My daughter is now 7 year old and a very fluent reader. Very often I hear the same question, What did you do with her when she was little? Well, we read a lot, and 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 approaching 5.
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1. The Pumpkin FairThe Pumpkin Fair by Eve Bunting celebrates the queen of Halloween without ever mentioning Halloween. When my daughter was a preschooler, she certainly enjoyed visits to a local pumpkin patch and pumpkin decorations a lot more than scary costumes and spooky sounds of Halloween nights, and this story told in rhyme was one of her Halloween favorites for several years. In the story a young girl visits a pumpkin festival and enjoys every step of this visit. For years now I dream of taking Smarty to a festival like that, but they tend to be ridiculously crowded in our suburban area. Perhaps we can organize our own pumpkin patch small world play instead – I love this fall invitation to play from Buggy and Buddy.
Now at almost 8, my daughter is eagerly looking forward to Halloween, but she was not always enjoying this holiday. I have just refreshed my old post on how we helped her overcome her Halloween fears, and part of our approach was reading “non-scary” books with “scary” characters. Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara is a beautifully illustrated book with an entertaining story, and I highly recommend it for Halloween time. Are your kids worried about Halloween?
3. Follow the Line
I stumbled upon Follow the Line Around the World by Laura Ljungkvist by accident in the library and was blown away by the concept of drawing the whole book with one continuous line. I discovered later that it’s one of several books in Follow the Line series, but both Smarty and I still like this one best. The continuous line takes the reader to many well known and unexpected places around the world and even to space. Any hands-on geography idea will work with this book, or your kids can test their own creativity by trying to create an image with one continuous line like in this drawing game from Childhood 101.
4. Matthew’s Dream
Almost everyone knows Swimmy book by Leo Lionni or Little Yellow and Little Blue. Matthew’s Dream is one of his less known books, but it’s absolutely brilliant. A little mouse lives in poverty, but his parents have high hopes for him. One day Matthew goes to the museum with his class, discovers his true calling and transform his world. It’s such a positive book with a message about the power of art. I don’t want to give away a plot, but a perfect art extension for this book would be making magazine collage picture frames like these ones from The Imagination Tree
5. Bridges Are to Cross
I have to admit that I liked Bridges Are to Cross by Philomen Sturges more than my 5 year old who was (and still is) on I don’t like non-fiction kick. She only likes non-fiction when it’s wrapped into a story, and in this book every double spread gorgeously illustrated by Giles Laroche takes the reader to different bridges around the world explaining a little bit about each of them. I am thinking that many kids 5+ will enjoy discovering different bridge structures, and some (with their parents) might even decide to make their own bridge – this suspension bridge from recycled materials from Left Brain, Craft Brain is lovely and comes with a detailed tutorial.
6. Class Worms
Since my daughter was still getting used to her new school life, she loved books set in school. Class Worms by Barry Gott has simple text perfect for new readers and introduces an interesting science lesson on worms. If worms are still active where you live, you can catch a couple and make your own wormery or you can surprise your family or your child’s classroom with these scary looking but perfectly edible blood worms.