Welcome back to my Best Books By Age and Month series. My daughter is now 7 year old and is a very fluent reader. I maintained a diary of our reading activities in weekly What My Child Is Reading entries in my blog. I decided to make these reading diaries more useful and create a new series on my blog where I will share our best books for each month for ages 3, 4, 5, and 6. Moreover, I will pair each book with an extension activity – sometimes with ours and sometimes with activities from my creative friends from Kid Blogger Network. In this post I am featuring books that we read when Smarty was 4.5 years old.
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Trying Five in a Row MethodWhen my daughter was about to enter kindergarten, I was interested to see how she will respond to Five In a Row (FIAR) approach when the same book is studied for 5 days in a row with emphasis on different things – math, language, art, etc. While many people use FIAR successfully with their preschool age kids, Smarty, who was a very advanced reader for her 4 and a half, didn’t care for it. Very quickly our FIAR experiment from 3 years ago became more similar to a unit study approach.
1. Crepes by Suzette
Our first FIAR book was Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and our first mini-unit was revisiting France – we “visited” it a year before with our hands-on geography country study for France. We read several other books about France, and we both really liked Crepes by Suzette – an extremely inventive book by Monica Wellington. The book is done as a mixed collage between photos and drawings, and some characters in the book “come” from the famous paintings in Paris museums. Crepes by Suzette can be successfully used with older students to identify landmarks or guess the paintings that the characters came from. There is a crepes recipe in the back of the book or you can try this delightful French crepes recipe from Juggling With Kids.
2. Hot Air
Our second FIAR book was The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen which tied well with the study of France. It’s a book about the first flight across the English Channel by Louis Bleriot. Our mini-unit was, of course, aviation, and we read several good books about mechanics of flying and history of flight. Most of them were a little over the top for a preschooler, but Hot Air by Marjorie Priceman is a lot more appropriate for preschoolers and tells a story of the first test balloon flight mostly in gorgeous illustrations. For older kids and their parents there is a history of balloon flight in the back of the book. If you are scientifically minded, you can try to make garbage bag solar balloons from Almost Unschoolers and artsy kids will enjoy helping make this paper mache balloon from The Imagination Tree.
3. The Snail and the Whale
The third FIAR book was Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha, and the unit theme was ocean. We read a lot of ocean-related books including my most favorite title from Julia Donaldson – The Snail and the Whale. I love poem books that rhyme well and tell a great story – in this case, a story of friendship, adventurous spirit, courage, and compassion. The story has great twists and a happy end which delighted my daughter. Your kids might want to reenact the story by making a whale and a snail from Model Magic similar to the project from 3 Dinosaurs.
4. Shells, Shells, Shells!
We ended our FIAR experiment with Gramma’s Walk by Anna Grossnickle Hines, which also has a theme of ocean in it. The other ocean book that I want to recommend is Shells! Shells! Shells! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. This book has more than substance than one can expect from a cute cover, and a lot of useful information is presented in the conversation between a mother and her son collecting shells on the beach. Illustrations are done as a meticulous mixed media collages with felt and natural materials. We both really enjoyed this book. Older kids might want to try a textured collage of their own, and younger kids will enjoy building these shell sculptures from Fun-a-Day:
5. Germs Make Me Sick
In addition to FIAR themes, Smarty picked her own books in the library. She was very interested in human body topics at the time and enjoyed the non-fiction book about germs – Germs Make Me Sick by Melvin Berger illustrated by Marylin Hafner. I liked the fact that the book not only talked about germs in general terms, but also explained the differences between a bacteria and a virus. A classic way to demonstrate how germs spread is a “glitter germs” demonstration. Germs learning theme from Kids Activities Blog has that experiment and many other suggestions for a mini unit about germs.
6. The Puppy Place
By the time she was in pre-K, Smarty was reading chapter books. It was always a bit of a challenge to pick the books that would appeal to her reading level while also staying in line with her social maturity age, and I was quite glad to discover The Puppy Place series by Ellen Miles. Amazon suggested age is grade 2-5, but these books will work as read-alouds for much younger kids and will work well as the next step beyond easy chapter books for kids of any age. Each book introduces a new puppy to the family who is taking care of them while finding them a permanent home. Smarty really enjoyed the series and I fully expected her to start asking for a puppy, but she didn’t think she was old enough to handle this responsibility (yes, that’s what she said). There’s Just One Mommy has an interesting post with tips on introducing a new puppy to kids.
More July Books RecommendationsJuly Books for 2 and 3 Year Olds
July Books for 4 Year Olds
July Books for Kids Age 6+