Tag Archives: childrens books

#Resist And Buy Books For Kids!

Published / by SarahE / Leave a Comment

I recently saw that there was a movement to send books to Trump-y because he doesn’t like to read. My initial instinct was “yeah, cool, send him a book’! But then I thought, shoot, no, don’t do that, the books will probably get burned, and you know he’s not going to read them. But still, I like the idea of sending people books, but who wants them?

Well, kids want them! And with Betsy DeVos as our new (I want to hiss every time I think about it) education secretary, children will need all the books we can send them!

If you know a teacher ask him or her if you can buy or donate books to their classroom! Also, school libraries lack funding to buy new books, so see if you can donate to the school librarian.

Also, women’s shelters, community centers, daycares… would be excellent places to donate.

So, what do kids want to read? Well I’m sure there are some kids out there still reading what we read when we were kids, like Judy Blume, Goosebumps, The Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, etc. BUT, what they really want is new and contemporary titles that are relevant to their lives. They love graphic novels and comic books. They love animals and nature. They love to be engaged, so here’s some books you can buy and donate. I tried to sort them by age!

** Here’s a link to Seedlings, which is a website for braille books. Ask schools if they have blind or visually impaired students, because let me tell you- it’s hard getting book for kids with visual impairments, and they often don’t have access to the same amount of books as sighted students! (This one’s close to my heart)**

Baby- 5 (probably also 6, maybe even 7!)

 Sandra Boynton– all of her books are wonderful, but my personal favorite is The Belly Button book. I ADORE this book soooo much! Also, kids like it too!

The Pout- Pout Fish, by: Deborah Diesen

We read this book to Norah so much when she was younger- I still have it memorized. Its rhythmic text and colorful pictures make it especially engaging for the wee- ones.

Bark, George, by: Jules Feiffer

George can cluck like a chicken and moo like a cow, but poor George has lost his bark! Can a veterinarian help him get this bark back? Any book involving goofy animals is on my radar!

Mini Myths, by: Joan Holub

A very early introduction to ancient Greek myths! My favorite: Brush Your Hair, Medusa. Totally fun, and they’re board books, so great chew toys as well.

Wolfie the Bunny, by: Amy Dyckman

I’m going to say this book would fit best in the younger age group, but my six- year old niece still loves it, so it would be appropriate for older kids too.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!, by: Karen Beaumont

An overzealous little girl with paint and a paintbrush can’t help but paint everything. You must sing the rhyming text (you won’t be able to just READ it!), and I can’t help but get it stuck in my head whenever I “read” it, or think about it… like right now.

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball, by: Vicki Churchill

Yeah, for real, who doesn’t?

Say Hello to Zorro, by: Carter Goodrich

I love dogs. Funny and short.

Interrupting Chicken, by: David Ezra Stein

I’m going to put this book in the younger age group, but like Wolfie the Bunny, this would definitely be appropriate for older kids too! This is one of my absolute FAVORITE picture books! Little chicken’s voice must be read with a lisp, and you MUST read her (?) him(?) enthusiastically! YOU MUST! Don’t ruin it!

Oliver Jeffers’ books, because they’re beautifully illustrated and they have a conscience.

Elephant and Piggie, by: Mo Willems (really anything by Mo Willems)

Great for beginning readers, or just early listeners! Fun, engaging, and check out this New Yorker interview with the author. Everything about Elephant and Piggie is a conscious effort to engage young readers.

Ordinary People Change the World (series), by: Brad Meltzer

This could be a first biography for many kids. Meltzer introduces kids to: Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Robinson, Lucille Ball, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther King Jr. Meltzer’s books are short, but engaging, and highlight only the best parts of his subjects. No mention of assassination or plane crashes.

Naughty Kitty, by: Adam Stower

A loose Bengal tiger, and a small kitten find trouble in this sweet, picture book.

Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds, by: Marianne Dubuc

I think Norah liked this book so much because of the pictures. The writing is fine, but the pictures are finely detailed, and fun to look at.

I’m a Shark, by: Bob Shea

Okay, there’s no real substance to this book, but it’s super hilarious, and I think I’ve read it out loud like a thousand time! With a voice damnit!

Creature ABC, by: Andrew Zuckerman

Pictures, pictures, pictures!

Z is for Moose, by: Kelly Bingham

Another great, and funny, alphabet book.

The Perfect Nest, by: Catherine Friend

It’s been a while since I read this book, but I remember reading it over and over, and if I was willing to do that, I too must have found it funny.

I’m going to end with my FAVORITE PICTURE BOOK:

I Need My Monster, by: Amanda Noll

OMG this book. It knocks me out every time I read it, and that’s not because it’s like, THAT good, but because I do a voice throughout the entire book, and it requires way too much oxygen! You can tell just by looking at the cover how vibrant the illustrations are, which really lends itself to the whole monster under the bed thing. It’s kind of spooky, but ultimately sweet, and that seems complicated, but it’s not.

