Greta’s favorite diverse chapter books – part 2

A few more diverse book favorites of Greta’s.

Book Uncle and Me- Book Uncle’s cart is Yasmin’s first stop after school.  But when the town forces him to close, Yasmin knows she has to do something.  The local elections are coming up and one candidate promises to help if they’ll try to get votes for them.  He doesn’t keep his promise so how can they convince him.  Maybe a book from Book Uncle will do the trick.  I liked this one. (set in India)

Rickshaw Girl- A girl tries to drive her father’s rickshaw so he can have a rest.  She crashes it, and dresses up as a boy to get a job to help pay for repairs.  When she shows the store owner that’s she’s a girl,  the store owner hires her.  Then her father comes and doesn’t have to pay for repairs.  I’ve read this multiple times. (set in Bangladesh)

Number the Stars-  It is not easy to live in Denmark during WWII.  When her best friend’s family goes into hiding, she suddenly has a new “sister. ” They go down to an uncle’s house for a “holiday” where her uncle smuggles her friend’s family and others across to Sweden.  Another book I like.

Shooting Kabul & Saving Kabul Corner- Of what I can remember, in Shooting Kabul a little sister gets left behind when they are escaping Afghanistan.  I read this at least twice.  I like this one. In  the second book which takes place in the U.S.,  Adrianna is the opposite of her cousin who just came from Afghanistan.  But when a rival grocery store opens the family must work together to save their store. (The author also has a new book coming out in January about Syria, which Greta is excited about).

Listening for Lions & Chu-Ju’s house- I read Listening for Lions a while ago so I don’t remember too much about it.  Her parents die and she goes to live in England after living her whole life in Africa.  In Chu-Ju’s house,  a girl runs away so her baby sister can stay with her parents.  She travels all over China and eventually moves in with a old women and her son.  When the woman dies, she leaves her house to Chu-Ju.  Chu-Ju returns home where another baby is.  Her parents beg her to stay home but she returns.   A really good book.

Enchantment of the World- Last year these were my favorite, this year not so much. Each book focuses on one country in particular and describes the culture, economy,  and other things such as holidays.  Although I’ve read a lot of these,  the ones about south and eastern Asia are my favorites.

Lion-  When he is 5, Saroo gets lost on a train.  He survived for weeks on the street in Calcutta before going to an orphanage.  Soon after he is adopted by an Australian family.  25 years later he locates his birth mother and goes to visit her.  She stayed in the same area waiting for him because she believed that he had survived unlike his brother.  Definitely a 5 star book. (I read the adult version of this book (A Long Way Home: A Memoir) first and then discovered there was a Young Readers version, so recommended it to Greta).

Do you have any other suggestions for Greta?

Greta’s favorite diverse chapter books – part 1

As I’ve mentioned a time or two, we read a lot of books, Greta (9 years old) most especially. (Eloise isn’t far behind, but hasn’t branched out quite as much just yet). I thought it would be fun for Greta to share some of her favorite diverse chapter books. Do you have any to add to this list?

I am Malala- I started reading this book last year and loved it. Malala grows up in Pakistan where her father is a principal. When a radio broadcast starts saying girls shouldn’t go to school, she decides to speak out. Eventually the Taliban shoot her and she is rushed to the hospital. Malala recovers strongly and later received the Nobel Peace Prize. I like this one so much I check it out at the beginning of each school year.

Long Walk to Water- A book that I would call a ‘two-sided story’, A Long Walk of Water tells the story of a child from each rival tribe. In the 1980s, Salva is homeless, on the run with many other boys, trying to escape the civil war. He is adopted by an American family, and raises money for wells to be built back in his home country, Sudan. He meets Nya, living in the village the well is being built in. Another book I’ve read 2 times.

Anything by Grace Lin- Definitely one of my favorite authors. I think my favorite ones are :When the Mountain Meets the Moon, Starry River of the Sky, and When the Sea Turned to Silver. I like these because they are sprinkled with stories about ancient China. In When the Mountain Meets the Moon , Minli searches for the Old Man in the Moon so he will grant her a wish. When the Sea Turned to Silver, a girl goes on a search with her friend to find her imprisoned grandmother. In Starry River of the Sky, Rendi runs away and is made a chore boy at an almost always empty home to a girl that annoys him.

Anything by Linda Sue Park- I’ve read 3 of her chapter books, not counting Long Walk to Water. When My Name was Keoko is probably my favorite. It’s about a girl who grows up in Korea under japenese oucupation in 1942. Her brother becomes a solider and volunteers for a mission that will kill an American ship and himself. Keoko worries that she will never see her brother again.

