Historical fiction helps us view the events of history in new and meaningful ways. The best novels teach us about our past while entertaining us in the present. With that in mind, today’s list contains ten historical fiction novels (for a variety of ages) that will inform and entertain your young reader. Specifically, the books on this list taught me about events in history I knew almost nothing about. Each one is a gem, well-written and worth the read.
You know the feeling when you finish a good book and you want to tell someone about it? Well, I've got that feeling. This list of books doesn’t fit on any of the upcoming book lists I have planned. I wanted to share them anyway.
If your kids are participating in the Young Book Love Bingo Reading Challenge, the books on this list will help them fill in the square “a book about someone who doesn’t look like you.” (The characters include people from Pakistan and India along with Americans with different shades of skin.) If your kids aren’t participating in the Reading Challenge and want to, you can find out more (and print off a free Bingo board) here.
Below are four books I read over the past month that I am excited to recommend. I hope your young reader will connect with them too.
Refugees have been an on-going story in our world as long as there have been stories. A few years back when the Syrian refugee crisis was full-blown, it was hard for me to process. The numbers, the news reports, even the pictures, they all started to blend together. Those mediums have their place, but to read the personal story of one person can have a more profound effect than a million statistics or news reports.
Books and the stories they contain can be an amazing tool to help our kids (and ourselves) process what is going on in the world around us. As we read, learn and empathize, these stories can help us interact with our own world in a new way. We might not be able to have a direct impact on a Syrian refugee, but we can have an impact on the new kid (or their parent) who feels alone.
With that in mind, today’s list contains six books. A few of the books tell the refugee’s story as he/she flees their home country. Others are made up of characters who are living in America as immigrants. All of them give insight into what it would feel like to leave your home and start over in a strange new land. This list of books is special offering readers relatable characters they will easily root for and identify with. They also simply contain good stories that I hope your kids will enjoy as they read.
“The book was better” is a common mantra proudly proclaimed by bookworms everywhere. While this may be true, the movie version often has its merits. Not only that, a good story told is a good story told whether it comes to us via printed words or on a DVD.
If your young reader is a purist and the movie does not follow the book exactly, watching the movie version will probably end in disappointment. However, if you have a hard time convincing your young reader to pick up a book, watching the movie might be the motivator they need to get reading.
While I usually try to read the book first, most of the movies on this list I watched, loved, discovered they were based on a book and then read the book. When I watch a movie after I’ve read the book I try to keep an open mind. I don’t mind if the movie departs from the book or adds new plot twists, as long as it keeps the feel of the book. Every once in a while the book has been the disappointment. (Mary Poppins is one example that comes to mind. I love the movie so much, and the book just didn’t come close.)
At the end of January, the Caldecott winners were announced. The Caldecott is an annual award given to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” I’m always curious about the winners.
If you ever feel at a loss for what books to grab at the library, a Caldecott or Newbery award winner is usually a good place to start. This doesn’t always work (the books we like don’t always line up with the books the “experts” choose), but if you are looking for picture books to read with your kids, this year’s winner and honorees are good ones. Although Hello Lighthouse was the official winner for 2019, for kicks I decided to list this year’s picks with my favorites at the top.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic in children’s literature. Written in 1962, it was well-received from the get-go and even won the Caldecott Medal that year. Who can’t relate to the wonder of a fresh blanket of snow? The Snowy Day was also one of the first picture books to feature an African American child as the main character. Written in the midst of the Civil Rights movement this book quietly made a very important statement.
I read an article that ran on NPR on January 28, 2012 (the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day) that shared one of the ways this book made an impact:
Mysteries are the perfect type of book to read on a cold and blustery fall or winter night. If your child loves the thrill of following clues along with the danger and suspense that literary detectives always encounter. I’ve got a list for you.
So get a fire going in the fireplace, grab a cozy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate, and dive into one of the following books.
When our kids learn to read, it is a big deal. Easy readers are a great and obvious place to start. Once our kids master the easy reader, it’s time to dip their toes into the wonderful world of chapter books.
