Savvy Tips and tricks learned along the way...
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Here are some great books in various categories that I or my kids have read and enjoyed or found helpful.
Phoebe and Her Unicorn Series
Ahhh, graphic novels. Our daughter is really into graphic novels, i.e. comics . She could read the same comic over and over again. She reads mostly My Little Pony comics, but every now and then, there is a different comic series that she really likes, like Phoebe and Her Unicorn series. So far, she has read all 5 books in this series, and with the 6th one coming out this fall, we know what to get her for Christmas. If your daughter likes unicorns and comics, then this is the series for her!
Mr. Men Books
The Mr. Quiet book was the first of the Mr. Men books to find its way to our bookshelf. The kids immediately fell in love with it. On the back cover we noticed that there was a whole series of these Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves. So we ended up getting the whole Mr. Men collection as well as the Little Miss collection.
They are British books that have British terms for things like the word "post" for "mail", "tea" for "lunch", and "pounds" instead of "dollars". But it is nice to be exposed to other cultures anyway. The kids have enjoyed the books in these collections so many times.
Each Mr. Men and Little Miss book features a particular character with a specific trait. If the character is good, the story goes through a challenge that the good person experiences in an imperfect world. And in the end they are rewarded for their good deeds. If the character is bad, the books show how it affects other members of the community. And the bad character learns their lesson in the end.
These book have cute illustrations, are entertaining, and teach lessons on character, behavior, and thinking about how your actions affect others. I would definitely recommend these books for your home collection. The kids love reading these stories at bedtime.
I don't know where I would be without these Bob Books. They have been THE thing to get our kids reading. I started our daughter out with these when she was about 4-1/2, and she breezed right through them and quickly moved on to regular books.
Our son, however has been using these books alot! I especially love the Sight Words collection. It has characters that have three lettered names, like Mat, Dot, Sam, etc. The stories use simple words but are still interesting for kids. Each book progresses in difficulty from the one before it. The Sight Words collection comes with 20 books.
Each collection includes a sticker sheet, which is really nice for the child to stick on the book each time they read it. Our son has read each book many times and is still using them. He is going to be starting first grade this fall. And he started reading these last year in Kindergarten. We still have a few more boxes of Bob Books collections to go through, so I imagine we will be using these for our son through second grade.
Ranger in Time Book Series
I came across the very first book of the Ranger in Time book series as I was looking for new and interesting books for our 7 year old daughter to read. She read a ton of the Rainbow Magic fairy book series, and I thought she might be ready for something different. She loves dogs, so I thought this Ranger in Time book would be interesting for her. Turns out she really liked it and asked me to get book 2 of the series for her.
These are really great books. They are considered "historical fiction". They are about a golden retriever who is a search and rescue dog. He goes through a magic portal that takes him to different historical moments. (Hmmm magic portal, this seems to be a theme in a few of the book series that she has enjoyed). The dog's job is to find people who are missing or help those in danger in these historical worlds and bring them back to where they need to be.
The stories include interesting historical details intermingled with the fictional story about the dog and his human companion, usually a young boy. So far, she has read the first and second books in the series and is asking for the third. The first book takes place on the Oregon Trail. The story describes what life was like on the Oregon Trail, including hazards, where the dog performs his search and rescue duties.
The second book, is about Ancient Rome. It describes sports in the amphitheaters during ancient Roman times. So far, the books in this series seem to be set in slightly dangerous or treacherous situations, where the dog has the opportunity to help to save people. It may not be for the faintest of hearts, but for those who love adventure, dogs, or have an interest in world history, this is a fascinating book series.
She is reading book 3 of the Ranger in Time Series now. In this one, the dog goes back to the days of slavery. He helps a boy and girl who are trying to find a free state.
Whatever After Book Series
Our 7yo daughter just started reading the Whatever After Book Series. Most little girls have been read the popular fairy tales since they were toddlers, or probably even babies. This series of chapter books uses familiar themes, like famous princesses, like Snow White, The Little Mermaid, etc., and tells a different story around the fairy tale. I think this is ingenious because it makes interesting twists in common stories girls have heard so often. It captivates her and makes her think, wait a minute, that's different, let me read on to find out what else is different.
I first chose the book Sink or Swim, which is 3rd in the series. It is a "retelling" of The Little Mermaid princess fairytale. It begins with a modern day tween girl who hears a the fable of The Little Mermaid from her grandmother. However, it is not exactly the Little Mermaid story that we are all familiar with. This little girl gets magically transported to The Little Mermaid's World. She meets the Little Mermaid and tries to save her from the fate told to her by her grandmother.
The author of the series, Sarah Mlynowski, has gone to the extra effort to make the tween girl's personality opposite of the Little Mermaid's personality. And it makes such an interesting interaction between the two girls juxtaposed in the story.
This book series is rated for ages 8-12. But it seems appropriate for our 7 year old who is going into 3rd grade this fall. The Whatever After box set contains the first 6 books of the series. They each feature a popular princess with a twist in the story and the beloved tween girl and her brother who make the journeys into the magical princess worlds. They parallel the stories of Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Frozen. But there are many more of these books outside of the box set, such as The Princess and the Frog, Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, and more.
The Berenstain Bears Book Series
Our 5 year old son loves these Berenstain Bears books. They are about a family of bears, not so different from the average human family. They live in a community of other bears who are not so different than their imperfect human counterparts.
Each book tells a story about one family member's challenge in society, be it in the home, at school, at the store, or just out interacting with neighbors. The best part of the book is that it teaches how to deal with the challenges using good character traits, such as kindness, honesty, forgiveness, respect, saftey, and helping others, to name a few.
