• Middle grade books set during World War II
    book lists,  history,  middle grades

    16 Gripping World War II Books for the Middle Years (Grades 4-8)

    I have been on a big World War II reading kick in my own life lately. History never interested me when I was younger but these days it seems like I can’t get enough! I’ve found that I really enjoy reading about history through historical fiction books (and some really good non-fiction ones too).

    While am also reading some grown up books about WWII, a number of the books I’m reading have been in the middle years range.

    Some of the WWII books I’ve been reading lately (mid-grade and otherwise):

    Middle grade books set during World War II


    The following list includes about 50% of books I have read and the other 50% is on my to-read list. Normally I don’t like to share books I haven’t read on my book lists but the ones I’ve included have been recommended by a number of reliable sources so I feel like I can be fairly confident in saying they are going to be good books.




    Middle grade books set during World War II





    This book was amazing, I listened to it a few months ago with my kids (4 & 7 at the time), the 4 year old didn’t get anything out of it but my 7 year old was just as enraptured as I was. I think this book is a good introduction to war for children. Also, we listened to the audiobook and it was fantastic, I really can’t say enough good things about it. Though, when it first started it sounded very fairytale-ish and I was wondering where it was going, but stick it out because wow, such a powerful book.


    Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

    Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

    Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, Echo pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation to create a wholly original novel that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.



    I had heard many good things about this book and it did not disappoint. It’s fairly short and I think it would be a good first WWII independent read for a lot of kids.

    Number the Stars

    As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

    Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.



    This is the only WWII book I remember reading as a child. I am grateful to this young Jewish girl who gave us a look into her life during the war.

    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

    In 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, the Franks and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and surprisingly humorous, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.



    This book takes a very different approach to the war than most. I think it is one that will evoke compassion in all the children who read it. There is also the sequel, The War I Finally Won.

    The War that Saved My Life

    Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

    So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?



    This book takes a unique perspective and gives a chance to see inside the home of a Nazi spy.

    The Watcher

    1942. Berlin, Germany. How did Wendy end up in such a place? Just a few months ago, she was enjoying her time in Maine, supporting the American war effort.

    But she was kidnapped, then betrayed by her own mother, who is actually a Nazi spy. As a new Berliner—and now a German—Wendy is expected to speak in a language she’s never known and support a cause she doesn’t believe in.

    There are allies, though, among the Germans. Allies who have been watching over Wendy since she arrived. And Wendy, along with her new German shepherd puppy, must confront them. If only she can find them.

    Her life depends on it.



    Honestly, I’ve wanted to watch this movie forever but I knew it would make me cry. Now it’s not on Netflix anymore and since I’ve now read the book I’m too scared to watch the movie, I know I’ll definitely be doing the ugly cry. This.book.is.amazing. And crazy sad. Unbelievable. Definitely a must read.

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

    But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.


    This book is definitely for the grade 8 or so range but is spectacular. How many books do you read that are narrated by Death?

    The Book Thief

    When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

    It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

    Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.



    The Devil’s Arithmetic

    Hannah is tired of holiday gatherings−all her family ever talks about is the past. In fact, it seems to her that’s what they do every Jewish holiday. But this year’s Passover Seder will be different−Hannah will be mysteriously transported into the past . . . and only she knows the unspeakable horrors that await.



    Hitler’s Daughter

    The bombs were falling and the smoke rising from the concentration camps, but all Hitler’s daughter knew was the world of lessons with Fraulein Gelber and the hedgehogs she rescued from the cold. Was it just a story or did Hitler’s daughter really exist? And if you were Hitler’s daughter, would all the horror that occurred be your fault, too? Do things that happened a long time ago still matter?



    I Survived: The Nazi Invasion, 1944

    In a Jewish ghetto, Max Rosen and his sister Zena struggle to live after their father is taken away by the Nazis. With barely enough food to survive, the siblings make a daring escape from Nazi soldiers into the nearby forest.

    Max and Zena are brought to a safe camp by Jewish resistance fighters. But soon, bombs are falling all around them. Can Max and Zena survive the fallout of the Nazi invasion?



    When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

    Anna is not sure who Hitler is, but she sees his face on posters all over Berlin. Then one morning, Anna and her brother awake to find her father gone! Her mother explains that their father has had to leave and soon they will secretly join him. Anna just doesn’t understand. Why do their parents keep insisting that Germany is no longer safe for Jews like them?

    Because of Hitler, Anna must leave everything behind.



    Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex – but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?

