Friday, June 13, 2008

More Books to Read Aloud - July 2008

Keep your children interested in reading after age eight!
Excerpt from news report on, June 13, 2008: "There's a decline of reading as children age. And it's kind of a drop off at the age of 8," said Patrick Muir with Shadow Mountain Publishing. He says the survey [by Scholastic] discovered the problem wasn't TV, music or social life. "One of the key reasons they found is [that children] have difficulty finding books that they like," he said.

Age EIGHT??? That's about the age kids are just starting to read independently - and they are already losing interest? How are they ever going to improve enough to read at a college level?

It's right around the time children turn eight years old that most parents and teachers stop reading aloud to them. ~ After all, by then the kids know how to read themselves.~ Why keep reading aloud to them? One big reason is that you will help your children continue to find GOOD books - books they will want and like to read themselves. (Also, incidentally, books and authors that you chose - important if you want your children reading things that reflect your values.) here are more of my suggestions:

Picture books:
It's really summer now!
I am Eyes (Ni Macho) by Ward, illustrated by Hogrogian - very simple, brief text with lovely color (watercolor?) pictures - a child in Kenya wakes up and lists things she sees throughout the day - for age two and up
Oh Lord, I Wish I was a Buzzard by Greenberg, illustrated by Aliki - a child in Mississippi helps her (sharecropper?) father pick cotton on a long, hot summer day, and keeps wishing she was a dog, or buzzard, or snake, or butterfly, that didn't have to work in the hot sun - brief, repetitive text, for age two and up.
Time of Wonder, by McCloskey - an older Caldecott book, a nostalgic look back at summers spent on an island off Maine, with color pictures; or
One Morning in Maine, by McCloskey - same author/illustrator, same setting, but black & white drawings with more of a story line - this one follows Sal through the day on which she loses her first tooth - digging clams, taking the motorboat to the village, getting an ice cream cone, and feeling grown-up because she is losing her baby teeth. Age three and up
... and while we're doing Robert McCloskey, my favorite of his:
Blueberries for Sal, by McCloskey - Sal and her mother go picking blueberries up one side of a hill at the same time a mother bear and her cub are eating blueberries up the other side of the hill... wonderful drawings and a memorable story. Age three and up.
One Grain of Sand - A Lullaby, by Seeger, illustrated by Wingerter - exceptionally beautiful illustrations for a simple, sweet lullaby by Pete Seeger. The tune is written out at the beginning in case you want to sing it, but sung or read, a wonderful bedtime story for ages eighteen months and up.
Harry, the Dirty Dog, by Zion, illustrated by Graham - another older book, about Harry, a white dog with black spots who runs away from home to avoid taking a bath, and gets so dirty he is a black dog with white spots... and when he goes home, no one recognizes him, and he ends up begging for a bath. Age two and up
How the Sun was Brought Back to the Sky, by Ginsburg, illustrated by Aruego & Dewey - a folk tale about how the chicks and their animal friends bring back the sun after days of dark clouds; bright, cute pictures. Age three and up.
What You Know First, by MacLachlan, illustrated by Moser - a little girl doesn't want to leave her prairie home when her family is moving, and starts by telling how she will stay by herself, but ends by deciding what to take with her to remember, and to show her baby brother about where he was born. Illustrated with beautiful engravings. Probably age four and up.

Longer stories for middle elementary and up:
A White Heron, by Jewett, illustrated by Cooney - too long to be really a picture book, but with illustrations on most pages - a shy Maine farm girl meets a nice young man who is hunting for a white heron. She wants to please her new friend, but in the end, she does not tell him where to find the heron. First or second grade up.
Two that are politically incorrect in parts, but still fun to read (to grades two and up) if you don't mind that:
Mary Poppins, by Travers - the prim, strict but magical governess, in the original, authentic version, and...
Doctor Doolittle, by Lofting - the doctor who can speak to animals (including some that you won't find outside the pages of these books, like the push-me-pull-you that has a head on both ends) and his unlikely adventures.

Homecoming, by Voight - realistic fiction; it's summer on the east coast in the 70's when Dicey's mother packs up the four children to go to an aunt's house in another state - and then walks into a mall and doesn't come back out. The father is long gone. Dicey decides to take her sister and two brothers on to their destination, on foot, with only about fifty dollars to buy food along the way. This is a wise, sad, but ultimately optimistic book about family love, determination, and facing responsibility. It is a long book, but the times I have read it aloud, the children listening loved it. It is the first of several books about the Tillerman family and their friends. Third or fourth grade up.

Bristleface, by Ball - dog story, set in the South in the early 1900's; this is a story in the tradition of Where the Red Fern Grows, about the love between an orphan boy and a hunting dog, but with humor as a bonus. There are some really funny scenes in this book, along with a real tearjerker. It is certainly one of my favorite dog stories. Third grade up.

Kim, by Kipling - historical fiction, set in India during the time of the British empire, I suppose there are some politically incorrect bits in this book, too, but it is a grand adventure, following the orphan boy Kim as he survives by his wits, and picks up a piece-meal education, alternately employed by players of "the Great Game" (the British spy network), and following a devout holy man on a pilgrimage to enlightenment. Fourth or fifth grade up.

For teens:
The Arm of the Starfish, by L'Engle - part spy thriller, and a small part science fiction; Adam, just out of high school, has a summer job working for a famous scientist (Calvin O'Keefe, from A Wrinkle in Time)on an island off Europe. The lab is working on figuring out how starfish are able to regenerate body parts that have been cut off, and , secretly, on beginning to apply the technique to humans. In the airport on his way there, Adam is contacted by a beautiful girl about his age, Kali, who tells him Dr. O'Keefe is working with "the wrong people", and that Kali's father is trying to prevent the scientist's work from falling into evil hands. Adam must figure out who is really on the right side in a confusing life-and-death struggle. Although this book is not as well-known as A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, this one is my favorite of L'Engle's work. As in many of her books, the themes of real love, selflessness, and forgiveness play a big part. Probably for seventh grade up.

The Blue Sword, by McKinley - fantasy, Newbery honor book; Harry, a teen-age orphaned tomboy, leaves her home to join her brother at a military desert outpost, on the edge of a frontier inhabited by mysterious nomads who ride fabulous horses and whose rulers are reputed to have magical powers. When the desert king, Corlath, comes to warn the military commander that they have a common enemy who is about to invade, his warning is ignored, but his "kelar" (magical instinct) tells him Harry is important, and so he kidnaps her and takes her far out into the desert. This is a beautifully-written and exciting story that has plenty of action for boys even though the main character is a girl. Sixth grade up. It is, VERY loosely speaking, a sort of sequel to The Hero and the Crown, but is set hundreds of years later and you can read either book independent of the other. This one is somewhat easier to follow, so if you are reading to kids under thirteen or fourteen, I'd read this one first.


Shirley Bahlmann said...

Wow, that's sobering... to have children lose interest at such an early age. I read to my kids until they get impatient to find out the rest of the story and start reading it in the daytime!
Thanks for the good book suggestions.

Utoxin said...

I just finished Inkheart, and loved it. It would be a great book to read out loud, and indeed, involves reading aloud as part of the plot. Looking forward to the sequel.