Kid Lit favorites (Part 2)

I get such a thrill when someone asks me for a book recommendation. It’s a serious responsibility, considering that time is precious, attention spans are short, and competition with screens is fierce.

My 10-year-old niece recently asked for some book suggestions, so I jumped at the chance to rack my brain for the best Kid Lit I had encountered lately. In doing so, I noticed that many revolved around the theme of survival. How to get through adolescence and school years. How to survive literally in new and oftentimes untamed lands. How to cope with bad things that happen to us or those we love.

Books have been my constant through life’s many ups and downs. Good fiction is a beacon of light, shining insight and helping me weather whatever storms I may be facing. Through well-developed characters, plots and ideas, I am reminded time and time again that others have walked similar journeys and not only survived, but thrived. 

Just as I did in a post last year during Read Across America Week, I created a list of  books geared toward kids that are worth exploring. Some were found through Goodreads, a few were recommended by friends, others were suggested by my kids. Collectively they’ve enlarged my perspective, reminding me that we need one another to survive in this world.


51sEcZq2FEL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (2017)
Themes: acceptance, community, hope, nature, racism

A huge, caring oak tree co-exists in a small space with a diverse group of animals and humans. The author is brilliant at conveying important truths and incredible meaning through a simple story line and a lovable cast of characters.


swissThe Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (1812)
Themes: adventure, family cooperation, innovation

I’ve wanted to read this classic for some time, probably ever since I was mesmerized by the Disney movie as a child as well as the Swiss Family Treehouse during visits to Disney World. The ingenuity, imagination and close teamwork of the shipwrecked family almost made me want to get stranded on a deserted island to see how I would survive.


because of mr teruptBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (2010)
Themes: Cooperation, kindness, friendship

Fans of Wonder will find themselves familiar with the format of this story as it is shared from multiple perspectives of students in a fifth-grade classroom. The kids are guided by an insightful (if not unorthodox) teacher to believe in themselves, as well as as others outside the classroom… until an unfortunate accident bonds them together in ways they could never have imagined.


ghostGhost by Jason Reynolds (2016)
Themes: character, diversity, identity, teamwork, track

Our family read this book, which is part of a series, with other adults and kids during a summer book club. I’ve admittedly not read many books based in the inner city, but I found myself rooting for Ghost as he struggled to acclimate with the track team while attempting to outrun his anger and his past.


honest truthThe Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart (2015)
Themes: cancer, courage, friendship, honesty

The author of this book visited my son’s school, so Jon read it first and then recommended to me (a definite role reversal).  It deals with some heavy, heart-wrenching themes that may be too much for some kids, but the journey a boy and his faithful dog takes leads to redemption and realization.


unboundUnbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg (2016)
Themes: freedom, multi-generational family, perseverance, slavery

This story told via poetry follows the story of a young slave girl named Grace and the extent her family is willing to go to have a shot at freedom. It’s an awesome piece of historical fiction that would serve well as a family read-aloud and discussion piece.


gone fishingGone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissinger (2013)
Themes: outdoor adventure, sibling rivalry, wonder

Shared mainly from a young boy’s perspective, this collection of poems made me reminisce about my own growing-up years. The simple, engaging illustrations support the story line and poetry structures. This book is geared more toward young kids just starting to engage in the world of poetry, but I would recommend it – hook, line and sinker!


I’m always on the lookout for Kid Lit recommendations! Feel free to share some of your great children’s literature suggestions in the comments below. 

What’s Saving My Life This Summer [Part 2]

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”
– Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Between the resuming of jobs, back-to-school activities, and two family birthdays in September, summer break seems to be a distant memory. It was time well-spent with family, as well as days engrossed in memoirs and middle school literature, historical fiction and religious texts. I didn’t set out to read books along one particular idea this past season, but it seemed as if an overarching theme tied them together: understanding. Continue reading “What’s Saving My Life This Summer [Part 2]”

What’s saving my life this summer [Part 1]

Awwww, summer.

Long, leisurely days of plentiful sunshine, sweet tea, flip flops and afternoon naps.

Until last week. That’s when a haze took over the area due to multiple wildfires in our region. Smoky skies (and the dangerous air quality) forced most of us living in the Pacific Northwest inside the past few days.

For me, that’s meant more time to read, watch movies with the family and catch up on podcasts. The topic of “What’s Saving My Life” was discussed during one of these podcasts. And then a book I finished also mentioned this idea. It seemed to be no coincidence. Continue reading “What’s saving my life this summer [Part 1]”

A purposeful patchwork

This month I received an incredibly special gift, a quilt created by my 14-year-old daughter. I knew it was coming as Rachel and I picked out the fabric together, giving careful attention to color, style and texture. She provided me with weekly updates–from cutting to stitching to tying–during her school quilting class. There was literal blood (being stabbed by needles), sweat (meeting a deadline right before spring break ended) and tears (cutting fabric the wrong size) involved in the process.

When I was presented with this gift, Rachel was quick to point out that the end product was not perfect. But knowing the steps she went through to get it to this state made it even more meaningful. Continue reading “A purposeful patchwork”