Tag Archives: books my kids are reading

Books My Kids Are Reading Part 6

Books, books and more books!

Welcome back to what has become an on-going series sharing the children’s books my kids and I are reading.

Before I get to the list of books we’ve enjoyed recently, I want to show you a neat booklet our local Irish library system publishes. It is a reading guide for different age groups from toddlers up to young adults. It includes both fiction and non-fiction recommendations.

The library must have a fairly robust budget to produce this booklet and I have no complaints about that!

The reading guide is compiled by a group of ‘book doctors’ who are all children’s book specialists. They have backgrounds in writing, editing, library science, bookselling or literature. Some of the book doctors have masters or doctorate degrees.

One of the book doctors is the reader-in-residence for Dublin City Libraries. How do I get that job?!?!

The book doctors don’t operate in a vacuum. They hold clinics throughout the year to meet with young people to get their feedback on what they enjoy reading.

As far as literacy and community engagement goes, I think this is a very worthwhile endeavor.

Now on with the show!

Here are the recently read books my kids, ages 7 and 10, would give two thumbs up!


Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans

This book was such an unexpected surprise.

It started out with a pretty horrific scene. You know how you tell your kids NEVER to chase a ball into the street? Yeah. Well, something like that happened. I was thinking, “Oh no! This book is going to be so dark and terrible. What have I done?”

Yet, it wasn’t. It was such a strange, creative tale. It was filled with creatures who only spoke in verse, so it made reading it a lot of fun. My kids kept guessing what would happen next. It was a great adventure story with a strong bit of moral and emotional closure in the last chapter.

Thankfully, the book had a completely happy ending, which is how I like books to end!


The Curse of Herobrine: The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Volume 1 by Zack Zombie Comics

If you order this book and know nothing about Minecraft, this book will make no sense to you. You’ll be a hero, but you’ll have no idea why. You’ll be asking yourself, “What in the world is going on with this crazy Minecraft thing? These creatures look evil and why are there so many blocks?”

Just go with it. I know a little about Minecraft because my kids play and I still ask myself these things.

We’ve had The Curse of Herobrine for awhile (It was my daughter’s book. Minecraft is equally loved by girls and boys.), but just recently my son picked it up and this happened one morning…

I seriously had to check and see if the sky was falling.

He still reads out loud, so I heard the entire book for the umpteenth time. Then he asked me for the next two books in the series and he never asks me for books.

You can bet I jumped on that opportunity! A few days later these arrived:

Steve and the Swamp Witch of Endor: The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Volume 2 (An Unofficial Minecraft Comic Book)

and

Minecraft: The Wither Attacks! – The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Volume 3 (A Graphic Novel)

Even though I don’t “get” the story line of these books, I have found something to enjoy! These particular graphic novels have a lot of characters, so we each picked a different character to read out loud. I encourage my kids to read in the character’s voice. So if the character is an old man, use an old man voice. If the character is a big tough guy, use that kind of voice.

It takes a different level of reading comprehension to not only read the words, but to read them in character and to know when it is your turn to read. While my kids think it’s just a fun thing we do (and it is), there’s also some skill building going on too.


The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer

The kids’ grandma introduced me to this story and it is the most darling Christmas book.

Fair warning – it may make you want to cry, it is so sweet.

It is about a puppy who wants a boy for Christmas. He tries so hard to find one, but it does not go well. It seems all the boys are taken by other dogs. The puppy is exhausted and ready to give up and then an amazing thing happens!

I don’t want to spoil the ending…that’s the tearjerker part!

This book doesn’t appear to be in print any longer, but you can buy used copies online. Ours was used, but in great shape. If you do buy it, it will be one you’ll want to keep. The story is as good now as the day it was written in 1958! If you see it at the library, definitely check it out!


Incredible Incas (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

This is the second Horrible Histories book we’ve read. I’m STILL surprised the kids enjoy them so much because they are fairly wordy and full of hard names and dates.

Perhaps I’m underestimating my kids!

The author does a really good job of writing in a way that grabs their attention though. The Incas did some pretty terrible, disgusting things with urine and, of course, my kids thought that was fascinating.

