Comment

The Joys of Summer Reading

When I was growing up, I was a dedicated bookworm and I looked forward to summer, not just for the warm temperatures and outdoor adventures it held, but for the hours and hours of uninterrupted reading time.
 
Stories are powerful – they can transport you to new worlds and take you on escapades you’d never dreamed of. They can stretch your understanding of how the world works and how friends and family might treat each other. They build empathy as you accompany the protagonist on his or her journey. There is something magical about the right story at just the right time -- if you encounter it when you are too young, you cannot grasp the weight and depth of the author’s work, while if you wait too long, the tale seems babyish and not worth your time.
 
Over my many years of teaching, parents and students have come to me, looking for guidance on how to choose a book. To help families, I have created an annotated book list describing what to think about before you head to the library or bookstore and what to look for when you get there. The list contains both “easy readers” for those learning to read to themselves and novels to be read aloud or enjoyed by independent readers. For those of you who have already seen my book list, this is the latest and most updated version so have another look to find some new titles mixed in!
 
I wish everyone a wonderful summer of memorable adventures and good books!

~Submitted by Mary Ellingson, Grades Teacher

 

Choosing books to support your child’s soul development and love of literature
 
Books to read prior to the nine-year change -- 
what to look for and what to avoid
 
For the first nine years (or so) of childhood, the world is unquestionably good -- though problems arise, they are always resolvable, the bad guys get their just desserts and stories are guaranteed to come with happy endings.  During early childhood, children are learning about their world through the archetypal characters and plot lines of fairy tales.  The predictable is reassuring and young children will ask to hear the same stories over and over again.  
 
What to look for:

  • Stories that carry that archetypal nature of fairy tales.
  • Innocence
  • Shorter stories with a resolution at the end of one sitting are best for younger listeners.  As children become more able to live with uncertainty, you can slowly introduce longer tales that might stretch across a few days (usually this comes after the sixth birthday).  

 
What to consider and perhaps avoid at this age:
 Have you read this story since you were a child?  Our memories of the stories we read way back when can fade and get fuzzy.  A book may have more violence or mature themes than you first remember (this happened to me with The Secret of NIHM).  It is better to pre-read and make sure you want that story for your child at this point in their development than to get half-way through a read-aloud and realize you don’t want your child exposed to the rest.

  • Would this story be better later?  There are many fabulous stories in the world and the first hearing is usually the most powerful.  You don’t want to rush ahead out of your own adult enthusiasm and bring a story that will better serve your child at a later stage in their development (for example, the first few books in the Harry Potterseries are wonderful, but are best after the nine-year change, likewise The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be most meaningful in adolescence or adulthood).
    • If the story is a novel, is the protagonist my child’s age?  If the difference is two years or more, I would lean toward saving it for later.
    • If the story is based on a myth or legend, will this be a part of the curriculum further down the road? Please save any of these so that they may come at school or after we have worked with them in class.
    • Is this a book that will help my child through the nine-year-change?  If a book contains some of the characteristics listed below, perhaps consider saving it until it will have the most impact.
    • Is this a coming-of-age story (like Harry Potter, Rascal, My Side of the Mountain, Where the Red Fern Grows, Little Britches, later Little House books, Lassie, The Yearling, Old Yeller, Misty of Chincoteague)? Has hardship befallen some child and they find a way through their hard time?  Save these for after the nine-year-change.

 

  • Humor: We all appreciate a good laugh, but consider the sources of humor.  
    • Understanding jokes, riddles and plays on words evolves with age and development.  Some first graders think knock-knock jokes are hilarious while others are mystified at what everyone is laughing about.  Make sure that the humor in the book will be appreciated without having to be explained.
    • These days, many authors will frame interactions that are actually mean or inappropriate as funny.  Would you want your child to behave or speak as the protagonist is?  If not, perhaps save that book for later.  
    • It is also common for modern authors to weave adult or teenage humor into books for much younger audiences.  The subtlety of irony and sarcasm is lost on young children and may be misapplied when they try to emulate what they have heard.  
  • Violence: There is a difference between the archetypal violence of fairy tales and the more personalized, individuated violence in novels like Redwall or The Hobbit.  Just because your child isn’t visibly flinching or suffering nightmares doesn’t mean that a story isn’t too much.  In general, save novels with violence for a later phase of childhood.
  • Facts: Books of facts are often bright, colorful and enticing.  If learning were a dessert, facts would be the sprinkles on top.  It is easy for children to mistake a collection of facts as a repository of knowledge.  They don’t understand that while trivia can be impressive and make you look precocious there is no depth in facts alone.  Stories, with their matrix of context around the facts, provide a much rounder, deeper experience of a topic.

 
Books to read during the nine-year change
 
The nine-year change is a transition in the midst of childhood. Children are separating from the magic of early childhood, from the one-ness and connection they felt to parents, family and the world.  During this time they are coming to recognize that they will have to make their way in a world that can seem harsh and heartless.  They begin to question if their parents are really their parents.  They become aware of mortality in a new way and begin to consider what it would be like if they lost one or both parents.  It is an insecure and inward time.  Certain themes addressing this inner soul state appear frequently in books for children of this age.  The examples below are by no means the only ones that fit these categories.  These few are meant as a starting place as you think about books for your child going through the nine-year change.
  

