The Owls Well Summer 2014 Family Reading List (and giveaway!)

One of the big things that we share as a family is a love of reading. There is nothing that the Barn Owl and I like to do more than browse the bookstores and libraries and disappear into the pages of a good book. We also like to have a stack of unread books in the house that we can slowly delve into over the course of a season.

So…let me share with you our current Summer Reading book list for all the family!

Little E’s Preschoolers Reading List

This is an extended version of the classic ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ song, starring the enigmatic Pete the Cat. Little E has an affinity for black (or navy) cats and is absolutely fascinated by the adventures of the golden-eyed Pete, drawn by electrical engineer-turned-artist, James Dean. I like nursery rhyme-based books like this for preschoolers as the simple rhymes help them to memorise the text, which in turn helps them to recognise sight words.

And yes, I do like the author’s name.

There’s also this brilliant video which perfectly complements the book, which is great to sing along to:

J’s Early Readers Book List

Artsy-Fartsy and Bogus, by

Artsy-Fartsy and Bogus, by Karla Oceanak

Artsy-Fartsy and Bogus, the first two books of the Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel series by Karla Oceanak, which follow ten-year-old Aldo as he records his endearing, everyday adventures in sketchbooks given to him by his grandmother Goosy, filling each one with hilarious illustrations, stories and fancypants vocabulary words.

These books are simple, fun and great for encouraging reluctant readers like 6 year old J, who still tends to balk at text-heavy chapter books. They would be a great launching point for independent readers who might want to explore the wonderful world of art-journalling or storywriting. I especially enjoy the way that the books try to expand a reader’s vocabulary – Artsy-Fartsy is All About Awesome ‘A’ words, whilst Bogus is Brimming with Brilliant ‘B’ words, and the back of each book sports a glossary that is both witty and easy to understand.

More about Aldo Zelnick books here.

Find out how to make an Aldo Zelnick-inspired journal cover here:

The Barn Owl’s Independent Readers Book List

The Barn Owl Says: These are books suitable for tween and teen readers who are looking for books containing subject matter that is both thought-provoking and challenging without being explicit. The language in these books is clean, there are no sexual scenes or gratuitous/horrifying descriptions of Gross.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is a sci-fi fantasy novel set in a post-apocalyptic world where absolute power corrupts absolutely – although in this case, it is superpowers doing all the corrupting, turning super ‘Epics’ into super tyrants. The setting and the characters are thoughtfully and complexly constructed, drawing the reader completely into this world where entire cities can be turned into steel and shrouded in darkness. The main character, 18 year old David Charleston, is endearingly awkward as he works his way into the anti-Epic rebel group of Reckoners and then takes us on an action-packed ride filled with secret missions, motorcycle chases, awesome feats of heroism and EXPLOSIONS, on his way to revenge himself on the Epic Steelheart, self-proclaimed ruler of Newcago! Definitely a book for anyone who loves a good superhero franchise.

Here’s the Book Trailer: 

Read excerpts from Steelheart here.

For those of you who prefer something less fantastical and much more down-to-earth, try Wonder by R.J. PalacioAt its heart, this book revolves around Auggie Pullman, a 5th grader who is entering mainstream education for the first time. His particular problem is that he is born with severe craniofacial deformities which complicate his life in more ways than one. The book is written in short chapters told from various first-person perspectives which expands the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s first year in school is not only a challenge to him but to the whole community. I particularly appreciated the way that the book sensitively handles chronic illness in children, especially the impact of a chronically ill child on their siblings. A really great book for launching discussions on the impact of kindness.

Here’s the Book Trailer: 

Great discussion questions regarding Wonder and some interesting background stuff here.

Debs G’s Grownup Book List

Debs G says: These books contain mature themes and subject matter so they are only suitable for a young adult or grownup audience. I definitely think that parents of precocious readers probably ought to thumb through these books first as there are plenty of possible topics for Deep Discussion!

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld has to be the best book that I have read this year. The nameless and omniscient narrator who is on death row, preserves his sanity by turning his surroundings into a magical wonderland where golden horses with molten manes of flame run deep beneath the earth and horrifying flibber-gibbets writhe in the heat of the newly dead. Through him, we learn the stories of the inmates, the Warden, the Fallen Priest and the Lady, a death-row investigator. Rene Denfeld, the book’s author and herself an investigator for death penalty cases, reveals the cruel reality of the prison community as well as the lives of those waiting for capital punishment in crushingly beautiful prose that breaks your heart yet gives you hope at the same time.

If you only have time to read one book this year, this is the one you are looking for (*waves hand*).

Watch Rene Denfeld talking about her book: 

More about the author here.

One thing that I can definitely read more about is MORE ABOUT PERANAKAN CULTURE. It pleases me to no end that a book written by a local girl and based on our rich Southeast Asian heritage actually made it to Oprah’s Book-of-the-week! The world needs to know more about sarong kebayas and kerosang and chendol!

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo is a charmingly written account about the beautiful Li Lan’s unfortunate betrothal to a dead man (a tradition which is believed to pacify a restless spirit). The book starts off as a historical account with detailed descriptions of colonial Malacca and the various aspects of nyonya food and dress, then takes a psychedelic turn into a fantastical netherworld with demons and dragons.

It’s a wild ride.

Watch Yangsze Choo talking about her book: 

More about the author here. 

Bonus: Debs G’s Tired Brain Refresher

Sometimes, after a long day, all a RAWKmum really wants is a something to relax the mind and the best thing for a tired brain is a book that is just pure, unadulterated entertainment and full of good, clean jollification. Operation Mom by Reenita Malhotra Hora is one such book – an absolutely ridiculous farce involving the antics of two Indian teenagers, Ila and Deepali, as they try to find the perfect date for Ila’s mom, whilst dealing with the normal teenage girls angst ridden troubles of ‘which-boy-likes-me’ and ‘do-I-look-fat-in-this-punjabi-suit’. It’s great fun to read, and you don’t have to think very hard.

Watch the Book trailer: 

More about the author here.

A Special for Owls Well Readers: MPH Bookstores Singapore is generously sponsoring a massive book giveaway to FOUR lucky Owls Well Readers! Winners will get to select their choice of TWO books from the above Owls Well Summer 2014 Book List! Woohoohoo! Thank you MPH Bookstores!

To take part in this fantabulous giveaway just complete the following:

1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page

2. Leave a comment below and tell me all about your Favourite Book Of All Time (of all time!!!) and why you think everyone should read it. Don’t forget to leave your Facebook name and your email address so that I can contact you if you win – or if you’re really shy, you can email your details to me separately at

3. (Optional) To double your chances of winning, share or reblog this giveaway on any form of social media that you fancy and leave a comment below with the link!

(This giveaway is open to people with a Singapore mailing address and ends on 8 August 2014. Winners will be picked via – just make sure you complete the 2 required steps!)

P.S. If you want to see all the book trailers and author interviews in one neat package, check out the Owls Well 2014 Summer Reading Playlist here.

(Update: This giveaway is close and the winners have been contacted via email. Thanks for playing and read more books!)


25 thoughts on “The Owls Well Summer 2014 Family Reading List (and giveaway!)

  1. Thanks for the awesome recommendations! I’m always on the lookout for more great reads, so this is a really handy list for me.
    I can’t quite decide what my favourite book of all time is, because there are just too many! It’s like asking me to pick a favourite kid! (Which is actually easy for me now because I only have one.) I’m going to go with My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, because it was the first book of hers that I read, and I have been hooked onto her books ever since.
    Adeline /

    • That’s interesting! I have not had the best opinion of Jodi Picoult’s books because I always get the impression that she tends towards horrible subject matter purely for their shock value, so I have not yet been able to get past the first chapter of any of her books…but you make me think I should give her another try.

  2. I think my favouritest(est!!!) book/series of all time is still the Harry Potter series. I love that… *spoiler*alert* the greatest power of all, is love! =)

  3. Hard to choose a favourite book but I really enjoyed Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle recently. Other books that I have loved in my lifetime: The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, Man and Boy by Tony Parsons… just to name a few!


    Will share on my Facebook page too (FB: Olimomokblog)

    • ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ is my all time favourite book. I have read mine down to ribbons and it gets me every time. I shall give ‘The Glass Castle’ a try!

  4. Anne of green gables…i watch the telemovie first before i bought the whole series and read and follow every word the red haired anne said and do and i always imagine my own gilbert blythe..almost name my son gilbert…and the old books are stil at my maternal home…hope one day i can pass it all to my girl
    Jaime chan

  5. My fav book is Milan Kundera’s the Unbearable Lightness of Being. So many good insights on love, and life! The pages of my book are all yellow and musty smelling now, but it’s one of my prized possessions.
    I know you asked for only one book, but coming in a close second is Alvin Pang’s What gives us our names. A short, gentle and utterly lovely book. Food for the soul!

    Ai-Lin Chung
    nova67 at singnet dot com dot sg

    • Goodness me, I don’t think I’ve even heard of Dave Baldacci! Thriller books are so much fun – will definitely be keeping an eye out for him for my next adrenalin hit.

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