Tag Archives: The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

My favorite books of 2012

I read a lot of books this year, adult and children’s books, fiction and non-fiction, memorable books and others I’d rather forget (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?). It was hard to narrow it down to a few favorite and of course, my choices are very subjective and personal. These are books that grabbed my attention from the first few pages, made me laugh or cry or both, made me think, or made me dream by taking me to faraway places. These are all great books in one way or another.

My favorite adult fiction books of 2012

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

1) The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry
This series includes The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. I’ll be reviewing the last three books later this week, and in the meantime, you can read my review of The Giver here. Wonderful, wonderful futuristic stories, full of shocking discoveries, adventure, courage, survival and hope. Lois Lowry is a brilliant storyteller and I love the worlds she created. These books are great for young adults (probably age 12 and up), as well as adults, and you can read them again and again and enjoy them just as much. I think that next Christmas, I’ll be asking Santa for these four books so they become part of my personal book collection.

The book thief by Markus Zusack

The book thief by Markus Zusack

2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is another young adult book that is perfect for adults too. This is the only book I’ve ever read on World War II that was told from a German citizen’s perspective. This book really touched me in many ways and will stay with me forever. Just like The Giver quartet, I think it deserves its own spot on my bookshelf. You can read my review of The Book Thief here.

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

3) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I also read Catching Fire and Mockinjay but The Hunger Games was my favorite. I found the novels very dark and gruesome, but well told. Suzanne Collins is not as hopeful about the human race as Lois Lowry but she might be more realistic. Who knows what’s in our future, right? Read my review of The Hunger Games. By the way, I do have The Hunger Games trilogy on my bookcase already.

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog’s purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

4) A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Alright, technically I finished reading A Dog’s Purpose last December, but since I read the next book in 2012, I’m including both on this list. I loved these books and I’m not even a dog person. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed and I cried some more. If you’re looking for a feel good story, these two books are perfect. Read my reviews of A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey.

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

5) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Yet another book that deserves a permanent spot on my bookshelf. I have never read such an imaginative book when it comes to the way the story is told. Zelznick tells Hugo’s story by alternating between words and pencil illustrations. Unlike picture books, these detailed illustrations tell a specific part of the story instead of using words, giving a full meaning to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Selznick is a pure genius at illustrating and storytelling. Read my review of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

My favorite adult non-fiction books of 2012

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

1) Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
If you’re an introvert, you’ll want to read this book. If you’re an extravert, you’ll want to read it too so you give us introverts a break and realize we’re not a bunch of anti-social people. ;-) Read my review of Quiet: The Power of Introverts here.

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

2) Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
If you want to learn more about PTSD (post-trauma syndrome disorder) specifically in U.S. soldiers, this story is it. Told in the first person, it explains the various symptoms, the possible treatments (and how our soldiers are taken care of, for better or worse) and how Tuesday, the golden retriever who was about to fail his training as a service dog, helped Montalvan when he himself was on the verge of giving up. The 5 stars by almost 1000 reviewers on Amazon say it all: this is a must read (read my review of Until Tuesday). And yes, this is the REAL Tuesday on the book cover.

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

3) The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
Miller has been a 6th-grade teacher for about 20 years and has discovered, implemented and refined ways to ignite the love of reading in her students. This book is not just a great tool for teachers but for parents too. Read my review of The Book Whisperer.

My favorite children’s books of 2012

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

1) The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson
Well, don’t you know? There’s no such thing as a gruffalo. Or, is there? These brilliantly rhyming books are meant to become children’s book classics. Read my reviews of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

2) Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed
I loved, loved, loved this book (and damn it, it made my choke up!). This is a beautiful story of loneliness and friendship children and adults will love and cherish. Read my review of Pete & Pickles.

