Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Our Summer Reading {2015}

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One thing I resolved we (except my dear husband who hardly ever reads) would all do this summer was to accomplish more reading.  I prepared tentative lists of books I wanted us to read at the beginning of the summer, but we didn't follow the list exactly and often would just pick out something that interested us from our local library.  I do think we did a fairly decent job of reading some great classics and newer books.

Brody's Reading List (Age 4)

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"The perennially popular tale of Alexander's worst day is a storybook that belongs on every child's bookshelf.  Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in this hair.  And it got worse...His best friend deserted him. There was no dessert in his lunch bag. And, on top of all that, there were lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV!"  ~ from goodreads.com  Isn't it hilarious what constitutes a bad day in the eyes of a child?  

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"Barnum Brown's (1873-1963) parents named him after the circus icon P.T. Barnum, hoping that he would do something extraordinary--and he did! As a paleonotologist for the American Museum of Natural History, he discovered the first documented skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as most of the other dinosaurs on display there today.  An appealing and fun picture book biography, with zany and stunning illustrations by Boris Kulikov, BARNUM'S BONES captures the spirit of this remarkable man."  ~ from goodreads.com  I loved that Brody picked this book up since it contained such an interesting piece of history.  

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"Trixie can't wait to bring her one-of-a-kind Knuffle Bunny to school and show him off to everyone.  But when she gets there, she sees something awful: Sonja has the same bunny.  Suddenly, Knuffle Bunny doesn't seem so one-of-a-kind anymore.  Chaos ensues until the bunnies are taken away by Ms. Greengrove.  After school, Trixie finally gets her beloved bunny back. But in the middle of the night, Trixie realizes something. She has the wrong bunny!

Daddy comes to the rescue again as a midnight swap is arranged with the other bunny, the other little girl, and the other daddy.  Needless to say, the daddies are not very happy.  By the end of the story Trixie has her beloved bunny back, but she has also gained something new: her very first best friend."  ~ from goodreads.com I always try to grab books that have been awarded medals like the Caldecott Honor, and this one did not disappoint.  It was so cute and fun!  Natasha, this book immediately made me think of Rachel and her Funny Bunny!  

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"One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max's room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins. But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all."  ~ from goodreads.com This book is a must read for all children, and now that Brody is four, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce him to it.  Plus, this book just means so much more when you have your very own "wild thing."  Ha! 

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"Christine Loomis sensitively and lyrically explores the bonds that hold families together in this picture book celebration of America, her people, and her stunning vistas. This reflection on abiding family love is illustrated with magnificent paintings by acclaimed artist Kate Kiesler." ~ From goodreads.com  We wanted to read some patriotic literature for Independence Day, and this one did not disappoint. 
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"Patriotism across the generations as a little girl and her great aunt learn the Pledge of Allegiance together.

Libby's great aunt, Lobo, is from Mexico, but the United States has been her home for many years, and she wants to become a U.S. citizen. At the end of the week, Lobo will say the Pledge of Allegiance at a special ceremony. Libby is also learning the Pledge this week, at school-at the end of the week, she will stand up in front of everyone and lead the class in the Pledge. Libby and Lobo practice together-asking questions and sharing stories and memories-until they both stand tall and proud, with their hands over their hearts."  From goodreads.com  This one inspired Brody and I to learn the Pledge of Allegiance and incorporate it into our lessons.  He is so cute putting his hand on his heart and saying the pledge and can now say it all by himself and usually doesn't miss any part. 

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"Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy."

So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.  Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk...and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.  This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return. ~ from goodreads.com
This story really gets to me these days, and I can't help but think of the gift of mothering and how we give so much to our children during the earliest years, and it is hard to imagine a day when they will not need me quite as much.  This story was made particularly sweet after I read it to Brody in the library, and upon leaving the library, he proceeded to run over and hug a little tree outside.  He is just the sweetest boy! 

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"In a spare, powerful text and evocative illustrations, the Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla.
     Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and in impact."  ~ from goodreads.com  Brody picked this book out at a special library storytime event about animal conservation.  We enjoyed reading it to go along with our letter G for the week.  

