The Kite Runner – Over 21 million copies sold worldwide

I must say that I am forever buying and reading books. I love a great story, but a book I read recently was so much more than a great story.

kite runner

The Kite Runner by  Khaled Hosseini, was a book that captured me immediately with its cover, there was something about it that enticed me to pick it up and check it out. This is not the usual kind of book that I would choose to read, but there was just something about it that jumped out at me.

It was obvious from the moment I started reading this book, that I was going to struggle to put it down. The story is one of intrigue and adventure, twisted at various times with devastating consequences that completely shift the feel of the book, bringing tears to my eyes and bewilderment to my mind. I had a number of moments filled with shock and dread, yet still I was unable to leave the book alone and just wanted to capture the happy ending that so often is present within a book.

I genuinely endured many emotions while reading this book, survived a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and couldn’t take my mind of it at all.

A definite must read in my opinion.


So now as I start reading ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ also by Khaled Hosseini, I  can’t wait for his next book to arrive on my book shelf. It’s called ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ and is due for publication in May 2013.

Australian History – Learning Through Reading

Recently we have added some more books to our Home Library. These books are dedicated to our need to learn more about Australian History and what it would have been like to live in early Australia.

When learning Australian History sometimes we do the usual lessons etc, but the children always retain more when they learn through doing or reading. In fact it is when they are engaged in the learning purely for fun, that the most learning takes place, and the greater retention of information is achieved.

We have found that Jackie French is a wonderful author who engages us with her writing and easily brings to life the characters she creates within the historical periods she writes about. Jackie has written many Australian Themed books and we are working to collect them all – as well as many books by other authors.

Here are some of the books we have recently purchased or have in our collection that we are reading in 2012 as we explore our Australian History Journey (In no particular order).

Nanberry Black Brother White – Jackie French

Nanberry: Black Brother White

Tom Appleby Convict Boy – Jackie French

Tom Appleby Convict Boy

The Donkey Who Carried the Wounded – Jackie French

The Donkey Who Carried the Wounded: The Famous Story of Simpson and His Donkey - a True Anzac Legend (Animal Stars)


A Waltz for Matilda – Jackie French

A Waltz for Matilda

A Banner Bold Nadia Wheatley

My Australian Story: Banner Bold

Our Australian Girl

Now with the colder weather setting in, we have been reading a lot of books recently, always things come in fits and starts. Our learning about Australia and its history is ongoing. The children love reading books and learning that way about the past, its people, culture, expectations and journey.

Currently we are reading together as a family a series of books called ‘Our Australian Girl’. Within the ‘Our Australian Girl Series’ there are mini series. So far we have collected four out of the six mini series available. Each mini series has 4 books within them.

These books are definitely an easy read for Phinee, yet old enough to keep her entertained. Nik on the other hand is also enjoying them, even though she is too young to read them on her own.

We have almost finished reading the mini series called Letty. It is based around a young girl called Letty who arrives in Australia in the year 1841. Her journey is not one that she anticipated taking as she accidentally boarded the boat to Australia without a ticket to travel.

The first book in the series is called Meet Letty.

Meet Letty (Our Australian Girl)It’s 1841 and Letty is on the docks in England, farewelling her bossy older sister, who is about to take a long sea voyage to Australia. But then there is a mix-up,and before she knows it Letty finds herself on the ship too, travelling to New South Wales! How will Letty manage when her sister doesn’t even want her on the ship? And what will it be like on the other side of the world? Meet Letty and join her adventure in the first of four exciting stories about a free settler girl and her new life in a far-off land.

The girls and I enjoyed this story very much and could not wait to read the second book in the series called Letty and the Stranger’s Lace.

Letty and the Stranger's Lace (Our Australian Girl)Letty’s journey continues in this, the second of four books about a free-settler girl in a far-off land. Letty and Lavinia have arrived in Sydney as free settlers. They’ve made the long ship’s journey from England, but with no friends, no family, no jobs and only a hope chest between them, how will they survive so far from home? When Lavinia gets a job in the posh end of town, Letty is left alone, feeling sad and worthless. But a series of events leads her to a mysterious stranger who helps Letty realise that she is not as useless as she fears…

We have now completed the third book in the series called Letty on the Land.

