Growing a Reader from Kindergarten to Middle School
By Michall Jeffers
Children learn to read at different speeds. Some five year-olds may enjoy picture books; others are ready for books with fewer pictures and more text. Once a child moves into first, second, or third grade, simple chapter books are a good choice. And there are many young children who raced through the Harry Potter books, increasing reading speed and vocabulary.
Read together to share the experience. A large part of reading is the conversation that happens after the story. Consider starting a parent-child book club or continue with bedtime reading by alternating readers as your child’s reading fluency grows. Let your child show you the way, but don’t be afraid to introduce more challenging books. You can still enjoy those favorite picture books, but the following will take your child to the next level. Once you’ve gone through this list, let your child choose. You’re in this together!
The Care and Feeding of You (revised): The Body Book for Younger Girls
Written by Valorie Schaefer with illustrations by Josee Masse
American Girl, revised edition, February 2013
With many girls showing signs of puberty at early ages, parents welcome this book. Your daughter will find this book reassuring, while the photos and descriptions explain what she’s experiencing.
Middle School: My Brother Is a Big Fat Liar
By James Patterson
Little, Brown, & Co., March 2013
Bestselling author James Patterson shows his versatility with this engaging story of middle school angst seen from the view point of Georgia Khatchadorian, who is determined to succeed where her troublemaking brother didn’t. Younger children, dreading that middle school gauntlet, will find this tale uplifting and empowering.
Theodore Boone: The Accused
By John Grisham
Puffin, April, 2013
There’s a reason authors like Patterson and John Grisham are writing for the Young Adult audience: it’s huge and young readers turn into adult fans. Grisham displays his ability to create interesting characters and spin a plot. This book is the third in the series (you may want to read the other two first) and finds Theo accused of stealing in school. Theo is smart, resourceful, and someone kids will identify with.
By Paul Gallico
New York Review Children’s Collection, April, 2013
Peter is a lonely, sheltered boy in London. Trying to save a stray cat from on oncoming car, Peter is struck himself. Waking up, he finds he has turned into a cat and that stray animals and lonely boys have a lot in common. A beautifully wrought tale of companionship that will captivate young and old, even those who don’t like cats.
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
By Trenton Lee Stewart
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013
Nicholas Benedict is only nine but has a boatload of problems. He’s an orphan with a big nose, and has narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes him to fall asleep at the worst possible times. He’s about to enter a new orphanage filled with bullies, but he has one thing going for him: he’s a genius. Kids will root for Nicholas.
My Summer of Pink and Green
By Lisa Greenwald
Amulet Books, March, 2013
Lucy is trying to save her family’s pharmacy and wins a grant that will help her do just that. Complications ensue, however, when her sister brings home a new boyfriend, and the spa’s investor arrives with his annoying daughter. Lucy has her work cut out for her, but the summer just might be a success after all.
Where On Earth
Kids are full of questions. That’s a good thing. And Where on Earth is filled with answers sure to satisfy that inquiring mind. Topics include current issues like global warming to ancient mysteries like the Seven Wonders of the World. A great starting point for more research or perhaps a future career.
Michall Jeffers writes for Woman Around Town, an online site for women in Washington, D.C. And New York. She is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle.