WSIRN Ep 124: The challenge of making your reading life your own

WSIRN Ep 124: The challenge of making your reading life your own

Today’s episode is a FESTIVAL of book recommendations for all ages. You might recognize children’s lit enthusiast Sarah Mackenzie from Episode 49: How To Help Kids Fall In Love With Reading, during our Reading for a Lifetime series, when she came on the show to help me recommend books to some truly adorable bookish kids. Today we’re doing more of the same, but I’m ALSO going to recommend 3 books that she can incorporate into her adult reading life when she’s not running Read Aloud Revival or sharing books with her kids.

Let’s get to it! 

Connect with Anne: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | WSIRN Instagram

Connect with Sarah:  Check out Read Aloud Revival: Website | Podcast | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Books mentioned in this episode:
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•  The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids, by Sarah Mackenzie  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Adventures of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Henry Huggins, by Beverly Cleary  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Who Is, Where Is, What Is series (try Where Is The Great Barrier Reef? Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Ivy and Bean, by Annie Barrows (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Squish #1: Super Amoeba, by Jennifer L. Holm (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Our Only May Amelia, Jennifer L. Holm (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Babymouse #1: Queen of the World! (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Sunny Side Up, Jennifer L. Holm  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Little Robot, by Ben Hatke  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Mighty Jack, by Ben Hatke  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Redwall, by Brian Jacques (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Green Ember, by S.D. Smith (Amazon
•  Frindle, by Andrew Clements (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  No Talking, by Andrew Clements (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  author E.B. White (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Magic Tree House series, by Mary Pope Osborne (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Half Magic, by Edward Eager  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Land of Stories series, by Chris Colfer (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Percy Jackson series, by Rick Riordan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, by Jonathan Auxier (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Junie B Jones series, by Barbara Park (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Prairie Thief, by Melissa Wiley (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  author Jeff Kinney (try Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  author Roald Dahl (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Henry and the Chalk Dragon, by Jennifer Trafton (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Ballet Shoes, by Noelle Streatfield  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Mother-Daughter Book Club, by Heather Vogel Frederick (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, by Misty Copeland  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable, by Dan Gutman  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
  Story Thieves, by James Riley (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Five Kingdoms series, by Brandon Mull (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Beyonders series, by Brandon Mull (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Candy Shop War, by Brandon Mull (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, by Josh Funk (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Mr. Putter & Tabby series, by Cynthia Rylant (try Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Nobody Likes a Goblin, by Ben Hatke (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Strega Nona, Tomie dePaola (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Educated, by Tara Westover  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Matilda, by Roald Dahl  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Run, Ann Patchett  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett  (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry, by Gabrielle Zevin (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble
•  Far From the Tree, by Robin Benway (Amazon | Barnes and Noble

 

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**

What's your favorite read-aloud memory? And what would YOU recommend Sarah read next? Tell us all about it in comments. 

61 comments

  1. Brittany says:

    I just have to comment because I also love Kate Morton and whenever I hear someone talk about her I get soooo excited!

    Also, I do not read a lot of YA but I loved Far From The Tree by Robin Benway. I listened to it on audiobook and this was one where I had those driveway moments- Thanks Anne for letting me know I’m not alone! I loved Far From The Tree so much I picked it for my book club!

  2. Emma says:

    Lots of great recommendations I’ll be looking into for my 7 year old!
    I would add to that the Storey-Treehouse series by Andy Griffith. My son has listened to the first two on audiobook and was captivated by their crazy inventions for their ever expanding treehouse.

    • Katrina says:

      Yes! I’m always trying to find new books for my seven year old boy, and the Treehouse books were the first thing I thought of to recommend. My boy has read them all, repeatedly, in between Bad Guys and Captain Underpants. They’re graphic novels, so quick and easy reading, and there are lots of them!

  3. Megan Nashel says:

    Ah Sarah, I feel the exact same about Bel Canto! I had such high expectations about it because of all the praise for it and listened to a little more than half of it on audible before I ditched it too. I just a didn’t care to find out what was going to happen either. I liked State of Wonder by the same author. I loved this episode and love all the read-aloud recs, and will give some of them a go with my almost-4-year-old. We read a LOT of picture books and visit our library every week, so I’m excited to find some new longer books to try with my daughter! Thanks again!