This book also introduced them to how diabolical the Spaniards were in taking over the Incan empire. This is important because history is often presented in a very one-sided way and in this case, both the Incas and the Spaniards did terrible things to each other.

I don’t know that a kid would be super excited to get this book for Christmas, but if you want to introduce them to a version of history that isn’t dry and boring, this series fits that bill. We are currently reading our third Horrible Histories book about the Greeks.


Star Wars: Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan (Book 2) by Jeffrey Brown

If you have a kid who is interested in Star Wars, this book will be right up their alley.

It follows Roan, a kid who starts middle school at a Jedi Academy. The book is told from his perspective and is an interesting mix of part diary, part comic book, part newspaper, part letters from home.

Some of the pages are pretty text heavy for my 7-year-old, but this wouldn’t bother older kids at all. As far as the middle school setting goes – there are a few references to liking a girl, but nothing that, so far, has seemed inappropriate for either of my kids. 

While it’s not completely mandatory to start with book one in this series, it will make a lot more sense to read Star Wars: Jedi Academy first. I think there are at least 4 books, so far, in the series.

If your kiddo loves Star Wars, but is still a beginning or reluctant reader, this set of Star Wars Phonics Books was INCREDIBLE and would be a good alternative to the Jedi Academy books.


Tassie and the Black Baron by Katie Roy

I’ve always wanted to describe a book as a ‘wild romp’ and I think I’ve finally found a book where I can bust out that phrase!

Time travel. A historical setting. A clever heroine. All of these things can be found in this book.

If you’ve ever gone on a boring tour of a castle or a historic home, you’ve probably looked at those old portraits on the wall and wondered what life might have been like hundreds of years ago. Well, now imagine that you got sucked back into that time period and were needed to save the day! That’s this book!

My kids were always surprised by the main character’s creative problem solving skills and I love a book that keeps them (and me) guessing and laughing.


Matilda by Roald Dahl

I’m a wee bit embarrassed to admit that this Matilda book came from a McDonald’s Happy Meal. However, this is one Happy Meal “toy” I am glad to keep.

Any Roald Dahl book is good and this one should be on your reading list. Don’t just let your kids watch the movie!


The Invisible Man’s Socks by Alex Shearer

The premise for this book is wild. A class goes on a field trip to a museum of horrors. Think of things like the poison pen, the hair from Bigfoot, vampire teeth, etc. All the things we like to pretend are real, but aren’t. Or are they?

The kids are told NOT TO TOUCH, but of course, everyone, including the teachers touch the museum relics.

That’s when the weird things start happening. Figuring out what is happening, why and how to reverse the damage is the journey the characters will embark on.

We had great fun trying to guess what was happening to each character and who they might be turning into. I could have done without the character who put on the strangler’s gloves though.

The one drag I found about this book is that there were a lot of characters, so the author kept repeating some basic information about each one. This made the book a bit more tedious to read out loud. My kids didn’t seem to notice though.


That’s it for this round!

As always, I’m happy to learn about other books my kids might enjoy! Do share!

Here are past posts on children’s books we LOVE

  1. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 5
  2. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 4
  3. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 3
  4. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 2
  5. Books My Kids Are Reading Now (Part 1)
  6. Two Children’s Books That Made My Eyes Leak – Cried my eyes out. Still my favorite books.
  7. Star Wars Phonics Books – These worked miracles at encouraging my son to read.

Affiliate links to Amazon used in this post. Thanks for your support. You guys rock! 

Books My Kids Are Reading Part 4

I was reading aloud to the kids last week while we waited at the train station. My son, in typical fashion, was sitting on my lap and my daughter was sitting on my right. On her right sat an elderly man.

I read for 5 or 6 minutes while the kids munched on their after school snack. When they hopped up to throw their granola bar wrappers in the bin, the man turned to me and with a quiet, gravelly voice said, “I remember my mum reading to me when I was a young lad.”

I noticed his eyes had teared up.

“She’s been gone 5 years now.”

With that he got up, pulled his hanky from his pocket to wipe his eyes and walked off to board his train.

I didn’t have a chance to say much of anything in reply before he left.

It’s probably for the best. It was such a sweet, sincere moment of remembrance.

