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Children, Reading, Review

December 2020/January 2021 Reading

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I’ve decided to do a monthly round up for everything we’ve read each month. Himself focuses on science articles and forums and news, so he’s not getting a section – books only!

Large boy

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

It really good and told me all about the world of Harry Potter. Anyone who likes Harry Potter should read it.

The Worst Witch, The Worst Witch Strikes Again, The Worst Witch All At Sea by Jill Murphy

He enjoyed these and then watched a whole bunch of TV adaptations on Netflix.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

This is the second in the series and he loved the first one. Morrigan goes on more adventures, even better than last time. He’s hoping there’ll be another one.

Beowulf (abridged) by Michael Morpurgo

He enjoyed the ending when Beowulf killed Grendel. He’s a bit impressed at how old the story is.

The Christmasaurus, The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch by Tom Fletcher

He zoomed through these at Christmas time, giggling filtering down the stairs at bedtime.

The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan

Large boy might have developed a slight Rick Riordan/Greek gods obsession. He’s besotted.

The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling

He thinks it was good because it shows what happens when a bad person is in charge. He thinks it’s a bit like Boris and Dominic except King Fred is good, just too young to know better.

The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery

This is a book about an evacuee whose imaginary friends come to life and he finds his sister is in danger. He travels to London and saves both his sister and the spirit world where his friends come from. He enjoyed this, and says I have to read it too.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

He liked the illustrations and he meanings of the words. He says he didn’t learn anything from it because it was telling people common sense about being kind.

Other things

  • Never and Forever by Cressida Cowell – re-read
  • The Grunts in Trouble by Philip Ardagh
  • Five Tom Gates books
  • Two Jim Smith books
  • Three Flat Stanley books
  • The World’s Worst Parents by David Walliams


Running Up That Hill by Vassos Alexander

Himself is going to regret that I ever read this. He doesn’t know it yet but he will.

Reading about Vassos’ determination and recovery from injury is spurring me on to go a bit further with my running. When I started I wanted to do 5km. Then 10km felt really far.

After reading about Vassos and his various 30 miles and over races and adventures, I’m thinking that a half marathon is well within my capabilities. His book is inspirational, its a mixture of description of various long races he’s participated in, his journey to being an ultra runner and interviews with the shining lights of ultra running. They’re all just normal people with a passion and a deep sense of contentment out on the road.

As I write this, I’ve just told himself that I intend to run on Christmas day. He’s perturbed. It’s not like I’m planning on the Spartathlon though. Just a little 6km to start the day.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

I saw this recommended a few months ago on another blog (so sorry, I forget where) and I was intrigued. We’ve had moments where large boy is sad and doesn’t know or won’t say why. I would love to have some insight into that.

This is not a self help book full of answers or planned out solutions. Rather it demonstrates how different approaches might cause children or adults to feel and asks the reader to think about their own behaviour. Just in the first couple of chapters I recognised situations we’d found ourselves in and a variety of different reactions we’d responded with. Some probably didn’t help at all, others we seemed to be doing a decent job.

What I really liked about this book was that I didn’t feel I was being preached at. It’s not instructional at all and that makes it easier to accept the message. The practical examples make it really applicable too. Its really really not my usual reading material but I feel like I took away some valuable insights into how we talk with the boys and I hope those will have a positive impact on us all.

Having said all that after about 30% of the book, I got stuck. I didn’t want to pick it up at bedtime and have to think about how the examples and recommendations might be applied to us. Sorry, DNF.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Oh dear, I probably need to add reading books about running to my list of signs you’ve caught the running bug.

I gave up on the previous book and picked this up on 1st January 2021. My dad had bought it for my for Christmas, from my wishlist – chosen because I’ve loved what little Murakami I’d previously read and well, running.

By the end of the three and a half pages of the forward, I felt connected. Murakami is writing honestly, from the heart, letting out the ponderings he has while running. Which is essentially the whole ethos for my blog! I couldn’t wait to get into the meat of the book.

As I progressed through the book, it was like going on a journey with Murakami. I think it a journey common to all runners – whether we keep it short at 5 to 10km or manage marathons or even further. Its a hilly path, sometimes it easier and sometimes harder. Sometimes we think we’ve had a great run and find that the time was unexceptional, sometimes we push really hard and achieve a goal we’ve been working towards. Just like life right?

Honestly, I loved this book. I found something I related to in every single chapter. I’ll probably come back and read it again.

The Ickabog by J. K. Rowling

Large boy recommended this one to me. I’d read all the Harry Potter books before the movies came along and enjoyed them. The book is beautiful, its lovely to hold and the illustrations from children all over the world are fantastic.

However, I wasn’t captured by the story. It took a long time to really get going and I guess it was just a bit simplistic for me. It struggled to keep my attention on it and didn’t look forward to picking it up in the evenings.

Small boy

Small boy is 5 and a half. He’s just in year 1 and he’s learning to read with the marvellous Read Write Inc phonics scheme. Its brilliant and he’s made huge progress since we began home learning back in March 2020.

In December, he read his RWI and other school books plus a couple from the library. Then, at Christmas, large boy realised he hadn’t got his brother a present and went to fetch some books he’d grown out of… and now small boy gets proper book review of his own. Its slow going and he needs help with non-phonetic words that he hasn’t learned yet (sure, cancel, circle, automatically, build, though, enough….etc) but he’s so proud of himself reading proper “grown up” books.

Terry’s Dumb Dot Story by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Small boy’s first ever “real” book! Suddenly he became interesting in reading a book, impatient to get to do it and determined to read to a certain point. He loved it, laughed uncontrollably at times and it totally caught his imagination and attention.

13 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

A much greater undertaking than the dot story. But some days, small boy read a whole chapter in a single sitting. OK so it took almost half an hour, and was partly a bedtime procrastination strategy but who can say “no” to a child wanting to read a book?

He giggled all the way through or roared with laughter. So I think that’s a ringing endorsement.

26 thoughts on “December 2020/January 2021 Reading”

  1. I love the variety of books your family is reading! My sister and I loved the Worst Witch when we were little, and we had shelves filled with books we found at charity shops. It was one of our favourite activities, reading together. Thank you for sharing the selection of books you all read in December and January. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not heard of those J K Rowling books, may have to have a look into them. My eldest is still liking reading David walliams books so I think she may enjoy those too. You may laugh but I always thought fantastic beasts was just a film.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s great that your kids read so much! These days I just see kids on cell phones and tablets everywhere.

    Parenting done right ๐Ÿ™‚

    All the best, Michelle (

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi SS&GP. Good job with the reviews. It’s great to see that some kids still enjoy reading books. So, is that a marathon (or should I say Snickers these days?!) on the horizon, calling to you? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love a reding roundup and love the fact that you can share your love for reading with both your boys! I heard plenty of good things about ‘The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse’ and love the illustrations but haven’t picked it up yet! Thanks for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a fab list!! I love how much your whole family loves to read!! Definitely reminds me of me as a child and the amount of books I got through๐Ÿ˜‚ xx

    Liked by 1 person

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