Sunday, January 24, 2010


1 a : the act of recommending

Yesterday, my sister-in-law asked me for book recommendations for a third grade girl she knows. She was asking specifically about two series (Harry Potter and Inkheart), but I had so much fun cataloging favorites from A & B that I thought I would share our family recommendations. You may have read many - or all - of these. Feel free to share your own favorites with us in the comments because we're always looking for new books that can become old favorites.

Few things give me as much joy as sharing a good book with friends, so I hope you and your family will enjoy a few of these books - and think of the Trusses as you do!

Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti - I'm not quite sure where or how we acquired this book, but our family loves it. A, B and K have each in turn asked for this book to be read to them and while it's a bit heavy handed with the equality of the parenting roles, it is great to read a book where the dad cooks the dinner, gives the bath and tucks the child in for bed. Instead of a book that makes a really big point of having the dad play an active role, this book takes it for granted that Cory's dad is an involved one.

Llama Llama Red Pajama - I absolutely love to read this book aloud. The rhythm and cadence make it easy to get into as the reader and by the time baby llama is weeping and wailing, I am too! This book was cemented as a favorite when B's theater camp performed this book a few summers ago and we got to see her joy in this fun book.

Guess How Much I Love You - When I asked J for books to add to this list, he requested this one. Someone gave it to us after A was born and it's been one of his favorites ever since. He loves that the dad is the one bantering back and forth about how much he loves his child and the illustrations and word pictures in this book are lovely and soothing, making it a perfect bedtime read.

Fox in Socks - It's hard to pick just one Dr. Seuss book, isn't it? But if you think reading about tweedle beetles isn't fun, that's only because you haven't tried it...

Harold and the Purple Crayon - This book used to be one of A's favorites. It's just the kind of book my children love because it's as imaginative as they are. I include it here for its lovely, clever language and the beautiful ending image of Harold, "drawing up the covers."

Ruby's Wish - A book that I can not read aloud without crying. This book, based on a true story, follows Ruby as she grows up in China with her numerous cousins. They all move on to other things, but Ruby loves to learn and keeps up her studies even while learning to run a household and doing domestic chores. The scene where her grandfather presents her with admission to college never fails to choke me up and make me thankful for all of the opportunities my daughters have.

Ish - A book that could almost serve as the mission statement for our family. Ramon's love of drawing, his discouragement and the eventual re-ignition of his gift is a wonderful story. I've written about this book before, but it continues to be an important one for me. I want to encourage others in their gifts, like Ramon's sister and I want to see my own work through an "ish" lens, not the lens of perfectionism.

The Time Warp Trio - B was slower to fall in love with reading than A. While A could read most anything by the time she started kindergarten, it was the summer between first and second grade when B decided that not only could she read, she wanted to read. This series is one of the first I remember her truly enjoying. We checked out one or two each time we went to the library until she had read them all. While she has moved on to bigger, better books, I think this series will always hold a special place in her heart (and in mine, for the memories it conjures).

Little House on the Prairie - A is a big fan of historical fiction, so she's read all of these books and she recently bought a used copy of a book of Wilder's letters. A says that she likes this series because "they tell you how life was back then and I like to know what my super-great grandparents went through."

Anne of Green Gables - A likes the Anne is a really spunky girl who is different than girls were expected to be back then. Anne is so different and you just can't not love her. Not long ago, I re-read the first book in this series and it was like meeting an old friend who hadn't changed a bit. Anne is, in my opinion, one of the best fictional characters ever created. I see glimmers of her in each of my daughters and I hope that never changes!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - When A brought this huge book home from the library in second grade, she assured me, "Mom, it's not as big as it looks. There are lots of pictures." She was right about that. There are lots of pictures and unlike any other book that I know of, in this book the drawings don't merely illustrate the story, they tell the story. I read this book not long after A, as did J & B. We all loved it.

Nancy Drew - According to 10 year old A, "Nancy is a really curious girl whose mother died when she was really young. Nancy started out with smaller cases and they gradually evolved into big, dangerous cases." As someone who read a fair amount of Nancy Drew books myself, it's great to see that these books are just as entertaining to my own daughters. Nancy continues to be a strong, smart influence on young girls.

A Wrinkle in Time - This classic series is about a girl named Meg and her family is as good now as it was when I read it back in middle school. It will make you think, make you feel and make you want to read the next in the series!

Happy Hollisters & Tom Swift - These are two series that J enjoyed as a child. He's shared a few of them with the girls, who have also found them good. B in particular likes the Happy Hollisters and they are good, clean books to let your children read.

The Secret Garden and The Little Princess - I still own my copies of these two books from when I was a little girl. These quintessential girl books are true classics. Encourage your daughter(s) to read them. Read them aloud. Re-read them yourself. They speak to the heart of what it means to be a girl. (And don't bother with the new movie version - it totally changed the book!)

Bridge to Terabithia - A's third grade teacher gave her entire class a copy of this book before the summer break. A says that this book really shows how much people can love one another and how friendship can change lives. I read this book for the first time in fourth grade and it was my first-ever "favorite book." The movie changed this book a bit, but stayed true to the feel and intent of the book, so it would be a great follow-up after reading the book together.

