My love for the library knows no bounds. As much as I love finding a good book for myself to read, it brings me so much more joy to scour the shelves with my husband or kids in mind and pull a perfect book for their personality and interests from the stacks. I feel like comforting meals and hand-picked books are part of the ways I love my family well. Here is what I’ve pulled from the library shelf lately…
FOR THE GROWNUPS
The Circle Series, by Ted Dekker
Part of the reason this post has been so long in coming is that Zach and I got caught up in a four-book series, and we’ve been reading it for the past few months. I had read this series in college or high school, I think, and I remembered it as great but the details were fuzzy. I knew Zach first started enjoying fiction with Harry Potter, and he likes action-packed books. He also has a pretty long commute right now, so I’ve been trying to grab him audio books to help pass the time. I grabbed the first audio book of this series for him, and he loved it.
If you’ve never read it, I would highly recommend the series. It’s an epic story of good and evil, betrayal and love, spanning two different but intertwined realities. It brings the Bible narrative to life in a way that reminds me of the Chronicles of Narnia, and it is hard to put down. Also, the series is a trilogy – Black, Red, White, but then Dekker added a fourth book – Green, which is called book zero to make a circle. The way he wrote it is fascinating, but the ending made my husband (and me, the first time I read the series) a little mad. The second time reading it, I understood it a little better and it didn’t bug me as much. He also used this series to start at least 10 other books (The Paradise Trilogy and The Lost Books Series). So, if you’re looking for a bunch of fiction to tide you over the winter, this is it.
Dinner: A Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach
Our kids have reached the ages (4 and 3) where (I think) we can start trying family dinners together a few times a week. For so long we’ve eaten in shifts, feeding the kids their dinner, tucking them in, then eating our own grown-up dinner. So, I’m going back to the smartest source I know on the subject of dinner, Jenny and Andy Rosenstrach. I read (and fell in love with) this cookbook a few years ago, and now that I’m facing one of the pickiest eaters ever and trying to move our dinners to our actual dining table, I’m re-reading all their tips. Not only is this book practical with recipes and cooking advice, but it is also like holding the hand of a dear friend when you are being put through the wash cycle of the first years of parenthood. They just make it feel ok if you feel overwhelmed and a little lost. I adore how they write about parenting and raising children.
And good news, I just got an email from my library that her newest book, How to Celebrate Everything, is waiting for me on the holds shelf. So excited!
FOR THE KIDS
I’ll be honest the kids’ books lately haven’t been super inspiring to me, but that isn’t the point. Evie has turned a corner with reading and now picks a big pile from the early reader bookshelf. We’ve been switching them out every week or so, and she reads them to herself and to Thomas. I think I just need to add in some of my favorite picture books too, because I am missing the snuggle time of reading to them myself with books that have longer sentences and genuine stories.
I’ll share the highlights of the early reader books though, since that is what we’ve been checking out lately.
Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury, by Arnold Lobel
These are the exception to the rule that early reader books don’t have great stories. My husband especially loves reading these books to the kids as Frog and Toad always have a subtle humor and nuanced personalities. Lobel has written a plethora of good books at this age level, and I try to include one of his books each week, like Little Bear, Small Pig, and Mouse Tales.
Stanley, by Syd Hoff
Hoff also has tons of early reader books, and they often have good lessons like being kind to animals, being polite, friendship, and sharing.
Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish and Fritz Siebel
Oh, I love Amelia Bedelia books. It is such a smart way to teach children about the subtleties of the English language in a funny way. Watch your kids’ eyes and it will slowly dawn on them the way Amelia takes everything literally and then they will be laughing out loud.
Ballerina Princess, by RH Disney
Ah, I don’t know how I feel about the whole Disney Princess thing, but I do know that Evie loves having a couple of these books to read each week. I grew up with Disney Princesses and don’t feel totally damaged, so I’m going with it and not stressing. The Princess Parables are a nice alternative though, when I can find them at the library.
Carl and the Puppies, by Alexandra Day
The illustrations on these books about a sweet dog named, Carl, are so good. My kids love how Carl takes care of ducks, kittens, puppies in the series, and Evie could read them herself pretty early on (level 1).
The Knight and the Dragon, by Tomie dePaola
Thomas is on a massive knight obsession these days, and this book is my favorite of the knight books I’ve checked out for him. It’s super age appropriate and has a good lesson and funny story to boot.
A Year in the Castle (Time Goes By), by Rachel Coombs
This book is perfect for road trips because the illustrations are meant to be studied with lots of little stories to discover and people to find in the pages. There are books like this on lots of different topics, so you can find one that your child is interested in. Tommy was a little mad when I had to return it to the library, because he had looked at it for rest time for a week straight.
What have you been reading lately, friends?