Word by Word

Creating myself one word at a time.

Haunted Library book

I don’t remember what I was reading in first grade…or second…not even third. I begin to have vague recollections around fourth with Roald Dahl’s The BFG and The Babysitter’s Club books.

There is nightly tradition in my house. My son and I curl up in my bed with the book we’re currently reading together. We read for at least 15 minutes and usually more like 30.

Something strange is happening to me. I’ve gone from reading the books he’s chosen out of simple necessity to outright enjoyment. I’ve actually, you know, started thinking of these books as reading material worthy of logging them on Goodreads. I know, what took me so long? How could I be such a book snob?

You’d think a reader of 30-something years would know by now to never say never. I take a while to learn lessons though, just ask my mom.

Here are my favorites so far. I assure you I’ll be back with more as I continue my walk down kid lit lane.


Haunted Library book

The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler

The Haunted Library series by Dori Hillestad Butler

A Barnes and Noble bookseller was on overdrive during a visit to the bookstore one day with my kid. I asked for one book. One book. They didn’t have it. But, she wondered, did I know about The Haunted Library series? No, well she took care of that. I walked out without the book I came for and five books I’d never heard of prior to entering. Cha-ching!

All that said, I’m very glad I did. My son and I both love The Haunted Library books. He begs to read them and I am eager to agree.

The series centers on a young ghost boy separated from his ghost family, whisked by the wind to a library and meets a young girl who just happens to see and speak to ghosts. Thus, Kaz and Claire begin the journey of reuniting Kaz with his ghostly family. There are colorful characters and funny antics. If you can get past the lack of explanation about the rules of Butler’s ghost world, then you’ll enjoy this series. I’ve suspended belief for this one because they are just that fun.


My Weird School

My favorite My Weird book so far.

My Weird School by Dan Gutman

I wasn’t sure about this one. My mom, a reading specialist, assured me it was a good choice. How much could I love a book about a boy named A.J. who hates school and all things learning? The answer: a lot.

This series is hilarious. There are chapters where I bust a gut louder and longer than my son. I’ll admit, the first couple of books had me a little unsure, but by three I was in. If they weren’t fun to read, the fact that my son begs me to read “just one more chapter” would sell me.

Each book features a new teacher from Ella Mentry School and some scheme or mystery to solve for A.J. and his buddies. While the boys say they aren’t fans of the girls, Andrea and Emily always feature in these antics. I’ll go ahead and admit that I totally identify with Andrea. I, too, was a nerd who looked up words in the dictionary for fun, took classes in everything and thought I was the smartest kid in class. You can see why people loved me.

The good news: there are 21 books to read while A.J. and friends are in second grade. Then you get to move on to third grade with them.


book cover

One of our favorites in this series.

I Survived series by Lauren Tarshish

These books are still a bit…advanced for my second grader. They are certainly a “read to him” book and nothing he can consume on his own yet. However, we’ve read several and we love them. Each installment features a story about a young boy who survives some sort of disaster.

The beauty of these is they are true events with a fictional story built around them. We’ve read the ones about the eruption of Pompeii, the shark attacks of 1916 and the Japanese tsunami.

Reading these does something so important for my son. They transport him to a time and place he has never been and teach him to empathize with the narrator. They expand his mind beyond our four walls, the block and neighborhood where we live. All things, as a parent, I’m very grateful to have in books that he enjoys.



I’ll keep you posted as we explore other series in children’s literature. And, yes, I’m counting all of these books toward my Goodreads book challenge! I’m reading every word! It totally counts. And if you don’t think so, in the words of A.J., you’re a dumbhead.

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