My daughter planned an adventure outing for Mother’s Day. She gave me rules and then told me nothing.
“You need to choose five books to leave your collection. Be ready at 10:00 a.m.”
Okay – I can do that, thinking we must be going to a used bookstore or flea market. She did say it was neither of those and then my curiosity piqued. I chose my books and was in the car by 10:00 a.m. She was driving. I was given a clue: You have never been here before and dad says you will love it.
First stop was Starbucks. She bough me a skinny vanilla latte. It tastes better when your kids buy it for you. Then she drove in the direction of the French Quarter.
We crossed the bridge on 82 Avenue that crosses Mill Creek Pool and we turned left. I asked for the address so I could help navigate.
“There isn’t one, you just get to know the general area and then you see it.”
Weird, but okay. Then she pulled over and parked. “Do you know yet?”
I hadn’t the foggiest idea what was happening. She reached into our collective book bag and pulled two books. She opened the car door and waited for me to get out. We walked about 25 steps before we stopped in front of a Little Free Library. She confessed to feeling nervous because it felt like snooping in someone’s home uninvited.
I opened to door and we we began looking through the books – well first I was excited so I immediately placed my book on the shelf. We found nothing that interested us so we decided to go to the next one.
I had a million questions.
How did you find a list of little libraries?
What gave you the idea?
Had you ever used one before?
How many are there in Edmonton?
She watched a youtube video of a fellow who decided to visit little libraries in his town. This reminded her of stuff I like to do in Edmonton. Why had it never occurred to me? I love books, I love exploring my city. I love everything about this project.
The website she found is LittleFreeLibrary.org. It says Welcome to the world’s largest book-sharing movement! The site provides maps to all the registered free libraries in the world. She entered our city and boom:
Look at all those libraries in Edmonton! She picked five in a neighbour that has big trees and no one we know. My girl had never used one before but thought I had. I knew of a few but only stumbled upon them randomly and I never had a book with me.
The next one was a couple of blocks away so we went there next.
The owners of this little library were in their yard so it felt weird but we still opened it and found a couple of great books, left two and walked back to our car.
Each library had something we were interested in or had a book that was on our Edmonton Public Library waitlist or was a favourite we had always wanted in our collection. We hit the jackpot.
The last library was filled with Agatha Christie’s and Harlequin Romances. My girl took one of each because she collects Agatha and she had never read a Harlequin. Honestly – everyone needs to read one once in the summer. It’s a right of passage. She took two and left 13 Reason’s Why and Eat this not that.
We finished the day happy and satisfied. I decided then and there that this was going to be my Dad’s father’s day girt – don’t tell. I finally get what my parents mean by ‘don’t buy me any gifts’. They mean “spend time with me”. This was one of those memories I will never forget and I hope she takes me again next year. I want to build one now.
Reading is not a luxury for me, it is a necessity. As I age it takes longer for my eyes to focus in the morning so I can read the small font on my phone. Some mornings my eyes work after about five minutes, other mornings its hopeless. Today, it was as soon as I woke up. I knew it was going to be a good reading day.
I spent the summer reading a lot of stories that took place on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Escape and travel are my needs. Some years, I spend my summer reading memoirs or intense historical fiction. Considering the state of the world in 2020, obviously I needed some safe place to retreat to. Now that autumn has moved in, summer escapes are not really where I feel like hanging out. But I am not yet ready to forage away from escapes. Seeking comfort in books is like a soft quilt that wraps her arms around you. It protects me from the stress of work, sadness from the news or drama from relationships outside of my tight circle.
Often, I start three or four books until I find the one that holds my interest. I am not that girl that will stick with a book for the sake of finishing it. Life is too short. The day my medical team found an acoustic neuroma living in the left lobe of my brain, I learned very quickly what I like and don’t like. I say yes to awesome and no to awful. Honestly my life is a higher quality and incredibly peaceful since I made that decision. Yes to delicious wine and high quality chocolate, no to broccoli and relish. Yes to real sugar and carbs, no to cauliflower pizza crust and bunless burgers. I say YES to a captivating read or engrossing movie and I walk away if it is boring. I applied this to people and jobs including pharmacists and doctors. People and professionals need to make the cut or I walk and look for something or someone that is a better fit. As a result, my life is really good. I think this is called boundaries.
