Children’s Fiction from 2017

Better late than ever, right? My plan was to give a concise but thorough review of these books. However, life with ten children does not always go as planned and my desire for sleep always wins. Toss in temperamental internet, well, this is as good as it is going to get. So without any further delay, here are some of our Reads in Children’s Fiction 2017:

The Door Before and The Song of Glory and Ghost (Outlaws of Time Book 2) -N. D. Wilson. Ok, I have to comment on these. The Door Before is a prequel to the 100 Cupboards series (and the Ashtown Burials series as well). You need to read the series first. Trust me. If you haven’t read The Song of Glory and the Ghost, put it on your list! Outlaws of Time Book 3: The Last of the Lost Boys is set to release April 17, 2018.

The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. We really enjoyed both of these books. Beautiful. Bittersweet.

Beautiful Blue World and Threads of Blue – Suzanne Fleur –  Another set of books that deal with the topic of war but it is handle is a much different way than The War That Saved My Life. It reminds me of The Boy in Striped Pajamas in how it isn’t so much what is said but what isn’t that is powerful.

Locomotion and Peace, Locomotion – Jacqueline Woodson – I loved her book Brown Girl Dreaming a few years ago and she did not disappoint. I absolutely adore Locomotion. He is dealing with grief, he loves his sister dearly, and he is finding his place in a new family. Locomotion is a free verse novel and Peace: Locomotion is in the form of letters. I have come to appreciate free verse so much. Woodson does it well.

Patina – Jason Reynolds – This is the second book in the Track series. (Ghost was the first.) This is a great series so far that would appeal to a variety of readers. They are a reasonable length so that reluctant readers will not be overwhelmed. Each book highlights a member of a track team; a diverse group of kids who all have a unique story. The third book, Sunny, is set to be released in April, 2018.

Nothing to Fear – Jackie French Koller – An excellent historical fiction set during the beginning of the Depression.

Isaac the Alchemist – Mary Losure – Having a nice stash of biographies and science titles for my children to read is a goal I am continually working on. This book on Isaac Newton  highlights his boyhood and shows how Newton’s fascination with magic found in science inspired him. I found it a quick and easy read but engaging as well. A great one to add in with your science studies.

Blooming at The Texas Sunrise Motel – Kimberly Willis Holt – A fun read for girls; perhaps ages 10-13? Stevie has lost her parents and is now living with her grumpy grandfather in his hotel. Sweet story about a young girl accepting the changes in her life.  Perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Love That Dog and Hate That Cat – Sharon Creech – These two books are must reads! Jack is boy who is confident that poetry is not for boys. However, Jack discovers that not only is poetry for boys but that he is quite the poet himself. These two books made me smile, chuckle, and yes, even cry just a bit. For your average or above reader, these could be super quick reads as Jack does not waste words. That makes them also a great fit for struggling or reluctant readers. I did not read them aloud  but if I had to do it over again I would definitely read the books aloud. Perhaps just a poem or two a day and let Jack’s story unfold slowly.  Well done, Sharon Creech! We love them!

Out of the Dust – Karen Hesse – Can you tell I discovered a love of free verse this year? Yes, another free verse novel. This novel is told from the perspective of Billie Jo and her life during the Dust Bowl and Depression. Out of the Dust paints a bleak, harsh, realistic picture of this time in history.  It is not for young readers as some portions of the story might be disturbing to sensitive readers. There is no language or suggestive content but Billie Jo suffers severe burns. In the end there is peace and hope for Billie Jo.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Witch’s Boy – Kelly Barnhill – The Witch’s Boy was one of our read alouds in 2017. I began it thinking it would just be an engaging fantasy read for the kiddos and I. This book turned out to be so much more. Kelly Barnhill did an amazing job with Ned’s story.  If you haven’t read The Witch’s Boy, you should. It will be a family favorite.

These were just a handful of the children books I read  in 2017. Some were read alouds and some were just passed along as I finished them. All of them I recommend and hope you enjoy if you choose one or two to read.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite books! I’m always looking to expand our list!

