Sunday, February 24, 2013

Six Great Books for a Six Year Old

"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."
-Henry David Thoreau

I have seen a trend in my girls . . . they go through waves of enjoying classics and then wanting to read "fluff." (In our house we often call this roast beef versus hot dog books) I see the importance of reading really great literature with children, but I also recognize the place for fluff in their reading patterns. I think it's important for parents to strive to read mostly roast beef books aloud with their children, with a sprinkling of hot dog books to keep things light and fun. (And appealing!) My hope (and theory) is that if they are exposed to good literature (especially in a cozy, loving family setting), the hot dog books will eventually be less fulfilling and less enticing, and they will crave roast beef.

Here are six great books to read with your daughters when they are six years old:

1. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. The Betsy-Tacy Series by Maude Hart Lovelace
3. The Moffats (and others in the series) by Eleanor Estes (also appeals to boys)
4. The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes
5. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series  by Betty MacDonald (also appeals to boys)
6. Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones

Beyond the Six:

Nancy and Plum by Betty Macdonald

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (this one would work for boys as well)
The Melendy Family series (This one appeals to boys . . . a great family read aloud!) 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Favorite Poetry Collections

I adore children's poetry. Nearly every night, when we are getting ready for bedtime read aloud, I read a couple of poems from Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Ferris or The Book of A Thousand Poems: A Family Treasury.  We are currently working our way through all of the "winter" themed poems. I just read one or two, and then I typically finish up with a couple more after a chapter or two from our current book, if it isn't too late. (Right now we are reading Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter and really enjoying it!) When I first got these books, I wished that they were illustrated, but now it doesn't matter, as I'm reading to my children in the hallway when they are all in bed. I hope that now they are able to create their own illustrations in their heads. 

I've read poetry to my children since they were very little. Every morning I read Sandra Boynton's Hey! Wake Up! board book to my waking babies, and finished the day with her Going to Bed Book and Mem Fox's Time for Bed. (How many times is that . . . nearly every night for nearly fifteen years . . . that's ALOT!)  I also typically started each baby's read aloud session with a couple of poems. We especially liked Kay Chaoro's Baby's Bedtime Book and Baby's Good Morning Book.
I think my favorite children's poetry book is the relatively new Here's A Little Poem by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. (I like the collection of old favorites and new discoveries, but I especially love the ticklesome illustrations by Polly Dunbar.) Recently, I was delighted to see a second book by these authors, Switching on the Moon, full of bedtime poems. Another favorite collection for little ones is Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky. (We also love to read any poetry by Jack Prelutsky, and still keep the old favorites by Shel Silverstein on hand as well.)

Studies show that the ability to rhyme is linked to the learning-to-read process . . . plus it is great fun to read (and memorize) poetry together as a family!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The False Prince is $1.99 on Kindle!

One sentence summary: Sage is an orphan boy with a secret (and an attitude), and his secret is going to upend the kingdom. 

This book is smart, fun, intriguing, fantasy without being fantasy . . . and appeals to a wide range of ages. Themes of honesty, friendship, duty, loyalty, and family abound. 

This was one of our favorite family books in 2012. We listened to it from (some of us twice!), we read the hard copy (some of us twice), and now we have it on Kindle so we can read it anywhere. $1.99 is a steal.  The next book in the series, The Runaway King, comes out March 4. We are so excited!

In previous posts I've compared this book to Newbery Honor winner, The Thief, by Megan Whalen Jones. The story appealed to my 17 year old son as well as my six year old daughter. (But twelve year old Cupcake liked it the best, with fifteen year old Dancegirl following close behind.)  I'm always thrilled when I find a book that everyone enjoys. It makes for fabulous dinner conversation!

Note of warning: There is a murder that occurs at the beginning of the book that six year old Lala somehow missed each time we read it. (It isn't graphic, and might be easy to miss, but I think it would bother her tender heart, so I'd watch out for that if you have tender hearts at your house.) It plays a purpose though, and let's the characters know that the "gamble" they face is very serious business.

The characters are well developed, the plot line is intriguing and fun, and the writing is well crafted. . . and the author, Jennifer Nielsen, is absolutely delightful. We met her at an author presentation and just loved her. Cupcake had an upcoming book club party celebrating this book and Jennifer actually dropped some things off at our house for the party! (She doesn't live close, about 2 hours away, but she was "in the neighborhood".) She is coming to our Pickwick Society meeting this week, and speaking to our homeschool co-op's young authors' group. Cupcake and Dancegirl will be performing at Disneyland, so they will miss her presentation (sob!), but it is considerable consolation to Coconut for not being able to go to Disneyland.

Happy Reading!

Book Two comes out March 4. Happy Birthday to me! With two day shipping it should arrive fairly close to my birthday and that may be my "claim" to get to read it first!

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