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

3) The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story by Berkeley Breathed
Berkeley Breathed may be known for his comic strip Opus, but The Last Basselope is a wonderful story about searching for the unknown, finding it, discovering its priceless value and keeping it safe from the rest of the world. Read my review of The Last Basselope.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

4) Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
This has to be one of the funniest children’s books we’ve read this year. When Oliver’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he throws everything up there, including the kitchen’s sink. My kids and I loved the silliness of this book and we laughed about it for weeks. Read my review of Stuck.

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

5) Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen
“I’m going to eat you for my dinner” says the big wolf to the big moose. But that’s before he realizes that Mucky Moose really, really stinks. My four-year old couldn’t get enough of this story and months later, my kids still quote the book. Read my review of Mucky Moose.

Ricky Ricotta's mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

6) Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series by Dav Pilkey
This series gave my eldest his first taste of independent reading of chapter books before he reached the end of kindergarten. He’s since graduated to much longer and intense books but I’ll never forget that this series of books gave him the motivation to read on his own (I wasn’t allowed to read him the books so I read them with his brother). Read my review of Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot here.

Zen ties by Jon Muth

Zen ties by Jon Muth

7) Zen Ties and Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
Muth’s watercolors are simply beautiful and his stories teach children about the principles of Zen Buddhism in a very simple way. Stillwater the giant panda is a wonderful teacher. Read my review of Zen Ties.

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

8) The Rotten Ralph books by Jack Bantos
Rotten Ralph is everything you don’t want your kids to be and so, kids love him! Rotten Ralph is a really rotten cat and you wonder if he’ll ever show kindness and consideration for others. Deep underneath that rotten attitude, Rotten Ralph may actually have a heart and a conscience. This is a very funny series that will make you laugh out loud. Read my reviews of several Rotten Ralph books here.

What books have you read this year that turned out to be your favorite? Anything I should put on my to-read list for 2013?

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WWW Wednesdays – July 4, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

So I’m a day late writing this update, but I have my reasons. You see, yesterday I was busy driving back from the beautiful mountains of Idyllwild, California. I then took my oldest to our town’s little party zone and finished the day enjoying the Fourth of July fireworks. The best part? My five-year old slept in until 8am and my four-year old until 9. It felt good for all of us to catch up on some sleep in our own beds after being away from home for a week.

My bookshelf

Dolores Clairborne by Stephen King

Dolores Clairborne by Stephen King

– What I’m currently reading

Dolores Clairborne by Stephen King. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and I still have many of his novels to read. I thought the summer is the perfect time to indulge. 
 
– What I recently finished reading
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller. This is a WONDERFUL book written by a 6th-grade teacher who shares her experience to spread her love of reading to her students, no matter their reading level or literary genre interest. Over the years, she really shifted the paradigm of language arts/English literature teaching in her classroom. I loved to see a teacher more interested in making sure her students read every single day a book of their choice, rather than force them to read something they didn’t enjoy and never find pleasure in reading. Her major point is, if students become avid readers, they’ll be better students and will do great on standardized tests. So she spends tons of time letting the kids read in her classroom, and very little cramming for the tests. She asks her students to read 50 books in the school year, and most of them do it! Unfortunately, this teacher is the black sheep in our school system and I think many teachers (and parents) would benefit from reading this book to understand what really matters to give students the skills they need to be successful in life.
 
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. For chick lit, I thought this book was pretty good and I like how the characters were developed. Each of the girl has a very different personality and mindset and it was nice to see how each experience marked them that summer. I’ll definitely read the next books to see what happens, especially since the last one just came out, skipping a whole 10 years of their lives.
 
 – What I think I’ll read next
I think I have a couple of books waiting for me at the library, so I’ll have to decide which one to read first when I’m done with Dolores Clairborne.
 
My kids’ bookshelf

The Last Basselope by Berkeley BreathedWhat they’re currently reading
The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story by Berkeley Breathed. Hoping to make a great discovery and find the legendary, ferocious Basselope, Opus the penguin leads his friends into the forest. What they find is quite different from what they expected. My kids love this book and I do too!

