Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas

Finding the right gift for a child can be challenging.  When I became an auntie, I realized that my dear nieces and nephews didn't need yet another person giving them toys that they would use for a month or so and then break or forget about.  So, I became the-aunt-who-gives-books. 

Before you roll your eyes and/or groan, it has been very successful, even more so now that my own children are grown and gone.  If you do your homework, you can't go wrong with a book.  My most recent batch of nieces and nephews receive a book each month (thank you, Amazon Prime!) from what I call "Aunt Carrie's Book of the Month Club."

I created a private wish list on Amazon and I loaded all my go-to books onto the list.  Whenever I come across a book that sounds interesting, I add it to the list and then try to find it at the library to preview it before I buy it for the wee ones.

My go-to books are books I truly believe every child should read and will enjoy.  Here are some of my favorites:

Chapter Books for Elementary Students
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Castle in the Attic
The Great Brain
By the Great Horn Spoon
Stone Fox
Dear Mr. Henshaw
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Sarah, Plain and Tall
The Forgotten Door
The Sign of the Beaver
Because of Winn-Dixie
Ramona the Pest
Little House in the Big Woods

Picture Books
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Strega Nona
Fancy Nancy
Bubba, The Cowboy Prince
Miss Nelson is Missing
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
The Wolf's Chicken Stew
Fanny's Dream
Miss Smith's Incredible Story Book
Wild About Books
Stephanie's Ponytail
The Paper Bag Princess
There's a Nightmare in my Closet
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

New favorites:  Memoirs of a Goldfish, The View at the Zoo, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and Interrupting Chicken

As I started this list, I realized this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I'm going to have to do another post (or two) and share some book ideas for older kiddos.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Mighty Santa Fe

Most children relish in the thought of their toys coming to life and taking them on an adventure and I was no exception.  Perhaps that is why so many of my favorite children's books revolve around that premise :)

The Mighty Santa Fe opens with a grumpy William heading to his great-grandmother's house to celebrate Christmas with his large extended family.  Like many children, William is uncomfortable around his great-grandma because she is so old and "shriveled-up."  Granny Blue, of course, focuses a great deal of her attention on him, which just makes him more uncomfortable.

After a fun family Christmas Eve, William lies sleepless in the room he is sharing with his parents and siblings.  Granny Blue comes in and beckons him to follow her.  He doesn't want to, but acquiesces and follows her up to the attic.  She chants a strange chant and whips an old sheet off of an old-fashioned village with a little railroad station. 

William can hardly believe his eyes - snow is falling, the train is pulling into the station and he and Granny hop on to the mighty Santa Fe and go for a ride.  The journey ends awkwardly and William goes to bed.  On Christmas morning, the mighty Santa Fe is waiting for him under the tree. 

I love the premise of the story, obviously, though it is not as well-written as it should be.  But if you have a train buff in your home or a child who loves to believe in magic, this story is worth a read.

Christmas Is...

For those who are not familiar with her work, Gail Gibbons is a prolific writer of nonfiction for children.  She illustrates her own work and has a very distinctive style.  Her text is simple and direct, perfect for kids.  Her illustrations are bright, bold and as informative as the text.
Christmas Is... highlights the meaning, symbols, and traditions of Christmas using simple yet rich vocabulary.  She covers everything from the Christ child to poinsettias in terms that are understandable to children.  I hope your family will use this book as an opportunity to expand on your child(ren)'s Christmas knowledge base.  This could become a fabulous jumping off point for a December-long family exploration of Christmas traditions in cultures around the world.
While some would not consider this a nonfiction work, I do, and I appreciate her acknowledgment of the true reason for this yearly celebration.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Enjoyed This A Little Too Much

I love it when celebrities lend their name to a good cause and when its a cause I believe in and a celeb I love to watch onscreen - win/win!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Deck the Walls: A Wacky Christmas Carol

Author Erin Dealey delivers another kid-pleasing romp through familiar territory, giving it her own unique twist.

Deck the Walls is her newest picture book, following up the success she achieved with Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox and Little Bo Peep Can't Get to Sleep.

Leaving fairy tale/nursery rhyme territory, Dealey has concocted an innovation on the classic Christmas Carol, "Deck the Halls."  The story focuses on a crazy bunch of cousins at a holiday dinner.  They feed the dog their peas and carrots, play olive hockey, and go sledding while the grown-ups clean up the remnants of the feast.  Not a great lesson in good manners, but a fun read none-the-less.

