Four Moms Thursdays, Books for Early Readers

Welcome to another Four Moms Thursday!  Here are the other moms:Don’t miss what my fellow conspirators, er, mothers of many, have to say:

Connie at Smockity Frocks
Kim at Life in a Shoe
Kimberly at Raising Olives

REALLY Easy Readers: The Bob Books,
Good practice readers after the Bob Books:

One Fish, Two Fish,
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seus
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss,
Fox in Socks-

Did you know yesterday was Dr. Seuss’s birthday?

Slightly harder books:
Frog and Toad,
Little Bear

No Fighting No Biting was a HUGE hit with my kids,
and Morris the Moose was a big hit with my boy and several of his male friends.  For some reason the girls never enjoyed him much.
Mouse Tales
Mouse Soup
Daniel’s Duck

Basically, we favored Clyde Robert Bulla, Arnold Lobel, and Else Holmelund.

Another big favorite is Millicent Selsam books, mostly science readers.  These are fabulous.  She doesn’t talk down to her young readers, and yet she writes interesting stories with good information.

We also did a lot of tandem reading- where Mom reads and then points to a word or sentence for the child to read.
We also read quite a few nursery rhymes, mother goose stuff, for practice.  And just to keep things fun we would change things from time to time.
Jack and Jill
Went up the ______, for instance.  My young reader would read that far and then make up her own word to go in the blank.

Beginning readers, chapter books, etc:
The Three Cousins Detective Series by Elspeth Campbell Murphy. These stories add a Bible verse and a biblical principle to their episodes, and the three cousins are younger than Nancy Drew and so the stories are more suitable for younger readers (6-10 or so, depending on when they read independently).

Elspeth Campbell Murphy also has a series called The Ten Commandment mysteries which we liked. If you’re looking for other mysteries suitable for younger children, below is a list of some other titles our youngsters have read. I make no grand claims for literary quality. These are better than some, but not grand literature. They do seem to meet the need for a series that kids seem to have at a certain stage in their reading, and since I think mysteries do help kids learn to trace cause and effect and think about consequences and the chain of events in a story, I turn a temporary blind eye to the twaddle elements of these stories, and it is there. So here they are:

The Happy Hollister stories. I like these because the family is larger than average (five children) and they children like each other. That’s a link to one title at Amazon, but try your library first.

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective– not everybody likes these. I recommended them once to a fellow home-schooling mom, and even gave her some surplus copies we had. She disliked them so much that she sent her child to my house to return them with these words, “My mother says to give these back to you and tell she doesn’t ever want to see another one.” I guess I should have loaned them a Miss Manners instead (Bad DHM, bad! No snark!). I really don’t know what it was she hated so much, I consider these harmless enough. I like them because the chapters are stand alone, making them a light reading load for a young reader lacking confidence, and because the solutions are in the back of the book, giving young readers a chance to try to figure things out for themselves. Even though most of my young readers just skipped to the back to read the solutions without thinking about it, I think the format actually helps them remember the information better, and often the solution involved some piece of scientific or historical information. I also help these and books like them can help young readers learn discernment, as often the clue involves the resident bad kid contradicting himself in his account. The link to this Donald Sobol story is apparently a newer release, and I don’t know if the new releaases are the same content or not. I’d look for an older copy at my local library.

The Boxcar Children– I consider the first book in this series good literature for children. After that the quality goes down. Also, only the first twenty or twenty-five are by Gertrude Chandler Warner, and I use that as the natural cutting off point for our family. I don’t mind my children reading a few of these while they develop fluency with their reading, but once they get comfortable, it’s time to start stretching and reading the harder stuff.

The Bobbsey Twins: We never really cottoned to these much, and I don’t really know why. I do like the originals, but they aren’t mysteries.

In general, we read a few of these while the children are developing reading competency, but then we move on, because I do not want them to develop reading complacency. In the meantime, they are useful for helping kids learn to be better at housecleaning, and who knew mysteries could have such benefits?

What about you?  What have been your most successful early reading titles?

