Ep. 41: Ali Benjamin, Author of The Next Great Paulie Fink

This week I’m sharing an interview with one of my favorite middle grade authors, Ali Benjamin.

Ali Benjamin is a New York Times bestselling author. Her new middle grade book, The Next Great Paulie Fink  is about an oddball school in the middle of the woods and a group of misfit kids who decide to hold their own reality TV-style competition. Her 2015 novel, The Thing About Jellyfish was an international bestseller, a National Book Award finalist, and garnered multiple best-of-year accolades.

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You can also listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

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Books Mentioned On This Episode:

The Next Great Paulie Fink

Big Magic

The Thing About Jellyfish

Where the Heart Is

How To Do Nothing

To learn more about AliBenjamin you can visit her website alibenjamin.com. You can also follow her on Instagram @alibenjamin.

 

If you’re enjoying the podcast, please share it with a friend and be sure to subscribe. If you could also take a moment to rate and review A Bookish Home on iTunes to help people find the show, I’d be so grateful.

Are you reading a book mentioned on the blog or podcast? I’d love to hear. Tag me on your favorite social media @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading and Listening!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

Affiliate links are used in this post. At no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you purchase something through the links provided. Thanks for supporting A Bookish Home!

 

 

Read Alouds to Welcome Fall

I love introducing a new season to my little ones with read alouds.  This is a fun way to preview any changes the season brings and build excitement for family traditions.

As summer turns to fall, that means thinking about cooling temperatures, noticing the changing colors of leaves in our backyard, and building anticipation for trips to local farms for apple and pumpkin picking.

Here are five books to help you welcome fall with your family:

 

1. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

by Kenard Pak

“As trees sway in the cool breeze, blue jays head south, and leaves change their colors, everyone knows–autumn is on its way!

Join a young girl as she takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind, she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn.”

 

2. Duck & Goose Find A Pumpkin 

by Tad Hills

“New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Tad Hills brings our favorite feathered friends out to find a big, beautiful pumpkin in this sturdy, large-sized board book. Duck & Goose look everywhere for a pumpkin—in the apple tree, in the leaf pile, inside a hollow log…. Where will they find one?”

 

3. In the Middle of Fall

by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Lauren Dronzek

“In the middle of fall, it takes only one gust of wind to turn the whole world yellow and red and orange. Caldecott Medalist and award-winning author Kevin Henkes’s striking text introduces basic concepts of language and the unique beauty of the fall season. Laura Dronzek’s expressive paintings illuminate pumpkins, apples, falling leaves, busy squirrels, and the transformation from colorful autumn to frosty winter.”

 

4. Apples and Pumpkins

by Anne Rockwell, Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

“A young girl spends a glorious fall day picking apples and searching for the perfect pumpkin in this refreshed classic.

“When red and yellow leaves are on the trees,” a little girl goes with her parents to a farm where they pick apples and choose “the best pumpkin of them all.” Back home, she helps to carve a grinning jack-o’-lantern face on the big orange pumpkin, which guards their doorstep on halloween night while her mother hands out shiny red apples and she and her father go trick-or-treating with the neighborhood ghosts and goblins.”

 

5. Leaf Man

by Lois Ehlert

“Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one’s quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man’s got to go where the wind blows.

With illustrations made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread that reveal gorgeous landscape vistas, here is a playful, whimsical, and evocative book that celebrates the natural world and the rich imaginative life of children.”

 

What are your favorite books to read aloud this season? 

Share in the comments or let me know on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

Affiliate links are used in this post. At no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you purchase something through the links provided. Thanks for supporting A Bookish Home!

Ep. 39: Jo Knowles, Author of Where the Heart Is

This week I am delighted to welcome Jo Knowles to the podcast to chat about a new middle grade book I have not been able to stop thinking about- Where The Heart Is.

Jo Knowles is the author of eight young adult and middle grade novels including See You At Harry’s, Still A Work in Progress and Read Between the Lines. Her latest middle grade book is called Where the Heart Is. Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead called it “An immensely appealing, hard-to-put-down story about friendship and love, heartache and bravery–and above all, family”.

