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best new chapter books, best books for kids, best chapter books, 5th grade books for kids, 6th grade books for kids, 4th grade books for kids,

Great New Chapter Books For Ages 9 and Up

Best Chapter Books for Ages 9 and Up

Need new book ideas to keep your 4th grader, 5th grader, 6th grader or 7th grader reading? From realistic fiction to action adventure series, here are some new discoveries to get excited to read.

What if your child is a reluctant reader? Try the Orca Currents series or a graphic novel. For Percy Jackson fans, try the graphic novel of The Lightening Thief or The Ghost Leopard for a new action adventure series that is similar.

Kids who like Newbery quality book and realistic fiction will find Sharon Creech’s latest, The Great Unexpected, to be her finest work to date. See You at Harry’s and Precious Bones with both make you wonder why they didn’t get a Newbery nod. Alas, all these great books can’t win the Newbery!

What are your child’s favorite chapter books or graphic novels?


Oracle by Alex Van Tol

The Orca Currents series targets middle school reluctant readers with pocket-sized very short chapter books and a high interest fast-moving plot. Each line on the page has 8 words or less! It’s a formula that works. 8th grader Owen has a crush on the Queen Bee Mean Girl Camryn, who in turn, is crushing on his older brother. With the help of Hannah, the class president, Owen sets up an anonymous blog that gives relationship advice. It seems to be working but Camryn discovers the truth and Owen must face the music. Middle school boys who find girls puzzling but attractive are the natural audience for this quick read. [chapter book, ages 11 and up]

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A Perfect Home Library?

Home Library Inspirations

All this watching of Downton Abbey and their libraries has me on the search for the perfect home library. Pinterest is where I daydream and I’ve been collecting ideas on my Home Library Inspiration board.

How do you get the perfect combination of cozy, book capacity, wired desk space and reading spaces? Are you a ladder person? Should it be tucked away or in a prominent spot? Should kids have their own reading nooks or can you share? Should cookbooks get their own space? All of the above?

What do you think? Do you have a special cozy spot to read?

Home Library as Office110056784614400798

An office and a home library. Nice sharing! But you need really high ceiling heights.

image from A Ceiling 4 Walls and a Floor.


French Doors are nice for separation. Read more…

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Does Your Daughter Want to Be a Model?

Image is Powerful: Supermodel Cameron Russell

Supermodel Cameron Russell gave this TED talk that my husband sent to me. She notes that image is powerful but also image is superficial. There is very little we can do to transform how we look but it has a huge impact on our lives. Her talk discourages girls from going into the field of modeling while also dispelling myths about models, beauty, and the power of image.

supermodel cameron russell, TED talk cameron russell, image is powerfulimage from Fashion Model Directory

How do you become a model?

You win the genetic lottery and she’s the recipient of a legacy that defines beauty as tall, slender, and white. 677 models hire, less than 4% were non-white.

Can I be a model when I grow up?

Why? Be her boss instead. Models are not in charge of anything. Being a model is not a career path. Read more…

sharon creech, sharon creech author visit, sharon creech school visit

In Mad Pursuit of Sharon Creech

Chasing Sharon Creech into Walking Two Moons to our Class Because We Love That Woman!

I discovered Sharon Creech a few years ago. The bright yellow cover of Love That Dog caught my eye at the revolving paper back rack section at our public library. (Never underestimate the power of a good cover!) But Hate That Cat was actually the first book of hers that I read and it was love at first sight. Swoony tweeny love.

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Picture Book of the Day: Booker T Washington

African-American History Through Picture Books

February is African-American History Month and it pays tribute to the generations of African-Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. One way kids can empathize with the obstacles that African-Americans faced and continue to face, is through books.

This year’s theme for African-American History Month is Black Women in American Culture and History. Please share any favorite picture books, chapter books or Young Adult books that you enjoy that teach us about the African-American Experience.

My daughter’s friend Devin told me about Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson. She just finished Forge and recommends them for ages 9 and up.

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Family Vacation in Boston

Family Multi-Generational Vacation in Boston

If you are thinking of traveling to Boston for a family vacation or a family reunion vacation, we just did a nice staycation. The Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge is a wonderfully child-friendly hotel that I’d recommend for being conveniently located and not astronomically expensive. There are lots of museums for kids: Boston Children’s Museum, Museum of Science, and New England Aquarium. Of these three, the Museum of Science is large enough to handle crowds so plan on that for the weekend when museums are the most crowded.

