I've been on the road A LOT over the past couple of weeks. We drove to Ohio for Christmas, came home for a day, then drove to Wisconsin for my mother-in-law's wedding and New Year's. But here's a secret for you about long car trips: I actually look forward to them.
Here's why: the kids are old enough to keep themselves pretty happy (translation: DVD players) so I get to hunker down with some good books for hours on end. I know it's torture for some, but it's divine for me.
In fact, I think I'll brag just a little bit.
I read 5 books over Christmas Break. MWUAHAHAHA!
And in keeping with tradition, I will share a few of my favorites over the next few posts. Today I will share the books I loved in the Children's Literature category. I have really enjoyed finding fun books to read to my kids and to share with my students. It all started with The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I pulled it off the shelf from our library at school and fell head over heels in love. And then I read Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick's second book, and became a fan for life.
I keep both books in my classroom, and my students have loved them as well - even the high schoolers who are "too old" for such books.
Fiction for teenagers can be hard to find and though these may seem juvenile, I figure if I love them, any age could enjoy them.
This is the first book in a three-part series by N.D. Wilson. 100 Cupboards is about a boy named Henry who is sent to live with his uncle and aunt in Kansas after his parents go missing overseas. He discovers underneath the plaster above his bed all these amazing little cupboards. By the end of the book, he realizes he's not exactly the person he always thought he was...and that's all I can really say without spoiling it!
It's a real page turner and a little scary at the end. I haven't decided if I'm going to read it out loud to my boys yet or not. Be sure to have the next book, Dandelion Fire, close by because you will want to know what happens next! I would recommend this book to kids ages 10-13 or so. Younger, if reading it aloud.
Oh, Kate DiCamillo, how I love you. Everything you write is GOLD, baby, GOLD. It's not my favorite book by her, (that would be The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane or Because of Winn-Dixie....or the Mercy Watson series....Oh, somebody stop me) but I loved it nonetheless. The last couple of lines at the end of chapter thirteen caused me to put the book down for a moment, stare out the window of the car, and try my best not to blubber like an idiot. Beautiful writing. Just beautiful.
This would be a great read aloud to any child ages 6-10 or 12.
I found this book on a favorite website - www.rabbitroom.com - and had to have it for my kids. It's about a girl living on an island who discovers they are actually living above something. It's a great adventure that I read aloud to my kids over Christmas Break. We just finished it last night! It has great illustrations and fun characters. There were times I thought, okay, I'm just not into this, I'll put it down, but the kids literally begged me to keep reading. So, I guess it's a winner for any kids ages 6-10! All three boys loved it. The 3-year old girl loved the pictures, but she's too little to "get it" yet.
[If you go to the Rabbit Room website, take some time in the store for all the books they recommend. It's a website created by Christian artist Andrew Peterson, and he has a great collection there.]
Some others in this category I read this year:
Witness by Karen Hesse (thanks for the recommendation, Connie!)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - Whoa. This was unlike any other book I'd ever read. It's filled with old, forgotten photographs that support the story. I loved that idea, but was a little grossed out by some of the "monster" parts of the book. It's written more for a teenage audience, but I don't think I would recommend it. I'm sure there will be a series, based on the way it ended and how well it's sold.
In my next post, I'll talk about my favorite fiction from last year. Thanks for hangin' out!