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#1 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My six year old (seven in Dec.) daughter loves animals and nature. Does anyone have good recommendations for non-fiction or fiction books that are at a fourth grade level (her current reading level)? Nothing with an abandonment theme, which leaves out a book like "Black Beauty." Basic science texts would be great.
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#2 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 12:03 PM
 
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DD has really enjoyed the Magic Kitten/Magic Puppy series, by Sue Bentley, though it's more like a 3rd grade level. Very benign and safe. Adele Geras has some nice books about cats--the Cats of Cuckoo Square and others. I think those are right about 4th grade. Ursula Leguin's Catwings series is wonderful and right about that level. There are various other puppy and pony paperback series out there--not great quality, but DD reads them.

ETA: another series DD really enjoyed lately is The Unicorn's Secret, by Kathleen Duey. I think these are listed as 2nd/3rd grade but my feeling was that they were actually harder than that, or maybe just of better literary quality than a lot of the stuff DD reads in that range. They felt more like "real books" from my admittedly brief browse.

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#3 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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Also, we have great luck with AR Bookfinder--you can enter a topic, reading level, and interest level.

http://www.arbookfind.com/

I find nonfiction hard to sort through. We would love the same recommendations for that, actually.

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#4 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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There are some animal books in the Let's Read and Find Out About Science series. Level 2 books might be a good match for her.

We really like DK books at our house, too.
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#5 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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I was going to recommend books from the Park Pals series, but then I remembered that there is an abandoned guinea pig in those stories.

I haven't read it since I was a little girl, but IIRC there is no abandonment in Misty of Chincotegue. I didn't read any of the sequels, so I have no idea about those.

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#6 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 04:05 PM
 
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It's been a long time since I read them, but as a child I liked the Thornton W. Burgess animal stories - The Adventures of Grandfather Frog etc. They were written almost 100 years ago, and I haven't read them as an adult, so I can't vouch for whether they would pass modern scrutiny.

The Freddy the Pig series by Walter Brooks is also from the middle of last century, so the stories are fairly gentle. I haven't read them all, so I'm not sure about abandonment themes.

Dick King-Smith has a lot of titles - he wrote Babe the Gallant Pig (aka The Sheep Pig) among many others.

Stuart Little? Margalo the bird leaves him and then he goes off on his own adventures to find her - is that abandonment?

At that age, my ds loved the Silverwing series by Ken Oppel, about bats. It wouldn't suit though, because the young protagonist in the first book is separated from his colony and left to migrate by himself.

You may have to screen any fiction yourself, since it's difficult to know what is too harsh for some sensitive children. What some would view as exciting solo adventures, others consider abandonment. A frank acknowledgement that farm animals get eaten (as in Charlotte's Web or Freddy the Pig) may be too blunt for some children too.
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#7 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 07:39 PM
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It's been a long time since I read them, but as a child I liked the Thornton W. Burgess animal stories - The Adventures of Grandfather Frog etc. They were written almost 100 years ago, and I haven't read them as an adult, so I can't vouch for whether they would pass modern scrutiny.
I was going to suggest The Burgess Book of Nature Lore, which I adored at that age... the title makes it sound like a non-fiction how-to book, but it's actually a story about, IIRC, two kids from the city visiting their cousin in the country and learning from him about the animals that live there. I learned all about shrews and snappers from that book...

 
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#8 of 21 Old 07-28-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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Definitely Thornton Burgess! He wrote a ton of animal stories.

How about Rascal by Sterling North? My ds enjoyed that in K.

Farley Mowat has several humorous books that have been popular at our house. Owls in the Family is one I can think of off the top of my head, but there are several others.

Mr. Popper's Penguins is a classic, of course!

I'm not sure if those are all 4th grade, but they're probably in the 4th-6th grade range, and my experience was that it didn't take much time to progress from 4th-grade level to well beyond it!
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#9 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 12:47 AM
 
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My DD is a science and animal lover who refuses most fiction. She is very sensitive and does not like to read anything about animals killing each other either. So, my recommendations are all fairly gentle non fiction.

James Herriot's Treasury for Children
Cows, Cats, and Kids: A Veterinarian's Family at Work

These are a great series in Animal Behavior:
http://www.kidscanpress.com/US/Anima...ion=5&series=2
Seymour Simon has a ton of science books, including many animal ones: http://www.seymoursimon.com/
DD has been really into birthing this past year and liked this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/184...ef=oss_product

Some fiction comments: Artie and Merlin is pretty gentle. Owlie is a fun graphic novel style. Catwings was a bit too sad for her. We are going to try Horse Diaries (there are several in the series) perhaps. I have one but I have to pre-read it first.