There are a lot of series that help kids make this transition. Magic Tree House and June B. Jones come to mind. Short, entertaining and abundant these are the books that move our kids into the world of chapter books and independent reading.
Today’s list includes some of my recent discoveries in the beginner chapter book genre. These books are geared towards early readers, but they are all so good readers of any age can enjoy them. A few are stand alone books, a few are series. If you have a new reader, check them out and be sure to read along with your child. I know you will enjoy them too.
Fall is the perfect time for reading. The shorter days and colder nights drive us inside and create the ideal opportunity to snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a good book.
Yep, Autumn and reading go together like peanut butter and jelly, a classic combination.
There are certain genres of books that feel especially appropriate this time of year. Cold and gray outsides, make the insides extra cozy and the thought of diving into a thick book or classic work more inviting. Shorter days and longer evenings can be motivating to start a longer series of books. A spooky story or compelling mystery can be just the thing to set the mood for a late night read in bed while the wind howls outside the window.
Today’s list contains ideas and recommendations from all of these categories, making it a fairly diverse list. If you have a sensitive reader, some of these books might not be a good match. But, if your young reader enjoys the thrill of a scary story every once in awhile, I am excited to share some new discoveries.
Wherever your child falls on the spooky spectrum, I think today’s list has a little bit for everyone. Hopefully you will find the perfect book for your kids to dive into this Fall, to read on their own or to share together.
A little over a month ago I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland. Throughout our visit we hiked trails, rode trains, toured castles and (of course) looked for Nessie all amidst beautiful and varied landscapes. At times, it felt like we were in another world, a world where fairies and dragons most definitely exist.
Now that we are home, I will grudgingly admit that these fantastical creatures (probably) don’t exist. But, I will always be thankful they ARE meant to live in our imaginations and come alive through the telling of fairy tales and the reading of good books. Scotland was a place where their existence felt possible and that is one of many reasons why I hope to return.
Until then, I am thankful for books filled with castles and dragons that give us the opportunity to get lost in a good story and visit far-off lands.
Today’s list, inspired in part by Scotand, contains books and series where castles come alive, dragons live and peasant girls try to become princesses.
I regularly tell my elementary school students, “You are never too old to enjoy a good picture book!” Picture books are such a treasure! I love to read them on my own, read them to my students and recommend them to everyone! Here are some of my favorites.
These days it is easy to find beautiful picture book biographies. I feel like I see new ones on the shelves of libraries and bookstores or featured in pictures in my Bookstagram feed all the time. They are plentiful and abundant. It is lovely.
A picture book that gives us a glimpse into the life of someone else and the challenges they overcame is a good thing. Add in illustrations and a story that is relatable for readers of all ages (and I do mean all ages) and you have a good, GOOD thing. Today I am going to highlight some of my favorite discoveries to date.
The best thing is I am constantly discovering more of these treasures through Bookstagram, the library and other sources. Rest assured, this will not be the last picture book biography session we share together.
In light of that, I am limiting this list to ten books that would make an excellent addition to any library, including yours.
As I have been blessed with a large passel of kids with a variety of ages, interests, and reading likes and dislikes, I thought I’d do a “quick pick” list inspired by them. Below are the books my kids are currently reading. If you are looking for ideas for your young reader, maybe one these books will inspire them.
Many children are introduced to the wonders of books and reading through the kid-friendly, hardy little readers we know and love as “board books.” Created to withstand all that an infant and toddler can throw at it, these books are a staple in most nurseries.
I was recently perusing the board book section at my local book store, and oh my word, this category of books has evolved since I had littles crawling around my home. The act of reading while snuggling with our babies and toddlers is always a pleasure. Add to that content the parent enjoys reading and you have a perfect match. Plus, a board book that allows me to introduce some of my favorite things (Pride and Prejudice for instance) to my kids is an absolute win.
The board books I discovered are so fun, I had to share. If you have babies or toddlers at home, need a gift idea, or want to add to your own collection simply because, this list is for you.
