Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy (1955)






Profiles in Courages tells the stories of eight United States senators who stood by their principles —  against popular opinion and their own political parties.  For each, their lives as well as their careers were put at serious risk.

This is not an easy read for today’s high school students.  Both the characters and subjects described are now considered “ancient history”, but they are still well worth studying by the modern, serious student of history and ethics.

The eight senators chronicled are:

  1.  John Quincy Adams (Massachusetts) — Strong national government vs strong states
  2. Daniel Webster (Massachusetts) — Slavery issues
  3. Thomas Hart Benton (Missouri) — Slavery issues
  4. Sam Houston (Texas) — Slavery issues
  5. Edmund G. Ross (Kansas) — Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial
  6. Lucius Lamar (Mississippi) — Post-Civil War Reconstruction issues
  7. George Norris (Nebraska) — US neutrality in WW1, and other issues
  8. Robert A. Taft (Ohio) — Legality of portions of the Nuremberg Trials after WW2

Profiles in Courage was written six years before John F. Kennedy became President of the United States of America.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957.   Controversy has surrounded this book for decades.  Did Senator Kennedy write it or did his speech-writer, Ted Sorensen?   And did it win the Pulitzer in a fair vote or did Senator Kennedy’s father tip the scales?  These questions might make for some interesting detective work!

The Profile in Courage Award was first awarded in 1990.  The criteria include:

  • Living Americans who are or were elected officials.
  • Individuals at all levels of government—federal, state and local—are eligible for the award.
  • Emphasis will be placed on contemporary acts of political courage.
  • On occasion, in rare and special circumstances, awards have been made to foreign officials.

High School Reading Level, 304 pages, Published in 1955.

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Time at the Top & All in Good Time by Edward Ormondroyd (1963, 1975)

What is it about Time Travel that is so enticing?  Here’s a little known duo to delight your child who needs more reading in this genre!


In Time at the Top, Susan Shaw discovers that the elevator in her apartment building is also a time portal to the year 1881!  Susan makes new friends and finds plenty of adventure.  But will anyone from her own day — including her father — ever believe her?  Or better yet, accompany her back in time?

Middle Grade Reading Level, 191 pages, Published in 1963. 






All in Good Time  is the long-awaited sequel to Time at the Top.  Susan and her time-travel friend Victoria decide they want their parents to meet and fall in love — even though they live nearly 100 years apart!

Can these young cupid make it work??

Middle Grade Reading Level, Published 1975

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Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones (1942)

twig.jpgTwig is a little girl living in a big city in a small apartment.

One day she finds an empty soup can in her tiny back yard that looks like fairies could live in.  What if they really do??

Twig is full of sweet, little girl imaginings and magic.

Advanced Early Grade Reading Level, 152 pages, published in 1942.

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Ben and Me by Robert Lawson (1939)

“For many years I was [Ben Franklin’s] closest friend and adviser and, if I do say it, was in great part responsible for his success and fame. Not that I wish to claim too much: I simply hope to see justice done, credit given where credit is due, and that’s to me — mostly.”

ben.jpgMeet Amos, a clever mouse who has written a teeny-tiny memoir of his life with Mr. Franklin.  Have you ever wondered how the Franklin Stove was invented?  What prompted Ben to write Poor Richard’s Almanac?  Or why he flew a kite in a storm?  You’ll discover the (mostly true) answers to all of these questions and more!

Ben and Me was written and illustrated by Robert Lawson and it will have you laughing out loud while you turn page after page.  What a fun way to learn a bit of American History.

You’ll want to make certain your young reader knows this is a work of fiction!  That may seem obvious to adults, but possibly not to children.

Early grade reading level, 114 pages, Published in 1939.



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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)

As you probably know, a new film version of A Wrinkle in Time is coming to theaters March 9, 2018.  There’s still time to read the book before the movie comes out!  From the look of the movie trailers, they’ve played with the story a bit.

A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in The Time Quintet.  Ms. L’Engle’s books reflect both her strong Christian faith and her life-long interest in science.

wrinkle.jpg A Wrinkle in Time   Meg Murry’s scientist father has been missing for over a year.  Suddenly a time-traveler appears  assuring Meg’s family that Dr. Murry is still alive.  But a dangerous trip through the “winkle in time” will have to be made to find him — and to save the universe from the Dark Thing.  Adventure and danger await Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin as they enter the previously undiscovered Fifth Dimension!  A Wrinkle in Time is the hands-down favorite novel of millions of readers!  This Newbery Winner was rejected by publishers more than 30 times!  Middle Grade Reading Level, 256 pages, published in 1962.  

wind.jpg A Wind in the Door  C. W. (Charles Wallace) is ill, and time travelers reveal that restoring his health affects the entire universe.  Can Meg, Calvin and Mr. Jenkins (the school principal) restore balance to the universe by saving C.W.’s life?  Middle Grade Reading Level, 245 pages, published in 1973.