Here, I’m afraid this list is going to become endless, so here’s a link to my picture book shelf on Goodreads. I try to rate the books I really like, so any of the five stars would be excellent buys!

Also, here’s a link to some of my favorite children’s books I read last year. All of these books would be appropriate too!

Also, ALA (American Library Association) knows what they’re talking about, and here’s a pretty comprehensive list of 2016’s best picture books.

Okay, so now here’s a list for 6-9 (maybe 10 and 11 too!) You’ll have to read the chapter books to the younger kids, but this is the age they start craving more complicated plots.

Rumpelstiltskin or Rapunzel, by: Paul O. Zelinsky

Beautiful, well- known, fairytales retold. They’re technically picture books, but definitely more appropriate for older readers.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn, by: Dana Simpson

I so meant to review this book last year, but I didn’t, and I regret that, because it’s sooo good. It’s like My Little Pony meets Calvin and Hobbes- what kid wouldn’t love this! Bonus: the author is transgender! Buy this and read it, and then pass it on, because it would be great for struggling readers.

Calvin and Hobbes, by: Bill Waterson

Yes, it’s been around for a while, but there was a study that said Calvin and Hobbes was perfect for struggling readers, or reluctant readers. Besides, the comic is timeless!

Roller Girl, by: Victoria Jamieson

A great book. I talked about it at the end of last year, but it’s a must read. (Graphic Novel)

The Wild Robot, by: Peter Brown

I love his picture books, and now I love his chapter books! This is all about the environment, and it’s sweet.

The War That Saved My Life, by: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Reminiscent of classic favorites like A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, this book is about two siblings who escape blitzed London, and find a new home in the English countryside.

Fly Guy, by: Ted Arnold

This seems to be THE introduction to chapter books. It’s funny, and kids love the series. Buzz!

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story, by: Caren Stelson

I haven’t read it yet, but it’s sitting patiently on a shelf at the library, waiting until I can pick it up. I am all up in the face of publishers to publish more engaging YA nonfiction, so I feel obligated to read any and all YA nonfiction that gets published. Also, this seems like a really powerful story that kids would love. I can still remember the first time I read The Diary of a Young Girl.

Don’t Call Me Grandma, by: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

It’s a picture book, and a younger audience may enjoy it, but I think it would be more appropriate for older kids. I absolutely love the pictures in this book.

The  Girl Who Drank the Moon, by: Kelly Barnhill

This won the Newbery this year. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s in my library basket, and I’m gonna read it.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by: Adam Gidwitz

Okay, I’m just going to start listing books, because this list is out of control!

Hamster Princess, by: Ursula Vernon

Again, great for struggling or reluctant readers


Sad Animals Facts, by: Brooke Barker

Because, did you know a wolf without a pack loses its howl?! OMG, that is sad!

What If I Had Animals Teeth? By: Sandra Markle

Umm, yeah. These are awesome books! Because you know, what if?! I want shark teeth btw…

Beetle Boy, by: M.G. Leonard

Ahhh, this book was so good, and full of science- related information. Plus, like an evil villain who happens to be part… BEETLE!

Again, here’s a link to my favorite Children’s book from last year, and here’s a link to ALA.

Now, YA, which can be ambiguous. You may have a third grader reading YA. I have seen a third grader reading A Fault in Our Stars, and I warned her that it was going to be very sad, and might be a little too depressing, but she was sure she could handle it, so she trudged on. Now, I find A Fault in Our Stars to be a bit too much, but it all comes down to taste, preference, and personality. So, that being said, here’s my list of YA:

We Are the Ants, by: Shaun David Hutchinson

A wonderful story about loss and abuse and surviving high school despite it all.

Challenger Deep– Neal Shusterman

A first hand account of mental illness. I haven’t liked all of Shusterman’s books, but this one was especially beautiful; almost poetic.

Lumberjanes (vol1.-) and Nimona, by: Noelle Stevenson

A great comic and graphic novel. Also try Nimona, which is also by Noelle Stevenson.

Anya’s Ghost, by: Vera Brosgol

Again, a graphic novel. Highly engaging

The Passion of Dolssa, by: Julie Berry

About the Spanish Inquisition. Everyone’s in danger. Unlike any other YA I’ve ever read. In fact, the only reason it’s YA is because the characters just happen to be young.

Frances Hardinge books.

I haven’t read these yet, but I really want to!

Still Life with Tornado, by: A.S. King

Rani Patel in Full Effect, by: Sonia Patel

Here’s a list of great YALSA books.