    In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter’s point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you’re being written about in Anne’s diary, day after day? What’s it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.

    As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?

    Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz – and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex’s occupants.



    Jabob’s Rescue

    Once Jacob Gutgeld lived with his family in a beautiful house in Warsaw, Poland. He went to school and played hide-and-seek in the woods with his friends. But everything changed the day the Nazi soldiers invaded in 1939. Suddenly it wasn’t safe to be Jewish anymore.



    Escape From Warsaw

    On a cold, dark night in Warsaw in 1942, the Balicki children watch in horror as Nazi Storm Troopers arrest their mother. Now they are alone. With the war raging around them, food and shelter are hard to come by. They live in constant fear.

    Finally, they get word that their father is alive. He has made it to Switzerland. Edek and Ruth are determined to find him, though they know how dangerous the long trip from Warsaw will be. But they also know that if they don’t make it, they may never see their parents again.



    Corrie Ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels’ Den

    One moments she is an ordinary watchmaker and then suddenly, Corrie’s ordered life was lost in the insanity of war. With bravery and compassion, her family and countless other Dutch citizens risked everything to extend God’s hand to those innocents marked for certain execution in a world gone mad.

    Corrie ten Boom’s life of determination, faith, and forgiveness in the face of unimaginable brutality and hardship is a stunning testimony to the sustaining power of God.



    Irena’s Children

    In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While she was there, she began to understand the fate that awaited the Jewish families who were unable to leave. Soon she reached out to the trapped families, going from door to door and asking them to trust her with their young children. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings.

    But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept a secret list buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend’s back garden. On it were the names and true identities of these Jewish children, recorded so their families could find them after the war. She could not know that more than ninety percent of their families would perish.


    Do you have any WWII books you would add to the list? Let me know below!


    Middle grade books set during World War II

  • Our Favorite Family Read Alouds - elementary read alouds we love as a family
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades

    Eleven Chapter Books with Positive Female Characters for Young Girls

    In the last year or two I’ve really been paying attention to the type of books we have been reading as I’ve been focusing a lot on making sure I am raising children with good character. Books with inspiring, courageous and positive characters are becoming more and more important to me.

    As parents we are given this gift of these tiny humans that come with their own personalities, all of which need some shaping, some a little more than others.


    A great list of chapter books for young pre-teen and young teen girls with inspiring, strong and positive characters


    There are many books that I weed out or refuse to read aloud to my children. I don’t want to read books with whiny characters because whining is so easy for children to default to as it is. I’m personally not even a fan of the character Ramona because she is always getting into what appears to me as intentional trouble that never really results in any consequences. My daughter really enjoys Ramona though, she has listened to the whole series on audio at least twice and is currently on her second read through of the series in the last year. Ramona’s struggles are not my daughter’s struggles so I am more okay with her reading that book, but characters like Junie B. Jones I have refused to introduce her.

    So, it is very important for me to make sure we have a good selection of books with characters who can be positive role models, especially female characters. The following book list includes some of my favorites in the area of positive female characters. If you have other books you would add to the list I would love for you to include them in the comments!

    (While I don’t include books from the Christian Heroes Then & Now series in the list because the are not fiction books, they are some of my favorites for men and women of courage and inspiration, if you haven’t read or listened to them with your kids yet, I would go as far as saying that you need to.)




    A great list of chapter books for young pre-teen and young teen girls with inspiring, strong and positive characters




    We just recently listened to this one on audio and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it reminded me a lot of Swiss Family Robinson. Nim is a brave girl and an inspiring role model. (If you are thinking about watching the movie, just heed my warning that the book is 100 times better and then maybe you won’t be as disappointed as I was.)

    Nim’s Island

    A girl. An iguana. An island. And e-mail. Meet Nim–a modern-day Robinson Crusoe! She can chop down bananas with a machete, climb tall palm trees, and start a fire with a piece of glass. So she’s not afraid when her scientist dad sails off to study plankton for three days, leaving her alone on their island. Besides, it’s not as if no one’s looking after her–she’s got a sea lion to mother her and an iguana for comic relief. She also has an interesting new e-mail pal. But when her father’s cell-phone calls stop coming and disaster seems near, Nim has to be stronger and braver than she’s ever been before.



    Don’t let the name of this book fool you, it’s not “princess” as in fancy balls and ditzy girls. Plus, the book has all sorts of twists and turns and did not end in the way I expected. The main character is tough, smart and resourceful.

