Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Reading aloud is one of the most important things parents can do with their children. Not only does it help develop many important skills, reading aloud brings a chance to have fun together, share stories and enjoy conversations. Talk about the stories you read together, what they make you think about, questions you have, choices the characters are making.
“Booked,” by Kwame Alexander (HMH; $16.99; ages 9-14; 320 pp.). Newbery-winning author Kwame Alexander scores with this mix of soccer, family, first crushes, friendship and poetry. Middle schooler Nick struggles with his parents’ impending divorce, bullying at school and figuring out how to talk to the girl of his dreams.
“Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep,” by Abby Hanlon (Dial / Penguin; $14.99; ages 5-8; 160 pp.). Dory loves making up stories with her friends (real and imaginary), but struggling to read makes her want to hide. When a black sheep wanders out of her book and follows her home, plenty of hijinks ensue--making sure that kids new to listening to longer stories will laugh and ask for more.
“Full of Beans,” by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House; $16.99; ages 8-12; 208 pp.). Does building resilience in kids mean they have to be able to handle everything by themselves? Or that they can weather the hard times, with their sense of self intact? I adore this story as Beans struggles through hard times, learning about the consequences of his decisions, yet never losing his sense of humor or his loyalty to his family and friends.
“The Girl Who Drank the Moon,” by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin; $16.95; ages 9-12; 400 pp.). This story is full of deep magic, wonderful characters, powerful themes and rich language. Readers will be swept away by an epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her.
“Ghosts” by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix / Scholastic; ages 8-12; $10.99; 256 pp.). When Cat moves to foggy Northern California, she worries that the town’s obsession with ghosts portends something dangerous and harmful. But soon, she discovers the town’s celebration of the Day of the Dead and her own Latino heritage. Read aloud this special graphic novel and see why kids fall in love with Raina’s books, reading them over and over again.
“The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary,” by Laura Shovan (Wendy Lamb / Random House; $15.99; ages 8-12; 256 pp.). Many of my students are drawn to realistic fiction because it gives them a chance to immerse themselves in someone else’s story. In fact, a recent study has shown that reading literary fiction helps improve readers’ ability to understand what others are thinking and feeling. This novel in verse is full of distinct voices that prompt us to think about different students’ unique perspectives. It’s one my students are enthusiastically recommending to one another.
“Pax,” by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins; $16.99; ages 9-12; 288 pp.). A boy. A fox. Inseparable, until they are suddenly torn miles apart. Told in the alternating voices of Peter and Pax the fox, this is a story full of love, loyalty and determination, a story about how grief, war and anxiety can take deep root but how friendship can help you find peace within.
“Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard,” by Jonathan Auxier (Harry N. Abrams; $18.95; ages 8-12; 464 pp.) Sophie is a girl after my own heart--a steadfast friend, willing to stand up for what she believes in. Above all else, she loves books and the stories they hold. When her town’s leaders threaten to banish all nonsense from their town, calling for citizens to bring their storybooks to be burned, Sophie is thrust into the role of protecting the magical Book of Who.
“What Elephants Know,” by Eric Dinerstein (Disney Hyperion; $16.99; ages 8-12; 288 pp.). Nandu, abandoned as a young boy in the jungle of the Nepalese Borderlands, is adopted by the wise and kind leader of the king’s elephant stable. When the government threatens to shut down their stable, Nandu leads the way helping his community find a solution. Along the way, he struggles with his own cultural identity, broader social and environmental justice issues and government corruption.
“When the Sea Turned to Silver,” by Grace Lin (Little Brown; $18.99; ages 8-12; 384 pp.). Young Pinmei often feels frozen by fear, yet her grandmother (Amah in Chinese) has the utmost faith in her, knowing Pinmei will step forward, bravely taking action when she needs to. Grace Lin’s magical, lyrical new novel captivates and enchants readers, as Lin draws us into Pinmei’s adventure.
10 Things You Can Do to Raise a Reader
1. Look for new books and authors that your child may enjoy.
2. Organize an area dedicated to reading and writing tools.
3. Visit the library for story time and book recommendations.
4. Encourage your child to talk about what he’s read.
5. Talk to your child, and sprinkle interesting words into your conversation.
6. Offer a variety of books to read.
7. Read with your child every day.
8. Expand your home library to include magazines and nonfiction.
9. Ask questions if you’re concerned about your child’s development.
10. Decide to raise a reader!
Mary Ann Scheuer is the librarian at Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley. Find more books she recommends sharing with your children at her blog, Great Kid Books, http://greatkidbooks.blogspot.com.