When my daughter was younger, I maintained a diary of our reading activities in weekly What My Child Is Reading entries in my blog. In this post I am featuring books that Smarty was reading on her own in two different years – some when she was turning 6 and some when she was turning 7. While my other entries in the series are focusing on picture books, here I am recommending picture books, non-fiction books, and chapter books, so it can be used for children of different ages depending on their reading skills.
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1. The Magic School Bus Series
My daughter didn’t watch a lot of Magic School Bus cartoons, but she still loves the books in Magic School Bus series – both picture books and chapter books. I think Magic School Bus creators found a magical way to introduce pretty complex science concepts with a compelling cast of characters. My daughter has special fondness for Arnold and doesn’t wish to travel on a Magic School Bus, she thinks it would be “too scary”. A great read for Halloween would be The Magic School Bus in the Haunted Museum, and One Time Through took this book further with Spooky Sound Experiments.
2. 2x2 = Boo
My daughter always enjoyed math books by Loreen Leedy. 2x2=Boo! is a perfect Halloween book that even the kids who are not interested in math will love. There is not much story line, but the illustrations are very engaging and take young readers all the way to multiplying 5x5. There is a full multiplication table in the end of the book. We got 2x2=Boo at the library book sale when Smarty was 4, and by 6 my little mathematician was not fast, but decent with multiplication facts through calculating and memorizing them for fun. This makes things much easier now when she is in the third grade and expected to learn multiplication. Most kids are more hands-on in their learning styles than Smarty, and they might enjoy edible multiplication math from Kids Activities Blog.
3. You Wouldn’t Want to Be…Sadly, in the first grade my daughter decided that non-fiction is boring due to a poorly constructed non-fiction reading unit. For 2 years she wouldn’t touch any book that would just serve facts. Luckily, she always enjoyed colorfully illustrated You Wouldn’t Want to Be… books that give interesting historic information by plunging a reader into “irresistibly gross” details of everyday life in the past. I got You Wouldn’t Want to Sail with Christopher Columbus! for the last year’s Columbus Day and we both learned some interesting details from this book including less “glamorous” parts of Columbus achievement – diseases, terrible treatment of indigenous people, and how Columbus ended his days in abject poverty. We followed up with a fun engineering challenge when I asked Smarty and her classmate to use available materials to design and build a boat that could really float and support a Playmobil person.
Be elementary school, children start to develop their sense of humor and enjoy joke books. I found this Big Book of Jokes and Riddles at the library book sale, and my daughter really loved it. The reviews on Amazon are mixed with some people saying that the jokes are lame. Yes, they are lame… for adults. However, they are targeted to children and manage to “get” their audience. If you want to surprise your children (and improve their reading skills, if needed), you might consider these cute lunch box jokes from A Mom With A Lesson Plan.
5. The Great Fairy Tale DisasterSpeaking of developing sense of humor, children with enough exposure to fairy tales will enjoy The Great Fairy Tale Disaster by David Conway and its companion, The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster. As you can expect, it’s a properly fractured fairy tale where the characters freely intermix on the pages lavishly illustrated by Melanie Williamson. My daughter is not really a big fan of original fairy tales, but she was able to recognize all characters and continued to be surprised on every page. You could make your own children to become characters in a fairy tale by playing a fun and active outdoor game for kids who love fairy tales that The Measured Mom shared in her guest post on I Can Teach My Child blog.
6. Jenny and the Cat Club
My recommendation for a chapter book/read aloud book is Jenny and the Cat Club – a recently re-released classic from Esther Averill. It’s a book where main characters are cats, and The Cats musical certainly comes to mind when adults read this book. The main character Jenny is a shy black cat who wants to be accepted by other cats in her neighborhood. The characters are lovingly written, and the stories are very believable and can be readily translated into human world. The Cat Club is only one of the series of books about Jenny. We also read others in the series, and they are doubly fascinating, because certain things described in the stories are dated or don’t exist any longer. And if you read this book in October, these Halloween handprint cats from Fun Handprint Art might be a great extension activity for it.
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