Most nights Rebecca or I read to our kids, Maggie (11) and Seth (10) at bedtime. Some books because they relate to something they’re studying in school; others because they’re fun; and others because they speak to things we think are important. Here are my favourite chapter books from last year.
The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a painfully beautiful story told with an uncommonly authentic voice. A brother and sister are evacuated to the country during the London Blitz, and as the girl has a club foot they are the last to be chosen. What unfolds is a slow awakening to healing love for them and the unmarried woman who takes them in. Kindness – my theme for 2015 – is central to the beauty of the book.
all the broken pieces by Ann E. Burg was our first experience of a novel written in verse. Matt is a young Vietnamese boy brought to the U.S. during the war by American G.I.s, where he is adopted, and begins to try to make sense of his fuzzy memories of the tragedies he endured, as well as the racism he experiences from his school baseball teammates. A powerful and truly moving story which had our kids asking lots of questions.
Any Small Goodness by Tony Johnston is a first person narrative of growing up in the barrio, as remembered by ‘Turo. At turns funny, tender, brutal and hopeful, throughout very well done. His father taught him that, “En su vida, hay cosas malas y buenas.” And if you don’t find enough of the good, you must create it.
We felt the loss of Terry Pratchett deeply this year. Knowing that there would be no more stories of our beloved friends from Discworld left us sad. We introduced Maggie and Seth to the world of 4″ tall nomes in Truckers, and to the exploits of the Wee Free Men and their hag, Tiffany Aching, in the book of that name, while Rebecca and I read the last of the series, and the 41st novel in the Discworld series, The Shepherd’s Crown. We will miss his humour and profound wit.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was just plain fun, revolving around clever word puns driving a fantastical adventure. And we spent hours and hours reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which also prompted lots of questions, and whose run on sentences challenged my reading aloud skills!
Those were my favourite children’s books of last year – if you have kids, what did you enjoy reading together? Let us know in the comments, as I’m always looking for good read-aloud stories!
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