Lately I remember special characters from books I have read years ago. Like Ria in Tara Road. She is one of those characters that feels real enough to call and pop over for a cup of coffee. I reread the book and realized how much I had forgotten. I learned or paid attention to a different aspect of the story line because I am coming to it from a different perspective. I am older now with more life experience. The messages felt new. It was like reading a completely different book. I have read this book at least a dozen times, I read it three times before Oprah thought it should be a book club selection. I revisited Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. This time I looked at it from the confidant character rather than the protagonist. I first read this in 1998 when it was published. I was still in young hero mode and related to all of Judy Blume’s protagonists. Not this time. It was a lovely trip down memory lane and did two things for me, 1.) Made me curious about Martha’s Vineyard has a holiday destination and 2.) Made me think I should revisit her children and middle school genres.
The comfort I feel from books I read as a child is off the charts. My first novel reading experience without an adult assist was Charlotte’s Web. I read that to my kids when they were young. The animal conversations were chaotic and fun. I forgot about that. I liked how Charlotte made Wilbur feel safe and loved. As a mom, my relationship with Charlotte was stronger. She was some spider.
I have been looking for copies of books that are now out of print. I wish I still had them but our family culture was to trade in books so you could purchase new books or visit the library. Sadly, the library doesn’t keep all the books either. Finding Apples Every Day by Grace Richardson or Mom, the Wolf Man and Me by Norma Klein is an ongoing project for me. I scour every used bookshop I come across. So far with no luck. I still think about those characters and wonder if I would still see what I liked about it in the first place.
This morning I picked up a book I had been meaning to reread for a while. I have only read it once and that was during my dark time – depression had hit me hard. This was before I figured out about boundaries and how important that was for my peace of mind and true happiness. Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert made a big impression on me. It helped me figure out some things and started my introspection to figure out things. Eat the good food, meditate daily, and surround yourself with people you love and WHO LOVE YOU BACK…not those other douches.
EAT: When I first read it, I was still deep in eating disorder mode. Yo-yo dieting in an effort to seek approval. Fuck that. I now eat to nourish me. I still find myself emotionally eating but I recognize it for what it is. The damage has been done but I accept that. My beloved Great Grandmother was round a squishy like me. She gave the best hugs and her shoulder blades never once cut me.
LOVE: When I first read it, I don’t think I knew what love was. I could say it but I didn’t really understand it. I was still doing things to get people to love me. Since then, I learned no one will love you as much as you love yourself. Sounds corny but its true. If I am not going to be good to me and treat me well, I cannot expect anyone else to (sounds a lot like boundaries). Negative self-talk stopped. The dialogue that runs through your head like a mantra… I am not….. (fill in the blank). I learned about Sankalpas – an intention you repeat until you realize it. I am kind, I am loved, I am forgiveness, I am healthy, I am valued… Fill in your own blank but make it positive. Your mind is easily tricked into thinking negatively. Show yourself loving kindness – for real. It is a life changer.
Pray: When I first read it, I had meditated occasionally, usually when I was in a bad way – like going through a divorce – I rolled my eyes at it when I read the Pray part. Who meditates every day? Who has time for that? What good does that do? Well….six years after I began reading Eat Love Pray, I meditated for real. I needed a place to let go of anger and seek peace. Today I have meditated 1379 consecutive days. I started in 2016 with a challenge to myself to go 30 days in a row. Then I expanded it to 365 days. I thought it would be hard but I looked myself in the mirror and and said “Robyn – you are worth it. Do this for yourself.” So I did. It didn’t matter that I was late, everything could wait until I took 30 minutes of me time because I was worth it. Meditation has changed everything. I am calm. I can sit in chaos and watch it with a detachment and problem solve. I am not quick to anger. I see things from a multitude of perspectives. Mostly I love the way it makes me feel. I cannot explain it other than I feel connected to everyone and everything. As if a part of me is in everything and a part of everything is in me. If you meditate you know what I mean. You enter the collective WE and are no longer alone. It took me a year of daily meditation to feel connected. Now it is like breathing. It is a knowing.
Reading Eat Love Pray for a second time should be interesting and I hope comforting. Something that resonates with me in a “I totally get you” way.
Stay healthy friends and keep finding comfort in something meaningful for you. Most of all, be good to yourself.
