Calling bibliophiles, it’s time for some book recommendations for adults and kids, as well as a book giveaway to surprise a reader with some of our wonderful new finds. We are so excited about many of the new books published this last year, and have learned so much. A great way to level up in life is to learn new things, a new skill, maybe even embark on a different and fulfilling new hobby (one that is almost as fun as reading, of course). So we were happy to review about 30 new books this spring and share our favorites with you to buy, gift, borrow from the library, whatever… just read them!
I’ve shared our read aloud challenges before, as well as just completing a charity Read-A-Thon for our school (my sons were tasked with reading at least 20 minutes a day to raise money for their school via sponsors who proudly supported their efforts). We are starting another 21 Read Aloud Challenge from ReadAloud.org in June (we randomly do it ourselves throughout the year). We read fiction, graphic novels, biographies, comics, picture books, etc. because some genres my sons love, and some I insist they try out at least once 😉
Here are some of the classic books they’ve read to themselves for fun, as part of a school assignment, or read aloud to me so far this year:
The Westing Game
Bud, Not Buddy
The Trumpet Swan
The Boxcar Children Beginnings
Who was Julius Caesar, Neil Armstrong, Galileo, Martin Luther King Jr,
What is NASA
The Phantom Tollbooth
A Wrinkle In Time
The War That Saved My Life
and many more…
I was gifted the new, collectible Harry Potter illustrated hardcover books by a beloved family member, so read the first three aloud to them as well. I’m also reading tons of DIY and homeschooling books, financial books, etc. on my own to learn and expand my own interests and understanding (and because reading a lot makes me super happy). I will share these in another post one day as specific for adult reading (since children don’t need to read about financial family planning or how to homeschool).
Here are some new gems that I wanted to share that are brand new, so not likely anything you or your children have read before:
Best New Books We Love
Books for smart kids
365 Words For Clever Kids by Meredith L. Rowe is a sort of SAT primer for little ones that introduces them to extensive new vocabulary quite beyond the typical daily language of most children, and for this reasons I especially love this book. When my sons started to use advanced vocabulary in their general speech the last couple of years (just from hearing them in audiobooks or reading them in stories), I realized how much children pick up early on and immature language is really nothing more than a lack of exposure to higher and more beautiful language. 365 Words For Clever Kids teaches them (obviously) 365 new words, a year’s worth that you can learn one day at a time, or eight per week (the break down in the for every two page layout). Words like acquire, extract, coax, brusque, and exaggerate can enhance their ability to communicate what they are feeling and want to share, and this book sets them up to be able to accomplish this in a fun way. In another 5 years or so, when they take the SATs, you’ll probably be very happy you picked this gem of a book up.
Horse Power- How Horses Changed the World by Jennifer Thermes is the book for horse lovers, and is packed with so much information about the many types of horses, how they live and how they’ve propagated across the world thanks to humans, and especially how they’ve helped people throughout history and their role in creating our current world. It’s filled with beautiful pictures and a book my sons reach for multiple times, and we proudly display it on our bookshelf.
The Adventurous Kid’s Guide to The World’s Most Mysterious Places by Patrick Makin is the kids’ version of my ideal type of reading- mysteries of the world! There is information about events, places, and objects many of us are just curious about, such as the Tomb of Genghis Kahn and Air Force One, as well as more off-limits or even dangerous places that are shrouded in mystery- Area 51, the Vatican’s secret archives, and the Catacombs of Paris (where people have actually gotten lost and never found again!). This book explores theories surrounding some of these more elusive places in a very kid-friendly way that makes it a fascinating read I also enjoyed.
How to Talk to a Tiger and Other Animals by Jason Bittel talks about how critters in nature communicate with each other, and it’s fascinating! My younger son adores animals and desperately wants to be a veterinarian, and could literally sit for hours perusing this book, reading and rereading facts about many new animals he’s never heard of before, or discovering our previous assumptions about certain animals are wrong, and lots of engrossing trivia about how animals hunt, live, mate, and in general survive, communicate, and protect themselves. We LOVE this book!
