Friday, February 08, 2008

Books for Kids Who Love to Read

I received this email recently:

Good afternoon Maureen,

Again, I am loving For the Love of Literature. I just received two Diane Stanley books yesterday (Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci). They are beautiful, just as you said, and I think my daughter will enjoy reading them.

I was talking to a homeschooling friend recently and thought it would be wonderful to have a resource of appropriate "pleasure" reading for our kids. Don't know if that's anything you have thought of doing. My daughter goes through so many books it's difficult to keep up with content on all of them.

Anyway, thanks again. Glad the march went so well.

Take good care.

Sure, since you asked so nicely, I'd love to write this book for you!

Really. I talked with my publisher and she's given me the green light. Here's what I'm thinking. Pick 100 books: 25 for each grade level (preschool, grade, middle, and high school), and dedicate 2 to 3 pages to each book. I'd give a plot synopsis, discuss how we baptize it, and tell you what kind of reader would enjoy it. I think I'd also give recommendations on "If your child liked this book, then he'll love . . . "

My working title is Books for Kids Who Love to Read. My ispiration is a 16-year-old homeschooled boy. He once saw me reading Books for Kids Who Hate to Read and he said, "I'm tired of such books. Someone needs to write a book for kids who love to read!"

So, if I'm going to do this, you're all going to have to help me. Should I include the classics like LOTR and Narnia or should I save all my precious space for books most people might not otherwise discover on their own? What great discoveries have you made that you think I should include? What would you like to see in such a book? What would help you as a parent?

Be forewarned. This will not happen overnight. I'm estimating two years. I've got at least a hundred books to read and review.

21 comments:

Christine the Soccer Mom said...

Oh, do include the classics! Even though I was a voracious reader, I had never read the Narnia books as a child (and had barely heard of them!), nor did I get my hands on The Lord of the Rings until I was 28! There are many classics that I just didn't hear about when I was in school, and I'm sure I'll find more and more as my girls get older. (They, too, are voracious readers.)

Frances said...

From ages 9 to 13 I read voraciously, sometimes two novels a week in addition to my schoolwork. Although I cannot vouch for their moral value, I offer you the following recommendations:

anything by Lynne Reid Banks (particularly the Indian in the Cupboard), anything by Dick King Smith (all animal characters), the Bunnicula series, the Saddle Club (for the horse obsession many girls go through), and Louis Sachar's books

shaun said...

Since you asked . . .

Yes, please focus on books we might not come across on our own. Kids who love to read exhaust the resources even of parents who love to read.

And a special plea: I had a child who was reading novels at age 4 -- and I'm sure we've all bumped into kids like that in the homeschooling community. Finding appropriate reading material was a real chore. She read every Magic Tree House and Secrets of Droon we could find, but I would have loved help finding quality literature that would be thematically or emotionally OK for her. If there were a way of indicating that a book recommended for 9-12 year olds could nonetheless be something an advanced young reader could handle . . .

Maureen Wittmann said...

Shaun,

I've had a couple of kids like your daughter (though not reading novels as young as 4 -- wow!). They're so hard to find books for -- with a high comprehension level but not ready for mature themes. I promise to keep these kids in mind and figure out a way to note books just for them.

Perhaps I'll throw in a few classics but focus mostly on the less-known books.

Even though I'll feature only 100 books -- by listing "if your kid liked this book then she'll love these books" I'll actually be giving parents many more titles to consider.

I already have a few books on hold at the library so I can start reading and writing.

Frances, you've given me a few names I haven't heard of -- I'll check those out.

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Wonderful! Looking forward to this, Maureen!

Mark and Lisa said...

Great idea, Maureen! For the classics like Narnia and LOTR, maybe there'd be room to include a simple list (without annotations, but with something to indicate the appropriate age level[s]) -- "And Don't Forget These Classic Favorites." Then you could devote most of your space to the lesser-known gems.

Heather said...

I'm with Shaun on that problem. I've got a six-year-old girl with probably a third or fourth grade reading level--what do I do?

And the off-the-beaten-track books, please! I think if a parent starts looking for books, they'll find Narnia and LOTR early and easily. What do they do after those?

And I'm looking forward to this one, too!

Sharon-shutterbug said...

Oh, PLEASE focus on lesser-known books! I've got tons of authors to recommend. Perhaps you should just come over and peruse my shelves. :)

Maureen Wittmann said...

Sharon, I'm guessing that you live too far away for me to pop over for tea and library shelf perusing. Could you perhaps list a few here for us? You don't happen to have a Library Thing set up? I'm so open to learning about new authors and books!

Vivian said...

I second Mark and Lisa!

I think, though, that we need a book more on books from chapter books to novels (preteen through teen)- There are several books on books (and lists) for the pre-9yrold set (I'm thinking picture books and read alouds)...

For those children reading novels early a good list that is ok morally for the 9-12yrolds would be useful for the younger set, with parents discernment.

Nancy C. Brown said...

Maureen,
What a great idea! I love it. It seems to me that this is very needed. Kids read all sorts of books, but they need our direction to lead them to good and great books.

Will you have a "read alone" and "read aloud" sections, or will this be for the child to read alone only?

