What We’re Reading: October 2021

It’s October already! I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited about that. I adore October and November; they’re my favorite months all year long. And I think there are going to be big changes for our family this month. But for now, my fingers are tied on that front.

Instead, let’s talk about what books we’re reading this month!

Read Aloud

We’re still working through our shelf of beautifully illustrated novels. This month we’re going to spend wrapping up both Pinocchio and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. (We didn’t do as much reading of those as we should have last month.) We’re also reading A Cricket in Times Square, and we will have a review on the Progeny Press study guide for that book later in the month!

Scorpion (9th)

As I briefly mentioned last week, Scorpion is reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. He will have a hefty portion of guest posting on that Progeny Press review when it comes up in a few weeks. Scorpion has always loved classic novels. From the time he was very young (like 6), he’s been reading them. Of course, back then he read children’s versions. Now that he’s older, I’m glad that he’ll get the opportunity to read some of them in their entirety rather than as a “Great Illustrated Classic.”

Grasshopper (4th)

We’re making great progress with Wayside School, and when he finishes it we’ll dive into a book I read a few years ago (it’s a kids’ book, but I saw it in the store and was intrigued by the plot so I bought it and read it anyway): Circus Mirandus. This is the story of a magical circus that only those who already believe in it can find. The main character must make himself believe so he can find the circus and get in touch with the one person who can help him save his ailing grandfather.


I recently finished reading a book that had been on my to-read list for months, Sooley by John Grisham. It’s a stray from his normal legal thriller and explores the world of high-end college basketball through the eyes of a South Sudanese young man in America on a series of emergency visas. I love basketball, so I was pretty sure I’d like this book. It was not entirely what I expected, though, and Amazon reviews on the book are mixed. (I would give it 5 stars.) But that’s all I’m going to say for now, because more of my thoughts will be outlined when I feature it in this month’s book club post. For my new book, I’m sticking with my Grisham streak and reading an older novel called The Racketeer.

What are you reading this month?


What We’re Reading (Sept 2021)

Happy First Day of School! Many of you have probably already been back to school for a couple of weeks, or even a month, but it’s the first official day of school for us. The first day of school is the one way I struggle to separate our family from the public school schedule, but it’s one that I don’t mind following! One of the ways I plan to keep us more accountable this school year is to go back to posting a reading list for each of my kids here each month. I used to do this a few years ago, and I like the idea. Besides keeping us on track, it offers book ideas for other families. I hope it will give you ideas for books to read to/with your kids.

Read Aloud

My teens don’t really participate in our read alouds anymore. I know a lot of families encourage/require everyone to be there for them, but that doesn’t really work in our family dynamic. So when I talk about our read aloud choice each month, it is for myself, Grasshopper, and Dragonfly primarily. Sometimes Bumblebee will mill around or snuggle while we read also though.

This school year, we will be reading quite a few classics. For my birthday a couple of years ago, Will found a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that was beautifully illustrated for me. I read it to the younger kids right away, and we all marveled at the gorgeous drawings. Recently, we discovered that that book was actually part of a series of classics all with “new” illustrations done by the same illustrator, Robert Ingpen. (I say new with quotation marks because these are newer than the text, but not actually new. Mr. Ingpen has been illustrating books since the 1950s, and working on children’s books since the 70s. The set of classics that we’ve been collecting were all done from 2000-2014.) So we’ve been building up our collection of these books over the summer, and now that school’s in session for our family again, we will begin reading our new treasures. Another thing I love about these books is that each one has an indentation on the front cover that is associated with the story without giving anything away (wood tools for Pinocchio, shoes for Oz, etc). It’s such a neat touch!

This month, we are reading Pinocchio. This is Bumblebee’s favorite Disney movie, by far, and the other kids enjoy it too. They were really excited when this book showed up on our doorstep from Amazon, and we’ve been reading it inconsistently throughout the summer. But with the weather beginning to cool and more time spent inside, we will be making a much bigger effort to read it more regularly now.

