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Judy Blume, Karolyn Keene, Beverley Cleary, and Francine Pascal were some of the authors I read when I was in elementary school.

Fast forward thirty years and you’ll find my mini-me, Miss Q, reading Tui T. Sutherland, Erin Hunter, Dan Jolley, Chris Colfer and J.K. Rowling to name only five in her massive library.

The difference between me at nine and Miss Q at nine? Genre.

Where my cherished couldn’t-wait-to-read books were close to real life fiction: friendship, mystery, and twin sisters trying to navigate high school.  Miss Q’s cherished must reads centre on fantasy. From the dragons of Wings of Fire, to the cats in the Warrior series, she is hooked. So hooked, I’m contemplating filling a wheelbarrow with books and leaving it under the Christmas tree.

I’ve always wanted my girls to love literature. Always followed my mum’s prescription of as long as they’re reading I don’t care what they read. So it makes me very happy to see Miss Q curled up with a book.

But I never considered my favourites wouldn’t be her favourites.

Enter my husband, the original D ‘n D (Dungeons & Dragon). Like me, he’s held onto a stack of books from his childhood. Like me, he’s always thought one day his children might want to read them.

Well guess what? When it comes to our eldest daughter, he was right.

Currently, Miss Q is plowing her way through Lord Of The Rings after finishing the Hobbit last week.

I still haven’t finished the Lord Of The Rings trilogy after starting it, oh, fifteen years ago.

Psychologists say after year one, fathers are the most important influencers on a child’s life. While this statement feels like a slight to me, the woman who birthed, nursed and hung out in the wee hours of the morning with our offspring, as I watch Miss Q and her father interact, sigh, I know it’s true: at the core of their twinned dragon hearts live souls of elf warriors.

Better luck next child, Nancy Drew, Super Fudge, and Anne with an ‘e’.

But even though Miss Q hasn’t bought into what I would have chosen for her, I really can’t grumble. I was the one who introduced her to Harry Potter, the portkey into the fantastical worlds now calling to her.

My nine-year-old’s eyes dance as she describes the inner workings of plots I’ve never dreamed of writing and my husband nods fondly, encouraging her to go on.  I listen, trying not to be the third wheel in their love language of orcs, healers and rangers, finding comfort in this quote by George R. R. Martin:

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

So read on, Miss Q. Read on. Don’t let anyone, especially your mother’s nostalgia, hold you back.

gHere is Miss Q’s current must-have reading list in no particular order:

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Cleaning out the basement doesn’t yield much discovery these days.  Though we’ve lived in our house for coming on nine years this November, I’m proud to report more items have made their way out than in; even with three girls underfoot.

The boxes my husband and I just can’t get rid of – text books from university- are slowly making their way to recycling.  But it’s hard to part ways with monoliths from biology classes that cost upwards of $100 when you bought them new in the 90s, or a library of Shakespearian plays with your prized notes written in the columns.

Even though I know, like the plays themselves, my notes are timeless and will help future thespians through high school litit’s time to face the music: if I’m not going to crack open Word Carving, Great Stories from the Prairies, or anything that involves dissecting plays, as in theatrical productions, what makes me think someone else under this roof will?

The same can be said for the myriad of tennis, gymnastics and biology textbooks belonging to a certain male member of our household.

Betcha can’t guess what our majors were.

The box I unearthed this afternoon was filled with novels from my teen years. And though none of my girls understood how delicious it was to hold up books written by Eric Wilson, Christopher Pike, and Brian Doyle, they were curious to know what a Choose Your Own Adventure book was like, and were keen to listen to chapter one, book #2, of The Babysitter’s Club: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls.

CM BOok

Side note: I always related the most to Claudia, the artist, who liked to eat red licorice while she read Nancy Drew mysteries.  Like Claudia, I too drooled over a boy or two in grade seven, so we might wait another year or so before Miss Q dives into the series.

Same with Sweet Valley High, for now way beyond the trio’s scope, but one day I hope they sit with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield for a summer or two.

