I have probably spent more on books for my children than on anything else (definitely more than clothes, possibly more than food). They LOVE to read, and I do too. We read in the morning before school and every night before bed (as well as a book or a chapter at school drop-off and often one or two once we are home from school), so it goes without saying that we go through a LOT of books on a weekly basis.
Making the transition to chapter books wasn’t something that had occurred to me, but my Mom, children’s book guru that she is, suggested we try the Magic Treehouse series sometime last year and the rest was history. We still like a good picture book every now and then, but chapter books are much more often the order of the day. Here are a few favorite series that we have come across and find ourselves returning to again and again (and again).
Also known as “Jack and Annie books”. There are about 50 books in this series, and we totally crushed the entire thing within a few months. I love this series, about a brother and sister who go on time-traveling adventures all over the world (and even into space). The writing is simple, yet engaging (it progresses and deepens as the series evolves, kind of like Harry Potter). The “lessons” are subtle, many stories have a fantastical element (beyond the whole magic treehouse element), and what I like best about the books is how they easily transmit information about historical events and people in an interesting way. I feel like I learned a lot reading them as well.
These took a little time to grow on me, but Elijah loves them. Three best friends (two boys and a girl) solve mysteries around their town in Connecticut and a variety of other places. There are some unrealistic elements to this series that annoy me endlessly as a parent but that don’t trouble Elijah in the least. For example, the kids are like 8 or 9, and they have virtually no parental or caretaker observation even when they go on vacations. There’s also hthe fact that they survive kidnappings, robberies, and all sorts of other hijinks without ever getting emotionally scarred or freaking out like most 8 year olds would. Despite that, I am recommending these mysteries because they encourage little minds to problem solve and pay attention to detail.
Toys Go Out/Toys Come Home/Toys Dance Party
These books are my new obsession. Elijah’s class initially read them at school (now they are reading Charlotte’s Web-sob!), and he asked for them for the holidays, and I am so thankful he did. They are GENIUS! In each volume of this 3 book series, the stuffed animals/toys of a growing girl have a variety of adventures (including going in the washing machine, being picked to sleep on the girl’s bed with her, and experimenting with nail polish). If this sounds mundane, I assure you, it is not. Each of the toys, from a sunny, optimistic rubber ball named Plastic, to Frank, the washing machine with a love of music, to Sting Ray, who is, in fact a stingray as well as being a know-it-all, is so wonderfully written and well-developed you honestly won’t believe it.
I seriously cannot recommend these books highly enough-I was so disappointed on the nights that Elijah wanted to read something else because they are such a joy to read aloud.
Mr. Putter and Tabby
Also a recommendation from Nini, this series (which doesn’t actually have an order to it) is a great intro to chapter books since they are shorter with big print and amusing pictures. Remy actually adores these books, about an older gentleman and his cat, and not just because there is a cat involved. The concepts and stories are simple, humorous, and touching. I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this series again soon as Elijah progresses in his own reading.
Roald Dahl books
Some of Dahl’s books are more appropriate than others for the younger set. I loved Dahl when I was little, and I was psyched when another mom mentioned that she had been reading his books to her kindergartener. Some of our faves: James and the Giant Peach (way weirder than I remembered), the BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Along with the funny, silliness mood of several of these books is a darker core, that deals with issues including death of parents. Just an FYI, in case you have a sensitive child…
I picked up the first one of this series at the beginning of last summer’s vacation, and I wasn’t really sure if Elijah would like it. It turned out to be a hit and was a lifesaver when we ended up waiting an hour for our plane to take off en route to Chicago. This 5 volume series is definitely the darkest and scariest of the recommendations, but it’s fast moving and fun and has some realistic and relatable family dynamics. Twin brothers and their older sister move into a decrepit family home with their mother after a divorce. Trolls, goblins, fairies, etc become a part of life as the kids try to adapt to their new surroundings and fight their own inner demons. The series isn’t quite as dark as that last sentence makes it seem, but this was not a book series we shared with Remy. Elijah made it to the very end of the last book before getting too spooked out to continue (I finished it and then summarized it for him. It obviously didn’t traumatize him too much because he went as the “scary character” for Halloween-see below). The series is sparsely but beautifully illustrated with some intriguing and detailed images of the characters.
And here’s our little book lover a looong time ago:
What are your favorite books for the kindergarten crew?