Best Kids Books of 2014

I’ve said before that I usually spend more time reading to my daughter than I do reading on my own. If I’ve made a list of my favorite books from the year – of course I have a list of favorite kids books too!! We’ve been reading a lot of Ella Bella, and I practically have all 3 of the Frozen books that we have memorized. These books were a welcomed change!!

Mr Brown’s Fantastic Hat – Written by Iyano Imai this story focuses on a man with a really special hat. Mr Brown’s hat is visited by a little woodpecker, and is home to so many animals. By the end of the book, his hat is as tall as a tree, and houses all of the animals throughout a cold winter. His hat eventually becomes the envy of all of his neighbors, but no one can quite create the same magic!

Paul Meets Bernadette – We have read this several times and we’re still laughing!! Written by Rosy Lamb, who also illustrated these beautiful pictures. The story features a lonely goldfish whose life is changed when a new fish drops into his bowl. His perspective is changed by her, as she explains and identifies their surroundings. An example: a banana laying just outside the fishbowl is a boat. Adorable!

A Friend for Einstein – This story about a miniature horse who befriends a much larger horse is completely adorable. Written by Charlie Cantrell and Rachel Wagoner, it’s a tale of a very unlikely friendship. We loved it!!

Flo & Wendell Explore – I love Walter Wegman and his dogs. This is his latest book and it’s really cute! Flo is Wendell’s bi sister. Like many big sisters, she’s a little on the bossy side, yet he goes along with whatever she wants to do. In this story they “explore” their back yard and pretend to go camping. We loved reading it!

Hooray for Hat – This is another adorable and fun story featuring a special hat. Written by Brian Won, it is impossible not to laugh while reading this!! A group of animal friends is each cheered up by a special hat found in a box. Before being cheered up by their friends, they each said “Go away, I’m grumpy”! We laughed each time!

I’m looking forward to many more great books in 2015! What were your favorite books of the year??



Best of 2014

I’m not quite ready for 2014 to be over. In 2015 my daughter will be 5, and I will be one year closer to 40 – dangerously close!! My husband will finally be home in the summer – marking the end of what I hope will be his last deployment. There were some really great books this year – some I read, and some I thought would be really great but haven’t had the chance to read yet. A goal for 2015 – to read more! I do always wish for more time to read, I don’t need to make a resolution for that. Stephen King released 2 new books this year, and Robert Galbraith surprised me with another Comoran Strike novel (loved the first book – didn’t know it was meant to be a series!).

The Unremarried Widow – Written by Artis Henderson, this is the heartbreaking autobiography of a military marriage. I loved this book – Artis met her husband while they were both young. She always thought of herself as pretty liberal and says she never could have imagined herself married to a military pilot. Their relationship and her struggle to adjust to military life is the part Id the book I loved, and the part I most related to. She lost her husband when his helo went down. It changed her life in a lot of ways. She finally achieved her lifelong dream of being a writer.

No Man’s War – This is another story written by a military spouse. Unlike Henderson, Angela Ricketts’ husband is career military – she and her family have endured multiple deployments. She talks about separation, loss, hardship, and sacrifice. She talks about the anger she felt about moving, giving up all her dreams to support his, policy, and the deployments that kept them apart. This was another sentiment I could relate to. His family sacrificed just as much as he did in volunteering to serve.

David and Goliath – I love Malcolm Gladwell, and in this book he takes on some giants, and the underdogs that defeated them. He begins with the biblical story – one of the oldest and famous examples of a giant and an underdog. He focuses on the obstacles and difficulties underdogs have overcome, and what helps them prevail. It was in a way hopeful, and I loved it!!

The Silkwood – This is the second in the Comoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith, written under J.K Rowling’s pen name. I am blown away not only by what is hands down the best YA series ever, but her ability to write an incredibly addicting and un-putdownable mystery series. This was book was great – and I can’t wait to read the next one!!

Food – This book is hilarious!! I love Jim Gaffigan, this is his second book – and it’s just as hilarious as his first book, which I absolutely loved. I’ve been reading this book over the past few weeks which was perfect! Of course it made me so hungry – but it had me laughing, which was the perfect anecdote to the stress of the holidays!!

What were some of your favorite books this year? I just started reading The Revival, which I can already tell is going to be on list of favorites for next year!!


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

There’s last minute shopping to be done, more presents to be wrapped, and cookies to be baked for Santa. I hope today, with all the chaos that Christmas Eve brings, you find peace and joy. One of our favorite traditions is to read Twas the Night Before Christmas. We read it together her first Christmas when she was only 2 months old. Now she is 4 and I practically have it memorized.


This year we’ve also been reading The Polar Express and A Very McStuffins Christmas. Over and over and over!! Merry Christmas to you! I hope there are many books under Christmas tree!!