    Princess Academy

    Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince will choose his bride from among the village girls.

    The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires. Winning the contest could give her everything she ever wanted-but it would mean leaving her home and family behind.



    I found out after reading this book that it is based off of one of the Grimm’s fairy tales, which made me like it even more. The main character goes through a lot of character development during the book and is kind and compassionate to others.

    Goose Girl

    Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. As she grows up, Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but she never feels quite comfortable speaking with people.

    So when Ani’s mother sends her away to be married in a foreign land, she finds herself at the mercy of her silver-tongued lady in waiting, who leads a mutiny that leaves her alone, destitute, and fleeing for her life. To survive, Ani takes on work as a royal goose girl, hiding in plain sight while she develops her forbidden talents and works to discover her own true, powerful voice.



    I realize Fern isn’t the main character of this book, nor is she really in it for long, but she was bold in standing up for a little runt pig and was a good friend to him.

    Charlotte’s Web

    Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.



    While I had watched the Pollyanna movie many times as a child I had no idea it was a book until a few years ago! Pollyanna’s optimism and positivity are two characteristics most people could use some more of.


    The orphan girl Pollyanna moves in with her strict aunt in New England. Despite a difficult start, Pollyanna’s exuberance and positivity affect everyone who meets her, and she spreads joy and love wherever she goes. But when tragedy strikes, Pollyanna finds her optimistic attitude tested, and she must learn to find happiness again.



    Another one that I watched the movie when I was a child but didn’t read the book until adulthood. Sara Crewe is a great role model, she is kind to everyone, even the servants, when she is rich and is just as kind when she is penniless. If you are going to watch a movie for this one you have to watch the 90’s version, skip over Shirley Temple, that one doesn’t follow the book nearly as well and her character is not nearly as sweet.

    A Little Princess

    Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she’ll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and generosity are all the riches she truly needs?



    I read this one myself and I haven’t read it with my daughter yet but we will read it soon since we will be covering WWII. Annemarie shows that young girls can be brave too.

    Number the Stars

    As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

    Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.



    This is one of my favorite free verse novels, and the main character just happens to be a girl who gets put in a position that teaches her how strong she really is.

    May B.

    I’ve known it since last night:
    It’s been too long to expect them to return.
    Something’s happened.

    May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.



    Reading this series as a parent has given me an appreciation for Ma that I never had when I read these books as a child. She works hard to make sure her daughters are well educated, hard working and kind.

    Little House on the Prairie

    Laura Ingalls and her family are heading to Kansas! Leaving behind their home in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, they travel by covered wagon until they find the perfect spot to build a little house on the prairie. Laura and her sister Mary love exploring the rolling hills around their new home, but the family must soon get to work, farming and hunting and gathering food for themselves and for their livestock. Just when the Ingalls family starts to settle into their new home, they find themselves caught in the middle of a conflict. Will they have to move again?



    It takes the right kind of person to melt a cranky old man’s heart and Heidi is that kind of person.


    At the age of five, little orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Everyone in the village is afraid of him, but Heidi is fascinated by his long beard and bushy grey eyebrows. She loves her life in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can’t bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?



    Little Women has so many positive female characters to choose from! Each girl has their own struggles but grow throughout the book.

    Little Women

    Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?


    Do you have any other books you would add to the list? Let me know!


    A great list of chapter books for young pre-teen and young teen girls with inspiring, strong and positive characters

  • Summer Read Alouds and Audiobooks for ages 7-10
    book lists,  books,  elementary,  middle grades

    Nine Summer Read Alouds and Audiobooks for 7-10 Year Olds

    This is my third year sharing a list of read alouds I would like to get to during the summer. You can view the first one here and the second one here.

    The first two lists were more early elementary based and this one is starting to get a little older as my kids get older.

    Since the books on this list are read alouds the reading level can be higher than when they are reading on their own. My kids are 5 and 7 and they both listen to our books though they are more geared towards the 7 year old.

    This being the third year of our summer reading list, I’ve learned some things:

    #1 We won’t read all the books on this list

    There are some books on our previous lists we still haven’t gotten to. I like to have extras on the list because I know when it comes down to it we won’t be in the mood for certain books so I like to have some variety and options.

    #2 When I say “read aloud” I mean “audiobook”

    Try as I might I’m just not very good at reading chapter books out loud. I’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web to the kids for the past month and a half and I’m still not done, and there really aren’t that many chapters . . . Audiobooks happen much more consistently in our house.

    Check my Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks in Your Homeschool.