  • Children are often orphaned or are in situations removed from loving adult care-givers (examples: Pippi Longstocking, A Little Princess, James and the Giant Peach)
  • Children have access to a magical world, but at a certain point, they must choose to return to the mundane world with the understanding that they are leaving the fantasy behind. (examples: The Chronicles of Narnia, The House Above the Trees, The BFG)
  • Children make their way, learning how to be competent and independent in the real world (examples: Farmer Boy, Understood Betsy, Swallows and Amazons)

  
Books for after the nine-year change
 
After going through the nine-year change children have spent time in darkness and come out stronger on the other side.  They are able to face the troubles of a world without magic.  After all of the inner work and soul-searching they have been through, they are often ready for fun and adventure. Connection to animals is particularly strong at this point in childhood and many stories feature a child’s special relationship with a pet or wild creature. This is the perfect time for old-fashioned coming-of-age stories (like Rascal, My Side of the Mountain, Where the Red Fern Grows, Little Britches, the later Little House books, Lassie, The Yearling, Old Yeller, Misty of Chincoteague).  
 
Now is the moment that I would allow a child to start the Harry Potter series, but only the first few books -- save Harry’s moody adolescence for your child’s moody adolescence.
 
Books for early adolescence
 
By middle school the voracious readers have devoured most every book worth reading in the children’s section of the library and are ready to move on to a new selection of books. However, the library category of Young Adult readers is decidedly murky.  This designation is applied to books aimed at readers between twelve and twenty-one.  As you can imagine, there is a tremendous range of development in those nine years and the material appropriate for someone at the upper end of that age range could be pretty overwhelming to a young one.  Parents will need to stay aware of what books are popular in the middle school set, do some pre-reading and determine what you find appropriate for your child.
 
For those advanced readers looking for something new, middle school is a good time to delve into science fiction.  This genre brings stories that are imaginative and fantasy-based while adding an intellectual and/or sociological element to consider as well.
 
Middle school is also a good time to broaden the student’s connection to the world through historical fiction and biographies.  
 
Easy Readers
 
Beginning readers find security in books by the same author, particularly those that come in a series.  After the first few pages, they have a handle on the vocabulary they will need and they can move forward with confidence.  When they finish one book, they know what to read next.
 
Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss brings a genius to the world of easy readers.  His books are funny, wacky, colorful page turners.  He has a knack for linking predictable text, rhyme, and illustration to give beginning readers confidence.  He has a good assortment of sight words, easily decoded words and altogether invented words that will keep a struggling reader on task.
 

Hop on PopIn a People HouseThe Cat in the HatThe Foot Book

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

Fox in Socks

Green Eggs and Ham

Horton Hears a Who

Yertle the Turtle

There’s a Wocket in My Pocket

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut

TightHand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb 

 
P.D. Eastman
P.D. Eastman books are published in the same format as Dr. Seuss and it is easy to lump the two authors together.  Like Dr. Seuss, Eastman books are highly illustrated with a few words on each page.  There are many context clues that make it easy for a beginning reader to decode the text.
 

Are You My Mother?

Go Dog Go

Big Dog... Little Dog

The Best Nest

Snow

Flap Your Wings

Sam and the Firefly 

 
 
Elephant and Piggie
These books are recent publications but they have the feel of books like Are You My Mother?.  The simple humor and predictable text allow beginning readers to feel successful.
 

Today I Will Fly!

There is a Bird on Your Head!

Watch Me Throw the Ball!

We Are in a Book

I Love My New Toy!

Can I Play Too?

Happy Pig Day!

I Am Going!

Listen to My Trumpet!

Should I Share My Ice Cream?

I Broke My Trunk!

Elephants Can Not Dance!

Pigs Make Me Sneeze!

I am Invited to a Party!

I Will Surprise My Friend

 
The Sheep Books
These books by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple make up one of the few modern easy reader series that I love.  Like Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman, the illustrations are tied closely to the text and help the emerging readers make good guesses on the harder words.  The stories are silly and endearing.
 

Sheep in a Jeep

Sheep on a Ship

Sheep in a Shop

Sheep Take a Hike

Sheep Out to Eat

Sheep Trick or Treat

Sheep Blast Off 

 
Henry and Mudge
This series by Cynthia Rylant features a boy and his dog.  What is unusual about this set of books is that they span a range of levels.  Beginning readers can start with the easiest books, which have a few words on each page.  As their skills advance they can enjoy the same characters in harder books.
 
Little Bear
This series by Else Holmelund is great to read to preschoolers and very satisfying for beginning readers to return to as they move into easy readers.
 

Little Bear

Little Bear’s Visit

Little Bear’s Friend

A Kiss for Little Bear

Father Bear Comes Home

 
Arnold Lobel
Not enough good words can be written about Arnold Lobel.  He has written wonderful books for beginning readers.  They are sweet, funny and timeless.
Here is a list of titles:
 

Frog and Toad are Friends

Owl at Home

Mouse Tales

Days with Frog and Toad

Small Pig

Mouse Soup

Frog and Toad All Year

Uncle Elephant

Grasshopper on the Road

 
Cork and Fuzz
This is a modern series with the feel of Frog and Toad.  
 

Cork and Fuzz

Cork and Fuzz: Short and Tall

Cork and Fuzz: Good Sports

Cork and Fuzz: The Babysitters

Cork and Fuzz: The Collectors

Cork and Fuzz: Finders Keepers

 
Amelia Bedelia
Children delight in knowing better than poor Amelia Bedelia.  Her absurd mistakes have kept children laughing for generations.

Amelia BedeliaThank you, Amelia Bedevil Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia, Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower

 
Fox Books
by Edward Marshall
 

Fox at School

Fox on Stage

Fox and His Friends

Fox All Week

Fox on Wheels

Fox in Love

Fox on the Job 

 
The Golly Sisters
by Betsy Byars
 

Hooray for the Golly Sisters!