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You can also listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Books Mentioned On This Episode:

Where The Heart Is

See You At Harry’s

Survival Math

The Things I Carry

To learn more about Jo Knowles you can visit her website JoKnowles.com. You can also follow her on Twitter  @JoKnowles or on Instagram @JoKnowlesAuthor

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If you’re enjoying the podcast, please share it with a friend and be sure to subscribe. If you could also take a moment to rate and review A Bookish Home on iTunes to help people find the show, I’d be so grateful.

Are you reading a book mentioned on the blog or podcast? I’d love to hear. Tag me on your favorite social media @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading and Listening!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

Affiliate links are used in this post. At no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you purchase something through the links provided. Thanks for supporting A Bookish Home!

 

Five Picture Books for Back to School

This week I’m sharing a post from last fall with my favorite read alouds for back to school. Enjoy!

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Are you looking for a picture book to kick off the new school year with your students or children?

Here are five of my favorite back to school read alouds:

 

1. School’s First Day of School

Story by Adam Rex, Pictures by Christian Robinson

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In this funny, charming story a brand new school awaits its first students: “It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?” A read aloud of School’s First Day of School is sure to delight your students or children. For more, watch this PBS interview with illustrator Christian Robinson where he discusses his process and a topic I’m passionate about–the importance of children seeing themselves reflected in books:

 

2. Planet Kindergarten

By Sue Ganz-Schmitt, Illustrated by Shane Prigmore

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Do you teach Kindergarten or have a child about to take this leap? This is the read aloud for you. In this adorable and clever story, a young boy ventures off to a strange new world, with different customs and alien inhabitants: Planet Kindergarten. Engaging and sure to excite young readers about this new adventure. Check out the book trailer for a sneak peak:

 

 

3. Wemberly Worried

By Kevin Henkes

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Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of many beloved and award-winning picture books from Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and Kitten’s First Full Moon, to Owen and Chrysanthemum. All of his books make fantastic classroom read alouds, but Wemberly Worried is one of my favorites and a wonderful choice to calm new school year anxieties for the pre-K to second grade set: “Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start. And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.” For more, check out this Activity Guide from Kevin Henkes with a Wemberly coloring page, a “worry list”, recipes from the book and more.

 

4. When Sophie Thinks She Can’t…

By Molly Bang

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If you are looking to kick off the new school year with a discussion about “growth mindset” and the importance of persistence, Molly Bang’s new book is an excellent read aloud choice. When Sophie Thinks She Can’t… is Molly Bang’s third Sophie book, you may recognize this character from When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… or When Sophie’s Feelings are Really, Really Hurt. In this story, Sophie gets frustrated when she struggles to solve a math puzzle and shouts, “I CAN’T DO IT!” She doubts whether she will ever be “smart”: “Luckily Sophie’s teacher steps in. What does it mean to be smart? Using current, popular “mindset” techniques, Sophie’s class is taught that we get smarter when we exercise our brains, such as when we work harder at solving a puzzle. Struggling to solve a problem doesn’t mean “I can’t do it!” Sophie and her classmates just can’t do it. . .yet!” For more, you can watch this book trailer from Scholastic:

 

 

5. The Dot 

By Peter H. Reynolds

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Are you hoping to inspire the kids in your life to take risks in the classroom this year and follow their creativity? Read them The Dot by Peter Reynolds: “Her teacher smiled. ‘Just make a mark and see where it takes you.’ Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw – she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. “There!” she says. That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery.” To take the uplifting message one step further, you could also celebrate International Dot Day on September 15th with your students. I love the idea from this Educator Guide to do a  “Door Dots” activity,  “Have the classroom door covered in plain colored dots, waiting like a blank canvas.” After reading the book, students could “make their mark” and decorate one of the dots.

 

What books will you be sharing with the kids in your life to kick off this new school year?

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

 

Ep. 37: Lisa Graff, Author of Far Away

This week I’m sharing an interview with the wonderful middle grade author, Lisa Graff.

Lisa Graff is the award-winning author of A Clatter of Jars, Absolutely Almost, A Tangle of Knots, Umbrella Summer, among others. Her new book is called Far Away.

You can also listen on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Books Mentioned On This Episode:

Far Away

Absolutely Almost

A Tangle Of Knots

Umbrella Summer

Lost in the Sun

The Thing About Georgie

Shark Lady

Up For Air

To learn more about Lisa Graff you can visit her website LisaGraff.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @lisagraff or on Facebook @lisagraffauthor.

