In addition to reuniting with leisure reading of my own, 2010 was doubly amazing for my inner bookworm as this was the year that Emma fell in love with chapter books. And I get to relive my childhood by reading them with her. Some of her favorites? Well, as you’ll see, the kid is all about the series books. Reminds me of myself as a kid; reading my way through Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and Nancy Drew. But truth be told, the series books The Kid is into blows Baby-Sitters Club away. Sorry Kristy, Stacey, Claudia and Mary Anne…
Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
We actually started reading these when the summer after Kindergarten; rather, I started reading them TO her, and she was immediately hooked. The premise is repeated in each book: Jack and Annie, a brother and sister duo from Frog Creek Pennsylvania find a tree house that transports them through time to solve mysteries and puzzles through the magic of books. We’ve traveled with Jack and Annie to the age of the dinosaurs, to medieval times, to jolly olde England, to the Wild West…
With a good dose of imagination, fantasy, history, and exotic locations, this is the perfect series to introduce to a kid just starting on chapter books. It wasn’t until about halfway through first grade that The Kid would concede to switching off paragraphs with me, or reading a few sentences here and there. Now she reads them on her own at school during silent reading or in her after school program. She’s on number 30 now, but moving through them much more slowly now that she has a couple of other favorites.
Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows
The Kid received the first Ivy and Bean book as a gift from my cousin, Emily, for her 6th birthday I think. It took her a while to want to read it; she was resisting moving out of the Tree House and onto other things. But once we were into the second chapter, she had forgotten all about Jack and Annie. Ivy and Bean are two second graders who live on the same street and the series follows their adventures in school and around the neighborhood. It’s a super cute, smartly written series, and I didn’t realize until we were onto the 4th or 5th book that the author Annie Barrows, is the co-author of one of my favorite grown-up books of 2010, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Ivy and Bean have inspired The Kid’s non-fiction pursuits as well. Her most recent book report assignment was to choose a biography, and she chose Mary Anning, the English girl who found a dinosaur fossil near her house in 1811. Mary Anning was the inspiration for Ivy and Bean to dig up Bean’s backyard in Book 3: Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record.
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Yessssssssss. I was so unbelievably excited when The Kid was agreeable to reading Little House in the Big Woods. I read the whole Little House series as a kid was tempted to start reading it again on my own; but thought I’d just test the waters with The Kid, even though at barely 7 years old I thought she might be a bit young. But she surprised me, she was all for it. Granted I do most of the reading, with her only reading a little here and there, but she gets fully engaged in the story, and is really good about asking me to explain something right away if she doesn’t understand it. She even invented a nightly ritual, appropriately called “Olden Days”, on the nights we are going to read a Little House book. We turn off all the lights and get ready for bed with a lone candle burning, like Ma, Pa, Mary and Laura would have done. We’ve read Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie, and are currently taking a break from the Olden Days in favor of Greek mythology. Read on…
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordon
After I finished reading the Harry Potter series last year I was looking for another easy escapist kid read to indulge in. I picked up the first book in this series, The Lightening Thief, on a whim. The Kid saw me reading it and demanded that we read it together. She had seen older kids at school reading the series, and knew a little about it. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Percy Jackson is a Half-Blood, that is, a demi-god. His mom is a human; his dad is Posidon, god of the sea. The series is all about is adventures with other Half-Bloods, fighting the beasts and traveling to the places that supposedly only exist in Greek mythology. It’s a really fun and imaginative series, and The Kid LOVES it. Like the Little House books, I do most of the reading and she chips in now and again. And she asks if she doesn’t understand something or can’t make out a crazy unpronounceable Greek word.
It sort of trips me out when I think about how The Kid has made the leap from Magic Tree House to Percy Jackson in about a year. True, she needs my help on the Percy Jackson books while she can read Magic Tree House on her own; but she LOVES the Percy Jackson books and comprehends the story surprisingly well. I got her Percy Jackson: The Ultimate Guide for Christmas, and she’s been reading that on her own non-stop. She takes it with her everywhere. It’s pretty cute when we’re reading one of the books and Percy will come upon a random beast, say a Laestrygonian Giant for example, and The Kid will exclaim “I know what those are! I read about them in my guide!” And she’ll proceed to tell me all about Laestrygonian Giants before we move on with the story. Awesome.
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Now I mentioned before that I had picked up the first Percy Jackson book to satisfy my urge to continue some kid reading after I finished Harry Potter. Well once The Kid weaseled her way into that escape, I had to find another series that I could read on my own. So I started the Hunger Games series. I already wrote a bit about it here, so I won’t go into it other than to say that the whole series is really worth a read. I didn’t mention it on my grown-up best reads of 2010 as it’s technically classified as Young Adult fiction, but really it’s not just for kids. I’d maybe even say that the series as a whole was my favorite reading experience of the year. I highly recommend diving in, no matter your age.
Well, hopefully The Kid and I have inspired you or your kid, or both of you together, to do some reading. Go to a library, support your local bookstore, or get yourself a Kindle and download some books if you’re low on shelf space. We do all three, enthusiastically and regularly. And it feels good.