Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer reading time

I have fond memories, from when I was a kid, of using my summers to read. Summer hours seem to have less filling them, and while I read on the bus to school, skipping that daily commute and the 6 hours in the classroom opened up many more hours for paging through books. I'd get so absorbed that I have a memory of absentmindedly walking around the yard with my head in a book, feeling something sharp, but ignoring it. Later I looked down and saw my toe was covered in blood. Never even noticed!

This is the first summer that my 5-year-old can read in a way that would make reading fun. I've started reading aloud the Winnie-the-Pooh stories to him (before this year he couldn't sit through a whole one...they're not short!) He reads through his dinosaur and astronomy books, but I'd love to introduce him to some easy reading but enjoyable books for young readers. I welcome suggestions. The first chapter book I read was called something like Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, but I'm not sure it was great literature. I loved the Little House on the Prairie books, too, but I'm curious if little boys get as excited about those books as I did.

Of course, I'm also nostalgic about all this summer reading because it seems these days I rarely read novels. The last one I made it through was Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, and that was almost a year ago now. I think I'm reading and writing too much for work now, and it takes some of the fun out of digging into something meaty. Maybe I'm hoping that reading through some literature with my son will put me back in that frame of mind. What are you reading with your kids? To your kids? And what are they reading on their own?

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26 comments:

Catherine said...

My son just turned five and he really loves Farmer Boy, although he says he doesn't care about Laura and Mary (he still listens when we read those though). He enjoyed "Bears of Blue River" and "Detectives in Togas" recently. I have read chapter books out loud to my kids since they were babies, just letting the little ones sit on the floor if they couldn't sit on my lap for too long. It's surprising how much they pay attention even when it seems they are just playing Legos while I read.

Anonymous said...

It really depends on the kid. Every kid has different interests that really click and get them reading. However, Ive found that both of mine love anything silly. Most Mo Willems books do well with kids that are beginner readers. Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss.

Victoria said...

E.B. White, Beverly Cleary, Kate DiCamillo, and Dick King-Smith wrote lots of chapter books that aren't too mature for young readers. We're having the same problem here: asked the librarian what she'd recommend for my four-year-old, and ceived suggestions for books that required lots of read-aloud editing by adults. My kid consumes books before bed, so I'm unavailable for assistance. Nevertheless, she's tackled the first books of Oz and Narnia unassisted. We just talk about what she's read the next morning so we can iron out her misunderstandings of what may have been nuanced plot points or refences beyond her ken.

Calee said...

The Chronicles of Narnia were a big hit as a read-aloud several months ago. Now we're almost done with the Hobbit. As for reading on his own, maybe Nate the Great--those are short chapter book mysteries.

'Nother Barb said...

The Magic Treehouse series was a huge hit with my 1st grader. Later, as a classroom aide to a gifted preschooler, I lent him our Treehouse books, and he devoured them. Also the Jon Sczecka (sp?) books are a riot and interesting!

Anne Bogel said...

My 1st grader also loved the Magic Treehouse series. Me, not so much. But it did develop his reading skills.

Right now my readers (ages 7 and 9) are loving The Little House series and Beverly Cleary's books. My 4 year old loves to listen in to the audio versions of both these series.

My kids also love to dig deep into topics they're interested in, so at the moment we have piles of books at my house about horses, architecture, the Titanic, and ballet.

Karen D. said...

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, Flat Stanley series, Abel's Island, The Indian in the Cupboard, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Sarah Plain and Tall, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Boxcar Children.

Kristi Lea said...

Take him to the library and see what he gravitates to. My older kid loved The Magic Treehouse, Secrets of Droon, Tinkerbell books, Judy B Jones, Magic Treehouse at age 5-6. I still haven't gotten her to read Beverly Cleary or Roald Dahl (much to my disappointment).

Her now-5 year old brother got extra excited about Star Wars recently, so he last chose a handful of easy-readers, a graphic novel, and a huge (and heavy) "encyclopedia" of Star Wars images and text.

Sometimes he's all about cars (or Cars), or dinosaurs, or super heroes, or whatever. I would love it if they would read the same books I loved as a kid, but as long as they are reading and happy about it, I'm not too picky on authors or subject matter (assuming its kid-appropriate).

feMOMhist said...

just turned six is ONLY reading books about dog period the end. No dog, no reading. She is on beginning chapter books so there are thankfully lots of choices. Just turned 8 is into kid mystery series right now in a big way.

Anonymous said...

I am writing to encourage you to please let your gifted children advance their reading aside from school mandates. Our child has been reading college level science material since age five years and it is okay. Do not worry about explaining it to other people.

Anonymous said...

I agree, let them read advanced material if they're able and interested. It is good to monitor, though. I'm pretty sure that reading "The Godfather" and Stephen King books in 5th grade permanently warped my brain!

nicoleandmaggie said...

Magic Treehouse was really popular at that reading level, as were Ruth Chew books and the Oz books. Magic books are awesome for kids with higher reading levels than interest levels.

Right now he's really into Eleanor Estes (Ginger Pye, the Moffats) and non-fiction. Also agree with Beverly Cleary especially Henry books and Ralph books. And Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. We must be in a realistic childhood stage right now.

