Out the Door on Time: 9 Tips for a Smooth Morning Routine

I am not a morning person. Life at home with my toddlers used to be filled with mornings cuddling in PJs. Arriving at preschool on time was a challenge; I was often late. When my son started kindergarten, I was determined to get my act together and break the cycle. I gleaned ideas from the web, talked to other moms and put a system in place. I use these tips to get up and out the door in 45 minutes each morning.

Use Sunday Wisely

Think ahead and prepare for the week on Sunday; it helps save time in the long run.

  1. Bag snacks, fruits and veggies for the week to save time on busy sports practice and running-around days. Doing this in advance also gives you a heads-up if stocking up on lunchbox staples is necessary, thereby avoiding last-minute shopping trips.
  2. Use an organizing system to put together school outfits for the week. I bought a hanging system for my son’s closet with a compartment for each day. Every Sunday, we check the weather for the upcoming week and put outfits in each compartment. Sometimes my son wants to choose his clothes; sometimes he lets me choose. There is never an argument, question or decision to make about what to wear in the morning.
  3. Put an organizing system by the door for shoes and backpacks. Professional organizers often recommend an area with hooks for backpacks and a rack below for shoes. Having homework and permission slips ready in the backpack the night before is crucial.

The Night Before

  1. Make lunch the night before. This includes filling water bottles.
  2. Set the table for breakfast after doing the dinner dishes. You’re already in the kitchen; getting it all done at once makes sense.

In the Morning

  1. Keep breakfast simple. Cereal with toast, yogurt or fruit keeps us on the go. Try to sit down and have breakfast as soon as the kids get up. This avoids the grab-and-go breakfast that research shows can lead to obesity. It also helps avoid last-minute spills on school clothes that could cause a meltdown for kids or parents.

Try this savvy breakfast trick: Always bake a double batch of muffins and freeze the extras. That way, the kids can just take one out and warm it in the microwave.”

If you have a picky eater who wants a hot breakfast, try toaster waffles, make-ahead egg muffins or bagels.

  1. Have your child use an alarm clock. We bought a Yoda alarm clock and gave it to our son as a present as he entered kindergarten. He was excited by the unexpected gift and, in turn, was excited to use it. I was amazed when he skipped into the dining room each morning at 6:15 a.m., ready to start his day.
  2. Most parents agree with this rule: No electronics before school. They are way too distracting.
  3. With older children, get creative! A fun way to get tweens and teens out of bed and moving is to turn on music in their rooms. Make it nice and loud and then sing and dance (if necessary), substituting words with phrases about waking up and getting moving. Groans may soon turn into laughter, and they start preparing for the school day.

There is no magic, and no two families are alike. Figure out what works for your family, then put a system in place. Planning ahead will help start the day in a more positive, less frazzled way.

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Why Family Dinners Matter: The Science of Eating Together

August is National Wellness Month, a great occasion to consider why it’s so important that families eat together as often as possible. Most families find it difficult to get everyone together at the dinner table on a regular basis. We’re all so busy with after-school activities, late meetings at work and long commutes; it really is too bad. Researchers have learned that eating dinner as a family is extremely important to kids’ physical, mental and emotional health. As Dr. Anne Fishel, professor at Harvard Medical School and an expert on the benefits of family dinners, says: “Sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit.”

Healthier Eating

Kids whose families have regular dinners together are much healthier than those who don’t. They eat more fruits and vegetables and less fried foods and soft drinks. They eat a wider variety of foods, and they continue to do so once they become adults. They’re also less likely to become obese. Researchers believe that’s because homemade meals are healthier than those in restaurants: we eat smaller portions at a slower pace and spend more time talking with one another.

Increased Vocabulary

Dining with the family impacts kids’ minds as well as their bodies. Researchers have discovered that dinner-time conversations increase young kids’ vocabulary much more than being read to out loud. So if you have a choice between coming home early for a family dinner or reading your kids a bedtime story, choose the dinner over the bedtime story. Kids who have a large vocabulary learn to read earlier and more easily than those with a more limited vocabulary. Researchers think that’s because kids constantly hear parents use new words during conversation.

Higher Grades

These intellectual benefits carry over into academic achievement. Researchers have discovered that how well kids do in school is determined more by how often they participate in family dinners than by whether they do their homework consistently. Kids who dine regularly with their families are twice as likely to get A’s in school than those who only do so rarely.

