Mama Reads, Baby Reads.

In the spirit of last week’s column, I thought it would be fun to share my top six summer reading picks for both mama and baby!


1. The Hunger Games

I feel like I recommend this book to anyone and everyone I meet (the other day I found myself giving an uninvited recommendation to the cashier at Circle K. Don’t ask), but it’s for good reason- it’s a GOOD book.  Technically The Hunger Games trilogy is a young adult series, but I’ve found that all ages really get into it in a Harry Potter/Twilight kind of way. I cringe putting Twilight into the same category as H.P. and H.G. but for the sake of making the popular connection I’ll leave it.

To give you some background without giving too much away, the book is basically set in a future-Dystopia, fraught with violence and control by the oppressive Society. The plot includes love, loss, tragedy, hope- basically every component you could possibly want in a book, but it’s written in such a way that it’s incredibly appealing at each of those levels. It’s one of those novels that you absolutely cannot put down, and I promise that if you give it a try, you’ll like it, and probably love the next two books as well. I’ve gotten everyone from my Mom to my 15-year old students reading it (and MAYBE the cashier at Circle K, too).


2. Bossypants

Tina Fey is funny. We know this. And her book is funny. Now you know this. But really, it’s really, really funny. Like legitimately making me laugh-out-loud, not wanting to go to sleep because I have-to, want-to, need-to finish just one more chapter.  It’s one of those books you feel slightly awkward reading in a public place because you keep doing that creepy reading giggle with every other page turn. You know what I mean, I’m sure. It’s when you’re sitting somewhere alone, reading (say the airport), and something is just so funny you laugh out loud, then realize you’re alone, sitting there, laughing out loud, so you then try to stifle the laugh…and you just end up looking really bizarre and slightly maniacal as the dude in the corner, alone, trying not to laugh out loud. Thanks Tina. But anyway. The memoir starts at her childhood and brings you all the way through her adolescence to her days doing comedy- it’s an amazing peek at an amazingly funny woman’s life. Simply put: if you like to laugh, read this book.


3. Valley of the Dolls

When I think about summer reading, the first thing that comes to mind is a fun, carefree novel I can read while floating around in a blue, blue pool, sipping a drink with an umbrella and wearing a huge sunhat, while a pool boy named Javier fetches my towel. Valley of the Dolls is so one of those books. Some would consider this novel to be more on the “trashy” side, but I consider it a classic. The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, Valley of the Dolls. You know. And if anyone says a word about this book not being in the literary canon, tell them that a very esteemed, former English teacher said so (ahem, me). But really, Valley of the Dolls is so enjoyable. It’s like a glass of cold lemonade on a hot day, a touch of excitement in the otherwise bland abyss of summer reading choices. Written in 1966 but set beginning in 1940s NYC, it tells the story of three young women who achieve immense success, and eventual destruction. The entire novel is riveting- a total page turner and full of drama. I might even say that it’s the perfect summer book.


4. Caps for Sale

This is one of my favorite children’s books of all time. It was originally published in 1938 but I think it’s just as cool today.  Caps for Sale is about a hat-peddling man who falls asleep with all of his hats piled on his head, and wakes up to find some monkeys have caused a bit of mischief involving those caps. I’d like to think that Henry has impeccable taste for a 7-month old and legitimately loves this book for it’s awesome illustrations and vintage quality, but I think he’s just fascinated by the monkeys and the repetitive language in the story-telling. Either way, it’s a great book for the little ones (and adults too). A must-have for any children’s library.


5. Star Wars ABCs

Okay. Just so you guys know for future reference, I married a Star Wars nerd. Not nerdy to the extent of dressing up at Comic Con every year, but sometimes I feel like we could be getting close to that. I mean, the man likes to always have his pillow adorned with one of his many vintage Star Wars cases, and has been known to think soda tastes better out of his Darth Vader mug. But hey, I find it incredibly adorable, and although I’m not necessarily a Star Wars fan (okay, I’ve never actually seen any of them in their entirety), I do think it’s pretty neat from what I have seen. Maybe one day I’ll give in and spend a weekend watching all of them, but until then this Star Wars ABC book is enough for me. It’s graphic, it’s big, it’s a board book…basically all things wonderful in the world of baby lit, and Henry loves it.


6. Miss Nelson is Missing!

This book is another one of my favorites growing up, and Henry and I have been enjoying it a couple times a week.  I like this book for a few reasons- one, I absolutely love the illustrations. Two, I think the story is completely entertaining and even now I find a very magical quality within its pages. And three, I love how the author sneaks in a little moral lesson about good behavior without being overly preachy or obvious.  The book takes you on a fun ride through a sweet teacher’s journey to “tame” the worst class in the world, and the story ends up surprising most kids in the end. It’s a fun book that holds a huge spot in my own childhood library, and it makes me happy to pass it down to Henry.  And for those who have indeed read it, how amazing is the name “Viola Swamp?” I kind of want to get a crabby little Yorkie and bestow that fabulous name on her. I love it.


Happy reading!

images via


Danielle Hampton is a high school English teacher turned stay-at-home Mom, living the small town life in Arizona. She blogs daily at Sometimes Sweet and tweets too much via @danihampton.

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