Booklist:  10 Books for a Reading Roadtrip Across America

Booklist:  10 Books for a Reading Roadtrip Across America has been proudly international from the beginning, intentionally seeking books and authors from around the world. But we are based in the United States. Given that our country celebrates her birthday on July 4th, we decided to highlight some books that we have reviewed that are American in focus. 


There There, Tommy Orange

Possibly the most powerful book we’ve read for Scintilla is There There by Tommy Orange. There are a lot of reasons to choose this book, but in this context our main reason is its setting. Oakland is almost an additional character within the book, a side of Oakland perhaps not obvious to tourists but rather one that locals would recognize. The characters and the powwow might be fictional, but the city is real and vibrant and essential to the story. Orange makes good use of the quote that inspired the title and shows that Oakland indeed has a there there.


Hellbent, Gregg Hurwitz Out of the Dark, Orphan X series, Book 4, Gregg Hurwitz

Moving down the coast, pick one of Greg Hurwitz Orphan X books which are primarily set in Los Angeles. Although protagonist Evan Smoak does travel around the country, he is based in LA and much of the action takes place in the US’s second largest city. Using actual neighborhoods and streets gives the settings a strong realism. The only thing hotter than the summer temperatures is the story when Smoak goes into action.


The Library Book, Susan Orlean

And for some reality in your LA story, The Library Book by Susan Orlean tells the story of the LA library in a way that reads more like a novel than a history. The people and the city that the library serves are well represented, as are the characters who came to lead the library throughout its history. A fun and enlightening read.


Long Road to Mercy, David Baldacci

Although many of David Baldacci’s books are set in Washington, DC, his recent book A Long Road to Mercy puts FBI agent Atlee Pine into a small town near the Four Corners region of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The landscapes and distances are almost characters themselves in this novel with a kickass heroine and a typically complex Baldacci plot.


Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward

Mississippi is the setting for both of Jesmyn Ward’s National Book Award winning novels: Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Her evocation of the heat and humidity can make you sweat on a winter’s day in Pennsylvania, and I say this from personal experience.


Florida, Lauren Groff

Florida by Lauren Groff takes us across the country to our 27th state, the southernmost of the 48 contiguous states. Filled with unique characters and individual stories, the state figures into every story of this book that bears its name.


The Tenth Justice, Brad Meltzer The Hellfire Club, Jake Tapper

Brad Meltzer’s first novel, The Tenth Justice, and Jake Tapper’s novel The Hellfire Club are both set in Washington, DC, roughly 50 years apart. Both are thrillers with intrigue, political skulduggery, and real and potential violence. If you want to escape the current political news cycle, these are two options that keep you in the Beltway without once mentioning any actual living politicians.


Invisible, Stephen L. Carter

And finally, NYC is home to millions of people and almost as many stories, but Invisible by Stephen L. Carter is a true story of his grandmother and her battles against the mob in the 1930s. A lawyer under the famed Thomas Dewey, Carter’s grandmother tackled prejudice and gangsters using her intellect and the law.


Obviously there is a lot more country we could have visited…so let us know if you enjoyed this brief tour and maybe we will travel to some more places next July!


Booklist:  10 Books for a Reading Roadtrip Across America

Booklist: Fun Summer Reads

Booklist: Fun Summer Reads

It’s June, and summer in the northern hemisphere where we live will soon be in full swing. Along with vacations, swimming, cookouts, and other fun summer activities, it’s time to put together your summer reading list.


You’re not going to go wrong picking any book for a summer read, but we will admit to preferring a little lighter fare for our summer reads. Thick, serious books just seem a bit harder to focus on when the sun is out and the garden (or beach or pool or grill) is competing for attention. That’s not to say we would avoid them completely.


For our summer tastes, though, something a bit cheerier is usually on the menu. We love SFF, and Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera is as funny a book as you will find in the genre. Part apocalyptic threat, part Eurovision competition, and all absurd, it is serious and ridiculous and joyful all at once. A couple of series also deserve mention here: Curtis Chen’s Kangaroo books and Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine novels are excellent and fun.


Summer is also a good time for us grownups to catch up on our YA novels (admit it it, you love them, too!). Seafire is the kickass girl pirate book that I want my granddaughters to read when they are older. And Richard Bach’s Ferret series is charming and is a terrific read-aloud-together series for families with children.


Moving away from SFF, last year’s hit summer movie was Crazy Rich Asians. The series is smart, biting, and hilarious, and you should definitely read the books before the movie sequels come out. The movie was great–but the books are better. (Yes, that’s almost always the case.)