    We definitely have two main genres we are listening to these days: missionary biographies and fantasy stories.

    My daughter loves fantasy which always weirds me out a little bit because based on her personality I feel like she should be completely freaked out by fantasy but she just loves it. I didn’t grow up reading fantasy so I feel like I’m learning to love it alongside her.

    We’ve listened to so much fantasy in the last couple of years I can’t believe I don’t have a fantasy book list here yet (I’m adding that to my list of posts to add shortly!).


    Nine Summer Read Alouds and Audiobooks for ages 7-10 - early middle years


    Nine Summer Read Alouds and Audiobooks for
    7-10 Year Olds

    If you haven’t already read book one, The Green Ember you must start there!

    Ember Falls

    The stage is set. It’s war. Morbin Blackhawk, slaver and tyrant, threatens to destroy the rabbit resistance forever. Heather and Picket are two young rabbits improbably thrust into pivotal roles.

    The fragile alliance forged around the young heir seems certain to fail. Can Heather and Picket help rescue the cause from a certain, sudden defeat?

    My Place Beside You
    My Blood For Yours
    Till The Green… Ember Falls



    The question in this first volume is resoundingly clear: What can the peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey do to defend themselves against Cluny the Scourge and his battle-seasoned army of rats? If only they had the sword of Martin the Warrior, they might have a chance. But the legendary weapon has long been forgotten-except, that is, by the bumbling young apprentice Matthias, who becomes the unlikeliest of heroes.


    On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

    Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

    Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darknesspresents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.



    At the age of five, little orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Everyone in the village is afraid of him, but Heidi is fascinated by his long beard and bushy grey eyebrows. She loves her life in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can’t bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?


    Island of the Blue Dolphins

    Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches.

    Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply.


    Make sure you read The Wild Robot first!

    The Wild Robot Escapes

    Shipwrecked on a remote, wild island, Robot Roz learned from the unwelcoming animal inhabitants and adapted to her surroundings–but can she survive the challenges of the civilized world and find her way home to Brightbill and the island?


    We are on a Christian Heroes: Then and Now series kick right now. So far our favorites in the series have been George Muller and Lillian Trasher.

    Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold

    Eric’s refusal earlier that week to run on Sunday in the Olympic 100-meter race had stunned the world. Now his incredible victory in the 400-meter race further strengthened his belief in God’s promise, “He who honors Me, I will honor.”
    Years later, Eric Liddell would be tested far beyond mere physical ability as a missionary to China. His character, perseverance, and endurance are a challenging example for all who would obey the call to bring the gospel to the nations.


    Betty Greene: Wings to Serve

    Betty Greene coaxed her Grumman seaplane to two thousand feet….. Suddenly, silence–total silence. The plane engine had stopped! Her passengers gasped, but Betty knew she must remain calm. They had only a slim chance for survival: the twisting jungle river below them.

    As a young girl growing up on the shores of Lake Washington Betty Greene had two passions: a love for Christ and a love of flying. As a young World War ll WASP pilot, Betty dreamed of combining her two passions by using wings to serve God. Betty’s dream became reality when she helped found the Mission Aviation Fellowship. Her faith-filled adventures and faithful service helped create what is today a global ministry that operates over eighty aircraft in nineteen countries.


    Lottie Moon: Giving Her All For China

    Ten-year old Lottie Moon had seen too much bitterness and gossip among churchgoers to want anything to do with religion or God. In fact, if there was a single way to waste a life, Lottie told herself, being a missionary was it.

    In a twist that only God could orchestrate, this spirited young girl who grew up to become the most educated woman in the American South would ultimately find her calling as a missionary to China. As Lottie watched her fellow missionaries fall to disease, exhaustion, mental breakdowns, and death, she became just as dedicated to educating Christians about the often preventable tragedies of missionary life as she was to educating Chinese people about the Christian life.

    The sacrificial service of the unforgettable Lottie Moon has inspired and enabled countless others to give their all for the dream of seeing the whole world reached with the gospel.


    What are you reading this summer?
    Any suggestions on what we should add to our list?

  • 50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  picture books

    50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child

    I’ve been going through our picture books the last few weeks and doing the unthinkable: setting some aside to get rid of.

    It’s like I’ve got two sides when it comes to this: my minimalist side and my bibliophile side.

    I want to get rid of everything but I want to keep the books.

    So, I’ve come to a decision to at least get rid of the picture books that aren’t our favorites.