That’s it, I’ve had it with this list. It’s going to become a monster, so here’s another link to a few YA nonfiction titles!

Also, I just read a wonderful book called Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History… a great book for girls and boys! I will be writing more extensively about this book at a later date!

It may be my first installment of:

Anyway, geez this meandered off topic: if you’re feeling helpless right now, buying books for kids just might make you feel better, so use my list, or don’t, but I hope it helps!


Keep on Steppin’

Published / by SarahE / Leave a Comment

“I ain’t never heard of no sickness that makes you kill little girls just because you don’t want them in your school. I don’t think they’re sick at all, I think they just let hate eat them up and turn them into monsters.”

 I’ve been staring at The Watson’s Go to Birmingham-1963 on my bookshelf for a good long while now. I was told that it was good. That is was funny. But due to the title, I assumed it would be heavy. I can be destroyed by these middle grade novels. Nothing pulls at the heart strings like the voice of a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

I was right, but I was also wrong. This was heavy. But it was also very funny, and it was funny more than it was heavy. The (Weird) Watson’s live in Flint, Michigan. They’re a family of five; Byron’s thirteen, Kenny’s ten (?), and Joey’s six. Their dad works for one of the auto companies in Michigan, and the family is blue collar, bordering on poor. Despite the lack of funds, they’re happy. They’re lovable, like the Bagthorpe’s or the Durrell’s (these are my favorite dysfunctional families). Byron is a bully with a heart. Kenny’s sensitive and smart. And Joey’s the only girl and spunky. They play, get in trouble, watch cartoons, freeze during the winter, and deal with school. They’re normal, and although the world is harsh, they seem to be okay.

The family goes to Birmingham to visit their Grandma Sands in 1963.

Of course things change. Being black, in the south, in the 1960’s… what a cruel world. Another world entirely from what the Watson’s were accustomed to in northern Michigan.

“Man, they got crackers and rednecks up here that ain’t never seen no Negroes before. If they caught your ass out here like this they’d hang you now, then eat you later.”

The climax doesn’t occur until the end of the story…

The Watson’s are in Birmingham to visit Grandma Sands, and to leave Byron who needs some time away from the trouble in Michigan. It’s quiet in Birmingham, slower.

Then, one Sunday morning, there is a loud noise. No one knows what it is. Their dad thinks it could be a sonic boom.

They run into town where the church has exploded:


Addie Mae Collins- Born 4/18/49, died 9/15/63

Denise McNair- Born 11/17/51, died 9/15/63

Carole Robertson- Born 4/24/49, died 9/15/63

Cynthia Wesley- Born 4/30/49. Died 9/15/63


Read this. It’s powerful like only children’s literature can be.

Top Children’s Books of 2016

Published / by SarahE / Leave a Comment

I read over eighty books this year, but that number does not include the children’s books I read with my niece. If I had included those, my total book count of 2016 was well over 200. Norah and I love picture books (I think I love them slightly more). We also love Captain Underpants and Junie B. Jones. And we love animal books. And farting and pooping books. We have eclectic taste. So here’s the best children’s books I read this year!

This wonderfully illustrated book features an overwrought grandma, more than a handful of grandkids, some bears, goats, moon aliens, and wormholes. Also some beautifully knitted sweaters. If all these things sound swell, please pick it up at your local library and read it to the nearest child. They’ll thank you, and you’ll thank you.

I just think Carson Ellis is perfect. This book doesn’t even need to be read(it’s hard to read, because Ellis made-up her own language for the bugs). I gave it to my niece and she could figure out what was going on without the words. But here’s another thought: this would be great for phonetic practice, and less frustrating to read for kids who have a hard time memorizing sight words! But the illustrations make this book, so read it or just look at the pictures, either way Carson Ellis is a true master of her craft.

Must be read out loud with feeling! This would be a great book for a kid with a new baby brother or sister. I love Kate Beaton’s books. Have you read Hark, A Vagrant? No? Read it! I follow her on twitter, and she has an adorable little Scottish Terrier, which just adds to her over-all aura of fun. Here’s a link to her website:


Like Carson Ellis, I think Raina Telgemeier is perfect. This was just one of like ten of her books that I loved this year. Catrina and her family have to move to a new town because her little sister is sick. This is a fun book, but it deals with hard, sad topics. Recommended!

Umm, yeah. Sarah and Norah love this lots. Each page has a small illustration of an animal and one sad animal fact. Like, wolves without a  pack lose their howl. It’s adorable and was a Christmas present for Norah this year.