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If you’re enjoying the podcast, please share it with a friend and be sure to subscribe. If you could also take a moment to rate and review A Bookish Home on iTunes to help people find the show, I’d be so grateful.

Are you reading a book mentioned on the blog or podcast? I’d love to hear. Tag me on your favorite social media @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading and Listening!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

Affiliate links are used in this post. At no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you purchase something through the links provided. Thanks for supporting A Bookish Home!

 

Celebrate the Bookish Birthdays of Two Potters…

This week I’m reposting some ideas for celebrating Harry Potter and Peter Rabbit. Enjoy!

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Are you looking to add a dose of literary fun to your family life this week? Celebrate one of these upcoming bookish birthdays!

Two wonderful literary Potters, Harry and Beatrix have birthdays coming up. Harry Potter was born on July 31st and Beatrix Potter on July 28th.

 

Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday:

Attend a Harry Potter Birthday Party

If you or the little ones in your life are Harry Potter fans, check your local library or bookstore to see if they have a birthday celebration planned for Harry that you can attend. This is such a wonderful way to engage with the book and spark excitement for readers of all ages.

 

Can’t attend a Harry Potter birthday celebration? Why not throw your own?

If you’re looking to celebrate at home, I love this Sorting Hat Cupcakes recipe from Little Sugar Snaps. When you bite into them, the cupcake reveals which Hogwarts House you would be in!

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Gather your friends for some cupcakes and nerdy Harry Potter debate over whether you’re actually a Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. If you have little ones, I also love the idea of eating these cupcakes during a family read aloud of Harry Potter or while you just chat about your favorite characters.

 

Read One of the 20th Anniversary Editions of Harry Potter

You can celebrate Harry’s birthday by checking out these new editions issued by Scholastic to celebrate the 20th anniversary of publication. (For more on celebrating this milestone check out Harry Potter Twentieth Anniversary Year).

The books feature new cover designs by Brian Selznik with the original interior illustrations of Mary GrandPré.

 

Enter to Win Tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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I recently learned that there is a weekly lottery for tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway! Check out Today Tix Lottery: “Every Friday, we release 40 tickets for some of the very best seats in the theatre at $40 ($20 per Part) for every performance for the following week. Submit your entry from Friday at 12:01AM ET to Friday at 1:00PM ET.” For more information or to purchase general tickets visit: Harry Potter the Play

Celebrate Beatrix Potter’s Birthday:

Have some bookish fun with younger readers in honor of Beatrix Potter’s birthday on July 28th.

 

Read Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

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I am such a big fan of Peter Rabbit. There is nothing better than snuggling up with my daughter while we read this classic. We’re also automatically in the Beatrix Potter spirit in her room since the nursery has a Peter Rabbit theme! This is a great time to enjoy this book with your children and share the magic of the story.

 

 

 

 

Watch a Peter Rabbit Read Aloud on Storyline

While the book is the perfect size for tiny hands and one-on-one sharing, I find it doesn’t work as well for reading to a larger group.  I actually love this Storyline Online read aloud with Rose Byrne and have shown it to kindergarteners in my school library. Everyone can see the illustrations and Byrne is a wonderful narrator. Storyline also has many other free read aloud videos.

 

Enjoy Peter Rabbit Coloring Pages

These Peter Rabbit coloring pages are available for free from Educational Coloring Pages. This would be a fun activity to follow your read aloud!

 

 

I hope these ideas add some bookish excitement to your home!

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

What I’ve Been Reading…

Summer reading is in full swing…

This is such a wonderful time of year to be a bookworm. There’s nothing better than relaxing outside with a good read!

Here are a few of the books I’ve been enjoying lately…

Lost Roses

by Martha Hall Kelly

I have been waiting with much excitement for the sequel to Lilac Girls. (I was so absorbed in that book I kept reading it when I was in labor with my daughter!). This time with  Lost Roses I was sneaking pages in at a Red Sox game. I’m fascinated by the lives of everyday women in history and Martha Hall Kelly succeeds again in bringing the past to life through the eyes of three women in very different circumstances during the Russian revolution and World War I.

