, ,

A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade. You can and should be reading seventh-grade books to fifth-grade kids. They’ll get excited about the plot and this will be a motivation to keep reading. A fifth-grader can enjoy a more complicated plot than she can read herself, and reading aloud is really going to hook her, because when you get to chapter books, you’re getting into the real meat of print – there is really complicated, serious stuff going on that kids are ready to hear and understand, even if they can’t read at that level yet.  (source)

I’m pretty sure that most parents know why you should read with your kids, even once they are older (and heck, why we, as parents, should be reading too!).  Books change your brain.  And they change your life!  What we read matters, what we read to our kids matter.  It matters that we foster their critical thinking ability, their creativity, and their knowledge about themselves and the world around them.  It matters that we teach them to think about what they read and what that means in the context of their lives.  It matters that we expand their horizons and open their eyes, that we grow their hearts and set free their consciousness.  

So, we read together.  I stole this idea from another mom and blogger last year, and we are making a new list for the start of this year.

This Year’s Books:

The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien)–The Hubby will be out of town for work through at least September, so he’s been reading this one to the kids via Skype (we actually use Google video chat…but we still call it Skype, which makes me wonder if skyping is going to be the next band-aid or kleenex)

The Series of Unfortunate Events books 3-13 (Lemony Snicket)–Chickadee loves the movie, and we’ve read books 1 and 2.  The plan this year is to finish the series, or at least make a big fat dent in it.  10 books sounds like a lot to add, but really, they are super quick to read.

Meet Kirsten, Kirsten Learns a Lesson, Kirsten’s Surprise, Kirsten Saves the Day, Happy Birthday, Kirsten!, Changes for Kirsten (American Girl Books)–So, I have a love-hate relationship with these books.  I love the fact that they introduce different time periods through the lives of ordinary girls, for other little girls to identify with…I hate the fact that they portray the idea that they are historical but (if they do address them at all) they gloss over some very basic unpleasant realities of history (particularly for women and girls and minorities, and in relation to economics and politics and social expectations and every day life and…I could keep going).  With that being said, I had three of these books as a kid, when I was Chickadee’s age and I loved them, so its something for us to share (like reading the Little House books last year or reading the Anne books in a few years).  I consider this a teachable lesson–how do books about history “change” history as we understand it, and where should we look for more accurate information.  I also like it because Kirsten is an immigrant from the same area that The Hubby’s ancestors are from, immigrating to the same place that his ancestors ended up.  And the subject of immigration, and how our ancestors got here and what that means for us today in how we treat others that come to this country looking for a better life, is yet another, HUGE, teachable moment.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson–I’ve actually never read this, but The Hubby loved this as a kid.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg–This is probably one of the most fun ideas in a children’s book ever–who the heck wouldn’t want run away to live in a museum?

The Story of Dr. Dolittle and The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting–This is another series that I loved as a kid.  Amazon Kindle has the first two available for free (they are pre-1928, public domain books).  I think a lot of people don’t realize there are actually 12 books in the series, though the last 10 can be a bit harder to find.