Tag Archives | What I’m Reading To My Children

What I’m Reading To My Children


I read to my children a lot. Every night if I can. And while it’s one of my favorite things to do with them–especially now that my older two have embraced the magic of being read aloud to–I’m not often truly captivated by what I read them. Sure I enjoy it. We laugh and imagine and re-read passages. But something extraordinary happened with our newest read aloud: I’ve been cheating, reading ahead while they’re gone or busy with other things. I can’t stop reading. I want to know what happens. I think about the book while I’m doing other tasks. On one hand this isn’t uncommon, I’m a huge fan of middle grade and young adult fiction. But on the other it hasn’t happened in such a long time, especially with a book for this age range, that I’ve completely fallen in love.

I’d heard about INKHEART by Cornelia Funke for a long time but missed the initial craze since my boys were so young when it was getting a lot of press. The first book in the trilogy came out the year my oldest son was born and we were more into Sandra Boynton at the time (Farmyard Dance, anyone?). But I picked up a copy over a year ago when I took said son on his birthday date to the bookstore. And there it sat, on the shelf in our living room, until two weeks ago.

They beg me to keep reading every night but I stop after two chapters. Some books need to be savored and this is one of them.

One cruel night, Meggie’s father reads aloud from Inkheart, and an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of the book, landing in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie’s in the middle of the kind of adventure she thought only took place in fairy tales. Somehow she must master the magic that has conjured up this nightmare. Can she change the course of the story that has changed her life forever?

Why I love this book:

  • The writing is briliant–flat out amazing.
  • My boys don’t want to stop reading. They bring it to me at the oddest times and ask for just one more chapter.
  • Not once have my children complained that the main character is a girl.
  • Meggie’s father is a book binder and her world is filled with the magic of books. A reverence for the written word leaks from every page.
  • There is mystery and adventure and magic. Fire eaters and little horned animals. Books that come to life when you read them aloud. Literally.
  • I have NO idea how it’s going to end.
  • Meggie is smart and literate and everything I would want my daughter to be, if I had one. As it stands I pray my boys will marry a girl like Meggie one day.

If you’ve not read this book go get a copy. Either for yourself or for your children. It doesn’t matter. But read it. And then come back to tell me how much you adored it.

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Happy Fourth of July!

We hope you’re off somewhere with those you love eating something fresh from the grill and setting off mildly dangerous explosives in your back yard.

We hope you’re lying on a patch of warm grass with a hat over your face and a book spread open on your chest while you nap.

We hope you’re surrounded by children and grandparents and laughter and food and bug spray.

We hope you remember how profoundly lucky we are to live in a country where children still get a childhood, where men and women fight to protect that right, and where we can speak our mind freely.

And we hope that today, and every day after this, you throw yourself at life with all the reckless inhibition of a child running through a mud puddle. Laugh. Splash around. Don’t be afraid to make a mess. And above all, roll around and enjoy yourself!

The She Reads team wishes you the best Fourth of July possible!

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What I’m Reading To My Children

Photo credit Universal Studios

I recently took a group of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders through a ten-month creative writing course in which they learned to plot and write a short story. Along with their weekly writing assignments they also had to read two Newbery Award winning novels: The Westing Game and The Tale of Despereaux. I read, and loved, The Westing Game  as a tween. But I did not discover Kate DiCamillo until a few years ago. In my opinion, she is the most talented children’s writer alive today. One day I’d love to thank her in person for the impact The Tale of Despereaux had on my students and on my children. It is a breath-taking novel.

This semester, as I gave reading assignments to my students, I read those same chapters to my boys at home. There were times that I stopped in the middle of a passage and marveled DiCamillo’s ability to capture the magic of reading in so few words:

Despereaux looked down at the book, and something remarkable happened. The marks on the pages, the “squiggles” as Merlot referred to them, arranged themselves into shapes. The shapes arranged themselves into words, and the words spelled out a delicious and wonderful phrase: Once Upon A Time.

It is no surprise that The Tale of Despereaux was adapted into an animated film in 2008. And I have nothing against the movie. It’s actually quite lovely. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the book. And on the last day of class, I watched the film with my students. But I told them the same thing that I told my children when I let them watch the movie for the first time. “Listen to the film score,” I said. “And marvel at the digital animation. Enjoy every moment of this film. But remember it wouldn’t exist if a writer hadn’t found the courage to tell her story.”

Question: what are you reading to the child in your life?

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What I’m Reading To My Children

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald


Last night my children begged to stay awake a little longer. Just ten more minutes. They weren’t playing video games or watching a movie. They weren’t even building with their precious Legos. My boys (ages 8 and 7) were cozied up in my bed listening to chapter eight of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. They wanted me to read just one more chapter. And seeing as how I learned the art of reading to children at the knee of my own mother, I know never to refuse a child that request.

One more chapter it was!

What I'm Reading To My Children


“Are You A Gifted Child Looking For Special Opportunities?”

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. With their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?

Why I love this book:

  • My boys bring the book to me throughout the day asking me to read–perhaps to get out of chores or homework, but still, I’m impressed.
  • One chapter is never enough. They want me to read two or three or ten.

Why my children love this book:

  • The book contains numerous built-in riddles, puzzles, clues, and codes that they get to solve right along with the characters.
  • There is danger aplenty. My children love danger. Blame it on the Y chromosome.

See The Reading Rules for a few tips on how to train young kiddos to listen during story time.

Your turn. Reading any great books to your kids, grand kids, nieces or nephews?

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