And while on the subject of books, there has been a great metamorphosis in our house this summer: Miss Q has turned into a bonafide bookworm.  She’s always enjoyed being read to, but now she’s taking it to an all new level and curling up with a book – alone.

The amazing part isn’t that she’s inhaling books, it’s that she’s comprehending what she’s reading.  “Do you want to hear something hilarious?” she begins, then without waiting for a response, out rolls a detailed description of the plot and crazy characters she’s stumbled upon.

Currently she’s reading the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Series, specifically: Bruno; but she’s also into the Rescue Princesses and anything with adventure, friendship, magic and mystery.

My husband is re-reading her book two of Harry Potter at bedtime.  They’ve gone up to book four, and now they’re doing it all again.  He doesn’t mind.  Whatever the girls bring him, he reads with little complaint, he’s amazing like that.

Other children’s books on our July radar are:

Meanwhile in adult-land:

My husband is currently working his way through book five of Harry Potter, and has now deemed Harry too angry for Miss Q’s ears, at least this summer.  He really wants to sink his teeth into book two and three of the Gentlemen Bastard Series by Scott Lynch, but had started Harry Potter before he received them, so now he must read quickly.

As for me, I haven’t had much time for reading, not because of the stereotypical obvious; but because after nine years, three babies, and two major re-writes at the suggestion of editors, one of the novels I’ve been chipping away at is complete.

Maybe in August as I’m waiting for a publisher to bite, I’ll have added something more than P.B. Bear to my summer reading list.

What are you reading?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bookcase - CMThe books on our bookshelf have been counted and loosely ordered first by height, and or thickness, then by author.

Though it brings me complete satisfaction to know four tall and seven small Robert Munsch books are filed together, along with twelve yellow Margaret and H.A. Rey (Curious George), and five Mandy Stanley (author of Lettice); this librarian knows that no dewey decimal system, nor sorting hat will keep the carefully ordered rows from running amok when the littles wake tomorrow.

In a world where I worry about being buried alive in plastic high-heels, wheeled hamsters and pony hair, our bookshelf silently expands, pushing my decorative reading pig higher and higher.

There are 531 children’s books on the shelf.  Perhaps the most amazing thing is there are only two duplicates: Clifford Goes to School and Going on a Bear Hunt, though the latter is in both paperback and board book, so sort of different.

Currently, Miss Q is back to listening to Ramona Age 8, by Beverly Cleary and Miss S bounces between the Rainbow Magic Fairy books and anything monkey.  Miss C is pretty happy with anything you choose, though occasionally she wants Rainbow Magic too, like her sisters and then gets angry when you pick Moo Baa La La La, by Sandra Boynton.

We read anything they choose, neither my husband nor I care if we’ve read the book five times or fifty-thousand, as is the case with Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein thanks to Miss C.  As long as they’re interested, that’s all that matters.

When I read, I’m just as eclectic in my tastes.  I’m not drawn to one author, or one genre, though I leave sci-fi for my husband.  Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that a good children’s book, can be just as satisfying a read as a Giller nominated novel.

With this in mind, here are some highly recommended books from our bookshelf, they might not be Giller worthy, but they’re definitely popular with the under seven crowd:

(click the link to see the cover of the books)

Happy Reading!

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Confession time: I really, really enjoy a buying books.  No, not environmentally friendly used books: previously owned, read once and then shelved in used book stores at a discounted price.  I’m talking, brand new, spine’s never been cracked, smell like heaven books, from the locally owned bookstores in town.

I’m a book snob, I know, I know.  I’ve been suckered in like a crow with an occasional expensive shiny things habit.

It’s not like I haven’t bought books from a used bookstore.  I have; once.  Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn.  It had been well taken care of, didn’t smell like smoke or have food crumbling out of the pages, so I went out on a limb and bought it.

In university, well, used books were a necessity.  Who wanted to pay double for something you could get that may already have some great Hamlet ‘ah-ha’ moment scrawled in a margin?