Our Christmas List

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?  I haven’t – but am hoping to finish soon.  Time is running out!!  Books are some of my favorite presents, both to give and to get.  As we all get our Christmas lists ready, we wanted to share what books are on our lists this year.  There are a few books that have just come out that I’m super excited about reading, and hope I find them under our tree Christmas morning!

9780307700230_p0_v1_s260x420I loved watching The Roosevelts, Ken Burns’s latest documentary miniseries on PBS.  I’ve always been fascinated by Teddy and Franklin, and as a history teacher I love talking about them.  The accompanying book that was recently released follows the histories of both men, and the story that is told about them in the series.

9781476770383_p0_v4_s260x420I am dying to read Revival, which was released just last month, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!  It’s at the top of my Christmas list this year!  When was the last King book released?  I’m not totally sure, but I look forward to each of his new books.  This latest book focuses on a tragedy that happens in a small community Maine.  A local preacher loses his wife and young child, and spends years tortured by the loss.

9781476708690_p0_v8_s260x420The Innovators is also on my list.  Written by Walter Isaacson, it traces the origins of our modern technology.  It includes a biography of Steve Jobs, but it takes the history of computer technology farther back than the 1970s and 80s.  I recently heard an interview with the author, and was fascinated by the individuals he writes about, and their contribution to the evolution of technology.  I think this might be a must-read!

A friend recently introduced me to the blog 100 Days of Real Food, and I love it.  Written by9780062252555_p0_v5_s260x420 Lisa Leake, this is more than just a cookbook – it’s a movement.  I’m putting her book on my Christmas list, and real food on my New Year’s resolutions list.  We Heart Cooking is another recipe book on my list.  Published by Cooking Light, the book is intended to get kids interested in cooking and eating healthier food.  My 4 year old, like most kids, has an aversion to vegetables.  Anything to get her eating more of them would be great – and anything to get kids in the kitchen is great in my book!

I’ve been a very good girl this year, and I hope that Santa is good to me!!  😉  I hope I find some of these books under my tree on Christmas morning.  I’ve bought a bunch of new books for my daughter, and I’m looking forward to reading some new books with her.  What books are on your list this year?

Day 30

IMG_2975DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.


Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek, I am a big WW fan and have been since Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Finding out that he had become a writer was wonderful to me.  This book, an autobiography/memoir is real and in some case raw.  He doesn’t hold back how he felt about how his life was going.  He shares blog posts from times that were rough and explains how he was really feeling, often feelings he didn’t share in his blog.  It’s one of those “comforting to know actors go through the same things the rest of us do” books.  Knowing he struggled and has come out even stronger makes it an inspirational book.


I absolutely loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  Like, couldn’t put them down, could not sleep until I had finished them.  It’s so sad that there will not be another Steig Larsen book, I’m sure fans of the series feel the same.  The books are so great I may have to re-read them, especially before the next movie comes out.

Day 29

IMG_2975DAY 29. – A book you hated.


There are two I can think of and one I loved when I read it the first time.

Old Man and the Sea – UGH just major UGH.  I had to read it for school and barely made it through I was SOOOOOO bored!  I disliked it so much that several years ago when a young adult novel Young Man and the Sea was put on our state school library association award nominee list I could barely bring myself to check it out for the mere title similarity.  The plot was similar too but a much easier read.

The Catcher in the Rye – (I’m ducking now) So many people love this book, I did too when I read it in high school.  I could identify with Holden.  About ten years ago I decided to reread some of my favorite books from my high school English classes.  Some of them held up well and I liked them still.  Not so with Catcher.  Maybe it was because I am now a teacher, maybe it was the years of teaching middle schoolers, but Holden made me crazy.  I wanted to to haul him out of the book, scream at him and knock some sense into him.  I got halfway through the book and quit.  I simply could not finish it.


I actually haven’t read Old Man and the Sea, but I have read other Hemingway books and hated them.  I know he’s supposed to be important, but just ugh!!  I may get the evil after saying this, but I’ve read two books by David Seders and really didn’t like them.  Each time he has a new book that comes out, or every time he comes into town on one of his many speaking tours, I shake my head.  I just don’t understand his popularity.

Day 28

IMG_2975DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.


Well for now my favorite quote is the following from HP Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone: “Me!” said Hermione. “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things — friendship and bravery and – ”


I’ll have to quote John Steinbeck here, as I’ve mentioned before The Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorite books ever.  There’s something so prolific about his words, and the story of the Joad family.  “If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it ’cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he’s poor in hisself, there ain’t no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an’ maybe he’s disappointed that nothin’ he can do ‘ll make him feel rich.”