Naturally, I would highly recommend The Father Brown Reader. Also, I just finished reading The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, and it was wonderful. I would say, ages 10-13.

I also recommend books by Eleanore Jewett, Big John's Secret is one.

Any child who loves Little House on the Prairie, about like Caddie Woodlawn and the sequel, Magic Melons (I think).

Younger readers will enjoy Nate the Great, Meg MacIntosh, and Cam Jansen, and Geronimo Stilton, and the Madeleine series. These are all good for those younger readers who need more to read.

I hope to find more good books for your 100 top picks!

Anonymous said...

In the last year, the books that I enjoyed the most were "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, and "When Hell Was In Session" by Jeremiah Denton.

I'll see you tomorrow.

-Paul

Maureen Wittmann said...

This is a list sent to me by a friend. I decided to post it here to share with everyone and also so I have everyone's suggestions in one great place:

here's a bunch, didn't try to decide what was good literature, just wrote down what the girls said:

rosemary:
regina doman's fairytale novel series
narnia of course
gregor the overlander series
ella enchanted
fairest
pride and prejudice
the phantom of the opera
dracula
bridge to terabithia
reb and the redcoats
cottage at bantry bay
wolves of willoughby chase
witch of blackbird pond
calico captive
the king in the window
peter and the star-catchers
replay by sharon creech
deltora quest series, emily rodda

gracie says:
betsy tacey series
laura ingalls wilder
magic treehouse series
pollyanna
a little princess
the secret garden
little lord fauntleroy
heidi
narnia series
the bronze bow
junie b. jones series
beverly cleary ramona series
carry on, mr. bowditch
in the year of the boar and jackie robinson
the sign of the beaver
room one by andrew clements
princess school series
a to z mysteries
cheaper by the dozen
all of a kind family
my side of the mountain
the ugly princess and the wise fool
st. patrick's summer
ballet shoes (she has read this one numerous times)
judy moody series
island of the blue dolphins

i say:
enchanted castle by e. nesbit
teresa loves any of the skippy jon jones books
something wicked this way comes, ray bradbury
seven silly eaters (the family has 7 kids, how odd!)
the story of christmas, illustrated by jane ray (mary obviously nursing baby Jesus)
king bidgood's in the bathtub, don and audrey wood
the spooky book by steve patschke
any roald dahl
michael liked the bellairs ones, the clock in the wall is one of the titles
hatchet (also a michael favorite)
punk farm
punk farm on tour
the doll people (we have read this one too many times to count, very clever) ann m. m. martin
the tub people by pam conrad
fireweed by paton walsh
where's wallace, hilary knight
frindle by andrew clements (all of my kids have loved this one)
homer price
blue willow by doris gates
the velvet room by zilpha keatley snyder
ghosts i have been
the headless cupid
gone away lake
benjamin mcfadden and the robot babysitter

Christine said...

Below are links to two of my children's book blogs.
Cat's Book Nook
Love to Daydream

Thanks to an excellent library system, my voracious readers (both 10 and under) have plenty of great books to read.

Meredith said...

Maureen, for the preschool and Early elementary crowd I'd love for you to include the Robert McCloskey books, they are so timeless and loved not matter how many times they are read! What a delightful idea for a book, congratulations!

stef said...

OH NO!!! Much as I am very excited about this new project of yours -- my first thought was -- WHAT? 100 only??? My 11-yo could go through that in 2-3 months if left up to himself. What would we do the rest of the year?

Seriously, though. An excellent idea. I look forward to your book!

Maureen Wittmann said...

LOL Stef!!!

I promise there will be more than 100 titles. Oh, there will only be 100 that get the 2-3 page review, but I'm thinking that I should put together a classics list for the appendices of maybe another 100 or so titles.

And then, each featured book will have a list of books that are similar to it. So, that will add another 300 or so titles.

I'll do my best to keep your librarian hard at work checking out reads for your children!

And, if it sells well, I can always talk my publisher into a sequel!

Maureen Wittmann said...

Thank you everyone for all the great input!!! The library clerks at my local library run and hide when they see me coming. I've already picked up many of titles you've suggested. I've been splitting them up between the kids with the instruction to let me know what they love vs. what they loathe.

Keep the awesome book lists and tips coming!

MAB said...

I just want to say that you must put in LOTR and Narnia and other "classics" at least in the "... if you loved this, you'll also love..." category.

I picture this book being something my boys will go to to find good books themselves. Not just a resource that I refer to myself.

Monica said...

Maureen, if you have time for this kind of thing, you might find some
interesting, lesser-known selections here:
http://catholicbookreview.blogspot.com/

This is a blog/journal written by a Catholic mom about the books she
pre-reads before she lets her kids read them. She has kids ranging from
pre-school age up to I think, 6th grade?

Anonymous said...

these were recommended by edward gorey in a autobiography i read about him. great series. rosemary and i loved them. the first one is called The Mennyms. they are by Sylvia Waugh.
"The Mennyms, a family of life-size rag dolls living in a house in England and pretending to be human, see their peaceful existence threatened when the house's owner announces he is coming from Australia for a visit."