How is everyone doing? I am on day 30 of being safe at home. That is a lot of days and it doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. Summer festivals are dropping like dominos. My favourite ones are done so there’s that. But I am looking forward to summer anyways. With endless time on my hands, I’ve planned a couple of vegetable garden beds using insanely large plastic storage containers, I have a couple of six foot and four foot bins. The plan is to grow root vegetables, so we will see how that goes. At the side of my house I grow sweet peas, I think I will grow green peas and beans instead. I just hope the snowing will stop because I long to sit on my deck and enjoy flowers.
As it warms up I think my baking will slow down. Hot houses and hot stoves are not a good match. Meanwhile, I have been a machine with little projects. I have made green onion cakes, pasta, pizza dough, cookies and cinnamon buns. I am loving it! It has opened up new friend chats as we talk about proving dough and weighing flour. It is weird what I find fun now.
Speaking of fun… Beverly Clearly turned 104 on the weekend. I read a lot of her books when I was in elementary and jr. high. In grade six I read The Luckiest Girl of hers and passed it around the class for others to read. I must have read it a dozen times before I went to high school. I have thought about the characters in the story a lot over the years, so I decided to borrow it from the local library (online because the EPL is currently closed). Can I just say, I was still enthralled with this story and surprised at how well it stood up. The story takes place in the 1950’s but aside from clothing, telephones and hanging laundry, the rest felt pretty current, or at least current enough. The big takeaway is the character development and archs. I think Clearly was an under-appreciated author and was lumped into the children’s category as if that was a slight on her work. It has made me seek out other books I read way back then and see how they hold up.
I am quite impressed with 11 year old me. 11 year old me had an argument with the Mrs. Erickson, the librarian, about how I should diversify my reading repertoire and read new authors and finish what I start. I said why do I have to finish books I don’t like? I still won’t finish a bad or boring book. With the millions of great books out there, why spend time on something that won’t hold my interest? I am looking for more books from my youth like Mom, the Wolfman and me by Norma Klein and Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater to see if they can still capture my attention.
I overheard my son chatting with his girlfriend about how his parents (me and hubs) read to him and his sister every night. AND BIG BOOKS TOO! (Big books?) He mentioned some of the ones that stood out, like Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B.White, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Holes by Louis Sachar and the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling. We read to them long after they could read to themselves for a couple of reasons. Obviously emotional connection was the number one reason, but critical thinking had to be number two. We would discuss books at dinner and talk about why characters made certain choices or why the author did. When my kids were reading on their own, I would also read the same story so I could talk to them about what they were reading and thinking. These were some of the greatest conversations. It’s why I want to join book clubs and why I am always disappointed in the book clubs I join. People tend to want to go to book clubs for socialization. I want intellectual conversation. I don’t tend to last long especially when people don’t even read the book before the meeting.
So far I have read 11 books for the year. (It’s funny how the number 11 still shows up daily for me). My goal is 40 by December. I will likely reach that goal. But I am looking for a book that hooks me as soon as I read the first page. Any suggestions? I don’t want to have to slog through 100+ pages before I get into it. So don’t suggest those books. I like family generational epics like the Rice Mother by Rani Manicka or Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I like a good memoir too like Educated by Tara Westover or Spoiler Alert the Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello. Bonus points if it is available in the EPL (Edmonton Public Library) data base. I am in a bit of a fragile state so sad or scary really need to be left on the shelf.
Let me know what you are reading and stay healthy friends!
I was a huge fan of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart; it was smart, insightful and hilarious. Change is hard for me. I didn’t think a South African native would be the best choice for such a political show. But I decided to give him a chance. His insight into American politics from a South African perspective was fascinating. He lived through apartheid. He knew first had how dictators manipulate their population. He was explaining it to a country who only ever knew democracy,what was coming. He made it less scary.
I then listened to him on NPR’s Fresh Air. Trevor Noah discussed his book ( although the host is the most is biased and judgemental presenter, I enjoyed how he came back at her with intelligent and thoughtful commentary) and he had me hooked because the man loves his mama.
His life story (he is only 32) was terrifying for a white girl who grew up in socialist Canada where the government looks after lot of things for you. This is not the case for a coloured boy – his words not mine ( which must be prefaced because I am white) growing up during a time that I read about but did not understand until he gave me an account of his life. I could not relate to anything he spoke of which reiterated the fact that I needed to read it. I learned about perspective.
