What My Kids Are Reading: Spooky Edition 2017!

Vampirina Ballerina
Gilbert the Ghost How to Make Friends with a Ghost The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat

In honor of Halloween being just a little more than a week away, I thought I would share some of the spooky (but not too spooky) books we’ve been reading this week! My kids love reading seasonal books as much as I do, and we found some great new ones this year, in addition to one of our standbys. (That Berenstain Bears book was brand new . . . in 1989.)

Vampirina Ballerina

This is the story of a little girl who wants to be a ballerina. That’s hard enough, but as a vampire? It seems impossible. Vampirina has to overcome all kinds of obstacles (trying not to turn into a bat in front of the other ballerinas for one) to realize her dream of becoming a ballerina. It’s cute, funny, and has some great, spooky illustrations. Even my boys (6 and 8) enjoyed it! I believe it’s also a TV show on Disney Jr., so kids will definitely love this one.

Gilbert the Ghost

This was my 6-year-old’s favorite of the bunch! Gilbert is a little ghost going to ghost school, where everyone learns how to haunt and be scary. The only problem is that Gilbert doesn’t want to be scary. He is banished to an abandoned tower, where he finds a friend and learns how to make his own place in the world. This book is SO cute, and I wish we’d found it sooner.

How to Make Friends with a Ghost

This was my 8-year-old’s favorite! It is written like an instruction manual: the care and feeding of your ghost. It’s funny, a little spooky, and the illustrations are fantastic. This is a must, especially for slightly older kids.

The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat

For me, it’s not really Halloween until we read this book. It’s one of my favorites, and my kids request it several times throughout October. Brother Bear and Sister Bear go trick or treating with a group of their friends, and when one of them decides to play a trick on the scary old lady at the end of the lane, things don’t go quite as planned. This is great for all ages, and such a wonderful classic.

Blog Tour: From Dark to Light

From Dark to Light

Thank you to Pink Umbrella Books for sending me a copy of this book and including me in the blog tour! All opinions are my own!

Do you remember what you were doing when you were 12? I don’t, but I’m certain it wasn’t anything as industrious as Isabella Murphy, the 12-year-old author of From Dark to Light. I’m always looking for new fall books about pumpkins, Halloween, and anything orange. In Texas, our fall often includes 90-degree days, so I try to fake it with all the fall books I can find. When I found out that the author of this beautifully-illustrated book was 12, I was hooked.

From Dark to Light is the story of a little pumpkin seed, Pumpker, and his two sisters, Plumpalicious and Plumpilina. They are planted in the ground together, and Pumpker just wants to get back out of the ground and find a family to love him. (It doesn’t help that his sisters are kind of annoying, as sisters can be, and won’t talk to him.) But when Pumpker and his sisters grow into pumpkins and are taken home with a family, together, they find that they have more in common than they thought, and Pumpker finds the love of a child he’s been wishing for.

You guys, this is the sweetest book, with the most fun illustrations. Both of my boys (ages 6 and 8) loved it, and my 6-year-old has been asking me to read it over and over. The basic story, of a pumpkin seed wanting to grow up and be loved by a family, is wonderful in itself, but it is the underlying message that I really love. The fact that a 12-year-old wrote it makes it even more impressive. Seeing Pumpker overcome tough times (being stuck in the dirt with slimy worms) to reach his goal is inspiring to kids. He also has to deal with his sisters, who think he’s weird and aren’t super nice to him, but at the end they discover that he’s “not the only weirdo,” which shows kids that we’re all different, and everyone has something in common, no matter how different they seem.

This book is great to read aloud (there is a lot of text on the pages, so it’s not a one sentence per page picture book), and the pictures are so beautiful to look at. This is a perfect fall book to add to your collection! (Or to start a new one!)


Review: Reading People

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything

My personality traits don’t determine my destiny, they inform it.

If you listen to Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next or read her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, you’re probably aware that she’s more than a little into personality. (And if you don’t know who Anne Bogel is, for shame! Just kidding. But seriously, go check out her blog and podcast. They are very well done!) Before Anne, I wasn’t really aware of all the personality typing books and programs out there, aside from whatever quiz we were made to take in high school that supposedly told us what job we would be good at. Now? I’m fascinated.

Anne’s book, Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, is no boring textbook. It is a primer that covers the basics of the most popular personality typing systems and why they can be helpful. And not just for understanding yourself, but understanding your family and friends, and how to communicate better with them. She has done all the hard work of extensively researching popular personality frameworks (such as the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and the Five Love Languages) and putting the most important information in a book that is, honestly, fun to read. And quite enlightening.

As I read the book, I kept thinking, “yes, yes, yes, this is me, and this explains a lot.” (And in case you’re wondering, I’m an INFJ, enneagram 2.) Anne is a talented writer, and she explains that different personalities, and how we often mis-type ourselves, so well. For example, I’ve been told for most of my life that because I was involved with theatre and choir and wasn’t shy onstage that I was an outgoing extrovert. So I always wondered if something was wrong with me because I really prefer staying home with my family to going out, often have to talk myself into going out with friends (not because I don’t want to see them, but because I would just rather be at home), and have anxiety over making phone calls to strangers. Turns out, I’m not crazy, weird, or an extrovert. I’m an introvert who happens to be comfortable on a stage. (You really can’t see the audience when those blinding lights are on.) If I had realized this earlier, I think it would have helped me make some different decisions, or at least make more informed decisions. I identified with almost zero extroverted traits, and almost all the introverted ones, and that was eye-opening.

