Monday, December 26, 2011

Your input needed: favorite kid/teen books and reading ideas that have worked for you

If you're anything like me, you're in the post-Christmas blahs.  Or will be shortly.  To help you out of the doldrums & give you & your kids something to discuss & contemplate & mull over, YOU CAN HELP ME OUT!!

As the sidebar on this blog indicates, I'll be presenting at UVU's "For the Love of Reading" conference in February.  I'll be sharing ideas & stories about what we can do as moms to help our kids LOVE READING.

I want to provide a stellar "Books Kids & Parents Adore" list for whomever is brave enough to attend my presentation.  I would LOVE to get your ideas of books you & your kids love.  Only list ABSOLUTE FAVORITES (1 or 2 per category) for whichever age categories are relevant to you & your kiddos.  A short blurb about why the books are great would also be helpful.

Here are the basic age categories:

Early Teen
Teens who think they're adults but really aren't quite yet
Reluctant Teen Readers (esp boys)

Also, if you have any  fantastic ideas that have helped instill a  LOVE of READING in your kids (bribes, incentives, fun ideas, etc.) -- PLEASE SHARE!!

Thanks in advance for your help on this.  I'll think of some fantastic prize (hint: it'll probably be a book that I adore...) for the parent (or parents!!) who stun me with their book lists and/or reading ideas. 

How's that for a carrot?


  1. Early Teen would probably be the Percy Jackson series. Our whole family has read this series, except Audrey and we love it. It was the catalyst for Tyler, age 7 to really love to read large books. It is a series about children who are born of a mythological god and a human. These kids go from being the trouble maker at school to heroes. A fantastic series.
    9-11 would be the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Similar to the Hunger Games series in the thought provoking and the children speaking up for themselves, but clean. I would recommend it to all, and you know how picky I am when it comes to clean books. This series is about a world where people run out of food and vote in a totalitarian leader who controls everything and passes a law that every family may only have 2 children or less. This series is about the 3rd children who live in hiding.
    6-8 would be the Magic tree house series. I know it is very popular, but we love them. My kids have all read the whole series.
    the younger ones depend on the kids, we all love the Very Hungry caterpillar. A great beginning reader book as it has lots of repetition.
    My kids all love to read, and I think it starts by us reading fun series with the kids, and I continue to read the books they are reading after or before them. It gives us a chance to talk about the book, and to share an interest. We often fight over who gets to read it first. I really think that parents who read have kids who read. I know that isn't a fun incentive, but we all enjoy reading together.
    Too bad I don't live closer so that I can come and hear your presentation. I am sure you will be awesome!

    1. Thanks so much for your book suggestions & thoughts on reading. They are awesome & I'll put them to good use!

  2. I have one child who really struggled to learn to read. He is now an avid reader, and I really think the secret to that was audio books! During the time that reading felt like such a chore for him, I continually exposed him to great stories by bringing home books on CD from the library. I knew that eventually, he'd learn to read, and I wanted him to still want to read after all the negative experiences he was having at school with his reading struggles. Audio books became his escape. These days he's a 9th grader who can read as well as an adult. He probably splits his time evenly between print books & audio books. He can imitate almost any voice or accent, so maybe that's the side benefit of all those audio books from his childhood. I'll post some of our favorite books in another comment.

    1. Kim, I really appreciate your insight on audio books. I am definitely using that one -- that was a wise mommy move that proved successful!

  3. Hi Susie,

    I think it’s awesome that you’re doing this!

    Here’s our list of favorites:

    0 - 2: Night Monkey Day Monkey by Julia Donaldson and all books by Eric Carle.

    3-5: Magic Tree House series. Both of my kids read the whole series and loved them. I love them because they teach history and geography. They are great to get children to be independent readers. I would say they are best for 5 and 6 year olds.

    6 - 8: The Rainbow Magic Fairies was a favorite with my daughter. Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton books are also favorites with both, which teach geography and history.

    9 - 11: Harry Potter. Definitely. Our whole family adores these books.

    Early Teen / Reluctant Teen: We’re not quite to this age group yet, but I have to put in a good work for any book by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson series and Red Pyramid series).

    We’ve tried to get our kids to love books since they were born. Here are some things we’ve tried:

    • We read aloud to them a ton before they could read for themselves.

    • We make sure they see us reading to ourselves to model the behavior.

