Teach Me to Read
"There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all." –Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
We had a family movie night a few days ago at our house. As I’m sure many of you have experienced, it can be hard to find a movie that an almost three year old will enjoy that doesn’t make his parents’ brain bleed from boredom and nonsense. I was happy to see that out of the options we offered from Netflix, he chose The Boxcar Children which happened to be based on my favorite childhood book.
As an English teacher many people don’t believe me when I say I was a reluctant and poor reader at first. I struggled in the early grades because reading was not easy for me. Everything changed when I picked up the first book in The Boxcar Children series. This book caused me to fall in love with reading. I devoured it and as much of the series as I could get my hands on. My mother had to keep a list in her purse when she went to buy me more books so that she could keep track of what I didn’t have.
I should point out that this book wasn’t officially on my grade level though the story was of high interest. The sequels to the book were also in that prescriptive mystery format much like series such as Nancy Drew or The Babysitter’s Club. What I’m trying to say is that the books were by no means great literature. However, they helped me develop a love for reading and a confidence in it, which were the most important things for me at the time. Once I saw for myself that books could be fun, I was willing to try new and more challenging ones.
My parents had modeled that reading was enjoyable, my mom read to me, and they gave me every opportunity to read. However, the thing that made the final difference was finding a book that I loved. Schools are not as able to encourage this type of reading as parents. We have to cover certain content, but reading books for pleasure does enhance your child’s reading skills. Buy them books they love, and if they don’t love any yet keep looking with them until you find something they enjoy. I’ve included a list of high interest books for each grade level. I haven’t read all of these, so you’ll have to check to make sure they’re a good fit for your child and family. Don’t shy away from going slightly above grade level or below if your child would enjoy the book. If the book is easy it can still be fun, and if it is more difficult it could be something you read together! I have mostly included fiction, but if your child has an obsession with something then by all means bring home nonfiction books on that topic. I would encourage you to pick up a few that your child may enjoy and get them to read a bit each day.
K5-1st- Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans- The Clifford books by Norman Bridwell- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey- The Curious George books by H.A. Rey- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Judi H. Barrett- The Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin- Little Bear series by Else Minarik- Tomie De Paola- Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey- Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy and Herman Parish- and my personal favorite Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
2nd-3rd- The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner- Matilda by Roald Dahl- The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne- Cam Jansen series by David Adler- The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden- The Littles series by John Peterson, Flat Stanley series by Jeff Brown- The Giving Tree/ Falling Up/ and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein- Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park- Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol- How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell- The Ramona books by Beverly Cleary- Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar- Leroy Niker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo- and Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
4th and 5th- most books by Roald Dahl such as James and the Giant Peach- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume- Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder- Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo- Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko- The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Susan Nanus- A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’Engle- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor- Fourth Grade Rats and Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli- Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson- Holes by Lois Sachar- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum- Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt- My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George- Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket- and The Cay by Theodore Taylor
6th, 7th, and 8th Grade- Catherine- Called Birdy by Karen Cushman- The Island by Gary Paulsen- Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls- Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman- Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse- Little Women by Louise May Alcott-True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi- Sounder by William Howard Armstrong- The Incredible Journey by Sheila Bumford- Rodzina by Karen Cushman- The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien- Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell- The Raft by Stephanie A. Bodeen- The Maze Runner by James Dasher- Hero by Mike Lupica- Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan- The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White- Redwall by Brian Jacques- and Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin Mckinley
High School- 1984 by George Orwell- John Green’s books- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury- Frankenstein by Mary Shelly- Night by Elie Wiesel- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams- The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck- Emma by Jane Austin- The Call of the Wild by Jack London- The Story of My Life by Hellen Keller- Watership Down by Robert Adams- White Fang by Jack London- The Deer Slayer by James Fenimore Cooper- Profiles in Courage by John Kennedy- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury- A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne- The Once and Future King by T.H. White- Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- Jane Eyre by Charotte Bronte- The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens- Band of Brothers by Stephan Ambrose- Don Quixote De La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes- The Lost World by Michael Crichton, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave by Fredrick Douglass books by Neil Gaiman- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift- The Testament by John Grisham- Marley and Me:Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Gorgan- The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun- Grendel by John Gardner- Ivanhoe by Walter Scott- The Pigman by Paul Zindel- Till We Have Faces by C.S Lewis- The Giver series by Lois Lowry books by Gregory Maguire- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand- The Help by Kathryn Stockett- Delirium by Lauren Oliver- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen- books by Lincoln Child- books by Dean Koontz- books by Stephen King- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine- Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup- and books by Jan Karon