A Quick Shout-Out to 3 Picture Books

Hello all! 

Sometimes I post photos of books on my instagram. Sometimes I take photos of books and just never post them. Tonight from this treasure trove, I present you with three picture books worth talking about.

1. I Am The Wolf...And Here I Come! by Bénédicte Guettier - 
This is a board book we found at the library.  

As you can see below, its pages turn from top to bottom.

What you cannot see is that it is the story of the wolf getting dressed. First he puts on his socks. Then he puts on his undies (that gets a giggle at our house). Then he puts on his shirt and sweater and boots and coat and hat and the surprise kicker at the end is that he gets real close to the camera (you know what I mean) and says "And I'm coming to get you!" It's hysterical. I love reading it to kids. It provokes huge physical reactions from them and makes us all laugh. It's genius, I tell you.

2. Waiting by Kevin Henkes

I had heard a lot about how lovely this book was, from my internets. (My internets are all full of lovely books). I really like Kevin Henkes, but I confess I was worried that this one wouldn't be that great. It was great. So, yeah.  Needn't have worried.

Each of the animals pictured on the cover is a little toy that sits in the windowsill. Each is waiting for something to happen. Each, in turn, is satisfied. It's just a lovely book and a metaphor for life and mindfulness, friendship, loss, time. Y'know, all the big ones. I definitely recommend it.

3. Dinosaur Vs. Mommy by Bob Shea
I think the first "Dinosaur vs." book I read was Dinosaur vs. The Potty. That one was hilarious and I checked out a few more of them, but the first always kept the top spot. Until now.

I was trying to describe this book to my book club (of adult women, most of whom are mothers). One of them asked, "Is it like the 'How Do Dinosaurs...' books by Jane Yolen?" No, it is not. It is very punchy. There is a lot of roaring. And this little red dinosaur is just totally, totally a toddler. If you have a toddler, you should read this book. Then you will say to yourself, "Ah, someone understands my life." Also you might laugh so much that it's hard to breathe. That's what I did.

So there you have it! Three great picture books I found at the library lately. I'll put affiliate links to Amazon in here, so you can read more about the books if you like. If you shop through my affiliate links I make a small commission. And that kind of delights me. So thanks. :)

Found anything good at your library lately? Do tell. And if you're on instagram, definitely say hello to me over there so that we can connect. 

My First Comics: A review + a funny story

I don't know about you, but my first comics were the kind I read in the Sunday newspaper.

We don't have a newspaper subscription, and I'm a little bit sad that my kids won't grow up fighting over the funnies. (I'm not too sad though. They have a blast playing with the Skype call testing service. Each generation has something new, I guess!)

Anyway, today I'm reviewing  I'm Grumpy and I'm Sunny, the first two books in the "My First Comics" series by Jenni and Matt Holm. I was excited to hear that these books would be coming out, since I love the work the Holm's have done so far. I credit Shannon Hale's recommendation of their Babymouse series with getting me into graphic novels as an adult. I love Jenni's non-graphic novels, and have been to several of her signings. So I requested review copies of these books from Random House and was pleased that they sent them.

Here's the rundown:

These books are great for teaching emotional intelligence. Not just naming emotions but also recognizing emotions in facial expressions, and considering how one's actions affect others. These books are also great for teaching pre-reading skills. As the back of the book says, "Reading pictures is the first step toward reading words!" And I can tell you that's true. Heard all about it in my literacy classes in college. What's more, these books are a great place to start if you want to teach your kids how to read comics. They have panels and bleeds, word balloons, narrator boxes, sound effects, motion lines, and so on.

These books are not phonics books. They're not designed to allow your kids to sound words out or read a book that only contains words they already recognize. I'm Sunny contains words like "meanwhile" and "tornado." Since they're board books, I think it's safe to say they're meant for young kids. But I definitely took my time with the books when I was reading them to Jubilee. We talked about what was happening in panels. I explained the things that made Grumpy Cloud feel grumpy. I asked her to tell me how characters were feeling. We had a great time with the books, but I didn't just read the words and turn the pages. I think if you want to get the most out of these books, you're going to have to be active in reading and discussing. These books were definitely not too baby-ish for my kindergartener, Levi.

