Thursday, July 26, 2012

When the Character Ages Faster Than the Reader

A friend recently mentioned that she and her daughter stopped reading the Anne of Green Gables books because her 7-year-old was not interested in Anne's courtship by Gilbert, her career, marriage, or motherhood.  That comment got me thinking about series that follow a character from early childhood through to adulthood.  In addition to Anne, Betsy-Tacy and the Little House books came immediately to mind.  While, Type-A personality that I am,  I am a big believer in reading a series start to finish, it is hard when the character ages faster than the reader!  We are reading Little Town on the Prairie right now, in which Laura is 15, just meeting her future husband, and planning for her career as a teacher (which back then could start at age 16!).  So far my daughter still seems interested, but I wonder if and when that interest will wane.

Did you/your child read these series straight through or return to them later?  Can you think of any other series that present the same issue?

Friday, July 20, 2012


This picture was originally posted by the Grand Forks Public Library on Facebook and it was too good not to share.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Truly Neighborhood Libraries

The Little Free Library has come to Brooklyn!  Somehow I imagine it would be a more uphill fight to establish one of these libraries - which consist of a small structure which holds donated books available for lending - in Manhattan, although I'd be happy to be proved wrong.  Read all about it here

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Non-scary Realistic Fiction for a Seven-Year-Old

The title of this post is cumbersome but accurate.  My 7-year-old loves reading books about kids like herself, realistic books that are not scary at all.  Here is a list of the series that she's been enjoying this summer.  Some I had heard of; some we just found at the library.  The difficulty level varies quite a bit - some of the books are easier, or shorter, or both - but I don't believe in restricting her only to books that are at her level.  These are in addition, of course, to those I've read to her and mentioned elsewhere: the Ramona series, the Betsy-Tacy books, the Fudge books, and the Little House books.  Without further ado:

The Dyamonde Daniel books by Nikki Grimes

The Amber Brown books by Paula Danziger

The Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows

The Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker

The Weird School series by Dan Gutman

The Wayside School series by Louis Sachar

The Zigzag Kids books by Patricia Reilly Giff

The Ready, Freddy! books by Abby Klein

The Sophie books by Lara Bergen

The Humphrey the Hamster series by Betty G. Birney (okay, this one may be slightly less realistic)

The Nikki and Deja books by Karen English

The Frankly, Frannie books by A.J. Stern

The Anna Hibiscus series by Atinuke

The Judy Moody books by Megan McDonald

The Simply Sarah series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The Piper Reed books by Kimberly Willis Holt

Do you have any other realistic fiction series to recommend to her?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reading for Pleasure As an End in Itself

Every student, teacher, and parent should read this letter to the New York Times about the importance of reading for pleasure. Reading isn't always - or even often - a means to an end.  It often IS the end.   And that is just as it should be.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What Am I Missing?

I just finished reading Stuart Little aloud to my 7-year-old and it left both of us a little perplexed.  First of all, I'm not sure I ever read it in its entirety as a child.  I have memories of the Central Park boat scene, but whether those are from actually reading the book (or part of it) or from some general source of cultural literacy, I'm not sure.  I had no recollection of the search for Margalo or the fact that the books ends (spoiler alert!) without her being found, which my daughter and I found very unsatisfying.  I also found Stuart's character inconsistent.  His can-do attitude during his search for Margalo and his substitute-teaching stint seemed to be directly at odds with his despair when his boating plan with Harriet doesn't work out.  Although the language and writing were enjoyable and the plot sometimes delightfully absurd, in the end I didn't see what all the fuss was about. 

Does anyone who loves it care to enlighten me?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Library Round-Up #6

Brief reviews of some of the poetry and picture books we have out from the library right now. My 7-year-old is whipping through chapter books so quickly I can't keep up but maybe soon she'll write her own reviews!

Press Here by Herve Tullet.  Worthy of all the buzz it's been getting, this interactive book has readers press and rub dots on the page, shake the book, and perform other acts in order to get the dots to move, multiply, or change in other ways on each successive page.  My 4-year-old loved being in on the joke: "You don't really have to press.  There's already more dots on the next page but I still like doing it." 

Sunflakes: Poems for Children edited by Lillian Moore and illustrated by Jan Ormerod.  I picked up this poetry anthology after having read and loved the title poem in a different anthology.  I didn't even realize at first that the illustrations are by one of my favorite children's book illustrators!  While the title poem, about building sunmen out of sunflakes and other such reversals, by Frank Asch, is probably still my favorite, this compilation captures the essence of childhood and is definitely worth a look, if not a purchase. 

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco.  Another sophisticated autobiographical winner by Patricia Polacco.  Perfect for the aspiring artist and the teachers in your life.

All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel by Dan Yaccarino.  A lovely story about immigrants, tradition and family and the power of things to convey memories and values.

How Much Is A Million? by David Schwartz.  Similar in concept to How Many Jelly Beans? this book explains big numbers by showing how high a tower of a million, billion or trillion children would be, how large a bowl would be needed to hold a million, billion, or trillion goldfish and, perhaps most amusing, how long it would take to count to each number (and which of the counters would be dead, shown by gravestones, by the time the count was complete!).  Unlike How Many Jelly Beans? this book doesn't actually show a million, billion or trillion of anything, although it does show 100,000 tiny stars.  My 4-year-old is obsessed with both of these big-number books but I prefer this one.

Chloe, Instead by Micah Player.  My expectations for this one were so high they were bound to be disappointed and they were.  I love the cartoon-y, big-eyed children and the brightly colored illustrations but Chloe turns out to be a rather typical mischievous younger sibling who eats crayons and the like.  But the demonstration of how the underlying sibling relationship is a loving one is very sweet. 

The Mitten by Jan Brett.  A classic retelling of a Ukranian folktale.  My girls recognized that it was by the same author-illustrator as that of The Hat right away.

The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi.  Award-winning, yet it didn't grab our attention and I found myself tripping over the words as I read it aloud.

Follow the Line Around the World by Laura Ljungkvist.  Not my favorite of the Follow the Line books in terms of the illustrations, but it held my 7-year-old's interest, rare for non-fiction for her.

I Feel Better With A Frog In My Throat: History's Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia.  After renewing this one from the library 5 or 6 times, I thought we'd never read it.  But then my 7-year-old picked it up the other day and was fascinated and loved the multiple choice format.  Another non-fiction winner.

My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson.  Adored by my younger daughter, I can't help but think of this as a pale imitation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day (which is actually one of the results retrieved when you search for the Patterson book on Amazon).  However, it has its place as it is definitely geared toward a younger audience than that classic.

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine.  The second book of poems we've read inspired by the famous William Carlos Williams poem, This Is Just to Say.  This one struck me as repetitive and required a good deal of background knowledge to get all the allusions.  However, I loved the first one we read, This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness  by Joyce Sidman, fictional apology poems and responses to them.

Don't Want to Go! by Shirley Hughes.  Ms. Hughes always captures the daily minutiae of childhood so perfectly and this book is no different.  A young child who doesn't want to go to a family friend's house while her mom has the flu ends the day by not wanting to leave the friend's house.  This one doesn't have any of the familiar Hughes characters like Alfie and isn't my absolute favorite of her books (that would be Dogger) but it's still a lovely, relatable story with Ms. Hughes trademark warm, realistic illustrations.  I had no idea she was still writing until we found this 2010 work at the library! 

What have you been reading from the library?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I was so looking forward to sharing Charlotte's Web with my daughter.  But before we did, she read this book, which gave the ending away! 


Of course, there are many reasons to read it besides the ending and we will do so anyway, but still...