Books for the kids

Every few weeks we go to the bookstore as a family. And a few times each year we are lucky to have GG around. A grandmother who loves books is a special kind of blessing. A grandmother who loves books means each kid comes home with three new books to read.

Here’s a rundown of the latest volumes in our house:

For my nearly 10-year-old boy, who loves to read books about real boys. He’s just not into wizards or magic or dystopia. He’s looking for real life in the pages of a book. (I don’t know where he gets that from. Ahem.)

Genius Files: From Texas With Love by Dan Gutman. Gutman is one of his favorite authors. Actually all of my kids like him. He writes all of the My Weird School books. (Get started with Miss Daisy is Crazy!) The Homework Machine is also one of my son’s favorites. But the Genius Files books are his favorite favorites. And when we got to the bookstore last week, I thought my son was going to hit the ceiling when he saw that the fourth Genius Files was there for the purchasing. (Don’t you just want to cry when you hear of such excitement?) This book is a medium-length chapter book that my boy gulps down like the Gatorade he loves so much to drink.

Timmy Failure #2: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis. A graphic novel that my son has read more than once and that he has loaned out to many of his friends. (This is one of his roles in his peer group. He is B: Lender of the Books.) Pastis is also the artist and creator of Pearls Before Swine, a syndicated comic strip. (Know it?)

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger. I have a confession to make. My nearly 10-year-old has never seen Star Wars. None of them. No matter. He still loves these books by Angleberger, who has written other books too, my favorite being Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset, which I read aloud to my boy and which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

For my 8-year-old girl, who reads even while she is watching TV. She also reads when she is walking around the house, though we try to discourage this behavior when stairs are concerned. She ALSO reads to her little sister, which makes my heart grow four sizes every time I witness such sweetness.

Ava and Pip by Carol Weston. A.Dor.A.Ble. This book appealed to my little wordsmith for several reasons. 1) It’s about sisters. Sisters who are different from one another. My girl knows a thing or two about this. 2) It’s about wordplay, palindromes in particular. Her younger sister’s name? A palindrome. 3) The illustration on the cover of the book features a little girl with orange hair perched under a tree and a little girl with brown hair swinging upside down from a tree branch. Freaky similarities abound. Must familiarize ourselves with other books by Weston.

Ruby Goldberg’s Bright Idea by Anna Humphrey. A girl and a science fair. That was all it took for my girl (who is working on “All About Tornadoes” for a certain April science fair) to pick up this one. Not one to be interested in the fairy books or the princess books, I am a proud mama that this is the book that spoke loudest to my girl. And I’m grateful to writers like Humphrey who are writing books that sit alongside all of those pink, sparkly ones that so quickly take over the shelves. (I know, I’m getting close to a rant here…) It looks like Humphrey’s other books are for older girls, so we will definitely be checking them out soonish.

Junonia by Kevin Henkes. When Junonia first came out, in 2011, we got it out of the library,and I read it to my son. He was resistant at first, because it’s about a little girl. (See above, boy who likes books about boys…) But I kind of forced it on him, and he enjoyed it. Upon seeing it in his sister’s pile he even said a few positive words about it! This book is gorgeously written. It’s quiet and pensive and real and lovely and I hope will stand the test of time and become a must-read. Really. It’s that good. Henkes is probably best known for his picture books, which are unique and funny and perfect. And I’m so glad that he also writes these middle-grade chapter books. (My girl received Henkes’s The Year of Billy Miller for Christmas and read it (as did I). It’s wonderful. We are big Henkes fans. (Julius, Baby of the World and Chrysanthemum are among our favorite of his picture books.) He knows about the inner feelings of kids, and we’re lucky readers to read his wisdom in his stories.

For my 5-year-old girl, who is ALMOST reading on her own and who tries to will herself into being able to read daily.

Mercy Watson Fights Crime by Kate DiCamillo. We LOVE Mercy Watson. This is the fourth MW volume we have purchased, though we’ve read them all through library loans many, many, MANY times. These are books you can read over and over as a parent and not want to gouge out your eyes. DiCamillo knows children. Her Because of Winn-Dixie took the place as my 8-year-old daughter’s favorite book almost two years ago, and so far it’s holding strong. You would not be making a mistake in judgment at all if you ordered the whole set of six Mercy Watson books. In fact, order two sets and give one to a friend!

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. I am probably the last person to discover this book. Apparently it’s all the rage! It is a good one. About artistic expression and literally coloring outside the lines. A good message for kids. And for the adults presumably reading this book aloud. I just learned that Daywalt has a background in screenwriting and directing.

Pete the Cat: Too Cool for School by James Dean. My daughter loves the Pete the Cat books. LOVES them. She has so many, I’ve lost count. The pictures are funny and the stories are a little irreverent. This one is about Pete asking everyone else their opinions about what he should wear. He ends up wearing everyone’s favorite item and being overdressed and uncomfortable until he changes tack and chooses his own favorites. Another good message and a cute addition to my girl’s growing Pete collection! I know that as soon as the reading thing clicks in her brain her Pete books will be dogeared. (Sometimes she sleeps with Pete under her pillow already, as if hoping the words will seep into her brain.)

Thanks to GG for her generosity. I hope you find some of these of interest to you and yours. And I’d love to hear what your kids are reading! Our next trip to the bookstore is rapidly approaching…


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8 thoughts on “Books for the kids

  1. Gail Grow

    Sitting here grinning ear to ear. What better gift to a grandmother who loves books them three grand kids who do the same? And Jen, you’ve missed your calling. You are a GREAT book reviewer. Made me want to go out and grab up every book.

    • Ha. My calling. So many have been missed. My timing has always been just a leeetttle off. This post was written weeks ago, of course, just after your visit. The kids are on to other books. S read the entire first volume of Heidi Hecklebeck last night in less than an hour. I think it’s the first time she’s read a book in one sitting. And I think she may be addicted. Anyhoo. As for the book review. I am currently working on a book review of Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck for First Day Press. Hai-yah! Thanks for stopping by, momster. xo

    • Hi Susan,

      The book will definitely appeal to a 2-year-old. You may have to explain it while you read a bit, but that’s some of the best reading adventures, if you ask me. I really think this is a book that a child will return to over and over. It’s fun and accessible and appealing across ages. If you decide to get it, let me know the reaction!


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