Can we read? is your weekly guide to children’s books, raising readers, and how to build a culture of reading in your home.
Get reviews of books old and new, help in finding the right titles for your family, and inspiration for creating a culture of reading in your home right in your inbox every Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
I’m Sarah Miller, a writer living, working, and being human on the edge of the Driftless Area in southern Wisconsin
I’m a lifelong bookworm who has always been crazy for children’s books — when I had two children of my own, now 9 and 6yo, I became obsessed. (The title of this newsletter was inspired by my then-3yo daughter, who asked me that question 25+ times a day. The answer was — is still — always yes.)
I’ve built our large home library book by book (you can read more about that here) and have learned everything I can about children’s literature and raising readers.
I’m a full-time work-outside-the-home parent with a career that has nothing to do with any of this — which is to say, I’m self-taught, but I know a lot. I have a BA in English and am a professional writer in my day job — not that I think either of those qualifies me as an expert, but they do, perhaps, contribute to the quality of my newsletter. (Hear it directly from a subscriber: “The recommendations are spot on and it’s so well-researched.”)
We’re all busy, and we all know how important it is to read to the children in our lives. But how? I take the guesswork (and time!) out of finding excellent books for you and the children in your life. And I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to prioritize reading and help you do it.
There are a million booklists online — I tell you why I recommend each title and why you and your kiddo/s might enjoy it
I share at least one diverse/inclusive title in every single issue, because representation matters
I save you time and energy by doing the work for you. Many subscribers use each issue to put books on hold at the library, or make purchases to build or freshen up their home libraries — and it all comes right to your inbox
I offer help and support in your efforts to raise readers
Subscribers have said:
📚 “I enjoy the variety of formats — from quick lists to deeper explanations. It’s a nice mix.”
📚 “Sarah does so much of the work for me! I have no bandwidth to go to bookstores/libraries, and trying to find decent books online is so hard. The book recommendations in this newsletter have been immensely helpful.”
📚 “This newsletter is great because it helps me make the emotional labor more efficient — I am working with curated, high-quality information from the start, rather than sifting through the whole wide world every single time; and immediately applying it to my own needs and life — making my library list online, adding books to various lists for the future, etc. I don’t want to ‘not have to think about’ this kind of thing — I think about it often and I enjoy thinking about it; I just want to think about it in a way that maximizes the actual impact of all my energy.”
📚 “Your passion, interesting commentary, and fantastic book selection have been the highlight of my inbox. You have introduced me to so many authors and titles I had no idea needed to be in my life and I love your tone of writing. Not pretentious, not unrealistic, just right. I feel like we could be having a coffee and talking books and it’s just really nice to read.”
This is a donation-based resource
🙋♀️ What the heck does that mean?
From September 1 to December 31, 2023, I’m running an experiment where I’m making everything I write available to everyone — this newsletter has no paywall.
But if you enjoy my work and want to support it and ensure that it continues, you can make a “donation” by becoming a paid subscriber.
People like this already, see?
Here’s what you can expect from me:
Everyone — free and paid subscribers alike — receives:
A weekly post on Tuesday offering a glimpse into my home life and what we’re reading, answers to questions from you, mini issues focusing on specific topics, micro-reviews, fun discussion threads, link roundups, and frequent giveaways
A weekly post on Wednesday featuring 4-5 book reviews
A once-monthly deep dive into the topic of raising readers and how to build a culture of reading in your home
As a thank-you gift, paid subscribers also receive:
Two instant digital downloads: my 100 Books to Build Your Library and Build a Reading Habit calendar (which you can start anytime)
A free Notion template — the Can we read? Booklist template — to help you keep track of your books and family reading life
Access to all past posts and issues — an archive chock-full of practical, actionable ideas for creating a culture of reading in your home (which still live behind the paywall during this course of this experiment)
Personalized book recommendations at any time, curated for your specific family and/or circumstances
Founding subscribers receive:
If you’re feeling extra generous and want to consider yourself a true patron of my work, you can subscribe at the “Founder” level. The suggested fee is $120/year but you can enter any amount greater than $50. That will get you everything, plus warm fuzzies 🥰
🟢 What if a subscription isn’t in my budget?
No problem. As I said, there’s no paywall — no barrier to entry — so you can enjoy everything I write even if you can’t donate by upgrading to a paid subscription.
But if you still want to support my work (thank you!), sharing my posts with your own networks — by forwarding my emails to people you know, posting to social media, etc. — is hugely helpful.
Word-of-mouth will forever be the love language of the internet!
🟢 I’m an educator — how can I use your newsletter?
Many of my subscribers are educators — classroom teachers, homeschoolers, reading specialists, librarians, even therapists. They use my booklists to plan/expand lessons, enliven read-aloud time, increase inclusive representation, and more.
Hear it from one 1st-grade teacher:
📚 “As an educator trying to plan engaging lessons, your newsletter has been an invaluable resource. (Your mini issue on worms saved me!) Your book recommendations often have themes that breathe life into my otherwise very prescribed curriculum. The titles have diverse authors and characters, they give me new ideas, they’re seasonally appropriate. It’s so helpful.”
🟢 I’m not a parent — is this newsletter still for me?
Absolutely! You don’t have to be a parent to find value in this newsletter. Shoutout to all the grandparents, aunties/uncles, and other people circling kiddos with love who subscribe to this newsletter. (You’re wonderful, btw.)
If there are children in your life in any capacity and your relationship might be strengthened by books and reading, this newsletter is for you.
🟢 Can you help me find books about a specific topic or issue?
As we say here in Wisconsin: you betcha 🐮 Creating personalized booklists for subscribers to explore topics in more depth or help out with specific issues is one of my favorite things to do — but it’s also more labor intensive, so that’s a perk I provide only for paid subscribers.
Thank you for allowing me to pop into your inbox and take up a little space in your brain every week. It’s an immense pleasure to be even the smallest part of your life.
Take good care and read good books 😘