A Time to FitBit.

Really, it was all the old man’s fault.

He was ambling around the edge of the cliff at Weathington Park, offering to take everyone’s picture with their phone.

I don’t know if he was doing some sort of undercover operation to plant a tracking device on everyone’s phone or what, but he was quite insistent.

I was the only one on the ledge that day with a DSLR. I handed him my camera, which is pretty hefty compared to the variety of phones he’d been using.

“Whoa. Is this thing going to kick back?”

“Maybe a little. All you need to do is push this black button.”

“Which button?”

“This one.”

“Okay. Where is it?”

“Riiiight here.”

I placed his finger on the button, then Chris and I posed at the cliff and smiled, somewhat plastically.

Old Man stared at the backside of my camera.

“I can’t see anything! Are you sure this thing is on?”

“Yes sir. You have to look in the the viewfinder.”

“The who-what?”

“The little hole at the top of the camera.”

“OOOOH. Okay. Say cheese! HOLY COW I DIDN’T KNOW THIS THING WAS A SEMI-AUTOMATIC! How many pictures did I just take?”

“It’s no problem. Thank you!”

I quickly saved my camera from further misunderstandings and we moved on. Later, I looked at his photography portfolio.

Most of them contained my hand in front of my face, trying to arrest a bunch of stray strands that gathered there at just the wrong moment.

There was only one where my hand was just barely blurring. But the photo disagreed with me, as do most photos of myself these days.


Granted, it wasn’t that bad of a picture. But for some reason it was the picture that I could see every one of the fifteen pounds I’ve gained in the past year. I can blame it on the medicine all I want, but it’s still there and it still bothers me.

I’ve tried to convince myself to exercise and get back to using Lose It a few times over the past year, but I lacked motivation, and was in general too tired from those same stupid medications to keep it up. And really, the real reason I need to exercise is not for vanity, but because Dysautonomia’s two main solutions are drinking ridiculous amounts of water and exercising regularly.

…But it’s counterintuitive since simply standing up can double my heart rate – it doesn’t exactly feel like running would be the best idea.

And also, the only two times I’ve ever been successful at losing weight also happened to be when I was nursing my children. And I can’t lactate on command, therefore I’ve been demotivated ever since.

But still. I knew it was possible.

Here were my before and after photos while nursing Noah:

BeforeAndAfterMaking milk: Does the body good.

But it was time. It had to be done. With or without my mammary glands taking part.

We got home from that trip on Sunday, and on Monday I bought myself a FitBit.

(And Chris one, too, since he’s always a good sport to play along with my geek-motivation needs.)

By Tuesday morning I was unforgivably angry with myself for not getting one years ago. For someone who is motivated by charts and graphs, a FitBit is like finding and taking up residence in The Garden of Eden.




FitBit Screenshot

And that’s only half of the information it gives me. ANY TIME I WANT IT.

For those of you not familiar with FitBit, it’s a tiny clip-on gadget (or bracelet, if you prefer that choice) that tracks your steps, and by doing so extrapolates all of the above information (except the water – I am manually adding that) and makes it available to you in real-time on an app and a website. Which, since I would marry a spreadsheet if I could, translates into immediate gratification – a hard thing for me to get from exercise.

(And even the manual water entry is made super easy by standard measurements and a pretty little woman turning blue.)

FitBit Water Tracking

It also seamlessly interfaces with Lose It, which was my non-boob tool in my weight loss last time. FitBit sends Lose It the number of calories I’ve burned, Lose It sends FitBit the number of calories I’ve eaten, and both use the information to help me make wise decisions. It’s a lovely relationship.

Lose It Compared to FitBit

I know that FitBit is basically a glorified pedometer, but any organization that can take a simple tool and turn it into such a beautiful graphical representation of Doing The Right Thing is a hero in my books. Because I need goals. And I need to see how I achieved those goals. And better yet, I need to compete and beat everyone in my path.

(Until Chris ruins everything with his 14 mile Saturday morning runs and taunts me on Twitter.)

FitBit Tweet
(But that’s exactly the kind of competition I need. Because by Monday morning, I had fought my way back on top.)

FitBit Competition copy

…And he thought he was so special because he runs a half-marathon every Saturday.

