Category Archives: The Family That Reads

BTT: Age Appropriate

Cover of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"

Cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is one I’ve actually thought about before throughout my reading life.

As a kid, I often read books that were appropriate for where I was with my reading skills, but were not at all appropriate for me emotionally or developmentally. So I ended up reading books like Catcher in the Rye way before I was really ready for them, which spoiled me on some amazing books I could only appreciate after re-reading them. I’m trying to avoid this mistake with my own kids, because with some of my favorites, I want the introduction to go perfectly.

Now, I rarely read young adult or picture books for pleasure unless I am reading them with or for my own children. By “for,” I mean that when my kids are reading something I’m not familiar with, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I try to read either one book in a series, or a single book, so I know what they are reading. Books have always been such a huge influence on me that I want to know what might be influencing my own kids.

I’m trying to read more YA lit because I think my students might be (or should be) reading it, and I’ve found some good examples of ones I would absolutely want my students, or some day my own children, to read. But just for pleasure? Never occurs to me.



Filed under Booking Through Thursday, Children's and YA Literature, The Family That Reads

Lucy of Green Gables

I had a lovely book-loving mother moment Tuesday after the girls’ softball practice. Lucy had gotten a really solid hit on the first pitch and was feeling really satisfied and proud about it, and I said, “Yeah, the feeling you get when you know the bat has gotten a big piece of the ball is such a great feeling, right?”

She said, “Yeah, my bat hit that ball with a big thwack! just like Anne’s slate on Gilbert’s head.”

Then it was my turn to feel satisfied and proud.

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Filed under Children's and YA Literature, Favorites, The Family That Reads

Summer Reading Thoughts

Tolstoy death mask from the author's private c...

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I make a summer reading list for myself every year, and while other books always sneak their way in, I find it really helpful to make plans for what I think will be nourishing or enriching during the summer, a time that is just as much about recharging as it is about taking time away.

So I try to mix in a few teaching books, but also books I read just for myself, not with a thought towards teaching, but just because I want to read them. This summer I’m rethinking how I teach grammar and vocabulary with my ninth graders, so I’ve got a vocabulary workbook on my list.  We usually end up reading more bedtime books with the girls over the summer too, since I’m not exhausted at the end of the day and we don’t need to worry about morning wake-up times. This year, I’ve already designated some of my challenge titles to be summer books, not for content, but because I’d like to be able to fully immerse myself in them. I’m thinking of shifting Vanity Fair to the summer for that reason; I’ve started, but am having trouble making headway just reading before bed.

So far, here are the titles I’m considering:

War and Peace , Tolstoy
Mendocino and Other Stories, Ann Packer
Teaching with Intention, Debbie Miller
Glencoe Language Arts Vocabulary Power Workbook Grade 9
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett

I’m sure I’ll update this list closer to actual summertime, shuffling some titles on and off the list, but when it’s been raining off and on for weeks, and it seems like summer will never come, it’s reassuring to make lists and dream of sunshine and heat.

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Filed under Favorites, Pensees on Reading, The Family That Reads, Uncategorized

Bookish Valentine

Tree decorated for Valentine's Day in San Dieg...

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This year, I’m giving my husband a bookish Valentine: the first volume of memoirs by one of his favorite artists, Stephen Sondheim. Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes is supposed to be amazing, just as literate and hilarious as Sondheim’s best work. I’m so excited to see him open it!

I also posted a poem for him at my other blog, which I do every February, either for our anniversary or V-Day. It’s a simple present, in some ways, but he knows how much I mean every word, and I think it is meaningful to him too. I would love, one year, for that February poem to be one I’ve written myself, but so far, love poems are not in my poetic repertoire.

Tell me a bookish Valentine’s story, please, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day.


Filed under The Family That Reads

Books for Young Feminists

As my girls hurtle towards the rocky shoals of middle school, notably perilous for young females everywhere, I welcome any help, from anywhere, especially in giving my girls some role models, some potential assists in the self-esteem arena.

Leave it to Bitch magazine to help me out, recently posting a wonderful list of 100 young adult books for feminist readers.

Now, there are definitely some old classics there from the Judy Blume school, but as a reader who stopped keeping up with YA once I wasn’t a YA anymore, there are plenty of titles on this list I don’t recognize and am excited to introduce to my girls in the next few years.


Filed under Children's and YA Literature, The Family That Reads

BTT: Periodically

January 2007 40th Anniversary Front Cover

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Even I read things other than books from time to time … like, Magazines! What magazines/journals do you read?

Oh, I have always been a magazine lover! My parents subscribed to Ranger Rick for us when we were kids, and then one glorious birthday somewhere in my early teens, they gifted me with my own subscription to Seventeen, which was my Bible for many years.

Now, I subscribe to a number of magazines for myself: O, the Oprah magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Poets & Writers, Bitch and Ms.. My daughters get Highlights, and I just recently subscribed them to Ranger Rick and American Girl. Next for them, I think, will be Stone Soup, which features art and creative writing by children, and which I wish I had known about at their age. I’d love to find one or two literary journals/magazines I really loved, and subscribe to those too.

I also spent years of my life ordering and collecting zines, as well as publishing four issues of my own zine, which I called “Esperanza: where hope springs maternal.” I loved making my zines, trading them with other mothers, seeing them in stores, and even having it reviewed favorably by the Utne Reader. Somewhere in the chaos of returning to work, moving, moving again, and other seismic shifts, I got disconnected from the world of zines.

This year, however, I signed up for The Revenge of Print!, so sometime in 2011, I’ll be publishing another zine, and I’m already thinking of ideas. The last zine project I really wanted to do was an alphabet issue, a short piece on something connected to each letter of the alphabet, and now that my girls are older, I’m thinking of making it a team issue with their contributions too. They are such creative girls, and I think self-publishing could be really powerful for them.


Filed under Booking Through Thursday, The Family That Reads


Warriors (novel series)

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All my daughter Sophie wants to do right now is read the Warriors books and talk about the warriors books, about the clans of fighting cats and all of their legendary battles and dramas.

It started when her buddy Sammy lent her some of the books in the first series: she would come home from playdates with him each week with a new book, and soon she was spending every spare minute buried in one of the books. Grandma bought her the first and second series for Christmas, and since then, she carries one with her everywhere she goes.

I don’t really understand everything about them: the names are confusing, and I haven’t made the time yet to pick one up and give it a try. Just like I try to watch the television shows they like the most, I try to read some of the books they like, so I know what they are interested in and what might be influencing them. My other daughter is deep into Judy Moody territory, and I read Judy Moody, M.D.: The Doctor is In! yesterday–bonus points for discussing Elizabeth Blackwell! I probably won’t be able to read all the Warriors series, but I would like to be able to discuss them with her.

It’s been wonderful watching her become so obsessed with them, especially since this is her first venture into a series on her own. We read all the Harry Potter books together, as well as The Hobbit, and now my girls are venturing forth on their own. It’s also interesting to see their tastes diverging, as I had guessed they would.

As a lifelong reader myself, it’s intensely gratifying to see my two girls curled up on the couch, wrapped in blankets, noses in books.


Filed under Children's and YA Literature, The Family That Reads