 

*Disclosure – There are affiliate links used throughout this post. If you should make a purchase after clicking on a link, I receive a very small percentage. It does not affect your shopping experience in anyway. Feel free to click on my links to check out these books, read some reviews, and then head over to your library. I love my library and how it saves my budget! Thanks for stopping by!

Picture Books 2017 – A Few of Our Favorites

Despite not having a thorough record of my books for 2017, I decided to take a bit of time and try to remember at least some of our favorites for the year. With the help of my reading history from the library, I was able to get a decent list together while I rocked my little guy to sleep. Perhaps a few of these will be new to you or remind you of an old favorite.

Little i -(Michael Hall)  Little i has lost his dot!! And so begins his journey to find the missing dot. As you join Little i on his quest you will meet the rest of the alphabet and if you are watching closely, you will also meet some punctuation. While this book is a great resource to use for alphabet/spelling/grammar studies, it is also a fun read.

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse -(Marc Barnett (author); Jon Klassen (illustrator)  We really enjoy the books that these two guys collaborate on. Dave and Sam Dig a Hole, Triangle, and Extra Yarn are all favorites here. The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse was no exception. Perhaps it is our weird sense of humor that makes this tale so enjoyable? Duck is swallowed by Wolf and is he frantic to find a way out? No! Duck quite enjoys the warm comfort of the Wolf’s belly. But what happens when Mouse joins in the fun?

Bruce’s Big Move – (Ryan T. Higgins) This is the third book in the Mother Bruce series. If you haven’t read the first two then they are a must. In Bruce’s Big Move, the grumpy (but lovable) Bruce tries with no success to rid his home of some pesky mice that just. won’t. leave. Finally Bruce has enough of the guests that won’t leave. Bruce packs up and moves away. Ah, all settled in his new, mouse free home. But wait….who just scurried in? Simple story that my young ones love and great illustrations.

A Perfect Day– (Lane Smith) – Ah, the perfect day! Beautiful flowers, refreshing water, and yummy seeds. What more could you ask for? Perfection for Cat, Dog, Squirrel, and Chickadee. Well, until Bear arrives and finds his own perfect day. Smith’s lovely illustrations provided the perfect backdrop for the simple text of this story. A humorous story to share with your little ones or even a great opportunity to discuss the different perspective of characters.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis – (Paul Meisel) – This little gem caught my eye on a library trip. It was just sitting on the shelf and I grabbed it without even flipping through the pages. It was definitely a win. My Awesome Summer takes you through the life cycle of a preying mantis is a humorous but accurate way. I read it aloud and everyone was chuckling and making comments. I learned a thing or two about preying mantis myself. A great book to use for nature study/science. Engaging, entertaining, and educational; well done, Mr. Meisel. Well done!

Blue Ethel – (Jennifer Black Reinhardt) – Confession: I totally grabbed this book because I liked Blue Ethel on the cover. Something about old Ethel just made me smile. She is a cat who is old, a little on the plump side and well, black and white. Ethel is a cat who has settled into her life and is quite content. Then suddenly, well, I’m not quite sure how to say this…Ethel turns blue. And life might not be the same for Ethel after this. Even if you are not overly fond of cats, I think you might like Blue Ethel. The illustrations are super fun, too.

Don’t Blink– (Tom Booth) – Right now. Look at the cover. How can you not read this book? The girl. The turtle. I know. Too cute! My kiddos are all the time having staring contest. Having a staring contest with a sibling is totally different than having one with the girl in this book. Oh, yeah. She is a tough one to beat. Did I mention the gorilla, the bird, and oh, that turtle? This one might be on my to buy list. It quite simple just makes me smile.

Bob! Not Bob!: *to be read as though you have the worst cold ever – (Audrey Vernick, Liz Garton Scanlon, Matthew Cordell). Right now. Go to your library’s online catalog and request this book. Seriously. If you can fake a cold, get this book. If you are a mom who has ever had a sick child, get this book. If you have a child with a cold, get this book. Hilarious. Plan and simple. Louie is sick. And he keeps calling for his mom. But instead of his mom coming, his dog, Bob, keeps showing up. See. Read the title as if you have a really bad stuffy nose. Super fun.

