children's books, classics, fiction, Middle Grade, nonfiction, Read-along, reading, reading challenges, Spring Reading Challenge, tbr, Young Readers

Spring Reading Thing 2012

March 20, 2012 – June 20, 2012

Hosted at Callapidder Days

If you didn’t know that today was the first day of spring, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking out my window. It’s nice and cold outside, perfect winter weather. So it seems a little funny to be making a list of books I want to read for spring. I missed last year’s Spring Reading Thing, a seasonal “challenge”, and I refuse to miss it again this year.

I decided to dedicate this year’s SRT to my many stacks of unread books. This idea came to me yesterday after “finding” an under-bed shoe storage filled with books. I think that’s one of the great things about Spring Reading Thing is that participants are encouraged to make goals. It’s not just the amount of books to read but anything else you can think of.

One of my goals is to read at least fifteen of my own books within the next three months. It doesn’t have to be the fifteen books on this list but it needs to be fifteen. I’ve own The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot since its publication in 2009. I even pre-ordered it and still haven’t read it. If I don’t read it by the end of this challenge, I’m going to give it away to my local public library. Which leads me to my second goal:

  • Give away at least ten books by June 20th. If I don’t miss the 30+ books under my bed, I won’t miss the ten that I plan on giving away. I’m thinking of this as my own bookish spring cleaning.

Last but not least is to have at least one read-along with my daughter. She’s ten and hasn’t read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett yet. It’s been a reading tradition of mine to read it every spring. I already bought her the book and movie version. Now it’s time to read it to her. Maybe I’ll give her a package of seeds to go with it. I think she’ll like that. If the read-along is a success, we can add Natalie Babbit’s Tuck Everlasting in June. It’s one of my favorite summer reads.

My pool of books:

  1. Head Off and Split by Nikki Finney (poetry)
  2. Land to Light On by Dionne Brand (poetry)
  3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (non-fiction)
  4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (non-fiction)
  5. Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (middle grade)
  6. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
  7. A Mercy by Toni Morrison
  8. Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech (poetry)
  9. The Humming Room by Ellen Potter (middle grade)
  10. Sula by Toni Morrison
  11. Alcestis by Katharine Beutner
  12. What Looks Like Crazy on An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
  13. No Regrets Parenting by Harley A. Rotbart (non-fiction)
  14. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
  15. Among Others by Jo Walton (young adult)
  16. The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier
  17. Wonder by R.J. Pollacio (middle grade)
  18. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (young adult)
  19. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (middle grade)
  20. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (middle grade)
  21. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon (middle grade)
  22. Cousins by Virginia Hamilton (middle grade)
  23. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (non-fiction)

So that’s what I’m planning this spring. Have you started thinking about your spring reading? Are you joining Spring Reading Thing this year?

Bedtimes Stories, children's books, picture books, reading, reviews, Young Readers

Three books by Sarah Stewart

I learned from the last read-a-thon that a great way to pass time and feel like you’re accomplishing something is to read children’s books. They help to settle your mind between the readings of bigger, more intense stories. Within a small amount of time children’s books can give you a glimpse of someone’s life and story without weighing you down.

stewart-moneyThe Money Tree (1991)
Illustrations by David Small

The Money Tree tells the story of Miss McGillicuddy and the unusual tree that suddenly starts to grow into her backyard one January. As the seasons change the tree grows larger and larger. When Miss McGillicuddy realize that the tree’s strange leaves is paper money, she starts giving them away. Soon crowds of people are coming to pluck the money off the tree. Will it ever end?

The was a great book to read. Simple and perceptive, The Money Tree shows kids and adults what’s really important in life.

stewart-libraryThe Library (1995)
Illustrations by David Small

I found out about The Library from my kids. Told in rhyme, The Library is the story of  Mary Elizabeth Brown’s life from a child to an elderly woman. Brown loves books and would rather read than do anything else. Does that sound like anyone you know? One of my favorite passages from the book,

Books were piled on top of chairs

And spread across the floor.

Her shelves began to fall apart,

As she read more and more.

I wish I could show you the beautiful illustrations by David Small, Stewart’s husband. They compliment the story perfectly. My favorite illustrations of the story are a two-page spread that has the illusion that Mary Elizabeth Brown has so many books they’re about to fall off the page.


The Gardener (2007)
Caldecott Honor Medal

Out of all three of the books I’ve read by Stewart, The Gardener is my favorite.