Forever and a long, long time- My mom forced me to read the first 50 pages of this one and I read not only that, but the whole book! Julian and Flora have always been foster kids. Now they’re adopted and have a permanent home. One summer they go and find most of the foster homes they’ve been in. Even though I had no interest at first I’m glad I read the ‘first 50 pages’.

Greta will be back with more soon! Do you have any favorites to add?

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Maryland reunion

Last weekend we backed our bags for our annual college friend reunion. We rotate locations and this year we headed out to Western Maryland, specifically Deep Creek Lake. After a dinner with my uncle, we headed to the house for the weekend. The weather was absolutely beautiful! and the leaves were changing. We went on a hike to some waterfalls and enjoyed time just hanging out with our friends. In total we had 13 kids (9 and under) and 9 adults in one house. Surprisingly it didn’t feel cramped at all and every year I’m amazed at how well the kids all get along. The kids and dads even took a quick dip in the lake. Everyone was sad to leave and head back to real life.















some recent favorite books

We read a lot of library books (in addition to our favorites we already own). Here are some of our most recent favorites.

I’m New Here – This book is about several kids who are new immigrants to the USA and how they are learning to fit in at school and learn the language.

New Shoes – The girls LOVED this one. It’s about two African American girls who live in the 1960s America. One girl goes to a shoe store and can’t try on shoes, but has to just take them home with her and hope they fit. They then come up with a plan to start a shoe store for other African American children so they can try on shoes before buying. It teaches them that even small children can make a difference in their community.

This is How We Do It – This book goes through the day with 7 children who live in different parts of the world and talks about how they do different things in their life, such as eat breakfast, sleep, go to school, etc.

My Dadima Wears a Sari – We have gotten a few books by this author and they have loved them all. They are about an Indian girl who lives in the USA, but has her grandparents visit and she learns from them. In this book she learns about why her grandmother (Dadima) wears a sari.

Margaret and the Moon – The girls LOVED this one. It’s about a woman who was instrumental in the space program, especially in the Apollo missions. I love giving them good role models to look up to!

Brothers in Hope – After I read a book about the boys from Sudan, I really wanted to the girls to know about what happened, and thankfully there was a picture book available. This tells of the struggles the lost boys in Sudan felt and experienced. The girls thought it was a terrible thing to happen and were totally shocked by certain parts, but this book definitely does a good job of opening their eyes to the tragedies some children experience.

Suki’s Kimono – Oh how, we loved this book. Suki wants to wear a kimono on the first day of school and her big sisters really don’t want to. This book tells of her experience of doing what she wants, rather than listening to others. And really that is what we want our kids to do in the face of peer pressure.

One Hen – This book is similar to one we already own, called Beatrice’s Goat, where an organization offers a family living in poverty in Africa a small animal to change their lives. Both are a lovely introduction to the many programs out there that exist to help families to provide for themselves.

Yoon and the Jade Bracelet – This book not only references a different culture (Korean), but also deals with lying and trouble with bullies. Yoon learns to stand up for what is right.

Elizabeti’s Doll – This is a series of books, we have checked out the two our library has and loved both of them. Elizabeti’s adopts a rock as a baby doll and loves it oh so much. Again it helps to point out all the luxury we have living our life of privilege and how many places children don’t even have toys.

What picture books have you read lately that you loved?

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Children’s books – where to find diverse books

For anyone who has been to our house, you know we have a A LOT of books. We all love books, whether just to look at, to read aloud or to read to ourselves. We also regularly have 20-50 books out from the library. Of course not all books are created equal and sometimes we pick out some really boring books. I’m always on the look for new title to read, especially books for the older two to read that teach good morals and aren’t filled with trash. Some places I regularly find good book suggestions are:

1. The Read-Aloud Revival – Sarah has oodles of wonderful book lists on her site. Plus she has an awesome podcast that she often interviews authors and illustrators on.

2. A Mighty Girl – I mostly just follow their facebook page and pick up books they suggest (although I will say I don’t agree with all of their selections). Most of them are good, but a few are outside of what I’m comfortable with my kids reading.

3. We Need Diverse Books – Again I mostly follow along on facebook where they share lots of excellent lists of books that are as you guessed focused on diversity. I’m always looking for new titles to request from the library.

4. Give Your Child the World – This is an actual book recommendation that is filled with book lists. Jamie breaks down the book by continent and then there is a list for each age group under each continent. We used this book last summer to pick out lots of books at the library and every few months we look back to see if something new catches our eye, or if I feel like they are mature enough to handle a new category.

