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.
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.
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!
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