  4. Susan in TX says:

    Loved this episode! I’m a huge fan of you both, and enjoy listening to Sarah for nostalgia’s sake (and for building the library for future grandkids!) as my “baby” is 17 and past the stage of most of her recommendations. Also, Sarah, you are not alone. I loved Run by Ann Patchett and could not stand Bel Canto. Every time I hear people gush about it, I’m thinking to myself, “Really?” I’m always glad for the never-ending variety of books for the wide-ranging variety of readers. 🙂 I also recently listened to Echo on audio (for myself), and second that recommendation. And have to admit that now I’m nervous about the copy of The Night Circus I have sitting on my shelf.
    Happy Reading to you both – and thanks to both of you for being consistent sources of good recommendations for readers of all ages!

  5. Lisa says:

    What was the book gifted to your kids by the beloved babysitter? I thought it started with a W when I listened…but I’m not seeing something that matches my memory on this list. thanks!

    • Sarah says:

      My first experience with Ann Patchett was Commonwealth and it was not a good starting place – I would definitely recommend everyone start with her book of essays and go from there. I’m definitely adding Run to my list. I felt the same about The Night Circus and I don’t even think Jim Dale could have made me love that book – not for me. Did any one else forget that they weren’t really sitting and chatting with Anne and Sarah and blurt out a recommendation? I did! 🙂 Calvin and Hobbes has helped to slow down and capture the interest of my kids when they are in that early reader phase – the complete collection is 1,500 pages!!!

      • Melisa says:

        While Commonwealth had so many unlikable characters, I thought it was so well written. Made for a great book club read.

        • Sarah says:

          I just wish I had read The Story of a Happy Marriage first – I think I would have appreciated it differently. Had you read any Ann Patchett before you read Commonwealth? I’m just curious because I’m completely devoted to her now and I wish it hadn’t been my first book of hers that I read.

          • Melisa says:

            Commonwealth was my first Ann Patchett and after reading that I wanted to read all her works. I loved the Secret of a Happy Marriage.

      • Susan in TX says:

        Yes, Sarah! I was listening while I walked this morning and walked into the house towards the end of it and started answering them and spewing titles. My son said, “Who are you talking to?” He thought I was on the phone! 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      That was the Vanderbeekers book I believe and I actually am not seeing it in the list up there. The title is The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

  6. Sarah says:

    One of my interjections on Ben Hatke is to read his Zita the Space Girl series before starting Mighty Jack. But that is just because Zita makes an appearance at the end of the second Mighty Jack book and so I think she is meant to be read prior. All my kids love all of his books – he is brilliant!

  7. Danielle says:

    Sarah and Anne, you MUST read The Summer Before the War! It was my favorite book from last year. I think comparing it to a modern Jane Austen or Downton Abbey is great. It has a lot of humor and wit, even while set during WWI. The characters are wonderful. It was fabulous on audio, I suggest listening to it over reading in this case.

  8. Bethany says:

    I HATED The Night Circus. I abandon very few books, but I couldn’t make it through that one. At page 350 I finally accepted that she wasn’t going anywhere with the plot(and if she was I no longer cared). Glad to hear someone else didn’t get it either.

  9. Melisa says:

    This weeks WSIRN installment is an explosion of good reads. I absolutely loved The Storied Life of Aj Fikery and I hated Night Circus, so I feel that with all the books recommended here I will be adding many to my TBR pile.

  10. Amy says:

    I have 4 boys, and one series they have all loved and reread over and over (but I never hear mentioned anywhere) is the Aldo Zelnick series! Anne, your 2nd grader might love them. They are heavy on the graphics, like Captain Underpants, but differ in content. There is a different letter of the alphabet featured in each book. So for example, the first book is Artsy-Fartsy, and in the back of the book there is a glossary of vocabulary words beginning with the letter A that are found throughout the book. The stories focus on a boy (Aldo Zelnick) and his interactions with family and friends and school.