The whole family has really enjoyed these, and I look forward to more books in the series.

A couple of days ago I was pretty grouchy and knew that I had been grumping at the family. I ended up on the couch with Jubilee next to me and Jacob nearby, when I saw this pair of books on the floor.

"See that book?" I said to Jubilee. "That's me. I'm grumpy."

In her most chipper voice she piped up, "I'm Sunny!" and it made both Jacob and I laugh.

Good job lightening the mood, babe. :)

Things you might find interesting
I also used this book to help my kids with emotions.
I interviewed Matt and Jenni Holm.
I reviewed another set of board book comics.
And, last but not least, affiliate links to shop for these books!

Ladybug Magazine

A little over a year ago, my parents gave our four-year-old Levi a subscription to Ladybug magazine.

We have loved it.

In fact, we loved it so much that we made sure our subscription was renewed.

Now Levi is five years old, and wants you to know a few things about Ladybug magazine:

  • My favorite thing is there is always an activity in the back.
  • My favorite one to read is Molly and Emmett
  • I like to read it by myself and reading it together.
  • It's 3-6. (Meaning the magazine is for kids ages 3-6)

My favorite has to be the music: I love picking out the tunes on my piano. They are classic sounding, but not songs I've heard before. A quick glance at the issues that are pictured above reveals that two songs have contemporary composers listed, and four are traditional songs from different backgrounds: African American Spiritual, Scottish, and North American. Ok I have heard a couple of these before; Go In And Out The Window rings a bell.

You can see that in this issue they have the music on one side and simplified music on the other.
Pretty cool!
There are a number of recurring features in the magazine, besides music. Each issue begins with a hidden picture page and an easy-to-read story about Max and Kate, two friends who play together. Each issue has poetry, and some long-form stories, and a feature with three little bugs that also pop into the margins of other stories and comment.

And the activities that Levi loves are worth a mention. Once was a little mini book he made, one was a windmill he cut and taped. There was a cute mix and match paper doll, and a wild west valentine he gave to a friend. The activities are on a fold out page, designed to be cut out from the magazine. Most of them require a few other materials (scissors, glue, a straw) but we've always had these on hand.

Ladybug Magazine sometimes comes on the perfect day and saves us from boredom. I love that. We read it together and it's just what we needed. Other times, it comes on a crazy day and we don't get around to looking at it until a few days later.  Either way, we thoroughly enjoy it and I save all my back issues.

I'll put an affiliate link here so that you can check it out some more and shop for it. If you make purchases through my links I get a small commission, so thanks!

click to shop

I also reviewed the Babybug magazine, which is from the same publishers, for ages 0-4. 

A Modern Boy's Reading of The Babysitters Club

Benjamin has torn through the Babysitters Club books this past summer, and has continued to reread some of them this school year. When I tell people he's reading them, they're kind of incredulous. He is a seven-year-old boy, after all. Not the target audience. :) But they're good books and my mom brought me my whole collection when she came to help us move.  I thought my collection had been donated them to the library! So it was a pleasant surprise to see the books again.

I knew I had to keep them in easy reach for Benjamin for a couple of reasons:  Because I loved them at his age, and because if I suggested that he read them I knew he never would. The only way to get him to read them would be to have them in easy reach. They're so colorful and appealing, how could anyone resist? And I think they're books worth reading! I learned a lot about babysitting and childcare from reading them. And Ann M. Martin won the Newbery Honor you know, for her book A Corner of the Universe. She's a good writer. Sidenote: I got to see her speak once. I wrote a little about it here.