Letty on the Land (Our Australian Girl)Letty’s journey continues in this, the third of exciting four books about a free-settler girl in a new land. Letty is finally making a life for herself in New South Wales when her world is thrown into turmoil again. The family she is working for are going back to their home in the country, and they want Letty to go with them to the Blue Mountains! Living in the harsh Australian bush is beyond what Letty could have imagined, and she soon starts to wonder if she’s made the right choice. But just when she is at her lowest point, someone appears from Letty’s past – someone marvellous…

Again the girls really enjoyed the continuing Journey of Letty and we are looking forward to reading the last installment in the series called Letty’s Christmas.

Our Australian Girl: Letty's ChristmasLetty’s journey concludes in this, the last of four exciting books about a free-settler girl in a new land. When times turn bad on the land, Letty must return to Sydney, leaving the Grey family behind. But what will she do once she gets there? Letty could never have imagined the surprises that await her…This captivating tale of love and adventure will have fans of Letty bursting with happiness. A memorable and satisfying end to this charming character’s story.

Each book is around 130 pages long, they are an easy read, yet quite engaging and give a sense of what it would be like to be in Australia around the year 1841.

We read the American Girl series years ago and enjoyed these, but it is great to have a series of books based around our own heritage and country. Once we finish Letty I think we will begin reading the next mini series together based around Grace in Australia in the year 1808.

So pleased that these books are actually part of our Home Library Collection!

A Dog who loved a Queen – Jackie French

Recently Phinee was given the task of choosing the next book we would read aloud as a family. Her choice was one that did not really surprise me, given the fact that she loves anything connected to Mary Queen of Scotts or any other Royal Historical figure.

The Dog Who Loved a QueenThe Dog who loved a Queen by Jackie French is the second book in a 5 part series of books designed with Animal Stars at the front and centre of each Story.

The Dog who loved a Queen is a wonderful insight into the journey and life of a Scottish terrier who loyally loves Mary just as his mistress, rather than a Queen. The book is written from the dogs perspective and is engaging, interesting and funny.

As we read through this book, the children are enjoying the tale immensely and already have fallen in love with the queens Scottish Terrier ‘Folly’.

Based on the true story of the dog who was with Mary when she died The Dog Who Loved a Queen is a fascinating tale of religious bigotry plots and passion – and the unquestioning loyalty of a small Scottish terrier.

We can not recommend this book highly enough. The unique perspective of telling the story from the dogs view is fascinating for our children and simply caught their interest from the very first chapter. I imagine that most 9 -13 year olds could read the book easily on their own, but why not share this wonderful story set in a historical period with your younger children as well,  by reading this book aloud as a family.

The discussions we have had based around the different chapters is quite eye opening and the historical information the children pick up along the way is great. Whether or not you have an interest Mary Queen of Scotts or not, I am confident that your children will love this story regardless….

This book definitely gets ten out of ten from us!

Other Books / Magazines that get a ten out of ten from us….

Wacky But true Magazine

Money Well Spent! – Wacky But True Subscription.

Quite a few years ago now we subscribed to a number of magazine for our children. Not only to help them in their learning, but just to encourage them to read. Among the ten magazines that we subscribed too, only one remains on each years continuous subscription list. Only the arrival of one magazine is eagerly awaited every month and only one is read from cover to cover, so after years of paying out for numerous children’s magazine subscriptions, we now only pay out for one…

Wacky But True.

Each edition is lovingly read from cover to cover. Enjoyed by multiple members of our family all of various ages and preserved on our bookshelf for reading at another time. Which occurs frequently.

The children happily roam around the house reading out the wacky and weird facts contained within the magazine and often remember them at times in the future when trivia questions are asked and friends talk about weird and wacky things.

The best part about this magazine is that it has no advertising in it at all. Every page is just jam packed with interesting and engaging facts, stories pictures and information that our children devour and remember!

Money well spent in our eyes…. We are however on the hunt for some other magazines that we might be able to subscribe too, so if you also have a magazine that your children can’t put down, please let us know about it!