The Golly Sisters Go West

The Golly Sisters Ride Again

 
Little Animal Adventures
Reader’s Digest Series

Beaver Gets Lost

Keep Trying Little Zebra

Little Bear’s New Friend

Go To Sleep, Little Groundhog

Be Patient, Little Chick

The Hungry Duckling

Little Puppy Saves the Day

A Home for Little Turtle

The Curious Little Dolphin

Brave Little Fox

Little Goat’s New Horns

Silly Little Hedgehog

Curious Little Raccoon

Little Llama Tells the Truth

Little Squirrel’s Special Nest

The Hopeful Little Leopard

 
 Harry the Dirty Dog
 

Harry the Dirty DogHarry by the SeaNo Roses for HarryHarry and the Lady Next Door

 
Read-alouds for Grade 1
Many first graders are happy to enjoy the picture books their parents were reading to them in kindergarten. Fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world are perfect for this age and there are longer, more complicated fairy tales that can last over several readings as an in-between step for those wanting more than a picture book, but not quite as much as a long chapter book.
 
For those ready and interested in chapter books, here are some that I would recommend.
 

The Magic Faraway Tree (series) Blyton, Enid

Paddington (series) Bond, Michael

Old Mother West Wind (and others by the same author) Burgess, Thorton

Tales of Tiptoes Lightly (series) Down, Reg

The Moffats (series) Estes, Eleanor

Uncle Wiggly’s Story Book Garis, Howard

Raggedy Ann and Andy (series) Gruelle, Johnny

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Lagerlof, Selma

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook Lankester-Brisley, Joyce

The Children of Noisy Village Lindgren, Astrid

Betsy Tacy Lovelace, Maud Hart

The Sneeches and Other Stories (and others by the same author) Dr. Seuss

The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (series) Sidney, Margaret

Little House in the Big Woods Wilder, Laura Ingalls

The Seven-Year-Old Wonder Book Wyatt, Isabel

 
  
Read-alouds for Grades 2-4
 

Mr. Popper’s Penguins Atwater, Richard & Florence

Miss Hickory Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin

Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The (Series) Baum, L. Frank

Paddington (Series) Bond, Michael

Old Mother West Wind (and others by the same author) Burgess, Thorton

Enormous Egg, The Butterworth, Oliver

Katie John (Series) Calhoun, Mary

Mouse and the Motorcycle, The (Series) Cleary,  Beverly

Ramona the Pest (Series) Cleary, Beverly

Matilda (and others by the same author) Dahl, Roald

Courage of Sarah Noble, The Dalgliesh, Alice

The Spiderwick Chronicles DiTerlizzi, Tony and Holly Black

Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles Edwards, Julie Andrews

Wind Boy, The (and others by the same author) Eliot, Ethel Cook

Hundred Dresses, The Estes, Eleanor

Moffats, The (Series) Estes, Eleanor

Elmer and the Dragon (Series) Gannett, Ruth Stiles

Linnets and Valerians Goudge, Elizabeth

Just-so Stories Kipling, Rudyard

Catwings (Series) LeGuin, Ursula

Strawberry Girl (and others by the same author) Lenski, Lois

Chronicles of Narnia, The (Series) Lewis, C. S.

Pippi Longstocking (Series) Lindgren, Astrid

Emil and the Great Escape (Series) Lindgren, Astrid

Betsy-Tacy (Series) Lovelace, Maud Hart

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Series) MacDonald, Betty

Nancy and Plum MacDonald, Betty

Princess and the Curdie (and others by the same author) MacDonald, George

Sarah Plain and Tall (and others by the same author) MacLachlan, Patricia

Homer Price McCloskey, Robert

Borrowers, The (Series) Norton, Mary

King’s Equal, The Paterson, Katherine

Littles, The (Series) Peterson, John

Hoboken Chicken Emergency, The Pinkwater, D. Manus

Cricket in Times Square Selden, George

Five Little Peppers, The (Series) Sidney, Margaret

101 Dalmatians Smith, Dodie

All of a Kind Family (Series) Taylor, Sydney

Mary Poppins (Series) Travers, P. L.

  


 
Read-alouds for Grade 3 – 4
 

Indian in the Cupboard, The (Series)Banks, Lynne Reid

Caddie Woodlawn Brink, Carol Ryrie

Baby Island Brink, Carol Ryrie

Little Princess, A Burnett, Frances Hodgson

Secret Garden, The Burnett, Frances Hodgson

Family Under the Bridge, The Carlson, Natalie Savage

Wheel on the School, The (and others by the same author) DeJong, Meindert

Half Magic (and others by the same author) Eager, Edward

Mandy Edwards, Julie Andrews

Neverending Story, TheEnde, Michael

Understood Betsy Fisher, Dorothy Canfield

Our Only May Amelia Holm, Jennifer

Bunnicula (Series) Howe, Deborah and James

Babe (and others by the same author) King-Smith, Dick

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Konigsburg, E. L.

Ella Enchanted (and others by the same author) Levine, Gail Carson

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (and others by the same author) Lin, Grace

Ronia the Robber’s Daughter Lindgren, Astrid

Different Dragons Little, Jean

Story of Doctor Dolittle, The (Series) Lofting, Hugh

Owls in the Family (and others by the same author) Mowat, Farley

Shiloh (Trilogy) Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds

Five Children and It (and others by the same author)Nesbit, E.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks Norton, Mary

First Farm in the Valley (Series) Pellowski, Anna

Swallows and Amazons (Series) Ransome, Arthur

How to Eat Fried Worms Rockwell, Thomas

Singing Tree, The (and others by the same author) Seredy, Kate

Black Beauty Sewell, Anna

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Series) Snicket, Lemony

Miracles on Maple Hill Sorenson, Virginia

Heidi Spyri, Johanna

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Series) Stewart, Trenton Lee

Charlotte’s Web (and others by the same author) White, E. B.