In addition to the classics, we are also making our way through the illustrated Harry Potter books. If you haven’t seen those in a bookstore or on Amazon, and you’re a HP fan, I highly recommend them. Jim Kay has done an absolutely stunning job illustrating the familiar stories. We’re about a third of the way through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone now.

Ballet Boy (17; 12th grade)

Even though the big kids aren’t participating in read aloud time, they are still reading books on their own. Ballet Boy has never been one to care for novels; he’s always preferred biographies instead. So he’ll be working his way through Church History in Plain Language. Will assigned that to him last school year, and it’s so dense that he hasn’t finished yet. This is a hefty read, but a good one if you’re interested in finding out why American Christianity is the way it is now. That may not be the point of the book, but you can definitely read it and see the path that brought us to where we are now. As we get through the school year, I may add other books to his load, but we’re going to start with just the essentials (this one is essential because Dad assigned it). Ballet Boy spends a lot of time working with Will, so his schedule involves more than just school at this point. I’m happy to accommodate that.

Scorpion (14; 9th grade)

I’m going to be assigning Scorpion a book a month, like the other kids, and he will be getting a mix of classics and modern novels, in addition to the reading required by his Khan Academy lessons. First up for him is Animal Farm, and I have a Progeny Press guide for him to do along with it.

Grasshopper (9; 4th grade)

It’s time! It’s time! Grasshopper is finally getting a chance to read Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom. He’s so excited to read this book, and I’m excited to experience it with him.

Dragonfly (5; K)

Dragonfly is still a very early reader. He’s technically been able to put sounds together for a year, but when our iPad died a few months back, he fell behind on doing his Reading Eggs lessons. I bought him those Paw Patrol books over the summer, so we’re going to work on those until he’s super comfortable reading things in the “real world,” and then we’ll see where we end up with him.


Until recently, I hadn’t actually read much in awhile. I love that I’m getting back into reading novels at night, and some of my favorite authors have older books that I haven’t read yet. I just finished up a John Grisham book last month (The Guardians, which will be this month’s book club post), and I’m going to be diving into another Grisham novel this month: Sooley. This one is on the newer side, but my turn on the hold list came up, and I don’t want to miss out after so many weeks of waiting.

What are you reading this month?


What We’re Reading: November 2016

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, mostly because the boys have been reading whatever they want (so long as it’s something, I’m not super particular) and I’ve been doing Book Club with Lori. But since everyone’s actually got a book they’re specifically working on right now, I thought it might be nice to record what we’re reading.


I’m working my way through The Book of Negroes. Lori suggested is as our book club book for next month. While I can’t say I’m enjoying it per se, I’m glad I’m reading it. It tells the story of a girl captured to be a slave during the revolutionary war era. More thoughts on it next week in my Book Club post.


My husband loves biographies. Really loves them. Last month, he read one on Frank Sinatra and another on Buddy Epsen (best known for his role on The Beverly Hillbillies, as well as being the original Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz – he was replaced in that role due to an allergic reaction to the silver face makeup). He’s currently reading the Autobiography of Mark Twain, volume 3. He listened to volume 1 on Audible a few years ago and read volume 2 when it came out. I was in the library the other week looking for something for him (he gets a strange pleasure in reading books I choose for him rather than picking for himself, which I don’t mind), and I spotted the third volume and knew instantly that he’d want it. I was right. These books are incredibly dense: large pages, small type, and very, very thick. So he’ll be reading it for several weeks to come.

Seahawk (7th grade)

Munchkin got a Kindle for his birthday back in September, and to go with it, my parents got him an Amazon gift card to buy books. One of the books he bought was Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (we’d read the first book as a family read-aloud last summer). He read it super fast, and now Seahawk is reading it.

He’s also reading his Bible regularly. This week, he’s reading and meditating on Romans 8:18-21 and Revelation 3.

