On this day in which we give thanks for the people who make our lives so very special, I am also thankful for the amazing authors whose words have made a deep and lasting impression.

I am thankful for Hard Times by Charles Dickens, particularly the character Rachael, for whom I am named.

I am thankful for The Big Tidy Up by Norah Smaridge, illustrated by Les Gray, and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. These books launched me into reading and I am forever grateful for the clever rhyme and cunning pictures in these titles that captivated my imagination and tickled my tongue.

I am thankful for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, which added hilarity to long family car trips during the holidays. And taught me a beauty tip I still use—Vaseline eyelids!

I am thankful for Black is brown is tan by Arnold Adoff, which opened my eyes to poetry.

I am thankful for With Love From Karen by Marie Killilea. This book about the joys and challenges of raising a child with cerebral palsy in the 1950s is a great read and was a great comfort as I learned to navigate middle school.

I am thankful for The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger and for all of her other mousy brown haired heroines. Very reassuring to read that brunettes have fun too!

I am thankful for The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which showed me that it is perfectly reasonable to look at the world in many different ways.

I am thankful for The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, which I have read a half dozen times, and within its multi-layered complexity, find a new and remarkable meaning each time.

I am thankful for Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton, which started my own kids reading.

I am thankful for A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke, which my husband read aloud to our whole family.

Books give us so much to be grateful for—from special time with family to new experiences to joy, comfort and a lifetime of pleasure. I am truly thankful for books.

Activate imaginations and all your kids’ senses when you head outside with books. The sense of wonder that nature provides is exactly the curiosity you want your child to bring to a book. Even if you are limited to exploring your backyard or the local park, there are lots of simple ways to spend enjoyable times reading and learning together in the great outdoors.

Go on a booknic

This summer, make room in the picnic basket for books! Choose a theme around family food and reading preferences and pack accordingly. Try:

  • Honey grahams with Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood
  • Bread and jam with Bread and Jam for Frances
  • Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert with a taste of fruits and vegetables from around the world

Flashlight reading

For younger kids with earlier bedtimes, the excitement of getting to go outside at night will make a bedtime story and snack most memorable. Get your flashlight, blankets or a sleeping bag story and enjoy a story about stars under the stars. Try:

Her Seven Brothers by Paul Goble

Stars by Mary Lyn Raystars

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffershowmanystars

Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey

The Love of Two Stars by Janie Jaehyun Park

Once Upon a Starry Night by Jacqueline Mitton

How Many Stars in the Sky? by Lenny Hort

Pi Day isn’t just for math lovers. Circle around to readers and get everyone in on the fun!

Pi Day, which is named after Pi, the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, or 3.14, is a great day to bring reading and math together. The month/day format that connects Pi to the calendar is extra special in 2015 because it equals the first 5 significant digits of Pi: 3.1415. And if you want to time your celebration just right, wait until 9:26:53 is on the clock. You’ll get even more digits of Pi!

To make the day an even bigger celebration, honor Albert Einstein along with π. March 14 is his birthday! It’s also the perfect excuse to serve up a delicious birthday pie.

So celebrate! It is easy as Pi to share Pi related books, read up on Einstein or trade trivia or interesting Pi facts with the titles and links below!

Bring tons of math fun to readers ages 7 and up with Why Pi? by Johnny Ball

Cindy Neuschwander and illustrator Wayne Geehanan take readers 8 and up on an epic math adventure with Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and Radius in Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi


Jennifer Berne and illustrator Vladimir Radunsky beautifully explain the work of Albert Einstein to a young audience in On a Beam of Light. Ages 6 and up.

   Albert Einstein (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull is a lively, accessible biography for readers 9 and up.

Pi and Einstein resources:


blogpromoI’d long wanted to visit the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and wrote about in her Little House series. During the summer, I finally got to travel the Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway.

