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#1 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can we start a list of the classic children's books that are good options for kiddos who are reading at a K-2 level?

Our son (he'll be five in February) blew me away last night by struggling his way through most of a picture book version of the movie Toy Story. This afternoon, he struggled his way through most of "Where the Wild Things Are"--it is too hard for him, but he did really well with one of the Harry the dog books. (He has been showing signs of reading readiness for years, but refused to read to us until very recently--so busting out with most of a Maurice Sendak book was rather shocking, 0 to 60 in 1.5 seconds.)

I can't remember all of the sweet stories like that one. I know there are tons. We have a couple of Frog and Toad books, and a couple of Little Bear books, and Danny and the Dinosaur, a bunch of the Dr. Seuss ones, and Harold and the Purple Crayon. We also have a handful of the "Step into Reading" type books, but I really hate them, and don't want to buy a bunch of those to litter up our house.

Little Bear

Frog and Toad

Danny and the Dinosaur

Harold and the Purple Crayon


Harry the Dog

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#2 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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We also like Read with Dick and Jane, Amelia Bedelia, and Margaret Hillert books.


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#3 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here's an added wrinkle--our son is mixed race (black and white), Jewish, and has two moms.

 

We really don't want a stack of books (like Dick and Jane--not to pick on Dick and Jane) that are all heteronormative, white, middle class families.

 

Little Bear and Frog and Toad and some of the Dr. Seuss books are appealing because they are animals--even though when parents are mentioned it is a mom and a dad. Harold is appealing, even though he is white, because there are no parents --the rest of the family is missing.

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#4 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 07:34 PM
 
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My son liked the 'Little Critter' books esp 'When I get bigger' Gosh we read that book a bazillion times when he was little.

He also liked the 'I Spy' books.  Those are great for reading and finding, building memory skills, etc

Also the Eric Carle books were a hit when he was beginning to read.


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#5 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 07:41 PM
 
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We owned almost nothing in this difficulty range because my kids blasted through the beginning reader stage in the space of a couple of weeks to a couple of months. You may find the same: reading level increasing every couple of days, no way to keep up with the need for material and challenge. I would suggest just using your library. So many of these easy books are of negligible literary value and aren't worth purchasing. Kids typically fly through a lot of them: they take 5 to 30 minutes to read, and they're thrilled with their new reading ability, so they are keen to read lots. The library is the perfect place to fill this need.

 

Arnold Lobel's (Frog and Toad, etc.) early readers are I think the only early reader books we own. 

 

At a slightly higher reading level I would recommend Cynthia Rylant's "Lighthouse Family" books, Ursula LeGuin's "Catwings" books and Jackie French Koller's "Dragonling" stories. These would be late 2nd to 4th grade reading level, with appeal for younger kids. The first two are about love and acceptancde between animals, the latter about a fantasy world and a boy who challenges societal norms and village political institutions in the hope of building understanding between people and dragons.

 

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#6 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I went through his shelves this evening, and pulled all the books at the same approximate reading level out and put them in a basket. We told him that we will continue to read anything on the shelves to him, but that if he wants to read the books in the basket (which include some of his favorite titles) he has to read them to us. I was actually amazed at how many books in our collection fit that range--probably 50 or so--and all but a small handful are "real" literature, not the schlocky "Step Into Reading" stuff littered with Disney characters. The small handful are the schlocky stuff, but he really does love it, so we won't trash it. Yet.

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#7 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 08:03 PM
 
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Here are a few ideas -- some are 'easy' reader and others picture books, but all are good lasting kids books! My girls return to these time after time....

 

I spy books---both easy readers and classics

 

Curious George  (caucasian man and monkey)

 

Biscuit ( Caucasian girl and dog)

 

Henry & Mudge (boy & dog) & related series  Annie and Snowball (single dad and girl)

 

Pat Hutchins - author- (Rosies Walk, Ten Apples, etc) good author, fun pics, books are not related- mostly animals

 

Little Bill books (based on young bill cosby) good books!

