Summer Reading

I have been compiling a list of books for 8-year-old E. I'm not a homeschooler who has done a lot of research and I don't have a list of characteristics that make a book "good." Instead, I've been watching to see which picture books and chapter books seem to "feed her." If I could make any generalizations, it would be the books which feature loving families. When she pulls out a picture book for me to read, it's often "The Rainbabies", "Emma's Story" (about an adopted child), "The Quiltmaker's Gift" as well as many fairytales. The chapter books which she has adored include all the "Little House" books, "All of a Kind Family" books, and "B is for Betsy" books (we read every single Betsy book last summer).

In addition to looking for books which have similar qualities to the books above, I've been searching for chapter books featuring main characters who are her age and who have the sorts of adventures and childhoods I want my children to have. Here's my list. Most I've read, but some I haven't--I don't know how to get those neat little links to book covers at Amazon, so this is just a straight list:

Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Five Little Peppers and How they Grew by Margaret Sydney (H listened to this and loved it on tape)
Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The Secret Language by Nordstrom
Baby Island by Carol Brink
Ballet Shoes by Streatfield
Thimble Summer by Enright
Poppy by Avi (and the others--H loved "Ereth's Birthday")
Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
Children of Noisy Village by Lindgren
The Golden Name Day, The Crystal Tree, the Little Silver House by Lindquest (I loved these as a child)
The Wind in the Willows
Rabbit HIll by Lawson--this is next

It's hard to find chapter books or easy readers with 8 or 9-year olds as main characters. So often, the characters are older and have emotions or situations that my child just doesn't relate to. For instance, she loves "The Pony Pals" books because of the horses. They are pretty easy to read, but the characters are 11 or 12 and have lots of girl relationship angst that my daughter is oblivious to. Why expose her to it?

Our favorite book this summer so far has been "No Flying in the House." I read her the first two chapters and stopped at the question as to whether the main character was a fairy. A few hours later, E came up to me and said "Mom, I've been really thinking about that book. I don't think she is a fairy because she can't fly." I loved it. We were so into the book that we ended up reading it all that afternoon--I even caught H and her very cool 12-year-old buddy around the corner listening :-). I just wish I could have restrained myself and doled it out over a couple of days. E would have had it living in her a little longer. This has made me realize that while I have a long list of potential books to read, slower and fewer is probably better.

Now, I have a confession. We are reading "Anne of Green Gables" at night right now. E loves it. I HATE IT!!! For some reason, I just can't stand the writing. But I am reading with energy and enthusiasm (and am relieved when it is DH's night to read to her).

I'm always up for other suggestions.

Sparrow  – (June 20, 2007 at 11:17 PM)  

I really appreciate the thought that you have given to putting this book list together for E. All of these books are wonderful!--I have read many of them myself...and, a few of them I have forgotten about--thank-you for the reminder!

My 9 year old enjoys the same types of books as your E. I would like to recommend a book that my A enjoyed reading this year. It is one that E will be able to read herself. It's out-of-print, but you might be able to find it at the library. If not, I believe that it is worth the trouble to buy it used online. It is called _A Pony For the Winter_, by Helen Kay. This book is one that I read when I was 8 years old and loved. My daughter loved it, too.

Thank you so much for sharing your excellent summer reading list!

Simmy –   – (June 24, 2007 at 3:21 AM)  

There was a time when my children left food for the fairies on midsummer eve. Setting it all out on a tray with the tiny china tea set and little notes too. But both the older two have outgrown that now and Raj is desperate to be grown up too. Sweet memories.

Love your list of summer reading. I can't think of anything at the moment but the Betsy Tacy books come to mind. Amber loved those.

BTW did you read Anne of Green Gables as a child - or are coming to it anew?

kneek  – (August 14, 2007 at 12:51 AM)  

I love your summer reading list. My daughter has been devouring books this summer and I'm at a loss for books that are appropriate for her age and abilities. Can't wait to look these up.

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