Monday, April 10, 2006

Four Recommended "Ready-for-Chapters" Books

I have had the pleasure of conducting the 2nd-3rd grade book discussions for the past two years. It is always an exciting time in a child's life when he or she progresses to reading chapter books independently. It is also a thrill to be able to participate in a real book discussion, an activity often reserved for older readers and adults! Our book discussions are always a lot of fun and the children enjoy sharing their feelings and reactions to the book they've just read. I am always amazed at how insightful a child of this age can be and how he or she connects the experiences of life to those in the book. Isn't this one of the pleasures of reading?

Here are four "Ready-for-Chapters" series that I have successfully used in the book discussions. These are tried and true titles that children ages 6-8 particularly enjoy:

1.) "Barkley's School for Dogs" series by Marcia Thornton Jones and Debbie Dadey - The dogs tell the story as they navigate their lives at the School for Dogs. Real issues that children may be dealing with - such as bullying, kindness, friendship, hardwork, fear - are placed within a readable narrative told from the dogs' points of view. Most children this age adore dogs and enjoy reading books with dogs in them. Furthermore, the themes in these series explore issues that the children themselves experience at school. This series is sure to please!

2.)"Lighthouse Family" series by Cynthia Rylant - From the acclaimed author of the "Henry and Mudge" series comes another collection of books sure to become favorites of the beginning chapter reading crowd! The stories contain animal characters who experience trials and tribulations, yet by working together and learning along the way, they realize that any problem seems less difficult. Themes of friendship, family, and belongingness permeat these lovely tales. Like the narrative, the illustrations are particularly lovely!

3.) "Ready, Freddy!" series by John McKinley - These hilarious tales center on Freddy, a first grader whose antics, thoughts, and feelings mirror those of any first grader. Young readers will relate to the realistic situations concerning school, family, friendship, and milestones of growing up. These are nicely paced books with realistic characters.

4.) "The Adventures of Hector Fuller" series by Elizabeth Shreeve - Hector Fuller is a wumblebug, a fictional bug who goes on many adventures and experiences many misadventures along the way. This series is particularly well-written with a lot of humor, fantastic dialog, and well-conceived situations. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, Hector Springs Loose. Age appropriate themes of home, friendship, betrayal, and learning from one's mistakes make this series appealing to the beginning chapter reader audience. The illustrations are fantastic, too!

I strongly encourage you to check out some of these books in these won't be disappointed!

~Gail Brown

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Edward Tulane

Looking for a great read-aloud? How about a gift book for someone's Easter basket? Look no further than The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. What a winner!!! Edward Tulane is a china rabbit with an extensive wardrobe. He belongs to 10-year-old Abilene, who thinks almost as highly of Edward as Edward does of himself. After mean boys rip him from Abilene's hands during an ocean voyage, he falls into the ocean. Thus begins Edward's journey from watery grave to the gentle embrace of a fisherman's wife, to the care of a hobo and his dog, and into the hands of a dying girl. With every person who touches him, Edward's heart grows a little bit softer and a little bit bigger. The book is beautiful to look at, the illustrations are perfect for the story, and it will become a cherished read aloud for the entire family. Kate DiCamillo is the Newbery Award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux, and an honor winner for Because of Winn-Dixie.