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"Finally, here's a brand-new book in Eric Carle's extraordinarily popular Very series.  And with a new surprise!  When a little click beetle falls onto his back, he seeks the help of a wise old click beetle.  'Look at me,' says the more experienced click beetle, giving a loud CLICK and flipping onto its feet.  But try as he might, the clumsy little click beetle just can't get the hang of it--or can he?  In the tradition of  The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle creates a winning story of perseverance and pride in achievement complete with an ingenious fiber-optic microchip that truly gives voice to the valiant little beetle as it CLICKs its way through the colorful pages and somersaults into your heart. "  from goodreads.com Brody especially loved the clicking noise that came from this book, and he picked it out especially for that quality. 

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"Heaven is for real and you are going to like it! Colton Burpo came back from his trip to heaven with a very important message: Jesus really really loves children . In effort to reach even more families with this eternally significant story, this runaway bestseller is now told from Colton-kid to kids!  Children will receive the same comfort and assurance that so many adults have received from the trade book.  Beautifully illustrated under Colton's direction, this book is uniquely written from a child for a child.  Colton tells of his experiences in first person and comments on things that will be important to kids.  A letter to parents is included to guide them in talking to their children about heaven.  Scripture along with Q & A section with answers from the Bible are also included in the book."  ~ from goodreads.com  The boys and I had all been to see this movie in the theater last year and really enjoyed the beautiful story.  I loved that this book really helped explain things in a way kids can understand.  Colton sure does make heaven sound like an amazing place.  

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"Lottie the Chicken deals with the loss of Aunt Mattie in this gently sad and sweetly funny picture book that explores the death of a loved one, in the tradition of Judith Viorst’s The Tenth Good Thing about Barney.  Aunt Mattie has died. But before she went, she got to say good-bye to Lottie. Then she got to follow a light to a bustling gate. (A gate that sounded a lot like a busy airport!) And there she found a crew of friends who were waiting to take off with her on a new journey.  Will Lottie and Herbie be able to overcome their sadness? They will, with time, and by taking a journey of their own—a journey filled with a little heartache, a lot of happiness, and a batch of Aunt Mattie’s favorite peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. (With bananas, of course!)"  ~ from goodreads.com

I cannot express my love for this special book enough!  It truly felt "miraculous" when I spotted this book on a shelf right beside where I sat during Brody's library storytime.  Mattie's name in print always catches my eye.  It was like Mattie was sending us a message through this book that she is okay and loves her heavenly home and that she wants us to be okay too! 

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"Welcome to the world of Pirate Pup and his canine crew as they set off on their good ship Rover in search of buried treasure.  X marks the spot, and the dogs have found it, but a shipload of cats is in hot pursuit. What is the mysterious treasure, and who will have it in the end? A jolly sea chanty tale combined with lively illustrations will thrill young pirates."  ~ from goodreads.com  Just a cute, fun book that my pirate and dog loving boy picked out at the library. 

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"Included in the napping house menagerie is a dozing dog, a snoozing cat, a slumbering mouse, and a wakeful flea who ends up toppling the whole sleep heap with one chomp! Don Wood’s delightfully detailed comical illustrations are bathed in moonlight blues until the sun comes up, then all is color and rainbows and a very awake household. Awards: ALA Notable Children’s Book, New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, Golden Kite Award winner, California Young Reader Medal winner, Booklist Editors’ Choice" ~ from goodreads.com
Just a fun read that went along with our letter H (for house) lesson. 

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"In the town of Dusty Gulch, not much is fixing to happen. But then Zeb wishes up a horse.
When he tells his ma, she thinks he’s fibbing. He starts to say, “I wish you’d believe me,” and a wild-eyed palomino appears in her boarding-house kitchen. It neighs and snorts, and tears the door off its hinges on its way out.  In the wake of Zeb’s wishes, horses take over the small town. A chestnut mare completely discombobulates Mrs. Vander Snooty as she steps off the stagecoach, and a pinto creates havoc in Mr. Goody’s General Store. But Zeb can’t stop wishing. Will Zeb save the town from all these horse-wishes? Boldly and hilariously illustrated, When Wishes Were Horses will tickle the funny bone of every cowboy and cowgirl."  ~ from goodreads.com
A cute story that we read to accompany our letter H lesson. 

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"A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity."  ~ from goodreads.com
Just an endearing piece of classic children's literature. 

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"'One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.' So begins this gentle story that shows just how far your imagination can take you. Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of beauty and excitement. But this is no hare-brained, impulsive flight of fantasy. Cherubic, round-headed Harold conducts his adventure with the utmost prudence, letting his imagination run free, but keeping his wits about him all the while. He takes the necessary purple-crayon precautions: drawing landmarks to ensure he won't get lost; sketching a boat when he finds himself in deep water; and creating a purple pie picnic when he feels the first pangs of hunger." ~ from goodreads.com
Oh, that Harold!  Who doesn't love the story of child's imagination at work!  I picked this book for Brody because I really want to encourage him to keep using his four year old sense of imagination. 

