Brightly: A Beautifully Curated Website for Reading Resources

 

Today I want to share a bookish website that I found this fall: readbrightly.com. I came across the website when I was on the hunt for resources about reading with toddlers. Brightly is a high-quality website that I think other parents and teachers would benefit from, too.  

Created in partnership with Penguin Random House as a resource to help parents and educators “grow lifelong readers,” Brightly is a beautifully curated website packed with information for readers of every age. There are printables to pair with different books and themes, guides for picking out books for different ages, contests, and monthly reading challenges. This is a website teachers and parents will want to explore. The articles are concise and informative, and everything is so well-designed. This is not some cluttered, advertisement-filled site.    

One thing I’ve particularly enjoyed from the website is the monthly challenges. I download and print the challenge and cut it down to fit into an 8×10 picture frame. Then, we keep track of the items we’ve completed by making a check mark on the glass with a dry-erase marker.

If you want to try the November reading challenge, you can find it here.

Have you found any other great websites for reading with children? If so, please share in the comments!

 

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My TBR List Will Never Be Tackled


Like most book readers, I’ve got a TBR list – both formally on Goodreads and as a wishlist in the Overdrive app, and informally in my head – but, to be honest, I don’t really plan on reading all of those books. I don’t prioritize my next book choice based on my list. I just don’t see that working for me because my reading habits and styles and interests are always changing and growing. Here are a few specific examples of why I don’t plan on following through with my TBR list:

1. Sometimes I see the movie first and then I don’t care to read the book.

This might be because I didn’t think the movie was very good, so why would I invest the time into the book? Or, now the lack of suspense just makes it something I no longer care to read. I know what happens – why bother reading the same story twice?!

Three particular examples of this are:

  • The Spectacular Now, book by Tim Tharp
  • The Lightning Thief, book by Rick Riordan
  • Big Little Lies, book by Liane Moriarty

2. Sometimes I read other books by the author and realize I don’t really care for their work.

For instance, I know John Green has a big following, but I just can’t get over how pretentious and boring most of his books are. Read more about my thoughts here! Even though I added Looking For Alaska to my TBR because it is consistently on best-book lists (even making it onto the PBS The Great American Read program), I refuse to read it since I didn’t like An Abundance of Katherines or Paper Towns. The Fault in our Stars is bearable, but I can pick out a lot of other YA books that I enjoy more.

3. Sometimes I’m worried reading another book by a beloved author will ruin the series/author for me.

I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird numerous times, and even taught it in the years I spent teaching high school English, but I’m scared to pick up Go Set a Watchman. I’ve heard that Atticus is not as virtuous as he is in TKAM. The circumstances regarding how the book became published when Harper Lee was 88 never sat well with me, either. Did she really want the book read or was she taken advantage of?

Another book like this is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I adore the Harry Potter series and I don’t want to tarnish it. Cursed Child has had very mixed reviews, and since Potterheads worship J.K. Rowling, I know the work has to be pretty rough to not earn their praise!

4. Sometimes I read the first book in the series and wasn’t captivated enough to pursue the rest of the series…but if I come across it someday, maybe I’ll pick it up.

  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  • Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

5. Sometimes it’s a classic or a book with a lot of hype that I feel I’m supposed to have read…but I’m not really interested. I’ll get to it later.

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

How about you? Are you strict with your TBR list, or do you give yourself wiggle room?

From the Book to the Big Screen: The Ones That Got Away

My four year old likes to watch Paw Patrol. And Shimmer and Shine. And Vampirina, and Puppy Dog Pals, and PJ Masks. She likes a lot of shows. But for some reason, she does not want to watch HBO, or go to the movie theater with me, or watch anything that isn’t animated. Thus why I’ve missed out on so many great book-to-screen adaptations in recent years.

If I had it my way, I’d love to catch up on all of these adaptations (I’ve read all of the books already):

  • 13 Reasons Why
    • Book: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  • Ready Player One

    • Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Love, Simon
    • Book: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Hate U Give
    • Book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • A Wrinkle in Time
    • Book: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
    • Book: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Every Day
    • Book: Every Day by David Levithan
  • Wonder
    • Book: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Looking at this list, I realize that I’ve posted something about just about every one of these books – and that many of them are personal favorites. I’ve got to get these watched!

Anyone have suggestions about which titles I should tackle first?

A Presidential Picture Book

As we await the final results of Tuesday’s election, I wanted to share my favorite political read of the year: Grace for President written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham.