It’s not like I’m a used bookstore hater.  I actually think they’re pretty romantic.  Imagine an entire building housing old stories just waiting to be discovered.  Stories that writers from the past and present have poured their hearts and souls into, some long forgotten; others on the tip of our tongues.

No matter where they come from, there’s something about the weight of a book in your palm, as you lift it off the shelf that cannot be replicated by electronics.  With each book comes a promise of a new world, a new adventure, or just plain ol’ voyeurism.  (And no, I’m not talking the Grey series, which by the way I was open to, thought I’d love as the rest of the world did, and couldn’t get past the crappy writing of the first book. So it remains permanently in my ‘Do Not Read Pile’.)

It’s no surprise, my personal ‘Books To Read’ pile is larger than my ‘Books Read’ pile, while my lovies’ ‘Books To Read’ pile vanishes faster than I can say, “okay.”

So here is what we are reading these days;

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  This is an adult book, and I’m happy to say I finished it last week.  It’s a mystery, so great for fall.  I was literally turning pages at 2 a.m. because Flynn’s characters had suckered me in.  I also had to stop reading some nights because I was getting the heebie-geebies.  It’s about a husband and wife who move to the husband’s hometown and shortly after the wife disappears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Worst Witch, by Jill Murphy.  Well, actually we’re on book two: The Worst Witch Strikes Again.  Miss Q seems to enjoy the series, especially since Mildred Hubble was gifted a cat in the first book.  Come to think of it, she probably wishes she could go to Miss Cackle’s Academy to get a cat of her own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Balloon Tree, by Phoebe Gilman.  With a princess, balloons, an evil Archduke and a magician, what three-year-old wouldn’t love this fairytale?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bus Stop, by Taro Gomi.  A charming little “i-spy” board book that feels like you’re giving your kids a reading comprehension test – but they just like the story.

Happy Reading!

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At the ripe old age of 8 months, 2 weeks and 6 days Miss S took her first steps!

She was so, so restless, tonight, pulling my hair, whacking my face; in short: beating me up, but being happy about it.  (She was shrieking and laughing and having a great time at my expense.)

I took the abuse, trying out a variety of holds, as it was long past her bedtime and the last thing I wanted to to was put her down and have to start the calming process all over again… because the calm bedtime routine we’ve established was working…(not).

Finally, the need to give my arms a rest, along with the tiny hairs at the base of my skull, I placed Miss S onto the ground.  There, she happily played, showing no signs of tiring.  Fearing I’d be watching the late night comedians with her, I grabbed some peek-a-boo books and sat her on my lap.

In the last month she has started sitting on my lap to listen to stories.  Maybe this is a sign she’ll be a bookworm like her sister and mum.  But even if she’s not, it’s pretty cute watching her sit straight up giggling when you say, “Peek-A-Boo.”

One run through of the books wasn’t enough.  Miss S slid off my lap and wanted to sit on the floor to go through them again, using her own style of whacking the covers and tugging the fur off the ‘touch me’ animals.

In case you hadn’t noticed: whacking is also a favourite pastime.

Before I knew what I was seeing, Miss S picked herself up off the ground and walked towards me.  When I called her daddy into the living-room, she walked from me to him; two more steps towards her independence.

Hooray and Boo.  I’m happy we’re here already; I can’t believe we’re here already.   The ability to walk certainly quiets any mobility frustration.  She’ll be able to get wherever she’s going in no-time, which takes childproofing to a whole new level.  What will Miss Q think?

Regardless of what lies ahead for our Twinkle Toes, watching her master her first steps was pretty amazing.  Way to go Miss S!

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If we read Miss Q five books a day that’s 1825 books a year.  Five books a day is about average.  Most days she’s read between five and ten.  So that brings the yearly number to 3650… Yikes, but what can I say?  Our girl loves books.

