. Some of these pots are still around today, 200 years later. We paired this with videos of current potters and learned more about the process.
Freedom in Congo Square is about a real place in New Orleans where black people could meet once a week (it became the only place they could congregate on their one day off a week) and keep their African traditions alive. The pictures are colorful and the reading easy for younger kids.
We’re going chronologically through a history book, so not all the books will be about slavery.
I’ll keep our picture books to a once a week recap, but want to make sure I highlight the really good ones – like these!
Yikes! It’s the 18th and I haven’t posted any of my book a day reads this month! So, forgive me for this catch up post with lots of random books 🙂 I’m limping along with lots of kids books, but I will make it. What are you reading to finish up the year? For me it’s the shorter the better right now!
This story takes place on a road trip gone awry. Told from his and her perspectives and then and now time periods, this was a story that entertained. The last third of the book had a few revelations that moved the story in different directions all the while satisfying this romantic’s heart in the end.
I thought the audio was excellent.
Gage read me the first in the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series on Thursday. We’d read a later one in the series and liked it and Gage’s writing tutor gave him the first four for his birthday. The books are written by Andres, Desmond’s anxious friend. Desmond loves ghost hunting and Andres loves having a new best friend in his new town. A fun series with great illustrations for the older elementary set.
This is a new series by Dan Gutman about famous figures. I read the Muhammad Ali one earlier this year. Gage and I both loved this one. He loves random and interesting trivia and this fits the bill. It was told with humor that kept him entertained all the way through. And we both learned what happened to Einstein’s brain and eyeballs after his death. Gross!
We’ve been reading The People’s Award book to start our school day for about two months. It says right on the cover ‘Celebrate Equality with 50 People Who Changed the World’ and I appreciated the mix of people from around the world, both familiar and unknown to me. Each award winner ranging from Confucius to Pele had a fun two page spread. It also had a quote from each one which was a good reason for Gage to practice his cursive.
Notes on Teaching: A Short Guide to an Essential Skill was a quick read. It took me back to my college days and my English Education classes. Even as a homeschooling mom it still touched on many things that have already made a difference in our day and will continue to do so. It’s always nice to have a pep talk and a reminder of what’s important.
Have you ever been listening to a book and the narration is just so bad that you wonder if it’s a problem with the narrator or the book? Such was the case with this short winter romance. There were two narrators but one came up with voices for some of the characters that were so off-putting I think it must have been intentional.
A young woman goes to Alaska to work for the summer, receives a marriage proposal, goes back to Washington for a great job anyway only to discover dream job is a bust. Will there be a happy ending?
If considering, pick up the book and skip the ear buds.
I listened to The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley thanks to a recommendation from my friend Amy and what a good recommendation it was! This is the first in a series of eight books about six adopted sisters who are given hints about their births after their father has died. In this first book the oldest, Maia, travels from Lake Geneva to Rio de Janeiro in hopes of finding her roots. What she finds is a long lost love affair and ties to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
Perfect for historical fiction and romance fans. I look forward to learning more about the other sisters and the mystery that binds them. Great audio.
I read/listened to Well Matched, part of a series that’s set in the small town of Willow Creek. I haven’t read the first two but would consider this a stand alone. Single-mother April is about to become an empty nester and gym teacher Mitch is looking for a fake date to a family gathering. I loved easy going Mitch and outspoken and homebody April. Having it set around the local Renaissance Fair was fun and having family and friends invested in their relationship solidified the story. A cute read for this time of year.
Pete Souza was the official White House photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and was self admittedly bitter after the 2016 election. He started his own IG account and began to react to Trump’s tweets with photos of Obama to directly respond. Throwing shade was a term he learned for what he was doing and these posts, with Trump’s tweets from the first two years are what make up this book. I wanted to like it more and there were serious comparisons and more humorous ones, but after 4+ years of hate (tweets) and snark I just couldn’t generate any excitement for it. But, hey, it was free!
The Royal Holiday introduced me to a new author AND a middle age romance! It was nice to have a heroine in her 50s and I enjoyed the American going across the pond to fall in love with an advisor to the queen. Can they make it work past her holiday? Keep calm and believe.
The Gifts of Imperfection is about living a wholehearted life. Wholehearted living is based on the process of continually cultivating courage, compassion, and connection in our lives. There are 10 main guideposts, including authenticity, resilient spirit, and intuition that she addresses. This book is based on her research and I loved how she shared it, but it was still just a bit too self-helpy for me to love. I did take away a lot of positive energy and am happy I read it.
Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex should be required reading for adults and children, but really it’s a quick, fun book for kids. The definitions were spot on. Just because someone says something you agree with doesn’t make it a fact. It also addressed the need to wait for more information before making firm opinions.
Plants on the Move is detailed and visually pleasing. It breaks down the many different ways that seeds from plants and trees reproduce and what trees or flowers do each one. Must have for your young plant lovers.
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a beautifully illustrated book told in first person by the first unknown soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery 100 years ago.
A well put together kids biography of the creators of Curious George, who may have started with a much more French name than George. Margret and Hans were both from Germany, but didn’t meet and marry until they were both in Brazil where they became Brazilian citizens. They moved back to Paris just in time for the Germans invading the city with the couple barely escaping on homemade bicycles with drawings of a curious monkey in the bike basket.