When her teacher unveils a poster with all of the presidents on it, Grace asks the obvious question, “Where are the girls?” Grace decides that she would like to be president, so her teacher is inspired to hold an election at their school. As it turns out, the other class nominates Thomas as their candidate. The rest of the students in the class choose a state to represent and then learn that each state has a different number of electoral votes. Grace will have to earn at least 270 electoral votes in order to win. Grace creates posters, listens to the issues that are important to her classmates, creates a productive list of promises, meets with her constituents, gives speeches, joins the safety squad, organizes a committee, and volunteers at her school. Meanwhile, Thomas realizes that if all the boys vote for him, he’ll win, so he plays soccer and makes a few glittering promises. Finally, it’s time to have the election. Each representative stands up and casts their votes. The race is neck and neck. It all comes down to one final state: Wyoming. Even though Wyoming is represented by a boy, he decides to cast his three votes for Grace – making her the winner.

This book is clever, frustrating, and inspiring, all at the same time. It’s clever because Kelly DiPucchio’s text is tongue-in-cheek. On one hand, it’s a simple story about a class election, but the adults will catch the nuances of a girl – of color, nonetheless – running against a white boy. Frustratingly, even though she clearly works harder, has good intentions, and runs a fair race, she barely scrapes by with the win. Luckily, Grace’s win makes the story inspiring. There’s also a great picture of grown-up Grace at her presidential inauguration on the final page of the book, next to an author’s note explaining a few more details about how the electoral college works. Honestly, I got a bit teary-eyed as I read this story out loud. The illustrations are darling, and I love how you can read Grace’s emotions on her face. I’m already thinking about several friends that I want to gift this picture book to – Christmas gifts, perhaps?

Other Kelly DiPucchio Books We’ve Enjoyed:

  • Everyone Loves Bacon
  • Everyone Loves Cupcake
  • Dragon Was Terrible

NaBloPoMo is Here!

It’s November and NaBloPoMo is back! Whether the event still exists is anyone’s guess – as I certainly can’t find anything about it on blogher anymore – but I’m officially declaring that I’ll be participating in this unofficial event! I’m eager to share all the bookish thoughts, reviews, and news I’ve been saving throughout the year. I hope you’ll follow along with me this month.

For those of you who are new to Love2Read365, welcome! Please check out my About page to learn a little bit more about the blog and find links to some of my most popular posts.

It has been another year of great books for me, and I hope you had a great year of reading, too. When I reflect on what I’ve read in the past year, I see that Young Adult books dominated once again. I think this is because I like the fast pace, the drama, the adventure, and freshness of Young Adult literature. Meanwhile, Adult Fiction often feels boring to me, with the plots more often than not focusing on a depressing marriage. While I thought that I had branched out to a larger variety of reading material, this breakdown clearly shows otherwise!

These labels are pretty limiting, though, because there’s so much more to each book. There’s Fantasy, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Social Justice, Science Fiction, and LGBTQ representations. Heck, one book (#7) was even a Western!  

I’ll talk to you more about some of these books as we make our way through November, but for now, I’d love to know if you read any of the same books as me. I’d also like to know if you’ll be participating in NaBloPoMo so I can follow along with your blog.

Here’s to a happy, creative, connected November!

So, everyone has perfect memories now?

So, everyone has perfect memories now?

I’m really struggling with the reason why some people aren’t Team Blasey Ford: the lapses in memory. They claim that since she doesn’t know how she got to or from the party or where the house was, her story doesn’t add up. But I can’t understand why this is the sticking point for people. Not the fact that she remembers the laughter from two boys who were having a good time at her expense, not the fact that she remembers she was wearing a one-piece bathing suit because Kavanaugh struggled with it, not the fact that she remembers making eye contact with the other boy, pleading with him to help her out. It’s the missing details that people are caught up on.

Just a few weekends ago, I got together with a friend and we talked about a trip we took in high school (I don’t know when exactly, but I think we were juniors). She and I had very different memories of the trip. I felt confident that we were at one hotel and she thought it was another. I hadn’t remembered that she spent the night throwing up over some bad KFC chicken! I didn’t remember taking an old-timey photograph. I don’t remember the vehicle that we took to get there. The only thing I know for sure is that we took a LOT of shoes! I know this because we have a picture of all the shoes lined up.

Now, we can keep track of our lives easily with social media and camera rolls on our phones, but in the ‘80s? Or even in 2002 or 2003 when this trip happened? That wasn’t a thing. Today, if I don’t write something down on a post-it note or journal, I’ll forget it in 30 seconds.

Shame on people for discounting Ford’s words because of the things THEY think she should remember.  

And how dare President Trump mock a sexual assault victim. Did you see the video of that rally in Mississippi? Did you see the people – men and women – laughing along with him? That is not the professionalism that I expect from the President of the United States. Say what you will about Obama, the Bushes, or Clinton, but I never worried about their intentions. I felt they were basing their decisions on whether it was best for the greater good (in addition to also listening to sound counsel). Trump, on the other hand, cares only for himself.

