44 posts categorized "Books" Feed

A Book Recommendation for Adoptive Parents

Today I heard from Michele in Phoenix, who recommended a book so strongly that I wanted to share it with you. The book is LifeBooks : Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child, by Beth O'Malley. It's about how to create a special kind of scrapbook that's called a lifebook, for your adoptive child. The reviews on Amazon are all raves, too, and suggest that this book is head and shoulders above others on the same topic. So, if you are planning to adopt, you should consider this book. Hope this is helpful! -- Jen

Recent Children's Book Recommendations from Friends

Several of my friends and family members have taken the time to send me book recommendations. Here is a compilation of some recent suggestions. You can find more on my book list website.

Picture Books

Independent Readers

Young Adult

My thanks to these friends and family members who took the time to make suggestions for this website! Happy Reading! -- Jen

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© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Recent Children's Book Recommendations from the Web

Here is a recap of book recommendations that I've read lately around the web that have inspired me to add books to my Kids Recommended list.

  • CAROLYN CRIMI and JOHN MANDERS (illustrator). Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies (ages 4-8). I added this after reading a review on the Kid Lit blog, maintained by Tasha Saecker, the director of the Caestecker Public Library in Green Lake, WI. The book is about a pirate bunny who is a bookworm, and eventually saves the day through his book knowledge.
  • ANNA DALE: Dawn Undercover (ages 9-12). I read a great review of it at Kelly Herold's Big A little a blog. It's about an ordinary 11-year-old whose very invisibility causes her to be recruited as a sply.
  • BRUCE MCMILLAN: The Problem With Chickens (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards)) (ages 4-8). This book is on the NY Times and Publishers Weekly top 10 lists for best children's books of 2005, and was also recommended by Parents Magazine. It's about two old women in Iceland who get chickens to lay eggs, but have a problem when the chickens stop laying eggs. The artwork is by an artist from Iceland. I read about it in a children's book newsletter put out by Publisher's Weekley.
  • SEBASTIAN MESCHENMOSER: Learning to Fly (baby/preschool). This book is not yet published, but I read a review of it at the Big A little a blog. It's about a penguin trying to learn to fly, and was translated from German.
  • MICHAELA MUNTEAN: Do Not Open This Book. This book recently received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly. It's apparently a funny book with reverse psychology (why are you reading this, I told you not to open it) that will be good for read-aloud.
  • LEMONY SNICKET: The End of the Series of Unfortunate Events. On Friday, January 13th Harper Collins announced that the next Friday the 13th (in October) will bring about publication of hte final book in this unfortunate series. I read the announcement at the Book Moot website. Despite the prophecies of doom, I know that kids will be happy about the book's publication.
  • DUGALD STEER, ANNE YVONNE GILBERT, and HELEN WARD: Pirateology (Ologies). I read on the Wands and Worlds blog that this book has been slated for publication on July 11th (at least according to Amazon). I know several kids who will be eagerly awaiting the book's release.

I hope that you find these recommendations useful. Thanks for reading! -- Jen

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© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Recommendation: The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life

I just finished reading The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life, by Steve Leveen. It is indeed a little guide - I read it in about 2 1/2 hours, while taking extensive notes. But I think it's very high yield, and I recommend it to you if you would like to read more, or would like to get more out of what you do read. I think that it's worth the cover price for the quotes about books alone. For example:

  • "Never force yourself to read a book that you do not enjoy. There are so many good books in the world that it is foolish to waste time on one that not give you pleasure". -- Atwood H. Townsend.
  • "A library is a fueling station for your mind." -- Steve Leveen
  • "I think it's an essential need of the human being to hear another human being tell them a story...it makes us feel there's somebody else here with us." -- George Guidall

Mr. Leveen is a strong believer in keeping lists of books that you have read (your Bookography), want to read (your List of Candidates) and own but haven't yet read (your Library of Candidates). I found this concept highly validating, as I have for the past couple of years maintained my lists of Read and Liked, Want to Read, and Have But Haven't Read (see my Book List website). I break mine down further by children's books vs. adult books. It's the same idea, though Steve Leveen has cooler names for his lists than I do. This book encouraged me to be even more detailed with my own lists, and also gave me some ideas for new lists. I'm currently brainstorming on "books that I expect to re-read regularly for the rest of my life." I'll keep you posted.