  11. Nichole says:

    I always love WSIRN, but this was my favorite episode ever! As soon as I finished listening I subscribed to Sarah’s podcast, so I guess today’s episode was also a “What Should I Listen to Next” for me! I got recommendations for all three of my kids (3, almost 7, and almost 9) and so much encouragement that my middle child may turn out to be a reader yet. My oldest is a voracious reader, but my middle child has struggled. It was so nice to hear of it “clicking” for kids as they got a little older and gave me hope that would happen for him too.

    I also loved Anne’s suggestions for Sarah and plan to add a couple of Sarah’s favorites to my TBR list since I have read and liked some of Anne’s suggestions for Sarah!

  12. Kari Ann Sweeney says:

    AJ Fikry is one of the few books I tend to re-read from time to time. A true winner.

    Far From the Tree and The Keeper of Lost Things were both fantastic as well.

    Great choices all around!

  13. Marion says:

    I listened to this episode this morning. I appreciate the children’s books recommendations. I’m always looking for more things to read with my 8 year old daughter. I’m going to try out The Book Scavenger Series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Also, I actually liked Bel Canto by Ann Patchett but I could see why Sarah did not like it.

  14. Katherine says:

    What about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series for the teenage girls? One of the main characters is a competitive soccer player. It has some grown up themes, so I don’t know if it’s a good choice for the younger girls on the team but the older ones might really like it!
    Also, when I was a teenager I loved books written as letters or notes back and forth between friends. I am drawing a blank on a title, but those were some of my favorites to dig into.

  15. Erin in CA says:

    Anne, for your youngest, have you tried Dan Gutman? My son (now 14) LOVED him at that age. He started with the My Weird School series, then moved on to The Million Dollar Shot (and the others in that collection) and then read The Genius Files. Dan Gutman kept my son in books for quite a while, and for that I will always be grateful!

    Just ordered Vanderbeekers, sounds like a great next read-aloud for my daughter and I. Thanks!

  16. Melissa says:

    Could someone please direct me to where I can learn more about that colorful set of classics featured in the blog picture above?

  17. Loved this episode because I got ideas for me AND my kids. Thank you!
    Here are some of my recs:
    1. Reluctant chapter book readers: Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi. This book is funny, thoughtful and the illustrations are GREAT! It has a classic conflict that’s resolved in a really clever way.
    2. In that same vein but more geared for a girl is Diva and Flea, written by the great Mo Willems, but illustrated by the equally great Tony DiTerlizzi. It’s about coming out of your shell, appreciating what’s around you and making friends. And, again — the illustrations! Wow!
    3. Also, I’m reading the Great Brain series to my kids right now. They love it! I think it would appeal to anyone who likes Beverly Cleary or the Little House on the Prairie books. It’s a long series of books (great for voracious readers) and is filled with quaint, but funny family stories in the same vein as Ramona Quimby, but set in 1800’s Utah.
    4. My daughter (12) is reading a YA book called Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu right now. From what she tells me, it’s very girl empowerment and uplifting. It might be great for some of the older dancers.

  18. Kristin Clark says:

    Sarah, I kept expecting Anne to recommend I Capture the Castle to you…have you read it?
    Thanks for the recs on kids’ books. My 7 year old son loved the Zita the Spacegirl series. He also loved the Hilo series by Judd Winick. I also suggest for a series for second graders the Captain Awesome series as well as Galaxy Zack. I also wonder if Anne’s son would like Woof by Spencer Quinn and there are some follow up books.

  19. Elizabeth Brink says:

    Loved this episode! I don’t have kids myself, but I love kid lit, so I’m adding a ton to my TBR. I was scrolling through Read Aloud Revival’s Instagram for the first time and saw that you live in Eastern Washington, Sarah! I live in Spokane, and I was so excited to see you live here, too. It’s such a wonderful place to live. I also work for HarperCollins Christian Publishing, so I’m excited that you’re publishing a book with Zondervan! I can’t wait to read it. 🙂 Also, thanks for the head’s up on your Instagram that the fifth Penderwicks book is coming out in May. I put it on hold immediately. Love that series!

