Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ordered chapter book list

                                     


Here is a book list I've been making for myself (that will keep growing as I read more).  These are not necessarily endorsements; some of these books are higher quality than others, or you might find one inappropriate for some reason.  This is just my list of approximate difficulty balanced with the "babyish" factor.  (If you want the rest of the explanation, it's below the list.)

(Titles with a purple font link back to my own reviews of those books.  Titles highlighted in green are books that, I think, are more likely to appeal to boys than girls; titles highlighted in pink are more likely to appeal to girls.) 

Frog and Toad series and other Arnold Lobel books
Fancy Nancy series
Gus and Grandpa series
Mercy Watson series 
Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut series
Amelia Bedelia books 
A Light in the Attic
Jack Prelutsky books
Flat Stanley series
The Littles series
Sam the Minuteman
Betsy-Tacy
A to Z Mysteries series
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain 
My Father's Dragon series
Cam Jansen series 
The Great Cake Mystery:  Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case  
The Imagination Station series 
Magic Tree House series 
Lafcadio:  The Lion Who Shot Back
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Babe, the Gallant Pig
The Akimbo series (by Alexander McCall Smith)
Phoebe the Spy
The Chocolate Touch
Encyclopedia Brown series
The Boxcar Children series
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown 
Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang
Sideways Stories from Wayside School series (including Sideways Arithmetic books)
The One and Only Ivan
The BFG
Charlotte’s Web
Winnie the Pooh (both books)
Mary Poppins
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Stuart Little
The Mouse and the Motorcycle series 
Socks (by Beverly Cleary) 
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Eric Liddell:  Something Greater Than Gold
The Tale of Despereaux
Hank the Cowdog series 
Henry Huggins
Henry and Ribsy
Caddie Woodlawn
James and the Giant Peach
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Toothpaste Millionaire
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles 
The Wish Giver (by Bill Brittain)
The Borrowers
Pippi Longstocking
How God Stopped the Pirates
Doctor Dolittle series
The Cricket in Times Square
The Great Brain series
A Dog's Life:  The Autobiography of a Stray
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (by Howard Pyle)
Homer Price 
The Wind in the Willows
Little House on the Prairie series
Narnia series
Maniac Magee
The Candymakers
Ella Enchanted 
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Leepike Ridge
Because of Winn-Dixie 
Frindle
George Washington's Socks
The Ocean of Truth: The Story of Isaac Newton
Lawn Boy series (by Paulsen) 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Westing Game
The Penderwicks
Annie Henry series 
Ronia, the Robber's Daughter
Will Northaway series 
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Tuck Everlasting
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
The Phantom Tollbooth
Alice in Wonderland
Peter Pan
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Sign of the Beaver
The Railway Children
Viking Quest series
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Johnny Tremain
Little Women
Anne of Green Gables series
The Hobbit
The Hiding Place
Gladys Aylward:  The Adventure of a Lifetime 



Great resources exist to help parents find books better than Goosebumps for their kids, resources like Orange Marmalade and Honey for a Child's Heart and Calvary Classical School and The Best Children's Books and Ambleside.  We all have different taste in books, but those are great places to start.

Sometimes the suggested age ranges trip me up a little, though.  When it comes to a book I'm unfamiliar with, I wonder:
   is that book listed at that age because of its academic complexity?
   or because of tricky subject matter (such as Charlotte's death in Charlotte's Web?)
   is it because it seems a bit babyish?
   or just because of its length?

I don't think I could make age recommendations for myself, either.  If I did, later I would wonder:  Did I read it aloud to Michael at seven or did he read it independently at seven?  Even if we read it together, could he have read it alone?  Now I don't know whether to read it to Jake before or after these other two books.


When I've chosen books for Michael and me to read aloud, I've ended up reading some a bit out of order.  Michael and I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory months before we read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz because I assumed that made the most sense; but it didn't, really.  I'd like to remember that for when I pull out those books for Jake and Olivia in the future.


So I have begun keeping a very unscientific list for myself of what-book-should-come-next.  I'll keep updating the list as I read more books.  And this continuum is just my very subjective gut feeling of which book is trickier as far as vocabulary, syntax, and academic concepts go (including how unfamiliar the setting is), as well as I can remember and judge for each book.  (There are all kinds of formal methods out there that establish a "grade level" for different kinds of texts depending on a lot of factors, but those usually don't take into account how unfamiliar the setting is, which is important to me.)

Additionally, I'm considering "the babyish factor."  Basically, I'm trying to balance how much it could make their brains hurt if read too early, and how offended they'd be if read too late.  :)  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz rank pretty similarly as far as complexity of language, but somehow the world created in Oz feels younger than that of the chocolate factory, witches factored in and all.  It feels more like a little kid book.  

And where would you rank a technically difficult book about a young boys' collection of stuffed animals (a la Winnie-the-Pooh?).   Tricky!

I'm sure I'll adjust this list as I reread things.   

Anyway, what I'm not factoring in (consciously, at least) are "tough topics," like abusive family members or the death of a main character.  You'll have to pre-read books and judge for yourself.  I'm just thinking more of:  does this include talking stuffed animals?  protagonists that are eleven-years-old or seven-years-old?  etc.  And I'm not necessarily endorsing each book, either.  Peter Pan is on here, listed where I think it falls, but I'm not sure when I'll hand that one over to my kids.  It might be a very, very long time.  There are some things I really like about that book and some things I really dislike about that book.

AND--I put books that are particularly geared toward girls in red and books that are particularly geared toward boys in blue.  If they're neutral or only sort of swing one direction, I left them in a black font.  Of course any kid could read any of the books.

So, with all of those qualifications, that's my ordered reading list of chapter and poetry books!



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