Erin is also a resident of my hometown, which is why my school is lucky enough to have her do an author visit each time she publishes.  Our fabulous librarian, Mrs. Book, arranges the visits and takes orders for autographed copies of the book ahead of time so they are waiting for the children immediately after her presentation.  Dealey always has a fun, book-related activity for the kids and doesn't talk down to them.  This time, she told them about how much she disliked writing when she was their age and how she came to love it.  The kids (and teachers) thoroughly enjoyed her visit, so much so, that more folks ordered books afterward.  I bought 3 - yes, I have a problem - but my nieces and nephews NEEDED those books for Christmas ;)

I love it when local people are successful and are happy to share their success with their community.  Erin Dealey is a class act :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree


Another childhood favorite, Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by author/illustrator Robert Barry, was published in 1963.  The illustrations are cute and colorful and expressive and many of the pages have 2 or 3 small illustrations that break up the text into manageable chunks.

The text is written as a poem and tells the story of the Christmas tree purchased by the wealthy Mr. Willowby.  When the beautiful tree is placed in his drawing room, he discovers it is too tall and has Baxter the butler lop off the top.  Baxter presents the tree top to Miss Adelaide the upstairs maid, who makes the same discovery and implements the same solution.

The increasingly small pieces of the tree top find homes just in time for Christmas with Timm the gardener, Barnaby Bear, Frisky Fox, Benjamin Rabbit, and Mistletoe Mouse.

Young children will enjoy this simple rhyming story that lets them imagine that even the animals celebrate Christmas.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Night Before Christmas

Hundreds of illustrators have undertaken the task of illustrating Clement Clark Moore's classic Christmas poem, "The Night Before Christmas."  I chose this version simply because I had the opportunity to meet the illustrator, Jan Brett, and have her autograph the book for me.  I chose to post about this poem because one of my earliest Christmas memories is of memorizing this poem as a 4 year-old.  On Christmas Eve, we had a large extended family gathering at my great Aunt Ruth's house.  When everyone was gathered in the living room, my parents asked me to recite the poem.  I started and then realized that every single adult in the room was watching me and I immediately shut down.  My parents were completely surprised by my uncharacteristic shyness and actually, so am I :)

Now I have my class memorize the poem each year and encourage them to recite it for their families on Christmas Eve.

Jan Brett has long been a favorite artist of mine.  Her detailed drawings can keep a reader involved for hours, and the beautiful borders on most pages have become a hallmark of her work.  Brett's intricate drawings are bright and bold and often foreshadow what is to come.

Last year, I was able to attend a book signing event for Brett's newest book, Mossy.  She was absolutely delightful!  She spoke about the research she did and called the children in the audience to the front and gave them a lesson about drawing turtles.  Face in a Book, the closest bookstore to my hometown, did a wonderful job of preparing the event.  They had turtles and tortoises for the children to observe and explore beforehand and a giant tortoise, Sweet Pea, roaming the room after the presentation while we waited for our turn to get our books signed.  The poor thing had kids chasing her and trying to ride her, but she seemed unaffected by the attention and just kept lapping the room.

The author's team was well-prepared for those of us who bought more than one book.  She would sign two books per person with a personal message, but customers could take a beautiful pre-signed book plate for each book we purchased.  Even her tour bus was Mossy-themed.

Jan Brett was gracious and personable and was especially terrific with the children.  If you ever have an opportunity to go to an event at which she is speaking, GO!



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona

I love all of the Strega Nona books, but this one was a sweet surprise.  Tomie dePaola tells a great story and manages to introduce lots of new vocabulary, people and places and in a way that informs young readers without insulting their intelligence.

For those of you familiar with the Strega Nona series, you know that Big Anthony rarely does anything right.  He is the bumbling foil to Strega Nona's wise matriarch.  He wreaks havoc everywhere he goes and Strega Nona teaches him life lessons along the way.

As the town of Calabria prepares for Christmas, Strega Nona entrusts Big Anthony with important tasks to help her prepare her annual Christmas Eve feast.  Naturally, Anthony wants her to use her magic instead of expecting him to work, but she steadfastly refuses each time saying, "Christmas has a magic of its own."