My point here is that I have had such a great time watching Benjamin read the books.The things he has said have made me laugh and really taken me back to my babysitters club days. Whether we were learning about the pop culture of the past or discussing the real-life issues the series talks about, we've had a great time.

1. "Stacy has diabeets." Hey, if I had never heard anyone pronounce the word diabetes, I might think that's how you said it.

2. "Logan is an associate member of the Babysitters Club. He doesn't have to go to meetings." Ah, I had forgotten that Logan was an associate member! Haha. Of course I had not forgotten about Logan. No, indeed. One of my first literary crushes.

3. "Dawn is a health food nut." Hahaha. And you are a Pokemon nut, son. I haven't heard anyone use the word nut like that in quite a while. :-D

4. "I want a peanut butter sandwich. Kristy and Mary Ann had peanut butter sandwiches at lunch and Dawn said, 'That's so Connecticut'." Order up! I would be happy to assist you in solidifying your identity as a resident of Connecticut by making  you a PB&J.

5. "What does it mean 'tie up your parents' line?" We had a great little dinner table conversation about how telephones used to work. You could see the light bulb come on over his head. "Oh! So that's why Claudia has a private line!"

6. One day I was doing my makeup in the bathroom. In pops Benjamin. "Bart wants to go steady with Kristy." "Does she want to go steady with him?" I ask, not wanting to give anything away. "We don't know!" he says. "She didn't answer him and then next book is not a Kristy book. So we probably won't know until the next Kristy book! Unless someone mentions it out loud..." Oh, the suspense.

7. "Dawn has two holes in each ear, but Claudia has one in one ear and two in the other..." Oh man. Now I know why I was so obsessed with ear piercings when I was in elementary school! I remember that I couldn't wait to get my ears pierced (my parents made me wait until I was eight) and that pretty soon I was dying for a second piercing (never happened). I had not realized the ear piercing discussions in The Babysitters Club were influencing me all along. If you can get a 7-year-old boy excited about how many holes 12-year-old girls have in their ears, you know that's persuasive writing.

8. "Claudia reads Nancy Drew mysteries but she hides them because her parents don't approve..." Ha! I had forgotten that. Nobody could forget that the Kishi's are a model of disapproving parents, but putting the kibosh on Nancy Drew? That's when you know they're supposed to be ridiculously disapproving.

9. "That's what Claire Pike calls everybody. She's the baby of the Pike family. She's 5 years old and she's in a silly stage." Oh kid. you're in a silly stage, too. :-D

10. "Who are the three stooges?" This of course led to some YouTube education.

11. "What if Watson Brewer came to our lemonade stand . . ." We were having a lemonade stand one Saturday, and received a generous donation. This let us to speculate about what Kristy's rich stepfather would do if he stopped by.

12. "I should have known!!!" This random exclamation near the end of one of the books caught me off guard. Benjamin went on to explain that now that he knew the twist, he could easily see the book's foreshadowing.

13. "It takes me about 7 minutes to read a chapter; and there are about 15 chapters in each book, so it takes me about two hours to read a Babysitters Club Book." Not only does Benjamin love reading, he loves math.

14. "What's The Monster Mash?" This one comes up in Kristy and the Secret of Susan, when autistic-savant Susan plays it on the piano. This led to a discussion about autism, and a monster mash dance party.

Which one of these made you smile? And what book or book series do you remember fondly from childhood? One person who comments will win a BSC postcard from me and Benjamin. Contest ends 3/31/16. Congratulations to commenter Cami! You have won!

Give the Perfect Gift at the Baby Shower: 7 Proven Board Books

Hi, everybody!

Books are such a great gift for baby showers, aren't they? I mean honestly, especially when I was about to have my first child, I had been out of the world of board books for so long. Having a couple of really good ones handpicked by friends was totally great. That was how I discovered Sandra Boynton! I don't even remember who it was that gave me her book Barnyard Dance, but I'm forever indebted.