Mm hmm – Motherhood takes more steps.

(Well, Motherhood plus an intense need to beat one’s husband.)

But back to FitBit. It gives you goals in every area that you could possibly want, offers beautiful and drill-downable charts and graphs of every kind, changes colors from blue to yellow to red to green as you achieve those goals, and allows you to compete with all your friends, and in general completes me.

FitBit Dashboard

It EVEN offers a premium package where you can compare yourself to all the humans. UNIVERSAL BENCHMARKING.

I expect to break down and buy the expanded software within days.

It’s been a full week now, and I have felt fantastic six out of seven days, free of Dysautonomia symptoms. It could be a coincidence, or it could be because I finally found the right tool to reward me with pretty colors when I do the right thing.

At any rate, I’m hooked.

(But whether this pretty software makes up for my lack of lactation remains to be seen.)

If you have a FitBit and want to further my motivation by becoming my friend, my email address is graspingforobjectivity@gmail.com.

For the Record: I was not compensated by FitBit to write this nor did they ask me to nor do they know I’m writing it. But if they want to give me that premium package for free, I’d totally take it. FitBit? Are you listening?


Have you ever gotten to that point in your life where you’re so overwhelmed by the number of things that need to change that you’re not sure where to start?

I did – a couple of weeks ago.

And I started by making a list – “Things I Need to Change” – at 2am.

(Because that is the time of day that births all things that are good and holy.)

None of the items on my list were earth-shattering, like, say, “kick heroin addiction” or “stop being a Russian Spy” (because you know that Russia really cares about sunset photos), but they were weighing on me regardless. It included things big and small, from “More priority on time with God and ministry” to “Quit looking at my blog stats so ridiculously often” and many things in between, most notably “budget,” “diet,” and “oh my flippin’ goodness school is about to start and I have no idea how I’m going to find the time to keep doing everything I do.”

So I picked a few and started chipping away, now a bit less anxious because at least I had a list to remind myself of all my other failures lest I forget.

First up: Health.

I needed to make some changes to attempt to aid my ongoing health situation, which perhaps has been more life-altering than I might have let on, and is also to blame for this and any subsequent blog posts that are not up to expectations.

(I keep thinking I’ll tell you the whole story but I keep waiting to have clear answers first so I keep it mostly to myself because it seems a rather dicey decision to throw out undiagnosed health symptoms to the winds of internet diagnoses.)

So. No more artificial sugars, especially in the form of Dr Pepper TEN, my go-to comfort of choice. I am also still attempting to add to that “drink a ridiculous amount of water,” but a girl’s got her limits.

(Because I will NOT have time to do everything else on my List O’ Fails if I am peeing every other second.)

And, back to calorie counting. Because my jeans were beginning to sincerely not appreciate the volume of stretches I was having to do to make them wearable.

(Unfortunately I don’t have a nursing baby, which is the only thing that has ever made me lose weight, so the dieting probably won’t do me any good, but just make me hate everything and everyone like Katherine so eloquently wrote about last week.)

Second up: Budget.

I used to be a complete budgeting freak (I might have even written a super long doubly boring post about it in my crappy early blogging days.) I had been good. I had been dedicated. I balanced our checkbook AND multiple budget categories WEEKLY. And I shared the Gospel of Good Budgeting with others frequently.

But then…life got busy. And we had kids (that were expensive.) And life got busier. And I quit looking at those “budgeted” numbers and tried to ignore that the “actual” numbers were blatantly lapping them.

So I set a plan – a FIXED amount to spend each week on groceries and out to eat, along with other stuff. Chris eagerly hopped on board. And we set off to achieve greatness with less.

The next morning, I took my first back-on-the-wagon grocery trip. And it was FUN again, for the first time since I’d jettisoned my budgeting ways. As I paid, I watched the running total like a hawk.

And I ended up $6.67 under budget.

I felt like an overachieving Project Runway contestant and barely stopped myself from screaming “THANK YOU MOOD!!” for all of Winn-Dixie to hear.

Within my grocery shopping trip, I even planned ahead for the kids’ meals. Not forgetting the little people is a big deal, y’all!