Munchkin (5th grade)

This kid has been reading practically nonstop since his birthday. He’s worked through too many books to count: the entire Wizard of Oz series (14 books), Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, Percy Jackson 2, Encyclopedia Brown, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow… I’m sure I’m forgetting about a million. But right now, he’s reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – a hard copy. It’s on loan from my mom, and I think he’s really enjoying it. He’s reading it quite quickly (as he usually does with books). I’m looking forward to getting my hands/eyes on it when he’s done.

Small Fry (age 4)

Small Fry is beginning to learn some very basic reading skills. This hasn’t translated to reading books yet (although he did read the word “Sam” on one of his online learn-to-read programs recently), so he’s still a listener. His current favorites include What Pet Should I Get? (a new release from Dr. Seuss, which was a gift “from” Dragonfly upon his birth), Elephant and Piggie, Franklin the Turtle, and just about anything from Syd Hoff or Dr. Seuss.


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What We’re Reading in January

Happy New Year!

Christmas brought a lot of new books into our home, and I’m excited to share about them over the next couple of months as we begin to read them all πŸ™‚

Wendy (that’s me!)

Will found two books for me from some of my favorite authors, and I’m really excited to read both of them. The decision of which to read first came down to the one that felt better in my hand, especially since a lot of my reading happens while nursing Dragonfly. So this month, I’m reading At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen (author of Water for Elephants). It’s a period piece that takes place right at the end of World War II about a woman, her husband, and her father-in-law as they search for the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.

Seahawk (6th grade)

He’s working his way through several things right now… He hasn’t finished the George Washington biography I wrote about last time I did one of these posts. He’s also reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and we got him a Star Wars special edition magazine for his “something to read” for Christmas that he’s enjoying.

Munchkin (4th grade)

Munchkin, as regular readers will know, is my reader. This kid will read anything you put in front of him. He was recently quarantined to his bedroom for 4 days while he recovered from pneumonia. He spent the first day of that quarantine sleeping. He felt better after just a day or so on the antibiotics, but because we have an infant we weren’t comfortable letting him out to risk passing the infection on to the rest of us for a few days after that. This was borderline a treat for him rather than a problem – it meant he had 3 solid days to do nothing but read and draw without his older brother giving him grief about not playing! During that half-week, he read the first three Harry Potter books in their entirety. He’s now about halfway through Goblet of Fire. His goal is to read the remainder of that series and then dive into his Christmas books. He received a single-volume Chronicles of Narnia that he’s excited to dive into, among other things. We won’t need to hit the library for him for the next 6-12 months at least!

Small Fry (3 years old)

Sometime in December, this guy decided he was really into trains. I’m not entirely sure what prompted it, but when asked what he wanted for Christmas, the answer every time was “Trains!” So we got him a beginner train set with the understanding that if he’s still interested on successive birthdays and Christmases, it would be easy to add on to. Additionally, we found on sale a book that had 6 Thomas the Tank Engine books all in one volume, so we picked that up for him. He’s loving the book, and will easily sit through 3 or more of the stories at once – assuming he can find someone to read that many to him!

What are you reading this month?


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What We’re Reading in November

So, we’re two months into the school year already. It’s hard to believe! Things are going really well, but what I want to talk about today is our current reading list.

We don’t have a read-aloud right now, but we did recently pick up the audio book of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe from the library, so we’ll probably start listening to that pretty soon. (In September, Munchkin decided he wanted to read The Magician’s Nephew instead of Because of Winn Dixie, and then he wanted to continue with the Narnia series, but the library didn’t have a print copy of Lion. Hence the audio book.)


I haven’t finished He Who Lifts the Skies yet, but I will. I don’t know if anyone else has this issue, but I tend to read much slower when the book is one I’ve read before. Even if I don’t remember exactly what’s coming, it’s like it’s not exciting enough for me to read very much of or something. But beyond that, October is “new John Grisham book” month (Grisham is easily my favorite author of all time), and Will picked up Rogue Lawyer for me the day it released, so I’m reading that. I have a goal to finish it before next Friday (also known in our family as baby day!) because I don’t know how much reading time I’ll have – or more specifically, feel up to – post-operation. When I’ve finished Rogue Lawyer and am feeling better after the c-section, and have adjusted to life with an infant again, I’ll get back into He Who Lifts the Skies and its sequel.


