Mothering Forums - Reply to Topic

Thread: Need Book series ideas Reply to Thread
Title:
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Trackback:
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:
 

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

  Topic Review (Newest First)
03-25-2014 06:29 PM
NiteNicole

Great, thanks!

03-25-2014 03:37 PM
beanma

If she likes HP she should try the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage. Magyck is the first one. They're big and fat (maybe leading to lots of AR points), but about on the level of the first HP book. Similar story, but set in a neverwhen time. Lots of humor and pretty fast paced.

 

I agree that the points thing is what would make my kids hate AR. My kids, especially dd1, are not very competitive and these sort of things backfire with them.

03-25-2014 01:35 PM
NiteNicole I think it was challenging because the Narnia books are (sorry, fans!) a little boring as compared to Harry Potter, esp if you've read HP first. I was in my 30s when I started reading the Harry Potter books and I enjoyed them very much so I decided to find other children's books I might enjoyed. The first thing everyone suggests is the Narnia series and I personally found them kind of dull. I guess when I say "challenge" I mean it's just a slower pace and the language is a little old fashioned. I'm hoping she'll have more patience for it when she gets older, but I've never managed to finish the first book. It just does not grab me in any way.

My husband is English and he's shared a lot of his childhood favorites with her. She still seems to prefer more modern books.
03-25-2014 10:49 AM
moominmamma

I'm surprised that some kids find Narnia a more daunting read than Harry Potter. I don't find a difference, and my 11yo has just finished re-reading both series back to back and to her they felt similar-to-identical in terms of reading level. It just goes to show you how subjective all this is. Perhaps the fact that we're Canadian, and that we've always read a lot of British literature, makes Narnia more accessible to us than it would be to typical American kids. I dunno. 

 

But in any case, aren't the points for AR related more to the length of the book than its level? AR sets a level for the first Harry Potter book at 5.5, and a level for the first Narnia book at 5.7. The Narnia book is much shorter in terms of page count and number of words, which I think is what accounts for the difference in AR points.

 

Miranda

03-25-2014 09:55 AM
NiteNicole We had the same experience. After watching the movies, she wanted to read the books. HP was a pretty easy read and is very accessible to second graders. The first Narnia book was such a challenge she gave up.
03-25-2014 06:26 AM
limabean
Quote:
It's actually HIGHER than some of the Game of Thrones books (although those are worth many, many more points than the Warriors books). I'd like to know a bit more about how these grade levels are calculated.

I wonder that too. The first Harry Potter book, for example, is worth 12 AR points, but the first book in the Narnia series, which was far more difficult for my DS, is only worth 6. Some of the scoring seems wonky.

And I can totally see how these programs could put some kids off of reading. That is a shame.
03-25-2014 05:42 AM
NiteNicole

I think a lot depends on how your school and your kid's teacher handles AR.    My daughter has had point and specific grade level goals (it was really hard finding mid 4th grade books interesting to a six/seven year old).  She might want to read Clementine and the Mouse and the Motorcycle like other kids in her class, but she has to read on a higher level or it brings her average down and as it's part of her reading grade, she can't drag her average down.  I've spoken to other parents whose kids never do AR out of class.  Their classroom has plenty of books on their level and their teachers don't set goals so aggressively high that they have to read as part of homework in addition to their reading time at school. 

 

Now when I was her age, I would've been tearing up the AR.  I loved to read and read EVERYTHING all the time and was proud of reading harder books  I would've been getting points for something I was already doing.

 

Quote:
I'm more concerned, though, about the effects on the intrinsic motivation to read, and on the attitude to the content of the books.

 

This is the issue.  My kid already has homework and she stresses over the homework.  It's not hard for her, but she wants everything to be perfect.  Making reading (which should be for pleasure at least SOME of the time) essentially under the heading of "homework" means she stresses about it.  It also limits what she is reading.  She'd rather be reading about snakes and history and weird facts and planets and there are far fewer of those types of books with AR scores, and very few at all easily available (small town, small library, school only goes through 3rd grade so not tons of 4th and 5th grade books on hand).  Also, she's currently reading the very first book in the Warriors series (something about cats, a friend recommended it).  It's somewhere in the mid 5th grade.  It's actually HIGHER than some of the Game of Thrones books (although those are worth many, many more points than the Warriors books). I'd like to know a bit more about how these grade levels are calculated. 

 

I have about two pages of book titles to take to the library, so thanks, OP, for starting this thread and thanks to everyone who took the time to list books! 

03-24-2014 08:05 PM
beanma

I'm with you, moominmamma. The idea of AR just doesn't sit well with me and knowing my kids it wouldn't sit well with them, either. Thankful we haven't had to deal with it.