But these Berenstain Bears books are not just preachy and boring. Our children find it very interesting to hear the challenge that the characters endure and what they do to work their way out of it. The problems the bears, mostly the brother and sister bears, go through are not too different from the challenges that most children face today at home, in school, and on the playground.
I invested some money in many of these books because they are so awesome to have at home on the bookshelf. I did get some from the library, but having them at home is so much nicer because the values and morals taught in these books are worth having around at all times. I continue to add to our collection with time. Our son still picks these almost every night to read before bed. Although he has been an avid superhero fan forever, he still chooses these Berenstain Bear books over Spiderman and Batman!
Dr. Suess Book Collection
Dr. Suess books are older than the hills, but they still continue to charm the children of today. They say that rhyming literature is so pleasant and fun to the ears of children that they get entranced by Dr. Suess books.
We ended up collecting quite a few of these books because our son chooses it over and over again for bedtime book reading. He loves the silly characters, the repetition of sounds and rhyming words, and the creative drawings of made-up creatures and lands found in the stories. They are classics that every child will love to have in their literature collection.
I think Dr. Suess books inspire creativity in thought as well as in play. They help open the child up to thinking up new places and ideas beyond what they know. Creativity was a place where I did not venture much into as a child. I was taught to be logical and realistic, following all the rules. While those ideas are important, thinking outside of the box is equally important if we are to raise children to be open to others, innovative, making new discoveries and inventions.
I believe Dr. Suess books help encourage this creative devlopment. And used alongside regular education, young children's minds can be broadened and enriched. This Dr. Suess Book Collection includes the old favorites: The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, and Fox in Socks.
Magic Tree House Book Series
Every now and then I come across something that will totally impress me. The Magic Tree House books are one of those things. What a great idea to create story books about important historical events, science, literature, geography, and more. I wish I had these to read as a kid. Maybe I would have been more well-versed on these worldly topics in my adult-life.
Our 7 year old has enjoyed reading these. The main characters are Jack and Annie, a brother and sister pair, that, with the help of a famous wizard, go on exciting journeys together through a magic portal. They can go into the past, into Shakespearian stories, watch volcanic eruptions, and other real historical places or fictional settings taken from famous literature. The reader gets lots of fascinating detail as they find themselves in the heart of the event, and it is fun reading how they get back to saftey.
These chapter books are rated for ages 6-9. They come in handy box sets of 4 books to get your reader started.
The Magic School Bus Books
As a science major, I have always been enamored by books about science. The Magic School Bus books are some of the few books I've wanted to read in their entirety to my children. Each book contains fascinating information about a particular science topic.
The facts are written around stories about a teacher that takes her class on field trips into various scientific systems to learn about them first hand. The explanations are simple and easy for children to understand.
They also include colorful diagrams to help the reader visualize the science involved. These books are so well put together that I would even recommend them to adults who are interested in learning more about different science topics.
One example is the The Magic School Bus And The Electric Field Trip. I've always been a little daft when it comes to electricity. In college, I took a Circuits class, and I don't even know how I passed it. I walked out of the quarter feeling no more knowledgable about the topic than when I first started. Anyway, the Magic School Bus book about electricity helped clear up lots of the confusion for me. I'm sure it would be helpful to many others out there.
Read-Along Storybook and CD sets
I used to love read-along books that came with tapes when I was a kid. My favorite was Peter and the Wolf. My grandmother would sometimes give me Japanese folk tale read-along books so I could learn some Japanese language and culture. Even thought the child may not be "reading" along, they are still following along, listening, looking at the pages of a book, and turning the pages on cue.
Fast forward to today, even though I don't value Read-Alongs the same as actually reading the book yourself, I have found great value in them for myself and my kids. Once I am done reading to my 5 year old, he sometimes wants to continue "reading". However, he cannot read well enough on his own to sit quietly and read a book to himself. Read-Alongs to the rescue!
As with books, often times the Read-Along storybooks with CD set about upcoming childrens' movies come out even before the movie. So if the child wants to get a head start on finding out what the movie is about, they can get the Read-Along book and CD set. They often have the real voice and music tracks from the movie. We've done this with Inside Out, Finding Dory, and Zootopia. It's amazing how many read-along versions of books and movies there are out there.
So when my son wants to continue hearing books read, I sometimes let him use headphones with some Read-Along books. It's good to have a few in your home collection so they have a variety to choose from. It's not the same as reading it themselves, but when they can't, and you need a break, it is a great option to have on hand.
Rainbow Magic Fairy Book Series
I homeschool our kids, and one of the core subjects that I find hard to incorporate into curriculum is occupational education. When I came across these Rainbow Magic Fairy Books, I realized that though it may not be as straight forward as a standard lesson about "what do you want to be when you grow up?", they are not too far-fetched from the idea of having a career in life.
I don't know how many of these Rainbow Magic Fairy books there are (maybe a hundred?) but there are tons of them, and they all feature a fairy who has a certain "career". She usually encounters some sort of challenge that she has to overcome in her job. Sometimes the job is related to fashion design, or environmental science, like protecting the ecosystem, hair stylist, musician, taking care of animals, or some other talent.
Our 7 year old daughter has read so many of these. They are relatively short, easy chapter books. But I feel that a child can get the gist of the idea that it is good for one to use their talents and skills to contribute to society in the form of a job or career.
There are so many of these books that there is bound to be several that appeal to a child. The books include different fairies with different talents in the sports, arts, music, animal care, meteorology, party planning, and more. And if not just for educational purposes, these books are just fun and interesting reads.
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