Fewer Risky Behaviors

Having family dinners is also good for kids’ emotional health. When they dine with their families, they’re much less likely to suffer from eating disorders, abuse alcohol or drugs or experience stress and depression. Researchers believe that’s because parents who spend time with their kids at the dinner table are more in touch with their emotional well-being and can offer advice and support when needed. As a result, these kids also have higher self-esteem and trust others more.

Stronger Family Bonds

Finally, researchers have learned what we all probably know already: eating dinner together enhances family bonds. Kids whose families have regular dinners are much more likely to have good relationships with their parents and siblings. Kids say that talking, catching up and just spending quality family time are much more important to them than what’s on the menu. Simply put, eating dinner together creates a strong sense of togetherness and a feeling of belonging to a family. Dr. Fishel puts it well: “Dinner is a time to relax, recharge, laugh, tell stories and catch up on the day’s ups and downs, while developing a sense of who we are as a family.”

Happy Dinner!

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6 Things Your Teen Needs But Doesn’t Know How To Ask For

My daughter’s eyes were filled with tears, and my voice was louder than it needed to be. We were arguing over something trivial and small.
Or so I thought.

We had gone round and round about the homework she was struggling with. She was convinced she wouldn’t be able to do it, and I was confident she could if she just pushed through. It was a moment when I could see her potential more than she could. She felt like she was sinking, and all I saw was her refusal to stand up in the shallow water.

After going round and round, we were both exasperated. Heels dug in tight, I realized I needed to be the one to move first. All I could think was to ask a question: “What do you need?” I pleaded.

“I don’t know, Mom.” And the tears came.

In that moment, I knew she had no idea what she needed, and it was my job to figure it out with her. This wasn’t about helping her with homework; this was about helping her find her way.

Teens often don’t know what they need. Most kids don’t, but when they’re young, we step in more willingly. Now that our babies are more at eye level, we look at them expecting adult choices, forgetting that sometimes they don’t know how to figure things out on their own.
Here are six things your teen may not have a clue he or she needs.

Physical Touch – As our kids get older, we are less likely to hug them, snuggle with them or give them physical reassurance. This is especially true with boys because of gender expectations. While much research has been done on the effects of physical contact on babies and young children, we forget that some of the same benefits apply to teens.
“Hugging triggers the release of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, that can lower the level of stress hormone and counter its anxiety effects.” (Parenting for Brain) This dual benefit helps teens in a way they cannot verbalize, making the situation they are facing easier to handle.
When my daughter is spiraling emotionally and I gently pull her into a hug, she immediately collapses against me, letting the burden leave her as she falls into me. For some, hugs may be too much, but other types of physical touch can benefit them. A hand on the shoulder or a few minutes sitting side by side is enough to bring the same benefits.

Sleep & Rest – The need for and benefits of sleep for teens has been highlighted recently, with studies showing that teens are not getting enough sleep for proper development. While much of the recent research has focused on the sleep/school connection for teens, there is far more concerning the need for adequate rest.
Thinking back to those crazy years when I had three kids in as many years, everything is a blur. I spent five years sleep-deprived, and as a person who doesn’t function well without her eight hours, some days were difficult. I was irritable, unable to solve problems well and couldn’t think clearly.

Now, think of those same effects on the physically and emotionally developing teen brain.

I don’t need a study to confirm that my kids function better with good sleep. This can feel tricky with teens as changing physiology, more homework and seeking independence keep them up later and later. Shifting the focus from actual sleep time to rest has helped in our household.

Encouraging kids to get stressful tasks requiring a lot of thinking done earlier in the evening allows them to use later times for unwinding. This can be with some electronics, but research is clear that the use of electronic devices late at night is not good for anyone.

Finding things that are relaxing, like a shower, reading, listening to audiobooks, journaling, drawing or other non-stressful, quiet tasks, is a great way to ease into a better sleep routine.

Expression – Teens often struggle with appropriate ways to express feelings. At times their feelings are new and foreign or mixed up in a way that leaves them uncertain about what they feel at all. Giving them ideas for ways to express themselves helps. And the best way to do that is by modeling.

It’s no secret that telling a teen to do something doesn’t always work, but if they see people they love and trust doing something, they may give it a try. Modeling a variety of ways to express thoughts, ideas and feelings will help them see that they have many options. Much like a buffet, when they are presented with an assortment of possibilities, they may try a few until they find what they like.

Talking is the most obvious way we express ourselves, but there are many more possibilities. Writing, drawing, creating, cooking and building are a few ways you can foster expression. Some need something more physical, so things like running, hiking, swimming, sitting at the beach or even swinging on the swings can help.