I've shared some book recommendations before, for those who want to give a book at a baby shower. (That post is here.) But what makes a book a good choice for a shower gift?
  1. It's got to be enjoyable for the parents to read. Parents will be reading this book for years before the baby-of-honor can read independently. 
  2. It's got to be developmentally appropriate. Rhyming develops kids language skills. Picture cues and repetition help them learn to read. High contrast helps with eye development. 
  3. It's best if they don't already own it. Obviously. 
With those guidelines in mind, I teamed up with Michelle, a friend of mine who was in 4-H with me back in the day, and is now an Usborne Books consultant. My recs link to Amazon, and hers link to her Usborne page. Here are the recommendations we came up with!

Time for a Hug - A mama rabbit and her little bunny spend the day together doing all kinds of things, and pausing frequently for hugs. This one will grow well with a child. It's fun to read to them, and also a good one for them once they begin to read. I discovered it through Bookroo (a monthly box that sends either board books or picture books). I wrote more about Bookroo here, and Bookroo would also make a great shower gift!

Little Blue Truck - A friendly truck helps others, and later gets the help that he needs. I discovered this book when I was shopping with my friend Nicole and she started gushing about how much her toddler loved it, and saying that she enjoyed reading it to him. I gave it to Camille at her baby shower this past year and a few weeks ago she told me, "I have to tell you, that is my son's favorite book!"

How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? - Different animals each ask their babies how many kisses they want, and the book counts from one to ten. My kids (ages 5 and 2) love this book so, so much. I give it the side eye a little bit, just because some of the featured animals don't actually care for their young. But I recommend it anyway because it gives me a chance to talk about that with my older kids, plus it's so sweet and the rhyme scheme is very nice and it always ends in kisses.

Moo Baa La La La - Animals each make their sounds. I decided I couldn't just say ALL Sandra Boynton books were perfect shower gifts, because that's not helpful if you're just trying to pick one. This one is a super solid choice and is still a pleasure to read even though I've had it for years and years.

Now it's time for Michelle's books! Here are three picks from the Usborne line, and Michelle's take on them:

That's Not My Train - Any of the board books in the "That's Not My..." Series are great. These books have bright, bold, pictures and touchy-feely patches on every page. The pages are really thick and durable! My baby has loved them ever since he was just a couple months old and my three-year-old loves them too because he can "read" them since they have a predictable pattern. (That's not my train, it's roof is too rough..., that's not my train, it's wheels are too squashy...). There are over 30 in the series.

Baby's Very First Slide and See books - There are three titles in this series: Under the Sea, Animals, and Farm. These are really fun and interactive. They have pieces that slide, finger trails so that little ones can practice fine motor skills, and bright pictures! This is another book that has kept my son's attention since he was a newborn!

On the Farm - This is a fold out board book so it is perfect for brand new babies! You can stand it up on the floor and they can look at it while they do tummy time. It's color on one side and black and white on the other. My one-month-old nephew is already enjoying this book, but my three-and-a-half year old likes it too! Usborne has a similar book called 123 Counting.

Michelle even has a video of herself talking about these awesome books. The whole thing is five minutes, but she covers these three books in the first two minutes. I loved seeing the slides in action!

If this list is missing a great book, please add it in the comments, below!

And I'm curious: If you've been on the receiving end of a baby shower, what was your favorite gift? My favorite non-book gift might have to be the Mei Tai carrier some friends got for me. I like it a lot. 

Moving More in March

Back at the end of February I decided I would walk for 20 minutes outside, three times a week. I just wanted to report on how that's going, to keep myself accountable.

I can't say I'm completely killing this goal, but I can say that so far it has helped me get outside and get moving. I like having a special calendar printed out and posted on my fridge, because it gives me room to write where I went walking. Then, when I look back at it, I get fond memories of the walks. It's nice.

