Reading Together for The Holidays
Dec14

Reading Together for The Holidays

The Holidays can be a great time for reading. I know life gets extremely busy, but that makes down time even more necessary. Also, there is often time to fill and a need for entertainment at parties and get-togethers. Instead of relying on movies or video games, try the old-fashioned tradition of reading out loud.  Books can be very engaging if you have material for the right age groups and if you put a little personality into your...

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Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst
Dec13

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

Lulu is a pain and she never likes to hear the word “no.”  Her parents give her everything because she throws screeching fits when things don’t go her way.  However, when Lulu leaves home to find a pet brontosaurus, her perspective begins to change.  Lulu meets her brontosaurus, but he wants to keep HER for a pet and he doesn’t like to hear “no” any more than Lulu does. This delightful battle of wills is a perfect transition to...

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Elliot and the Goblin War by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Dec12

Elliot and the Goblin War by Jennifer A. Nielsen

When Elliot Penster unwittingly saves a young Brownie from some Goblins one Halloween, he has no idea how his life will change.  Young Patches Willimaker is so grateful to Elliot that she can’t stop talking about him at home.  His name is so familiar around the house that when Queen Bipsy asks Mr. Willimaker to name her successor, Elliot’s name comes to mind.  Mr. Willimaker never believes the Brownies will make Elliot king, but they...

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Alvin Ho:  Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters, by Lenore Look
Oct22

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters, by Lenore Look

Alvin Ho is an endearing second grader who is afraid of everything, but very resourceful. His phobias speak to a young audience using humor to show that fears can be overcome. This book is the second in the series, but these books can be read in any order. The fun illustrations help keep preschoolers attention and the funny situations appeal to older readers and even parents. My entire family (ages 5-11) enjoyed this read aloud. In...

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Fergus Crane (Far Flung Adventures #1), by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Jul26

Fergus Crane (Far Flung Adventures #1), by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Fergus Crane is a new favorite for our entire family. The captivating story kept my eleven-year-old’s interest, but wasn’t too scary for my five-year-old. The wonderful illustrations made it a fun read aloud with plenty of pausing to discuss the pictures. This same author/illustrator pair also has a young adult series called the Edge Chronicles that I am excited to try as well. This first Far Flung Adventure features Fergus Crane....

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Witch’s Wishes, by Vivian Vande Velde
Nov24

Witch’s Wishes, by Vivian Vande Velde

When six-year-old Sarah helps an old witch on Halloween, she is given a secret, magical reward. The witch turns her costume fairy wand into a real, wish-granting wand. Unaware of her magic power, Sarah makes wish after wish, creating chaos through her neighborhood. Will the witch be able to fix her mistake before Halloween is ruined for everyone? Witch’s Wishes is a perfect family read for the Halloween season. It has witches, flying...

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Waiting for the Magic, by Patricia MacLachlan
Apr02

Waiting for the Magic, by Patricia MacLachlan

Waiting for the Magic was a tender, read aloud hit in our house. My 4 and 5-year-old boys loved the talking pets that only some family members could hear. My 9-year-old envied the fact that the family adopted all four dogs and one cat available from the animal shelter. My husband and I enjoyed the loving resolution between a struggling husband and wife. The kids mostly missed the tension of the father moving out temporarily, but they...

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Smart Dog, by Vivian Vande Velde
Apr02

Smart Dog, by Vivian Vande Velde

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Smart Dog by Vivian Vande Velde. I grabbed it on a whim, because we needed another read aloud book for my 4 and 5 year old boys. As it turned out, they were hooked along with me, my husband, and my 9-year-old daughter. My boys have a problem with intense conflict, so a lot of the books they like are a little slow. However, this book was gentle enough for them and interesting enough for...

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Kenny and the Dragon, by Tony DiTerlizzi
Feb12

Kenny and the Dragon, by Tony DiTerlizzi

When a bookish dragon settles on the hill near his home, Kenny is anxious to investigate. He is made a little nervous by Grahame’s size at first meeting, but soon the two are best friends. However, the citizens of the nearby town aren’t so anxious to make friends with a dragon. The problem grows when Kenny realizes George, another of his close friends, has been ordered to exterminate Grahame. Soon it will take all of Kenny’s brains...