And lest you let the summer gap take away everything you learned the rest of the year, some non-fiction should go onto your list. Lucy Cooke’s The Truth About Animals is the book you didn’t know you needed about animals. From swimming sloths to panda sex to bomb-carrying bats, this book is full of stories of animals and the strange relationships we humans have with them. If you want to feel like a kid again, Steve Brusatte’s The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will remind you why you fell in love with those prehistoric giants in the first place. And finally Lynn Murphy’s The Prodigal Tongue is a laugh out loud book about the differences between British and American English–written by an American teaching English in Britain.


Hopefully your summer is full of fun. Let us know whether any of these books make it to your own list–or what you would recommend we add to ours. Maybe we’ll review it! This Summer!


Enjoy Reading this Summer!

Book Review: Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente

Space OperaCatherynne M. Valente


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Waypoint Kangaroo and Kangaroo Too, Curtis C. Chen



Seafire, Natalie C. Parker


0756410843     Heroine’s Journey, Sarah Kuhn

Heroine ComplexHeroine WorshipHeroine’s Journey, Sarah Kuhn


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Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, Kevin Kwan



The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of WildlifeLucy Cooke



Rescue Ferrets at Sea, The Ferret Chronicles series, Richard Bach



Nonfiction: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, Steve Brusatte



Nonfiction: The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between British and American EnglishLynne Murphy


Also see fun reads for kids:

Booklist: Beach Reads for Kids, Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: LOL Books to Laugh Out Loud with Your Children

Booklist: Fun Summer Reads

Booklist: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Booklist: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

We at have had the privilege of reviewing many books by people whose heritage and ancestry hails from the world’s largest continent. Although this month is specifically devoted to the celebration of Americans who count Asia and the Pacific Islands in their genealogy, we are going to include other Asian authors (i.e. those who are citizens of Asian, European, or other non-US countries) in our list so as to make it as inclusive as possible.


Our apologies to anyone we’ve missed in this list. Asia is a large continent! In many families, including ours, family names do not adequately reflect ancestral homes so we did not rely exclusively on that. If someone should be on this list, please let us know and we will correct it. Any errors or omissions are entirely our fault.

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Curtis C. Chen — Waypoint Kangaroo and Kangaroo Too


The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, Eugenia Cheng How To Bake a Pi cover

Eugenia Cheng — The Art of Logic in an Illogical World and


How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics


Amy ChuaPolitical Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations



Michio Kaku — The Future of Humanity


The Poppy War: A Novel

R.F. KuangThe Poppy War


0756410843 Heroine’s Journey, Sarah Kuhn

Sarah KuhnHeroine ComplexHeroine WorshipHeroine’s Journey


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Kevin KwanCrazy Rich Asians trilogy


The Incendiaries, R. O. Kwon

R.O. KwonThe Incendiaries


Fonda LeeJade City and Zeroboxer


Liu CixinBall Lightning


Ling MaSeverance


Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

Celeste NgLittle Fires Everywhere


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Vaddey RatnerIn the Shadow of the Banyan and Music of the Ghosts


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Thaddeus RutkowskiBorder Crossings and Violent Outbursts


Somini SenguptaThe End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India’s Young



Vandana SinghAmbiguity Machines and Other Stories


Tales from the Inner City, Shaun Tan

Shaun TanTales from the Inner City


Booklist: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Booklist: Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children

Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children


Books were an everyday part of my boys’ life from the time that they were very little. Instead of wanting to sleep with a plush toy, they all opted to sleep with their current favorite book at night. And of course, they all tried the flashlight under the covers to read past bedtime trick. When Son #2 was in elementary school, he was devastated to learn that books were for the serious purpose of homework and learning because until he reached 3rd grade, he thought that books were only for fun like toys. Harsh reality of life for the poor little guy in 3rd grade. To encourage a love of books and reading try a few of these books about books, where books and stories are central to the overall plot.


Before Shared Reading

Review and label the parts of a book including the little noticed sections like the gutter, end pages, and dedications.  Books also include information about their publishing including the country where the book was actually printed and the fonts or type used for the lettering. If you have a library book edition, you may notice that the brightness of the inks maybe vary depending on the age of the book – recently published books tend to have more vibrant colors while older books have more muted colors due to advances in printing. Exam some of these usually overlooked details to find out something new about the book and how it was made.


During Shared Reading

Periodically talk about the importance of stories or books and the role it plays in the overall plot. Also, ask your child how they would feel, if they were in the main character’s place. Would they feel the same way about stories and books?


After Shared Reading

Look at the back of the book and see if there are any author notes. Some authors write letters to their readers to help the reader connect and understand the book better or the writer’s thought process. Sometimes there are also questions in the back of the book that can be used to encourage discussion on the book.