I certainly didn’t want to tarnish it by telling him that I’d started using our train commute to read to the kids because holy heck, they turn into wild animals given too much idle time. Dealing with wild animals squabbling siblings in public sends my blood pressure through the roof. So basically, I’m channeling their energy into books instead of bugging each other.

But perhaps, one day, decades from now, my kids will fondly remember this reading time too.

So, read to your kids! And your grandkids! It might not seem like it now, but it will make a difference.

Here are a few books that we’ve enjoyed reading lately. My kids are ages 7 and 10.


THE MIDNIGHT GANG by David Walliams

We are making our way through the world of David Walliams. My favorite book so far, and probably the kids’ too, is The Midnight Gang.

In this book, the kids in the hospital have a secret club. They help make each child’s biggest dream come true, which means every night they are going on fantastic adventures through the hospital.

There’s adventure, drama, humor and some poignantly sweet moments as well.


THE BOY IN THE DRESS by David Walliams

My kids have been asking some TOUGH life questions lately. Those questions that are perfectly normal, but that as a parent make you want to do that slow backward slide out of the room to avoid answering. If you’re like me you spend a lot of time second-guessing if you got the explanation right because you’re never prepared for these questions!

I thought this book was headed into one of those territories. I was wrong. It was really just about a kid who missed his mom. It was about a kid who was different. It was about how real friends will rally around you no matter how different you are.

My kids laughed. They were amazed. But they didn’t ask me any tough questions. See? They are always keeping me on my toes.

We’ve also read some of David Walliams’ other books such as Awful Auntie, Demon Dentist and Ratburger. I have to say, the adults in these three David Walliams books are terrible individuals.

He always brings the books to a nice, happy conclusion, but man, his adult characters are bad, bad people. For some reason, my kids don’t pick up on that. Their favorite thing to do is to interrupt my reading to say, “I think I know what’s going to happen next!” They seem to take these stories at face level: there’s good, there’s evil, and good always wins.

Also, there is one reoccurring character in all of David Walliams’ books, Raj, who runs the newsagent shop. If you read more than one of his books, your kids will love to see how Raj pops up in each story. He’s definitely a quirky character and my kids adore him.


HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD WITH A BALL OF STRING by Tim Cooke

This was my favorite book of the last month! I bought it on a whim and it’s a keeper!

It’s a world history book written and illustrated in a kid-friendly way. So many history books are dreadfully dull. Not this one. Even the word choice and phrasing was geared to make history exciting for kids (and parents too). Best of all, each topic was short and sweet.

Every page spread is a different historical era:
Base a Philosophy…On Beans (Pythagoras)
Start a Renaissance…By Getting Naked (da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc.)
Win Battles…By Shooting Backwards (Genghis Khan and the Mongols)
Start a Democracy…With Wet Feet (Magna Carta and King John)
Get Out of a Depression…By Planting Trees (New Deal and FDR)
Go to the Moon…With a Pocket Calculator (Neil Armstrong and NASA)

It looks like this book may be out of print, so the only ones available on Amazon are used. Don’t get scalped though! I’m mainly mentioning this book so that if you see it at the library or in a bookshop you’ll know to snatch it up. Also, it was SO, SO good!


HOUSE OF ROBOTS by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

This is the first time we’ve read any of James Patterson’s children’s books. My kids, especially my son, ATE THIS BOOK UP!

It was about robots, after all!

This book and the others by Patterson take place in middle school, but this one didn’t seem too old subject-wise for either of my kids. It mainly dealt with typical things you might find in any school: best friends, lunch room antics and bullies. Oh, and what happens if your new “brother” is a robot and your mom makes you take him to school. You know, the usual!

I really liked how the mom in the book was a genius robotics professor. It was a great way to introduce girls to the idea of a career in science.

If you have a reluctant reader, this book is illustrated with a lot of thought bubbles. My son complains about reading a page of text, but has no problem reading thought and voice bubbles. It’s an excellent way to sneak extra reading aloud in.

We can’t wait to check out more of James Patterson’s books.


THE IMAGINARY by A.F. Harrold

This book was SO different from what we’ve been reading lately. My kids are still talking about it.