“It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.”

The Perfect Couple

by Elin Hilderbrand

I brought this book on vacation in Charleston and it was perfect for keeping me turning the pages on the plane, at my hotel, and of course on the beach. Set on Nantucket, Hildebrand delivers with a love triangle, murder mystery, and wedding–this is the kind of beach read I gobble up.

“It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer-the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.

But it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony-and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom’s famous mystery-novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect. Featuring beloved characters from The Castaways, Beautiful Day, and A Summer Affair, The Perfect Couple proves once again that Elin Hilderbrand is the queen of the summer beach read.”

The Whole-Brain Child

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

This book has been on my TBR list for years. After hearing it recommended from yet another parent, I decided to give it a try. This book is really eye opening in terms of what is going in in young children’s brains, particularly during tantrums or difficult moments. There is also a follow-up book called No Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind.

“In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson offer a revolutionary approach to child rearing with twelve key strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children. The authors explain—and make accessible—the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. The “upstairs brain,” which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-twenties. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain. No wonder kids throw tantrums, fight, or sulk in silence. By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth.

Complete with age-appropriate strategies for dealing with day-to-day struggles and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child shows you how to cultivate healthy emotional and intellectual development so that your children can lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives.”

 

Far Away

by Lisa Graff

I am always excited to read a new Lisa Graff book. I can still picture the shelf of Lisa Graff books in my elementary school library. Kids would read a book like Absolutely Almost or Umbrella Summer then keep coming back, checking out every book on the shelf. In her latest book, she once again offers a funny yet moving and heartfelt story, this time following a young girl on a mission to find a way to stay connected to her mother.

Stay tuned for an upcoming episode of A Bookish Home, the podcast with author Lisa Graff.

“CJ’s Aunt Nic is a psychic medium who tours the country speaking to spirits from Far Away, passing on messages from the dearly departed. And CJ knows firsthand how comforting those messages can be — Aunt Nic’s Gift is the only way CJ can talk to her mom, who died just hours after she was born.

So when CJ learns that she won’t be able to speak to her mother anymore, even with Aunt Nic’s help, she’s determined to find a work-around. She sets off on road trip with her new friend Jax to locate the one object that she believes will tether her mother’s spirit back to Earth . . . but what she finds along the way challenges every truth she’s ever known. Ultimately, CJ has to sort out the reality from the lies.

 

Hide and Seek

by Polly Noakes

It’s always fun to check out books from the library based on what your little one is interested in at the moment. We are currently playing lots of hide and seek in our house and my toddler is also loving seek-and-find books. We spotted this new picture book on display at the library recently and it’s been such a fun book to share together.

“A group of friends wanders out into the meadow to play a game of hide-and-seek on a beautiful summer’s afternoon. Children will delight in spotting the hidden creatures on each page as the little girl tries to find them. But it’s not always clear who is hunting whom, or who is actually playing. A charming, richly illustrated book, with a gentle hint of suspense and a satisfying twist at the end.”

 

Press Here

by Hervé Tullet

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This books is in heavy rotation in our bedtime read alouds. My toddler loves how interactive this one is and has fun seeing what “magic” happens when she presses the dots, tilts the book, shakes the dots, and more.

“Press the yellow dot on the cover of this interactive children’s book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising touch book instructs the reader to push the button, shake it up, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique interactive picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!”

What have you been reading? Leave a note in the comments or let me know on your favorite social media @ABookishHome.

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Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

 

Affiliate links are used in this post. At no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through the links provided. Thanks for supporting A Bookish Home!

 

 

Four Books I Can’t Stop Thinking About

Today I’m sharing a favorite post from last summer about books with staying power. Enjoy!

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Some books stick with you long after you’ve put them down. Here are four books I’ve read this month that continue to keep me thinking about the characters I met or mulling over ideas from the author:

You Go FirstYou Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

You Go First is the new book by Erin Entrada Kelly, who won the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello UniverseI really enjoyed Hello Universe and even selected it for a 4th and 5th grade book club, but You Go First is her best book yet.  I started reading this during my daughter’s afternoon nap last Saturday and ended up staying up late that same night because I had to finish it. Yet, at the same time, I was savoring every page and so did not want it to end–reader problems! This is one of those books where my husband kept giving me the side eye, as I alternated between laughing out loud to myself, tearing up, and practically hugging the book. (For fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin it felt like that!).