 

Hope some of the book suggestions I made will work for folks. 

03-24-2014 09:42 AM
moominmamma I think that AR and similar programs likely don't unduly limit kids' reading choices. I'm more concerned, though, about the effects on the intrinsic motivation to read, and on the attitude to the content of the books. Alfie Kohn has a lot to say about this in "Punished by Rewards" but suffice it to say that studies consistently show that engagement in the material, the tendency to self-challenge and long term motivation to read are reduced when rewards like points and other forms of extrinsic recognition are used as tools. I'm very thankful that my kids have never been subjected to practices like AR.

Miranda
03-24-2014 08:56 AM
limabean Yeah, AR isn't my favorite thing either. I was just pointing out that it's not some restrictive, limited book list the kids have to choose from. They read what they want, and, over the course of the trimester, choose a handful of books on which to take a short comprehension quiz. For a kid who reads a lot, it really doesn't cramp their reading style, IMO.
03-23-2014 08:45 PM
beanma

My kids would not have been happy with AR at all, though. I can tell you that. They _really_ don't like to be told what books to read and hate competing that way. Dd2 almost quit BOB because of having to choose from a list, but persevered and ended up enjoying it somewhat (although after her team lost she did say emphatically that she was NOT doing that next year). I'm glad her school doesn't do AR. Seems counterproductive and unnecessary. My kids also never want to do the summer reading program at the town library to get points for prizes. They've started it a time or two, but quit midway through. It just sucks all the joy out of reading for them. 

 

ETA: I'm sorry, I just think AR sounds HORRIBLE!! I have a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it. Blech! They have to take tests on the books? Ugh, ugh, ugh. NiteNicole, my dds would be right there with yours on hating it. I'm sure they would do fine, but, geez, it sounds all backwards as far as getting kids to love reading. It becomes a chore, just like those darn reading logs. We had to do a few of those early on, but again, dropped them by the first couple of months of 2nd grade. To be clear, dd2 adores reading. She's got her nose in a book almost all the time and she writes all the time that she doesn't have her nose in a book. But that AR thing would so not be her thing at all.

03-23-2014 08:37 PM
limabean AR isn't really a limited list of books, it's just that kids can only take an AR test if there's a test for that book in the database. The database is quite large, IME -- I don't think my DS has ever had a book not have an associated AR test in the database (for fiction, anyway -- some nonfiction titles he's read haven't had a test). Here's the AR book finder if you'd like to check it out: http://www.arbookfind.com/UserType.aspx

The only restriction (and DS's teachers only started enforcing this in 4th grade) is that they need to be doing their AR tests on grade-level books, as long as they've shown themselves to be capable of reading at grade level.

This year (in 4th grade), students are required to have about 30 AR points per trimester, and each AR test has a possible point value of anywhere from about 7 to 15, depending on difficulty (I'm just estimating based on the recent tests I remember DS taking). So, IMO, that's not a ton to ask of the kids -- they need to take between 2 and 5 AR tests per trimester to earn the required points, leaving plenty of room for them to read whatever books they're interested in, without worrying about grade level.
03-23-2014 07:52 PM
beanma

We do BOB (Battle Of the Books), but only for a couple of months. We just had the big battle. Dd2's team didn't win, but oh well. They have a list of 16 books and have to read at least 5 and do at least 5 activities if they want to the be in the Final Battle [cue theatrical music...dun dun dun...]. Dd2 wasn't into all of the books (they have a wide variety), but read about 8 of them. Other than that, though, they aren't required to follow any list at all and BOB is completely optional for 4th & 5th grade only. My kids are not big competitors. I think my poor dd1 would have had a complete meltdown with an AR program like that. She dropped out of BOB when she was in 5th grade because it was too much pressure.

 

Check out the Theodosia series I mentioned upthread, too. It's fun with another strong, smart, resourceful girl main character, but not girly—a wee bit scary and pretty funny.

03-23-2014 07:37 PM
NiteNicole AR is Accelerated Reader. It's a program that's very popular in our area. The kids take quizzes to determine their reading range and then choose books to read independently. They take quizzes on the books for points. A goal is assigned by the teacher. Some kids love it and rise to the challenge. My kid hates it even though she does well.

Thanks for all of those recommendations. I'll add them to my library holds!

Please forgive typos. I can't find my glasses!
03-23-2014 07:19 PM
beanma

NiteNicole, what's AR? We don't use that acronym in our school.