"Walk to river" reminds me of Benjamin pretending to be the Conn Coll camel,
and Jubilee and Levi pretending to be his humps.
In other exercise news, my friend Kate asked me to join the 30 Day Pilates Body Challenge by Robin Long with her. I like Pilates and obviously am looking to add a little more exercise to my life, so I accepted, and invited my mom to join me, too.

I've been doing really good with that one! You can find more info about it here. I'm not quite sure how to track my progress, since I started late? but I've just been crossing out any given workout once I've done it. And daily I've been checking in with my mom and Kate to report what I've done. The external accountability is hugely motivating for me.

What are you doing to move more, lately? Is accountability as motivational for you as it is for me?

Jacob is the best rock skipper in the family

p.s. Let's throw in some book related stuff here. I talked about the only exercise book I own back when Jubilee was born. I love this book for workouts when I'm pregnant and think it would be great for other major recover situations.

p.p.s Today I'm reading Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. It's making me laugh and chew my fingernails and cover my eyes.

Books for Easter?

Hey, all!

Have you got any good books you like for Easter?

I want to get some good ones for our family to enjoy together. I'm not looking for Easter bunny type books, though I find those enjoyable. We have Happy Easter, Little Critter and Owen's Marshmallow Chick, and a few others that I enjoy. But I'm looking for something Christ-centered this season.

Last year I found Words of the Savior, and ordered that. We've enjoyed it, and I'd recommend it. It has quotes from the King James Version of the New Testament, usually one per page, and each is illustrated with a photo.

I like that we can open it up anywhere and read a quote from Christ. I like that the pictures help engage my kids. Around Easter time last year we had a great conversation about the page that has The Lord's Prayer on it. It is illustrated with a spread of vegetables. I asked the kids why they thought this picture went with the prayer, and they talked about how they thought prayer was nourishing to the soul. Benjamin's exact quote was "Prayer is the food to get to heaven." And we talked about how forgiveness is a gift; Levi's gem: "Asking for forgiveness is like asking for food!"

I wish the book had an index, though! It would be really nice to be able to look at a list of what scriptures are quoted in it, and flip to one. That's my biggest complaint with the book: No index, no table of contents, no page numbers. As you can see I used sticky notes to help me out.

Our copy got water damage when we moved last summer, but I'm still going to hang on to it.

I'd love to add a spiritually uplifting book to the family collection again this season. Let me know if you have any recommendations.
p.s. Links above will take you to Amazon and if you purchase from there I make a small commission. At the moment though, Deseret Book has a better price on Words of the Savior. *wink* I got your back.

Babybug: One Kids' Magazine that Fills Me with Love

So just barely Amy at Sunlit Pages did a post about some of her family's favorite poetry collections. It reminded me that one of my favorite places to get new poetry is Babybug magazine.

Oh my gosh its so cute. It's just really, really cute you guys. And its short, so we can read it all in one sitting -- usually we read any given issue at least twice in a row. Jubilee insists. All the little poems and stories are on a theme. Off the top of my head we've seen issues on wind, and mail, and jumping, and balls, and hats, and winter weather.

In every issue there are a things we look forward to. Jubilee loves the "Kim and Carrots" stories that begin each issue, about a girl and her stuffed bunny. I love the fingerplays, and I used one of them when I visited the boys' classrooms last week. Every issue has a few pictures on the back and asks you to find them within the magazine. When we first started getting Babybug, Jubilee was too young to grasp the concept, but now she gets it. It's just so fun to me to sit and read these to her. Honestly, if the boys are home, they usually drift over to listen in.
Jubilee once insisted on taking her Babybug shopping with us.

The art is always high quality and the magazine itself is very durable. They know that it's going to be read by little ones! It is made of glossy cardstock-type paper, rather than typical flimsy magazine paper. It's bound like a book, rather than being stapled together.