Fern Verdant and the Silver Rose - Fern can talk to plants and animals and it's cool because that talent has been in her family for years. B liked this book enough to share it with a friend (always a good sign). B is a fan of imaginative fiction, so a book with a character who has a special talent is especially intriguing to her.

The Report Card - A friend of B's told her about Andrew Clements' books and this was one of her favorites. In this book, a girl tries to act not-so-smart even though she is super-duper smart and she used her smarts to offend a friend. In telling me about this book, B wants to read it again - a pretty sure sign that it's a good book. In general, she likes that Clements' books are funny, but realistic fiction.

Peter & The Starcatchers - This series tells how Peter Pan became Peter Pan. While I went back and read the original Peter Pan before starting the series, that wouldn't be at all necessary. A & B read the series before me and enjoyed the adventures of Peter and his friends. These books aren't scary for second grade and up and they are a fun imagining of a prequel to a classic tale.

Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief - J & I first read these books and shared them with A. A says that she likes this series because they talk about the Greek myths and they show the Greek gods in a modern time view. B started studying Greek mythology this month and she has been really enjoying these books as well. For my part, I love that these books taught me about the minor Greek mythology characters and that Percy and his friends feel like actual kids, not big, tough heroes.

The Sisters Grimm series - This series once got A into trouble. One day when she was in second grade, I stopped by her classroom a few minutes after school had started to bring her a sweater. As I watched from the doorway, she pulled out a book from this series and read while her teacher was instructing the class. Needless to say, this did not please me. That book went back to the library unfinished and it was several months before I allowed her to check the book out again and finish it. A likes that these books tell about fairy tales and the main characters are gradually growing up during the series.

Tales of the Frog Princess series - B likes these books because they are funny, magical and fairy tale-like. They aren't scary, but the princess gets grossed out because she has to eat flies. For a slightly sassy take on fairy tales, this series is a good choice.

Goose Girl - A loves that this book takes a fairy tale and makes it into a long story. Goose Girl is part of a trilogy of books set in fictional Bayern and each one reads like a long, modernized fairy tale. The characters have special talents and the reader gets to see the characters grapple with both the blessing and the challenge of being special.

Artemis Fowl series - B liked this series enough to name her monarch butterfly after the main character. (The butterfly tried to escape and Artemis is apparently an escape artist.) B says that she likes that these books aren't real and she thinks that boys would really like these books since they always want to be a villain or super-hero.

Danger Boy - B likes this series because the boy can go back in time with his hat. In the first book she read, he goes back to Alexandria, Egypt and it's funny because a dinosaur that can talk shows up. His dad built a time machine but he didn't know it was a time machine, so he sent his son back in time accidentally.

Gregor the Overlander series - This is another series that A read before I did. I think I may have enjoyed the series more than she did and I'll encourage her to give it another try in a few years. I loved that this series was adventurous, fast-paced and unexpected. Since it features some pretty creepy characters as central to the plot line (rats, bats, cockroaches), it might be a good choice for boys who want to avoid reading anything girly. This series is not girly at all, but is action-packed and otherworldly.

Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians - B was the first person in our family to read this book. She likes that Alcatraz got a special set of glasses that allow him to understand any language because she would like to have glasses like that.

So what are some of your favorites???


Lisa's Blog said...

I love Llama Llama Red Pajama. My kids have parts of it memorized!

KFMiller said...

Seth has loved the 'Hank the Cowdog' series - life on a Texas ranch as told from the perspective of the 'head of ranch security', good laughs.

Anonymous said...

David loved 'Where the Red Fern Grows'. It may be that he loved is so because it was the first book he really read!

Ann @TheAssetEdge said...

What a fun list!!

Variations On A Theme said...

Thanks for posting this wonderful list! (And you're really good at the summary reviews!) SO many of the books on the list are ones that B recommended to Olivia!!! (I hope she has returned the Fern Verdant book, because she was very concerned about getting it back to B in time.)

I think B must be as voracious a reader as you, because MOST of the time when we see a book, Olivia says, "Oh! B read that and really liked it...."

rufusjt said...

One series of books that Word Girl didn't get to include (she had to take a nap) that I remember reading and enjoying as a kid is the Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums are the names of the three books. In fact, I still have those books upstairs!

The first two books focus on Menolly, a young girl who doesn't fit the mold at home and escapes to a place where she fits in. The last book's main character shifts from Menolly to Piemur, a mischievous boy who grows up and has a career change unwillingly thrust upon him, leading to adventure.


Gigi said...

We were just talking about Guess How Much I Love You. We have it in Spanish too. We love it! And we love Go Dog Go and The Treasure Tree and and a Christmas Advent book called Jotham's Journey.

Can I request a list like this of yours? I know you have some on Good Reads but a list like this...

Do I sound like a child? I think that list of books sent me back to childhood.

Chris and Tiana said...

This is great because I needed some book recommendations right now. I need some quick, easy read type books to stock up on for the next couple months during those late night feedings :)