In addition to realizing some important things about my own personality, I was able to learn how to better communicate with people who have different personality types than my own. Knowing where I’m coming from, personality wise, and understanding where another person may be coming from, has already helped me become less frustrated. (And I’m sure helped my family become less frustrated with talking to me!)

For me, Reading People was life changing, and I don’t say that about many books. Anne makes all the personality types and research incredibly accessible, when all of that information can be overwhelming due to the sheer volume of it. Her insights in mis-typing yourself because of environment or how other people have typed you are worth their weight in gold alone. If you have always thought of yourself in a certain way, and don’t understand why you don’t quite fit into your environment, or never really connected with the type you thought you were, this book is for you. It will help you understand more about your own personality, as well as those around you.



Another thing I love about Reading People is that you don’t have to read straight through. You can pick and choose the chapters that are interesting to you, only read about your specific type, and then go back and read some more if you want more information. It is truly a great resource.


Review: Emma in the Night

Emma in the Night

Thank you so much to Texas Reader Girl for loaning me her ARC of this book!

The moment I had not been prepared for—the one thing I had not ever imagined in all those years—was that my mother would not recognize me.

I’m not going to lie. The initial thing that drew me into this book was the cover. It is haunting, and I wanted to know more. Happily, the inside of the book surpassed the outside. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker is a psychological thriller perfect for fall (but really any season, to be honest), and I found myself reading as fast as I could, anywhere I could, to find out what exactly was going on with Emma.

The Tanner sisters, Cass and Emma, disappeared three years ago. Early one morning, Cass shows up on her mother’s doorstep demanding that they need to go back to “the island” for Emma. A detective and a forensic psychologist interview Cass multiple times, piecing together a strange story of kidnapping, a mysterious island off the coast of Maine, and a baby. In addition, the psychologist is convinced that something isn’t quite right with Cass and Emma’s family life, and it may have something to do with why they were kidnapped.

I loved this book. It’s not only a thriller, it’s a study in narcissistic personality disorder and just how far someone with that diagnosis will go to put themselves first. The level of manipulation (I won’t tell you which characters-I have to leave some spoilers out here!) in this story is wild. I found myself wishing I could give advice or hugs to some of the characters in the book, and I might have actually talked to the book . . . out loud . . . because a certain character (ahem, Cass and Emma’s mom) was so frustrating.

I don’t want to say much else, because there are a lot of twists and turns in Emma in the Night, and you should definitely discover them for yourself. Bottom line: if you like a good story, a well-written psychological thriller, and a great crime-solving plot, you need to pick this book up immediately. (This would be fantastic for book clubs!)





What My Kids Are Reading: October 13, 2017

The Story of Ferdinand

Happy Friday! The format is a little different this week. Instead of featuring three books my kids are loving, I’m going to review one, because I loved it so much and because I think it remains an extremely important book for kids of all ages today. (And to be honest, I think some adults could learn a lesson or two from it.)

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is a children’s classic. It is a children’s classic that I didn’t read until this year. I know, I know. Surely I’m not the only one out there who hadn’t read it before. And if I am, please don’t tell me.

I bought this book because I wanted to read it to my kids before the Blue Sky movie version is out in December. Book before the movie, kids, always remember that. I was expecting a simple book about a happy bull that didn’t want to fight. And it is that, but it is also so much more. I was so taken with the message of this book that I did a little research about it. Ferdinand was first published in 1936, and was immediately labeled a pacifist story. Hitler ordered that all copies of this book be burned in Nazi Germany, but Stalin allowed it as the only non-communist children’s book allowed in Poland. It has been called everything from fascist to communist to pacifist to a story about gender nonconformity. And of course, it’s been banned in many countries.

Sounds a little more interesting than a simple story about a bull.

The story is set in Spain. Ferdinand lives on a farm with other bulls. All the other bulls want to socialize and run around and show how tough they are. Ferdinand is perfectly happy sitting under a tree by himself and looking at the flowers. When a bee stings him one day, he runs around in pain, snorting and stamping the ground. He is immediately recruited for bull fighting, and thrust into the ring. Instead of getting angry or scared, he simply sits down and enjoys the flowers all the ladies in the audience are wearing on their heads. He is poked and prodded many times, but he never gives the audience what they want. Ferdinand stays true to his nature.

What immediately struck me was how fantastic this is for kids who are happy being by themselves. Not lonely, and not by themselves against their will, but kids who prefer to sit quietly rather than be in a crowd. Kids are so often told or forced to go play with other kids, to go be social, to play sports. And those things are important. But some kids really, truly aren’t comfortable with any of that, and that’s ok. Ferdinand the bull shows them that even a big, tough bull needs quiet time as well.

It is also a wonderful example of how it’s ok to be different, even though everyone around you acts the same way and expects you to act like them. Ferdinand didn’t let anyone, not even bull fighters with spears who poked at him, change who he was or how he wanted to live. I think that’s a lesson we can all appreciate.

If you’re like me and are new to Ferdinand, please give this one a try. Both of my kids (ages 6 and 8) enjoyed it, and they each understood what the deeper meaning was. This is such a wonderful little book for all ages, and I wish I’d read it sooner!



This is a great article on Huffpost about how to talk to kids about the deeper meanings in Ferdinand.