 

For funny, scary and a bit gross you can keep going with the Roald Dahl—tons of material there. "Matilda" is a fave of ours. Also check out the Strega-Borgias in Debi Gliori's "Pure Dead Magic" series. They are hilarious when read aloud (lots of funny names), but could make good independent reading, too. There's Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events", "The Willoughbys" by Lois Lowry, maybe the "Spiderwick Chronicles". "The Sisters Grimm" by Michael Buckley could be a great series for her — lots of humor and action and some grossness, too. They're slim volumes so not too intimidating. My girls loved them at that age, but they're not "girly". They have tough, fighting sisters as the main characters and a boy as a sidekick.

 

ETA: I looked up AR — Accelerated Reading, right? And they make you choose from a list? That sounds kinda bogus. When my dd2 was in 2nd in public school they used the Fountas and Pinnell scale  (A=easiest, Z=hardest). Dd was pretty mad the teacher made her stay at levels like K, L, M for several weeks, but then the teacher kind of gave up. I think she realized that dd2 (along with probably about half the class) was way above that level. The other half of the class was probably struggling through the basic readers. Dd2 was reading Harry Potter. That would be very frustrating to have to read certain books. Second grade was the only time dd2 had to do that and only for the first 9 weeks or so. She's in 4th grade now and can read pretty much anything she wants to. She doesn't like the dystopian YA stuff that dd1 (7th grade) likes, but she would have no problem reading it if she wanted to. She still like "Ivy & Bean", too, because they're funny. She's all about funny. I'm really sorry you're having to slog through a required reading list for an 8 yr old. That sucks, but it is much easier to find, funny/scary/kindofgross than it is to find the higher level gentle readers. My dd1 needed the gentle books up until about 4th/5th grade. Dd2 doesn't mind a little scary/kindofgross/ if there's some funny in there too. 

03-23-2014 09:25 AM
NiteNicole

My daughter is also eight.  She's supposed to be reading upper 4th to mid-5th grade books for AR.  It has been a SLOG this year.  She just isn't interested.  The only book she's blasted through was The Witches by Roald Dahl and it's been hard to help her find anything similar - scary and funny and a bit gross.  She loves non-fiction but for AR, she needs more novels.  Her goal (points) keeps getting higher and she still wants to read little books she can finish quickly.  This isn't going to work.  And she has no interest in any of the books typically recommended for girls.  This summer, she can read whatever she wants and I'm hoping to help her read the kinds of books she'd find fun or interesting - books she doesn't have time for during the year because all her reading is focused on AR. 

 

So that's my recommendation - summer is almost here.  Let them cast around to find something they might like, or read books slightly less challenging and maybe by fall they'll be interested in more challenging books.

03-13-2014 12:03 PM
Aufilia

There's actually a reasonable amount of research showing that spending time engaged in material that's just slightly challenging (not too much of a stretch--just a little stretch) is optimal for learning--for improved reading skills or anything else.  It's too bad the teacher couldn't give you a better idea of your DD's current reading levels, though, because that would make it easier to find the right material.

 

I saw a lot of suggestions upthread about novels, but what about non-fiction selections?  It's easier to find higher-level non-fiction material with images.  My daughter enjoys these, for example:

 

Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty (grade 5ish level)

Oh Yikes! History's Grossest and Nastiest Moments 

National Geographic Mysteries of History (grade 6ish level)

 

If they have an interest in something in particular you can probably find books or magazines about it.  My daughter _loves_ cats and she loves to get a copy of Cat Fancy magazine or something similar. I have no idea what the reading level of Cat Fancy is but it's got to be above 3rd or 4th grade, anyhow.

03-08-2014 05:32 AM
Daffodil

What about the American Girl books?  Looks like most of them are about 4th grade level and they're nice and short with pictures.

03-07-2014 08:43 PM
beanma

Hrmmm, I have a gifted 4th grader (in reading, she does fine in math, but it's not her "thing"). I also have a 7th grader who loves stories although doesn't read as much as my 4th grader. We listen to a lot of audiobooks, too.  It sounds like they like classics, maybe fantasy, and not so much realistic fiction?

 

Do they like historical fiction? My 4th grader was into some of the "Dear America" series for awhile (prob 2nd & 3rd grade). Not sure on the illustrations with those. They are by several different authors, but your librarian should be able to point you in the right direction.

 
How many illustrations do we need? Is one at the start of a chapter enough?
 