Don’t miss the exciting topics we’ll be covering the other Thursdays of this month!

  • March 17 – Bread making
  • March 24 – Large families & church, part 1
  • March 31 – Q and A
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  1. Queen of Carrots
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Rereading the familiar picture books to younger siblings is the best reading practice. O:-)

    Also, my kids have gotten a lot of mileage out of good picture-book versions of fairy tales. The print is a bit bigger than in chapter books (which I think is helpful for those who read a little younger–I see my 5yo especially straining to read small print). And they're shorter overall. But the literary quality can be quite high.

    Classic comic books are also a good bridge. Asterix, Tintin, and Calvin and Hobbes are popular around here. (Your mileage may vary. You may not want your children hunting for bottles of whiskey. Or dressing up like ancient Gauls. O:-) I know people are concerned about Calvin's attitude, but I see him as a perfectly healthy, normal little boy reacting badly to the absurdities of modern education.)

  2. Fe
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    For early chapter books, my son has loved the 'Tashi' books by ? Fienberg. They are fantastical stories—but one of the things I enjoy about them is that they're Australian in setting (well, to my mind they're recognisable to Australians as being that, but I don't think it's glaring, given that _most_ of the content takes place in an imaginary world). Mostly, we've borrowed them from the library.

    He also really enjoyed the Milly-Molly-Mandy books. Admittedly, we had already read them to him before he began reading, but they're a regular re-read even now. (I wondered how he would go with a girl protagonist, but it's never been an issue… I think it's because all her adventures are so 'domestic' in scale, that it doesn't feel too jarring.)

    Both these series follow the stand alone chapter idea.

  3. Mama Squirrel
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    One of the first things our oldest ever read was a homemade book of poems that I copied out for her–half a dozen very simple verses like Marchette Chute's "Sliding." "Down the slide / We ride, we ride / Round we run, and then / Up we pop / To reach the top, / Down we come again." After that I remember going on to Little Bear, The Golly Sisters Go West, Frog and Toad books, and Are You My Mother? We also used Gilbert Beers' The Toddler Bible–it was easier than The Beginner's Bible. Also The Sign on Rosie's Door and the Oliver and Amanda Pig books.

  4. Mama Squirrel
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Also, Marie Rippel of All About Spelling has created simple readers to go along with her program–we were sent the first two last year to review. My youngest was quite a bit beyond them, reading-wise, but she enjoyed the stories anyway.

  5. Angela
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    My favorite books when I was little were always the original Mother Goose, the Complete Brothers Grimm (the gory ones, not the watered down ones), Frog and Toad, Aesop's Fables, the Dragons are Singing Tonight (poems) and Graeme Base's Animalia and the Eleventh Hour.

    These are all for younger kids; I remember sort of going straight from these types of books to chapter books, and then read series like Anne, Narnia, Little House, and the Wizard of Oz when I was in high school/college.

  6. jules
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Dear DHM: My niece is about to have her first baby. They requested that everyone bring a childrens book to the shower to start their library. My mom wants to get the baby a cloth book. Have you heard of these, and would you recommend one or any? I'd like to get a book that could be read to the child at first, but by them later on. Can you recommend anything to me for this? I realize you have a wonderful list in this post, but it seems to be for early readers, not babies.

    Thanks so much.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I always enjoy hearing your recommendations about books. In addition to your lovely suggestions, I wanted to mention the Mr. Putter and Tabby early readers (for roughly 1st grade reading level?). There is something so endearing about old Mr. Putter and his relationship with his Tabby. Also, how do you feel about Mercy Watson (the pig)? I really enjoy the humor in those as well, but they could be considered twaddle!

  8. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I don't know the Mr. Putter and Tabby books or Mercy Watson.
    Queen of Carrots, my son really benefited from the TinTin books and both my youngest two were thrilled with Calvin.
    I like Calvin, too, but these are the two children who attempted to make rope traps for their siblings after watching Swiss Family Robinson, so I was a bit nervous about them getting ideas from Calvin.

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