 

Bereinstein Bears (mom/dad family- but bears)

 

Minnie and Moo-- cows, series of easy readers

 

anything by Ezra Keats -author- (good simple books that follow a young african american boy's life)

 

Corderouy series-- collection of 3 or 4 books about a young girl and her teddy bear (a mom is in some stories)

 

Barbar books (elephant series)

 

Llama, llama series (a young llama and his mom are featured doing everyday things)

 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and the rest of the books by Bill Martin

 

Carl the dog series

 

anything by Richard Scarry (features animals)

 

How do Dinosaurs.....series by Jane  Yolen

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#8 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

if he wants to read the books in the basket (which include some of his favorite titles) he has to read them to us. 


Assuming what's on the shelves is at a higher reading level than what's in the basket, you may have inadvertently created a powerful disincentive for him to progress in his reading. You've told him that you will no longer read to him the books that he is capable of reading himself. It would be quite understandable for him to extrapolate and worry that once he can read fluently you won't be willing to read to him at all, from anything. I've heard of this fear developing in many children. Just a cautionary note.

 

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#9 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That was certainly his belief for the past couple of years--but, we have added chapter books to his shelves, and his bedtime story will never be "you read to us" time--so right now, the time he reads to us is "extra" reading time because it has not supplanted the other times in the day when we read to him.

 

There are also some books on the shelves that are "too easy" for him--if he chose one of his board books from toddlerhood, I would be happy to read it to him.

 

thank you for the reminder, though. Right now, that dynamic doesn't exist--the books in the basket were placed there more to give him easy access to books he *can* read, instead of choosing things that are way over his reading level, which is what normally happens. He thinks he can't read because he can't read the words of the books we read to him--ignoring the fact that there are 50 or so books that he can, in fact, read.

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#10 of 32 Old 11-21-2010, 08:31 PM
 
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Fun!  We are white & hetero, but lack of diversity bugs the heck out of me too, fwiw. 

 

I love Commander Toad in Space, but DD never got too into it.  Jane Yolen, the author of that series, has written a ton of other great books, including the "How Do Dinosaurs" series, which has racial diversity at least. 

 

We love the Dragon books by Dav Pilkey. 

 

Tomie dePaola has written some excellent books, including the Bill & Pete series, which stars a young alligator & his toothbrush from a hetero family (but the family scenes are limited, and the father is missing & presumed dead most of the time).  His works tend to feature Italian families (for obvious reasons) but he's got some diversity.  The Walking Coat is a good one. 

 

Let's see...Steven Kellogg has some good books (A Beasty Story is a recent favorite of ours).  Bernard Most (e.g., The Cow That Went Oink) is a recent discovery, and he has a lot of animal books. 

 

DD loves Berenstain Bears & Amanda Pig, but they are gender-role heavy.  She loves Fly Guy (and anything by Tedd Arnold), but I don't think they are very diverse. 

 

There are tons of easy reader non-fiction books.  We found lots in the K-2 range at our library. 

 

All in all, I agree with Miranda that you're better off getting these sorts of books from the library than buying them.  We absolutely could not have afforded to keep up with DD's habit when she was at that level without the library (and still can't, actually). 

 

Oh, and may I also suggest that your new rule (refusing to read a book to him if it seems like he could read it himself) may backfire.  It didn't happen with DD (probably because we didn't have that rule), but some kids end up pretending that they can't read (or can't read as well as they can) for fear that their parents will stop reading to them, and that's no good. 

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#11 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate the warning, but we're hardly strict or unwavering in this house.

 

We told him, "this is the box of books you are able to read, so when you want to read, pick one from there. When you want us to read to you, pick one from the shelves." It's not like we sat him down and said, "Welp. It's the end of the line for you. Once all your books are in the box, it's curtains on mommy and mama reading to you. Enjoy it while it lasts, bucko."

 

It's like when I was teaching, and I had the books labeled and grouped by reading level, and told kids, "Go find a book with a purple, green or blue sticker because those are at your level." If a kid was begging to read a book that was "too hard" we still found a way to help them with that--but for their independent reading, they picked one they could read independently.