Anthony sets off to run errands for Strega Nona, but gets distracted and returns empty-handed, effectively ruining Strega Nona's traditional feast for the entire town.  Strega Nona sadly heads down the hill to the church for Midnight Mass as the townspeople whisper around her about their poor fortune in not being treated to a feast this year. 

After the mass, she trudges up the hill to her little house to find Big Anthony's Christmas gift to her.  He and Bambolona the baker's daughter have prepared the feast and all the townspeople are present to wish her a Merry Christmas.  Strega Nona is thrilled that Anthony has finally to do without magic and Anthony experiences the real magic of Christmas - the joy of serving others.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona is a gentle, sweet reminder about the things that should be most important to us during the Christmas season.  Take time to read it with your children this year and be sure to look for the winged angels watching the events of the story unfold.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Castle in the Attic

Seven years ago, I began reading this with my 4th grade reading classes and all of us fell in love with it.  The story begins by introducing us to ten-year-old William and his British nanny Mrs. Phillips.  William's parents are both working professionals who also volunteer within their community.  Mrs. Phillips has been taking care of William since he was a baby and they have an easy, close relationship. 

Mrs. Phillips has decided to retire and return to England and spend the rest of her life near her family.  William is devastated and makes several attempts to keep her from leaving, but Mrs. Phillips remains resolved to go home. 

She brings William a gift to remember her by - a large stone and wood castle that has been in her family for generations.  She has shared stories about the castle all of William's life and he is thrilled to receive it, but still refuses to accept the fact that she will be leaving soon.

As they explore the castle together, Mrs. Phillips gives William a box containing the Silver Knight, a small lead knight.  She asks him to open it when he is alone.  When he does, the adventure begins.

The Silver Knight comes alive the instant he comes in contact with William's skin and that magical moment starts a chain of events that leads to William coming to terms with growing up.

I don't want to spoil the storyline, so I'll just say that there are some beautiful moments between William and Mrs. Phillips.  One of my favorites is her explanation of why it will be good for his family to have her leave.  William is clearly not having it, but it will tug at the reader's heartstrings when she explains that the two of them are almost too close, it leaves others out and if she leaves, his parents will have to arrange their lives around him.  If I tell you my other golden moments, it will spoil the story, so I'll let find out for yourself.

This adventure spans two continents, two eras of time, and tests the love and loyalty of a young boy.

Just get this book and read it already!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Lonely Scarecrow

The scarecrow wants friends, but none of the animals will come near him because he looks...scary.  He wistfully watches the animals play and wishes they would come near him.  As the seasons progress, he feels increasingly lonely and as winter approaches, he loses all hope of making friends. 

But with the first snow comes a small miracle.  The snow covers the scarecrow and makes him look like a snowman and the animals begin to play happily around him each day.  In the back of his mind, the scarecrow worries that when he loses his snowy coat, he will also lose his friends.

As the snow slowly begins to thaw, the animals realize that their new friend is actually "the same scary creature they had feared for so long," but they stay with their new friend.

The Lonely Scarecrow is an appealing book for several reasons.  First, the illustrations, by Maggie Kneen, are beautiful (sidenote: I understand that the hardcover edition is embossed).  Several of the pages have small detailing around the central image, reminiscent of Jan Brett's work.

I love the language in this book!  Too often today's authors simplify the language in children's books TOO MUCH!  It needs to stop - can we start a campaign?

When I read Beverly Cleary or E.B. White or Laura Ingalls Wilder to my students, very few of them are able to stay interested and it's not because these authors aren't tremendous.  I think it's because children don't have enough opportunities to develop the vocabulary they are capable of developing so they can't follow the stories without significant adult guidance (and don't get me started on how digital pastimes have ruined their attention spans).  Phrases like "the ravaged acres of mud," "marooned in his golden sea," and "a sly breeze that stole the leaves from the trees," should be the rule rather than the exception.

Finally, I appreciate the moral(s) of the story.  Appearances can be deceiving, don't judge a book by it's cover, everyone deserves a chance, all of these adages (and more) about friendship and acceptance are wonderfully illustrated in this story. 

The Lonely Scarecrow needs to be in your home or classroom library.  I hear the hard cover edition has embossed illustrations - I'm salivating! :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems

This collection of humorous Halloween poems by Charles Ghigna is illustrated in 5 colors by Adam McCauley, who also illustrated the Time Warp Trio series and the Wayside School series.