Funny, because you wouldn’t think Miss Q would sit for anything.  Lord, how you’d think she wouldn’t sit for anything, watching her leap from the coffee table to the couch, climb on anything she can and play run-houndie-run around our kitchen/living room; heck she can’t even sit for her time-outs half the time.

So when we were given gift cards for a bookstore, it was a dream come true.  Here is a list of the books we picked, for her and Miss S to read – don’t think for a moment we haven’t cycled through them more than a couple times in the last 24-hours:

My Little Pony: Pony Party by Kate Egan

My Little Pony: Pinky Pie’s Special Day by Jennifer Christie

My Little Pony: Pinky Pie’s Spooky Dream by Jodie Huelin

  • Over-night Miss Q has become infatuated with My Little Pony.  My horse-girl loves horses.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

  • Great book.  Really, anyone who voices an opinion about names parents choose for their children should read this book.  Yes, I should be giving out copies!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

  • My wild thing loves this book.  I’m inclined to agree with her.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

  • Miss Q isn’t wowed, but if someone’s reading, she’ll sit.  I like it for the nostalgia.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

  • Love it for the nostalgia; love it because Miss Q loves it.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

  • Lovely.

Miss S is following in her sister’s footsteps.  She will sit on my lap and listen to at least one book before she needs a break.  Miss Q doesn’t mind the company as long as Miss S’s whacking of the pages doesn’t get in the way of the pictures.

The good news is my calculator (my husband) underestimated the cost of the books compared to our gift certificates, so we still have money to spend.  I wonder what our bookworms will read next.

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Miss Q loves her books.  She doesn’t doesn’t discriminate, neither do we.  These are the books we read to her throughout this bright Thursday:

The Berenstain Bears’ and the Trouble with Chores by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The only problem?  When Sister Bear points to a dog mess on the rug, and says, “I know it’s my week to clean up Little Lady’s calling cards.  It’s just that I’m waiting for them to dry.  They’ll be easier to scoop that way.”  Grodie-to-the-max.

Christmas Angel by Quinlan B. Lee

Clifford the Big Red Dog is a puppy and learns about Christmas.  Miss Q is up for Clifford any time of the year.

Grover, Messenger of Love by Patricia Thackray

Grover does tasks for star-crossed lovers.  Unlike Romeo and Juliet, this one has a happy ending; though poor Grover is put through the ringer.  Smooch to Grover.

Cars: A Day at the Races by Frank Berrios

Lightning McQueen returns to Radiator Springs and starts up a racing school.  No mention of his girlfriend Sally – did they break up?  Best part about the book is getting to say, “Ka-chow!”

Cars: Night Vision by Dennis “Rocket” Shealy

Lightning, Mater and Sherif meet Gudmund and learn how to spelunk.  Wish I had night-vision goggles.

The Berenstain Bears’ and the Week at Grandma’s by Stan and Jan Berenstain

This book actually helped me feel better about leaving Miss Q, on the rare occasions we have to have someone watch her.  (Another topic for another entry.)  Not sure I was the target audience when Stan and Jan wrote the book.

The Berenstain Bears’ and the New Baby by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Let’s just say, having Brother and Papa leave the house to make Brother a new bed; and returning to find a new baby sister, wasn’t exactly what we were looking for in baby-prep books.  But Miss Q enjoys it.

Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker

Fantastic.  Miss Q adores airplanes.  It explains matter-of-factly about them, but in a nice cartoonish, easy to read style.  Two thumbs up from everybody in our household.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

A classic.  Love it.  Miss Q loves it too – especially when Alexander says he’s going to Australia.  She often beats me to the punch.

Hugs and Kisses by Christophe Loupy

A cute story about a puppy who wanders around asking different animals to kiss him.  In the end, he realizes his mama’s kiss is the best.  Miss Q could have told him that; spared him kissing a pig.

This was an average day’s read.  We’ve never pushed reading on her, she just genuinely loves having stories read to her.  There are so many stories I can’t wait for her to discover, and one day, too soon, she will.

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