This book is told from the alternating perspectives of two middle schoolers, Charlotte and Ben, who have never met. They are online Scrabble competitors. They are not totally honest with each other at the beginning, but we as the reader know they actually have a whole lot in common. Erin Entrada Kelly paints such a realistic portrait of life at school and her writing is spot on. This is a book for anyone who has ever felt alone in the crowd. This is for kids trying to simultaneously wade through the waters of changing friendships and school while dealing with a family member’s illness, divorce, or another tough situation. You will root for these kindhearted, smart, interesting, relatable characters with all your heart. I cannot wait to put this into the hands of as many students and teachers as I can. Highly recommended for upper elementary. This is my favorite kidlit of the year.

 

Check out the wonderful Erin Estrada Kelly sharing a bit about the book and reading a chapter:

 

 

PiecingMeTogetherPiecing Me Together by Renée Watson

When I saw Piecing Me Together win both a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award at the Oscars of children’s books (the ALA Youth Media Awards), I eagerly requested it from my public library. When this YA book finally became available a few weeks ago, I happily downloaded the library ebook on my Kindle and proceeded to completely lose myself in sixteen-year-old Jade’s story. (Ten Steps to Get the Most Out Of Your Local Library)

Jade has a scholarship to St. Francis, a prestigious prep school in Portland, Oregon. When she is pulled into her counselor’s office one day, Jade is sure it’s to find out she has been selected to go on the school’s study abroad trip to Costa Rica. To her dismay, her counselor actually wants her to participate in the “Woman to Woman” mentoring program–an opportunity she is eventually convinced to accept given that it promises full college scholarships to mentees. Jade’s observations about race and class in her experiences both in the program and floating between her neighborhood and St. Francis are sharp and compelling and Watson’s writing is stunning. Jade is a character you have to meet–a must read.

To hear more from author Renée Watson on why she wrote the book and how it relates to her own experiences check out this fantastic 5 minute interview:

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The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito and Julia Kuo

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In the picture book The Sound of SilenceYoshio is off to school, walking through the streets of Tokyo taking in a “symphony” of sounds. When a musician he encounters shares that her favorite sound is silence, he begins to look for this elusive sound everywhere. Yoshio eventually finds silence by losing himself in a book–the whole world falls away around him. My students loved sharing which books gave them that wonderful reading experience, where you completely enter the world of the book and are taken out of your own life. (You Go First and Piecing Me Together certainly did that for me!). Perfect for a discussion about mindfulness or getting into a state of flow with a particular activity. The illustrations in this picture book are also so detailed and beautiful and Yoshio’s quest to seek out the moments of “ma” (silence), will inspire you to embrace the quiet in your own life. This would be a stellar addition to any picture book collection.

 

There'sNoSuchThingAsBadWeather

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge) by Linda Åkeson McGurk

I shared that I had started There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather in Reads for the Moms in Your Life. I had really been enjoying it and predicted it would be great for fans of Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. I’ve since finished and have to say it has stuck with me and really led to a mindset shift. I enjoy books that explore the ways in which what makes you a “good parent” in one culture, might make you a bit of an outlier in another. In this case, Linda Åkeson McGurk explores how in Scandinavia getting your children outside every day (in any weather) and giving them free reign to explore and play in nature is woven into cultural norms. This line about the structure of the day in preschool struck me in particular, “A survey of a hundred preschools in Stockholm showed that the average time spent outside was one and a half hours per day-on a bad-weather day in the winter. On a nice day in the summer, the average was nearly six hours”.  Holding a children’s birthday party outside in the snow, being encouraged by the government to have your baby nap outdoors, and bringing rain gear to school and playdates (because outdoor play happens rain or shine) are just a few examples McGurk mentions from her own children’s experiences during their 6 month return to her childhood home of Sweden. I don’t know if I will quite reach that level, but this book was good inspiration to provide our little ones with a bit more unstructured, outdoor play and exploration–both for the fun of it and for the benefits. For my toddler, that means the joy (and sensory experience) of digging in the dirt and touching the trees and working on her balance as she happily runs around the yard. I’m beginning to think that in our culture of a million and one activities, my providing of “enrichment” could simply include a library card and time outside.