The poems will go right over the heads of young readers, the humor is more suited for the 8 and up crowd.  Ghigna writes about houses that give out the best treats, costume dilemmas, being afraid, werewolves, monsters, pumpkins, ghouls, gargoyles, haunted houses, witches, and trick-or-treating.

My favorite poem in the collection?  The Candy Check - a must-read for parents :)

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Dear Mr. Henshaw by beloved children's author Beverly Cleary, is a series of letters from young Leigh Botts to author Boyd Henshaw.  It begins in 2nd grade when Leigh writes to his favorite author about his favorite book by the same.  Each year, he repeats the process when this assignment comes up - same author, same book.  Finally, in 5th grade, when Leigh sends a series of 10 questions his teacher wants them to ask an author, Mr. Henshaw has had enough and replies with 10 questions of his own.

In the midst of all this pen-palling, Leigh's parents get divorced and he and his mother move to a different town, leaving Leigh to make new friends at a new school.  His dad, a truck driver, is never around, and his beloved dog, Bandit, is on the road with Dad. To top it off, someone is stealing all the good stuff out of his lunch. 

To put it mildly, Leigh is struggling. He continues to reach out to Mr. Henshaw periodically, and bless the author's heart, he recognizes a child's cry for help and occasionally writes back with encouragement and suggestions. As Leigh follows his counsel, he begins to come to terms with his new life and chart a course for his future.

Beverly Cleary writes children well.  She knows how they think, act, and feel and she carefully crafts the relationships between them and the adults in their lives.  With their guidance, Leigh trudges through his life changes and begins to solve his own problems and accept responsibility for his own happiness.

Kids need to know that they have lots of company in the worlds of single parent families and being the new kid at school, and Cleary doesn't shy away from the strong emotions involved in divorce or schoolyard embarrassments. Instead, she uses them to show children that they are not alone. In Leigh, they find a friend and, if my classes over the years are any indication, they find comfort in knowing that their trials are not only survivable, but become stepping stones to new possibilities.

If this book hits the spot for you, check out the sequel, Strider.

Read Every Day Campaign

Scholastic Books is one of my favorite companies.  Why?  Because they offer books to children at very reasonable prices and since I want my students to love reading, that's a win.  Their current literacy campaign is "Read Every Day, Lead a Better Life."  Normally I don't pay much attention to campaigns, but I noticed a link to the art of the campaign and fell in love with it.

When you click on the individual posters, you can watch interviews with the artists, hear them read short portions from books, download their poster, get a list of other works by that artist, and download discussion guides to help you generate a class discussion about the artist's work.

If you're a parent and you're not ordering from Scholastic each month through your child's teacher, shame on you!  ;)  It's so easy now - parents can order online once the teacher opens an online account.  Teachers still send home the flyers, but you don't have to mark those teeny tiny boxes, clip the order form, and write a check/come up with correct change.  Plus, Scholastic offers more specials to those who shop online.  Buying books at midnight in my jammies?  Yes, please!

Another tidbit of Scholastic awesomeness - they hold warehouse sales around the country 2-3 times a year.  Usually right before school starts, close to Christmas, and again in the spring.  Click here to find out if there will be a sale in your area soon!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

Every year during the week of Halloween, our 1st grade teachers play this song at Morning Stretch.  The kids love it!  The older kids are reluctant to enjoy it at the start, but by the end, everyone is singing along. 

The repetitive phrases beg for actions to go along with them, so let your kids come up with some that are fun and comfortable for them. 

The illustrations are darker in tone, but the central images are still colorful.  The floating clothing has a cartoony quality that keeps it from being too scary for younger readers.

I love the ending.  No spoilers here, you'll have to read it and see :)

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is a great read for Halloween, a sleepover, or even a camping trip.