Little Horse by Betsy Byars. I haven’t personally read this book but my five-year old read it all on his own and stayed up late while on vacation because he couldn’t put it down until the last page. Unfortunately, this book ends in a cliffhanger! Poor little guy, I hate it when it happens to me too. Fortunately, we have the sequel at home and I hope he gets to read it on his own before the end of this week. He’s turning into an avid reader like me, choosing reading over sleeping. Is this a good or a bad thing? I wonder…

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Believe it or not, I’d never read this story until this past week. My kids had an interesting reaction to the trains’ behavior. They were more shocked by the trains’ ongoing refusal to help out a stranded load than impressed by the little engine doing the right thing. Hopefully this lesson will sink in with them and we’ll read this book a few times again before returning it to the library.

Gregory the terrible eaterWhat they recently finished reading
Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat. Poor Gregory, he’s such a picky eater. He only likes healthy food, but his parent goats want him to eat real goat food, like old shoes and rubber tires. The doctor goat advises his parents to start introducing new foods slowly, so Gregory will get used to them. Unfortunately it works too well and Gregory then can’t stop eating junk food! My kids love this story about new eating habits and what it takes to eat a balanced diet, no matter who you are.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz. Snowflakes slowly come down and everyone ignores them except for one boy who thinks the whole town will end up coated in white. It does feel weird to read a book about snow in July, but the illustrations are beautiful with a strong Eastern European feel.

– What I think they’ll read next
I have no idea! What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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WWW Wednesdays – June 27, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

Before I start this update, let me ask you this. Did you hear about this school principal who challenged his students to read 10,000 books in the school year? He lost his bet and had to dress as Lady Gaga and got to milk a cow. I know you won’t believe me until you see it!

My bookshelf

The sisterhood of the traveling pants by Ann Brashares– What I’m currently reading

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. After the obnoxious Fifty Shades of Grey, this is a much more enjoyable read.
 
– What I recently finished reading
The Enchantress by Michael Scott. This is the last book of the series and my very favorite. I love how Scott wraps up everything so nicely, where it all makes sense. Wrapping up the past with the present, ending a world to start a new one. And what happens to Josh is brilliant, I never saw it coming. I recommend this series not only to young adult readers but to anyone looking for a great adventure, full of magic, mythology, courage, revenge, evil, and lots of good. I can’t believe they haven’t made movies out of this series yet.
 
 – What I think I’ll read next
 
My kids’ bookshelf

Baby Brains by Simon JamesWhat they’re currently reading
Baby Brains, and Baby Brains and RoboMom by Simon James. In Baby Brains, Mr & Mrs Brain’s new baby happens to be very intelligent and gets to do a lot of things reserved for grown-ups. But a space walk far away from Earth reminds everyone that Baby Brains is still just a baby. In Baby Brains and RoboMom, Baby Brains invents RoboMom to do all the household chores and give his tired parents a rest. But RoboMom is overzealous and ends up overheating…
Dog Tales by Jennifer Rae. This book tells several fairy tales from a dog’s perspective, including “Cindersmelly,” “Jack Russell and the Beanstalk,” and “The Doberman’s New Clothes.” Of course, a dog’s book wouldn’t be complete without wisecracking cats commenting on the stories. Guess who has the last laugh.

Sneakers the seaside cat by Margaret Wise Brown

What they recently finished reading
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss. Although we enjoy The Cat in the Hat’s DVDs and my kids have learned a few things watching them, I really can’t stand this book. The cat is so obnoxious, making a huge mess and waiting until the last minute to clean things up. You can see the poor kids are really sweating it! “Your mother won’t mind at all if I do.” Yeah, right.
Sneakers, the Seaside Cat by Margaret Wise Brown. In this book with very lively illustrations (Sneakers looks so real my kids wanted to kiss him), a little cat named Sneakers experiences the sights, sounds, and smells of an ocean beach, just like a young child would.

– What I think they’ll read next
I have no idea! What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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