First Grade Book Club

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Around this time last year I posted on Elijah’s favorite kindergarten reads. We’re long overdue for an update, so here’s a list of what we’ve been reading recently as well as Elijah’s own reviews.

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The World According to Humphrey

The first of this series was on a Barnes and Noble list of free book options if you handed in a form with a review of 10 books that your child had read over the summer. Anyways, there was a cute hamster on the cover, so that’s the book we picked. Elijah loved this series, and now has an obsession with hamsters and getting his own. Told from the point of view of a classroom hamster, the Humphrey books are charming while simultaneously handling more substantive issues. Humphrey observes family dynamics, peer relationships, and a variety of personalities in the classroom in a very approachable way to kids.

Elijah’s review: I think Humphrey is very helpful, and I think he is also very cute. I personally like all the names of the books, and I like the kids’ names, and also I just think the series is really cool.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and the other 6 books have literally dictated the course of Elijah’s year. He and some of his school buddies spent weeks and weeks folding origami, they played “origami yoda” during recess, started an origami club, etc. The series is actually about a group of middle-schoolers, but there are only a few instances (mostly dealing with language) that I felt were slightly inappropriate. Overall, we all really enjoyed the series and have read them in their entirety twice. The series is very creative; the storyline is told in “case files” as the kids, who are all underdogs/”nerds”/socially awkward to some extent, navigate middle school life: crushes, academics, Standards of Learning tests, standing up for what and who you believe in. One of the characters contributes illustrations to the case files, and some of them are laugh-out-loud funny. One of my favorite aspects of the series is that one of the main characters (the one who creates the first origami yoda and sets off the action of the story) is Dwight, a boy who is on the autism spectrum (although undiagnosed, just as author Tom Angelberger says he is). His character exhibits strange behaviors, says odd things, etc, yet he is so insightful and empathetic. The characters are well-developed, interesting, and we really enjoyed watching them grow. Plus, the books really motivated Elijah to try out origami.

Elijah’s review: I like the kids that have the origami puppets, and I personally like Origami Yoda and Dwight. I like Dwight because he is always getting into trouble, and he is really funny and he’s always folding things.

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 Ninja Meerkats

Not my favorite of Elijah’s book series, but I can only blame myself since I chose it (for Elijah’s love of karate/ninjas). The 8 books in the series follow a clan of (surprise) ninja-adept meerkats around the world as they attempt to stop the villain the Ringmaster. The books are pretty silly, but they move quickly and include some mediocre jokes and wordplay. We are on our third time going through the entire series (heaven help me).

Elijah’s review: I like the four ninjas a lot. I like when they go into battle with the Ringmaster. I think the Ringmaster’s clowns are really funny.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The size of this was slightly intimidating (500 plus pages), but it came highly recommended. Hugo is actually an incredibly fast read, both because the writer keeps the storyline moving at a good clip and also because numerous pages are illustrations. The illustrations aren’t designed, however, to complement the story; rather they move it along in a very appealing and visual way. I saw the movie several years ago, but I found the book even more touching.

Elijah’s review: I liked Hugo, and I like Georges Melies because, in the end, he became nice and rescued Hugo from being in prison for a while. I really liked the book because I liked the pictures, they were very beautiful. I also liked them because they were very old-fashioned and in black and white.

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Harry Potter

We started Harry Potter several months ago, and it was the classic case of too-much-parent-excitement build-up. Joe and I were basically begging him to let us read it to him. We dressed him as a golden snitch for his first Halloween, for crying out loud. He actually got super into it…until the end. We never finished the last few pages because Elijah was really disturbed by the fact that Harry had to stand up to Professor Quirrell/Voldemort by himself. He kept saying, “Maybe someone else, like one of his friends, could show up and be there with him. WHY isn’t anyone else with him?” (I’ll pass your notes along to Ms.Rowling, buddy). So we summarized what happened in the last two chapters, and he seemed satisfied, but book 2 is just chilling in his bookcase.

Elijah’s review: I like Harry a lot, and I was really surprised when I found out that he was really a wizard. I didn’t read the end.

Calvin and Hobbes

Joe literally owns every single Calvin and Hobbes book ever published. Elijah is sometimes reticent to read to us, and he will begrudgingly read the A-Z mystery books or other books he brings home in his backpack, but Joe and I do most of the reading for all of the above books (although Elijah liked to read a fair amount in the Origami Yoda Series). I recently decided to try having him read comics just to mix up the media a bit and offer another way of “looking” at reading. They are a fun way to get reading in, but they aren’t overwhelming (we often alternate reading frames or cells or whatever those things that divide up the comics are called). Some of the concepts are a little over Elijah’s head, but they are generally amusing to read, and they offer some challenging vocabulary words.

Elijah’s review: I like Calvin and Hobbes because Calvin is really funny, and Hobbes is always commenting about Calvin’s funny ideas.

Happy reading, y’all!

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