  20. Jamie O says:

    I LOVED this episode! So many great recommendations! I realized several things: I really do love middle grade and YA books! and can’t wait to read your recommendations! (It must be why I love being a middle school teacher too! 😉 – Also good to finally recognize why I didn’t like Bel Canto! I thought that I was strange to be the “only one” not on the band wagon; definitely will try one of Patchett’s other books. Thank you both for a great Podcast! I think I’ll go back and listen again!

  21. Anne, your youngest sounds a lot like my ten year old when it comes to his taste in books. I wonder if he would like Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. It is part graphic novel and part regular novel and was one of my son’s favorites outside of Garfield, Big Nate and pretty much any kind of graphic novel. Loved Sarah’s recommendations for your son and will be picking up a few of those to strategically lay around my house. 😉

  22. Anna says:

    I’m going to brave the comments here and admit that I really loved and adored the Night Circus. Also, I teach 7th grade English and have a few recommendations for the dancers on the older end. For 6-8th grade, Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick is about an 8th grade girl who navigates all the trials of 8th grade (including dance class struggles) while also dealing with her father’s stroke. For mature middle schoolers up through high schoolers, I also love the book The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. While fleeing from the falling Twin Towers, a boy discovers a girl completely covered in ash, wearing angel wings, who remembers nothing. This is beautifully told in multiple perspectives – the boy’s voice is in prose, while the girl’s is in free verse poetry. Dance also plays a peripheral role that becomes much more clear at the end.

  23. This is a recommendation for Anne’s son. The I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis are wonderful books for a bridge for beginning readers who are ready to start reading middle grade books or for those who don’t like long books! They are about a 3rd or 4th grade reading level and the books are under 100 pages. They are historical fiction with each story set in a different time period and event….such as I Survived the Great Chicago Fire or The Bombing of Pearl Harbor. I am a librarian in an elementary school and the kids love these books. Lauren Tarshis does a great job writing these adventures.

  24. Susan says:

    I loved this episode! Sarah McKenzie is such a kind and enthusiastic person – and I just love listening to her talk about books. I got some great book recommendations for my kids and for me! And as usual, Anne’s book recommendations sound amazing!

  25. I am still listening to this episode– I listen on the way to work. But I am loving the fact that Andrew Clements was brought up. I am a teacher and feel every teacher in the intermediate grades should know who he is. His ability to write a captivating story is unreal. My students love No Talking (I always do it as a read aloud) and Frindle is one of my favorite novel studies to do.

    I am a little behind on his books because I was out of the classroom for a couple of years in another position. But he always has a spot in my heart!

  26. Amy Peters says:

    Such a great episode!! Sarah, I feel like you are my reading twin!! When you were describing why you loved or didn’t love a book I kept saying “yes, exactly!!”
    I love Kate Morton – I do love listening to them on audio – Caroline Lee narrates them (and all of Liane Moriarty’s books) qnd her voice is just incredible!!! I would listen to anything she narrates!!!
    My mom read to my sister and I every night – usually a chapter a night unless we could talk her into more!! My favorites were the Little Women series and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe! Oh and Madalaine L’Engel – A wrinkle in Time and others!!! Such wonderful memories!!
    Anne, thanks again for another great list of recommendations!!

  27. Natalie Miller says:

    My non-excited to read 6 year old got SUPER excited to read thanks to the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborn. They travel back in time, but learn about the scene they land in.

    My 9 yo who LOVED Harry Potter has really gotten into the I Survived books (not a series, but historical fiction) by Lauren Tarshis. They have started some interesting conversations. He has also enjoyed the Ranger in Time series because it’s about a dog that goes back in time.

