Oh wow, are we back on the reading train after a short hiatus for alternating grandparent visits – that always throws off our schedules, including morning readalouds because I don’t always like reading to a crowd! When the kids were really small, they’d beg and I still would, or a grandma would take over. Now I just plan to skip it, but we’re always relieved to fire up our morning rituals again.
1 Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson (Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon ) // Buy in CO
Right away, my kids understood the cyclical idea of complaining about whoever bothers you, only to find they’re equally bothered by you. Beautiful artwork alongside an essential parable made it all work.
2 Season of the Witch: A Spellbinding History of Witches and Other Magical Folk by Matt Ralphs (Illustrated by Nuria Tamarit) // Buy in CO
This took a week to work through, going slowly by time, place and folk, starting in ancient Mesopotamia. Where do different prejudices originate? Discusses power with your kids by understanding who had it, civilization by civilization, and how it changed hands. Find out more about magical beings through time – there are so many stories around them, whatever they’re called, from the wider world. Even if you don’t particularly believe in magic, the history behind its prevalance, culture by culture, is widely understandable. From the book’s end: “We’ve seen that witches were as varied as the cultures and times they sprang from…. Whether you believe magic is real or not, the cultures and civilizations you’ve read about here most certainly did.”
3 Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth // Buy in CO
Parable-style stories bracketed by everyday sibling rivalry captured my kids’ attention even after we finished reading. Muth’s beautiful illustrations guide the way for enlightenment while listeners unravel the three zen stories – much more palatable for their presentation by panda – tucked within. Sweet and hopeful.
4 Felicity Learns a Lesson by The American Girls Collection // Buy in CO
The best history books require patience for the stop-and-start of explanations, the challenge to weigh our values and second-guess our culture, and this is one of those. I read these as a girl, and now we’re all tucking back into them as part of the kids’ history curriculum. The way children spoke and were spoken to in Colonial America, the way their school experience differs from those today, these are all the interesting bits that leave my kids imaginations whirring. Felicity has brothers who are treated very differently too, fodder for lively conversation around here. We read the whole book in one sitting, then pore over the pictures and experiences shared. There’s a reason these are still in print after decades.
5 Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Animals by Gabrielle Balkan // Buy in CO
Some were difficult, some were awfully easy, but my kids enjoy guessing the answers to things with lots of clues. Even though we are all animals lovers who’ve spent loads of time memorizing scientific facts, Balkan stumped us twice – we got family, not species, anyway.
6 Therapeutic Storytelling: 101 Healing Stories for Children by Susan Perrow // Buy in CO
As we’re dealing with a rather overwhelming fear of spiders, I ordered this one myself. After a quick browse in the Fear/Anxiety/Insecure section, flags stuck out from almost each story. I’m working through them all, changing the animal of choice to insects, if at all possible. Stories are magic! The book is easy to pick up and use, but it also works beyond the quick reference. Perrow offers loads of advice for retelling in your own words, and for writing stories directly to your particular audience. The book includes many stories written by others, with credit and headnotes about ages and behaviors they address. I also have Perrow’s book, Healing Stories for Challenging Behavior, and still read gems from that one too.
The links provided show where to buy the work, no matter where you live. However, please consider supporting independent bookstores. If you live in Colorado, these stores are my favorites:
I also support buying used whenever possible. Online, try https://www.thriftbooks.com/
Previous Book Lists
Books we read in February, January, December, and my Best Reads of 2020 for adults.