I bought chicken breasts, cooked them with honey and salt, cut them up, and individually bagged them. Then I bagged crackers and cut a block of cheese and…


They were so impressive I had to take a picture – I didn’t care that I hadn’t moved my knife or my notebook or that bit of counter food that might or might not have been two days old. I was a superstar!!!

For the Kids: Underachieving Homemade Lunchables. Grilled, chopped chicken, sliced cheese, crackers, and Fruit Buddies. And they love it!

Then I cleaned out a fridge drawer (and even wiped it a little) and presented my children with “KID DRAWER.”

For the Kids: Underachieving Homemade Lunchables. Grilled, chopped chicken, sliced cheese, crackers, and Fruit Buddies. And they love it!

They really should have bowed at my feet and kissed them with fervor but they didn’t.

They did, however, enjoy my nitrate-free lunchables enough to ask for them again this week.

The next day, I had to order a couple of things off of Amazon. They were small, and both were add-on items, therefore subjecting me to the “you need to spend $10 more if you want us to ship you these items.”

I lamented.

In the past, this would be no problem. But now, NOW. I was behaving. I was not just spending to spend.

But on a whim, I looked up mine and Ali’s favorite cereal, Crispix, which I’d forgotten to get at the store the day before. Of course, one box was $5.47, which is about a dollar more than the grocery store.

But then I saw it: 14 boxes of Crispix for $20.93?!?!

Surely they were miniature boxes – I went to my pantry to compare ounces just to make sure.


Then it’s a mistake – I double checked the fine print.

They insisted that I would receive 14 boxes. For $20.93. Which is $1.495 per box. It was as if God Himself was shining down on my budgeting efforts, and handing me Amazon on a Golden Platter as a reward.

I ordered them with trepidation. What would I receive? Would it be a joke? Would a snake spring pop out to tell me that I was a fool?

But if not, were there more Amazon deals to be found like this??

Two days later, Ali and I opened the box, breath held within us…


They were there!! All fourteen full-sized boxes!! It was amazing. Fantastic. Unbelievable. Receiving a Fragile Leg Lamp wouldn’t have made for more excited people that morning.


I can’t say that these particular boxes of cereal had not been subjected to some sort of nuclear reactor assembly plant malfunction, but we’ll eat them with joy in our hearts regardless.

Editor’s Note: Amazon fixed their pricing mistake(?) within a couple of hours of this post. Sadness. Next time I’ll whisper the deal to you.

The Read-Aloud Challenge.

Last week, Ali and I had amazingly fantastical adventures every single day.

We found a golden ticket, sailed down a chocolate river in a pink candy boat, saw squirrels opening walnuts without breaking said walnuts, rode in a glass elevator with millions of buttons, and sat on the edge of our seats as a bad little girl got blown up into a giant blueberry and carried off by tiny people.

Obviously, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

This was a first for us, and a completely perspective-changing moment for me as a parent.

I’ve been reading books aloud to Ali since she was a baby, and started reading chapter books aloud last fall.  But because I thought I needed to “hook” her into the idea of letting me read a long book, I bought inane “Tales from Pixie Hollow” books and borrowed ridiculously over-formulaic “Rainbow Magic Fairy” library books.

The plots were absurd, the stories all sounded the same, and I was slugging through it.

(And she was mildly interested, but certainly not hooked.)

Then a couple of weeks ago, my friends Ashley and Nikki mentioned that they had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory aloud to their kids.

Literature!! Real literature!! Well-written literature!! WHY haven’t I thought of this???

I felt like a complete nincompoop, to use a literary term.

The next day, I headed to the library, checked out a few Roald Dahl books, went straight home home and started reading aloud.  And from the first chapter, we were both enthralled.  We were excited, we were living it, we were completely sucked into the story – as should rightfully happen when one reads good literature.

So, in my excitement over this eureka moment, I began compiling a list of all of my favorite childhood books (that weren’t too intense for Ali – she scares easily), and other books that I wanted to read.

And I ended up with a to-do list 101 books long.

Clearly, this is going to take a while to accomplish.  And perhaps, before I finish reading all of these aloud, Ali will take over and read them herself.

Here’s my list so far.  I plan on printing it out and keeping it in my library bag – feel free to do the same.  I would also really love to know what great books I’ve left off – let me know in the comments and I’ll add them!

* – books that I haven’t read at all yet.

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl / Nothing can beat this book’s entertainment value when read aloud.  Fabulous story with great moral lessons, and what kid doesn’t like hearing about fantastical candy??
2. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl
3-9. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis / Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of my Mom reading this series aloud to us.  Engaging and beautiful.
10. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
11. Stuart Little – E.B. White
12. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren / I loved Pippi Longstocking as a kid!
13*. The BFG – Roald Dahl
14-21. The Ramona Series – Beverly Cleary / These were some of the first books that I read by myself, but I also remember my Mom reading them aloud.  They are great bridge books for both reading aloud and reading alone.
22-26. The Fudge Series – Judy Blume / I loved these books as a kid! Great sibling interactions, and lots to discuss as well.
27*. Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard Atwater
28. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E.L. Konigsburg / This was one of the most magical, original stories that I read as a young child.  I can’t wait to read it again!
29. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle / I fell in love with Madeleine L’Engle’s writing from this book, and proceeded to read nearly everything she wrote.  Not all of her books, however, are appropriate for children. 
30. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – Barbara Robinson / Fabulous story to read around the holidays – cute and heartwarming.
31*. Bartholomew’s Passage – Arnold Ytreeide / An Advent Adventure Book my Mom recommended
32*. Jotham’s Journey – Arnold Ytreeide / An Advent Adventure Book my Mom recommended
33-40. Anne of Green Gables Series – L.M. Montgomery / These are probably too old for Ali right now, but would be great family read-aloud books when she is slightly older.  Or, if Ali beats me to it, she can read them herself in a few years.
41-44*. Magic Tree House Series – Mary Pope Osborne
45-49. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Set – Jeff Kinney / I read a couple of these aloud to Ali over a year ago (with occasional language changes), and she loved them! The pictures are engaging, and the stories are short enough to keep the attention of young children, even if they don’t understand everything.  The movie, however, is painful to watch – I hate train-wrecks.
50. The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg
51. A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
52*. The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 – Christopher Paul Curtis / I found this book while researching for this list.  I’ve not yet read it, but I am eager to read it myself first and see if it is a good book to introduce the subject of Civil Rights and the sadder parts of the history of our city.
53*. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg – Rodman Philbrick
54*. How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell
55. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett / This book always made me want to live in a giant manor in England with a large, mysterious garden.
56. Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
57. The Ralph Mouse Collection – Beverly Cleary
58. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective – Donald J. Sobol / I ADORED these as a kid.  I never could figure out the mysteries, though.  I was always so disappointed in myself!
59. Socks – Beverly Cleary
60. The Cricket in Times Square – George Selden
61*. The Hundred Dresses – Eleanor Estes
62. The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
63-66*. Junie B. Jones’s Series – Barbara Park
67-75. Little House on the Prairie Series – Laura Ingalls Wilder / I have to admit that I mentally relate these as being boring.  But I know they weren’t!  I remember enjoying them – they just seem boring.
76. Star of Light – Patricia St John
77*. Caddie Woodlawn – Carol Ryrie Brink
78. The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh – A.A. Milne / Winnie-The-Pooh stories always surprise me at how creative and refreshing their storylines are.  So much better than I expect – every time!
79. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
80*. My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George
81*. Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl
82. James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
83*. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl
84*. The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets – Roald Dahl
85. James Herriot’s Treasury for Children – James Herriot / My Dad used to read these Veterinarian stories to us.  They were simply amazing!
86*. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
87*. Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon – Ruth Stiles Gannett
88.The Five Chinese Brothers – Claire Huchet Bishop
89. Homer Price – Robert McCloskey / This is a rare book to find, but I LOVED it as a kid! Homer had some really fantastic adventures.
90. Andrew Henry’s Meadow – Doris Burn
91*. The Candymakers – Wendy Mass
92*. The Trumpet of the Swan – E.B. White
93*. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle – Betty McDonald
94. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh – Robert O’Brien
95. The Princess Bride – William Goldman / This book was written for adults, and if you haven’t read the book and are a Princess Bride fan like myself, then you’re missing out.  With some skipping here and there, it’d make a great children’s read-aloud book as well.  I wish they would come out with a children’s version…because, as always, the book is even better than the movie.
96*. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy – Jeanne Birdsall
97. Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan (Adapted for little readers)
98*. Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
99*. Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters – Lesley M. M. Blume
100. The Indian in the Cupboard – Lynne Reid Banks
101. Freckle Juice – Judy Blume

Please let me know what I need to add to the list!


