Book reports are the worst but reading is cool

These days, it’s hard to get my kiddos to succumb to an interview about why they liked a book.

(They aren’t as interested in my blog and there’s some attitude sneaking in. Help!)

So, I try to pay attention to what’s popular at my house.

In the last two months, Brad Meltzer’s “I am” books have made a resurgence. This was thanks to the school assignment to present on a famous woman or African-American at school.

Honestly, I hate these school reports. It’s a constant exercise in nagging and vigilance.

And even with these supreme parenting skills, I still found myself working on a PowerPoint when I had the flu in December. That’s right – lying in bed, looking up information on rocks, trying to make my kid do the work but get it done.

But I digress.

This last report was a little better because Rosa Parks (Calvin) and Helen Keller (Max) are pretty interesting. (Not that elements aren’t interesting.) It also revived their love for Meltzer’s books, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos.

Max and Calvin requested that I get ALL THE BOOKS from the library (we own a few). They couldn’t get enough.

“Who wouldn’t like them,” Max said. “They are addicting to read.”

Max and Meltzer

Max checks out the latest haul from the library.

Calvin had no comment but he would read these books in bed learning about Sacagawea, Billie Jean King, Neil Armstrong, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Lucille Ball and more.

I like these books because they often tackle tough subjects with a simple and straightforward approach. I’m pretty open with my kids about the tough stuff but sometimes a little help is welcome. Civil Rights is addressed in “I am Martin Luther King, Jr.” Gender equality in “I am Billie Jean King.” Slavery is discussed in “I am Abraham Lincoln” and “I am Lucille Ball” addresses how she persevered over a tough childhood.

That’s the beauty of these books. The subjects – Jackie Robinson, Jane Goodall, Albert Einstein – overcome obstacles and succeed.

I enjoy reading them myself. As Max says, who wouldn’t want to read them?

But I am happy summer is on the horizon and that means no more reports.



Before you do your holiday shopping..

One of the best Christmas presents I ever received was the Little House on the Prairie set. It was a gift I enjoyed for years and still do since I recently pulled them out with my own kids.

Before you head out with your holiday shopping list, I asked Max and Calvin for their input:

Max’s holiday picks:

  • Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
    “It shows what people eat and what animals they love. It shows what sports they play.” A
    ll ages.

Calvin and Max check out Maps.

Calvin’s holiday picks:

  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson “People might like it because they might like the roller derby.” 7 and up.
  • Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems
    “I love it because it is very funny and I love doing the voices.” (Look out for a future blog post on this one.) All ages.

Calvin loved Roller Girl and I did too!

The three of us agreed on:

  • I am Helen Keller by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
    It’s amazing to read the story of Helen Keller and the book has braille in it. All of Meltzer’s books are winners. All ages.

My suggestions, Max and Calvin approved:

  • The Night Gardner by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
    This book is beautiful! One of our favorites this year. All ages.
  • The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
    A lovely tale about a girl and her grandfather. We adore this book, illustrated by the author of Mr. Frank. All ages.

The Imaginary Garden is a sweet story about Theo and her Poppa.

For ages 1 month to 100:

Anything by Todd Parr or Mo Willems.

Do you have any memories of books you received? What are your ideas for the holiday gifts?

Take me out to the ballgame

Sandy Koufax used to live in our house.

Not being a sports girl, I used to throw out this fun fact to sports fans of a certain age. Now it impresses Max.

His new obsession is baseball.


Max at a Reds game.

You learn things from your kids. Through Max’s former obsessions I figured out who Harley Quinn was, grew an appreciation for Diplodocus, and caught up on the more recent Star Wars characters.

Now I know about Big Papi, Billy Hamilton, and Joey Votto. Our summer has involved playing baseball, watching baseball, talking about baseball. (Calvin has a vague interest but mostly for Max’s sake.) He tries and then goes back to his traffic jams.

“I knew Jay Bruce was going to get traded but I’m still sad when I hear about it,” said my little fan.

Our favorite books

I’m ok with Max recording and watching EVERY SINGLE Reds game but I’ve also used his new focus to get him to read.

Here are some of our favorites that even Calvin and I can get into. They are so many inspiring stories about players who have overcome obstacles.

A favorite is I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer. (We love all of Meltzer’s We Can All Be Heroes books about famous people and how they overcame challenges – Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln.)

Silent Star The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy  by Bill Wise and Adam Gustavson is fantastic and he played for the Reds!


Calvin, Maxfield, and Max at the ballpark!

And don’t forget the female players – The Kid from Diamond Street, The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno – is a gem.

Sports Illustrated Kids Baseball Then to Wow is a great introduction to the game.

Max found The Love of Baseball in a used bookstore on vacation and could not put it down.

And don’t forget Sandy Koufax – check out You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! By Johan Winter & Andre Carrilho.

If you’re wondering about Sandy Koufax, he lived in our Clifton house when it was a fraternity Phi Lamda Phi and he played for University of Cincinnati. An additional fun tidbit – my friend Annie’s grandfather played with him!