Make a point to ask your child to share a simple story with the family — about their day, favorite events, challenges they faced. Share a story yourself. All books start out as a story in the imagination of the author before it is written down — your child can be a storyteller or writer as well.


Picture Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children


How This Book Was Made

Words by Mac Barnett

Pictures by Adam Rex

Picture Book Ages 4 – 8

Go behind the scenes or rather inside the scene, to see how this book was made — with a big dose of humor in the form of a tiger and pirate. Also see other “meta-books” with a sense of humor: My Worst Book Ever, words by Allan Ahlberg and pictures by Bruce Ingman; Once Upon a Zzz, words and pictures by Maddie Frost; Whose Story is this Anyway? words by Mike Flaherty and pictures by Oriol Vidal; as well as, Help We Need a Title, words and pictures by Herve Tollet.



This Book Just Ate My Dog!

Words and Pictures by Richard Byrne

Picture Book, Part of a Trilogy Ages 4 – 8

Bells dog disappears into the gutter of the book, the fold in the middle of the book when it is spread apart. Follow her adventure to rescue her dog as well as those who try to help her. Also see by the same author, This book is Out of Control! and We’re in the Wrong Book! For another carnivorous book tale see — Open Carefully: A Book with Bite, words by Nick Bromley and pictures by Nicola O’Bryne. Also enjoy the classic although not carnivorous, from Sesame Street, The Monster at the End of this Book.




I am a Story

Words and Pictures by Dan Yaccarino

Picture Book Concept Ages 4 – 8

Reminds readers about the power of storytelling to bring people together — past, present, future — no matter what format or shape the story takes.



A Child of Books

Words by Oliver Jeffers

Pictures by Sam Winston

Picture Book Ages 5 – 12

The guide, A Child of Books, takes a young boy and the reader through a  delightful adventure of the wonder of words, storytelling, and books. Includes snippets from classic children’s literature. Will be an encouragement to new readers and an inspiration to capable readers.



How Rocket Learned to Read

Words and Pictures by Tad Hill

Picture Book Ages 3 – 7

Parents’ Choice Silver Honor

A little yellow bird teaches Rocket the puppy how to read. Also see by the same author, Rocket Writes a Story and Rocket’s Mighty Words. Great choice for new readers and those just starting to learn.



Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books

Words by Kay Winters

Pictures by Nancy Carpenter

Picture Books Memoir Ages 5 – 9

Shares the story of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood love of books and how reading helped him grow into the man who became the 16th President of the United States. See also Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora.



How to Read a Story

Words by Kate Messner

Pictures by Mark Siegel

Picture Books Concept Ages 5 – 8

Reminds readers of the perfect process for reading a story.



A Squiggly Story

Words by Andrew Larsen

Pictures by Mike Lowery

Picture Books Ages 4 – 8

Reminds readers, that they too can be writers and authors and it all starts with one letter.


Chapter Books about Books



Roald Dahl

Chapter Book Ages 8 – 12

Matilda loves books. She also has a secret superpower that she uses to save herself from the dreaded head of the school. Also enjoy the 1996 PG movie adaptation of Matilda which was a family favorite through the elementary and yearly middle school years, for more on the movie see 



The Librarian

Eric Hobbs

Chapter Book, Part 1 of a Series, Ages 8 – 12

A fantasy adventure, where the characters from classic children’s literature come alive in Astoria’s library.



The Story Thieves

James Riley

Chapter Book Part 1 or a Series Ages 8 – 12

Owen teams up with classmate, Bethany, who is really a fictional character, to rescue her father by jumping into his favorite book for an amazing fantasy adventure.


Young Adult Novel about Books


The Book Thief

Marus Zusak

Young Adult Fiction Ages 12 and Up

In 1939 in Nazi Germany, Liesel steals books to read to her foster family and the Jewish man seeking refuge in their basement. Also see the 2014 PG-13 movie adaptation for a review see; for more on the Holocaust read The Diary of Anne Frank.

Read more books about books and libraries:

Booklist: Books about Books for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Books about Libraries for Shared Reading with Children

Book Review: Summer Hours at the Robbers Library, Sue Halpern

Book Series Review: The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman 

Book Review: The Mortal Word, Book 5 of The Invisible Library Series, Genevieve Cogman

Book Review: The Library Book, Susan Orlean

Quote: The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library. Albert Einstein

Quote: Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. Walter Cronkite

Quote: Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Ray Bradbury

Quote: At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. It’s an enormous force for good. Barack Obama


Share your favorite book about books here


Booklist: If You Like Peter Rabbit… Bunny Books for Shared Reading with Children

If You Like Peter Rabbit…

Booklist: Bunny Books for Shared Reading with Children


When I first heard of the 2018 live action movie of Peter Rabbit, I must admit to being worried, because I adore Beatrix Potter’s detailed and delightful watercolor illustrations. Peter Rabbit, himself is also an irrepressible trickster with that balance of naughty and nice that makes him so lovable. Of course, ending one’s adventures or rather misadventures with a soothing cup of chamomile tea is a perfect precedent to continue.  Whatever your thoughts on the movie, take time to read the original inspiration as well as some of Miss Potter’s other works.