I knew a girl in elementary school who arrived from South Africa and enrolled into my class. She was white, and spoke of her black servants. Telling me everything about south Africa was better because you had servants. Black Servants no less. I met her while North America was watching Roots every night, I knew about slavery and I knew it was wrong. She was trying to tell me servants were not slaves, they were there because they wanted to be there. I didn’t by it. Even at that age, I knew what white privilege was. I had been to school in the Arctic, I was one of a handful of white kids and I knew my white teacher treated me differently. I didn’t understand why my First Nation peers didn’t look me in the eye, now here I was back in Sherwood Park – a white suburb of my Province’s Capital talking to a girl who is telling me the servants chose their life? What? Who chose’s to be a servant? That is a class issue. I bet they wanted to have their own business, go to University became professionals but were not allowed to. She told me I was wrong and I called her a liar. We were never friends. Her name was Susan. Through no fault of her own, she grew up in a situation that clashed with my values and I couldn’t accept her as an equal.
Moving forward, I try to read books that give me someone else’s perspective. I want to understand how other people think given their circumstances. Noah explains his life in a way that is obviously normal to him, completely unbelievable for me. But it helped understand what was going on during apartheid. He spoke of something I think I knew but didn’t recognize it until he spoke about it. Language is a bigger barrier than race. He is fluent in several languages. He used this to his advantage to fit into different groups and tribes because although he looked different, he spoke their language. This confused people but allowed a fast acceptance into their social group. He may not look like us but he understands us, therefore he is one of us.
I think this is an important read for people who are struggling with today’s political climate and racism. Give it a read.
I am discovering the delights of a short story. When I was in school, it was mandatory to ready them for comprehension tests and literary examinations. I loved O.Henry, J.D Salinger, and Washington Irving but somewhere along the way I stopped reading them. Then I became that old fuddy duddy who read Reader’s Digest out of desperation while waiting copious amounts of time at a friends cabin. I found old mouldy copies in a box in the corner and began reading short stories again. Then I discovered the delights of Maeve Binchy, W.P. Kinsella and Alice Munro. Stories so masterfully told that I would think about the characters long after the 30 minutes was up. I still can fondly recall characters years after I put the story down. Short story authors have a magical way of developing characters in an instant and telling a story about a brief moment in time that sticks with you.
My son is currently studying Canadian Short Story Authors and is not enjoying it. I suspect it has to do with the language usage. Older English reads differently than the contemporary literature he currently is enjoys. If you ever read Mark Twain or L.M. Montgomery, then you understand what I mean. I am not referring to Shakespeare, but rather the turn of the 20th Century where language was more formal and slang used in that era is lost on my 17-year-old. I could see him struggling. He suspects he is ADHD, I suspect the content doesn’t interest him. When I was his age, I had a great-aunt who came to live with us for about 6 months. She sat with me and helped me understand the poetry that I despised. While I am still not a great fan, I do know how to make sense of prose because of her. I sat with my son and together we read and analyzed his short story.
Paul’s Case by Willa Cather I rate this story 4 stars out of 5. My son gives it a 2.
You can find the entire text here. The story takes place in modern times for the author, 1904, in Pittsburgh and New York. It is the story of a boy who doesn’t fit into society. Although it doesn’t say it, I suspect the author writes the boy as a homosexual. This is not unusual for this time period, Virginia Wolf also wrote about lesbian attractions although for the times, it was discrete and not obvious to the unaware.
Paul was unable to feel normal in his surroundings but found peace and excitement in the theater and arts. He fantasized about a life of luxury and had a distaste for the mundane. His mother had died when he was young, and his father worked hard to provide a stable life for Paul and his sisters, yet Paul felt his father was stingy with the money. He thought he deserved a more luxurious lifestyle. His choices and movements were self-absorbed and ultimately changed his life forever.
Symbols are a huge part of short stories and I had forgotten that when I did a first read through of this story. I recognized consistencies and was reminded of the prominence of the symbols, the red carnation, money, and the snow.
I could not relate to the main character himself, although I could empathize with him. My son couldn’t believe how narcissistic he was.
Take a quick read and let me know how you view it.
