It was a celebratory week in our house! My 16-year old earned his driver’s license, my daughter started JV field hockey as an eight grader and I can see green grass under the snow here in NY. Add in some great middle grade books and insightful journal prompts and you’ve got a pretty great week!
What I’m Reading:

Since it is Middle Grade March, I eagerly dove into a couple of middle grades texts this week. That’s why I love them so much: they are shorter reads than adult books, but pack just as much as a reading punch (and sometimes more!).If you’re looking for some middle grades inspiration, be sure to watch the on-demand version of the School Library Journal’s Middle Grade Magic 2021!

First up? Don’t Check Out This Book by Kate Klise. This was the most delightful hidden gem of a book. Published in 2020, it had been on my stack from a previous reading conference, but I had never moved it to the top. I am so glad I did because….it was an epistolary novel! If you’ve read my previous posts, you know how much I enjoy these, but I did not see this book’s format coming. =)

The book focuses on the members of a very small (and small-minded) school community and the changes that occur when the new librarian, Rita B. Danjerous, opens the world of books to students, their teachers and their families. Told only through letters, emails, memos, text messages and newspaper clippings, this story brings you into the intricate backstory of the school and community revealing narrow thinking and sneaky political undercurrents. Written so superbly, Klise reveals the storyline one written artifact at a time, inspiring readers to make their own connections and ultimately broaden their thinking right alongside the characters. And given my love of bibliotherapy, Rita B. Dangerous’s motto of ‘Have a problem? Read a book’ went straight to my heart. Books saved her and they continue to save me. This is a must read for all.

Up next was Ways to Grow Love by Renee Watson. I’d read Some Places More Than Others and instantly fell in love with Amara and her family, so I had high expectations for this book. And I was not disappointed. The story follows Ryan and her family as they prepare for the arrival of their new baby girl. Watson beautifully captures Ryan’s excitement and longing for her new sister, the uncertainty of their changing family dynamics and the growing pains of friendship, leadership and doing the right thing. From her close-knit family and her love of cookbooks to her treasured memories and beloved keepsake box, I was struck by just how much I learned about being a good parent, treasuring what truly matters most, something I seem to do whenever I read one of Watson’s books.

And the best news yet? I figured out this was part of the Ryan Hart series and now have Ways to Grow Sunshine on the way to my mailbox.

What I’m Writing:

I still cannot believe it, but we have been living within this pandemic for over a year now. And while I’ve spent my fair share complaining about that, this week, I followed Gretchen Rubin’s lead and journaled about the lessons I’ve learned from this never-ending-quarantine instead. What lessons have you learned about yourself, your surroundings and your world? Capture them to savor later.

Oh, by the way: I’m also waiting for my Puffin Postcards to arrive as part of Ann Brayden’s #PuffinsUnite project. I fell in love with the idea when I read her newest book, Flight of the Puffin, and have been spreading kindness with my Natural Life’s Tiny Tokens of Love around my local community ever since. Now, I’ll send postcards, too!

What I’m Learning:

I have to admit something: I LOVE hand lettering. I love everything about it: the pens and notebooks that capture my phrases, the many ways I can write a single word and the way the layout of a quote makes me stop scrolling and pay attention. But I’m ashamed to admit that while I’ve been devouring other people’s lettering skills, I’ve fallen out of my daily habit and have been struggling to make the time for this more creative hobby. But Tombow came to my rescue with this free Lettering Layouts with Fudenosuke Workshop and it has IGNITED my creativity. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to share, but for those that love notebooking, journaling and especially quotes, this is for you!

What I’m Loving:

There’s one post I read this week that has captured my attention ever since with a single phrase: Do something kind for the future you. Savor that for a minute. Do something kind for the future you. What might that be? Wash the dishes in the evening so the future you wakes up to a clean kitchen? Take the extra minute to get to Inbox 0 (or in my case, 25!) and start the workday fresh? Take the dog for a walk and reap the effects tomorrow of fresh air and movement the day before? You get the idea. So today, I leave you with this one question: What kindness could you do for the future you? You deserve it.

One more thing: I’m a coffee lover, but I’ve got my eye on this tea especially for readers. =)

There you have it! I hope this inspires you to make space for more reading and writing in your own life. What are the highlights from your literate life this week?

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