    I know a great picture book can be enjoyed by all ages but as my children get older I feel like we have less need to keep so many picture books. Especially with our weekly library hauls, all the picture books are at our fingertips.

    We do have a number of picture books we can part with, which  my minimalist side is happy about, but while I’ve been going through all the books I’ve been realizing how many really great books there are.

    And if you have been around this site for any length of time you can guess what happened next: I decided to create a book list.

    This time though, I came up with 50 books every parent should read to their child.


    A great list of 50 picture and chapter books every parent should read to their child


    Could I have thought of more books than just 50? Absolutely! But I didn’t want to get overwhelming and so I decided to pick just 50; 25 picture books and 25 chapter books.

    There are a few books that I really wanted to add to the list but I tried to keep it well balanced so for whatever reason a few trusted favorites didn’t make the cut.

    I also have some very specific tastes when it comes to children’s books. I know I am nearly alone when I say that I don’t really like Curious George or Winnie-the-Pooh (can a Canadian really say that about the cute little bear that was from this country? No offence, Winnie.). So, those books aren’t on the list. And there are some great series’ that are represented on the list and I just tried to pick the one I personally think is the best from the series.

    All in all, don’t get upset at me if your favorite book didn’t make the cut. Just send me an email or leave me a comment and let me know which book(s) you would add and who knows, maybe they will make it onto a part two list if I make one down the road!

    Okay, I’m done chatting now. 🙂 📚


    50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child

  • The Best Funny Poetry Books for Kids - great for poetry tea time.
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  poetry

    The Best Funny Poetry Books for Kids

    Since April is Poetry Month I wanted to share a list of our favorite poetry books. I’ve actually already shared some of our all-time favorite poetry books so I thought I would great a list with a twist: our favorite funny poetry books.

    My kids love poetry, maybe it is because they are young yet, but I personally think the reason they love poetry is because of how we approach it, reading poems is usually done during poetry tea time. Except for us it’s more like poetry-hot-chocolate-and-cupcake time. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love that?! (Here’s more information on our relaxed poetry tea time.)

    I think this approach is brilliant (and I can say that because I didn’t make it up), and it’s a great concept to carry over in any area you find your child struggling or dreading.

    Do they fight when it comes to math? What if it was popcorn and math time? The popcorn can even be used as counters, sneaky math. 😊

    Do they despise reading? How about Brownies and Books? (I just made that idea up and now I kind of want to implement it.)

    Okay, how about we get on to the list of funny poetry books! If you have any suggestions you would like to add, please leave a comment and we’ll check it out!


    The Best Funny Poetry Books for Kids - great for poetry tea time.


    A Light in the Attic 

    A Light in the Attic delights with remarkable characters and hilariously profound poems in a collection readers will return to again and again.

    Here in the attic you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face, and find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a Mountain snores, and They Put a Brassiere on the Camel.

    Come on up to the attic of Shel Silverstein and let the light bring you home.


    Where the Sidewalk Ends

    If you are a dreamer, come in,
    If you are a dreamer,
    A wisher, a liar,
    A hope-er, a pray-er,
    A magic bean buyer …

    Come in … for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.


    Poetry for Young People – Lewis Carroll

    With fantastic characters and enchanting language, Lewis Carroll created magical wonderlands children have always loved to visit. These 26 selections from his classic works have never lost their fascination. Open the covers of this beautifully illustrated collection and take a magical journey through selections from his classic works, including Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking GlassThe Hunting of the Snark, and Sylvie and Bruno. Humorous paintings by Eric Copeland gloriously depict both the beloved and fantastic characters—from the fearsome Jabberwock to the wacky Tweedledum and Tweedledee


    The Complete Nonsense Book

    Edward Lear was the greatest nonsensicalist of all time. He was the inventor of the limerick and created the Jumblies and The Owl and the Pussycat. This complete edition of Lear’s nonsense verse – including the limericks, longer verses, alphabets and his own illustrations – is lovingly restored and beautifully presented, for adults and children to enjoy together.



    Falling Up

    Millie McDeevit screamed a scream
    So loud it made her eyebrows steam.
    She screamed so loud
    Her jawbone broke,
    Her tongue caught fire,
    Her nostrils smoked…

    Poor Screamin’ Millie is just one of the unforgettable characters in this wondrous new book of poems and drawings by the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. Here you will also meet Allison Beals and her twenty-five eels; Danny O’Dare, the dancin’ bear; the Human Balloon; and Headphone Harold.

