Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Books You Should Know About

We've been reading some excellent books this fall and I want to tell you about a few of them.  Maybe you'll put them on your library list or maybe they'll help you get started or finish off (depending on who you are) your Christmas shopping.

I'll start off with three books that Sadie (age 5 1/2) and I have read recently.  The Hundred Dresses  is a book about bullying, but the actual bullying is very subtle.  There isn't any physical violence in this book or even any name calling.  Even though the mistreatment is subtle, it cannot be ignored, as it shouldn't, and is a wonderful (gentle) lesson that even making fun of someone gently hurts deeply and can cause great regret.  I highly recommend this book for girls and boys alike.

The second book we've read is Mary on Horseback, the true story of Mary Breckinridge, a nurse who devoted her life to the mountain people of Appalachia.  The book is divided into three stories of individuals whose lives were impacted greatly by Mary.  If you have a young lady in your life who loves horses, she'll be mesmerized by this nurse on horseback that rides over mountains to help people.  This book is a treasure.

Next is a book for animal lovers, particularly those who love dolphins.  Dolphin Adventure is a true account of what one scuba diver experienced when a dolphin family asked for his help.  It's an amazing peek into the lives and abilities of these amazing creatures.  It's a short and easy read, perfect for young listeners.

Two great books Sam and I read recently were The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Johnny Tremain.  I had never read either of these before and they both impressed me greatly.

There is no witch in The Witch of Blackbird Pond, although two characters in the book are accused of being witches.  One escapes harm when the village suspects her of harm (unfounded) and burns down her cabin.  The other is proved to not be a witch, so no harm comes to her.  Those are the two most intense scenes in the book.  The book tells the story of a young woman who comes north to live in a new colony when her life changes dramatically in Barbados.  She goes searching for her mother's sister and moves in with her and her family.  Ever thought colonial life was simple and bliss-filled?  This book paints an excellent picture of what it and many of the Puritan perceptions of the times were like.  For us romantic moms, there are even a few story lines that will keep us cheering for the girls in this book.  I LOVED this book.  Loved it.

Johnny Tremain is a fictional (although based on real events in history) novel about a young apprentice whose life changes drastically after an accident.  Soon, he finds himself working for the Sons of Liberty, even participating in the Boston Tea Party and the start of the Revolution.  This book is an excellent way to introduce kids to history without them knowing you're doing it.  And, it comes in a form that will be remembered- a well-written story.

Little Miss. Miriam (age 2 1/2) currently has a favorite book/naptime and bedtime routine.  It involves this book you see below, Oh, What a Busy Day.  I was given this book by my aunt and uncle on my first birthday and it is my all-time favorite children's picture book.  Can you tell it's 35 years old?

Miriam knows the book so well that before she can crawl into her "cribby" with her doll baby, we have to find and look at and talk about three specific pages in the book.  First, we have to look at the page that talks about times when we feel sad.  Miriam doesn't seem bothered by the friend that has to go home or the dog who is sick or the toy that fell in the toilet and got flushed.  What she wants to look at and "Awwww" over is the little girl whose dolly fell and broke her head.

Then, she wants to turn several pages and look at the "muddy children".  I must admit, this was my very favorite page as a child.  I, too, was fascinated by these children that got to romp in the huge muddle puddle.

Lastly, Miriam wants to look at "the children being nice".  This page show scenes where children are not using good manners followed by the better approach.  She just can't get over how the one boy is pulling the other's hair.  As if she's never seen or experienced it before.

When all the rather disturbing pages are looked at, she happily goes off to nap or bed.  Mind you that most of the pages in this book are sweet as can be.  One of my other favorite pages one of a breakfast table that requires a two-page spread.  A long table, set outside in the grass is loaded with breakfast foods and surrounded by children eating at the start of their day.  The book goes on to show the children playing outside and inside, dressing up, selling lemonade, taking care of an elderly woman and her home and saying goodbye to their friends at the end of the day (with many other lovely pages in between).

I just love books.  Can you tell?
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  1. I just love book recommendations!Thank you so much....I am going to order from our library today!