5. Read Brightly – Yet another place I mostly follow on facebook, but that compiles wonderful book lists.

You will often find the same books recommended over and over again, so usually those are the ones to check out. I most often start at the library and see what they have. Our library (like most) has a wonderful hold system that you can use to request books online form any county branch and then request it to be brought to your local branch for you to pick up. It’s really wonderful and makes life so much easier and the book selection explodes. There are definitely plenty of titles my library doesn’t have and so I just add them to my amazon wishlist (which is WAY too long) and hope to one day find them on a super sale or at a used bookstore.

Almost every book that I pick up that is about kids who live a different life than us, my kids LOVE. They love to learn about how other kids live in the world or how they experience different things than we do based on either where they live, the color of their skin, the religion they practice, etc. I’m going to try and regularly post some of our favorites.

Audiobook sale!

Every so often Amazon has some amazing audiobook sales and I buy quite a few.

Do your kids listen to audiobooks? If not, you should try! We love to listen to them when traveling or when have some downtime in our rooms or when we are sick or when I’m doing the dishes. Some of our kids’ favorites are on sale right now!

We have always loved the American girl books and right now you can just about all of the series for just $3.95 on audio. Each set is 5-7 hours long! That’s a lot of listening for you and the kids.

No matter how many American Girl books we read, Molly is still the favorite, she is funny and spunky and just about perfect!

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summer garden bounty

Here are a bunch of pictures of our summer garden bounty. Things are definitely slowing down there, but hopefully our next round of beets and peas will start producing in a few weeks.

First up, flowers! So many pretty flowers this year.













And now lots of yummy fruits and veggies.















Iceland day #7 & #8

Thursday we spent the morning searching for souvenirs. After some ice cream we headed back to the house for a bit before heading out to our puffin tour, which went off without a hitch this time. The weather was beautiful and the seas were calm. I think the puffin tour was one of the girls’ favorite things of the trip, they are still talking about going on a boat. Just my dad came with us since everyone else was satisfied with their puffin viewing the day before. Puffins are only around in Iceland for a few months in the summer while the mate (did you know they mate for life?). They come back to a few islands around Iceland every year in April/May. The puffins always return to the place they were born. Puffins are so much smaller than I imagined and they are very fast flyers, so it’s hard to get a good picture of them. Not all of the tour companies allowed children, so we found one that did.
















After a final dinner out, we said goodbye to everyone before bed. Everyone else had to leave the house at 5 AM for their flight, while we didn’t need to leave until 1 PM. We got up Friday morning and packed all of our stuff and cleaned up the house a bit before checking out and leaving our things in the hallway of the house. Then we headed out to get one last souvenir and then to lunch. What was our cheapest meal of the trip was also our last. If only we had found Cafe Haiti earlier in our trip we might have made more than one trip there. It is right along the Harbor near where all of the whale and puffin watching boats head out.

Then it was back to the house to gather our stuff and head home.



Iceland day #5 & #6

Tuesday was the worst day weather wise for us. It was rainy and at some points very, very windy (40 mph gusts, 20-30 mph sustained). We started the day by going to the Settlement Exhibit which was just two blocks from our house. The long house that is located in the museum was discovered in 2001 during some renovations and dates to the 900s! It was excavated at the original location and the museum built on top of it. The museum was pretty dark inside, probably to preserve the house, but it was kind of hard to see, but still cool to see something so old. They had a table with some fun kids activities including digging for fossils, some viking games, coloring pages, and some swords and shields. The girls weren’t all that interested, but it was free for kids, so it was a win to be out of the rain and cold for a bit.



Then we headed towards the church, which involves walking up a street filled with shops and restaurants. We stopped for lunch at a yummy Thai restaurant and had one of our more affordable meals. The food was definitely better than any Thai we can get near us (except for going into Philly or NYC).


Then we finally made it to the church just as the winds really picked up. I thought the kids might blow over it was blowing so much. We went into the church for a bit, but it wasn’t all that much to see inside. It was very plain and it’s claim to fame is the giant organ (my dad went to see an organ concert another day).



While we were there we took the elevator to the top of the church to see the city. The top has opening for air to flow through, so it was super windy up there, so we didn’t last very long up there before we headed back down. Just enough time for a few pictures.






Matt headed home with the youngest two who were quite tired and cold. I walked slowly back down the shopping street with the older two and we stopped in oodles of stores to look for souvenirs.



After that everyone slowly made their way back to the house where we stayed the rest of the day. The weather was just miserable and since we had no where specific to be, we decided we didn’t want to go explore in the miserable weather. We sent out two people to pick up pizza for dinner. The pizza was actually surprisingly good.