Another good-to-know: Babybug magazine is free of advertising. It means the subscription price is higher, but I think it's worth it. Especially since Grandma is the one that bought us our subscription. Haha! But seriously, We thoroughly enjoyed a year of Babybug and when it was ending I asked my mom if she wanted to renew it for us, or if I should renew it myself, because I wanted to get getting it! We're now enjoying our second year and not tired of it at all.

The thrill of getting it in the mail, the fat little stack of magazines we are collecting, the rhyming and the art and the poetry. I just love everything about Babybug. If you're looking for a gift for a little one, ages 1-5, I'd say, then I heartily recommend it.

I've been meaning to post about Babybug for a long time! And now I've finally done it. You can look forward to posts about the magazines that my boys get from the same publisher. They're called Ladybug and Spider. UPDATE: Here is my review of Ladybug, for ages 3-6.

Do you have a favorite magazine for kids? Or for yourself? I'd LOVE to hear about it.

At the Book Fair

Hi guys. How are you? I'm doing well. We're all in good health over here, and the weather is warming up. This picture is from Monday, when we were at the boys' school book fair. Today they didn't need those big coats! Today I was out doing yard work in short sleeves!

At the book fair the boys carefully selected their books and treasures. There were so many books I wanted to buy! Should I tell you all of them? So that you can look for them at your own book fairs? Or is that boring?

I will tell you this much: I made the boys use their own money to buy books this year. What that means: Benjamin cleaned out the car for me this morning, to earn a little extra cash. YES! Parenting win. About 2 months ago we started using the money system outlined in Merrilee Boyack's book The Parenting Breakthrough. Quick version: from age 5-12, kids get a small allowance once a month (non-negotiable). They also complete household chores (non-negotiable) They can earn more money by doing "money chores" that go above and beyond. Once they hit age 12, the allowance stops (household duties do not) and because they miss the allowance they ramp up the money chores and other money earning efforts.

Benjamin spent his hard-earned cash on a paperback novel, a poster, and a hand-shaped pointer which he toted along to his piano lesson so his teacher could point to things more easily. Haha!

Levi bought a bookmark and a bug book that came with a plastic spider. :)

Jacob and I talked Jubilee out of an expensive Doc McStuffins book that comes with a stethoscope (we have two toy stethoscopes already, thank you), and bought her a cheap Sofia the First book instead. When we saw the gorgeous coffee-table book about the Periodic Table of the Elements, we agreed that it should come home with us.

I could spend SO much money at the book fair. All those exclusive paperbacks of picture books! They don't usually make paperback versions of picture books, you know. Sigh. I kind of can't believe I left them all behind this year. But my budget is thanking me already. Yes, Jacob and I put "book fair" on our budget this month. You can't go into one of those without a planwe can't, anyway.

I love the quote from Erasmus, "When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left I buy food and clothes."

Warm wishes,

Here's a post about my first time volunteering at the book fair.
Here's an affiliate link to The Parenting Breakthrough.
Here's a tongue twister video from Studio C that made me laugh tonight.

Raising Readers: 11 Excellent Non-Fiction Books for Kids

Hello, friends!

Today I am honored to have contributed to the Raising Readers series over on Sunlit Pages. For those of you who don't know Sunlit Pages, it is one of my favorite book blogs. I discovered it when Amy followed me on twitter and I clicked through to her blog. It's so inspiring and lovely!

For my contribution to the series, I wrote about what parents need to know about non-fiction: namely that the different types of non-fiction are meant to be read differently. From the post:

It is definitely worth it to help your kids enjoy non-fiction. And it's easier now than ever to get them going on it. Remember when I said you could think of biographies and historical accounts as two kinds of narrative non-fiction? Well there are so many more. There are picture books that tell the story of volcanoes creating islands. There are bird watching guides that have a conversational tone and just really suck you in.

Since I alluded to a couple of my personal favorite non-fiction books, I wanted to name them here. Don't want to leave you all hanging! I hope you love these books as much as I do. Put these on your library list, or click on the cover images to shop through my affiliate links. 