The premise of this book is what if imaginary friends are real? What happens to the imaginaries when their real-life friends grow up and don’t believe in them anymore? Rudger is Amanda’s imaginary friend and he soon learns that an evil man is after the imaginaries. How can an imaginary boy save the day in the real world?

The description of this book says it is in the vein of Coraline. I can see that. It’s a little dark and definitely fantastical. If your kids like Harry Potter, they will like this book. My kids loved the suspense and the sweet ending.


WARRIORS MANGA BOX SET: GRAYSTRIPE’S ADVENTURE by Erin Hunter

We are going broke buying my daughter the Warrior Cat books!

When she is into something, she’s REALLY into it. The Warrior Cat books are one of those things. There are a ton of books in this best-selling series by Erin Hunter and my daughter can keep them all straight.

In her painting class she has been painting the book covers. When she does imaginary play, it’s always about Warrior Cats. Oh, and Warrior Cats is being turned into a movie. I believe my daughter has a countdown going.

I do not understand the world of Warrior Cats, but she LOVES it!

She got this box set for her birthday. Manga is a Japanese-style of graphic novels. However, if straight chapter books are up your kid’s alley, there are a whole bunch of those too!

If you have an older kid who likes cats, check this series out.


HORTEN’S MIRACULOUS MECHANISM’S: MAGIC, MYSTERY, & A VERY STRANGE ADVENTURE by Lissa Evans

This book was so clever and so much fun to read. We’re still talking about it!

The book description says it best: “As if being small and having S. Horten as his name isn’t bad enough, now 10-year-old Stuart is forced to move far away from all his friends. But on his very first day in his new home, Stuart’s swept up in an extraordinary adventure: the quest to find his great-uncle Tony–a famous magician who literally disappeared off the face of the earth–and Tony’s marvelous, long-lost workshop. Along the way, Stuart reluctantly accepts help from the annoying triplets next door… and encounters trouble from another magician who’s also desperate to get hold of Tony’s treasures.”


Here are past posts on books we LOVE
1. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 3
2. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 2
3. Books My Kids Are Reading Now (Part 1)
4. Two Children’s Books That Made My Eyes Leak – Cried my eyes out. Still my favorite books.
5. Star Wars Phonics Books – These worked miracles at encouraging my son to read


If you know of any books my kids would love, please let me know.

Having a new book to look forward to reading makes us pretty darn happy!

Also, it apparently keeps this mom from blowing a gasket during our commute. So, really, books are saving the day!

 

 

*affiliate links contained in this post*

Books My Kids Are Reading Part 3

I was snuggling with my son at bedtime recently and thought he’d fallen asleep. I was enjoying the quiet and psyching myself up to do that slow slither out of bed to avoid waking him. Just as I started to stretch one leg off the bed, my son suddenly says to me, “Mom, I had a good day at school.”

Sometimes I second-guess our life choices and then one of my kids will say something like this and I think “Phew. We’re okay. It’s all working out.”

I was certain he’d had a good day because it was Active Week at school and they had done tennis and gymnastics that particular day. Or maybe because of lunch. He likes lunch and outside play time. But no. He told me he had a good day because he read a book about robots making cars and how robots can make cars 24 hours a day.

He had all of these other really specific facts about robots too. So I asked him if he read this book or if his teacher read it. “I read it, mom.” Then I asked him if he just looked at the pictures or if he read the words too? I know, awesome parenting moment. But he’s 6, so I was trying to understand how the learning and reading were progressing. He said, “I looked at the pictures and read the words. Ms. Dempsey said I did a good job reading. I read a lot of books today.”

The last thing on his mind at the end of the day was a compliment from his teacher and a book about robots. Consider my heart melted.

Reading will open the world to him and I can see glimpses of that happening already.

Here’s the best of what my kids (boy, age 6 and girl, age 9) and I have read recently. There have been other books that were okay, but these were the books that stood out and are worth sharing.


The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce

We recently read The Astounding Broccoli Boy and it was about a boy who is bullied who turns green. The doctors didn’t understand what had caused his skin to change color, but the boy figured it was because he had become a superhero. A series of fantastic adventures unfold from there.