A Swiftly Tilting Planet   C.W. is now 15 and Meg is married and expecting her first baby.  Meg and C.W. use all their special abilities to save the earth from the evil dictator, Madog Banzillo.  Middle Grade Reading Level, 320 pages, published in 1978.





waters.jpg Many Waters   Find out what happens when Sandy and Dennys Murry (twins) interrupt their father’s experiment and unexpectedly travel back to the time of Noah?  Middle Grade Reading Level, 368 pages, published in 1986.





time.jpg An Acceptable Time (1989) Polly O’Keefe is visiting her maternal grandparents, when she comes across druids who lived 3000 years ago.  Many of the characters and storylines from the previous books emerge for a final appearance and an unsettling conclusion. Middle Grade Reading Level, 384 pages, published in 1989. 






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The Cat Club series by Esther Averill (1944 – 1972)

Do you have a little cat lover in your house?  Then the 13 books in The Cat Club series will be perfect!  Jenny Linsky is a shy, well-mannered black cat living in Greenwich Village.  Her adventures with other cats in the neighborhood, and her owner, Captain Tinker– while wearing her signature red scarf, of course! — are charming and gentle.  Written and illustrated by Esther Averill.

Most of this series are picture books, but the last few are full-length novels written for Early Middle-Grade Readers.

Jenny and the cat club.jpg Jenny and The Cat Club (1944)  This 176 page book contains 5 of the original picture books:  The Cat Club, Jenny’s First Party, When Jenny Lost Her Scarf, Jenny’s Adopted Brothers and How the Brothers Joined the Cat Club.

school.jpg The School for Cats, 32 pages (1947).  Picture Book.

jparty.jpg Jenny’s First Party (1948).  Picture Book — this is only available in the Jenny and the Cat Club collection listed above.

moon.jpg Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure , 32 pages (1949).   Picture Book

scarf.jpg When Jenny Lost her Scarf, 32 pages (1951).  Picture Book — this is only available in the Jenny and the Cat Club collection listed above.

brothers.jpg Jenny’s Adopted Brothers , 32 pages (1952). Picture Book — this is only available in the Jenny and the Cat Club collection listed above.

join.jpg How the Brother’s Joined the Cat Club , 32 pages.  (1953). Picture Book — this is only available in the Jenny and the Cat Club collection listed above.

birthday.jpg Jenny’s Birthday Book , 44 pages (1954).  Picture Book

sea.jpg Jenny Goes to Sea, 140 pages (1957).  Full length novel.  Early Middle Grade Reading Level.

bed.jpg Jenny’s Bedside Book (1959)

fire.jpg The Fire Cat , 64 pages (1960).  Early Grade Reading Level — short chapters, large text, illustrations.

hotel.jpg The Hotel Cat, 180 pages (1969) Full-length novel,                           Early Middle Grade Reading Level.

captian.jpg Captains of the City Streets 164 pages, (1972) Full-length novel.    Early Middle Grade Reading Level.


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The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear (1871)

owl.jpgI’m not a huge poetry fan — most likely a glitch in my DNA.  But there are a few poems that absolutely delight me.  The Owl and the Pussycat is one of them.  Especially in the board book format, illustrated by Jan Brett.

I remember Jim Trelease (author of the beloved Read-aloud Handbook) saying that he liked reading both poetry and nursery rhymes to children because it exposes them to such wonderful vocabulary.  That was an idea that I, as a young inexperienced mother, had not considered.  The Owl and the Pussycat contains fantastic vocabulary!  (If you’re like me, you’ll be googling “runcible spoon”!)

I love the fantastical story of a owl and cat falling in love and running away to get married.  It’s still a charming short poem nearly 150 years after it was first published.

Do I love the usual baby board books like Goodnight, Moon?  Of course.  I’ve given away a couple dozen copies as baby gifts.  But somehow The Owl and the Pussycat charms me in a way few other board books do.

I hope you and your little ones enjoy it too!

Toddler Age, 36 pages, Board Book published in 1997.

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