The The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life also includes discussion about how to process and remember more of what you read, the benefits of audiobooks, the pros and cons of bookclubs, and whether or not it's a good idea to write notes directly in the book that you're reading. All of these discussions come back again and again to two themes that are clearly important to the author. First, be active about what you choose to read, rather than haphazard, making the best choices that you can. Second, accept the fact that the list of best books to read for you will be unique, tied in to your own interests and experiences and attributes.

I personally would have liked to see the book talk more about raising children who love books, rather than focusing purely on adults, but I know that I'm just bringing my own biases to the table. I still enjoyed the book a lot, intend to implement some ideas from it myself, and recommend it to you.

This book was a Christmas gift to me from my Mom, which seems fitting, since she started me on my book loving life. Thanks Mom! -- Jen

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Rosetta Project: Children's Books Online

My friend Scott just sent me this link (http://www.childrensbooksonline.org/), to the Rosetta project's Children's Books Online page. The site contains a library of illustrated antique children's books, classified by age. You can view all of the books online (as jpegs, separate files for each page, with arrows to scroll through the book). To download the books, you pay a non-refundable download fee, which seems to vary according to the length of the book (I did a quick spot-check and found prices ranging from $5 to $15). It's a fascinating site, promising, as Scott said, "hours of fun." Enjoy! -- Jen

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My Lists of Books (Read and To Read)

For about a year now I've been keeping my lists of books to read, and books that I've read, on a website. Until recently, I kept this list private. However, I was inspired by reading Jamie's lists at Once Upon A Story to go ahead and make my own lists public. You can find them at http://jkrbooks.editme.com. I have broken out my lists into several categories:

The Kids Recommended page may be of particular interest to readers from this blog. Here I'm listing not necessarily books that I've read, but books for which I've seen great reviews, or which my friends and site visitors have recommended. I will certainly be adding books that I especially like. The page is a work in process, and I welcome your feedback. The books are broken down by age.

One other note is that I do maintain lists of books that I didn't like or don't finish, but I have chosen not to make those public. I have a pretty short attention span sometimes, and don't believe that I've necessarily given these books a fair chance. Therefore, I would not want to harm any authors by going public with my "didn't like" lists. I think that writers have a hard enough time as it is. My goal is to support them, by giving other readers the opportunity to hear about great books (especially children's books). Vist my book list website for more information, and some great book suggestions.

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Using Audiobooks to Get Children to Read More

I just read an article by Karen MacPherson of the Toledo Blade (published in the Pasadena Star News). The article suggests that audio books are a key tool in getting children to read more. Some reasons listed why kids are attracted to audio books include the coolness factor (being able to download a book onto an MP3), and the ability to listen to an audiobook while also doing something else. (The latter makes sense to me. I listen to books on MP3 whenever I'm out walking. This has a dual benefit for me - I get to listen to great books, and I end up walking more, because I get interested in what I'm listening to.)

The article goes on to reference statistics about the growth of the audio book industry in general, and the children's book segment in particular, with the Harry Potter books as the new gold standard. Finally, Ms. MacPherson concludes by citing experts to make the point that "listening to books is a great tool to help students develop reading skills".

As someone who wants to see more students develop reading skills, and who also loves listening to audio books, I thought that the article made some excellent points. I am an Audible.com subscriber, and used my subscription to listen to many great children's books last year, including:

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The Literature of Lost

This month's Pages magazine has a great article about the many literary influences and references in the hit TV show Lost. As an addicted Lost viewer and book lover, I had noticed some of the incidents in which characters are shown reading books (most especially the hard-edged Sawyer reading the classic children's books Watership Downand A Wrinkle in Time). But there are a lot of references that I missed that are mentioned in the Pages article. In particular, did you know that "major characters are named after author Umberto Eco, as well as philosophers John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau"? I mean, I know who Eco and Locke are on the show, but I didn't realize that they were so deliberately named.

Mostly, though, what I found heartening is that the many literary references and allusions are apparently all part of a conscious strategy on the part of the show's producers. Or, as the Pages article states, "literature is very important to the people that produce this show." What a great thing that a hit TV phenomenon can also be literary!

