I’m often asked how I figure out what sorts of books to read to my kids. In addition to using books to cover various subjects in our preschool, we like to read aloud for at least an hour a day. Since I’ve been reading to my kids all their lives, I have a pretty good feel for what sorts of books they will like, what sorts of books I can stand to read aloud, and what sorts of books are appropriate for their ages.
Often I start with a book we already have and like, and then search on Amazon for similar books, see what other customers who bought that book also bought, and so forth. That’s how I came up with our list of books about the Netherlands, for example.
Other times, I consult a “book about books” for suggestions. I’ve blogged before about books in this genre, including Honey for a Child’s Heart, The Read Aloud Handbook, Books for the Gifted Child, and Some of My Best Friends Are Books. I’ve read others too, but can’t think of them off the top of my head. At any rate, this sort of book can be helpful even if you disagree with some of the recommendations they contain.
Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Parents and Teachers has some great lists of books broken down by subject and grade. I found I disagreed with the grade breakdowns across the board (many of the books that this volume says are for kids in 2nd grade are in our preschool favorites – kids can understand more than they are given credit for) and some of the scope and sequence is not very ambitious or comprehensive. However, within the lists I did find a lot of books I hadn’t checked out before, and I think the recommendations for books about specific historical eras will be helpful.
I thought it was sort of funny that the book we’re currently reading aloud, Carlo Collodi’s original Pinocchio, is mentioned in Books to Build On as not recommended for first grade because it is “too long.” That’s funny because I would say the chapters are short and easy to understand, perfect for preschoolers! Hannah and Jack love the book and are always clamoring for one more chapter and telling me that they like the book more than the Disney movie. That’s not because my kids are so smart or anything, the book just really is a lot more entertaining than the movie adaptation. I think the idea that a 6 year old first grader couldn’t sit through an eight page long chapter about a wooden puppet having adventures is really really sad.
Onward. I did find some good book recommendations in this book and I would still recommend it as a resource even though I disagree with some of the grade sorting. I think it would be especially helpful for parents whose children are in school that might be following a scope and sequence similar to the one in this book. You could get a lot of great ideas for at home enrichment reading to supplement what your child is getting at school.
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