I know I don’t normally include him in our list, but he actually picked up some library books this week, so why not? πŸ™‚ Will’s really into biographies, and the boys have picked up this love of nonfiction (as you’ll see in a minute). So he’s currently reading The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss: A biography of Dr. Seuss as well as The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2. He has the audio book of Twain, Volume 1 which he listened to – and loved – a while ago, so he’s pretty happy to have Volume 2 to read.

Seahawk (6th Grade)

This kid love biographies. A lot. They’re arguably his favorite genre of book. So while I was working with Munchkin to find a book for him at the library last week, Will took Seahawk upstairs to look through the biographies with him. They found one of George Washington that looks quite a bit like a book the boys own which we found at a thrift store a few years ago (Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans, published in 1895 – as near as we can tell, our copy is a first edition). So he’s reading that – the George Washington biography.

Munchkin (4th Grade)

He was pretty disappointed when the library didn’t have Lion available, but he was appeased with the audio book version. But having to come up with a Plan B was a bit tricky. There are too many books in the library to just go over the shelves and hope to find something awesome. It’s much better when you have at least an idea of what you want to read. After a lot of thinking, he finally decided to look for The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling since he and Small Fry watched the movie (Disney version) together fairly recently. We found it pretty easily, and he’s happy with his choice.

Small Fry (age 3)

Obviously he doesn’t read yet, but being read to is one of his favorite things ever. Our library has things called Toddler Totes, which are little see-through backpacks containing books and movies (usually 4-5 books and one DVD) all on a theme. He recently had the Dr. Seuss one, which included the books And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You. We read all of those books several times during the three weeks we had them, and he loved them every time.

But alas, we had to return that Tote today, so we picked up a new one for him. The theme this time? The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. Each one is basically a long conversation on a topic between the two main characters – an elephant and a pig. And they are absolutely hilarious! If you’ve never read these books, I highly recommend you do. Especially if you have a young child.

So that’s it for us. What are you reading?



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What We’re Reading in September

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these posts, but it’s always pretty fun. Since we’re beginning the new school year tomorrow, it seemed like the perfect time to dive back into a book-related post.

Read Aloud (everyone)

We had so much fun – and learned so much – when we reviewed the Progeny Press literature guide for Little House in the Big Woods last school year that I was thrilled to be chosen to review for this company again. This time, we’ll be working through Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. I’ll read it aloud and the boys will notebook their way through it, using the Progeny Press guide as the backbone.


I recently finished the first book in one of my very favorite series, The Heavens Before by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow. I received that book as a gift from my late mother-in-law before she passed away, and didn’t read it for a very long time – after she was gone. It’s the story of a young woman, Annah, who lives during the time of the great

flood and Noah’s ark. At what seems like a chance encounter, but is really divine intervention from God (called the Most High in the books), she meets Noah’s son Shem. Within a few months, the two are married (though it’s not as clean a story as I just made it out to be). A few months after that, the flood comes. The story primarily follows Annah, but there are plenty of other characters, too – and lots of drama.

The second book is called He Who Lifts the Skies and follows Annah and Shem’s great-granddaughters, Sharah and Keren, through the Tower of Babel era. Even though I’ve read it once before, it’s been several years so it feels brand new, and I’m not very far in so I can’t explain much of the plot beyond this. But I highly recommend the books.

Seahawk (6th Grade)

All on his own, Seahawk decided to pick up the Harry Potter books this past week. They’re reasonable for his reading level, and he’s particularly interested since we recently had a movie marathon (the boys and I) where we watched all eight films over the course of a month or so. We own all seven books, but he couldn’t find the first book when he decided that this series was what he wanted to read, so he started with book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I hope he ends up enjoying these books as much as I did when I read them several years ago (to give you some perspective, I read them around the time movie 4 and book 6 were just coming out).