Little House on the Prairie (Series) Wilder, Laura Ingalls

 

 
Grade 4 – 5
 

Little Women (and others by the same author) Alcott, Louisa May

Chronicles of Prydain, The (Series) Alexander, Lloyd

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes Auxier, Jonathan

National Velvet Bagnold, Enid

Peter Pan Barrie, J. M.

Peter and the Star Catchers Barry, Dave and Pearson, Ridley

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Series) Blume, Judy

The Name of This Book is Secret (Series) Bosch, Pseudonymous

Incredible Journey Bumford, Sheila Every

Gregor the Overlander (Series) Collins, Suzanne

Because of Winn-Dixie (and others by the same author) DiCamillo, Kate

Mandy (and others by the same author) Edwards, Julie Andrews

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm Farmer, Nancy

Harriet the Spy (Series) Fitzhugh, Louise

Whipping Boy, The Fleischmann, Sid

Homesick: My Own Story Fritz, Jean

Secret of Roan Inish, The Fry, Rosalie, K.

Thief Lord, The (and others by the same author) Funke, Cornelia

My Side of the Mountain (and others by the same author) George, Jean Craighead

Old Yeller Gipson, Fred

Wind in the Willows, The Grahame, Kenneth

Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe Greene, Bette

Misty of Chincoteague (Series) Henry, Marguerite

Horse Diaries: Koda (Series) Hermes, Patricia

All Creatures Great and Small Herriot, James

Boston Jane (Series) Holm, Jennifer

Warriors (Series) Hunter, Erin

Redwall (Series) Jacques, Brian

Howl’s Moving Castle Jones, Diana Wynne

Phantom Tollbooth, The Juster, Norton

Karen Killilea, Marie

Big Red Kjelgaard, Jim

Anastasia Krupnik (Series) Lowry, Lois

Box of Delights, The Masefield, John

Homer Price McCloskey

The Moorchild McGraw, Eloise

The Story Girl (and other books by the same author) Montgomery, Lucy Maud

Anne of Green Gables (Series) Montgomery, Lucy Maud

Little Britches (Series) Moody, Ralph

Gentle Ben Morey, Walt

Rascal North, Sterling

Island of the Blue Dolphins O’Dell, Scott

Silverwing (Series) Oppel, Kenneth

Peter and the Starcatchers (Series) Pearson, Ridley

Harry Potter (Books 1, 2 and 3) Rawling, J. K.

Yearling, TheRawlings, Marjorie Kinnan

Where the Red Fern Grows Rawls, Wilson

Girl With the Silver Eyes, The Roberts, Willo Davis

Encyclopedia Brown Sobol, Donald

Sign of the Beaver Speare, Elizabeth George

Hobbit, The Tolkien, J. R. R.

The Fantastic Family Whipple Ward, Matthew

Dealing with Dragons (Series) Wrede, Patricia

Child of the Owl Yep, Lawrence

 
Grade 6 and 7
 

Tuck Everlasting Babbitt, Natalie

Dark is Rising, The (Series) Cooper, Susan

Bud, Not Buddy Curtis, Christopher Paul

Midwife’s Apprentice (and others by the same author) Cushman, Karen

The Door in the Wall De Angeli, Marguerite

Twenty-One Balloons, The DuBois, William Pene

The City of Ember DuPrau, Jeanne

Shadow Spinner Fletcher, Susan

Julie of the Wolves (Series) George, Jean Craighead

Princess Bride, The Goldman, William

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time  Haddon, Mark

Wrinkle in Time, A (Series) L’Engle Madeleine

Wizard of Earthsea, A LeGuin, Ursula

The Lions of Little Rock (and others by the same author) Levine, Kristedn

Dragonsong (Series) McCaffrey, Anne

Wise Child Monica Furlong

Jacob Have I Loved (and others by the same author) Paterson, Katherine

Eragon (Series) Paolinie, Christopher

Hatchet (Series) Paulson, Gary

Alanna: The First Adventure Pierce, Tamora

Disc world series Pratchett, Terry

Amber Spyglass, The (Series) Pullman, Philip

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) Riordan, Rick

Holes (and others by the same author) Sachar, Louis

Bronze Bow, TheSpeare, Elizabeth George

Shabanu (and others by the same author) Staples, Suzanne Fisher

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Amulet of Samarkand Stroud, Jonathan

Cay, The Taylor, Theodore

I, Juan de PerejaTrevino, Elizabeth  Borton de

Adam of the RoadVining, Elizabeth Gray

Homecoming (and others by the same author) Voigt, Cynthia

Once and Future King, The White, T. H.

Mistress Masham’s Repose White, T. H.

