I have had several people ask me for suggestions of chapter books for early- to mid-elementary children, and I now have a new suggestion that I am excited to share! The Bedtime Story-Books written by Thornton W. Burgess and illustrated by Harrison Cady are old-fashioned tales with titles such as The Adventures of Reddy Fox, The Adventures of Grandfather Frog, and The Adventures of Bob White. Because we are studying birds we started with the story about Bob White and his family. I love that these books are not only fun, adventuresome stories, free from any off-color language or crude themes, but they also teach simple concepts about the animals, as well as good life lessons in a format reminiscent of Aesop’s fables.
Pros: These are pure and exciting readers that teach valuable lessons.
Cons: While the language is very understandable, some words are not commonly used today and may be unfamiliar to young readers. In The Adventures of Bob White one of the young birds is shot. A brief discussion follows about the “dangers of guns.” While I did not see any problems with the way this was presented, considering that the book is from the perspective of a bird. Parents might take this opportunity to discuss the appropriate use of guns.
Age Range: 4-10
The Rainbabies written by Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrated by Jim LaMarche tells the story of a couple who have a wonderful life together, but still wish they could have a baby. One night the woman hears rain falling at night and insists they go outside in the rain since she has heard that a moonshower is good luck. As the rain ends, they see twelve drops of water each containing a tiny baby. The couple take the infants inside and begin to raise them. Soon they experience several trying circumstances, such as a sudden storm while in a boat, a wildfire encircling the babies, and a weasel stealing one of the infants. One dark, rainy night the family is visited by a youg man who asks to trade the babies for a valuable stone. When the couple refuses, the man turns into a beautiful woman. This Mother Moonshower insists that, even though the man and woman have been wonderful for the babies, it is time for her to take them back since they cannot grow without her. As she is leaving she shows the couple that she has brought them an adorable infant of normal size to be their own child. This daughter, Rayna, grows up and makes the couple truly happy.
Pros: My girls loved this book because it provided plenty of room for imagination. I was surprised when, hours after we read together, my oldest daughter mentioned this book,specifically reminding me that she really liked the story.
Cons: While I didn’t have anything specific against this book I did not particularly enjoy reading this fanciful story. It was just a bit much of a stretch for me. My girls did not like the way the story ended. They wanted the couple to be able to keep the Rainbabies!
Age Range: 3-9 years
3 of 5 stars
Do you love to run? Do you love shoes? Are you, like me, a Southern girl who believes no one should wear shoes until December? What Should I Put on My Feet to Go Run? written by John McClung and illustrated by Laura Hollingsworth tells the story of a bear cub who awakens beside his mother in their cave and immediately wants to go out to play. When the little bear asks his mother about appropriate foot wear for the day he is told that he should go barefoot. He asks his mother about a myriad of shoe variations, but is still his mother reminds him that he does not need shoes. In the end they go outside together to play in their “barefoot bear feet.” Whether you want to encourage your children to exercise or love an adorable story about cute bears, this is a great book for you. Available for purchase this week on both Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A45ATEI) and in paperback (https://www.createspace.com/3946420.) Order a copy today and enjoy reading this new release to the children in your life! Also, check out the author’s blog at http://bfinaz.blogspot.com/.
Summary: Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, sets the stage for many hours of captivating reading. I suggest going ahead and reading this book to young children, as they can easily bond with the characters who are also very young in this book. Meeting Jack the dog, Charlotte the rag doll, Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura, and Carrie will seem real and home-like. You and your audience will almost be able to taste the Christmas candy, feel the cold wind on your cheeks, see the big “bear,” and hear the sleigh bells ring. The occasional illustrations by Garth Williams allow the young reader to gain a visual perspective of the story in an elegant, yet simple form.
Pros: A great way to start young children on longer chapter books. Exciting stories that children can relate to, as well as simple illustrations to help them visualize what they are hearing.
Cons: This book is a true classic – no complaints for me.
Age Range: 3-10 (I enjoyed reading, too!)
4.5 of 5
Summary: Reading the bios of both the author and illustrator of The Dark, Dark Night made me wish I could meet them. The lives of author M. Christina Butler and illustrator Jane Chapman seem so similar to those of every day moms, and their story was so likeable, that I am sure we could hit it off easily. The story is of five animal friends who band together for support as they encounter the “Pond Monster” (aka – their shadows). Their support for one another makes the story a success. The illustrations are filled with bright, jewel-like colors, yet portray the nighttime scene effectively.
Pros: A fun story to teach children the lesson that things are not always what they seem, as well as the value of supportive friendships. The illustrations are generous in size, filled with detail and beautiful colors.
Cons: The book could be slightly scary for very young children, but this could be used as a conversation starter to help allay fears of the dark.
Age Range: 2-8
5 of 5!