  2. very interesting books,I think anthony,whose 7, would like the book about dolphins and I wish I had more time and a car to hunt for that other book you mentioned a while back about a boy who runs away and lives in the woods with his eagle? and that other book you have that you read with Miriam is a must for 3 year old Katelynn who can;t manage her temper or feeling about her younger brother,she can even get mean and with mom doing everything herself ,she even has a arms worker [ I think you know what that is since you used to work in social services ] but anyway mom isn't sure how to handle her own emotions after her exit from her time of life using and than having 2 more children at the age of 36,anyway,I must find a book like that and I will read it to her on a reg basis [ as reg, as you can get around here] Jerry still is doing good but my time is limited-he needs me so much and for everything . sometimes I wonder if even he will know when its time because he doesn't feel like normal people--sorry,did not mean to write another book to you but it feels better to talk about it,you don't need to say anything,just that I know your listening is good enough for me

  3. "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" has been one of my favorites for years and years. I also remember watching a movie about Johnny Tremain as a kid. I think it might have been from the Disney Channel. I know your kids don't watch a lot of tv but if you could find it at the library or a yard sale, Sam might enjoy it. Glad to hear about kids growing up as readers!

  4. Makes me miss snuggling up with my kids for a long chapter book read. I have not read any of these books- thanks for sharing them.

  5. Judy,
    Would you send me an email so I have your email address? I don't want you to have to leave it here in the comments. Mine is Thank you!


  6. So our grandson, age 7, is an excellent reader thanks to his grandmothers efforts but he hates reading. The boy loves hunting, fishing, magic, pirates, and other normal boy things. Can you recommend anything that you think might hold his attention for more than a few minutes? Maybe the Dolphin Adventure book would be a good one.

  7. Mr. H,
    I asked Sam what he thought right away he suggested The Dangerous Book for Boys. My Side of the Mountain would be a good one, as would Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and The Sign of the Beaver. Maybe having someone read the beginnings of these books to him would get him off and started since they are longer books (Dolphin Adventure is nice and short but doesn't contain anything from your list of his likes), but I think the content would be right up his alley. If he's a bit too young for them (reading-wise), they'd still be great read-alouds that he would certainly want to re-read when he gets older. Sam has read all of these numerous times (and started reading them when he was 6 or 7). I hope this is helpful!

    Readers, what other books do you think Mr. H's grandson would enjoy??

  8. Thank you for reminding me about the 1000 dresses book. I wanted to order it. :)

  9. Mr. H's grandson might enjoy "Where the Red Fern Grows" written by Wilson Rawls. My husband was a school teacher for many years and always read that to his third grade kids each year.

    Books are truly wonderful. I think one of the most important things parents can do is read to their children. We read to our daughter from way before she could understand, I'm sure. She was very slow to read herself but I suspected she could do it if she wanted yet she always begged to be read to. One day I said, "Honey, if you would learn to read yourself then you could read books anytime you wanted without having to ask someone to read to you." She replied, "But then nobody would read to me again." Omigosh, what the heck did we ever say to give her that idea?! Sometimes it's really hard being a parent! (And survive without guilt!)

  10. I second Mama Pea's suggestion of Where the Red Fern Grows- excellent!

  11. Mr. H - the Magic Tree House series is great for boys! Short chapters, packed with adventure and facts about a range of subjects. When I taught my first graders could just begin to read them but they made great read alouds.

    Also, The Hundred Dresses - ahhhh, what a great book. Always made me so sad, though. My mom taught second grade and would use it for a reading unit.

    Right now we are heavily into the Little House books with my oldest and, unfortunately, it's Dora books with the youngest. My boy will listen to anything but is enjoying dinosaurs the most lately. Oh, I could talk about books fav? Oh, Little Woman - Laurie can make me swoon still :) I still get a little upset that he never stayed with that weird?

  12. Thanks everyone! I love the suggestions and will go over them with my wife.

  13. Thanks for the reviews :)

    I remember reading Johnny Tremaine to my children a few years back, and they were captivated. I do seem to remember having to skip a couple of words that weren't very nice though, but all in all a great book.

    I've seen the Witch of Blackbird Pond on several Christian curriculum reading lists and couldn't understand why they would want children to read a book about a witch. Now I understand the context, so we will probably be reading that book next year.

    I'm also interested in reading Mary on Horseback. It sounds like it would be a great addition to our read aloud list for next school year. Going now to see if our library has it.

  14. I read this years ago, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It was a great book!!

  15. We ordered The Dangerous Book For Boys, My Side of the Mountain, and Magic Tree House Series 1-4....thanks again.:)


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