Lydia Grace Finch is a little girl living during the Depression who loves to garden. After her father loses his job and money stop coming in, Lydia Grace is sent to the city to live with her Uncle Jim.

Jim owns a bakery and never smiles. He allows Lydia Grace to grow flowers and vegetables around the bakery. A transformation takes place and no one is the same in the year.

Told in letters to uncle Jim and her family back at home, readers get to see Lydia Grace’s life and the resilience of a little girl to make the things she touch beautiful.

2009 challenges, challenges, Readathon, Young Readers

Reading for a Good Cause

24readathonWith the start of Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon less than a week away, I thought it might be a good idea to start writing my various posts for the big event.

Chris at Stuff as Dreams Are Made Of recently wrote a post about the charity he will be sponsoring during the read-a-thon. So I’m stealing the idea to tell you about the charity I’m sponsoring.

This year I joined The Year of  Reader challenge. The purpose of the year-long challenge is for bookworms to sponsor literary charities through the books they read. You can have others sponsor you or donate yourself. One of the charities I’m sponsoring is

In 2002 author Dave Eggers opened 826Valencia. The purpose of the organization is:

assist students ages six to eighteen with their writing skills, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our work is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

Currently there are seven chapters of 826 in Valencia, California; Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Ann Harbor, and Brooklyn. All seven are under the umbrella known as 826National.

The chapters offer tutoring, field trips, and workshops  in things like  screenwriting, SAT prep, comic book writing, and more.  All services are free for the kids that come in. I wish this organization was around when I was growing up.

Since I am sponsoring two charities this year, I alternate between the two every month. This month it’s 826’s turn. As usual for every book I read, I donate $1.50 to that month’s charity. I don’t have a goal as to the specific amount to donate, but so far this month I’ve read 20 books. I hope to double that amount from now until the end of the read-a-thon Sunday. We’ll see.

Bedtimes Stories, children's books, Dewey's weekly geeks, meme., picture books, Young Readers

Weekly Geeks: Your inner child and poetry

This week’s Weekly Geeks is the brainchild of Becky. I have to say this week’s assignment is tied with my absolute favorite assignment which is a quote a day.

Option A: Be a kid.

  • You could read a picture book (or two or three) and share what you read.
  • Write up a post sharing your favorite books from childhood.
    Write up a post about reading together with your child(ren).

Option B: Be a poet.

  • Write your own poem and share with us!
  • Write bookish ABC poems–ABC’s of favorite authors, favorite books, favorite characters, favorite book blogs, or any combination of the above. Maybe even an ABC’s of a bibliophile or book addict. (A is for…B is for…etc.)(For example, ABC’s of Dr. Seuss)
  • Review a book you’ve read recently in haiku. (It doesn’t need to be a poetry book you’re reviewing, any book will do.) See Emilyreads for an idea of what I mean.
  • Read a poetry book and review it.
  • Participate in Poetry Friday (This week’s host will be Carol’s Corner.)

Isn’t this a great assignment? I think throughout this week I’ll attempt to do every idea.


About two years ago I came up with the idea to start a book club in my home. Mind you the only members are everyone who lives here but the kids loved the idea.  So we came up with a name and agreed or I decided that every night, right before bedtime, we would get together and share our favorite books and read to each other. Even the boys, who are the youngest, could pick out a book to share and read. I thought it would be nice to share with everyone our favorite picks of the week.

Van’s pick is Princess Peepers by Pam Calvcalvertert (2008). Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning. 40 pages.

Princes Peepers is a girl who knows who she is. She loves wearing glasses and has one for each of her favorite outfits. But when she starts a new school and gets laughed at, she throws every pair of glasses into her trunk and promises never to use them again.

The story started out great until the end when the princess meets Prince Peerless and go away with him. Van loved the book but I felt the end wasn’t necessary. Don’t we have enough books with princess riding off with princes? Princess Peepers didn’t find confidence with herself until she met the prince.  What really kills me is the fact that both prince and princess look like they are no older than ten. *sigh* This is one that won’t be added to our home collection.

spinelli-eVal’s pick is Someday by Eileen Spinelli (2007). Illustrated by Rosie Winstead. 32 pages.

Someday is about a little girl’s longing for more than what she has in her life presently. One of the things she longs for us to be a great artist who paints by the sea but instead she’s helping her dad paint the shed. At the end of the book, the little girl finally thinks it’s okay to be mindful of the present.