Munchkin (4th Grade)

Poor Munchkin had to come home early from church camp a few weeks ago because he was very sick – too sick to stay, even though the week was only half over. He was feeling better within just a couple of days, but by then it was

too late to worry about taking him back (he’d have only been able to go back for the final day). To help make it up to him a bit, Will gave him a copy of The Neverending Story, and he’s been working on it ever since. It’s a much longer, harder book than he’s read before, but he’s really loving it. He’s nearing the end, and I expect he’ll be done with that book in the next few days, so I’ll likely be assigning him a new book soon. I’m thinking it’ll probably be Because of Winn Dixie by Kate di Camillo. I have access to some great literature worksheets for that book (among many others), so it’ll be a good jump to make. Besides that, Kate di Camillo is one of his favorite authors, so I’m sure he’ll love the book.

Small Fry (3 years old)

Small Fry is kind of at the mercy of everyone else since he’s too young to read. He loves being read to, though. Sometimes he gets to hear whatever book the reader (and all four of the rest of us read to him on a fairly regular basis) is willing to read, but oftentimes we let him choose. His current favorites are Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss and any of the Babar books by Jean de Brunhoff. We own several of those, and the one he seems to gravitate toward is Babar and his Children, about the birth of King Babar and Queen Celeste’s triplets. This book is particularly relevant to him right now since we’re coming up on the birth of a baby soon.

What’s on the reading list in your family?


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What We’re Reading in April

I’m a little late with our reading list this month, but that’s okay. It’s here now πŸ™‚

Here’s what we’re reading in April.

Read-Aloud – everyone

I decided that I wasn’t feeling well enough to read to the boys this month, so we picked up two books-on-CD from the library. We’re first listening to The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, and then we’ll move on to Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham.


I’m currently reading Betting on Hope by Debra Clopton. It’s a Book Look Bloggers review, so you’ll see my thoughts on the story here on the blog in a couple of weeks.

Seahawk – 5th Grade

He’s making me crazy, because he’s still not done with Catching Fire. I don’t know what his hangup is, but if he doesn’t finish this month, he’s going to lose his opportunity, and I’m going to “ban” him from continuing to “read” this book. Apparently it’s not keeping his interest like The Hunger Games did, and he doesn’t like to read this one. *sigh*

Munchkin – 3rd Grade

Munchkin, on the other hand, tore through Catching Fire at record speed last month, and he’s now moved on to Mockingjay. He took a short break last week to read the book club book, Knucklehead, which is the autobiography of Jon Scieszka. Seahawk read this book as a book club assignment last year, so he’ll be attending the festivities next week as well.

Small Fry – age 2 1/2

Babar, Franklin, and the Sneetches, oh my! He’s still really into all of these books/characters. Also, thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we’ll be getting a new book for Small Fry later this month to read and review called S is for Smiling Sunrise from Wordsbright. I think he’ll really enjoy this book, and there’ll be a review here on the blog in mid-May, so you can read all about it.

So that’s us. What are you reading this month?


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What We’re Reading in March

I almost forgot to post about what we’re reading this month. It’s not too late in the month, so we’re still good, though :). Here’s our list.

Read-aloud: Everyone

We’re still working through Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over. It got put where it doesn’t belong at one point, and I forgot about it for a few days. We’re about halfway through, so hopefully we’ll finish before the month is out. I haven’t decided yet what we’ll read when we finish it. [Read more…]

Our Reading List – January

A fresh month means it’s time for a new reading list! Here’s what our family is reading in January.

Read-Aloud – everyone

I forgot to get us to the library to pick up the book club book with enough time for the boys to read it, so we’re reading it aloud. It is Elijah of Buxton, the story of a black boy whose parents were slaves during the American Civil War. They escape to Canada with a large group of other slaves, where Elijah is the first child born free. [Read more…]