While I haven’t personally experienced sexual harassment or assault, I have:

  • Paid attention to my surroundings and had my keys out and ready while walking through dark parking lots
  • Only clicked “unlock” once on my key fob and quickly gotten into my car so that no one else could enter my car
  • Texted my husband to let him know I’m leaving a place so that he knows when I should be home
  • Asked friends to text me so that I know they got home safely
  • Walked home from evening college classes with other girls so I wasn’t alone on a dark campus
  • Worried about friends when they disappeared at a college party
  • Left notes of what I was wearing and where I planned to go before going on a walk when I lived in an apartment by myself
  • Changed clothes so that I didn’t leave the wrong impression – as if my clothing has anything to do with what another person chooses to do
  • Both laughed at Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality and took her defense advice seriously in case I would ever need to get away from an attacker (SING: solar plexus, instep, nose, groin)

It’s these little things that I don’t think men ever think about.

It’s time to start talking about why that is.

It worries me that this situation may somehow cause other survivors to not report because they’re afraid they haven’t remembered the right details. Personally, I don’t think there was anything Dr. Ford could have said on the stand that would change the Republicans’/Lindsey Graham’s minds.

Let’s just imagine:

     Ford: Here’s the one-piece bathing suit I wore that night.

     FBI/Forensics: Yes, that is Kavanaugh’s DNA on the swim suit.

     Republicans: The Democrat’s planted it there.

 

     2 more accusers: He raped me too.

     5 more accusers: He raped me too.

     10 more accusers: He raped me too.

     Republicans: You have him confused with someone else. This is all a set up by the Democrats to block the confirmation process.

 

     Time Travelers: We went back in time and observed the party in question. What Dr. Ford says is true. We couldn’t tamper with the situation, or risk changing all of history, but it’s true.

     Republicans: Science isn’t real. This is all a set up.

 

     God: My children-

     Republicans: Is that God?

     God: Yes, my children, it is I. Yes, this horrific thing really happened to Christine. Wrap her in your loving care.

     Republicans: Why does it matter what happened 30 years ago? He was just a kid. This is a job interview NOW.

 

I know it’s unfair to group all Republicans this way, but it is certainly what it feels like at the moment. We’ve all chosen sides and there’s no wiggle room. But how anyone could want to move forward with a confirmation on Judge Kavanaugh is beyond my understanding. Is it more important to feel like the winners than to address very serious concerns? I’d really like an answer to that.

Ok, this rant is finally coming to a close. I want to leave on a positive note, so let’s bring it back to books, shall we?

This is a book blog, after all, so it feels fitting to share some books I highly recommend for anyone looking for a way to learn more about sexual assault victims and gain some empathy and maybe even a new perspective. These are all Young Adult books, but that doesn’t mean adults should shy away from them.

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – both the original text from 1999 and the newly released graphic novel. There’s also a 2004 movie version starring Kristen Stewart. High school freshman, Melinda, is raped at an end-of-summer party but doesn’t report it. In fact, she goes through much of the school year without speaking. She loses her friends and her grades suffer, meanwhile, the person who raped her walks the halls and eventually dates her former best friend. I just read the graphic novel last week and was blown away by how the pictures and text interacted. This book should be on everyone’s reading list.  

 

  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston – Hermione Winters, captain of her cheerleading team, is raped while at a summer camp. But what is really interesting about this book is the way that the main character’s situation is taken very seriously. A cop handles her case with care, her parents support her and her decisions (what if she’s pregnant?), her pastor says the right things, a therapist takes the time to get to know her, and her friends stand fiercely by her side. I wish everyone was given the kind of respect and support that this character receives. Don’t let the odd title of this book fool you – this is another book we should all be reading.

Celebrate Stories: World Book Day

April 23rd is World Book Day according to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Though the UK celebrates World Book Day on the first Thursday in March, I like the April 23rd date because it’s a significant, writerly date. Many famous writers have died on April 23rd, including playwright and poet William Shakespeare; author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes; and the Romantic poet William Wordsworth.

Here’s a picture of my daughter and me celebrating World Book Day – though I’m pretty sure I celebrate books every day! And if you’re reading my blog, you probably celebrate books too! Yay Books! 

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This week, my daughter recommends Pink Me Up by Charise Mericle Harper and Bea at Ballet by Rachel Isadora. As for me, I’m reading and recommending Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, and contemplating what it would be like to have a friend win millions and millions and millions of dollars in the lottery.

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What are you reading on World Book Day?