Av’s pick: Dinosaur vs Bedtime by Bob Shea (2008). At three sheayears old, Avi’s the baby of the family but don’t tell him that. He won’t believe you. For the last two weeks I have been reading Dinosaur vs. Bedtime every morning, noon, and night. Imagine my surprise when Avram read the book to me yesterday. I’m surprise I didn’t cry.

martin-claudia-and-mean-janinePip’s pick is The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and Mean Janine(2008). Written by Ann M. Martin. Illustrated by Raina Telgemeiser. 176 pages.

One of the funny things that never fails to surprise me is that motherhood makes you go full-circle in your life. I was the same age as Pip (7) when I discovered this series.  Claudia and Mean Janine is actually book seven in the original series.

Claudia and Janine are sisters who can’t get along. Janine is a genius who lives at her computer desk while Claudia is the artist with a passion for junk food. When their grandmother has a stroke after having an argument with Claudia, Claudia blames herself. The sisters come together to help their grandmother get better.

Oli (age 5) doesn’t have a favorite  pick. I think it might bepattou because he’s been going to sleep earlier than everyone this week, so I’ve been reading to him from my own reads. I read the first several chapters of East by Edith Pattou and several poems from various poets like Raymond Carver, Langston Hughes, and Christina Rossetti. I haven’t bored him yet so I’m calling it a success.

2009 challenges, Young Readers

The Children’s Books Post

Every year no matter how hard I try, by  the end of the year picture books easily outnumber adult reads. Picture books are shorter with less words and pages but they can also help you get through a hard day or a reading slump. Last week I read a handful of great books for kids of all ages.

ransomThe Big Green Pocketbook (1993). Written by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Felicia Bond.

This was my oldest son’s favorite book of the stack. The Big Green Pocketbook is the story of a little girl’s trip to town with her empty  green pocketbook and her mother. At each place they visit she receives something to put into her purse to help remember her day. This story is simple but effortlessly pulled us into the story.

swansonThe House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson (2008). Illustrated by Beth Krommes. Winner of this year’s Caldecott Medal, The House in the Night is a masterpiece. I’m not saying this lightly either. The wood engavings by Krommes and the soft poetry from Swanson compliment each other perfectly.

jenkinsThe Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins (2008). Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. The message behind this book is that though strangers may act and look different from you, they are just like you. My little sister loved this one the most.


My Friend, the Starfinder by George Ella Lyon (2008). Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. A book about the friendship between an old man and a young girl and the stories he tells her about his childhood. The illustrations for this book are beautiful and not to be missed.

Dewey's Books Challenge, Graphic Novel Challenge, in their shoes challenge, Sunday Salon, Young Readers

Sunday Salon: The Too Many Books Post

Good morning! The sun is just starting to come up here in Southern California. While the rest of the country was expecting Arctic weather, in SoCal the weather was in the late 80s. Then last week the rain came and it felt so good! Now it’s the right atmosphere for winter reading.

My week has been really hectic. My oldest son’s asthma has been acting up so his father, my mother, and I have been going back and forth, staying at home to take care of him this week. I got very little studying done, but I got some great reading in.

I read:
1. The Shiniest Jewel -Marian Henley. In their shoes & Graphic Novel challenges
2. Tuesday – David Weisner. Young readers challenge
3. How to be an explorer of the world – Keri Smith
4. Don’t let the pigeon stay up late – Mo Willems. Young readers
5. A River of words – Jen Bryant. Young readers
6. The Man in the Picture – Susan Hill. NaJuReMoNoMo
7. The Book That Changed my Life. Dewey and Essay Reading Challenge
8. The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle – Jim Butcher. Graphic Novels Challenge

My favorite reads were The Shiniest Jewel, the suspenseful The Man in the Picture, and Welcome to the Jungle. If you’re participating in my memoir challenge, In Their Shoes, I’m giving away The Shiniest Jewel. So enter to win it.

This post is entitled “Too many books” because I received some great books this week and bought too many. One of my book-related resolutions this year was to only buy a certain amount of books. I already went way over that, so to compromise I gave a lot of my unread books to my local library and giving more away by hosting a mini-challenge all of February for everyone participating in the Dewey’s Books challenge.

With school and a lot of homework to catch up on this week, I plan to read only short stories and poetry for the next two weeks.

What are you reading this week?