Vote for Your Favorite Out of Print Children's Books

I read a post on The Common Room blog (the blog of a homeschooling family) about a poll on The Children's Book Council website. You can submit the names of favorite out of print children's books that you think should be re-printed. The link to the poll is here. The CBC site says "From November to February the Children's Book Council is asking librarians, teachers, parents, and kids to name a book they would love to see reissued. The poll is a project of the ALA-CBC Joint Committee, and the top ten books will be announced in the spring." You can find more information about the Children's Book Council here. The Children's Book Council, Inc. is the nonprofit trade association of publishers and packagers of trade books and related materials for children and young adults.

Children's Book Recommendations from Sara

My friend Sara, a counselor who works with parents and also the mother of two elementary school children, took time out of her busy schedule to suggest many great books, classified by age range. Sara's children also participated, making sure that their mother didn't neglect any favorites. As you can see, these are two kids who love books! Sara's list follows, with Amazon links.

Picture Books

Books with Pictures, But for Older Kids

Early Readers

First Chapter Books

Better Readers (About 2nd Grade)

3rd Grade Plus

I also spent a delightful evening at Sara's house in Lexington, MA over the holidays, looking through various picture books, and have added many of those to the list above. My thanks to Sara and her family for being such great friends, and for contributing these many children's book ideas. Happy Reading to All in 2006! -- Jen

    Children's Book Recommendations from My Nieces

    My two wonderful 10-year old nieces, both from Westwood, MA (and cousins to one another), each took time out during the busy holiday season to email me some book suggestion for this website, and to talk with me about their favorite books.

    From the one who loves poetry and cats. For younger children:

    For older kids:

    From the one who loves Harry Potter and playing scrabble:

    Personally, I have Hoot, Flush, and Where the Ground Meets the Sky high on my "to read" list. Hope that these lists provide some ideas for other readers out there. -- Jen

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    Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Mysteries and Children's Books

    I've just started to read Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan (NPR's Fresh Air book critic), a Christmas gift from the person who knows me best. I would read this book for the title alone. I haven't gotten very far, but the book has already given me food for thought. In the very first chapter, Ms. Corrigan discusses the role of women (or lack of a role of women) in most adventure stories. She adds that "the two places where swashbucklers in skirts have long thrives have been in the "can't-get-no-respect" genres of juvenile and detective fiction." I found this an interesting observation, because juvenile and detective fiction (mysteries and children's books) are the two genres that I most prefer. And I certainly enjoy seeing strong women and girls having adventures in these stories (think of Pippi Longstocking, for instance, one of the examples in Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading).

    Ms. Corrigan goes on to say that detective fiction has "sanctioned curious women to gamble with their lives and enjoy the male thrills of exploring the unknown and hunting down prey." I have always been particularly partial to the sub-sub-genre of historical mysteries in which the detective is a woman in a job that is ahead of her time (a lawyer or a journalist or a private eye or a mid-wife/doctor) in a world that generally relagates women to roles in the home. Some examples here include:

    • Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series, starting with Murphy's Law. These are about an Irish immigrant who becomes a private detective in early 20th century New York.
    • Victoria Thompson's Sarah Brandt series (Gaslight Mysteries), starting with Murder on Astor Place. These are about a well-born young woman who becomes a midwife in early 20th century New York, and ends up in an informal partnership with a police detective.
    • Shirley Tallman's new Sarah Woolson series (2 published so far), starting with Murder on Nob Hill. Sarah is a young woman from a prominent San Francisco family who becomes a lawyer.
    • Dianne Day's Fremont Jones mysteries, set in San Francisco in the early 20th century, and starting with The Strange Files of Fremont Jones.

    There are also many other historical series in which a spirited woman is in partnership with a man (see especially Laurie King's Holmes/Russell books, Anne Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and William Monk series). But I like the four series above because although each woman has some man (usually a police detective) who helps her (and adds relationship tension) the women are the primary investigators.

    So, I've already found some validation of my twin loves of mysteries and children's books in Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading, and perhaps some insight into why I like the strong woman lead/historical mystery sub-genre so much. I'll let you know what else I find of interest in this book. Happy Reading! -- Jen

    © 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.