 

I'm such a bookworm that I can't imagine ever stopping reading to and with him.

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#12 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 07:35 AM
 
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There were a few old threads in Multicultural Families about picture books for children that reflect diverse families. You may want to try a search for titles there. 

 

They won't fit your search for diversity, but we had a bunch of old Ladybird readers from the UK when my kids were small. They were charming little illustrated stories about children finding wizards and monsters in their neighbourhood.  On one page, an adult read more complicated text and on the facing page, a child could read a shorter sentence with simple words that summarized that moment in the story. They were great for reading together and not as deadly dull as most early readers. I know Ladybird is still publishing, but I don't know if that specific series is still around.

 

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#13 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 07:42 AM
 
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Ezra Jack Keats' books are full of diverse characters. I love the artwork and the stories, too.

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#14 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 07:48 AM
 
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How about the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems? 


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#15 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ezra Jack Keats is still a little advanced for him to read independently--we read EJK all the time and LOVE him!

 

Somebody else suggested Elephant and Piggie to me--I'll have to check Mo Willems out. We still have a couple of nights of Hannukah to shop for.

 

having taught middle school aged struggling readers in a past life, my knowledge of "easy readers" is totally different--high maturity/low level, as opposed to finding stuff that is appropriate for younger readers.

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#16 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 08:09 AM
 
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Oh, Mouse & Mole is good too.  And the Mole Sisters, while I'm thinking of moles. 

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#17 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 10:49 AM
 
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Here is my list. Frog and Toad are classics and so are Lobel's other books, but I agree that now is the time to use your library.

 

The Fire Cat—Esther Averill

Go, Dog, Go!—P.D. Eastman

The Best Nest—P.D. Eastman

Are You My Mother?—P.D. Eastman

Frog and Toad series, Owl at Home, Mouse Soup—Arnold Lobel

Yoko's World of Kindness—Rosemary Wells

Young Cam Jansen series—David A. Adler

Nate the Great series—Marjorie Sharmat

Oliver Pig series—Jean Van Leeuwen

Little Bear series—Else Holmelund Minarik

Henry and Mudge series, Mr. Putter and Tabby series, Poppleton series—Cynthia Rylant

Fox in Love series—James Marshall

The Frances series—Russell Hoban

Rotten Ralph series—Jack Gantos

Harry the Dirty Dog series—Gene Zion

Moon Boy—Barbara Brenner

Ant Plays Bear—Betsy Byars

Iris and Walter series--Elissa Haden Guest

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series—Erica Silverman

Commander Toad in Space series-- Jane Yolen

Animals Do the Most Amazing Things series


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#18 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 11:04 AM
 
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Oh, and of course Seuss has some great easy readers--Cat in the Hat (this was the first book DD read to me), Cat in the Hat Comes Back, some others. Not all of them, obviously, are easy readers.


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#19 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 11:11 AM
 
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First of all, with just the title of your post, I thought of Nate the Great, one of my son's favorite series.

And, related to that, we read the Christmas-y Nate the Great story last (I never picked it up from the library before that because we're Jewish and I didn't see the need for yet another Christmas book) - and we see in that story that Nate is Jewish!  At the end after he solves his Christmas-related mystery, he goes home to his house with a lighted menorah in the window. 

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#20 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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Gilberto and the Wind is a sweet book, and the main character is brown.


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#21 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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I know you have a teaching background, but I would really hesitated before jumping into the "books at your level" thing at home.  Some of my daughter's greatest growth in reading was from reading books a bit beyond her comfort level.  Certainly you want him to read for meaning and comprehension a lot of the time, but frankly that focus all of the time kills the fun of reading at home.


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#22 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

Here's an added wrinkle--our son is mixed race (black and white), Jewish, and has two moms.

 

We really don't want a stack of books (like Dick and Jane--not to pick on Dick and Jane) that are all heteronormative, white, middle class families.

 

Little Bear and Frog and Toad and some of the Dr. Seuss books are appealing because they are animals--even though when parents are mentioned it is a mom and a dad. Harold is appealing, even though he is white, because there are no parents --the rest of the family is missing.


