what we are reading.

We have started doing our story time on the front porch because Atticus loves to be outside more than anything else. Other than that whole humidity thing, I enjoy this because the people who are walking and driving by can see us reading. Parent points are multiplied if other people see you being a good parent. Reading the same book over and over and over also gets you parent points. And did I mention that we signed Atticus up for summer reading at the library? What I am saying is, I basically have infinity parent points. I can’t wait to cash them in for a plastic slinky.

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At the beginning of the year I said to Mike that I wanted to post more about what books Atticus likes. We read books about snow on our snow days and books about Dr. King for his birthday and books about the sit-ins on February first. We read books about love at Valentine’s Day and books about spring and Easter. There were books about construction sites and trains and we loved all of them (ok, I get really bored with the ones about trucks) but I never remembered to actually post about them. Here are a few that he’s been into lately.

Sam and the Firefly by P. D. Eastman

Mike has a knack for making inappropriate jokes at the wrong time. Not dirty jokes, just maybe not the most sensitive ones. I am used to it, but when Mike tells Atticus that bears eat people right before we are going to the zoo, well, you can imagine how well that went over. This spills into the idea of introducing topics, because Mike doesn’t always think through how something might sound to Atticus. Take fireflies for example: Atticus already hates flies, so what might make them even worse? Fire, of course. Let’s casually drop the concept of fireflies into a conversation, shall we? There was a lot of crying. To atone for his sins, Mike checked this book out of the church library, and Atticus loves it. He loves the words and he loves the bad tricks and more than anything he loves the phrase “cold dog.” Recommended for: anyone who is afraid of fireflies.

The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett

This is a wordless picture book and the little boy looks like Atticus and it’s sweet and funny and all of us love it. Mike used it as a writing prompt in his classroom. Highly recommended by all of us, even for people who have hearts of stone.

It’s a Magical World by Bill Waterson

Obviously making sure Atticus loves Calvin and Hobbes is a big priority for me. So far, so good. He likes the scenes where they ride in the wagon and he likes it when Calvin burps and he especially likes it when Calvin runs around naked. My work here is done. Recommended for: anyone who likes to run around naked, obviously.

Olivia by Ian Falconer

I don’t know why Atticus likes Olivia so much. But he really really does. He pulled it off the shelf the other day and said, “This is a great book.” Recommended for: anyone who has ever tried on a bunch of different clothes or wanted to paint like Jackson Pollack on the wall.

As for me, I borrowed a Kindle from my school for the summer, and I have been trying it out. Sober Mercies was the first book I had ever read on an e-reader. As usual, I am cutting-edge with my technology. It was great how small it was, but I tend to skim a little bit more when I am reading online, so it took a while for it to feel like “real reading.” I have tried a few others since then.

Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian by Bret Lott (via NetGalley)

This book of essays is difficult to talk about, because although it sounds like something that would be right up my alley, I don’t think I am the target audience. I enjoyed the discussion of art and Christianity, but Lott seemed a little bit aggressively conservative to me, especially in the first few essays. The essay at the end where he discussed his father’s death was wonderful, and I wished that had been the whole book. I know a lot of thoughtful Christians who are more conservative than I am who would enjoy this very much and I recommend it for them. (available later this month)

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How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston (a physical copy from the public library)

I don’t know if I have talked about this explicitly, but I work in a school where I am a minority among the students and staff. I have learned a lot about black culture and my own privilege as a white person, and I am trying to learn how to be a better listener. Baratunde Thurston was interviewed on an episode of The Confab, and I decided to check out his book, which is hilarious. Part memoir, part instructional manual, it made me laugh until I cried more than once. I kept reading passages to Mike but then I couldn’t finish because I was laughing so hard that he couldn’t understand me. Thurston’s story is also engaging and he has insightful things to say about the ways we in America talk about race. Recommended for: people who like funny and uncomfortable things, aka people who enjoy the idea of me carrying this book around.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (via NetGalley)

So, Code Name Verity? Code Name Verity! That book was awesome. This is Wein’s new novel and it is also awesome. This one is not about spies but it is about girls who fly planes, specifically Rose Justice whose plane ends up over enemy territory during WWII and who ends up in Ravensbruck concentration camp. Ravensbruck is a camp specifically for women (it’s the one Corrie ten Boom and her sister were sent to, which I did not realize until after I finished this book) and Rose ends up befriending a group known as the Rabbits, who are the inmates who had medical experiments performed upon them. Listen, this book is partly set in a concentration camp, so it is not an easy topic, but it is a great story. Like Code Name Verity, one thing that sets it apart is the strength of the heroine, the humanity of the characters, and the focus on female friendships rather than romance. Recommended for: fans of WWII stories, people who like to cry. (available in September)

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (via NetGalley)

This book is about a teenage girl named Sahar who is in love with her best friend Nasrin. They live in Iran, where it is against the law to be gay or lesbian. Part of the story was about how Sahar is considering a gender reassignment, because her relationship with Nasrin would be legal if she became a man. I enjoyed the contemporary look at life in Iran for teenage girls, but I never completely understood why Sahar loved Nasrin or whether Nasrin actually loved her back. Recommended for: fans of LGBT YA fiction, people who like acronyms. (available in August)

The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs (via the used bookstore)

I read this years ago when it first came out and enjoyed it, but I picked up a copy at our used bookstore and I am so glad I did. I liked it even more this time. I have read other books about spending a year doing something and what puts Jacobs in a class of his own is that he takes the time to reflect on his journey (not to mention the fact that he appears to actually be on a journey rather than simply moving towards an already established conclusion). Recommended for: people who like the Bible, people who like immersion journalism, people who like laughing.

What are you reading these days?

I received free copies of Letters and Life, Rose Under Fire, and If You Could Be Mine from NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

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