Series – Catwings

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I was very sad to learn that Ursula K. Le Guin passed away earlier this year. Her books always fascinated and haunted me, including this series about a charming family of kittens born with wings. This was my first introduction to her rich, thoughtful writing, which I read when I was a child and never forgot about.

These short audiobooks are read by the author, who has a very grandmotherly voice. If you love cats, like my girls, you will love this.

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Series – Anna Hibiscus

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My daughter loved this sweet little series by Atinuke, about a young girl living in Africa (amazing Africa!). It’s always neat to learn about different cultures and ways of life than our own here in North America. And in many ways, we are really not so different.

We found the books at our local library, but they are also available on Audible.

Series – The Lighthouse Family

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My daughter fell in love with this sweet series about an unusual family of animals that live in a lighthouse by the sea.

We’ve read and enjoyed some of author Cynthia Rylant‘s other books (the Annie and Snowball, and Henry and Mudge series). And I knew these would be a hit as well.

There are soon to be eight books in the Lighthouse Family series. The first seven have been recorded into audiobooks by narrator Mark Nelson. They are short and delightful for younger kids.

Series – The Pain and the Great One

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Another funny series about sibling and family dynamics written by the beloved Judy Blume. If you adore Peter and Fudge, you’ll like this too.

The Pain is six-year old Jake, and the Great One is his eight-year old sister, Abigail. My kid loves these two spunky siblings. They don’t always see eye to eye (what real siblings do?), but they know they can always count on each other.

And that’s what family is for, right?

There are four fun books in the series, narrated by Kathleen McInerney:

Series – The Faraway Tree

ft2Sometimes I wonder what really good children’s books did I miss out on when I was a kid? My parents are immigrants, and English was our second language, so I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to choosing reading material.

I luckily stumbled onto some wonderful books (like these ones and these ones), that I still love, but sadly, I completely missed British author Enid Blyton. Until now.

The Faraway Tree collection is a lovely series about siblings who discover different magical lands by way of an enchanted forest.

You know you can’t go wrong when the audiobooks are narrated by Kate Winslet!

Series – Mary Poppins

  
  

Last weekend, it was raining, the kids were sick, and we all just stayed home. For a treat (and a break for me), I put on one of my favourite childhood movies, Disney’s Mary Poppins, and did they ever love it!

It dawned on me that the movie was based on a series of six books by P. L. Travers, and so of course I had to seek out the audiobooks. We’ve been listening to just the first book, narrated by Sophie Thompson, and it’s really different from the movie! First off, Jane and Michael have twin siblings, who were obviously cut from the film. And they have all sorts of different magical adventures with the titular nanny.

While they are missing the fun songs and Julie Andrews, the books are terrific in their own whimsical way, and if I could have a do-over, I would recommending checking out the books before the movie. (This is usually the case with movie adaptations!)

Series – Little House on the Prairie

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Despite its popularity, this was not a series that I grew up with, and so I’m reading/listening to it for the first time along with my 5 year old daughter. Whenever people give audiobook recommendations, Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in the semi-autobiographical series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is always a top suggestion. So I felt like we had to try it.

There are nine books in the series. We haven’t gone through them all yet, but they are:

I can definitely see why they are so beloved. My daughter was fascinated by how Laura and her homesteading family made their own butter and cheese, hunted, and collected honey from a beehive. Laura’s life as a pioneer girl is just so interesting and beautifully described. As for the audiobook, narrator Cherry Jones‘s voice has the perfect twang, and overall it’s a wonderful production.

Why I hesitated for long to read this series was because of the overt racism toward First Nations people, especially in the subsequent books.

I needed time to commit and prepare, time to listen with my daughter and pause the story as needed, and time to have some frank discussions with her. I still wrestle with what to say, and I know it won’t be the last time we have to talk about a problematic classic, but hopefully we can still use these books for some teachable moments.