The key is to try many things and be okay when they don’t work. When teens see you finding your way, even with a struggle, it helps them know there is nothing wrong or unusual with their own.

Exercise – Very similar to expressing your feelings, exercise presents positive benefits that are often overlooked because we don’t know how to incorporate it into our lives. Teens especially struggle with this, even teens that play sports. While playing a sport is a physical activity that will benefit them, it can also become a responsibility or burden associated with pressure.

I don’t love exercise. But I try to walk or hike regularly. It has little to do with physical health benefits and more to do with the clarity and mental well-being it fosters. Much study has been done on the benefits of exercise. It is proven that people who exercise “feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives.” (Helpguide.org)

All of these benefits will help teens in ways they often cannot pinpoint. Giving them ample opportunity to try different types of exercise will also help them develop habits that will serve them later in life.

Even if they groan and complain, drag the family out for a hike or take them to the pool. Head to the trampoline park, shoot hoops or challenge your teen to a 5K. Teens tend to let exercise go at a time when they may need it most. You can make sure they still have the opportunity to get moving. Plus, they may love the chance to beat you in a race.

Listening – This tip is the one most parents roll their eyes at and brush past. They often find themselves in the “My-kid-never-tells-me-anything” camp or the “My-kid-never-stops-talking” camp. Neither of which sounds very fun.
We are often surprised to learn that teens want better communication with their parents. As parents, we sometimes lack the time, interest or skills necessary to effectively listen to our teens.

Listening is not always easy, and sometimes the results may not be noticeable, but fostering an environment of caring about what your teen has to say is helpful. Even if it is about the latest basketball team or what someone said to someone else that made another girl cry, this environment will benefit both you and your teen.

For great tips on effective communication with teens, don’t miss the Focus on the Family series Parent-Teen Communication.

Grace – This idea is one you won’t find many places, but I have found it to be one of the most important things to teach my teen. Teens today are growing up in a high-pressure society. AP courses, college, grad school and high-paying jobs all feel like necessities to make it in this great big busy world. Sometimes teens are so busy trying to be the best and to get ready for the next step that they are miserable.

Simple reminders and parental behavior make a big difference here. If the only things we ask about school have to do with grades, sports and college applications, we are showing our kids that those are the most important things. When they lose a game or get a low grade, it suddenly becomes devastating. We have the power to change that.

My daughter came home one day upset about her math quiz grade. She was crying because she wanted it to be higher, to be better, to be perfect. After listening to her talk for a few minutes, I asked one question: “Do you know what I got on my math quiz in 7th grade?”
She looked at me with wide eyes, eager to see how we measured up against one another. “No.”

“Neither do I.” She may have rolled her eyes when I said this, but it showed her that it’s okay to let things go sometimes. We need to give ourselves grace when we make mistakes. That is what enables us to learn well and move forward without anger or bitterness.

Look for ways you can teach your teen about grace today. It may mean the difference between a stressful meltdown and a small bump in the road.

And one final note, this idea of grace works for you, too. As parents, we want so much to get it right, but the truth is, sometimes, we will miss the mark. Give yourself grace in those moments and move forward. It’s worth it.

Two-Minute Action Plan

Spend a few minutes thinking about the best way to start making changes in your family.

  • How can you give yourself grace today? It’s easy to fall into the trap that you should have done things differently, but remembering that you can start a positive cycle today with you can help.
  • When was the last time you offered your teen or tween physical contact? It’s easy to lose track of this as kids get older and become independent. Think of one thing you will do today to offer your child physical comfort. Some ideas include a hug, sitting next to him on the couch, offering to read a chapter of her book out loud while snuggled in bed or simply putting your hand on his shoulder and telling him to have a great day.
  • Think about how you want to respond the next time your child is struggling emotionally. While every tip doesn’t work the same for every situation, knowing what you will try will help you be prepared.

Long-Term Action Plan

The next week or two offers a great opportunity to put more of these ideas in place. Spend a few minutes brainstorming how to meet each of these six needs. Remember, it will not be perfect. This is not a checklist of things to do but ideas to try.
As you try ideas, make note of which ones work well. Most will take multiple tries to see a difference, but don’t be discouraged. Notice which ones your child likes. See what helps him or her most and keep practicing those. You will both reap the benefits of these simple ideas when you thoughtfully put them to use.

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How To Reduce Stress in Your Overscheduled Child

Are your kids overwhelmed and stressed? Are they running around to numerous after-school activities and trying to juggle homework and personal time?