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"From Hans Christian Anderson Award winner and three-time Caldecott Honoree Peter Sis comes a delectable picture book that is as breezy, sweet and irresistible as ice cream in summer.  'Dear Grandpa, Summer is going well.   I am very busy. But don't worry, I am not forgetting about school!  I read every day. I practice my math facts. And I am even studying world history!'  
Peter Sís's delicious tongue-in-cheek vision of summer dishes up the whole scoop on everyone's favorite frozen treat--and proves that ice cream is every bit as enriching for the mind as it is for the taste buds. Readers everywhere will be begging for seconds and thirds!" ~ from goodreads.com

A very cute story and great for older children because of all the educational facts it contains.   Brody and I read it for his letter I lesson. 

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"This classic tale of the famous Mallard ducks of Boston is available for the first time in a full-sized paperback edition. Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1942, Make Way for Ducklings has been described as "one of the merriest picture books ever" (The New York Times). Ideal for reading aloud, this book deserves a place of honor on every child's bookshelf."  ~ from goodreads.com
Just a sweet, classic that was on my original reading list for Brody. 

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"Dinosaur is spending the day with Mommy.  ROAR!  He helps her wake up, go shopping, sort laundry, and more--his way, that is.  By bedtime, it looks like Mommy is down for the count.  Is one little red dinosaur just too much for her, or will Mommy win?  Chock full of the bold graphics and exuberance that has made the Dinosaur vs. series so popular, this book will tickle toddlers and mommies on Mother's Day and every day thereafter."  ~ from goodreads.com

I love the dinosaur vs. series about as much as my kids...well, maybe more.  I loved Dinosaur vs. Potty when Brody was potty training.  They are so cute and fun.  This one may actually be my new favorite as I can relate to so much of it with my own little dinosaur helper.  

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"The story of a train filled with toys and gifts for little boys and girls that breaks down before reaching the children. After asking several passing trains for help over the hill, a little blue train agrees to help the stranded toys. Even though she is small, the blue train tries her best to bring the toys to the children on the other side of the hill." ~ from goodreads.com

Do I even have to explain this one?  Definitely a classic in children's literature and a must read for all.  "I think I can, I think I can!"  

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"When Tai Shan and his father, Baba, fly kites from their roof and look down at the crowded city streets below, they feel free, like the kites. Baba loves telling Tai Shan stories while the kites--one red, and one blue--rise, dip, and soar together. Then, a bad time comes. People wearing red armbands shut down the schools, smash store signs, and search houses. Baba is sent away, and Tai Shan goes to live with Granny Wang. Though father and son are far apart, they have a secret way of staying close. Every day they greet each other by flying their kites-one red, and one blue-until Baba can be free again, like the kites. 

Inspired by the dark time of the Cultural Revolution in China, this is a soaring tale of hope that will resonate with anyone who has ever had to love from a distance." ~ from goodreads.com

This one was a surprising gem of a read as I picked it up on a whim for our letter K lesson.  I really got choked up reading about the little boy separated from his beloved daddy.  

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To make it even better, the story was indeed based on the story of a father and son during China's Cultural Revolution. 

Evan's Reading List (Age 8)

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"This beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children's literature that is "just about perfect."  Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.  E. B. White's Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come." ~ from goodreads.com

A classic I encouraged Evan to read.  I think he enjoyed it. 

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I encouraged Evan to try this series out with one of the first of the original books.  He really liked it. 

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He followed up his new found love of the Boxcar Children with this newer edition. 

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"Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war.  It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town.  When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated," Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family.  Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life." ~ from goodreads.com

Together, Evan and I read this beloved classic that was one of my childhood favorites.  He said he loved it even if it was about girls and appreciated how brave young Annemarie was in helping save her friend.  

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"All Harry Potter wants is to get away from the Dursleys and go back to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.  But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby - who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.  And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.  But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects... Harry Potter himself."  ~ from goodreads.com

Evan has seen all of these movies multiple times.  We read The Sorceror's Stone together last year, and he has started and read parts of some of the other books through the year, but I believe this is the first time he read one completely by himself.  I think this is a sign of his advanced reading abilities and comprehension capabilities.  It is a little strange that for his generation, most of the kids will have watched these movies before they have a chance to read the stories for themselves, unless their parents read them aloud.  