Did you ever do something risky or foolish when you were younger and lived to regret it? Not me…well, I never did anything illegal, I did you risky and foolish things. My grandfather always said that the reason everyone isn’t dead by the age of 5 is because our Guardian Angels work over time. This is mine, she works pretty hard and I do not pay her enough:
Sure I made bad choices, but I learned from them. Sometimes it took me several passes at the same mistake…Hello Man Choices! But eventually I got my life sorted out.
I read Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. I couldn’t put this book down. I am rating it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
Most people have seen the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. I watched one episode and it bothered me SO MUCH that is was different from the book I could watch any more episodes. Why? Because I loved the book that much. Why are characters names changed? Why are plot lines different? Why can’t I over look that?
At any rate, for those of you who haven’t seen the show – or even if you have, read the book. It was somewhat akin to rubber necking at a horrific accident and you just can’t look away.
Piper Kerman had a reckless lesbian youth where she was a drug mule and did money laundering because she was in love with a women who convinced her to follow her around the world. By the time Kerman snapped out of this infatuation, she realized she needed to move on, change her life and live according to some of the morals and values that she was brought up with. She gets back to the states and meets a guy, moves ahead by locking up her past.
Fast forward several years into the future and her former lover rats her out. Piper Kerman has to confess to her family and fiance about her past because she is about to go to prison for her crimes.
What I loved about this book was her honest raw account of prison details. How dignity was left at the door and how she met people on the inside who she never would have been friends with in Manhattan, yet they bonded. Through her experience, you could tell that she made the connection between her crime and how it affected these people. To Piper it was just a fun kick..to the women in prison, it was a way of life. A life with limited choices. That hit hard.
Although it is hard for us to make the right choice in the moment without life experience to guide us, I love that the possibility of changing or learning from these moments are possible at any time during our life time. Thanks goodness for my Guardian Angel. I obviously go more out of the book than a story.
Perhaps you will too. Read it. It is different from the series…and better.
I read a lot. Everything from memoirs and fiction to text books and journals. I try to keep current with news but news is boring unless is is actual REAL news, like the stuff going on in Syria or the way the Americans are talking about sending troops to Syria when they have a huge pile of mess in their own backyard and no money to fix anything…but I digress.
I have been on a memoir kick recently and am in the middle of some great running books. I am currently trying to gobble up any and all information about extreme running events. Things that the crew or people have to do to support the runner in their quest. I go through obsessive phases. I will read everything I can about a subject and then move on. Running currently is my obsessive focus, but I sprinkle other books into that mix.
I have 3 books on the go right now. I had 4, but just finished one. Then I will finish my running book. I have a book on my phone that I will save for appointments and such. The last book on the go is fiction. I am not in the head space right now for fiction. Maybe when it gets colder and I will snuggle under my down comforter with my nose peeking out while I read, that to me is a fiction kind of night.
The latest book I read was Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son by Lori Duron.
4 stars out of 5
I would have given this 5 stars except I am a regular reader of her blog. She started it a few years ago as a way to talk about what was going on for her and her family and by doing so, was hoping there were others out there to connect with. We all want to feel like we belong and are accepted when we know we are different from the norm. Some of the stories in Duron’s book are right from her blog. It felt repetitive for me but to her credit, she went into a depth that was not previously seen on her blog. I am fascinated with this family and have been for years. Not in that creepy way of staking someone, but in that empathetic and understanding way. I like knowing there are other moms out there who will move heaven and earth to protect their child while trying to find that balance to raise a healthy and loved child. Parenting is tricky and damn hard. It’s not like there is a set of instructions that come with the baby. We all are doing the best we can with the skills and knowledge we have. The Duron Family is no different, except they have a child who is gender non-conforming.
So what does that mean?
Sex is in your pants, gender is in the brain. Her little fellow knows he is a boy. He is physically a boy. He likes all the girly stuff that has ever been created. He appears to be transitioning into a girl through clothing and hair change. I think it takes courage to be the parent who supports your child’s choices no matter what. This book is full of courage because it is written about fear. The Duron’s fear and love is evident throughout this book. The choices they make may not have been the choices I made but I will never really know because MY children are different. Every family has it’s own challenges. Every parent tries their best to figure out how to meet these challenges. The Duron’s are no different. I like that. I like that she seems normal, as if we would have been friends. I can respect her choices. I can’t say I can respect everyone’s choices because I think families need to put the well being of their minor children first. But that is a personal value of mine and I understand that everyone’s values are different.
