Annette emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d like to tackle a topic that’s actually very near and dear to my heart: finding books for young children who read voraciously and are able to read above their grade level. Because this is a topic I have some experience in, I thought I’d share my two cents’ worth. Every family is different, so what I feel is inappropriate for my own children might be okay to you, and what is okay to me might not work in your home, so take what you can use here and pass on the rest. 🙂
In general, what I find in many middle grade titles that I hope to avoid exposing my girls (ages almost 9 and 7) to just yet are middle school romantic entanglements. I try to keep up with newly published middle grade fiction, and I’ve noticed that most titles for the middle grade age range contain some romantic element. Steady Eddie and I aren’t ready to go there with our girls just yet. Other problematic issues (language, issues of puberty we’d prefer to discuss first, etc.) happen in these novels occasionally, too, but the romantic element is the one that I’ve noticed most of these modern novels have.
First, let’s back up: I’ve already shared some ideas for reading chapter books to young children, and many of these titles work just as well for independent reads for young children who are able to read beyond leveled readers, etc. What happens, though, when they progress beyond these, but they’re still too young to tackle the usual middle grade fare? My eldest daughter has read all the usual suspects: all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (over and over and over again), all of the Boxcar Children books that we can get our hands on, all of the My America books (she hasn’t read the Dear Americas yet because they really are for older readers, in my opinion), all of the American Girl books, etc. What has happened lately, then, is that she has become a reader of several specific genres of books: horse stories, mysteries, and fantasies.
Horse stories: So far, both my girls have mostly read Marguerite Henry‘s stories. They have also listened to Black Beauty, and Lulu may or may not have read it on her Nook.
- After reading all the Boxcar Children books, Lulu moved on to Nancy Drew and read all of those that didn’t scare her.
- Now she has moved on to the Hardy Boys mysteries and seems to enjoy them just as much.
- Both girls have enjoyed the Mysterious Benedict Society, too. Although these mysteries are different than the typical series mysteries they’ve read before, both girls have enjoyed them immensely.
- On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson and its sequels–really, for about a month, Lulu spent most of her free time reading and re-reading these. She loves them!
- Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms and Horten’s Illustrious Illusions by Lissa Evans
- All of the Edward Eager books
Lulu also has a Nook that she won last summer through a library summer reading program, and on it she has something like twenty-five classic novels. Most of them are ones that I wouldn’t mind her reading now, and in fact, she has voluntarily read Little Women on her Nook. I know she has dabbled in a few more novels on her e-reader, too. It helps that she really wants to use the Nook, but she’s limited now to just those two dozen or so titles. 😉
I’m really torn about how long I’ll be able to truly screen everything she reads. I honestly don’t think it’s possible; in fact, I don’t even really do that now. I do try to steer her toward good choices, but I do not read every single book she reads. I can’t. I hope that I can raise all of my children to be discerning readers with self-discipline. I know that the next several years will be years of transition in so many ways, and this area will probably be one of the biggest ones. I’ll pray for wisdom and make the best decisions I can.
Do you know of any books my little bookworms might like?
**I should also mention that both of my girls like to re-read many of the chapter books we’ve already read aloud.