 

What are the books you can’t stop thinking about right now?

Let me know in the comments or on your favorite social media platform @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

 

 

Summer Reading Resources for Kids…

As an elementary school librarian, I always spent the end of the school year encouraging students to read over the summer. This time of year can be magical for reading, with more free time and the opportunity to hopefully curl up with a book outside.

But it can also be challenging for kids to maintain an active reading life. Without their teachers and classmates, kids might have a harder time figuring out what to read next and without classroom and school libraries they may have less access to books.  That freedom also means less structure, without built in time to read every day at school.

You can support your child as a reader this summer by connecting them with books they enjoy as well as by making reading part of your family’s routine.

 

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Your local public library is a great resource for this. Visit the library as a family each week to check out books and find out what summer reading programs your little ones can participate in. In addition to fun activities for kids to take part in over the summer, many public libraries also create reading challenges to inspire kids to read during vacation.

Often libraries have summer reading lists available for kids. These are great tools for moments when kids are stuck for an idea of what book to read next. You can also stop by your local bookstore and stock up on books for the whole family to read over the summer.

15 Summer Themed Books for Kids:

1. Baby Loves Summer!

by Karen Katz

“Little ones will love lifting the flaps in this new Karen Katz book to reveal a big yellow sun, flip-flops, an ice cream cone, and everything else that Baby loves about summer! The sturdy format and easy-to-lift flaps make this a perfect summertime treat for parents and children to share.”

 

2. Hush, Little Beachcomber

Written by Dianne Moritz, Illustrated by Kelly McGee

“Hey, Little Beachcomber, what do you say? Let’s take trip to the beach today! Cold root beer athe pier, seagulls, wuick dips, beach-sand pies..Hush, little beachcomber, and don’t say a word..Just enjoy the day!”

 

3. Jabari Jumps

by Gaia Cornwall

“Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.”

 

4. Saffron Ice Cream

by Rashin

“Rashin is excited about her first visit to the beach in her family’s new home. On the way there, she remembers what beach trips were like in Iran, the beautiful Caspian Sea, the Persian music, and most of all, the saffron ice cream she shared with her best friend, Azadeh. But there are wonderful things in this new place as well — a subway train, exciting music… and maybe even a new friend!”

 5. The Honeybee

by Kirsten Hall and Isabelle Arsenault

the-honeybee-9781481469975_hr

“Buzz from flower to flower with a sweet honeybee in this timely, clever, and breathtakingly gorgeous picture book from critically acclaimed author Kirsten Hall and award-winning illustrator Isabelle Arsenault.”

 

6. Backyard Campout

The backyard campout is tonight. Jada and Jamal Perkins have never slept in a tent before. Neither have their best friends, Carlita Garcia and Josh Cornell. Camping is going to be so much fun. Or is it? It’s really dark in the backyard. And what’s that noise? It’s coming from the bushes.  

7. Like Bug Juice on A Burger

“In this sequel to Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, Eleanor is off to summer camp. At first she’s excited, but when she gets there she finds bugs, no electricity, and terrible food. And worst of all: swim class, where she just can’t seem to keep up with the other campers. But as the days go by, Eleanor realizes that life is full of special surprises—even after some belly flops.”

 

8. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters

by Lenore Look

“Alvin, an Asian American second grader who’s afraid of everything, is back, and his worst fear has come true: he has to go camping. What will he do exposed in the wilderness with bears and darkness and . . . pit toilets? Luckily, he’s got his night-vision goggles and water purifying tablets and super-duper heavy-duty flashlight to keep him safe. And he’s got his dad, too.”

 

 

9. The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

by Karina Yan Glaser

“While Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem.”

 

10. The Parker Inheritance

by Varian Johnson

“When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.

So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?”