I loved the way this book would make me smile. Its a good day when you are reading with a twinkly in your eye and a smile on your lips. I loved having an insight to the LGTBQ community. I have friends who belong to this community but they are guarded, and rightly so, the world is a tough place and is currently not very kind to this community, HELLO RUSSIA I am looking at YOU! It is moms like Lori Duron who are changing the world one corner at a time.
For the first time this century, I will not be going back to school as a teacher. I will however, be going back to school as a student. I enrolled in my final class before I graduate December 13 and am waiting for my book list so I can spend the last of my dollars on school text books.
Not that I mind, I love books. I have books shelves full of them. They are my favorite gift to give. I have written authors asking to purchase one of their books but asking them to sign it so I can give it away as a gift. Occasionally the author will offer to do it for free if I make a donation to their charity. More often than not, I find authors to be just flattered that someone likes their work enough to share it. That surprised me. I thought authors might be along the lines of Divas, the kind of people who expect accolades and fame. But that has not been my experience. In fact, the more authors I meet, the more humble I find that breed of humans to be. This makes my heart happy.
I had a summer of interesting interactions. I was approached by a couple of authors to read their work and review it on Goodreads. I am not a professional reviewer so I was flattered, but then I realized I don’t want to spend my time reading a book and reviewing if the book does not interest me. My reading time is precious to me, I read enough University Journals for papers that when I read on my own time, I want it to be for fun. If I like the book, then I want to share with friends or others who read who I think might enjoy it. Lately I find myself pursuing memoir type genres. I am particularly fascinated with running memoirs but I have enjoyed bizarre life moment reads as well. Mondays are going to my regular book review days for those of interested in knowing what books I am enjoying. I have decided to write about books that I enjoy. I no longer will slog through a book I find dull or boring. My time is too precious for that. My ereader is filled with books that I can’t wait to read so why would I waist time on books I don’t want to read? Right? Tell me I am right!
Last week I went to visit my old comrades. I popped into their classrooms while they were preparing for this new school year. It was so great to see everyone, but I have to tell you, I am very happy I am going back to University and not waiting for the new charges to come to me. Sure I will miss their funny stories and perspectives, and I will miss telling them great stories and reading to them. That was my favorite part of being a teacher, story telling and reading. Sharing my favorite books with new generations of littles.
As a tribute to my favourite preschool authors, I am starting off my Reading Monday series with my personal selection of favorite stories for young ones – the PreK to grade 3 set. The kind of stories that demand a cuddle on the couch and conversation to talk about new vocabulary words and what ifs. Here we go with the list in no particular order:
1. Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
Pete has new shoes and loves them. But like all young cats, he gets them dirty. Yet as dirty as they get, he loves them still. This book is great for rhythmic repetition to create full engagement of the reader. LOVE THIS BOOK!
2. The Big Red Bus by Judy Hindley
This Bus gets stuck and needs the cooperation of many people to help keep it moving on its way. I love how children with very little language become fascinated with STOP and worry about the bus’s welfare. This book is light on text and big on pictures yet the meaning is obvious to all who read it. A great book to act out as well.
3. Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gillman
Gillman is a favorite author of mine, from Jillian Gigs to the Balloon Tree, so picking just one of her books was tough. Her illustrations are captivating and I love how the boy’s Grandpa is loving and understanding about the need for this blanket to always be in this boys life until he he ready to let it go on his own. Both my children had a blanket attachment and I love how it was honored in this story. A great read for families.
4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Max was me as a kid, huge imagination and often using it to amuse myself when in situations that were boring, like stuck in my room as punishment. I love the scary Wild Things and the way Max was in charge. This light text and the beautiful illustrations keeps everyone captivated until the end, when he discovers his mom still loves him. All children can relate.
5. The Cow that went Oink by Bernard Most
This was the first book that helped me explain bilingualism to children. It is done in such a charming way with the cow and pig teaching each other to speak their first language. My students laughed as the animals struggled with new words, because they could relate. This is a fun story.
6. Grandpa Dan’s Toboggan Ride by Suzan Reid
Not every one gets to toboggan, but chances are if you live in Canada you have or will at some point. Not every book is meant for a bedtime story. This is not a quite and calm book, this is an interactive, fun and crazy book that makes you want to run out and slide down a mountain. It always brought up lots of conversation about snow crashes which is a rite of passage for many young Canadians.
6. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
I read this story every-night for a year to my son before he turned 1. This was his favorite story because he loved naming objects and saying good night. He loved the predictability of the story and knew what came next. It is important to read WITH your children and not TO your children so they can develop the critical thinking skills and can have conversations about what the see and predictability skills. I have a special soft spot in my heart and book shelf for this book, I often gift it to new babies and can’t wait to give it to a future grandchild.
7. No David by David Shannon
This is obviously a biography by David Shannon who had adults tell him NO all his life. Kids laugh because it is real, silly and shocking. They love to yell NO DAVID every time he brakes a rule. This was my daughter’s favorite book, perhaps because she grew up being ADHD herself and was a lot like David.
8. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
I loved this book as a child. I didn’t need an adult to read it to me because I would get caught up in the imagination of Harold and the things he could draw. It matched my favorite TV show, Simon’s chalk drawings. Give me a box of crayons and plank piece of paper and the world was at my disposal.
9. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
This book is for those little girls who are brave and smart and self reliant. If they aren’t these things, then read them this book so they can be.
10. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
I don’t know which I enjoy more, the book or the movie. Both are delightful and fun. I love the concept of magical dreams and extraordinary fun.
These are by no means the only books I love, but they were the ones that popped into my head without thinking too hard. Tell me what YOU would ad to the list!
If you are a reader like I am, you will understand how diving into a book can affect your mood while you are pacing yourself through it. Most of the books I have read this year have been a bit desperate. Meaning, I have loved reading them they have left me feeling like the world is a wee bit depressed. I hear ya. Everyone is a wee bit depressed, including me. I think that is why I am attracted to these books. They make life feel so normal because lets face it,no one lives in a LaVyrle Spencer novel, everyone lives in a Maeve Binchy novel.
I loved Maeve Binchy (except her Father Flynn Series) because she wrote about average people doing mundane things in a way that left my heart aching for more normalcy. Evening Class made me want to go back to school and meet people. I did go back and met a lovely chum who is sarcastic and dark like me. We chuckle and complain yet we are the smarty pants of the group. Evening Class was plausible and that is why I liked it.
As much as I love watching Sci-Fi, I despise reading it. Books need to be plausible for me and quite frankly I have a hard time wrapping my head around worlds I haven’t been to. This includes countries where I have no frame of reference. I have tried the Sci-Fi genre and it just isn’t my favorite. For example, I have Read Never Let you Go and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and while I was reading them, I kept thinking…huh, not loving this so much. So, I made the choice to save Sci-Fi for TV and Movies because it becomes an EPIC adventure and save the Sci-Fi books for other people.
The books I have read so far this year seem to have a common theme. Their life kinda sucks and it doesn’t really change by the end, other than they are accepting of the sucky life they are living. Fair enough. I think that is real. The key is to embrace what you have and accept it for what it is and be grateful for the good stuff, because life isn’t all bad. It isn’t. There are awesome snippets of time that make up for all the crap we deal with. It’s a shame we have to deal with anything but that is what makes us smart. That is why I like reading these books. I like learning from other people’s choices. Not that I always agree with what they do, I think my moral code plays a role into these scenarios, but sometimes learning what NOT to do is just as valuable. And sometimes being a victim of circumstance all you can do is cope. I have been lucky – although luck might not be the word I am looking for. Karma has been fairly kind to me. I have done things I am not proud of, but the outcome has been the best possible scenario I could hope for…well, I hope for more but am satisfied with what I have.
Then I read books like The Book Thief. I am not through the whole thing yet but I suspect the family is harboring Jews during Nazi Germany. The young girl is fostered by
this family and, well, I foresee bad things. It is WWII after all and life wasn’t great then. A great insight to civilians living through WWII in both Germany and England is Life After Life. It gave me a sad, yet vivid perspective of what life must have been like. The Book Thief is different, it is narrated by Death himself and he seems like an okay fella. I don’t fear death like I did when I was younger but reading about death has become a bit of a theme for me. I am fascinated about it and how people handle it. Perhaps it is because it surrounds me more frequently than it did when I was younger and living with a tumour makes me face it head on. Wrapping up all my personal endings for ‘just in case’.
At any rate, I am feeling the moods of the characters I read about. I love that about books. I love how real these characters feel to me. I know I will love Hans long after the Book Thief is over and I will think of him often, just like I think of my Grandpa.