All the books below are narrative non-fiction, for more about the difference between narrative non-fiction, see my guest post.

Picture Books

Locomotive - This one is a-ma-zing. It tells the story of a family riding the transcontinental railroad. You can just tell from the illustrations that Brian Floca rode through these areas, did meticulous research, and has a good sense of humor. When it won the Caldecott I was like, "Um, yeah." I gushed about this one here.

The Boy Who Loved Math - Oh, my heart. I love this book so much. It seems to get better with every reading. It is the biography of mathematician Paul Erdős. I wrote about this one at length here.

Papa Was a Poet - This is a biography of Robert Frost as told from the perspective of his daughter. Something about this book (and it's gorgeous illustrations) has made Frost's poetry so much more meaningful to me. And now that we've moved to New England I catch myself thinking about Robert Frost more and more.

Stripes of All Types - This is a great rhyming book about all kinds of striped animals. Suited for young readers, it's text is pretty spare and the pictures are very eye-catching. In the back of the book, you can read more about each animal.

Volcano Rising - This is the volcano book I was talking about, above! I like how it has larger text and smaller text on each page, so you can just read the big print if you're reading to younger kids, but if the big kids want more info, it's right there.

Look Up - This is the bird watching book I mentioned! I confess that I have not taken up birdwatching after reading this book. But now I think about taking up bird watching. And when I look at birds I see them in more detail. Also, it's just a cool, funny book that really sucks you in! When Levi was four he made me read it to him several times, and it's not a short book!

Longer Books 
(These still have a lot of pictures.)

Anubis Speaks - I think of this as the ultimate companion to Rick Riordan's books, The Kane Chronicles. Obviously, the books have companions of their own, but sometimes you want something from a different author that the same audience will like. In Anubis Speaks, we get taken on a journey through the underworld by Anubis. All kinds of facts are woven into the narrative and it's just a lot of fun and learning, if Egyptian mythology is your scene. Looks like there is a book by the same author about Greek mythology, too.


Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World - The true story of an expedition to the south pole in which (you guessed it!) the ship gets wrecked and the crew stranded and miracles happen and even though it was only 1915 they brought along a photographer. More about this book here.

Skull in the Rock - The amazing true story of a twelve-year-old boy who was out looking for fossils with his paleontologist father and discovered the oldest hominid skull to date. I learned so much from this book and it had awesome photos. It's on my list of recommended books to give at the holidays, and one of my top picks for 13-year-old boys.

One Step at a Time - Just thinking about this book makes me want to read it again. It's the true story of a Vietnamese girl who was adopted by a family in the US. This installment talks about her adjustment to life in the States. Absolutely excellent for developing empathy, in my opinion. I wrote about it here.

Lewis and Clark - For the older crowd, a graphic novel version of the Lewis & Clark expedition. This one opened my eyes to some of the finer points of the journey and what life as an explorer would have been like.

Smile - A memoir of the author's dental and orthodontic work, graphic novel format. I didn't read this one until I was an adult and had already completed my own orthodontic journey (or so I thought! Back in braces now, blah). Anyway, this one is full of humor and heart and is a landmark book in the genre for good reason. My review here.

Bonus Book!

I debated whether or not to include a few non-narrative recommendations on this list, and decided that I really didn't have enough of them that I felt strongly enough about to give them their own section. But then Amy, who hosted the post, said her six-year-old son loves bugs and is into narrative non-fiction. So, here's one especially for the young entomologist.

First Big Book of Bugs - My mom sent us this book a few months ago. Even though she addressed it to my two-year-old daughter, my five-year-old son is the one who is super interested in it. In fact, he asked me to read it to his class. I didn't read all 120+ pages, I can tell you that! More about the reading here. IN general I really like National Geographic's books for kids. They have a solid line called National Geographic Kids that has easy readers that we like. 

Are you looking for non-fiction books on a particular topic or for a particular age? Leave a comment below and I will do my best to hook you up with a good one!
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