Before You– (Rebecca Doughty) – “Before you..I was a tail without a wag. A bean without a bag.” Ah…isn’t that sweet! When I started reading this book, I was prepared for groaning. Whenever I read picture books, my older kiddos are often lingering around. The groaning was very minimal because Before You is simply cute and sweet. A adorable little book that speaks to those of us who love someone else with all our hearts. It would be great to have on hand for Valentine’s Day and perhaps add a few couplets of you own. I need to request it from the library again. (I debated putting it on the list. But my 12 year old daughter remembered the book and she thought it was super cute so I decided it made the cut. )

There is a small selection of some of our picture books we enjoyed in 2017. Hopefully one or two of them will find their way into your book basket and bring smiles and laughter to your little ones.

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you thought of them. What picture books were hits at your home this past year? I’m always, always looking for books to add to our library runs!

Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully I can get up a list of children’s fiction and adult novels I read in 2017.

***Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links. These links in no way affect you if you were to make purchases. I simple earn a very small percentage when a purchase is made from the links.

Our Reading Plans for 2018

A new year has arrived! Woo hoo for 2018! The year that I finally diligently track my reading! Yes! I have a plan and I encouraged my children to join me. It is going to be a fun year, y’all! Want to know my fabulous plan?

It is pretty simple. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel or in this case the reading plan, I decided to let someone else do all the hard work. Yes. I have moments of genius!

Months ago I picked up simple, boring, plain black journals from Wal-Mart for $1 each. Notebooks/journals are like candy or gold in this house. I have kept them safely stashed in my room until the new year. Seriously. When I brought them out this afternoon, my children were like Gollum and the Ring. I’m not joking.

The plan is simple. They are going to use the journals to track their reading for the year (and beyond). This way I can easily check in with their reading and they have an ongoing list of books. I wish I had a list of all the books my older kids have read or that I read to them. So many books not recorded!!  I left it totally up to them on how to organize (even decorate) their books. Caleb (16) will likely keep his super simple and bare bones. I do think he is going to label it “Caleb’s Book Book”. Witty that one is. Hannah (12) is already discussing design options on the cover (see boring black journals were not a bad deal!) and she is planning on a detailed list.

Tracking books was an easy issue to solve. But what to read? I have to force myself to read broadly. I know what I like and tend to stick with that. World War II fiction anyone? Some of my children are following that pattern. It is good to step to another aisle in the library and broaden our literary horizons, right? This is where I was really going to burn through some brain cells in trying to put together a reading challenge.

Thankfully, my friend, Cathe Swanson, mentioned a couple of 2018 reading challenges on her Facebook page (Cather just happens to be an author….perfect time to check her out while planning your 2018 reading!) One of the challenges she linked to was at Redeemed Reader. I was already familiar with Redeemed Reader. My daughter Lydia and I were browsing there just a week or two ago looking for young adult books. I did not realize they had a 2018 Reading Challenge. While it is designed for kids and teens, I am totally using it for myself. Oh yeah, my kids are doing it, too.

I gathered the kiddos up, explained the basic four levels of the reading challenge and let them select which level each of them wanted to tackle. At first a few of them thought a 100 books would be an easy goal. They easily top a 100 books a year. Following this challenge however means they have to read books that fit categories and there lies the challenge. I have already heard some groaning.

Book journals are in hand. Book challenge levels have been presented. Book selections are already being made. I am even including Martha (6) and Ezra (3). I just need to grab notebooks for them. Until Martha is reading independently, the younger ones notebooks will just be read alouds. No problem!

Oh. They totally asked if there was a reward. Hey, why not, right?  Lydia pointed out that I can easily grab some books from the used book store or Thrift Books. Can I say how much I love that my children love used books? So they will earn books if they meet their reading goals. I may also plan something special at the end of the year. A special book reading party or something? Who knows. I think the higher the level completed, the greater the reward.

Do you have a Reading Plan for 2018? Following an official reading challenge or just winging it? How do you track what you are reading?