This was a long book and I wouldn’t have minded if it was a wee bit shorter. However, my kids loved it because the story was highly engaging and just real enough to make them imagine being in the characters’ shoes. There were twists and turns and in the end, all the plot points came together. Sprinkled throughout the book were messages about being bullied, the bullies themselves and self-worth.

This is the very last paragraph of the book and I wish every kid out there who feels like they don’t fit in would be able to take this message to heart.

“And I thought, the best thing about people is how different they are. When we went green, people wanted us to stop being green, to be the same as everyone else again. But it was only because we were different that we could be astounding. The thing that makes you different is the thing that makes you astounding. The thing that makes you different from everyone else – that’s your superpower.”the character Rory in Frank Cottrell Boyce’s book, The Astounding Broccoli Boy


Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I picked Wonder up at the bookstore and was ready to bring it home, but then my daughter looked at it and said, “we’re reading that at school.”

My daughter’s teacher reads to the class everyday at lunchtime. I can’t tell you how much I love this practice. My daughter seems to like it too!

Anyway, my daughter told me this book was really, really good. In fact, it’s going to be made into a movie soon.

To quote the book jacket: “August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face… In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”


Brilliant by Roddy Doyle

I have never heard the word “brilliant” uttered more than in my time living in Dublin. Or “brill” as some of the moms like to text. I still can’t do that. If you’d like to learn some Irish lingo and take a pretty accurate tour of Dublin, this book, Brilliant, nails it.

But that’s just the surface level and this book addresses a much deeper issue – depression. It was interesting to read about an adult topic in a children’s book. As depression’s reach is far and wide, it made me wonder how kids process this reality.

Roddy Doyle’s approach to tackling this topic definitely brought it down to my kids’ level. They didn’t ask me a lot of questions about depression. They were more interested in the characters’ adventure through the city. But one night they did ask me about people being sad. It was a gentle way of letting them know that being sick isn’t always just about the sniffles.

Despite this book sounding like it was a downer, it wasn’t. The kids and I enjoyed it. It made them think a little and me too. Always a good thing.

I liked what this reviewer on GoodReads had to say: “What adults will like: The book’s accessible treatment of depression, the fantastic writing (especially the dialogue – which Doyle is really a master of), the positive and hopeful themes, and the romp through Dublin (an expert tour if there ever was one). What kids will like: The sibling hijinks, the talking animals, forbidden nighttime adventures, the quest to do the right thing, jokes, and victory at the end. The book might not work for every reader, but there’s something in it for readers of all ages.”


The Story of the Blue Planet by Andri Snaer Magnason

The kids and I devoured this book about a planet where only children live. No one knows how old the kids are or how they got there, but each day is filled with danger, excitement and simple pleasures. What’s not to love, right?

Things are happy and perfect on the planet until a stranger crash lands. An adult.

There were SO MANY real life lessons hidden in The Story of the Blue Planet. For instance, how what we do might make our lives better, but it might come at a cost to someone else.

Or, what happens if the sun really does go away? Can plants grow in darkness? Can animals survive?

Or, how the truth can be manipulated.

Or, how the majority is not always right – because the truth is manipulated or they get caught up in the moment – and how doing the right thing can be very difficult.

Or, how the most generous people are sometimes those who have the least to give.

I could go on and on.


The Story of the Blue Planet was written back in 1999 by an Icelandic author and it wasn’t translated into english until a few years ago.

If there is one book you read this year, this should be it. It was SO engrossing. My kids begged me to read this book when it wasn’t “story time.” They begged me for just one more chapter each night and I was glad because I wanted to read more too!


Here are past posts on books we LOVE
1. Books My Kids Are Reading Part 2
2. Books My Kids Are Reading Now (Part 1)
3. Two Children’s Books That Made My Eyes Leak – Cried my eyes out. Still my favorite books.
4. Star Wars Phonics Books – These worked miracles at encouraging my son to read


If you know of some books my kids might enjoy, please let me know. We are continually on a quest for new stories to devour. Starting a new book makes us so happy. Finishing a good book always makes us a little wistful…until we start the next one!