Bonus feature is that you can take Boston Duck Tour from the Museum of Science as well. For the other two museums, I’d recommend going later in the afternoon when the little ones leave for their nap. You only need a few hours anyway.  Read more…

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Mondrian Music and Art Project for Kids

Mondrian Art and Music Project for Kids

I didn’t realize how much Piet Mondrian was influenced by the music of his day, jazzy blues called Boogie Woogie. I was more familiar with his simple geometrical shapes and primary colors (blue, red, yellow) that he used to express reality, nature and logic. This piece, the Boogie Woogie, takes the beat of jazz and turns it into a geometric design.

Let’s learn about Piet Mondrian:

Mondrian, who had escaped to New York from Europe after the outbreak of World War II, delighted in the city’s architecture. He was also fascinated by American jazz, particularly boogie-woogie, finding its syncopated beat, irreverent approach to melody, and improvisational aesthetic akin to what he called, in his own work, the “destruction of natural appearance; and construction through continuous opposition of pure means—dynamic rhythm.” In this painting, his penultimate, Mondrian replaced the black grid that had long governed his canvases with predominantly yellow lines that intersect at points marked by squares of blue and red. These atomized bands of stuttering chromatic pulses, interrupted by light gray, create paths across the canvas suggesting the city’s grid, the movement of traffic, and blinking electric lights, as well as the rhythms of jazz. from MOMA Read more…

winter books for kids, winter picture books, winter chapter books, winter novel in verse

Top 10 Winter Books for Kids

Winter Books and Activities for Kids

We are in the midst of a blizzard so it made sense to pull out all our winter books as we are trapped inside for two days. I’m not a fan of winter themed books. You know, the books that are tagged as winter and are usually boring with a lot of hibernation going on.

Nemo, blizzard,



I’d rather read a book that just happens to include winter but has a way of inveigling its way into my mind and heart. Books you remember long past when winter is over. These books do that for me. I remember some from my own childhood. Others have special associations. What are your favorite winter books? Please share!

Favorite Winter Books From Readers

Thank you so much to readers who offer up their very favorite winter books for kids!

Jen Fischer recommends Snow Sounds and Trouble with Trolls.


MaryAnne of Mama Smiles loves Red Sled. (Wouldn’t you know it? There are two Red Sled books. One is by Lita Judge, the other is by Patricia Thomas. I am guessing it’s the one by Patricia Thomas).


Susan Marx of Read Aloud Guide suggests Lois Elhert’s Snowballs. She says, “Engaging text and illustrations makes a snow family come alive in Lois Ehlert’s “Snowballs”. Young children learn how to make a snow family using many different objects. This book is sure to foster children’s creativity as well as encourage them to bundle up and spend fun time outside during the winter. See “Help Me Get Ready To Read” for other wintry Happy Reading Aloud!”


@granolasusan on Twitter recommends Cynthia Rylant’s Snow.

 Catherine of Story Snug loves Bear Snores On and One Snowy Night.


Bernadette from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas loves Snow by P. D. Eastman.

Erica of What Do We Do All Day recommends chapter books Icefall and Breadcrumbs.


Favorite Winter Books for Kids

1. Best Winter Inner City Picture Book

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Hands down, this is our favorite winter picture book. Never has the inner city seemed more appealing. Since two of my kids spent a few years in the city, this is especially fun for us to see Brownstones and snow piled high. Life was like this during the big storm when we lived in the South End of Boston.

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International Book Giving Day, Valentine's Day and Book Giving Day

International Book Giving Day

Give a Book for International Book Giving Day

Did you know that today is both Valentine’s Day AND International Book Giving Day? It’s easy to celebrate both since both holidays are about giving! And if you really want to go crazy, February is both Heart Smart Month AND Black History Month. There’s a lot to celebrate in such a short month!


International Book Giving Day

International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books. We are inviting individuals to 1) give a book to a friend or family member, 2) leave a book in a waiting room for children to read, or 3) donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need. You are also welcome to organize a book drive, fundraiser, volunteer event, book swap, story time session, etc. See! Read more…