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"When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, Three from the circle, three from the track; Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; Five will return, and one go alone." Will Stanton turns 11 and learns from Merriman Lyon, the Lady, and Circle of Old Ones, that he must find six Sign symbols and battle the Black Rider, blizzard and flood. ~ from goodreads.com

Evan and I are still trying to get through this one together.  It is a bit of a complex read and a bit hard to follow at times.  The chapters are also very lengthy.  I picked it up because of its award and because it sounded like a mystical story Evan would like.  

Sherry's Reading List (Adult)

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"Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than thirty years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever. But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on. . . .

Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate--to be there for Kate’s children -- but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.

Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her . . . until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world. 

Dorothy Hart--the woman who once called herself Cloud--is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.

A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need one another--and maybe a miracle--to transform their lives.

An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness."

I really don't have much to add to that write-up.  This book really did touch my heart with its perspective of grieving, loss, and motherhood.  I am on the wait list to read its prequel, "Firefly Lane," about Kate and Tully's friendship. 

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"All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost. . . .

Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life--children, careers, bills, chores--even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a soldier she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own--for everything that matters to his family.  At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope. "  ~ from goodreads.com

I really want to read all of Kristin Hannah's books now.  She really has a way with writing and a good grasp of the human emotions of love, loss, and grief.  She is a former attorney, turned writer.  This story really touched me as I held onto hope until the end that Jolene and Michael would find their way back to one another through some heart wrenching struggles.  

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"After an odd encounter at a grand masquerade ball, Lady Emily becomes embroiled in the murder investigation of one of the guests, a sometime actress trying to pass herself off as the mysterious heiress and world traveler Estella Lamar. Each small discovery, however, leads to more questions. Was the intended victim Miss Lamar or the imposter? And who would want either of them dead? 

As Emily and Colin try to make sense of all this, a larger puzzle begins to emerge: No one has actually seen Estella Lamar in years, since her only contact has been through letters and the occasional blurry news photograph. Is she even alive? Emily and Colin’s investigation of this double mystery takes them from London to Paris, where, along with their friend Cécile, they must scour the darkest corners of the city in search of the truth." ~ from goodreads.com


I am currently trying to get through this book.  I love mysteries, and this one is about an English female heroine similar to a Sherlock Holmes character.  
I know my reading list was the shortest, but for me lately, that is a pretty decent amount.  It saddens me that I can't seem to find the time to read anymore because I have always loved it.  I resolve to keep trying though!

5 comments:

  1. I was reading this out loud to Clarice until I got to the part about Aunt Mattie...oh my! That was so sweet! :)
    I'll be making a list of some of these to check out at my library.

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  2. I've definitely made a list, especially those Kristen Hannah ones. And yes, after Rachel told the librarian about Funny Bunny, she introduced us to Knuffle Bunny and we've read all of them. I HATE how the series ends though. I absolutely HATE it. Gah.

    I think Sam read about sixty chapter books this summer so I couldn't even begin to list them all -- but he read through a lot of "The A to Z" mysteries, the Time Warp Trio books, all the Fudge books by Judy Blume, and all "The Pain and The Great One" books by Judy Blume, plus a random assortment of stuff.

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    Replies
    1. Ummm... and that Aunt Mattie book -- I cried.

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  3. This was a pretty epic list. And you're going to get a lot of hits on this post because I'm going to constantly be coming back to reference it. Ha ha!

    Especially because our boys are so close in age (well, except Mattox doesn't have a counterpart in my family) I feel like our kids are always doing similar things at close to the same time.

    I'm going to take Spencer to see The Secret Garden in November, so that's going to be our next book to do together. I wanted to do a little bit more reading for myself this summer, but I just didn't. Then next book for me is going to be The Girl on the Train. I've heard good things.

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    Replies
    1. Oooo, The Secret Garden. I bought that a long time ago in the dollar bins at Target with plans to read it to Evan. I never have. I should rectify that ASAP. :-) I also purchased The Girl on the Train on my Kindle, but I haven't been in a mood to do reading on my Kindle lately. Plus, Brody is usually playing on it. Those newer best sellers are hard to get at the library with very long wait list. I have heard good things about it too. We can read it at the same time and compare. :-)

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