For more about the author/illustrator Beatrix Potter see the 2006 PG movie Miss Potter


Before Shared Reading: Establish a Reading Routine

A reading routine can be soothing for children and help them focus on the story. Examples of routines include time and place of shared reading – before bedtime and in bed or a comfy chair. Include in your routine a way to introduce the book which includes highlighting the title, author, illustrator, and some story clues (blurbs from the back or dust cover flaps of books). This routine will help your child by building anticipation as well as listening skills.


During Shared Reading

Make the reading relevant to your child, by pointing specific character traits and behaviors. The lead characters in this booklist are all rabbits that act like people in both positive and negative ways. In folklore, rabbits often take on the role of the trickster, a clever character who can circumvent typical behaviors for their own positive outcome, for example, Uncle Remus’ Brer Rabbit or even Bugs Bunny. While reading, highlight naughty or nice behaviors that fits the rabbit  in the story into the trickster role.


After Shared Reading

Children often enjoy characters that they can relate to, even if they are being naughty, such as Mo Willem’s Pigeon who whines and wheedles in order to get his way. Talk about what your child likes or doesn’t like about the behaviors of the rabbit character. Are they relevant to your child? Is the rabbit a good or bad model of behavior? Would they want to be friends with a person or character with similar behaviors.


Depending on the dialog and action, use homemade (finger, stick, or sock) puppets or even stuffed plush toys to dramatize favorite scenes from the books. Reenacting the story plot helps build reading comprehension skills.



If You Like Peter Rabbit…

Booklist: Bunny Books for Shared Reading with Children


White Rabbit’s Color Book

Words and Pictures by Alan Baker

Board Books Infants and Toddlers

White rabbit experiments with the paint pots and has a colorful adventure. If you find a paperback or hardback edition read that edition as the detailed full page spreads are easier to view. Also see by the same author/illustrator, Black and White Rabbit’s ABC


Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present

Words by Charlotte Zolotow

Pictures by Maurice Sendak

Caldecott Honor Book

Mr Rabbit helps a little girl find a present for her mother who loves colorful things.


If You Plant a Seed

Words and Pictures by Kadir Nelson

Picture Book Ages 4 – 8

Rabbit and mouse plant a garden and wait patiently for harvest, however, when it’s time to gather their carrots and cabbages unexpected visitors arrive. Gorgeous paintings by an award winner illustrator paired with a lovely story about friendship and cooperation.


Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale


Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion

Words and Pictures by Mo Willems

Picture Books Ages 2 – 6

Knuffle Bunny Caldecott Medal

The adventures of Trixie and her cuddle buddy, Knuffle Bunny, from toddlerhood through preschool years will delight your family. Include The Velveteen Rabbit, words by Margery Williams and pictures by William Nicholson, during a reading session to extend the theme of rabbit shaped toy friends.


Bunny Cakes

Words and Pictures by Rosemary Wells

Picture Book Ages 2- 6 Part of the Max and Ruby series

Max wants to make grandma a cake with worms, but bossy Ruby wants to make an angel cake with icing. Which sibling will be in charge of the baking in the kitchen?


The Little Rabbit Who Lost Her Hop

Words and Pictures by Jedda Robaard

Board Book Ages 2 – 4

On the way to a party, little rabbit loses her hop – how will she get to her family’s celebration? Let children lift the flaps to see how she will get to the party on time.


Watership Down

Richard Addams

Fiction Fantasy

The classic tale of rabbits in search of a new home due to building on their former field. This would also be a good audiobook to listen to on a road trip. You might want to introduce younger children to the plot by viewing the animated adaptation from 1978, for more on the movie, see 




The Tale of Hill Top Farm

Susan Wittig Albert

First in the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series

Fiction Cozy Mystery/Fantasy

Including real people and locations, this cozy mystery series brings a lighthearted look at the complexity of village life including the point of view and side stories of the animal inhabitants. Grown-up fiction which is approachable for older elementary and middle school readers.


So, what do you think? Peter Rabbit — movie or book? Share your thoughts below.