Dragonwings Yep, Lawrence

Children of the Wolf Yolen, Jane

 
Grade 8 and up
 
By eighth grade, students are ready to grapple with some of the more difficult and complex aspects of humanity – particularly times when people have been subjugated or oppressed by others. Young adolescents are also more able to accompany protagonists through times of serious illness or grief, when there will be no happy ending. Issues like these can be brought in the context of biographies, historical fiction, and dystopian literature. Stories of this sort can lead to powerful discussions and are best read when there are peers, older students or adults available to help younger readers process such weighty ideas.
 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Alexie, Sherman

Fever 1793Anderson, Laurie Halse

Ender’s GameCard, Orson Scott

Hunger Games (series) Collins, Suzanne

The Graveyard Book Gaiman, Neil

The Fault in Our Stars (and others by the same author) Green, John

How to Kill a Mockingbird Lee, Harper

The Giver (series) Lowry, Lois

Divergent (series) Roth, Veronica

Let the Circle Be Unbroken (and others by the same author) Taylor, Mildred

Uglies(series)Westerfeld, Scott

The Devil’s Arithmetic Yolen, Jane


2nd Grade Family Book List Created by the Class of 2022
 
Averill, Esther. Jenny and the Cat Club (Series). New York Review Collections.
Bannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Babaji.
Barrows, Annie. Ivy and Bean (Series).
Barry, Dave & Pearson, Ridley. Peter and the Starcatchers.
Baum, L. Frank. Glinda of Oz.
Benchley, Nathaniel. Red Fox and his Canoe (Illustrated by Arnold Lobel)
Berger, Barbara Helen. Gwinna.
Beskow, Elsa. The Children of the Forest.
Black, Holly & de Terlizzi, Tony. The Spiderwick Chronicles (Series).
Blyton, Enid The Secret Seven Series
Blyton, Enid The Famous Five Series
Bolognese, Don. Little Hawk’s New Name.
Brisley, Joyce Lankester. Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories.
Brown, Palmer. Beyond the Paw Paw Trees.
Brumbeau, Jeff The Quiltmaker’s Gift
Bunting, Eve Little Badger, Terror of the Seven Seas
Burgess, Thornton W. Animal Stories.
Cleary, Beverly. The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
Cohn, Diana Mr. Goethe’s Garden
Dadey, Debbie & Jones, Marcia Thornton. The Bailey School Kids (Series).
Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Dahl, Roald. Danny, the Champion of the World.
Davidow, Shelley. Ned and Fred.
DiCamillo, Kate. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
DiCamillo, Kate. The Tale of Despereaux.
Down, Reg. The Magic Knot.
Drescher, Daniela. In the Land of Merfolk.
Eliot, Ethel Cook. The Little House in the Fairy Wood.
Fisher, Dorothy Canfield. Understood Betsy.
Fleming, Ian. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Illustrated by John Birmingham).
Gibbs, May. The Gumnut Land Adventures.
Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. (Illustrated by Inga Moore).
Hale, Shannon Princess Academy
Holwitz, Peter Stick Kid
Howell, Alice. The Beejum Book.
Hunter, Erin. Warriors into the Wild.
Jansson, Tove. Finn Family Moomintroll.
Jansson, Tove. Moominvalley in November.
Jarrell, Randall. The Bat Poet. (Illustrated by Maurice Sendak).
Juster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth (Illustrated by Jules Feiffer).
Keene, Carolyn. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. (the original series, beginning with The Secret of the Old Clock in 1929; illustrated by Russell Tandy.) (find now for 4th/5th grade)
Kilborne, Sarah S. Peach and Blue
Konigsburg, E.L. The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia
Lindgren, Astrid. The Children of Noisy Village. (Illustrated by Ilon Wikland)
Lindgren, Astrid. Emil in the Soup Tureen.
Lindgren, Astrid. Emil’s Clever Pig.
Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking(Series).
Lobel, Arnold. Owl at Home.
Lovelace, Maud Hart. Betsy-Tacy.
Minarik, Else Holmelund. Little Bear. Harper and Row. (Illustrated by Maurice Sendak).
Muller, Martina Pico the Gnome
Munsch, Robert The Paper Bag Princess
Nesbit, Edith. Five Children and It.
O’Connor, Jane. Fancy Nancy.
Ongman, Gudrun The Sleep Ponies
Orr, Wendy. Mokie & Bik.
Pépin, Muriel. Little Bear’s New Friend. (Adapted by Deborah Kovacs). Pleasantville, NY: Readers Digest Kids.
Peterson, John. The Littles.
Ransome, Arthur. Swallows and Amazons.
Riordan, Rick. The 39 Bones (Series).
Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter and Tabby (Series).
Selden, George. The Cricket in Times Square. (Illustrated by Garth Williams).
Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman & Sharmat, Craig. Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise.
Sidney, Margaret. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.
Sobel, Donald. Encyclopedia Brown (Series).
Spyri, Johanna. Heidi.
Steig, William. Dominic.
Stilton, Geronimo. The Amazing Voyage (In the Kingdom of Fantasy Series).
Taylor, Sydney. All-of-a-Kind Family.
Travers, P.L. Mary Poppins.
von Olfers, Sibylle. Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale. (Quilted illustrations by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith).
von Olfers, Sibylle. The Princess in the Forest.
Watt, Mélanie. Scaredy Squirrel at Night.
White, E.B. The Trumpet of the Swan.
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods (Series).
Willems, Mo. I Love My New Toy.

Suggested by Fourth Graders of the Class of 2013
 
 

Dear America Series Assorted authors

Royal Diaries Series Assorted authors

Spiderwick (Series) DiTerlizzi, Tony & Holly Black

Magic by the Lake Eager, Edward

Charlotte Sometimes Farmer, Penelope

Once Upon a Marigold Ferris, Jean

Wagon Train 911 Gilson, Jamie

The Little White Horse Goudge, Elizabeth

Winter Camp (Series) Hill, Kirkpatrick

Trolls, The Horvath, Polly

Echoes of the Elders: The Stories and Paintings of Chief LelooskaLelooska

The Railway Children Nesbit, E.