Books for little kids and babies
Hatchette Pop-Up Books, including Flip Flap Snap! Dinosaurs and Flip Flap Snap! Farm, and Positively Pokemon. These books are simply fun for younger readers, engaging them in books with topics they are interested in; dinosaur fans will love creating a tricerasaurus, and my gamers love all things Pokemon so enjoyed picking out afaf. It’s important to make books fun for kids so they always reach for them when they want to be entertained.
near (Psalm 139) – a children’s board book based on the beloved Psalm that is the second from Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrator Jago. I loved aadfa so much that I wanted this newest creation from the creators of the Jesus Storybook Bible, and we love it. It’s a wonderful gift for new parents, allowing you to quietly sit and read to your baby during restful moments. Hearing your voice and being exposed to language are both wonderful ways to nurture a baby, both by creating connection and by exposing them to calm, lovely auditory language. The pictures are also phenomenal and soothingly beautify, a truly serene way to spend time time your baby bonding.
Gift book for the graduate
The Straight A Handbook is a graduation gift idea that doubles as a self-help book for all of us when we need to be inspired (no recent major life changes requires). The chapters are told in stories about the lessons learned by the author throughout life from various people (including his wise sister Sue and dad) and a variety of experiences. The tips range from sensible to unusual (and unusually helpful), including “Steal with your eyes” (and ears)- a tip his father taught him to always be observing, especially when others are quietly hard at work at something that requires great skill and you could learn from, or sharing information that are pearls of wisdom or useful for your journey, “Choose your friends wisely” (and listen when someone you trust and admire tell you they find one of your acquaintances unsavory), and “Goals Are Dreams With Deadlines”, where he explains Brian Tracy’s method for how to work to get what you want and when you want it. Lots of gems I found myself considering during a restful morning of reading, and that I shared with my boys to encourage them too.
Book for DIYers
The First Time Gardener– GROWING VEGETABLES and GROWING PLANTS AND FLOWER We’ve dabbled in vegetable gardening throughout the years, because I love lettuce and there are some years where organic lettuce is hard to find. It’s wonderful to have the ability to produce our own food from the land, and to eat food we grew with our own two hands. This year I really wanted to step it up, by learning about flowers to beautify our gardens, as well as add some more vegetables and not just the usual lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, and basil. These two books break down the steps needed to successfully grow a thriving garden, with tips and information that explain how to choose which veggies or flower to plant (based on area, available fun, your desire to maintain), which types of plants work well together, how to plant (seeds? seedlings?) and when, and much more- in great detail with such simplicity that even beginners and kids can start working on their green thumb and have a wonderful, organic vegetable garden of their very own.
Bilingual books (both children and adults learn by reading children’s books)
Grandma Maria’s Stories in English and Greek by features a series of short fairy tales (or fables, as they have lessons as part of the story) that are really sweet, and the book includes both the English and Greek version in one. The larger print makes it easy for children to read, but the language is still advanced enough to teach (good children’s books typically include more advanced language and sentence structure, which is why learning a new language by reading in that language through fairy tales is an excellent way to learn an amazing amount of vocabulary, verb conjugation, and proper sentence structure). I also recently found Harry Potter, Matilda, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Greek language format, but it will be about a month before it arrives from overseas, so I’m anxiously looking forward to starting to read those.
Un Pájaro en Casa by Blanca Gómez comes in both an English and a Spanish version, so children can read this delightful tale in both languages and learn sophisticated Spanish language skills with ease. Beautiful pictures too! Rereading this tale will familiarize children with their new language and over time more bilingual books can be added and reread to enhance their understanding of the second language.
There are many more books we are loving, and I will share a summer update with more books to consider adding to your home library or gift soon. Definitely head out and pick up some of these books for summertime reading, because they are so fabulous, interesting, and educational…. just phenomenal. And keep reading aloud to your kids! We just finished reading the third Harry Potter book aloud, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, specifically the collectible illustrated hardcover version that we are collecting as each new edition is published. I’m also reading tons of DIY and homeschooling books, financial books, etc. which I will share in another post one day specifically for adult reading!