Millions of children in the United States feel overwhelmed and pressured because of their overscheduled lives. Enrolling children in too many activities is a huge problem. We feel like we aren’t doing a good job if we don’t sign our children up for a variety of activities, exposing them to sports, culture, religion and everything else under the sun starting at a young age. But then the children are under so much pressure to compete with their peers and achieve “success.”

The Risks of Over Scheduling Our Kids

Sadly, this pressure can lead to troublesome health issues. In the U.S. alone, around 77% of the population regularly experiences physical symptoms caused by stress. Sure, a little bit of pressure can be a positive motivator, but stress that is chronic and left unchecked can have a detrimental effect on one’s health–high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a whole slew of anxiety-induced symptoms like headaches and dizziness.

What We Can Do

Fortunately, there is a better way. To help your kids to grow up healthy, happy and relaxed, check out these tips for reducing school- and activity-related pressures.

Ensure They Get Enough Rest

One of the best remedies against stress is to ensure that during busy and challenging times we are able to give our bodies proper rest. This includes our children letting go of any worries that they have at the end of the school day and making sure they engage in activities that are pleasurable for them.

If your kids have a busy school schedule and an early start, they should get accustomed to going to bed early in order for their bodies to get the recommended daily amount of sleep–around the 9- to 11-hour mark for a young child. Experts suggest that children reduce their exposure to light before bedtime, so this means turning off all electronic devices at least one hour before going to sleep. Creating a comforting environment in their bedroom will also help them sleep more soundly through the night. If your kids are having trouble falling asleep, then it is time to find a solution to help them get ready for bed. Try a happy bedtime story, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and even snuggling to help your child wind down.

Add Meditation to Their Lives

Stress reduction has been proven to take place when we engage in activities that help us calm our minds, such as mindfulness meditation. This ancient technique that originated in India can help us concentrate better and focus on more positive thoughts if we practice it often enough. Engaging in meditation will not lead to a completely silent mind, but it will result in your kids being able to better control their emotions if they are going through stressful periods. There are so many ways to share meditation with your kids, whether it be through yoga, mindful coloring or a lovingkindness meditation practice.

Teach Them How to Balance Their Time Wisely

As parents, we need to learn what our children can handle and what they want–not what we think is best for their college applications. This does not mean you need to take your children out of all their activities. Try limiting the amount of time spent in extracurricular activities and choosing the ones they really love. For example, we decided that baseball was not going to work for my son because it required a commitment of three days per week. We also pulled my daughter out of a wonderful dance studio to attend dance at her school because it alleviates unnecessary travel time. Work with your children when making these difficult, but necessary, decisions. The more they practice how to balance their lives now, the better off they will be in the long run.

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Extracurricular Activities Are More Important Now Than Ever

We all know life changed drastically when the recent pandemic entered the picture. From online schooling to making decisions about how we spend our time, life as we knew it was turned upside down. Now that we are finding our way through these changes, understanding what kids need is essential.

Why? The American Psychological Association reports a 24-31% increase in mental health-related emergency room visits in kids and teens in 2020. Kids are struggling, and a great way to help is with extracurricular activities. While we do need to proceed carefully, choosing what is right for each child and family and resisting the urge to overschedule extracurricular activities are more important now than ever.

Six Ways Extracurricular Activities Help Kids Today

  1. Extracurricular activities are an outlet. Whether playing a team sport or learning a new form of art, these activities allow for a chance to have less structured experiences from typical school/home life. The ability to create or interact helps kids get their feelings, frustrations and fears out in a productive, safe way.
  2. Extracurricular activities promote interaction. Taking a creative class or joining a team helps kids interact with peers in a fun way, promoting positive relationships. In a world where time with other people all but came to a halt, kids need to learn how to connect with others again. Common interests and goals provide a safe, lightly structured format for these interactions.
  3. Extracurricular activities provide direction. It has been two years of unknowns for all of us, including kids. While they have been incredibly resilient and proven they can roll with so many changes, reentry isn’t easy for every child. An enrichment club or a recreational sport can give them some direction and stability in a world that has lacked both. Even a simple once-a-week activity on the calendar is something kids can look forward to as proof that their world isn’t turned upside down.
  4. Extracurricular activities give an escape. While it is important to talk about our problems, sometimes we need a break from our daily struggles. Even as adults, we know the value of a good walk or a cup of coffee with a friend. Extracurricular activities give kids a break from thinking about how different school is or how something has changed at home since the pandemic started. A healthy outlet can be a mental escape from the things that feel hard in daily life.
  5. Extracurricular activities offer fun. We can all agree that the last few years could be characterized by many things, but fun hasn’t been at the top of the list. A weekly chess club or a run around the bases with the baseball team goes a long way to reinstating fun in our everyday lives. Kids need to remember that it’s not only okay to smile, laugh and have fun with friends, but it’s also essential.
  6. Extracurricular activities help them become. Part of life is learning about who we are, the things we like, and the activities that make us come alive. Exploring extracurricular activities give kids a broader framework for discovery about themselves. When we encourage this in our kids, we have a front-row seat to them becoming more fully who they are.

