Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

Saturday, June 15, 2019

2019 MG Summer Reading List!


Recently on Facebook, I promised to share a list of some of my favorite middle grade reads for parents looking for summer reading for their kids. (The sweet spot for most middle grade is between ages 8 and 14, though I find them delightful to read as an adult, too! And my 6-year-old and I have enjoyed lots of middle grade fiction as read-alouds.)

The following is a list I've compiled of some of my very favorite middle grade reads over the last year. Hopefully, there will be something for every kind of reader here, whether they're fans of graphic novels, realistic fiction, mysteries, tear-jerkers, or historical fiction. Any book on the list with a star is one that takes place DURING the summer—I know I personally always love when my summertime reads have that summery feeling!

Each of the books on this list is something I've personally read and loved in the last year or two; I tried to include a mix of newly-published titles and older ones, to make sure that many would be available even at smaller local libraries. If you're looking for something to suit a specific reader, let me know in the comments what books they've enjoyed in the past, and I'll try to give some customized recommendations!

One set of books I end up recommending a LOT but haven't read all of is the Rick Riordan Presents line. If you have a Percy Jackson fan in the house, be sure to check out new books published under this imprint by authors like Jen Cervantes, Roshani Chokshi, Yoon Ha Le, and Carlos Hernandez. Each series is a Percy-style adventure that is based in world mythologies and written by authors from that specific culture. They're awesome!

(Disclaimer: I've used Amazon Affiliates links in this post.)

REALISTIC FICTION
August Isle by Ali Standish*
Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin*
The Battle of Junk Mountain by Lauren Abbey Greenberg*
So Done by Paula Chase*
Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy*
Up For Air by Laurie Morrison*
The Vanderbeekers of 141st St. by Karina Yan Glaser
The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser*
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson* (This one is realistic fiction with a historical mystery element!)
Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
The Line Tender by Kate Allen
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Kat Greene Comes Clean by Melissa Roske
Mostly the Honest Truth by Jody J. Little
Front Desk by Kelly Young
The Year of the Dog (and sequels) by Grace Lin
Worth A Thousand Words by Brigit Young
The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio
Just Beneath the Clouds by Melissa Sarno
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla*

HISTORICAL FICTION
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia*
Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos
The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Giddwitz
The Inventors at No. 8 by A. M. Morgen

SCIFI AND FANTASY
Midsummer's Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca*
Just South of Home by Karen Strong*
Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy by Joshua S. Levy
Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School by Julie Falatko
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Land of Yesterday by K. A. Reynolds
The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo
One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson
Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eager
The Hotel Between by Sean Easley

GRAPHIC NOVELS:
New Kid by Jerry Craft
The March trilogy by John Lewis (nonfiction memoir)
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol*

And for even more summer reading fun, check out this Summer Reading Bingo I put together for Middle Grade at Heart!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

a tale of early-morning derring-do

*technically these are degu. But whatever. Pretty close.

Guys, I'm feeling particularly awesome today.

Let me set the scene: A rustic home in the picturesque foothills of Oregon's Mount Hood. A mother and her four-year-old daughter tagging along with their extended family on a quick two-day jaunt for spring break. A very, very sleepy mother, who has been woken up twice in the night already to take her daughter, whose pull-ups she forgot, to the bathroom.

The clock strikes 6:50. The groggy mother is awoken by the daughter—who has been sleeping in a nest of blankets and pillows on the floor—standing beside her bed.

"Mommy!" the daughter says. "There is something CRAWLING UNDER THE BED! I think it is a very big spider or ant!"

(The daughter frequently speaks in capital letters.)

The mother peels her eyes open and sits up, only to ascertain about two seconds later that there is no spider or ant:

It is a mouse. A little brown mouse, scurrying frantically from one side to the other.

"A MOUSE!" The daughter exclaims in delighted surprise. "I never saw a MOUSE inside a HOUSE! It is so CUTE!"