We had him sort out his non-chapter books into books for him and books for the baby and he's been reading a lot from that... he really liked his collection of "Little Mr." and "Little Miss" and his books by Loren Long (like Otis). (The previously well-loved Mo Willems books went into the "for the baby" pile.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for agreeing, but I meant to go for what you now know is worth reading based on the child's interests. Parental approval responsibly applied is required. You do not have to hold gifted children back from the intense amount of varied reading that they naturally want to do.

Jack said...

At that age our daughter loved reading
Junie B Jones by Barbara Park , Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish , Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary, and Judy Moody by Megan McDonald. Our copy of Winnie the Pooh stories became threadbare and dog eared. She still loves to read Winnie the Pooh with me.

nicoleandmaggie said...

Now that it's the weekend I'm reminded that what DC most loves to read are board game paraphernalia. Currently he's hooked on MageKnight the Board Game (previously: Small World). He started sometime last year with those little lego Heroica dungeon crawls, and since then he's been moving up to bigger and wordier games. DH, of course, encourages the addiction because why else have kids?

It's funny because DC's phonics are better than his vocabulary so he'll say these rpg words and they'll be totally mispronounced, like Draconum or mana.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. We have never tried anything like that. Do a lot of highly gifted people play those specific types of games? I am highly sensitive so I have some material that I avoid. Thanks.

nicoleandmaggie said...

I dunno about highly gifted, but given the large intersection between "nerd" and "gifted" ... let's just say that Big Bang Theory has a lot of truth to it, particularly in their hobbies.

I was a bit disappointed when I went to a party that some of DH's gaming group friends threw a couple years back, and they treated me like a girl (as in, talked over me, ignored points I made but when a man made the same point it was genius etc. Behavior I haven't had to deal with in decades) and they weren't as intelligent in other ways as what I'm used to in my academic bubble. So being into gaming doesn't automatically mean you're even the remotest bit intelligent. Nor are all intelligent people into gaming (ex. my math major friends and I were into card games in college, but not board games so much, though to be fair Die Siedler had just come out and the Eurogame Renaissance hadn't yet really started).

We have friends from high school and college who work in the gaming industry. Apparently it takes a lot of math skillz to get the mechanics right with a lot of the collectable games.

But go ahead and start out small. I promise there's nothing super-scary about Legoes Heroica (except, of course, the lack of female characters). Board game geek boardgamegeek.com is a good resource for later games.

Anonymous said...

If he is past Junie B. level, try the Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, an oldie but goodie. Watership Down. The Giver. Shiloh, THe Cricket in Times Square. Someone mentioned Kate DiCamillo. She wrote Despereaux and Because of Winn Dixie, also good. You may find Narnia is fairly difficult because of all the mythical references but this may be a good time to read the greek stories and aesops fables. Remember that a lot of picture books have great vocabulary and shouldn't be reserved only for young children such as those books by Patricia Polacco. My 4 year old and her friend are tearing though biographies. My daughter loves anyone native american, pocahontas, sacajawea, etc. She also loves presidential biographies and books about the states. Oh and true stories about animals. She just read Tarra and Bella the elephant and the dog that became friends. There really is no reason to push advanced chapter books on a 5 year old. Many of them DO have more mature themes. Why force it when there is so much great non-fiction to read?

Anonymous said...

For at least one type of gifted person, you cannot force them to do anything. They can be drawn to specific areas of interest or just seriously want to learn everything. These people are strong minded and independent from day one and they want a say in everything. Gifted people read.

Marc said...

The Captain Underpants books are a must for boys that age.

Raising a Happy Child said...

Jenny Linsky Cat Club books, Hank the Cowdog, Humphrey series by Birney.

'Nother Barb said...

My son LOVED the Captain Underpants books when he was in elementary school; I probably wouldn't have let him read them in kindergarten LOL! (Besides the mom-repellant name, it plays on so much of what happens at school, and I don't think kindergartners have enough experience to really get the joke.) I cringed when he brought one home, then read it and realized that Dav Pilkey is as clever with Captain Underpants as he is with the Dumb Bunnies -- another fun series. What a joy to play with language. I still cringe at Captain Underpants, but it's definitely fun for boys. Just have fun with the summer reading, hit the library, and read whatever jumps out at your son!

Anonymous said...

Great list of books, I would add "My Father's Dragon ".

Anonymous said...

The Mysterious Benedict Society books, and the Penderwick books and were good for my 6 year old son. While he is capable of reading way above grade level, he is also very sensitive and we have to avoid anything that is too intense emotionally. These were fun reading and not too heavy. Why do they hae to start every popular kid series by killing off the parents? :)

Jennifer Petersen said...

My 9 year old daughter is obsessed with the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. She won't put it down even when we went put for lunch! Her 3DS has gone MIA and she doesn't care! I'm so happy she's found a series she loves!

Anonymous said...

My son is now 6 but when he was 5 he loved Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree Collection & The Wishing Chair series. Also the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and the Fudge series by Judy Blume. Other authors he enjoys include: Kate Dicamillo, Tove Jansson, Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, Cornelia Funke and Eager.