 

11.Where the Heart Is

by Jo Knowles

“It’s the first day of summer and Rachel’s thirteenth birthday. She can’t wait to head to the lake with her best friend, Micah. But as summer unfolds, every day seems to get more complicated. Her “fun” new job taking care of the neighbors’ farm animals quickly becomes a challenge, whether she’s being pecked by chickens or having to dodge a charging pig at feeding time. At home, her parents are more worried about money than usual, and their arguments over bills intensify. Fortunately, Rachel can count on Micah to help her cope with all the stress. But Micah seems to want their relationship to go beyond friendship, and though Rachel almost wishes for that, too, she can’t force herself to feel “that way” about him. In fact, she isn’t sure she can feel that way about any boy — or what that means. With all the heart of her award-winning novel See You At Harry’s, Jo Knowles brings us the story of a girl who must discover where her heart is and what that means for her future.”

**Jo Knowles will be a guest on an episode of A Bookish Home, the podcast in September!**

12. The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

by Dana Alison Levy


The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island (Family Fletcher Series) by [Levy, Dana Alison]

“The Fletchers are back on Rock Island, home of all their best summer memories. But from the first day they arrive, it’s clear that this year, things have changed. FIRST, a giant fence is blocking their beloved lighthouse. SECOND, they have new neighbors. THIRD, who the heck is the weird artist guy who’s never actually painting? And FOURTH, there’s now an ice cream truck! Can the island stay the same even with these crazy transformations? “

 

13.  The Lotterys Plus One

by Emma Donoghue

“Meet the Lotterys: a unique and diverse family featuring four parents, seven kids and five pets – all living happily together in their big old house, Camelottery.Nine-year-old Sumac is the organizer of the family and is looking forward to a long summer of fun.

But when their grumpy and intolerant grandad comes to stay, everything is turned upside down. How will Sumac and her family manage with another person to add to their hectic lives?”

14. Junior Ranger Activity Book

by National Geographic Kids

“Calling all explorers and nature-lovers! From Acadia to Zion, discover all 59 of the United States’ amazing National Parks in this jam-packed book of games, trivia, jokes, fun facts, and so much more, all inspired by the National Parks outdoor-based Junior Ranger Program. Great for generating pre-trip excitement, long car rides, poking around historical sites, or general learning, these fun and sometimes silly activities will entertain while they draw kids into the majestic and historic importance of America’s national parks. Check out the most amazing park habitats, plus awesome sights and animals you might see, from birds to bears. Fun facts are jam-packed onto every page, so kids learn something amazing about each cool park.”

 

15. Smithsonian Maker Lab Outdoors

by DK

“Twenty-five science projects and experiments to be done outside will spark kids’ creativity and help them develop science skills through hands-on learning.

Projects focus on Earth and the environment, plants and animals, weather, water, and physics, bringing science learning home and into the backyard. Young scientists can build a wormery and learn about compost, crack rocks with water and learn about freezing and thawing, build and launch a water rocket to see Newton’s laws in action, and more.”

In addition to connecting the kids in your life with great reads, you can look for other ways to bring books into your summer routine.

Your family could visit a local bookstore,  listen to audiobooks in the car together, attend an author event, or read together outside.

Bring bookishness into any summer travels as well. Check to see if your destination has a local bookstore or public library your family can visit.  Don’t forget to check the events offered as well!

 

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Finding books you love to read during the summer is important as well. Modeling an active reading life for your children is so valuable and of course means enjoyable reading time for you!

Stay tuned for summer reading recommendations for adults in next week’s post.

And of course, if you are looking for book ideas for you and your family, subscribe to A Bookish Home and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @ABookishHome.

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

Affiliate links are used in this post. At no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through the links provided. Thanks for supporting A Bookish Home!

 

What I’ve Been Reading…

Lately I’ve had the best of bookish problems. My nightstand and living room are overflowing with books I can’t wait to read.

Library holds that I’ve been pining for for ages are coming in all at once and I’m also reading so many wonderful books for upcoming podcast episodes.

Here are a few kidlit and adult books I’ve really enjoyed lately…

 

The Great Believers

by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

I was fortunate enough to hear Rebecca Makkai speak at a writer’s conference called Muse and the Marketplace, here in Boston. I love when writers talk about the journey from there to here and talked about carving out time on weekends to write her first novel at Starbucks. She’d have to pump for days in advance to make that time happen and also remind herself that this wasn’t a silly hobby. Fast forward a few years and this completely absorbing, heartbreaking book about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist. This is truly one of the best books of adult fiction I’ve read in a long time and it’s one that I’ll be thinking about for years to come.