The mother things, if we have to set up a mousetrap for this little dude, she is going to be scarred for life.

Thinking fast, she dashes into the kitchen and finds a cereal bowl. "Okay," she says when she's squeezed herself back into the bedroom and closed the door, through which the mouse has already tried and failed to escape. "We're going to trap it with this bowl. And then we'll figure out what to do with it."

"We will take it back to its friends and family!" the daughter declares. "It will miss its friends and family!"

Thence follows an exciting twenty minutes of chasing the mouse from one side of the room to another. Each time the mother gets close, the mouse darts back under the queen-sized bed and out of reach. The mother fruitlessly searches for peanut butter in the kitchen, finding none. "I just want to warn you," she says carefully to the daughter, "that if we can't catch it this way, we might have to use a mousetrap, and the mouse will probably die." 

The mother enlists the help of the grandfather, hoping he'll have a better idea. But just then, as they're waiting for him to arrive in the bedroom, the mouse scurries up the wall, and—

—with reflexes like lightning, the mother traps the mouse under the cereal bowl.

It takes her a few minutes to figure out what to do now that she's got the mouse immobilized under the cereal bowl. Heavy paper would work, but she's pretty sure that none exists in this simply-outfitted vacation home. Finally she remembers that she brought a paperback picture book to read to her daughter at night, and instructs the daughter to retrieve it from the shelf it's on. Ever so carefully, she slips the book behind the bowl, and—the mouse remains trapped.

"Now we can take it back to its friends and family!" the daughter cries. "But... do you know where its friends and family are?"

"I'm pretty sure," says the mother as she puts on her boots, "that they live in the trees on the other side of the street."

End Scene on a shot of the mother feeling sleepy but victorious, and seriously contemplating rechristening herself The Great Cindy, Valiant In The Face Of Speedy Rodents.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

the holy midnight work

Canning peaches with Kate

It's hot here in the darkness; damp hair clings to the back of my neck, my clothes feel oppressive and close. The baby pressed against me is warm, a tiny sun who heats the room as we pace the floorboards, bouncing without pause. He arches his back and whimpers, miserable and restless, his nose stuffy and his hands twitchy.

He's not mine, of course. His mama sleeps a few rooms away, and I am only the fill-in, the relief effort. Still, the deep parts of my body remember this, the feel of a baby held just so, pulled tight against me to soothe the restive kicking, the way his arms keep jerking a few minutes after he's finally fallen asleep, his body fighting even after the battle is lost.

It's still in the house: only the two of us are up and moving, locked into our little dance. Iron & Wine plays quietly in the background. My thoughts are slow and centered. I am present in this midnight moment in a way I'm so often not in the sunlit busy ones.

Sometimes it sneaks up on me, this unexpected holiness. Sometimes, in the in and out sandwich-making shoe-finding swing-pushing minutiae of mothering, I forget what mothering really means: Holding another soul in my arms, being the buffer between her and the world as she learns to navigate everything from the proper use of a toilet to the complex and overwhelming universe of her own emotions.

Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed myself that I can't feel the holiness at all—but still, it's there, creeping up on quiet baby-bouncing nights to remind me that oh, this work is deep and wide and sanctifying.

There is much to mothering: to mother is to teach, to discipline, to do strings of endless physical laundrydishescleaning tasks that extend into eternity. But I think, in these quiet hallowed moments where morning is closer than midnight, that really mothering comes down to this: being there open-armed, ready to hold space for the sick baby who can't sleep, the panicked preschooler who can't stop sobbing. Holding them here in the darkness, the warmth of their skin on ours. Whispering over and over: It will be okay. It will be okay.

Finally, as Elizabeth Mitchell croons to the gentle hum and wail of a harmonica, the baby in my arms falls into sleep, his mouth soft and slack, his breathing loud and congested. I sink into the couch, let my own eyes close.

I don't often feel the holiness in this work that is motherhood, I think as the stillness enfolds me. I don't always see it.

Still, it's always there.