We’re coming off of Stephen’s busiest two weeks of the year, which by extension means my busiest two weeks of the year. My brain is still pretty numb from SO MUCH quality time with my kids, and the profound thoughts are not really flowing this morning. I thought I’d fall back on one of my favorite topics: other people’s words, a.k.a. BOOKS!
At the start of the summer I made a bingo card for Abby to give us some fun summer reading goals. I know that this post won’t be interesting to everyone who visits here, but for those of you with young readers I thought I’d pass along some of these ideas and recommendations. (I’ve been listening to the excellent podcast, Read Aloud Revival, and I follow several reading boards on Pinterest, so most of the ideas from our list came from those places.)
On the chart, each color represents a different category: audio books, chapter books, nonfiction, picture books, and independent reading.
Ballet Shoes— This is definitely the biggest hit so far. Abby has listened to it four times already, and it’s not a short book! Most of you have only heard of it because it’s Kathleen Kelly’s favorite of the “Shoe” books in You’ve Got Mail, and what can I say–she’s got good taste.
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up— This was silly and short, but definitely fun. (We checked this out of the library, which was a good call– after a few listens I was glad to give it back.) Author Kate DiCamillo is best known for her more serious YA chapter books like Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. But this book, a companion to her Mercy Watson series, is on a lower reading level and is pure entertainment.
Just So Stories– I bought the version narrated by Jim Weiss from Audible, and it’s very well done. I’m glad to own this one, because it’s a classic I hope we’ll return to from time to time. Abby is interested when we listen, but because it’s so episodic, she’s not really compelled to return to it. (Especially because she’d rather be listening to Ballet Shoes again!) I had heard this collection recommended for very young readers because of the universal appeal of animal stories, but I’ve found that lots of the humor and cultural references are going over my kids’ heads.
The Door in the Wall— We got this from the library and the CDs were badly scratched. No one was that disappointed, though, because Abby was totally not digging it. (I had put it on the list because it’s one we’ll have to read for school next year, but we’ll definitely have to tackle it as a traditional read-aloud so I can explain as we go.)
The Story of the World, Volume I— I don’t know if we’ll make it through this whole thing, but Abby is jumping into Volume II next year for history, so I thought we’d listen to some of the stories from the Ancient World to give her some background.
Little House in the Big Woods— We are reading this series out of order on purpose– I’d read somewhere that it’s better to start with LHOP because the plot moves at a faster pace than BW. We went on to Plum Creek because Abby had seen a few episodes of the TV show and wanted to read about Nellie Olsen. But now that she’s in love with the Ingalls family, I’m confident she’ll enjoy this descriptive first book. (I actually wrote Farmer Boy on the bingo sheet, but I’m subbing this one in.)
Side note– the Little House are some of the best kids’ books to listen to on audio CD. Cherry Jones is a perfect narrator!
McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm— This one is short and far-fetched in a tall-tale sort of way. The writing is clever and engaging, and the illustrations by Quentin Blake are a fun touch.
A Bear Called Paddington— This falls squarely in the genre of loveable-yet-accident-prone animal stories, which is not my favorite. Abby did like it, and I appreciated that it was generally wholesome. (Caveat lector: the movie version of Paddington is nothing like the book! I put this book on our list specifically so that we could have a movie date when it was over, and we were both disappointed.)
Old Mother West Wind— I’ve heard Thornton Burgess recommended as another good early-read-aloud author, and this is his title that is available at our local library.
My Father’s Dragon— We just finished this one–it’s short but super cute.
The Railway Children— Abby loved this one at first but then kind of lost interest. It’s a little over her head but it’s a really wonderful story, and beautifully written!
(I think it’s important to keep reading picture books even after kids “graduate” to longer stories. So I picked a few quality ones for this section.)
Blueberries for Sal
The Egyptian Cinderella
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter (Abby hadn’t read all of them, and as it turns out, neither had I!)
The Brer Rabbit stories
Something new from our picture book anthology
(We’re just pulling from our own shelves or from the library to find one in each of these categories)
Math (we read a book about telling time)
I’m letting her pick these. 🙂