“In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.”

 

 

The Artful Year: Celebrating the Seasons & Holidays With Crafts & Recipes

by Jean Van’t Hul

I love this book of arts and craft ideas from the creator of the blog, The Artful Parent. If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, this book will have you breaking out the art supplies with your little ones in no time. The photography is also beautiful and I love that the ideas are divided into seasons.

“Celebrating the seasons and holidays is a wonderful opportunity to embrace creativity together as a family. It’s also a fun way to decorate, prepare for, and learn about the holidays we celebrate. In The Artful Year, you’ll find art activites, crafts, recipes, and more to help make each season special. By doing so, your family will create memories and mementos, you’ll develop creative growth in your children and yourself, and you’ll have lots of fun! The book includes.

 

Get Started With Bluprint at mybluprint.com

The Next Great Paulie Fink

by Ali Benjamin

I was a huge fan of Ali Benjamin’s first book, The Thing About Jellyfish so I was thrilled to see that she had a new one coming out. Ali captures that middle grade voice and the dynamics between kids so well in this quirky, thought-provoking read. I’m really looking forward to having Ali Benjamin on the podcast to discuss her creative process and writing journey.

Stay tuned for an upcoming episode of A Bookish Home, the podcast with author Ali Benjamin.

“When Caitlyn Breen begins her disorienting new life at the rural Mitchell School–where the students take care of real live goats and study long-dead philosophers, and where there are only ten other students in the entire seventh grade–it seems like nobody can stop talking about some kid named Paulie Fink.

Depending on whom you ask, Paulie was either a hilarious class clown, a relentless troublemaker, a hapless klutz, or an evil genius. One thing’s for sure, though: The kid was totally legendary. Now he’s disappeared, and Caitlyn finds herself leading a reality-show-style competition to find the school’s next great Paulie Fink. With each challenge, Caitlyn struggles to understand a person she never met…but it’s what she discovers about herself that most surprises her.

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

Words by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad

From the first pages, the rich, vibrant illustrations in this picture book completely grabbed me. I looked up the illustrator and realized that it’s no wonder. Julie Morstad is also the artist behind several other books whose illustrations I adored– House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery, How To, Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, and When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. If you’re looking for a captivating read aloud about an inspiring woman in history, look no further.

A dazzling picture book biography of one of the world’s most influential designers, Elsa Schiaparelli.

By the 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli had captivated the fashion world in Paris, but before that, she was a little girl in Rome who didn’t feel pretty at all. Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli is the enchanting story for young readers of how a young girl used her imagination and emerged from plain to extraordinary.”

 

 

 

Nature All Around: Trees

by Pamela Hickman, illustrated by Carolyn Gavin

Cover image for Nature all around. Trees

I love this new children’s nonfiction title. I’m trying to be more outdoorsy with my toddler and we often go “say hello” to the different trees in our yard. This is the perfect book to read together and then try to identify nearby trees, learn about some different types, and explain some of the science behind the changes we witness from season to season.

“This comprehensive and beautifully illustrated introduction to trees and the important role they play is part of the essential Nature All Around series. The book first explores the parts of trees, their life cycles, the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees, leaf types and the processes of photosynthesis and respiration. Then it takes readers through a year in the life cycle of trees, describing what happens during each of the four seasons. Readers will discover the many ways trees are vital to the environment and how various animals can share one tree as a home.”

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle

This is a book that has really grown on me as a parent. At first, I didn’t see what the fuss was about, but watching how much my toddler adores it, I’ve come around. It’s the perfect book for little ones to gain some confidence “reading” aloud to you, with it’s simple sing-songsy text and bright, bold illustrations.

“A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck–all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Children will immediately respond to Eric Carle’s flat, boldly colored collages. Combined with Bill Martin’s singsong text, they create unforgettable images of these endearing animals.”

 

What have you been reading? Leave a note in the comments or let me know on your favorite social media @ABookishHome.

Have you subscribed to A Bookish Home yet? Sign up to receive an email every time there is a new post or podcast episode.

Happy Reading!

Laura Szaro Kopinski

ABookishHome.com

Affiliate links are used in this post. At no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through the links provided. Thanks for supporting A Bookish Home!