Category Archives: Good Reads

My Favorite Picture Books



Few things are as wonderful to me as reading a picture book to a child cuddled right up to you. And have great books to read only makes it more fun.  Here are some of our very favorites.

Good Night Moon

Thanks for Thanksgiving

This is the Turkey

Twas the Night Before The Night Before Christmas

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots


My Brave Year of Firsts

Olivia Goes to Venice

Strega Nona

Jillian Jiggs

The Pink House

Llama Llama, Mad At Mama

The Three Little Javelinas

I Love Trains

This is my grandmother reading to the little boys.  In addition to being a fantastic story reader, she is an author.  


Good Reads for the Middle Set

IMG_0455Finding good books for kids ages 8-13 can be a real challenge.  Once they leave the beloved gagillion book series of the early chapter books, it can really be no-mans land. I am always looking for books that are challenging and thought provoking to them, but age appropriate.  Here are a few suggestions I came up with in consultation with my resident experts.

*I would highly recommend all these books for adults, too — great, quick reads. I wanted to check out the books before suggesting them to my kids, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Series (I’m always so happy when I stumble upon a series they love — it lasts!)

Little House on the Prairie — This series gave me an appreciation for each material thing, and I loved seeing how things were done on the frontier.  I really enjoyed rereading these as an adult, and they are great read out loud books.

Harry Potter — I feel silly including these as I’m sure it has occurred to every parent.  The early books were wonderful “stretch reads” for precocious 1st and 2nd graders.

Percy Jackson — Having not read these myself, I’m not sure what age these are best.  This is a top recommended series by and for boys. An action series.

The Indian and The Cupboard – The story of a boy in England who has a cupboard that turns his toys into real live (though still miniature) beings with real lives of their own. While being one of my very favorite series of all time, some of my kids just don’t see the beauty. Fascinating and heartfelt, definitely check it out. Another great read out loud.

My very favorites

These are great for boys and girls alike.  I have made encouraged all my kids to read them.

Out of my mind — a novel about a girl whose mind is sound, but body is disabled.

Me and the Pumpkin Queen — a middle school girl grows giant pumpkins for the State Fair, just like her mom did before losing her battle with cancer.

Esperanza Rising — after being threatened, a wealthy widow and her daughter leave their fortune in Mexico to come to America.  They find work as farm laborers in California and the daughter learns to be happy despite her greatly altered circumstances.

Wonder — a novel about a boy with facial deformities who is entering school for the first time after being home schooled for over a decade.

When you reach me — I don’t even know where to begin.  A slight sci-fi read about a middle schooler living in New York. This gets an enthusiastic recommendation from someone who actively avoids all books pretend (me)

Holes – A fun an original book about boys working in a desert, fate, and the things that bring us together

A Single Shard — A fable (?) taking place in ancient Asia.  A homeless but hard working adolescent learns the value of handwork and grace.

The Secret Garden

Resident Expert Recommendations

The One and Only Ivan

Al Capone Does My Shirts

The Westing Game

Bud Not Buddy


My Favorite Books of All Time

IMG_0457I am an avid reader, and I carefully cultivate a shelf in my library of all time favorites.  To make it on this list, they have to be nearly life-changing, if not there all ready.

Here are my all time favorite book that I did not read this year, or are considered young adult fiction since I have a separate list for that.

Call the Midwife — I read this before it was a TV show, when it was called something else. (something about a mid-wife on London’s south side) Eye opening, and in so many places, heart warming, a read that changed the way I though about my life.  After reading the chapter about going to the work house — I will never tuck my kids in the same way again. It does have a graphic chapter about prostitution, be warned.

Outliers — Malcom Gladwell’s (who I adore everything he has written) best book, examining why some people truly excel.  He distills it down to great takeaways that you’ll think about long after you finished this book.  Just how many hours a week does it take to get to 10,000 hours?

The Happiness Project — Gretchen Rubin spends a year setting goals to increase personal happiness and chronicles them in this book.  I found so many good ideas in the book I’m working on a post to discuss them all.

The White House Chef Scheib was the White House chef for eleven years, and details the ins and outs of cooking for the first family. I adored reading the details of how he made several lunches each day for W, cooked steak fajitas for Hilary during her darkest days, and tastings for State Dinners.  HE doesn’t shy away from the political details which makes it a book I’ve read again and again.  Love.

The Help — I’m not super into fiction, but one is great.  It is completely implausible, which for once I overlooked, and loved the heart of the book.  You is good, you is kind.

Freakanomics — Economics may be the first thing I was really good at. This was the first in what was a whole new genre of books — books trying to explain human behavior through the social sciences of economics and statistics.  Perfection.  Even if you hate are ambivalent about economics or statistics, you may love this books, too.

Very Honorable mentions:*

Nickeled and Dimed – a lady takes minimum wage jobs and tries to live of her earnings.

The Secret Life of Bees — Jared’s grandma suggested this to me. Fiction.  And I loved it.

Friday Night Lights – An extremely eye opening look at high school football in Texas.  I can tell you where my boys will never be found.

The Year of Living Biblically — AJ Jacobs spends a year trying to literally follow certain dictates from the Bible.

On Rue Tatin Starting out as a student in Paris, Loomis’ adventure falling in love with France, eventually becoming a permanent resident.  Sumptuous details of cooking, decorating and living abroad, a very fun read.

*If I let a book about football on my best reads of all time, have I lost?

2013 Best Of — Books I read

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Want to see my favorite books of all time?  Check them out here!

I think reading would fall into the category of “things I love and am not sure why I don’t do more often.”  Few things make me happier than a great book.  Crawling into my flannel sheets to read before falling asleep — divine.

Curious to see which books were among my favorites?

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