Hope that helps!
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#10 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 03:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all these great suggestions.

I took my daughter to a secondhand bookshop yesterday, and the owner pulled some animal books off the shelves for her. She chose the two that were strictly non-fiction and began reading them right away, so that tells me something. But some of these books look really good, and I'm looking the titles up on Amazon so I can check them out of the library when we get back home.
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#11 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 04:29 AM
 
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What about some other classic horse books, like Misty of Chincoteague? My mom gave my DS a set of 3 horse novels that he enjoyed.

For non-fiction, we have really liked the DK Eyewitness books:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=pd_lpo_k...BHB69NTX4BSN2G

There are tons of titles to suit all sorts of interests! My boys spend *lots* of time with these. There are also versions suitable for younger kids, which they get just as much enjoyment out of: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no....2845_1&fsc=-1

The DK First Dinosaur Encyclopedia is a current favorite for all 3 of my boys, who will sit and read it all together (8, 5.5, 2.5). It's definitely not "simple" despite being called "first!"

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#12 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 06:30 AM
 
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Check out Colin Dann's "The animals of Farthing wood" series. I do not recall an abandonment theme, but quite serious conflict.

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#13 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 07:07 AM
 
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If you are looking for non-fiction, both DK and Kingfisher have some great encylopedias and other non-fiction books that are written at a good reading level for kids, are well organized, and have good pictures. I would go to Amazon and search either Kingfisher or DK and then on the left, narrow it down to Books, Children's Books, Animals.

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#14 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 09:45 AM
 
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It's interesting to me how many people love DK. I don't like them--they are way too nonlinear and scattered for my tastes, and I find the text is often dull. DD has never been into them, either. Maybe it's a learning style/personality thing.

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#15 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by loraxc View Post
It's interesting to me how many people love DK. I don't like them--they are way too nonlinear and scattered for my tastes, and I find the text is often dull. DD has never been into them, either. Maybe it's a learning style/personality thing.
I definitely have that feeling about them and also some Usborne books. But, my kids love it. It's funny how we can all respond differently to the same thing!

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#16 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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I know exactly what you mean about them being way too nonlinear and scattered, too - I just miss diagrams, and technical drawings, and tables, and labels...and the text often does not give me enough material to explain stuff I do not happen to have a background in (though I'm getting quite good at engines these days). Even though they're horribly outdated and the facts are sometimes wrong, I often prefer looking at our old non-fiction books from the 70ties - they're plainer and simpler and thus often break things down better. And it is fun to find pages like "traffic of the future" - did you know that for 10 years now, we have been driving exclusively electric vehicles automatically steered by computers on electric highways, riding in cabin taxis built like cableways and trains that go underground and cover 400 miles in two hours? And that computers can only add and subtract?
I imagine that none of this applies to books about animals - not that much new development or info...

MeDH DS1 10/06 DD 08/10 DS2 10/12with SB and
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#17 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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Pony Pals by Bonnie Bryant. (Horse series.)
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#18 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 05:35 PM
 
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Along the lines of outdated books that we love, I and my DD both love the "Animals Do The Strangest Things" series. Probably more like 2nd grade level, but they are really fun books (although as my DD pointed out, "They shouldn't call all the animals 'he.'"). There are lots of them ("Reptiles Do The Strangest Things," etc.), though I think they are out of print. These were really some of my favorite books at about 6.

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#19 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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not really book but our library carries zoobooks (?) and ranger rick. They are monthly magazines geared for children that feature animals. My kids love it, not sure how much a subscription would be as the boys just read at the library but they are pretty educational, great photography and have suggestions on books to read about the featured animals.


http://www.zoobooks.com/

http://www.nwf.org/Kids/Ranger-Rick.aspx
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#20 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 10:09 PM
 
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Yea, I don't really think about DK books as something to sit down and read like some of the other non fiction series I mentioned. They are fascinating and interesting but of a different genre of reading I think. We much prefer Seymour Simon's books for reading material, but DK is fascinating and good brain and eye candy. And, we have a lot of DK because my sister works for their publishing house and gets us great discounts!

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#21 of 21 Old 07-29-2010, 10:16 PM
 
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I the Seymour Simon books!

HeatherB ~ mama to 3 wonderful boys:  reading.gif 03/02; modifiedartist.gif09/04; sleepytime.gif 09/07 - and Eliana, babygirl.gif 11/13/10!  
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