  28. BarbN says:

    Will add another vote for Andrew Clements, especially No Talking. We listened to it on a car trip when our kids were 6-ish and 13-ish. The 13yo started out with her earbuds in listening to her music, but eventually she was listening, too, and it led to a couple of great family discussions. Also, I skimmed through the other comments so maybe I missed it, but the series that got us out of the post-Harry Potter slump was Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (of Hunger Games fame, but these are written for a younger crowd). They might not work immediately after finishing Harry Potter, but we’d been floundering for something to listen to as a family for a year or so when we discovered them and the kids LOVED them. I have to admit I was not as big a fan– there are several big bugs that are major characters (lovable bugs) and it made me a little squeamish. But spouse and kids were totally into it, and sometimes it’s nice to have something they read with Dad and not mom.

  29. Melissa Waltman says:

    Just finished the audiobook The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo(Because of Winn Dixie) and it was fabulous! It’s a short audiobook and my 8 year old daughter and I found it exciting and it’s a good story. I would recommend it for ages 7-10. Enjoy!

  30. Amanda says:

    LOVED this episode! I am a thirty-something who loves middle grade and YA fiction, so I was intrigued to find that Sarah’s favorite “adult” reads were some of mine too. I love Helen Simonson’s Mr. Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Summer Before the War and I am currently reading my first Kate Morton- The Forgotten Garden. I enjoyed The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and have added all the other books discussed to my already overwhelming TBR. However, I absolutely loved The Night Circus! It felt like a Harry Potter-esque novel full of atmosphere and intrigue. I read this book on paper the first time and am currently listening to Jim Dale read it and it is awesome. I have had many driveway moments:) I have only read two Ann Patchett books so far: Bel Canto and State of Wonder. And while I really did enjoy reading them(both on paper and audio) and appreciated the unique stories, I can’t say I loved them. Like Sarah, I really need characters to love and root for. These two books had none. Enjoyed hearing from Sarah and look forward to reading her books!
    Thanks!

  31. Cecilia says:

    I loved ‘The Storied Life of AJFikry’ so much!! I think she it’s a great book recommendation. Also, ‘Far Away’ by Tom McNeal is a great little short book I highly recommend.
    I have not read Bel Canto yet, but did like Commonwealth and also State of Wonder.

  32. S says:

    Fantastic episode. I am wondering what other techniques you both use to encourage your children to read…do you require daily reading or just encourage? I feel like I could leave books on every surface but my boys would choose anything else to do but read. My 15 year old especially struggles with finding something he wants to read (he tends towards non fiction).

    My youngest (11) loves graphic novels and is reluctant to try something beyond his tried and true types of books (Wimpy Kids, Big Nate, Dog Man, Last Kids on Earth, Timmy Failure) but he asked me to buy him The Wild Robot last year so when I remembered the sequel had come out, I practically flew to the bookstore to buy it this weekend – he actually thanked me! I noticed this morning he loaded it into his backpack for silent reading at school…a reading mom’s dream…

    Anyone else curious what Anne’s non YA 3rd pick was going to be for Sarah?? I was hoping she’d recommend both as a bonus…

  33. S says:

    Adding another comment for favorite read aloud memories…my daughter and I loved all of the Madeleine books, Minerva Louise stories, and The Adventures of Edward Tulane . My youngest and I have a few favorites – My Side of the Mountain, Wonder, and Owls in the Family. When he was much younger his absolute favorite was Spoon.

    My middle one loved Mike Milligan, Katie the Snowplow and The Little House. We read those so many times!!

  34. Elizabeth says:

    I’m listening to this episode right now and was thinking about things your son might like- Boxcar Children, Horrible Harry, Clementine (it’s a girl protagonist but so cute and funny like Ramona), Encyclopedia Brown, and stuff by Astrid Lindgren. We also loved the Sarah plain and tall series.

  35. Leanne says:

    For the listener who owns a dance studio, I recommend the “Dancing for Drina” series by the British author Jean Estoril, which is hugely aspirational and heartwarming. For Sarah, I recommend the “Spud” series by John van de Ruit, about a teenage boy at boarding school and his colourful group of friends. Enjoy!

  36. Lindsey says:

    I have a recommendation for your son, Anne! Spencer’s Stories–Hair in the Air by Gary Hogg. He’s an author local to my neck of the woods and it’s out of print so you’d probably have to get it second hand through Amazon, etc. But it’s really funny! Similar humor to Captain Underpants.

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