Wet Magic Nesbit, E.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School Sachar, Louis

Captain’s Dog, The Smith, Roland

Ballet Shoes (and others by the same author) Streatfeild, Noel

The Amulet of Samarkand (Series) Stroud, Jonathan

Long Shot (a basketball book) Tocher, Timothy

Journey to the Center of the Earth (and others by the same author) Verne, Jules

 

Comment

Comment

Eurythmy

Like most things in life, the best way to know it is to experience it. So with Eurythmy, a new art of movement which brings sound in speech and tone to expression, the best way to experience it is through having a class or demonstration.  So, I very much hope to offer each one of you a beginning experience through parent nights, the public class or during our performance on November 19.  The following are a few quotes that I selected in an effort to elucidate this integral aspect of Waldorf Education; Eurythmy. These are quotes which are taken from Anthroposophy, the new spiritual science that is the foundation of Waldorf Education, Eurythmy, Theraputic Eurythmy, Bio Dynamic Farming, Anthroposophical Medicine, New Architecture, and countless other initiatives that Rudolf Steiner brought into the world at the turn of the century.  


"Both for health and character-building Eurythmy is an essential element of the Waldorf curriculum.  From the health point of view, it dissolves deposits, sediments and, in doing so, prevents illnesses.  From the point of view of character, it develops capacities in the child for his whole life: a special strength of will, the ability to listen, skill and agility." Nora Von Baditz

There are countless eurythmy exercises andchoreographs that I do with the children that fulfill the previous mentioned health giving benefits as well as developing dexterity, strengthening memory and, most importantly cultivating the ability to think clearly and freely.  Every grade is met differently, which challenges them where they are in their development. There is also a social aspect of Eurythmy.  Working in this way develops the skills later in life to listen well, understand and truly work well with others; the ability to meet and confront social difficulties with a positive and creative good will.  

We have social forms that 'cultivate inner harmony', 'awaken strength and initiative for work', 'counteract muddled thinking', 'counteracting vanity, ambition and self-centeredness', 'strengthening adaptability, versatility' and so many more.......

"Moving the letters of a word in eurythmy makes the children aware of the many 'secret' letters in our language. Thus the children's awareness is heightened, and the words imprint themselves more firmly in their memory through the imaginative quality of eurythmy. This develops strength in their spelling and pronunciation."  Molly Heider

In Eurythy we are moving sounds.  Every sound has a unique quality when spoken and we enter into these qualities through imaginative flowing gestures that take hold clearly of the spoken word.  We enter into the rhythm, structure and meaning of many, many ancient poems, stories and sagas.  

"Speech is a universal means of expression for the human soul.  Those who enter deeply and without prejudice into the realities of speech will realize that the breath which we expel from our lungs, our organs of speech and song, when vocalized and given form by means of the lips, teeth and palate, is really nothing else than gesture in the air.  Only in this case these air-gestures are projected into space in such a way that they conjure up sounds which can be heard by the ear.  All that can be perceived by super sensible vision, all that can thus be learned about the nature of these forms and gestures of the air, can be carried into movements of the arms and hands, into movements of the whole human being.  There then arises in visible form the actual counterpart of speech.  One can use the entire human body in such a way that it really carries out those movemnets which are otherwise carried out by the organs connected with speech and song.  Thus there arises visible music and visible speech- the art of Eurythmy."  Rudolf Steiner

In tone Eurythmy, we are entering deeply into music, through gestures for tones, interval, major and minor elements. We move melodies, rhythms and pitch in Eurythmy. In this way we are experiencing the depth and breadth that the whole world of music can bring as nourishment to the human being.

"I like Eurythmy because it makes me more aware of my emotions and how I feel.  I am always more energetic after a class and you really do have to express yourself from inside, which makes it a free form of expression."  Former SWS 8th Grade student

"After taking the adult Eurythmy class for so many years and entering so deeply into the movements and choreography, I can appreciate so much how difficult what the children are doing up there, from having done it myself.  Most people might think it is easy or they are just walking around up there, but I know how challenging it is and what an amazing job they are doing at it."  Olga Lamburt SWS parent and handwork teacher

~Submitted by Shannon Weiler, SWS Eurythmist
 

Comment

Comment

Moments for Connection with our Children by Darlene Denis-Friske

We felt this article was well worth a share to our blog! 

 

We have probably all heard the term ‘quality time’ in connection with parenting our children, for example: try to spend quality time with your child.

As a Child and Youth Counselor, I have always felt a little nervous about this concept because I fear it has misleading implications. In our busy lives, where time is often at a premium, attempting to reserve or schedule what we perceive is going to be ‘quality time’ might seem like a great idea except for one thing: is our child accepting of our agenda?

I often speak with parents who feel overwhelmed and puzzled by a child who appears to seek their attention through what they feel are negative behaviors: But I take him to hockey, baseball and swimming! I don’t know what else I can reasonably do with him! I’m exhausted trying to keep-up!

Instead of attempting to increase the amount of scheduled quality time with a child, I propose something far more basic and fundamental: increase the quality of simple moments everyday whereby you slow down to connect with your child.

Parenting is not about what you do with your child, it is about who you are to your child.

Dr. Neufeld often discusses the importance of the simple energies of delight, enjoyment and warmth within the attachment space between parent and child. In what ways do I express delight in my children, enjoyment of them, and warmth in how I am with them? These are vital questions that I stop and ask myself every once and a while, especially when things feel stressed, negative or ‘out-of-sync’ in my family. These are the very qualities that I seek to bring into the daily space between my children and myself.