They managed to escape and make their way to New York, hence my New Yorker magazine cover. The story the pictures and the whimsical drawings make this one I’m happy to have on my shelf to share with Gage.
A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day is a beautifully illustrated book about the freed men, women, and children in Charleston who paid homage to the dead Union soldiers who gave their lives so that slaves would be slaves no more.
Tigers & Tea with Poppy is about the inspiring life of wildlife artist Charles R. Knight.
I also read these kids books and one for a book tour
I didn’t get my last few books of November on here, so I’ll post them after sharing my 5 (technically 6) favorites of November. I focused on graphic novels/memoirs and am so glad that I read more outside my comfort zone this month. So far this year Goodreads tells me I’ve read 380 books this year. I don’t even know how to feel about this number because it is so ridiculous, lol. I’m working on breaking them down into categories and talking about them that way this month.
My November Favorites
I also read
Born on the Water (link above) – The 1619 Project: Born on the Water is a beautiful book that shows a young girl how resilient and strong her ancestors were. Told in a flowing verse, it chronicles the story of the Africans stolen from their land and brought to Virginia in 1619. I loved the illustrations and the scope of information for younger kids. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
The Jungle, graphic novel by Kristina Gehrmann. Let me recommend the graphic novel of the classic The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. If you read The Four Winds this year that showcased the need for unions in the 1930s west, this is a fantastic companion that shows this same need during the same period in the immigrant heavy Chicago. A terribly sad story based on an interview that will keep you riveted. Loved it!
The Wanderer by Peter van den Ende has no words. Not one word in 96 beautifully illustrated pages. The Wanderer is the story of a paper boat and his journey around the world. Gage and I sat down for our daily together reading time and took turns putting words to the pages and crafting our own story. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it for those of you with kids. There’s even a neat twist at the end that will be open to more than one interpretation.
My graphic novels reading month has been going well. In addition to the books below I also listened to 2 audiobooks in series I follow. The Fallen by David Baldacci is #4 of the Amos Decker series. Amos and Jamison are visiting her sister and Amos wastes no time in finding dead bodies. He does what he does and uncovers one conspiracy after another. Great listen, especially if you are familiar with run down towns suffering from the opioid crisis. Night School by Lee Child is #21 of the Jack Reacher series and takes place when he is still in the military. A nice diversion from the nomadic Reacher, but I could have done without the scene involving a woman and mule having relations on a stage for a group of cheering men. That was a real low point of the series for me.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. What if every choice you made led to a different life, a different you and it was happening simultaneously to your life right now. What if you were able to visit The Midnight Library and try on each of these lives to see if you preferred them to the one you’re currently living. So goes the story of Nora Seed.
Rosemary and Guy move into the Branford in NYC having heard of some of its more infamous past residents. They are befriended by an older neighbor couple and their relationship starts to change. When Rosemary becomes pregnant it’s not at all what she expects and she becomes even more isolated.
A perfect psychological horror story.
Life is Good by Trixie Belden. This book made my day. Any fan of Dean Koontz knows how much he loves dogs, especially his golden retriever Trixie. Trixie decided to write a book when she realized that some humans weren’t as happy as dogs were.
This book was so, so sweet. I loved it, even reading some passages out loud to Jason making him laugh too. If you have ever loved a dog, get your eyes in this book so you can feel the slobbery kisses as you read.
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. Sager’s take on a haunted house, was a perfect listen as I worked on a puzzle late into the night. Maggie’s father had made their family famous with a memoir about them escaping their house after being attacked by ghosts. Now that he’s dead and the house is hers Maggie goes back to ready the place for sale and perhaps bring back memories from when she was 5. Is Baneberry Hall still haunted? Was it ever? I really liked this one!
The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. This felt like a throwback to the stories I used to love as a kid, no surprise there since it was originally published in 1983. Twelve-year-old Amy is too often relied on to take of her special needs sister. She is able to escape to her aunt’s creepy house where she discovered a dollhouse in the attic. While she’s thrilled, her aunt is not and tensions rise between the two.
This middle school story gave me all of the good stuff. It was a book about growing up and learning to navigate friendships and family and to believe in yourself enough to believe in ghostly spirits. Yes, there are ghosts, but the ones that help set things right. A fun story for tweens. Loved it!
November intentions with today’s read. I had 5 books sent to me for review this month, but 2 of them had their publication dates pushed to next year. A sign of the times I guess. The rest of the month I’m reading GRAPHIC NOVELS! I went to the library and pulled most of these off their shelves, but if you have one that I just need to read let me know.
For today I read Thoreau: A Sublime Life. I mentioned when I read The Midnight Library that I loved Thoreau and it had been too long since I’d read him, so it’s no surprise this was my first choice. I loved this one. It’s not all encompassing, obviously, but the Foreword and the last section written by a professor with details and pictures, were perfectly done to make this feel like a book of importance.
The illustrations told the story, with some pages having no words at all. There were a few significant interactions that put his life into focus. As a freethinker and abolitionist his life in the 1800s still calls people to his readings today. He is more than just Walden and if you’re not familiar than this is a good place to start.
This week the local school had Thursday off for Yom Kippur so, we were able to take Gage’s friend with us to his weekly nature camp. The boys had fun and I was lucky enough to spend 30 minutes on the way home with them talking about girl crushes, lol. Here’s the photo they let me take when we dropped off his friend…