For realistic, contemporary fiction, dd2 loved the Lauren Myracle series, "Ten", "Eleven", "Twelve", etc, about Winnie. She also loved the "Ivy & Bean" series and liked "Clementine", too. Dd2, my 4th grader, loves, loves, loves those funny books like Dear Dumb Diary and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc, etc, but she's a voracious reader and will go for all sorts of books. I second the suggestion of the Andrew Clements' books like "Frindle". They're just a jump above Ivy & Bean, but not very thick. Have you tried the "Penderwicks" by Jean Birdsall? That might be too much (300 pp?), but my dd2 loved it in 3rd grade. I'm not sure if it's got the required illustrations, but it's a lovely old-fashioned feeling contemporary book series about a dad and his 4 daughters. It's one of those where the mom has already died when the book starts so I don't know if that's too scary for them or not. (My dd1 was my extra sensitive one, and dd2 will read most anything, although not the Hunger Games.) If not this year, maybe next year. 

 

Ooo, speaking of old-fashioned, have you tried any Eleanor Estes books? "Pinky Pie" was our fave. Very gentle, but not slight. About a family in the 20s or 30s who go to Fire Island NY for the summer with their ornithologist dad and all the interesting things that happen. Very quaint and cozy, but fun. She has many others, but my kids really liked that one the best.

 

We loved listening to the "Theodosia" series by R.L. LaFevers. It's about a young girl who is an Egyptologist, daughter of two museum archaeologists in the early 1900s in England. There are some darker parts, but lots of funny stuff too. I think the dark is maybe on a Roald Dahl level, so some bad guys might get done in, but it's not very heavy. She has another series that might work, too, about a boy. Can't remember the name. It seemed a little young for us, but might work for you.

 

If they like fantasy have you done the "Fairy Realm" series? It might be a little lightweight, but I think it's weightier than Ivy & Bean, but nothing like Harry Potter — maybe 120pp?

03-07-2014 04:39 PM
limabean Some good ones have been mentioned. I also wanted to mention the Peter and the Starcatchers series (I think there are 3).
03-07-2014 04:29 PM
richella

I've been reading Phantom Tollbooth this week, and thought of you. 9 yo DD says she read it last year, but didn't know all the words, but that's kind of the point. Lots of pictures.

01-30-2014 05:54 PM
Dynomite&Destiny We just discovered Boxcar Children have been made into graphic novels. They had quite a collection at our library. Zita Space Girl and Amelia Rules are also graphic novels that get devoured at our house. They're admittedly probably a little on the lower end (DD hasn't been assessed, but we estimate she's around third grade level), but I know how difficult it is to keep those bookshelves stocked.
01-30-2014 07:32 AM
richella

I asked my advanced 9 yo and she suggested the Andrew Clements books. They're not series, but thematically similar. She can't get enough of them. School Story, Extra Credit, all the titles have school themes. She also suggested Nancy Drew.

01-29-2014 09:10 PM
domesticidyll

The Saturdays

All Of A Kind Family

Noel Streatfield

Arthur Ransome

Railway Children and other E Nesbit

Wolves of Willoughby Chase

 

Have to agree that pushing books for a report card box is not the way to go (homeschooler's perspective for what that's worth!). But maybe the teacher is noticing that the girls are ready for something more robust, if the right books were strewn in their path? If she is pushing bland series books with a higher Lexile, that's not a teaching recommendation I'd take seriously, but if she's encouraging them to try picking up something richer, that seems reasonable. 

01-29-2014 12:26 PM
CamMom Paddington.Bear? My DS also enjoyed Half Magic. The Penderwicks? Heidi?
01-29-2014 06:58 AM
Daffodil

If your kid was frightened by myths, she might not like the Underworlds series.  It's sort of Percy Jackson lite.  The Princess and the Goblin might also be too scary.  (It's a good book, though.  My DS enjoyed it as a read-aloud when he was about 6.)  The Golden Key is a shorter, less scary George MacDonald book that Scholastic Book Wizard says has a grade level equivalent of 5.9.  There's a version illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  Another one I thought of is George's Secret Key to the Universe (and sequels.)  Science fiction with lots of educational facts, grade level 5.5.  We've done these as read-alouds.  Not too scary, I think, though there is danger.  But my kids aren't easily scared, so I may not be a good judge.

01-29-2014 06:40 AM
KCMichigan
Quote:
Originally Posted by squimp View Post

My DD was very much like that. She loved Pippi and most Roald Dahl and loved Shel Silverstein. She read all of Beverly Cleary's books, starting with Ralph Mouse. She really liked the Dick King-Smith books at that age, they are animal stories with lots of illustrations, and he was prolific, so that kept her busy for a while. She also loved the Willoughbys and Clementine, and Ivy and Bean, they are girl friendship stories but low on drama.