Stop, as you do the laundry, to sit on the floor for a few minutes of undivided attention with your children; smile or hug them spontaneously as you fix the car; sit with them and show interest as they surf the net; join them in coloring; ask them about their interests; touch them gently as you pass by to acknowledge you’re thinking about them; turn the radio up and dance a song together; give them a role in your important chore; play a three-minute chase-and-tickle game; go for a walk around the block together; play follow the leader for a few turns; plop on the couch beside them for a bit; join them in a video-game, bring them a nice warm cup of hot chocolate, help them to complete the chore they have been avoiding all day; turn supper into a picnic; light some candles at suppertime, watch a movie together, engage in belly laughs and fits of giggles with them… the list is endless.

Instead of spreading yourself thin to schedule chunks of ‘quality time’, you will be investing your energy in spreading important moments throughout the day whereby you simply connect with your child.

It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes, only after the fact and in reflection of something that already happened, I realize just how rich the moment was with my child. It hits me freshly in the aftermath that I never could have scheduled or planned the spontaneous “quality” of the interaction… I could only leave myself open to its possibility as I brought my delight, enjoyment and warmth into the space between myself and my child.

~By Darlene Denis-Friske posted on The Neufeld Institute blog

Comment

Comment

The Role of Movement in Learning

The Role of Movement in Learning

How does movement in the body relate to learning?  Walking into any Waldorf classroom at certain times of the day you will likely see children jumping rope, dancing, doing activities with bean bags, or balls, or other activities related to movement.  You may wonder why so much emphasis on movement and not more time doing seat work? Many tend to think that the activity of learning is limited to the mind, as if the body’s only role in learning is only to carry the mind around where it needed to go. On the contrary, the body is as much involved with learning as the head is.  


In her book, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head, Carla Hannaford writes:

 

Thinking and learning are not all in our head.  On the contrary, the body plays an integral part in all our intellectual processes from our earliest moments in utero right through to old age.  It is our body’s senses that feed the brain environmental information with which to form an understanding of the world and from which to draw when creating new possibilities.  And it is our movements that not only express knowledge and facilitate greater cognitive function, they actually grow the brain as they increase in complexity. Our entire brain structure is intimately connected to and grown by the movement mechanisms within our body.

 

In my role as Education Support teacher, my goal for students is to achieve “body-free thinking”.  Because movement of the body and thinking are so interdependent,  if there is any hindrance in the physical body of a student, this may translate as a setback to learning.  This means that the student is having to unconsciously expend extra time and energy on getting their body to function the right way (whether to take in new information through their senses, or through expression of their understanding) that that energy takes away from the body’s ability to support efficient and fluent learning.  There are two important areas I look at in a student who may be having academic difficulties - how are this child’s foundational senses developing?  Has the child retained any early developmental movements?

 

The healthy functioning of the senses is everything to learning, and when we speak of the senses, we don’t just mean the senses from the perspective of the five basic senses we are used to hearing about (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) but also the senses which are foundational to all learning and begin developing in utero; they are: self-movement (or proprioception), sense of life (or well-being), and balance (or vestibular).  When one of these is not fully functioning or developing, learning cannot take place to its highest capacity. 

 

Take reading for example:  we sit upright when reading to view the page, we hold the book, our eyes move from left to right to view the words, as the eyes take in what they see, the brain decodes the shapes of the letters and connects them to phonemes (or sounds) and then reorganizes those sounds into words, which then become concepts, and which then connects to memory, etc.  Imagine now that the vestibular system of a student is not fully developed, this child will be struggling with step one (sitting upright) even before the eyes meet the page and have a chance to take in the letters they are looking at.  The body will be so preoccupied with trying to bring the balance system into harmony that the child is having to expend much more than the usual amount of energy on trying to focus the eyes on the letters on the page that they are soon exhausted by the effort and reading becomes a dreaded chore rather than a challenge.  

 

Another obstacle to the learning process is the retention of early movement patterns. In the normal course of a young child's development, starting in utero, goes through stages of developmental reflexes, most of which should be integrated by age three, and in some cases, transformed into more sophisticated reflexes that we use for the rest of our lives.  Sometimes, for many different reasons, the reflexes are retained, rather than integrated, and they create unconscious responses in the body that hinder fluid movement and “body-free” learning. Many of the reflexes are related to the baby’s experience of crawling on hands and knees.  Imagine the young child, shortly before they begin to crawl, rocking back and forth on hands and knees.  This is one of the early experiences where the movement of the body is training the eye’s ability to see near and far; as the baby rocks back, they look down, as they rock forward, they look up and so the vision becomes more sophisticated.  If a child, on the other hand, skips this phase of crawling you may later on discover that this child has problems with reading because the eyes have not yet fully developed that capacity to adjust their near and far vision, and thus they eyes have a hard time making sense of letters on a page. 

 

The good news is that there are ways to help remediate any such challenges, to remove the hindrances some children (or adults) experience and to help children reach their full potential of confident, fluid movement and body-free learning.  Not to mention there are many things parents can do at home to help support the healthy development of the senses and early movement patterns in young children:

  • For babies, avoid the “container shuffle” (walkers, swings, bouncers, carriers) and allow lots of floor time; click here (https://starfishtherapies.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/avoiding-the-container-shuffle-with-your-baby/) for more information on this topic

  • Child-directed, unstructured free play (especially outdoors)

  • Doing chores (especially those involving “heavy work”) - sweeping, mopping, wiping down tables, raking, shoveling, washing dishes, etc.

  • Allowing children to freely explore their environment (let them climb trees and get dirty!)

 At the end of the day we can be grateful to our bodies for the experiences of the world they have helped us collect and convey to the brain for learning to take place.  Einstein said, “Learning is experience.  Everything else is just information.”  Healthy cultivation of the body and meaningful movement will contribute to rich learning experiences that last us a lifetime.