National Geographic Kids Halloween

In our classrooms, we are being "encouraged" to focus more and more on nonfiction to meet all of the standards put into place by those who wouldn't be caught dead doing our job. 
Bitterness aside, I've taught 4th grade for the past 7 years and each week when my class would go to the library, I would check their books in and out while the librarian helped them find their favorite genres, topics and authors.  In the process, I noticed that most of my students (and I had 60-90 each school year) were selecting nonfiction.
My second graders - not so much.  But one of my goals this year is to open their eyes to the magic of this genre, impress upon them the idea that knowledge is power, and help them develop a genuine affection for nonfiction.
This nonfiction Halloween book by National Geographic Kids is only 32 pages long, but it's jam-packed with interesting kid-friendly facts - did you know that pumpkins contain about 500 seeds and they can be orange, red, green, yellow, tan and white?  There are good ideas for giving trick-or-treaters a creepy welcome, tidbits about candy corn, how Halloween came to be, ideas for Halloween crafts, information about Day of the Dead, and in true nonfiction style, a (very small) glossary.  There are even some Halloween jokes.
It's the perfect reading level for 2nd & 3rd graders, which makes it a great starting for their love of nonfiction!  With a table of contents, glossary, photographs, captions, label, and headings, this book can also reinforce basic nonfiction text features.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

For older elementary readers, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a great Halloween read.  This retelling of Washington Irving's original tale is by Jane Mason and she has done a great job of abridging it for young readers. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, snooty school teacher Ichabod Crane moves to Tarry Town and becomes smitten with Katrina Van Tassel.  Unfortunately for Ichabod, town bully and roustabout ringleader Brom Bones also has his eye on Katrina and he decides he must find a way to get rid of Ichabod.

Tarry Town loves ghost stories and they are particularly enamoured of "The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow."  At party at the Van Tassel estate, townsfolk begin to share their favorite ghost stories and Brom regales the crowd with tales of his own encounters with the Headless Horseman, hoping to scare his competitor right out of Tarry Town.

Instead of being frightened, Ichabod prattles on about his own fearsome adventures and the party breaks up late into the night.

On his way home, Ichabod encounters none other than the Headless Horseman, who chases him through the hollow until he is able to knock Ichabod out by hitting him in the back of the head with his own jack-o-lantern head.  The reader is left to decide if Brom had a hand in this fortuitous turn of events.

When I taught 4th grade, I would show the Disney version of this story after reading the book in small groups.  I have the VHS version and it is cheesy - with Bing Crosby as the singing narrator - but it tempers some of the scariness of the tale.

Teachers, keep a close eye on Scholastic's reading clubs.  Often, they will offer a chapter book for $1, which is how I get most of my class and small group sets.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Frankie Stein

Prolific children's author Lola M. Schaefer teams up with Kevan Atteberry to create this adorable tale about learning to accept who you are. 
Mr. & Mrs. Frank N. Stein are mortified when their firstborn, Frankie Stein, is...cute.  He doesn't look like them or act like them.  His parents try everything to make him scary - they paint his hair, cover his skin with green stickers, shower him with scariness, and try to inspire him by telling him tales of the horrific deeds of his very scary ancestors.  Frankie tries to move, talk, and act like his parents, but finally decides to be himself, which makes him the scariest Stein of all. 
Delightful digital illustrations and a story that reminds readers that it's always best to be true to yourself. If you like this book, and I'm sure you will, there is a sequel, Frankie Stein Goes to School.

Halloween Rhythm and Rhyme

It's October and that means we're reading Halloween books in our 2nd grade class.  I have never been a person who enjoys being scared.  I don't watch scary movies, I don't read scary books, and I have never been able to understand why on earth anyone would enjoy those things.  I am all about Cute Halloween.

I love rhyming text for young readers, so this entire Halloween post will be dedicated exclusively to rhyming stories. 

This first gem is an innovation on the song "Over in the Meadow" and could easily be sung as well as read.  As required by Carrie's Halloween Law, all the characters are - wait for it - cute.  Even the zombies aren't completely repellent.  The author introduces some great language to the wee ones: gnarled oak tree, fierce winds roar, shadows come alive, hovel made of sticks, mossy green heaven, deep green glen - all of these phrases evoke vivid images for readers and provide ample teaching moments.  Little Goblins Ten is a gently spooky counting book that toddlers will enjoy over and over again.

Kids like to dance and they like to act silly and this book gives them the chance to do both.  Enjoy the onomatopoeia and a graveyard full of playful movement words like rollicking, syncopating, swooped, swayed, rhythmic.  More chant than story, this rhyme about "that wild, wild night when the moon on the graveyard shone so bright" is a fun read for kids and anyone else who doesn't mind getting silly and doing the Rattlebone Rock.

