With the March school holidays coming up, the advent of Baby #3 as well as new schools for both J and Little E, we are all adjusting to many life changing events in the Owls Well family! What better way to prepare ourselves for the future than to delve into the world of books?
With this in mind, let me share with you our current Ch-ch-ch-changes 2015 reading list for all the family!
Preschoolers Reading List for Little E who is looking forward to being promoted
This is a really great book for little girls who are soon to be promoted in family status to ‘Big Sister’!
Not only does ‘You’re a Big Sister’ by Bedford and Poole sport beautiful illustrations featuring multiracial children as well as mixed-race families (especially relevant in our situation), but also very sweetly deals with the fears that any child might have when there is a new baby coming around and points out how being the older sibling is special and wonderful.
Little E really enjoys this book so much, that I have seen her looking through the pictures by herself and talking to herself about all the things that Big Sisters can do to help care for a little baby!
I especially appreciate the fact that the book doesn’t paint a false rosy picture of a new baby in the family, but also briefly touches on the negative aspects of having a sibling – such as coping with noise, mess and busy parents. However, the book is quick to reassure the Big-Sister-To-Be that also things will different in the family, it will be a positive change overall.
(For those of you with little boys in the family, there is You’re a Big Brother by the same authors!)
Early Readers Book List for J who is realising that his family is not perfect
This hilarious, beautifully illustrated chapter book is actually the fifth in a series of books featuring Alvin Ho, a very anxious 8 year old, and his day-to-day adventures.
In ‘Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night‘, Alvin realises to his utmost horror, that his mum is expecting yet another baby which might be another girl like his sometimes bothersome little sister…and worse yet, he is experiencing signs of sympathetic pregnancy (or to put it in his words ‘simply pathetic’ pregnancy)! Alvin is eventually is confronted with the birth of his new sibling – and his reaction to the baby is pure gold.
This book was so funny in places, that I couldn’t help laughing out loud whilst reading it – and J could not wait to get his mitts on it when I was done. J brought this book to school for early morning ‘silent reading’ before the start of class, and he loved it so much that he re-read twice! I found this book very good for reading aloud as well – Little E thought it was hilarious.
I was really touched by how the book dealt with the anxieties of older siblings who have already had some experience with younger children in the family, and I noticed that after J completed the book, he seemed much more positive about the advent of Baby #3, choosing to remember the positive aspects of when Little E was an infant.
I will definitely be checking out the rest of the books of the Alvin Ho series!
J is also reading The Parent Agency by David Baddiel, which is quite a light-hearted wish-fulfullment story about a dissatisfied boy named Barry who is given the opportunity to choose his own parents (and by extension, pick a whole new family).
Fortunately, he already has a list of detailing the failings of his parents – apart from naming him ‘Barry’, they are also (1) Boring and (2) Always Too Tired – so he is well-equipped to choose a new and improved family (or is he?). Barry is not prepared for the consequences of his choices, and eventually learns to appreciate what he has.
The book is a simple, fun read but it does rely rather heavily on humorous pop-culture references which not all children may be familiar with. Additionally, the characters are super-wacky and the crazy situations that Barry finds himself in are exaggerated and over the top, so if you prefer more sophisticated humour, then I would look elsewhere.
However, I do like the subtle wordplay which is a great introduction to the world of puns…but be prepared to do some explaining to your early reader!
Grownup Booklist for Debs G who wants to be more involved
With J starting Primary School for the first time, and Little E starting Nursery, I decided that it was time I took a good look at learning and memory, to see how I can help the kids in their educational journey.
How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey is a really engaging read which examines decades-worth of education research into how our brains process and retain information, starting from birth and throughout our lives. Surprisingly, much of what I thought would be helpful to learning (such as providing a stable, distraction-free environment for example) is not necessarily the most effective way to help the brain in memorisation!
Benedict Carey does a great job of organising all the various studies together and presenting it in a very practical way, with good techniques and tips that will help parents, teachers and students who want to know how to study or learn more effectively. He also touches on various aspects of learning – not just rote memorisation or concept comprehension, but also the development physical prowess and complex skills with many of the learning techniques applying across the board.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who might be interesting in a greater understanding on how to exploit the quirks and eccentricities of the brain and make learning more efficient, productive – and fun!
Young Adult Booklist for the Barn Owl whose world is changing too fast
(There’s nothing like a little bit of young adult dystopian fiction to put life in perspective!)
The three novels pictured above are not particularly challenging reads, but they are certainly highly entertaining and a great way to unwind after a hard day at the office.
‘The Maze Runner’ by James Dashner is about a teenaged boy named Thomas, who wakes up in The Glade, the centre of an ever-changing labyrinth populated by a society of teenage boys. He, like the other boys, remembers nothing except his own name. The boys have been trying for years to escape the maze which is patrolled by deadly creatures, with no success. When the first girl is introduced to the group, the conditions of the maze change drastically and they are forced to find a way out. The plot is intriguing with plenty of fast-paced action, and although the end of the book leaves a more than a few questions unanswered, the main story arc is well-concluded.
‘The Kill Order’ is the prequel to ‘The Maze Runner’ but it works perfectly well as a standalone novel and describes the world-changing events which eventually led to the creation of the Maze. This book was really such a fun read – basically, it is every single apocalyptic novel all rolled into one! WOOHOO!!!! Anything bad that could possibly happen to destroy the world and ruin organised society takes place in this book (apart from the arrival of Lovecraftian terrors from the deep – no mythical beasties here, we are a terribly realistic portrayal of possible catastrophic events), so it is a wild roller coaster ride which I thoroughly enjoyed!
If you are looking for something a little more thought-provoking, then the Newberry Medal-winning novel, ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry, is what you might be looking for. The novel centres around 12 year old Jonas who lives in a peaceful community where pain and suffering no longer exists. When he begins his training as the Receiver of all memory, he slowly sees the truth behind his seemingly utopian society which is devoid of colour, emotion and choice. Definitely a very powerful novel, which is worth a read (despite its enigmatic conclusion).
A Surprise for Owls Well Readers: MPH Bookstores Singapore is very kindly sponsoring set of the following titles: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night by Lenore Look , How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey and ‘The Maze Runner’ by James Dashner to ONE lucky Owls Well Reader! That should keep one family occupied for the whole March school holidays!
To take part in this giveaway, just complete the following:
1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page.
2. Like and Share this Facebook post (set to public) and tag a friend.
2. Leave a comment below telling me about a book on your current reading list 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
(This giveaway is open to people with a Singapore mailing address and ends on 12 March 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete the 3 required steps!)
P.S. Special thanks to MPH Bookstores Singapore for being awesome and acquiescing to my request for review copies of all the books listed here!
Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been contacted via email. Thanks for playing!