Booklist: Spring Books for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: Spring Books for Shared Reading with Children


The onset of seasonal allergies aside, spring is the favorite season of many. With the renewed energy from blooming flowers, hatching eggs, and bouncing bunnies, there is also the welcome of shared reading about spring on a warm and sunny day outside or crisp yet cozy spring night. Share the joy and exuberance of spring with the children in your life.


Before Shared Reading

Many spring books mark the transition between winter and spring by giving picture clues in the beginning and end pages of the book (the first/last spread between the covers the the rest of the book). Check and see if your book does and provide that hint to your child before reading.

Spring books tend to have pastel colors. Point to and label these colors, let your child know that these are lighter shades of the typical primary colors they usually see. For older children, you can expand their vocabulary by bringing in science color words such as, hue, saturation, and gradation.


During Shared Reading

Point out and label objects in the pictures. Remember that your child might be young enough to have only vague or fuzzy memories of the previous year, so the material might be new to them.

Note, time is a difficult concept for young children, so reiterate that waiting, anticipation, and patience might be needed to see spring. It might help to break time down into recognizable units related to their daily schedule, such as “after naptime we can go for our walk” or “it will take at least 10 night time sleeps for the seeds to sprout; we can mark each night on the calendar.”


After Shared Reading

Go on a spring walk with your child and look for anything that might have been mentioned in the the books you were reading – flowers, plants, eggs, birds, and animals. Talk about the similarities and differences between the story representations and the real objects.

For a long term project, start some seedlings indoors for transplant  to an outdoor container in the spring. Plants which are easy to grow from seed for children include marigolds and nasturtiums both edible flowers. Some plants such as celery, carrots with partial tops, onions, and garlic can be started from kitchen leftovers in water, then moved to a pot for planting.

If you used the color discussion prompt before reading, follow-up on that with some color exploration with washable paints.

Booklist: Spring Books for Shared Reading with Children

Spring is Here

Words and Pictures by Will Hillenbrand

Picture Book Ages 3 – 6

Mole is awake and spring is here! Oh, but he needs his friend bear to share spring with — time to wake up bear. Also see Finding Spring by Carin Berger.

When Spring Comes

Words by Kevin Henkes

Pictures by Laura Dronzek

Picture Book 3 – 8

Watch as the world transforms from winter to spring with each turn of the page. A lovely collaboration between this award winning husband and wife team. Also see by the same author, Egg, a nearly wordless book which has a delightful plot twist.

Make Way for Ducklings

Words and Pictures by Robert McCloskey

Picture Book Ages 4 – 8

Caldecott Medal

The classic story of a duck family stopping Boston traffic to get from their nest to the park’s pond.  If you’re ever in Boston see the duck statues in the park.

Miss Rumphius

Words and Pictures by Barbara Cooney

Picture Book Ages 5 – 8

American Book Award Winner

Based on a true person, this story shares how Alice Rumphius scattered lupin seeds during her walks in Maine, leaving a living legacy of flowers.

And Then It’s Spring

Words by Julie Fogliano

Pictures by Erin E Stead

Picture Book Ages 4 – 8

Watch and wait with a boy and his dog for the arrival of spring in their garden.

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Words by Marion Dane Bauer

Pictures by Emily Arnold McCully

This rhyming story illustrates the traditional spring phrase about March coming in like a lion, in this case a muddy mess, and leaving like a lamb.

The Tiny Seed

Words and Pictures by Eric Carle

The classic picture book showing the life-cycle of a flower from seed to blossom. Also see The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons for a complete overview of the seasons.

Everything Spring

By Jill Esbaum

Part of the National Geographic Kids series Picture the Seasons, this books has beautiful photos of spring.  Celebrate and discover the joys of spring with this gorgeous book. If your family enjoys photos, then see the photo-story, Lost in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick.

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms

Words by Julia Rawlinson

‎Pictures by Tiphanie Beeke

Fletcher the fox sees tree blossoms and mistakes them for snow in springtime leading his friends into a forest wide panic, oops!

999 Frogs Wake Up

Words and Pictures by Ken Kimora

A sequel to 999 Tadpoles, in this quirky story the frogs wake up find everyone else is still asleep, so they go around waking everyone up — big frog, old turtle! Uh-oh, what about snake?

Rabbit’s Spring Adventure

Words by Anita Loughrey

Pictures by Daniel Howarth

A beautiful spring day is so distracting, that rabbit gets lost in the woods. Who will help him find his way home?


If you like this book like see for other similar reads:

Booklist Bunnys: If You Like Peter Rabbit…

Booklist Worms: Worms on the Sidewalk, Books for Shared Reading

Share your favorite spring books here