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Friday Night Lights in Clay County: Your Game Plan for a Night of Family Fun

Every year, just as a hint of autumn hits the air, a time-honored tradition again plays out at high schools across Clay County and, indeed, across the country.

Dusk settles in, and with a click, lights illuminate a playing field as gridiron warriors trot across the freshly manicured grass. It’s Friday night, and it’s time for football.

But there’s more to enjoying the big game than just showing up. Here’s how.


  • Pack a cushion and bring a blanket for maximum comfort. Bleacher seats can become uncomfortable after sitting for a while, so a cushion comes in handy to make it through the final play. Also, a blanket, whether draped across your legs or wrapped around your shoulders, keeps you cozy as the sun sets and temperatures drop.
  • Dress comfortably and in layers; don’t forget thunderstorms can pop up, so consider bringing a poncho.
  • Attend any game you wish, but remember the home-field advantage: home games are fun games. You’ll find more camaraderie and enthusiasm with like-minded fans.
  • Show spirit and wear school colors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a jacket, jersey, ribbons in your hair, painted nails or face paint; it’s all about showing your love for the team.
  • Follow the rules of the road. Whatever guidelines the school/stadium has established, abide by them.
  • Sit with friends to make the most of the game. It’s a real boost of fun to share the experience with your besties.
  • Support the school by buying the occasional spirit button or pin, program and the like.
  • Check your impatience at the door. Whenever there is a competition going on, emotions run high. If a play doesn’t go your way, remember good sportsmanship. A “Boo!” may be warranted, but not any rants or raves, especially with profanity.
  • Grab the snacks and visit the bathroom before halftime. Once the game breaks, it can be crazy with crowds at both locations.
  • Get into the halftime show. It’s not just the football players on the field putting out their best for your entertainment; it’s also the band and the cheerleaders. Root them on too.
  • Participate in the game. Besides cheering with each goal, participate in the call-and-response cheers from cheerleaders to kick up the spirit.
  • Be supportive, from the students working the concession stand to the cheerleaders, athletes and more; they are still kids, and a smile or kind word can be a good show of encouragement.

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Book Nook-August 2023

To purchase any of these books


Back to School Issue

This is a Story

by John Schu (Author) Lauren Castillo (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Children’s literacy advocate John Schu and Caldecott Honor recipient Lauren Castillo celebrate the power of finding the perfect book–in a story that’s more relevant than ever.

This is a word on a page.

This is a page in a book.

This is a book on a shelf . . . waiting.

With a sea-horse kite in hand, a child heads out with Dad to the library. On the way they stop at a park, joining lots of people, some of whom are flying kites, too. At the library, a person toting a big pile of books hands over a story on a favorite subject: the sea-horse. All around, there are readers poring over books, each with their own questions, ideas to explore, hopes for the future and imaginations ready to spark. With a warm, lyrical text and tenderly expressive illustrations, John Schu and Lauren Castillo invite us to imagine the myriad ways that books can foster connection and understanding–and how they can empower children, through their own passions, to transform the world.

The Crayons Go Back To School 

by Drew Daywalt (Author) Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K-1st Grade

Series: Crayons

The hilarious crayons from the #1 New York Times bestselling The Day The Crayons Quit are ready to go back to school!

The crayons are getting ready to go back to school, and each crayon has a subject they’re looking forward to the most. They’re also ready to meet new friends. . . and let loose during their very favorite time of day: art class. A humorous, small hardcover back-to-school story from everyone’s favorite school supplies.

 Everyone Loves Lunchtime but Zia 

by Jenny Liao (Author) Dream Chen (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A heartwarming picture book about a Chinese American girl who grows to appreciate the traditional dishes her parents prepare for her and finds a way to share her lunch with her classmates.

Everyone loves lunchtime. Everyone, that is, but Zia.

