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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On Jean C. George’s “Summer and Children and Birds and Animals and Flowers and Trees and Bees and Books” (from 1959)

That’s Jean Craighead George, folks. This article, originally published in the June 1959 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, is very much like its leisurely, evocative title: “Summer and Children and Birds and Animals and Flowers and Trees and Bees and Books.” Beginning with a tender story about her daughter and an abandoned rose-breasted grosbeak […]

POW! A knock-out punch!

Last week’s blog rant post from the Horn Book’s usually level-headed if sleep-deprived executive editor called out picture book reviewers for making ridiculous promises in their reviews of bedtime books. You know, stuff like: “This gentle read-aloud will calm young listeners and lull them to sleep.” Elissa wasn’t having it. “Do these books’ powers of […]

The Horn Book is a bunch of liars; or: YOU go the eff to sleep

Look, I love Goodnight Moon just as much as the next parent. The text’s gentle cadence and reassuring repetition. The play of light and shadow across the great green room. And that achingly beautiful and mysterious ending: “Goodnight stars / Goodnight air / Goodnight noises / Everywhere.” My children love it, too. They love filling […]

Our butterfly project

In July, the world is in bloom. Midsummer fields are speckled with wildflowers and abuzz with insects and birds enjoying the sweet nectar. Eager to celebrate this bounty of color and sound, my kids and I ordered a butterfly kit to hatch Painted Lady butterflies. (Our kit came from Insect Lore, which offers other creature […]

On Elizabeth Wein’s “BGHB at 50: Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay” (from 2017)

I love Elizabeth Wein’s appreciation of Hilary McKay’s Saffy’s Angel, a 2002 Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book for fiction. Wein, herself the recipient of two BGHB Honors (among many other accolades), treats us not only to her perceptive thoughts about McKay’s masterful family stories but also to a glimpse into her own relationship with her […]

Raising a feminist

I had a feminist awakening in my early twenties, and since then I’ve become passionate about analyzing female characters in books and films with a critical eye. I search for strong female leads whose identities are not defined by the men in their lives. Now, as a parent of a seven-year-old boy, I wonder about […]

On Robin Smith

The Horn Book family is mourning the loss of one of our own, the inimitable Robin Smith who passed away last week after a battle with bone cancer. In addition to her day job as a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Robin was a longtime Magazine reviewer and contributor as well as […]

These boots are made for walking…into mucky water

What kid doesn’t love wading in mucky water and scooping up slimy eggs stuck to cattail reeds and rotting sticks? Oh, it’s just mine? Well, we live in Maine and exploring local ponds is a great excuse to get outside in June — after waiting all winter for the opportunity. The appearance of the gooey […]

A New Place You’ll Go: Opening Day at The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

The tagline for the Random House Beginner Book imprint reads “I Can Read It All By Myself” and features a picture of Dr. Seuss’s famed Cat in the Hat. A more accurate line to capture the revolutionary impact Theodor Seuss Geisel had on the beginning reader might be “I Can Read It All By Myself […]

On Kathleen T. Horning’s “On Spies and Purple Socks and Such” (from 2005)

“Sometimes you have to lie. But to yourself you must always tell the truth.” —Ole Golly from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh June is Pride Month (whether or not the White House recognizes it) and LGBTQIA folx and their allies are holding their rainbow flags — of various stripes — high. In the January/February […]