Children’s books to read: My Life as a Book

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“My Life as a Book” by Janet Tashjian is one of our favorite children’s books to read. Melissa Gaynor explains why:

What You Need to Know:

• A funny, entertaining, clever novel about a 12 year-old boy struggling with reading.
• The impressive illustrations that appear throughout the book were drawn by the author’s fifteen year old son.
• The book is dedicated to Bill Watterson, author of the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes.
• Written in the first person, the story lets the reader see the world through the eye’s of Derek, the main character.
• There is so much more to this story than simply reeducating a reluctant reader.
• The story of a girl who died on the beach years earlier plays a key part in this book.


On the run from his mom who is trying to bribe him to read, Derek ends up in his attic and discovers a ten year-old newspaper article about a 17 year-old girl found dead on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard. As you can imagine, this peaks Derek’s curiosity. He begs his mom for information but she’s keeping it to herself. With this story in the back of his mind, Derek is about to begin his summer vacation… This book is very current, referring to pop culture and technology. Derek has a huge imagination and you can see it in the creative games he plays and the expressive illustrations that interpret his vocabulary words. Throughout the book, we learn a lot about how he feels, what he’s thinking and who his friends and family are. We see his character develop and learn that beneath the surface, and all the misbehaving, he is a really thoughtful, caring and insightful boy. From his experience that summer, Derek seems to grasp that life is about choices that have potentially serious consequences. He also realizes that life is not always perfect and that sometimes it is better to show compassion than it is to be right. Readers will relate to Derek and will also feel inspired by him.”

Have your children read My Life as a Book? What did they think of the book?

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