I'm sorry that you didn't like my suggestions.  I thought we were compiling a general list, I didn't realize it was a list specifically tailored to your family's needs.  :(


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#23 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't mean it personally--just adding an additional, previously unstated, need. We've been able to develop a library of books up until now that are very diverse, and the books I have found so far written at this early reading level are remarkably heterogeneous. Just because Dick and Jane aren't up my alley doesn't mean they shouldn't be on this list. Knowing my son, he'd probably pick them up and love them, just as he did with this book from my mother-in-law where the father tucks the kids into bed and prays with them--not our cup of tea AT ALL, but DS loved it for a few weeks. i was glad when he lost interest and we could hide it in the closet so we don't have to read it again.

 

We just want to make sure our family is reflected in some of the literature our son reads, and many books out there are tremendously not reflective of us.

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#24 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 06:24 PM
 
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How about:

 

And Tango Makes three ( penguins)

 

THe Family book - Todd PArr (all good books!!)

 

Mommy , mama, and Me (two moms)- leslea Newman

 

All kinds of Families- Hoberman 

 

We're different, We're the same (sesame street)-- good easy reader!!

 

Shades of People- Sheila Rotner

 

Some of these may be 'harder' to read than others, but there is sometimes a fine line between picture books and easy readers, some board books that you may have used when he was younger may also be good 'starting' books!

 

I saw a shelf of easy reader books about Hanukah at Borders! (levels 1-3) that also may be just right for this year!

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#25 of 32 Old 11-22-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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Such a great list so far!

 

I would add The High Rise Private Eyes (series), also by Cynthia Rylant and Houndley and Catina (series) by James Howes.

 

And I would like to join the group of moms who strongly caution you with regard to labeling which books are for him to read to himself. I, too, am a teacher, and I can tell you that so much can work like it does in the classroom, but you are so much more than that to your child and even I have been surprised by the effect some small thing I have done has had on one or both of my children. I think it's fine to give books you think he can read himself a special place that's more accessible to him. Bells rang in my head at the idea of you telling him he had to read them himself, though. Learning is not linear. Kids go through periods of blazing independence and growth and also periods where they want to cycle back. My oldest reads at a very high reading level, but still enjoys when I read books way below her reading level to her. My youngest can read very well, too, but still wants easy books read to her at times, too. Your son will grow and love to read. It's hard to pass this along gently, but please take note that many of us here had our ears prick up at that.

 

I agree that the library is great at this level. We had problems with many of the classics because they are antithetical to our life philosophy. I urge you to check out many of the series listed above. My children have read so many of those series over and over and over and we do not own them. We just keep checking them out from the library. You are absolutely right that diversity is sadly lacking in early readers. Some of them do have great values and fun stories, though.

 

Minnie and Moo (series) - those books are hysterical! All animals - the main characters are two best-friend cows; they do sometimes seem like a couple to me.

Poppleton (series) - all animals, all single - lots of good friendships there

Mr Putter and Tabby (series) - so much good stuff about friendship - old lady with dog lives next to old man with cat (they're white, but they are good stories and easy reads)

High Rise Private Eyes (series) - all animals, good stuff, funny

Iris and Walter (series) - again the main characters are white, but the friendship stories are great, the teacher they love best is African American, their friends are somewhat diverse

Henry & Mudge/Annie & Snowball (series) - main characters are white, but Annie just has a dad; my girls prefer books about girls, but just adore Henry

Houndley and Catina (series) - cat and dog best friends, with other animal friends, who have lots of innocent misunderstandings and then solve them

 

Just some thoughts for you. The above list I wouldn't mind owning; my kids have read them so much! The Thanksgiving Minnie & Moo is particularly hysterical.

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#26 of 32 Old 11-23-2010, 05:03 AM
 
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For more older classics:

 

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel - Virginia Lee Burton

The Little Engine That Could - Walter Piper

Make Way for Ducklings - Robert McClowsky

Corduroy - Don Freeman

The Snowy Day - Ezra Jack Keats

The Story of Ferdinand - Munro Leaf

The Carrot Seed - Ruth Krauss

The Story about Ping - Marjorie Flack

Blueberries for Sal - Robert McClowsky

 

My disclaimer is that they're not necessarily my favorite books.