There are certain books that jumpstart the imagination quicker than others. I would imagine the type of book that does this best is a little different for everyone. The Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer was one of those books for me.
The Trolley Car Family is the story of a family that suddenly finds themselves in a tough situation. The dad, a trolley car driver looses his job because all the trolley cars in the city are being replaced by buses. Eventually the family decides to move the trolley car out into the country and live in it.
There was something about setting up the trolley car as a home and figuring out life in a new place that would get my imagination going the multiple times I read it. I remember thinking about that trolley car and designing my own hideaway. I would look for houses or forts behind bushes and up in trees. I would imagine what it would be like to set up house and live in a new environment like they did in the book.
I loved how the kids had a level of independence that allowed them to explore and imagine and contribute. It was inspiring to me as a child and I still love reading these types of books as an adult. They take me back to my childhood and they still spark my imagination.
Today’s list contains books in this vein. These are books filled with families and children living and learning together. They are books where kids are allowed to have adventures. They are books in which ordinary days are filled with ordinary-turned-extraordinary adventures through the magic of storytelling. They are some of my very favorites.
One of my favorite types of book to fall into include book series of epic proportions. I love stories that pull you into the long-standing battle of good verses evil along with tales of sacrifice, courage and doing hard things.
There are a few obvious books that come to mind in this category. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my all-time favorite series. The Lord the Rings is another. Hidden within the pages of these books are moments of profound insight and wisdom that have shaped my life. They hold scenes that I think of when I need a dose of courage in my real-life decisions.
Of course, Harry Potter also falls into this category. This series is fully entertaining and so hard to put down. If your child gets lost in the first one, chances are he or she will want to keep reading to see how the saga ends.
One thing I love even more than getting lost in an epic saga is watching a story pull my kids in hard. It is even better when that story leads to a request for the next book from the library ASAP.
If your kids love to get lost inside of an epic adventure or have never tried, this list is for you. Below are five series my kids and I have loved that might be good fits for your kids too. Some of them have profound insight and wisdom sprinkled inside (if you look for it), all of them are epic in nature with excellent stories at their heart.
Have you ever walked into your local public library with your kids determined to emerge well-stocked with armloads of books only to find yourselves overwhelmed and unsure what books to pluck from their overstuffed shelves?
With so many options, it can be challenging to figure out exactly what book to read next. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here are 10 books (covering a variety of genres and ages) to give you some direction. The next time your kids feel library overload, see if they'd like to give one of these stories a try:
Good listening material is essential over the summer, whether it be for long road trips, short excursions around town, or something to listen to quietly in your room. Audio books offer an excellent source of listening material that the whole family can enjoy both together or on their own.
Our family has not listened to a huge number of audio books yet. I have, however, been pulling together a list of potential listening material for our upcoming road trip.
To help me with my list and maybe with yours, I asked a friend whose family loves listening to audiobooks together to share a few of their favorites.
Whatever your listening needs are this summer, consider the following list of audio book recommendations from Sharlin and her family:
My kids are too old to read to.
Our schedule is too busy.
I can’t find books that interest ALL of my kids.
I have been reading aloud to my 6 kids for the past 11 years. It is considered as essential and routine as their nightly showers.
It used to be we could read every night—before they got older and some evening activities crept in.
Now, we probably average 4-5 nights a week.
And yes, even my teens are on the couch listening- because you are never too old to be read aloud to- they love this time every night.
For our family, summer always means a wonderful slowing down from the frenetic pace of the school year. We find ourselves so busy with sports schedules, dance recitals, and homework that our love of reading for fun seems to take a back seat.
Maybe this is the case for your family as well? So as longer days and warmer weather are on the horizon, you may find that trips to the library become a more regular destination. And whether your children are 2 or 12 (or 16 for that matter), a good picture book can bring laughter, empathy, and rich timely discussion on a variety of topics. But the best part of a picture book is that you can read them WITH your children. Regardless of how old your tribe may be, I believe that no child is too old to listen to a story being read to them by someone who loves them. So here is a list of my personal favorites-I guarantee you that they will bring joy as they are read!