At school, the other kids are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and apples on the side. But Zia’s always nervous about opening her lunchbox. Her dumpling and noodle dishes look different and smell different. She dreads lunchtime.

Then, during her birthday week, her parents pack her a different Cantonese dish each day and explain what the food represents: a roast pork bun to bring treasure, soy sauce chicken to bring success and more. At first, Zia doesn’t want to eat her lunch, but once she starts, she just may realize her food could bring her good fortune after all!

The World’s Best Class Plant 

by Audrey Vernick (Author) Lynnor Bontigao (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

An irresistible picture book about a boy and his classmates who long for a class pet but discover the joys and rewards of nurturing a class plant.

Room 107 has a cockatiel. Room 108 has a chinchilla. Even the Art Room has a bearded dragon. But in Room 109, Arlo’s classroom, there is a plant. A mostly green, hardly growing, never moving plant. Even though it doesn’t squeak, whistle or whimper, Arlo’s teacher says the plant is “more than enough excitement for us.” But what could possibly be exciting about a plant?

One day, Arlo decides to name the plant Jerry. Something about naming the plant makes it more exciting. As the class learns to take care of Jerry, he starts to grow . . . greener and longer and twistier. And before long, it’s clear that something amazing has taken root in Arlo’s classroom.

 The Attack of the Black Rectangles

 by Amy Sarig King (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Award-winning author Amy Sarig King takes on censorship and intolerance in a novel she was born to write.

When Mac first opens his classroom copy of Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then, when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he’s outraged.

Someone in his school is trying to prevent kids from reading the full story.

But who?

Even though his unreliable dad tells him not to get so emotional about a book (or anything else), Mac has been raised by his mom and grandad to call out things that are wrong. He and his friends head to the principal’s office to protest the censorship… but her response doesn’t take them seriously.

So many adults want Mac to keep his words to himself.

Mac’s about to see the power of letting them out.

In Attack of the Black Rectangles, acclaimed author Amy Sarig King shows all the ways truth can be hard… but still worth fighting for.

The Real Deal 

by Lindsey Stoddard (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Two best friends discover the danger and power of secrets in this pitch-perfect standalone from the acclaimed author of Just Like Jackie and Brave Like That.

Not every friendship can be the real deal, but for Gabe and Oliver, that’s never been a question.

Until now. Things still feel the same on the surface–they’re even making a comic about their friendship–but lately, Oliver’s acting like he might be hiding something.

And then there’s Reuben, the new boy who just moved to town. He doesn’t talk–not ever. The other kids say mean things and call him names behind his back. Gabe knows it isn’t right–but he and Oliver stay quiet, or worse, laugh along with the others just to keep from standing out.

Through the character he and Oliver create in their comic adventure, the experience they have babysitting twin toddlers and with the help of a troublemaking seventh grader who gets sent to their sixth-grade class, Gabe begins to find his voice and become the realest-deal version of his own self. But if he does that–can he still hold onto his best friend, too?

Perfect for fans of Lisa Graff and Linda Mullaly Hunt, this novel from Lindsey Stoddard, whose stories have been lauded as “remarkable” by the New York Times Book Review, will have fans new and old hooked.

The Super Teacher Project 

by Gordon Korman (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

From Gordon Korman, the bestselling author of Restart and The Unteachables, comes a hilarious new story about a mysterious new teacher who turns out to be an AI robot from a secret experimental program.

Oliver Zahn, spitball champion and self-declared rule-wrecker of Brightling Middle School, is not a fan of his new homeroom teacher, Mr. Aidact. The guy is sort of stiff, never cracks a smile, and refers to them as “pupils.” The worst part is he catches Oliver before he can pull any of his signature pranks! It’s time for Oliver and his best friend, Nathan, to show the new teacher who’s boss.

But as the weeks go by, they start to realize that Mr. Aidact is not what they expected. He has an uncanny ability to remember song lyrics or trivia. When the girls’ field hockey team needs a new coach, he suddenly turns out to be an expert. He never complains when other teachers unload work on him–even when it’s lunchroom duty and overseeing detention. Against all odds, Mr. Aidact starts to become the most popular teacher at Brightling.

Still, Oliver and Nathan know that something is fishy. They’re determined to get to the bottom of the mystery: What’s the deal with Mr. Aidact?

NOTE: Supply chain issues have affected book inventory across the country and Bookelicious is no exception. If a book is out of stock, check the “borrow” button to see if your local library is listed. They may have a copy! You can also create an account and create a wish list to refer to later.