~Submitted by Erin McNamara, Education Support Teacher

Comment

Comment

A Waldorf Advent Garden

It is the time of year where we feel that our days growing shorter and the darkness of night coming more into our waking hours. As we move closer to the Winter solstice and the Christmas season, we must remember that the light shines in us always.

In Waldorf schools across the world, Advent Gardens are created by the teachers and communities for the children. Each garden is unique as is each community, but common threads run through them all. A sacred space is created by forming a large spiral of evergreen bows which frame a path into the center where one bright candle light stands alone. Children, one by one, walk the path with an unlit candle until they come to the center where they light their own candle from the glowing flame in the darkness. As they move back out of the spiral path they find a place for their own light to shine and leave it there to add to the light of the world. When all the children have placed their candles along the spiral path they stand together and marvel at the beauty and brightness of many small lights united together.

At our school we are blessed with a glorious abundance of nature forces surrounding us. For the Early Childhood families, we create our spiral pathway outside to experience both the darkness and light.*  As children in the early years experience themselves as part of whole world around them and as part of the family who loves them dearly, we let each child take their own special light to lead their family through the dark path. With joy the child receives the passing of the flame in the center of the spiral. Then the child looks for a special place, all of his or her own, to place their little light into the garden. With reverence each person watches as the Advent Garden becomes brighter and brighter until the whole spiral is glowing with warmth and light.

In our busy world it is not often that any of us can experience true peace, reverent quiet and inner joy. The Advent Garden celebration is an outward expression of our individual selves gifting and sharing a small part of us to make the world brighter.  All early childhood families are invited to join us for this magical celebration of light.
 
~Submitted by Beth Krause, Thimbleberry Teacher

Comment

Comment

Recommended Resources for Meeting the Millennium Child

We had a great turnout for Connie Helms's talk on Tuesday evening on How to Meet the Millennium Child. Connie presented some wonderful information on meeting the basic needs of children that allow them to thrive and find the most success in their learning and social environments. Along with that, Connie asked to have the following information passed along.  

Here is a link to the Simplicity Parenting 2 hour interactive tele-seminar coming up on November 1st at 6 pm titled, 'Digital Devices and Parenting Decisions: How Soon - How Much?". This is sure to be a great resource for all parents; cost is $69.  http://davidlevin.com/simplicity-parenting-workshop/


Connie also spoke about an article on her website addressing issues some children have with the sense of touch. Here is the link for that: http://www.conniehelms.com/sense-of-touch-issues-especially-for-caesarian-fast-birth-or-low-weight-babies/

Along with that, the Simplicity Parenting website (http://www.simplicityparenting.com/) is an excellent resource for parents, they offer classes, articles, videos, etc on a number of parenting topics.  It is a gem of information and support!
~Submitted by Erin McNamara, Education Support

Comment

Comment

A Home Away from Home for our littlest ones in the Berry Blossom Nursery

On Thursdays we bake. This is a favorite day of the children. After putting their slippers on, they quickly skip to the table in anticipation of helping prepare the day's snack. The table is covered with white floury dust as the children squish the dough through their fingers and form it into buns. Sweet, lilting voices sing along to the baking song as they place each bun carefully on the baking tray. When they're done baking, the warm, fragrant buns are brought to our table wrapped carefully in a tea towel like a treasure. We spread sunflower seed butter on them, sing our snack blessing, and enjoy our meal together.

We all agree that, as parents and teachers, it is our main goal to raise and educate children in a healthy way. We wish to see our young people grow up resilient and active, confident in themselves and their place in the world. We like to see children who demonstrate a love of learning and who are physically, emotionally, and spiritually able to do so. The Early Childhood program at our school plays a foundational part in the children's schooling, and the Nursery is at the very start of this journey!

The Berry Blossom Nursery has grown into a full day program this year, and much of the inspiration for its inception has come from a movement called LifeWays. I would like to give a brief overview of this model of child care, as well as give you a glimpse into life at the end of the hallway!

The LifeWays model was pioneered by Cynthia Aldinger out of an impulse to serve the young child in a nurturing, holistic way. It is built upon the philosophy and principles of Waldorf Education and has translated and expanded these to include the very young child. In their book "Home Away from Home", Aldinger and her colleague explain that "LifeWays practices are based upon the fundamental need for relationship-based care (bonding and continuity), neurological research, and recognition of the living arts (domestic, nurturing, creative and social arts), as central to the advancement of the children's social, emotional and intellectual skills."

A LifeWays setting aims to be a "home away from home," an environment where everyday life happens. Life itself is the curriculum. Nursery life is busy with chopping, baking, polishing, folding laundry, etc., all of which are part of the domestic arts that the children witness being taken up around them. The children are always welcome to participate. Washing the dishes is a particular favorite! These daily activities give rhythm to the day and to the week, and help the child feel secure and part of the important tasks that have to be done to make the "house" run smoothly.

As Waldorf/LifeWays teachers, we recognize that human relationships form the backbone of healthy development. Children in the Nursery span a wide age range, especially this year with all of our beloved babies. A child who becomes a part of our Berry Blossom family at eighteen months stays with us for at least two years before joining one of the Kindergarten classes. This truly is a gift as it enables the children to learn from one another and to form a close bond with their "siblings" and caregivers. It enables trust to grow, and the child's awareness that she is seen and recognized. It is amazing to see the older ones engage with the little ones - how carefully they will help spoon-feed a baby, help each other with getting outside gear on, or "read" to each other.

The LifeWays experience is such a wholesome beginning to their educational journey, and I am truly delighted to be a part of their lives in this way.

~Submitted by Miriam Greiser, Berry Blossom teacher

Comment