Wednesday it was off for our last day tour, which promised lots of rain. We stopped at two waterfalls that we could get up close and personal with. One required climbing on rocks in the water through a canyon in the mountain. Matt took Beatrice in first on his back and then Eloise wanted to go in as well. The rest of us just watched.









Then we walked toward another waterfall. This one we all managed to walk behind. I left my camera at the bottom with my parents since it was quite wet and I didn’t want to ruin it. Matt took a picture of us back there, but then his phone shut off due to the moisture and the picture seems to have disappeared. So we only have these pictures of the approach. We got quite wet on this part of the journey and waterproof pants would have been nice to have.











We stopped for lunch at the base of another waterfall and had a delicious meal. When we left it was raining quite hard and since we were still wet from the previous waterfall we opted not to get out and walk up to the next waterfall. I wish we had some waterproof pants so we could have done more this day, but alas we didn’t.




Next stop was another black sand beach with stunning caves and views of puffins! Again it was raining quite a lot, so we didn’t stay too long to explore, but it was beautiful and we got to see puffins, which was pretty cool. They are much smaller than I thought they would be and they fly very fast.


















After a stop at a factory store, we headed back home tired and wet. It was a nice day, but the stops were much more crowded with people and the weather kind of put a bit of a damper on the day.

Iceland day #3 & #4

Sunday, our third day in Iceland was pretty low key. We went to mass in the morning, which was right across the street from our house. Then I think we went to lunch somewhere nearby, but I don’t remember where. We also made a stop at the Reykjavik flea market, where we bought some lava bead bracelets and some wool items. The prices were definitely the best we found for both wool and lava items. There were many regular flea market stands (books, used clothing, misc junk) mixed in with the Icelandic items. There is also a food market in there, but we didn’t make it into that part, so I’m not sure if there is anything worth while in there. It’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays, but definitely worth a visit.



After a rest back at the house, we were scheduled to go on a Puffin Tour, but it ended up getting cancelled due to very rough seas (which according to the tour company only happens about once a month). Since we were down by the harbor, we took a walk over to the Harpa Center, which is a super cool looking building that hosts lots of different performing arts.







The girls and Matt ate dinner at the house, and I went out with my family. We ate at Public House, which was an interesting experience. The experience is kind of like tapas, where you order a bunch of small plates of things to share, but there were some interesting combinations. It was a bit of Icelandic/Asian fusion with dumplings and reindeer croquettes. Then early to bed for everyone.

Monday we had another bus tour planned, this time to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It was quite a drive just to get there, but boy was it worth it. This was my personal favorite day because just about everywhere we went was not crowded and there was so much open space and unique beauty. I would definitely try to get here if possible. As you drive through the countryside there are oodles of sheep and horses out the window. Most of my out the window pictures aren’t great, but some didn’t turn out too bad.



Our first stop was to see some seals lying along the coast. The girls loved climbing on the rocks out to see the seals. Some of the seals were very close and we loved just watching them. The girls favorite was the ‘banana’ seal. Beatrice needed to go dip her fingers into the ocean. It was definitely chilly on the coast and we were glad to have our winter hats with us and wind breakers/rain jackets.




















We made a quick stop to a small waterfall somewhere along the way. Many of the stops on today’s tour were very small and not very busy with people, which was nice, but I don’t know if I will be able to find the names of the places, but I’ll try (Matt used google maps to mark our locations and drives the whole time).



All along the drives we would pass through these lava fields that are now covered in moss. I just thought they were so unique and beautiful. They definitely look like where you would imagine trolls live.



Our next stop was some rocky cliffs. When we stopped there were lots of arctic terns flying around and our guide jumped out and picked up a baby for the girls to see and pet. There were definitely lots of possible fall locations at this stop, and unlike most places in the USA, there aren’t roped off areas you can’t go, you just have to use your common sense. So if you have wild runner kids, make sure to keep your hand on them.

















We made another stop at another place along the coast line. This stop had some playground equipment scattered along the walking paths and some whale bones for us to see. The girls are holding up a whale rib bone. Dandelions were also plentiful here.











Next up we visited a black sand (rock) beach. There were rock formations to climb on and also the ocean to dip their toes into.



















Next up was finally lunch. By the time we ate it was nearly 4 pm, so everyone was hungry! Thankfully we brought lots of snacks with us, but I was starting to run out because I did not expect we would eat lunch so late. It was a full day. The last few stops turned into mostly just stopping to take pictures and then heading back. We were wiped out. There were more places we had planned to go that day, but didn’t quite reach it. Our guide says he always wants to show everyone every beautiful thing, but there just isn’t enough time in one day trip. I think this mountain is called church mountain.



And finally we end with a map of where we went.

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