Reflections on the various dimensions of feminine vocation from liturgical homemaking and child rearing to education and the spiritual life.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

From Early Readers to Chapter Books

What are your family's favorite books for young readers? I hope you'll share in the comments.

Here are some of what we've been enjoying this year as our first-grader has taken her reading skills from zero to sixty in a matter of months: (Since our reader is a girl, some of the our book selections tend to lean toward more girlish interests.)

Early Readers:
The Little Red Hen
Dr. Seuss's Beginner Book Collection  
Step into Reading Disney Princess Story Collection
Biscuit Book Collection
Little Bear Boxed Set: Little Bear, Father Bear Comes Home, and Little Bear's Visit
Fancy Nancy
The Frog and Toad Collection
Henry and Mudge 
George and Martha 

I've found that a good way to introduce a new book or series is to read the first chapter (or first few pages) expressively out loud. Then my daughter meets the characters (learns how to pronounce their names), latches on to the tone, and gets hooked into the story. Often, the result is that the book is snatched away and my daughter has finished reading it within 24 hours.

First Chapter Books:
Nate the Great (and the rest of the series)
The Boxcar Children
(I especially like the first 19 in the series, the one's written by the original author.)
Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth  
The Littles
Magic Tree House series
Voyage with the Vikings (and others in the Focus on the Family Imagination Station book series)
In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen (and the other five books in the Cobble Street Cousins series)
Actually, everything by Cynthia Rylant is fabulous. Wiki has lists of her books here.
The Hundred Dresses 
Little House in the Highlands (About Laura Ingall's great-grandma. This is the abridged version. There are others in the series following the stories of the great-grandma, the grandma, and the mother.)
Detective Camp (and all the A to Z Mysteries and Calendar Mysteries—These might not be the most literary or substantive books out there, but with the girl child reading a chapter book a day, I'm letting her devour these easy treats as well as chow on the meatier stuff.)

Another helpful practice for us has been to encourage repeat readings. Just as toddlers love to hear the same stories again and again, early readers get more out of a book when they read it more than once. (Their reading skills improve as well!) I like the sentiment C. S. Lewis is reported to have expressed: "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once."

More Advanced Chapter Books:
The Little House collection
Winnie-The-Pooh collection  
The Moffats
In Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series)  
The Penderwicks 

Currently Reading:
The Disappearing Stranger (Adventures of the Northwoods, Book 1)
Owls in the Family 
Baby Island
Ballet Shoes (The Shoe Books)
Pippi Longstocking 

On our "To Read" List:
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Anne of Green Gables
E. B. White Box Set
The King of the Golden River
Swallows and Amazons 

Our six-year-old started on A Little Princess, but the plot line got too sad for her tastes. Narnia is still too scary for her, as well, as are the George MacDonald classics such as The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, and At the Back of the North Wind.

We've previously done Heidi as a read-aloud, but it might be time to revisit it as independent reading in the next year or so. Same for The Little House collection.

I'm getting some of my book ideas from homeschool resources:
  • The grade-level "Literature" and "Free Reading" lists on the Ambleside Online (A.O.) website are helpful. See, for example, the A.O. second grade book list; scroll to the bottom. 
  • Veritas Press also has a catalog with literature picks by grade level. (See grade 2, for example.)

What are your young readers reading? Where do you look for book recommendations?

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