What I Read – February 2018

At first glance, I felt that my February reading was a bit disappointing. Once I really looked back over my list, I realized that I had read really great books!

This list is my personal reads as well as chapter read alouds to my children. Hopefully I can add in picture books for February later.

The Diary of Young Girl – Anne Frank – Surprisingly I do not recall having read this during high school. For the Redeemed Reader 2018 Reading Challenge, I needed to read a few biographies. Since two of my daughters had chosen to read about Anne Frank, I decided to join them. I must confess that I did not really enjoy this selection. World War II fiction is one of my favorite ares of reading. I began this prepared to love it. I’m not sure why it did not resonate with me. Perhaps, when I realized that I was not enjoying it, I should have set it aside for a later read.

However, I reminded myself as I read it that this diary of Anne’s was representative of all of those who were unable to leave anything behind or we never found a trace of them again. So many who are gone; lost forever to us. So many children and families taken during this horrid time. My two daughters did enjoy The Diary of a Young Girl. They can’t all be a good fit, right? (My daughters who read it were 14 and 17. There is a portion in the diary where Anne discusses changes in her body and some thoughts leading from that. This portion may make this selection not suitable for some families. )

Macbeth and The Tempest – William Shakespeare were also completed during February. I read these with my children during our Gathering each day. For the first time in my life, I am truly enjoying Shakespeare. Reading it aloud with everyone taking parts is great fun. Macbeth was a bit heavy but following it up with The Tempest was perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed The Tempest . It is definitely my favorite Shakespeare play so far!

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness – Andrew Peterson  This is book one of the Wingfeather Saga. My older children read this series years ago and I never made it a priority to do the same. I finally decided that I wanted to read them. The best way to make sure I finish a book in a timely manner is to make it a read aloud. My children are great motivators for “one more chapter”!

The original plan was to read this to my younger ones. My husband just happened to hear me read a chapter and we switched to it being our evening family read aloud. The Dark Sea of Darkness really makes an excellent book across the ages. It is adventurous, witty, humorous, and has most excellent footnotes throughout the book. I’d love to go and visit Oskar’s book shop!  I highly recommend this book. I am so glad that I decided to share it with my children! Book Two, North! or be Eaten, is on its way.

The Grave’s a Fine and Perfect Place – A Flavia de Luce novel – Alan Bradley This is the latest release in the Flavia de Luce series. I knew it was set to be released so I was diligently stalking my library to see when it was on order. As soon as I saw it, I put it on hold. I am always a bit fearful of series; especially when you get several books into the series. There is always that possibility that the author carries the characters for too long. But oh, sweet Flavia, I have loved each and every one in this series. The Grave’s a Fine and Perfect Place did not disappoint! At all!

I enjoy a mystery now and then but the mystery aspect of Flavia is not the draw for me. The characters, especially Flavia and Dogger, and how they personally and their relationships have grown and changed in this series is the real hook for me. Bradley has done amazingly well at capturing young Flavia’s personality. So witty, humorous, and heart wrenching at times. Love it! Mr. Bradley, please, please, tell me there is more Flavia de Luce in the future!

Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate. I can’t recall where I first saw this book mentioned. When I saw my library had it, I immediately put it on hold. I was like number 368 in line. Then when it finally arrived at my local branch, I couldn’t get there in time to get it! After four days, it went to the next person in line. I put it back on hold. And yes, I was again like 300 and something. It took me months to get this book in hand. It was so worth the wait!

This story, while fiction, is based on real life events. It tells the story of the Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home run by Geogia Tann and the devastation and heart break that she brought on so many families. Children were literally stolen from their families and sold to families of wealth and high society. Tann ran this “orphanage” from the 1920s to 1950s. So many children were lost to their parents forever.

Before We Were Yours tells the fictitious story of a group of five siblings and how they were ripped apart after being taken from their home. In the orphanage, children were starved, abused, and neglected; many of them died. This was a deeply moving and powerful story. It made me smile and it definitely made me cry. So thankful for those who were able to be reunited with their families; heartbroken for those who were lost forever. I highly recommend this one.

I’d love to hear about what you read in February and definitely what you are reading now! You can check out my GoodReads to see what I am currently reading.

 

 

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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!

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?