 

 

They LOVE Dick-King Smith books. The *british* language is fun to play with in his "Lollipop the pig" stories. They have enjoyed those books for a long time and I think I found the suggestion here on Mothering!

 

We've done Clementine, Ivy &Bean. Neither liked Beverly Cleary so far- they have started a few, but did not continue.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by richella View Post
 

I'd second the Beverly Cleary, esp. the Ramona series.Not a lot of pictures, but some. Also Ivy and Bean, both my dds love those. (9 yo is kinda past, 6 yo is just starting to read them.)

9 yo read Magic Tree House all last year, can't remember if they had pictures, but I think they might have. Also Boxcar Children. We just started Prydain Chronicles, though they don't have pictures.

 

 

As before, they tried Ramona. Did Ivy & Bean and Magic Tree house long ago….though they have reread some of the newer MTH books and gotten new information out of them. The higher #s are 3-4th grade reading level vs the 1/2nd levels of the first 20 or so in the series.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
 

 

Those are great suggestions in terms of content and illustrations, but unfortunately they're pretty much all at a 2nd grade level, while the OPs girls are being asked to reach beyond their 3rd grade level for more challenging material that better matches their (>4th grade) reading level.

 

KCM, a few more books I thought of ... Edward Eager's "Half Magic" books (I think there are seven). They're sparsely illustrated with pen & ink, from the 1950s, very gentle but fun, reading level maybe 6th grade. And The Wind in the Willows is available in some lovely illustrated versions. It's content-appropriate for kids as young as 4 or 5, but the reading level is probably 7th grade. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, and their Norse Myths one, might be good. Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, George MacDonald's Princess and the Goblin series. And the Narnia Chronicles have been published by Harper Collins as a lovely single-volume colorized illustrated version. Out of print, but your library might have it.

 

Miranda

THANKS!! I forgot about 1/2 Magic! I loved those books a child and yes- they are gentle and fun read. 

 

Myths scared one of my DD- she read some of them and had nightmares of Medusa for weeks….not fun.

 

I will have to look up Princess & Goblin! 

 

Thank you! I forgot about some of those from my childhood!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
 

I also have an 8 year old who can read at a high level, but shies away from anything that looks too long and prefers books with lots of pictures.  Some things he's enjoyed: 

 

the How To Train Your Dragon series (5th grade level or higher)

the Horace Splattly series (4th grade level)

Tony Abbott's Underworlds series (4th grade level)

the Dragonling series (4th grade)

 

He also has enjoyed the Bone and Amulet graphic novels.

 

I will look into those, I am familiar with any of them but How to Train your Dragon- THANKS! They have done Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels and BabyMouse Graphic novels but they have not ventured into anything else.

 

 

 

It is so nice to get new ideas!!! Thanks everyone!

01-28-2014 11:09 PM
Daffodil

I also have an 8 year old who can read at a high level, but shies away from anything that looks too long and prefers books with lots of pictures.  Some things he's enjoyed: 

 

the How To Train Your Dragon series (5th grade level or higher)

the Horace Splattly series (4th grade level)

Tony Abbott's Underworlds series (4th grade level)

the Dragonling series (4th grade)

 

He also has enjoyed the Bone and Amulet graphic novels.

01-28-2014 10:57 PM
whatsnextmom

Thought of some others. How about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? It's a little dated (50's) but the short stories are humorous and illustrated and at a higher reading level like most of the children's books back then. Both my daughter an I loved the "Mother West Wind" series... all short stories about animals and a little illustration. 

01-28-2014 10:01 PM
moominmamma
Quote:
Originally Posted by richella View Post
 

Also Ivy and Bean, both my dds love those. (9 yo is kinda past, 6 yo is just starting to read them.)

9 yo read Magic Tree House all last year, can't remember if they had pictures, but I think they might have. Also Boxcar Children. 

 

Those are great suggestions in terms of content and illustrations, but unfortunately they're pretty much all at a 2nd grade level, while the OPs girls are being asked to reach beyond their 3rd grade level for more challenging material that better matches their (>4th grade) reading level.

 

KCM, a few more books I thought of ... Edward Eager's "Half Magic" books (I think there are seven). They're sparsely illustrated with pen & ink, from the 1950s, very gentle but fun, reading level maybe 6th grade. And The Wind in the Willows is available in some lovely illustrated versions. It's content-appropriate for kids as young as 4 or 5, but the reading level is probably 7th grade. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, and their Norse Myths one, might be good. Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, George MacDonald's Princess and the Goblin series. And the Narnia Chronicles have been published by Harper Collins as a lovely single-volume colorized illustrated version. Out of print, but your library might have it.

 

Miranda

This thread has more than 30 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off