My traveling companions–son Breece, niece Avery, my mom–and I covered more than 2,500 miles during our pilgrimage. We’ve been blogging about our Little Journey on the Prairie at Reading Rockets and that’s where you should go to read about what three generations of readers saw, learned and loved about each historic site. There’s also a bit of advice for those planning to make their own little journey and plenty of ideas for parents and educators who want to help kids connect to the stories and history of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family.

But here’s where I’ll offer some additional insights and photos as things strike me or as I learn even more about Laura from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Massive Online Course from Missouri State University.

Here’s your first tidbit:

jackLaura’s best friend was a brindle bulldog named Jack. Brindle refers to the color of the dog. Brindle is brownish or tawny with streaks of other color. Did you know that?

And did you know that when Charles Ingalls traded away the ponies, Pet and Patty, Jack was part of the deal? The real Jack didn’t travel back from the prairie and never once played along the banks of Plum Creek.

Dear, faithful Jack!

Summer is a great time to get a little crazy in the kitchen and for food-related field trips! At Random Acts of Reading, you’ll find my Dr. Seuss inspired recipes that will take your reading and cooking adventures on beyond Green Eggs and Ham.

You’ll also find food fun, like these One Fish Two Fish Treats at Seussville.com.

two fish







Reading Rockets has cooked up some great food fun centered around paired fiction and nonfiction books. Check out these Reading Adventure Packs for getting creative in the kitchen:

Each Reading Adventure Pack includes great book recommendations. But if you want to sample some other food and cooking related titles, try these: 

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger

How To Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book About Kitchen Chemistry by Joanna Cole

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech

Pie by Sarah Weeks

Looking for true love this Valentine’s Day? Connect a kid with a book and watch the sparks fly!

The wise and wonderful Katherine Paterson said, “It is a sign of wonderful love and affection to read aloud to someone, and we love it. So, we should never stop reading aloud.”

Make some book love this Valentine’s Day! Read aloud with your loved ones and enjoy these titles about a love for books and reading.


The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch



I Am the Book: Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Illustrated by Yayo




The Library by Sarah Stewart. Pictures by David Small




But Excuse Me That is My Book by Lauren Child




 That Book Woman by Heather Henson. Pictures by David Small




Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss. Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke




The Hard-Times Jar by Ethel Footman Smothers. Pictures by John Holyfield



Have a very happy Who-liday when you visit Who-ville this Christmas season!

Enjoy enchanting scenery and local musical performances

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 Dig in to delicious local foods
Since the Grinch took the last can, sample this Who Hash featuring
leftover Roast Beast

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Or remember the Grinch with a sweet and tasty souvenir

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 Send holiday love to friends and family

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 And relax with a good book

It was delightful to chat with Kathleen Dunn and her callers today about encouraging and motivating kids to read. Listen here if you want to hear the thistle tongue twister, how to be a reading role model, and ideas to make reading fun and fundamental to your kids.




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There’s no better ode to the Earth than Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax!

Find all kinds of reading and recycling fun for Earth Day in my article for Random House Kids For Parents.

And when you visit Seussville you’ll find my recipe for Truffula Tree cake, directions for making a recycled page corner bookmark, along with activities, crafts and more.

Elephant Ironing by Katherine Whitney

The reading party here at Belle of the Book is about to get rocking again. Things have always been a bit too static on these pages, so it’s time to make it more fun for everyone—including me—to visit.

The decorations committee is now in the capable hands of the extremely talented Katherine Whitney. The art shown here is part of a collection of handmade cards Katherine created for Mingei World Arts in Decatur, Georgia.

These whimsical creatures enlivening their everyday activities with books were exactly the kind of party animals I needed to meet. Katherine’s art inspired me to ask her to create original art for Belle of the Book and got me to focus again on why motivating kids to read is so important.

Your invitation to the new Belle of the Book is coming soon! In the meantime, please let me know what kind of reading fun, ideas, and resources for reading activities and events you’d like to find here.

Moose Fishing by Katherine Whitney

Pasha Painting by Katherine Whitney