4 (More) Lucky Finds We Ended Up Loving

lucky findsI try to encourage my children to love reading. It’s important to me that they be comfortable in the library. I want them to have the freedom to pick books that interest them, not just the ones I’ve been wanting to read. These are all wonderful goals, but have you ever been to the library with a toddler?! I can only read Mermaid Barbie and Optimus Prime Fight Batman in Atlantis* so many times before I start trying to ditch it on the return cart without my kids noticing. It seems like every time I swear never to take the toddler back to the library with me, the Library Fates align and the random grabs turn out to be new family favorites. Here are four of our most recent lucky finds: Continue reading

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

the professor and the madmanAlmost ten years ago now, I called an old college roommate for help with my Christmas shopping. “I’d like to get a book for my dad,” I said, “but I have no idea what’s good in the type of books he likes.” Without missing a beat, she gave me two fabulous suggestions: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. The conversation was important to me for two reasons: first, I went away hoping to someday be able to rattle off book recommendations so easily (I’m getting there). Second, I ended up giving (and reading) a book to my dad that led to some great conversation. Continue reading

3 Reasons My Long-Distance Book Club Works

long-distance book club

About five years ago, some friends and I tried to start a long-distance book club. We had big dreams of a shared blog where we would chime in with thoughts about the highbrow literature we were reading. We only made it two books in and the blog never got any further than a free domain and a few quotes on books. Last year, the same friends and I decided to give it another go. I’m so happy to report that it’s working! We’ve almost made it to our first anniversary, which fills me with a ridiculous amount of joy. A few people have asked me how it works, so I’ve been trying to pinpoint what is making the difference this time around. Here are the three things that keep coming to mind: Continue reading

Goldilocks and the Three Bears: 9 Retellings Worth Reading

9 Goldilocks RetellingsWhen I sat down to make a list of fairy tale retellings for our unit on fairy tales, Goldilocks and the Three Bears didn’t even make my original list. If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite fairy tale. Goldilocks always struck me as a terror, I was confused by the fact that Mama and Papa bear had separate beds (but not, strangely enough, by the fact that they had beds in the first place), and the ending felt a bit flat. She runs away? That’s it?! If it hadn’t been for Mo Willems, I wouldn’t have given Goldilocks a chance. I really wanted to read Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs again, however, so I started looking for other decent options to read the same week. I ended up finding more great retellings than I ever imagined: Continue reading

A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

a wolf at the doorIn the course of our fairy tale unit last month, I stumbled across a shabby copy of A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales at my local library. I tossed it in the library bag, thinking it might be a nice addition to our fairy tale options. It wasn’t until we were home and sorting through our library haul that I noticed it contains stories by Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Garth Nix, Gregory Maguire and more. I may have mentioned before that don’t read many short story collections, but I was intrigued enough by the lineup to read this one cover to cover. Continue reading