Shake dem Halloween Bones  (written by W. Nikola-Lisa and illustrated by Mike Reed) is another boisterous Halloween romp.  Like "Rattlebone," this really isn't a story, but a chant. Set at a Halloween party, the kids at the party are costumed as folk/fairy tale characters with a verse about each one, and a repeating chorus that kids will quickly begin to chant right along with you.  Mike Reed's illustrations are colorful and bright.  Readers will feel the movement of the party dancers through the pictures.  The MC at the party is my favorite character with his jack-o-lantern head (including a burning candle sitting inside his mouth), his skeleton bone jacket and bat bling.
Little Harry Potter fans will love this story.  The rhyming text introduces Thornapple School, Miss Zorch, the headmistress, and a gaggle of little girl witches who fly to school in their rickety, magical bus.  There's a haunted forest, a school choir, flying lessons, and dorms filled with cobwebs.  The food however, is much, much worse than the food at Hogwarts.  At Thornapple, apparently they serve eyeballs and tentacles.  My second grade girls have been competing for this book for two weeks now, so if you have a young reader who is fascinated by all things HP, Which Way to Witch School is the perfect Halloween book for him/her!
Ten Timid Ghosts is Halloween counting book with a twist.  A tricky witch finds a house and wants the resident ghosts to move out.  So she scares them away with all kinds of foul creatures.  The final ghost notices the mummy that is chasing her out of the house is unraveling and realizes it is the witch!  The ghosts plot revenge and reclaim their home from the clever witch.
Children will enjoy discovering that the creatures that are scaring away the ghosts aren't real, but are costumes and props the witch has created in order to take over the house.
P.K. Hallinan has written a series of "special day" books and This is Halloween! focuses on the big event of Halloween - trick-or-treating!  Subtle reminders about manners and safety are woven into a rhyming text with colorful, full-page illustrations, also by Hallinan. The board book is the only version in print at this time.

I gave this brightly illustrated counting book to both my sweet nieces for Halloween.   The illustrations are cute, with a rhyming text that keeps children engaged. 10 Trick-or-Treaters is the perfect Halloween book for toddlers and bonus - it's a board book, so it's sturdy!

This cheerful book is my Halloween gift to my smarty nephew.  An innovation on "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore, this fun book shows all manner of Halloween creatures preparing for the arrival of trick-or-treaters.  I like this for young ones because the monsters, mummies, witches, vampires, and other scary creatures don't look scary at all.  They are smiling and excited about the arrival of the children.  Be sure to check out The Night Before Halloween.

Monday, September 23, 2013


I love to read. It's in my DNA. I have fond memories of my mother curled up on the couch, reading. My father loved reading Dr. Seuss to us, he absolutely loved the nonsense words Dr. Seuss used and when I read my dad's stories, I see that influence.  My mom and grandma exchanged bags full of books and magazines every time we visited one another.  My granddad read every Zane Grey novel ever published. 

I passed that passion for reading to my children.  I am the mother of 4 grown children and I read to them from the day they were born.  They are all voracious readers and visitors to our home often comment on our love of reading.  My top two favorite visitor moments: my cousin Shad walked into our living room and looked at the 5 of us spread out on our sectional sofa, reading.  He watched us for a moment, glanced at the television, back at us, and blurted out, "What are you doing?!? The tv is RIGHT THERE!"  My other favorite moment was when our friend, Justin, entered our home and witnessed the exact same scene.  He stood there in disbelief, then quipped, "You know, you could die from this much reading."

To earn enough money to pay for my book habit, I teach elementary school, which, of course, necessitates the purchase of even more books.  One of my greatest challenges and joys each school year is having a student enter my class as a reluctant reader and leave 9 months later with an insatiable appetite for books.

I have several young nieces and nephews who benefit from my addiction in the form of Aunt Carrie's Book of the Month Club (gotta love Amazon Prime ;). 

This blog is an outgrowth of my desire to share my love of books.  As a parent and a teacher,  I am often asked for book recommendations - by age, gender, grade level, genre, reading level, reading resistance level - you name it, I've been asked to create a list of books for a child with that characteristic.  Giving recommendations to my family, friends, and students, and receiving their recommendations, is pure pleasure for me.

I hope you'll visit often to see what treasures I've come across.