Do you remember those really good cartoons they used to make in the nineties when we were kids, but they don’t make anymore because…? I’m talking like- Rugrats, Doug, Bobby’s World, Hey Arnold, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, CatDog just to name a few of my favorites. They had those crisp blue skies, well groomed shrubbery. They always lived in quaint suburban homes that had big fenced in backyards (well not all the ones I listed fit this description, but I think you know what I’m talking about). That’s what this book reminded me of: a nineties cartoon, and I loved it.

This is just one in a series of many bug books by Elise Gravel. They’re short, cute pictures, and have an appropriate amount of facts for a young age group.

One of three Emily Brown books. They’re all adorable, and by the author who wrote the How to Train Your Dragon series.

Reimagining Greek heroes and monsters through board books. Yeah, Medusa’s got her own book. In case you’re wondering.

A biography of the story of the real Winnie that became Winnie the Pooh. Winnie started his journey in Canada right before WWI. It’s a really engaging read.

This was my favorite picture book of 2016. We lost our Golden Retriever at the end of 2015. Tuesday is a therapy dog for Luis who was a soldier and suffered from PTSD. It’s endearing, sweet, touching, and made my heart feel a lot of things.





Hurricane Katrina for all ages

Published / by SarahE / Leave a Comment

Hurricane Katrina,

Drowned City

By: Don Brown


I was ashamed while reading Drowned City.

It’s a graphic novel for kids about Hurricane Katrina. In my humble opinion, it was very powerful, because I didn’t know…

I didn’t know about the convention center (isn’t that awful). I didn’t know about the toxic water. I didn’t know about people drowning in their attics. I didn’t know about the 5,000 children that went missing (later reunited with parents). I didn’t know about the animals that were separated from their desperate owners. I didn’t know about the hospitals losing generators, and people who shouldn’t have had to die, dying because there was no life support. I didn’t know, and I have never tried to know. Most of the people that died were elderly; people that didn’t want to leave their homes.

A lot of people died in their attics… can you imagine: water gushing into your home, you try to get as high as you can, but even up at the top of your house you find that you’ve just cornered yourself into a watery grave, and you slowly drown. One couple cut out a hole in their roof to escape. The elderly had no choice.

I did know about our shoddy government. I knew about FEMA. I knew about the gangs. I knew about President Bush flying over the city. I knew about the Mayor. I knew about the Super Dome. I knew about the looting.

What was more important though? After a tragedy the magnitude of Katrina, everyone starts yelling at one another. It’s you fault! No, it’s yours! Well, at this point who cares, just get your butts in there and help these people!

This was a really great graphic novel, and it’s published for kids! Kids should read it. It’s tough, but it’s important for the next generation to learn about these mistakes. To see the humanity in these disasters, and work to create a future where we do not have to worry about another Katrina.

I don’t know if this was supposed to be as powerful as I felt it was, but I had goose bumps reading this book. Maybe that was due to my ignorance of the whole situation in New Orleans, but I loved this book. Read it as soon as possible.

You knew more than me and crave more in depth “adult” books about Hurricane Katrina? Try these (they’re all fiction I’m afraid, but the nonfiction titles were unfamiliar so I was hesitant to include them):

Zeitoun– Dave Eggers

Salvage the Bones– Jesmyn Ward

The Tin Roof Blowdown– James Lee Burke



Published / by SarahE / Leave a Comment

I made a huge bowl of popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, and told my niece to pick out as many books as she wanted: it’s World Book Day!

I love picture books, so we always have a plethora to choose from at home. The library thinks I’m a crazy person.

Here’s a few that we’ve (my niece and I) really loved recently:

This book is heartwarming. I don’t read a lot of heartwarming books, but just look at that cover! The Golden Retriever, the Golden Retriever socks, the Golden Retriever eyes… Tuesday is a service dog that helps a wounded veteran Luis (who is also the author). It’s a great way to explain what a veteran is, and what the purpose of a service dog might be. I loved this book.

This book is absolutely delightful. A little girl decides the squash that her parents buy at the farmer’s market is going to be her new best friend, so she carries it around with her, gives it a face, plays with it, takes it to storytime, but soon the squash starts to get spotty and squishy. She goes back to the farmer’s market to get advice on how to best care for her squash and a farmer tells her it needs dirt, so she buries it, and in the spring her squash is growing again!

Everyone should read this book. I think I almost shed a tear when I read that  human traffic on the ocean is disturbing whale communication. Stupid humans. We suck! Whales are awesome. They live just as long as we do. They never fully fall asleep or they’d drown. They can communicate with each other over 1,000 miles. They’re huge. You can hear their exhale miles away. As you can read, I learned a lot from this fascinating picture book…

If you want to get really pissed about human/whale interaction watch this movie:

But before you do that, acknowledge it’s World Book Day, and grab a good book, a piece of chocolate, and enjoy!

Here’s the website for World Book Day.