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Great Family Books for The Holidays
Nov24

Great Family Books for The Holidays

The Holidays can be a great time for reading. I know life gets extremely busy, but that makes down time even more necessary. Also, there is often time to fill and a need for entertainment at parties and get-togethers. Instead of relying on movies or video games, try the old-fashioned tradition of reading out loud.  Books can be very engaging if you have material for the right age groups and if you put a little personality into your...

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The Bridge to Never Land, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Nov23

The Bridge to Never Land, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

If you have read the previous Peter and the Starcatchers series (highly recommended before jumping into this one), The Bridge to Never Land is a little bit of a departure. Sarah and Aidan Cooper live in our modern world, but their lives change when they find a hidden stash of starstuff. They quickly learn that books they read as fiction are real and so are the dangerous villains. With a short trip to Never Land and plenty of adventure...

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson
Nov23

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

Halmark’s made for TV movie has made the story of the Herdmans well known, but the book is even more priceless and touching than the movie. When the town’s most rowdy and dysfunctional family takes all the lead roles in the church Christmas Pageant, it appears as if the show will be a disaster. However, as the Herdmans learn ABOUT Jesus, they teach everyone about the true Spirit of Christmas. This is a wonderful, humorous, and...

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Molly’s Pilgrim, by Barbara Cohen
Nov23

Molly’s Pilgrim, by Barbara Cohen

I don’t usually review picture books, but this is a classic Thanksgiving story perfect for many different ages. Molly and her family are immigrants in America in the early 1900s. Because of her accent and interesting clothes, Molly is teased by other students in school. For a Thanksgiving project, she is told to make a pilgrim clothespin doll. After hearing an explanation of Pilgrims, Molly’s mother makes the doll to look like her....

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The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote
Nov23

The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote

This is a nostalgic look at Thanksgiving in 1932 told from the viewpoint of 9-year-old Buddy. Growing up in a small Alabama town, Buddy’s best friends are his dog Queenie and his 60-year-old cousin, Miss Sook. His friendship with Miss Sook is put to the test when she insists on inviting the school bully, Odd Henderson, to Thanksgiving dinner. Through this experience, Buddy learns the importance of suspending judgment and extending...

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The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer
Nov23

The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer

When Meg Finn meets an unexpected, early death, she ends up trapped in limbo. Her scale between heaven and hell is exactly even. To fix this problem, she is sent back to earth to help old Lowrie McCall fulfill his wish list before he dies. With this service, she hopes to tip her balance toward heaven, but she receives another reward—the friendship of a cantankerous and wonderful old man. Colfer’s humor makes this story both delightful...

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Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston
Nov23

Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston

This is the tale of Katrina Katrell and her fabulous adventure with Morty the Zorgle. Together, they try to find the missing Zorgles of Zorgamazoo. Written entirely in Dr. Suess-like rhyme, this light story captures the importance of imagination and magical creatures. My family listened to the audio book and the reader is marvelous. However, you won’t want to miss the paper version and Weston’s inventive illustrations....

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
Nov23

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

I love this book, because it entertained all three of my children (ages 3, 5, and 9) when we read it out loud together. Willy Wonka opens his mysterious chocolate factory to five lucky children. His tour shows these children the magical world of chocolate making, but it is also a test. One lucky child will win much more than a tour, the most magical prize of all....

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The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech
Nov23

The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech

My family read this book during the holiday season and even though it isn’t a holiday book or even a religious book, it leaves you with an uplifting and positive feeling to fit the season. The story takes place in a community dealing with conflict and contention.  However, the angel telling the story helps other characters to see a bigger picture.  Creech’s angel has a unique voice and view of the world that makes you cheer for all...

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A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Nov23

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

This Christmas classic has been remade in many forms, but we often neglect the original. Dickens’s vocabulary might be too sophisticated for younger children, but the story is well known and easy to follow. Try reading about the original Ebineezer Scrooge and his ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.  This story will surely turn your “Bah, humbug,” to a “God bless us every one.”...

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The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry
Nov23

The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry

This story is the classic tale of sacrificing what you love most in order to give to the ones you love.  When a young and financially challenged couple try to give each other Christmas gifts, the results are both disastrous and touching.  This short and beautifully written story, illustrates the true purpose of Christmas giving.  The vocabulary is a little difficult for young children, but the concept is understandable.  You might...

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