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#27 of 32 Old 11-23-2010, 05:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by expecting-joy View Post I think it's fine to give books you think he can read himself a special place that's more accessible to him. Bells rang in my head at the idea of you telling him he had to read them himself, though. Learning is not linear. Kids go through periods of blazing independence and growth and also periods where they want to cycle back.


I hear you all--and apparently, my original post was not clear, because it really is not an unhealthy, threatening or Draconian dynamic in our house. there have been a variety of concerns raised:

 

1. that we have set him up to believe that as he hits the milestone of reading, we will stop reading to him--which will undermine his willingness to read to himself.

2. that we are thwarting his reading ability by not providing him with enough of a challenge because he doesn't have access to challenging books.

3. that we will harm his psychological stability by not allowing him to move back toward us when he needs reassurance and respite.

 

None of you know me, so my statements of reassurance that none of those things are happening sound like hollow defensiveness. But, I know the dynamic in our house, and I am confident that none of those things are happening. He needed some reassurance that the books we set aside were ones he was capable of reading by himself--he picks up my books, and tries to read them and get frustrated that he is not capable of reading them. He also needed some reassurance that the books we set aside are things he can explore privately, and know that they are "his" to conquer, and that we won't step in with them until he asks us to. Saying, "We won't read these books to you" is not a threat, but rather a reassurance that he has the time and space to push himself with them, and that he won't be pushed by us about them.

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#28 of 32 Old 11-23-2010, 08:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

if he wants to read the books in the basket (which include some of his favorite titles) he has to read them to us.


Well, this really did sound much more draconian than what you're now saying. It didn't sound like you were "giving him privacy and ownership to explore on his own unless he asked for help": it sounded like you were laying out rules that you would not read to him from books of a certain level of difficulty, that instead he had to read them to you.

 

I personally have found no need for a "levelled reader" approach to books when my kids were learning to read. They bounced around a lot, choosing material from a huge range of levels, according to their interests, inclinations, desire for challenge, need for comfort, etc.. And they progressed very quickly. When my eldest was by all accounts at a 1st/2nd grade reading level she disappeared into her bedroom with a stack of National Geographics and spent hours a day looking over them. She loved the pictures and the maps. And when she emerged a couple of weeks later having looked through the entire stack she was reading at a high school level. Six months later I recall her going through an obsession with picture books, having me read her favourites aloud to her over and over, wanting no part of chapter books. Level schmevel. Kids find what they need when given freedom to choose.

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#29 of 32 Old 11-23-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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I want to put in another vote for Mo Willems' "Elephant and Piggie" series. The vocabulary is simple enough to be read easily by young kids, but the facial expressions on the characters are gloriously expressive!  I like some of the themes of the books, like caring for friends, helping people, and playing with differently-abled friends (one book is about playing ball with a snake).  My kid can "read" chapter books -- he decodes them, anyway -- but he loves going back to these books.

 

I'd also recommend some of the other books and series listed in this thread already, especially Corduroy, Frog & Toad, Henry & Mudge, Little Bear, the Todd Parr books, Robert McCloskey's books.  Sadly, most don't show explicitly non-traditional family structures.  My criteria for kid lit that we own (as opposed to check out from the library) have been "classicness" and literary quality, art quality, exclusion of violence or punishment, and modeling positive social interaction.

 


Mom to DS 5, my sweet wordy-bird! reading.gif

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#30 of 32 Old 11-24-2010, 05:00 PM
 
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I wanted to second the suggestion of the Houndsley and Catina series.  The author James Howe is an openly gay author and I like that the characters aren't pigeon-holed in typical gender roles.  The main characters are a cat and dog who are best friends.  Also, the illustrations are lovely, with great attention to detail, unlike most "early readers."


Courtney, Mama to Elliot (7) and Lucie (3)
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