    So come, wander through the Nose Garden, ride the Little Hoarse, eat in the Strange Restaurant, and let the magic of Shel Silverstein open your eyes and tickle your mind.


    Every Thing On It

    Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is! You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down.

    What’s that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart.


    I’m Just No Good at Rhyming

    We’ve enjoyed this book! Think: modern day Shel Silverstein. This book has us laughing out loud and creating our own funny poems.


    Let us know if you have other books you would add to this list!


    Interested in learning more about Poetry Tea Time? Check out my post from last year on how we keep ours relaxed and fun and you can also check out the Poetry Tea Time website for lots of fun ideas.

  • Living Books for Composer Study: Antonio Vivaldi
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  music,  picture books

    Composer Study with Living Books: Antonio Vivaldi

    I’ve learned over the past few years the benefit of  reading living books and I am making a real effort this year to add as many living books into our days as possible.

    Composer study and artist study are not something that are generally taught in the regular school system but hang around homeschoolers for a little while and chances are you will hear about them soon enough!

    Composer and artist study could be really overwhelming for kids but teaching them with living books makes it so easy, both to teach and for the kids to understand. Who doesn’t love listening to stories about the lives of people in the past?

    Lately we’ve been studying Antonio Vivaldi for our composer. Obviously we don’t just read books, we are also listening to his music, but we’ve really enjoyed the books and learning about him that way instead of from a dry textbook.

    Today I wanted to share some of our favorite living books we read about Vivaldi.

    Living Books for Composer Study: Antonio Vivaldi


    Lives of the Musicians:
    Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought)

    It’s no secret that Beethoven went deaf, that Mozart had constant money problems, and that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote musicals. But what were these people–and other famous musicians–really like? What did they eat? What did they wear? How did they spend their time? And–possibly most interesting of all–what did their neighbors think?
    Discover the fascinating and often humorous stories of twenty famous musicians–people of all shapes, sizes, temperaments, and lifestyles, from various countries and historical periods. Beginning with Vivaldi and ending with Woodie Guthrie, Lives of the Musicians brings musical history to life!

    Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery

    Vivaldi, Venice and violins: all three are celebrated in Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, a compelling mystery story about an orphan girl in the early 1700s who is in search of her roots. A central clue to the mystery is a missing Stradivarius violin that the Duke of Cremona has brought to Vivaldi’s school of the Pieta in the hopes of finding his long lost grandchild. You’ll have to watch the story unfold to learn its conclusion! This is the book that goes along with the audio CD, we listened to the CD and then read the book, the CD is excellent because of the addition of all of Vivaldi’s music!

    I, Vivaldi

    In this dynamic picture-book biography, told as if by Vivaldi himself, the famous musician’s energetic personality and steadfast dedication to music come alive.

    Despite his mother’s vow for him to become a priest, young Vivaldi is only interested in music. He soon grows from a feisty boy who wants to play the violin into a stubborn young man who puts his musical training ahead of his studies for priesthood.

    Beautiful, ornate artwork portrays the spirit and splendor of Vivaldi’s hometown, Venice. A historical note, musical score, and glossary will help readers more fully appreciate Vivaldi’s life and musical genius.

    The Orphan Singer

    The Dolcis are poor and cannot afford to train their daughter’s beautiful voice, so they give her to the”ospedalo,” where she is raised as an orphan and trained for the opera.


    Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

    In eighteenth-century Venice, Italy, the finest musical performances are heard at an orphanage called the Ospedale della Pieta. Hidden from the audience is an orchestra of young orphan girls, some with physical disabilities and illnesses.

    Padre Antonio Vivaldi, their music teacher, is inspired by the talented and determined young girls. When Vivaldi and his students are separated, Vivaldi is inspired to compose a set of concertos that mark the passing of time–the great baroque masterpiece entitled The Four Seasons.

    Back matter includes an author’s note with further historical and biographical information, as well as the text of the sonnets that accompany the music.

    The Story of Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day

    Discover what it would be like to travel through the four seasons in one day, following a little girl called Isabelle and her dog, Pickle, as they take on the adventure of a lifetime. As a sign of the changing seasons, Isabelle carries a little apple tree with her, and we see it bud, blossom and lose its leaves. Each spread features a musical note to press and a 10 second sound clip from the original score of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Illustrated by artist Jessica Courtney-Tickle, the book also features a biography of Vivaldi at the back along with a guide to the music.

    Want to go deeper with your Antonio Vivaldi composer study?
    Here’s a complete study for you!

    Antonio Vivaldi Composer Unit Study