Books Suggested By Y’all:

102. Strawberry Girl – Lois Lenski / Suggested by Mama Hen and Roxaline
103. Because of Winn-Dixie – Kate DiCamillo / Suggested by Jennifer Wendorf, Roxaline, and Becca Kennedy
104. The Tale of Despereaux – Kate Dicamillo / Suggested by Jennifer Wendorf and Gina
105. Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar / Suggested by Sam
106. Maniac Magee – Jerry Spinelli / Suggested by Sam
107. Sarah, Plain and Tall – Patricia McLachlan / Suggested by Roxaline
108. American Girl Books – Various Authors / Suggested by Roxaline and Gina
109. The Courage of Sarah Noble – Alice Dalgleish / Suggested by Roxaline
110. Betsy Series – Carolyn Haywood / Suggested by Roxaline
111. Clementine Series – Sara Pennypacker / Suggested by Jessica
112. Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Bobbit / Suggested by Laura Wilder
113. Esperanza Rising – Pam Munoz Ryan / Suggested by Laura Wilder
114. Shel Silverstein Poetry Books / Suggested by Laura Wilder
115. Gregor the Overlander Series – Suzanne Collins / Suggested by Cara
116. Little Pilgrim’s Progress – Helen Taylor / Suggested by Kristi
117. Misty of Chincoteague – Marguerite Henry / Suggested by Kristi
118. Matilda – Roald Dahl / Suggested by Marty
119. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie / Suggested by Marty
120. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum / Suggested by Marty and Robin
121. The Borrowers – Mary Norton / Suggested by Marty, Annie Gallitz, Becca Kennedy and Shiree
122. Owls in the Family – Farley Mowat / Suggested by Marty
123. Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket / Suggested by Marty
124. Shiloh – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor / Suggested by Kitty
125. The Littles – John Peterson / Suggested by Heidi
126. Bunnicula Series – Deborah Howe / Suggested by Heidi
127. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – Judy Blume / Suggested by Heidi
128. The Boxcar Children Series – Gertrude Chandler Warner / Suggested by Shiree and Jaisey
129. Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls / Suggested by Robin
130. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls / Suggested by Robin and JC and Rachel
131. Nancy Drew Series – Carolyn Keene / Suggested by Gina and Anita Wright and Jaisey
132. Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson / Suggested by Becca Kennedy
133. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine / Suggested by Becca Kennedy
134. Alvin Fernald Series – Clifford Hicks / Suggested by JC
135. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions – Edwin Abbott / Suggested by JC
136. The Hardy Boys Series – Franklin W. Dixon / Suggested by JC
137. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew – Margaret Sidney / Suggested by Katie and MBD
138. Eight Cousins – Louisa May Alcott / Suggested by Katie
139. Rose in Bloom – Louisa May Alcott / Suggested by Katie
140. Betsy-Tacy Books – Maud Hart Lovelace / Suggested by Forrest
141. Christy – Catherine Marshall / Suggested by Leanna and Jenna
142.Sugar Creek Gang Series – Paul Hutchens / Suggested by Stacey
143. Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves – Carol Hughes / Suggested by MBD
144. Redwall Series – Brian Jacques / Suggested by MBD
145. Little Britches – Ralph Moody / Suggested by MBD
146. Cheaper by the Dozen – Frank B. Gilbreth Jr / Suggested by MBD and Carol
147. The Great Turkey Walk – Kathleen Karr / Suggested by MBD
148. Talking Turkey – Lila Hopkins / Suggested by Laura
149. A Girl of the Limberlost – Gene Stratton-Porter / Suggested by Carol
150. Wishing-Chair Collection – Enid Blyton / Suggested by Mary @ Parenthood
151. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton / Suggested by Mary @ Parenthood
152. Mrs Pepperpot – Alf Proyson / Suggested by Mary @ Parenthood
153. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles – Julie Andrews Edwards / Suggested by Jenna
154. Martin’s Big Words – Bryan Collier / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
155. Pink and Say – Patricia Polacco / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
156. Skippyjon Jones Series – Judy Schnachner / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
157. The Wall – Eve Bunting / Suggested by Cindy McGurl
158. Gooney Bird Greene – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Pam Dennison
159. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien / Suggested by Hannah
160. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien / Suggested by Hannah
161. Alpha Centauri – Robert Siegal / Suggested by Hannah
162. Whalesong – Robert Siegal / Suggested by Hannah
163. The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald / Suggested by Hannah
164. The Princess and Curdie – George MacDonald / Suggested by Hannah
165. Poppy – Avi / Suggested by Carissa
166. Henry Huggins – Beverly Cleary / Suggested by Carissa
167. The Tower of Geburah (Archives of Anthropos) – John White / Suggested by Carissa
168. Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson / Suggested by Carissa and Shannon
169. Geronimo Stilton – Geronimo Stilton / Suggested by Carissa
170. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom – Louis Sachar / Suggested by Stephanie
171. Lois Lowry Books* Can be intense emotionally – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Laura
172. The War with Grandpa – Robert Kimmel Smith / Suggested by Lisa
173. Out of My Mind – Sharon M. Draper / Suggested by Claire
174. The Castle in the Attic – Elizabeth Winthrop / Suggested by Debbie and Lisa
175. Bud, Not Buddy – Christopher Paul Curtis / Suggested by Carrie
176. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare / Suggested by Carrie
177. The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin / Suggested by Krista Howland
178. Trixie Belden Series – Julie Campbell / Suggested by Anita Wright
179. The Railway Children – Edith Nesbit / Suggested by Anita Wright
180. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell / Suggested by Anita Wright
181. What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge / Suggested by Anita Wright
182. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll / Suggested by Anita Wright and Irma
183. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – T.S. Eliot / Suggested by Anita Wright
184. Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling / Suggested by Meg
185. Hatchet – Gary Paulson / Suggested by Lisa
186. Leo the Late Bloomer – Robert Kraus / Suggested by Amber Thomas
187. Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson / Suggested by Amber Thomas
188. The Duel: The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat – Eugene Field / Suggested by Amber Thomas
189. The Mysterious Benedict Society Series – Trenton Lee Stewart / Suggested by Shannon
190. Percy Jackson Series – Attila Futaki and Jose Villarrubia / Suggested by Shannon
191. The All-of-a-Kind Family series – Sydney Taylor / Suggested by Shannon
192. Fablehaven – Brandon Mull / Suggested by Suzanne Brazzell
193. Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls / Suggested by Suzanne Brazzell
194. Thunder Cake – Patricia Polacco / Suggested by Cynthia
195. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate DiCamillo / Suggested by Nicole
196. A Single Shard – Linda Sue Park / Suggested by Renee
197. A Long Way From Chicago – Richard Peck / Suggested by Renee
198. A Year Down Yonder – Richard Peck / Suggested by Renee
199. Princess Academy – Shannon Hale / Suggested by Renee
200. Kira-Kira – Cynthia Kadohata / Suggested by Renee
201. Crunch – Leslie Connor / Suggested by Jessica
202. Waiting for the Magic – Patricia MacLachlan / Suggested by Jessica
203. Masterpiece – Elise Broach / Suggested by Jessica
204. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat – Lynne Jonell / Suggested by Jessica
205. The Giver – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Kayla Essary
206. Number the Stars – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Kayla Essary
207. Paint The Wind – Pam Munoz Ryan
208. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry / Suggested by Kristy Howells
209. The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale / Suggested by Eryn
210. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin / Suggested by Amber
211. Holes – Louis Sachar / Suggested by Amber
212. The Name of this Book Is Secret – Pseudonymous Bosch / Suggested by Amber
213. The Lion’s Paw – Robb White / Suggested by Melissa
214. Big Red – Jim Kjelgaard / Suggested by Rachel
215. Marguerite Henry Books – Marguerite Henry / Suggested by Rachel


Check out my homeschooling category for more possibly helpful posts!

You might also like Stepping Stones of Early Readers:

Early Readers - Good Books in order of difficulty

or this Geography Project: