Kids Books Repeatedly Checked Out of the Library

We use the library a lot. I have 85 items checked out at the moment. I use it for homeschool, and my kids can’t resist piling up the favorites every time we go. I sometimes have to tell them to go back in the stacks and find something we’ve never read before (because I get tired of reading the same things over and over). Here’s a list of some of the favorites that get checked out again and again. You will soon see that my girls are more likely to check out repeats than my son.

  • George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall. This big book always weighs down the library box. I consider it a book about being tactful and friendly. The stories are sometimes delightfully goofy!
  • Anything by Holly Hobbie, especially Fanny, Fanny and Annabelle, and the Toot and Puddle books. Okay, and also Everything But the Horse. These books encourage imaginative creativity to the tenth degree!
  • The Water Hole by Graeme Base. We love the moose. My youngest can pore over the whole book searching for the hidden animals.
  • Alfie and Annie Rose books by Shirley Hughes. Yes, my kids are getting too old for these, but love for a book is timeless, right?
  • Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’Connor. I’m supposed to like these because they are fun and girly in a good way, and they build our vocabularies, but we’ve checked out Splendiferous Christmas so often… sigh… I believe I’m anti-fancy because of Nancy.
  • My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco. She is a prolific author, tackling subjects other children’s authors don’t touch. Mostly, she writes stories about real people she has known. This book is about her real older brother. I like the ending, and I like to read the dedication, which is to her brother “with love.” I point that out with extra emphasis to my girls, who can totally sympathize with the “rotten” part of the book.
  • Randy’s Dandy Lions and Cowardly Clyde by Bill Peet. His books have rhyme and rhythm. And usually some decent morals. They have good guys and bad guys, and they have underdogs who rise to the occasion. We like them.
  • Ponyella by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans. A horse and a Cinderella spin-off. Need I say more?
  • Strega Nona books by Tomie dePaola. These are Catholic (we’re Protestant) and full of magic spells. But somehow dePaola works his charm and makes it more than acceptable anyway.

There’s more. But I’m drawing a blank, so I’ll stop here. The above books are ones we’ve been enjoying for years. Honestly, I think if we owned them we wouldn’t read them nearly so often. Libraries are way more fun than bookshelves at home.

Do you have any favorites that get checked out again and again?


Keep a secret thought

I often quote other people’s words on this blog, but today’s idea is mine. Keep a secret thought for yourself this Christmas. Don’t share it.

We give so much of ourselves this season: gifts, money, time, cookies, hugs, love, song, letters, care, attention. And this is good! As in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge learns to open up, give to others, turn his attention to those around him. And yet, I wonder if he shares his haunting experience with people. Probably not. (Yes, I know, Scrooge and his life are a figment of Charles Dickens’ imagination.) The appearance of the three spirits plus the ghost of his former partner were a gift to Scrooge, and he is likely wise to keep that gift to himself.

I have a Christmassy thought, and it is encouraging to me, and I’m not going to tell you about it. There are enough good thoughts to go around; go find your own! Wrap it up prettily in your mind and treasure it. Let it influence your life this Christmas without anyone knowing about it.

Coffee (or Tea)

Coffee by Richard Diebenkorn, 1959

Today is a day for wearing blue, being off-centered, drinking a hot beverage using both hands, and sitting with your back to the window in an empty room.

Today is also the day I decided my kids do not need an advent calendar or advent tree or daily reminder of how many days till Christmas. There’s already enough Christmas anticipation in this house to carry us well into January.

Today is also a day for fishing garbage cans out of the ditch.

Today is a day for reading a book about a sad, damaged man traveling down a river in Ireland (Shannon by Frank Delaney–more to come, if I ever finish it).

Today is a day when all the cats want to come in the house, but I bury my face in their fur, dump them back outside, and then feel sorry for them.

Today was a day for reading out loud and listening to children read out loud.

And now, tonight is a night for wondering if my husband will not want supper because he’s cold and tired, or if he’ll need lots to eat because he’s cold and tired. It could go either way. I think I’ll get myself a cup of tea. This room is very cold.

Soul remains

Here’s an inspiring word from Valerie Bell as quoted from Peace for a Woman’s Soul (2002):

Our souls are what identify us to God. We look to our labels; God looks to our core. Labels like child of … , mother of … , wife of … , teacher [etc.] only describe where we have been–not who we are! We can lose many identities in life, but in the end, our souls remain… We can lose every drop of perceived specialness and still, soul–that deep, intrinsic, individual identifying specialness–remains.

— page 56

I can perceive myself as someone who doesn’t do well at Christmastime, and I can think that is a very bad thing, but really, it’s a label I stuck on myself. Peel off the label, and I’m getting closer to revealing that deep, intrinsic, individual specialness that is me.

Christmas happens every year, but only once a year. My soul is eternal, and God knows that eternal me (even if I’m sometimes stuck looking at the day-to-day me). Turn that truth over, and you get something even more important: God is eternal, and I can look at the eternal aspects of God even (especially?) at Christmastime.

Feeling My Way

Christmas can be joyous without being happy. It can be special and full of well-spent time without being a “moment to remember.” I struggle (a lot) with expectations from others and myself during the holidays. (Will the kids really be scarred for life if I don’t make fudge, frosted Christmas cut-out cookies, AND gingerbread men this year?)

Honestly, this year, it’s not about the sweets. I could care less about them, although I know I’ll be baking at some point.

This year, I feel like I need to do something to center my joy around Jesus. Actually, I just need to recognize that I don’t need to do anything; Christmas has always been centered around Jesus no matter what I do.

I’m considering starting a series on this blog, feeling my way through the holiday season, searching for truths that have always been there, but are waiting for me to discover them.

But, I’m not committing myself. This has been a year of saying no to many things. And yes to other things I’ve never said yes to before. This year is a little like the drive home from the grocery store yesterday afternoon. The sunset was beautiful orange-peach streaks in the west. I was alone, quiet, physically restful. Yes, I can enjoy this even though my mind was not emotionally restful. Something was restful! And that counts for something. Yes.

Wholehearted Thanksgiving

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!

— Psalm 103:1

I love Psalm 103, but I never considered it a good thanksgiving psalm until today. Sometimes I only thank God with my soul (or heart). I detach that churchy part of me from the rest of me. But here it says to bless God with all that is within me. Wholehearted thanksgiving. It occurs to me that “wholehearted” is a tricky word. I could think of it as the heart getting wrapped around all of me, not staying in a separate compartment. Stretchy inside-out heart.

Happy Wholehearted Thanksgiving!

Cezanne’s Studio

Still Life with Open Drawer by Paul Cezanne, 1879

I read an article that talked about the color of Cezanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence, France. It had gray walls, which lessened the 3-d effect of real objects. In other words, painting a bowl set against a gray wall has a flattening effect (which is apparent in Cezanne’s paintings). It is easier to jump from the color of the bowl to the color of the wall. The wall color is actually important. Very interesting! I’m easily fascinated by the importance of negative space. I could go beyond art with that topic. But I won’t, at least today.

Check out the article. It has pictures of the studio. When I walk into the room of someone dead and famous, I usually don’t think, “Whoa, this is a room of a famous person.” I tend to think, “Whoa, this room is pretty ordinary and real-looking,” which makes the famous person seem more ordinary and real. And I like that! I don’t know everything about Cezanne, but I do know he was a gruff, temperamental type of person. And he didn’t mind repetition. He spent much time painting the same mountain over and over. I think it wasn’t about the mountain. It was more about the colors.