    • We taught them to read quite young (How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy lessons is a wonderful book) so they would be successful readers.

    • Once they could read for themselves, we instituted a ‘weekly reading night’ where we would all pile on mom and dad’s bed, each of us with our favorite book, and read the evening away.

    • In the summers, we provide a reading list that is age appropriate to our kids. For every book they finish, they earn points – which can be used towards prizes.

    • Throughout the year we allot them a small sum to buy books in their school’s Scholastic newspapers that come out.

    • They have ‘lights on’ for an hour after bedtime to lay in bed and read. Sometimes this has turned into toy-playing time, I admit, but it’s also been their favorite time to read and one of our most successful ‘ploys’.

    • We strictly limit computer time. We don’t do TV. It makes reading books more appealing when there is nothing more exciting to do :)

    I hope this helps?

    1. Lynette -- This helps a TON. It's seriously fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to compile the list & your thoughts. You're awesome!

  4. 0-2 You Are My I Love You -- was a gift. Humor w/ heart.
    3-5 Boynton books, Miss Spider Counting Book (not the others!)
    6-8 Junie B. Jones (ugh) started both my girls, Diary of a Wimpy Kid
    9-11 Harry! Percy!
    Early Teen LOVE the Galagher Girls series (Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover etc.) also Rick Riordan for boys. Also Maximum Ride series is good.
    Teens who think they're adults but really aren't quite yet -- Recently began books of Pellinor series and like them a lot. Classics like P&P, Count of Monte Cristo are good for wannabe adults.
    Reluctant Teen Readers (esp boys) I recently discovered that my hard fast rule of book before movie could be flipped to encourage the book reading after the movie... sometimes knowing the characters and setting makes it easier to get into the book.

    Also, if you have any fantastic ideas that have helped instill a LOVE of READING in your kids (bribes, incentives, fun ideas, etc.) -- PLEASE SHARE!! ****I once read that the best thing you can do was to let your children see you reading (not read to them, tutor them, etc.) As a lover of books this has been an easy thing for me to do. I cannot remember this many years later if it was a predictor of academic success in general or reading success. Either way, you win.

    1. Sharon -- Love the books & your ideas. Thanks for taking the time to share them. You're the best.

  5. I got my children ereaders for Christmas my oldest son dose not read but I have been looking for ways. To get him reading found this tool has got him excited also cheep ways to pick up fun new books our library sells old books. .50¢ to 1$ its a great way to get something new for them to read and to make sure they are appropriate I read first it then when they read I can ask if they liked it my oldest at 12 loved Harry Potter now she's she loves john grishiam where the sidewalk ends is a favorite on all my children at any age. dr susse as soon as my children were born I read them all his story's sometimes with voices LOL but we have a collection and my oldest says she will do the same with her kids letting your kids see your joy of reading dose help them find there own joy

    1. Shelbe -- Thanks for sharing your great ideas! You are so right about letting your kids see that you find joy in reading.

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  7. My 2 cents about books...

    0-2: Each Peach, Pear, Plum. Cute little book that we've had since Ashley was a baby. Great words and pictures.

    3-5: Anything by Laura Numeroff or Sandra Boynton.

    6-8: Magic Treehouse, Classics from my childhood - Little House series and The boxcar children. They love getting into chapter books

    9-11: Harry Potter or (especially for a sports-loving boy who is way too cool to read)... Anything by Mike Lupica

    Early Teen: Hard to pick something here... (not MY favorites, but my kids like them): They seem to love the YA Dystopian novel series (Maze Runner, Hunger Games, Matched).

    Almost adult: Amanda's at the point where she reads everything I do - A very fun stage to be in! I'd pick good mom & kid discussion books like "The Poisonwood Bible", or "The Book Thief". She and Ashley also both loved "A Girl Named Zippy" and "Ella Minnow Pea".

  8. From Deb (Susie's sister):

    I love so many books. So I finally went through my books today and wrote down many titles and authors that I love. It will be hard to narrow it down to 1 or 2 per age group, but I will try.

    Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly. A must. I have had it since Alex was a baby. Nursery kids at church are mesmerized by it. They want it every week. Kindergartners love it. First graders love it. (even though it is meant for younger kids) Kids love this book. It is one I have read over and over and over! So it kind of spans ages of 2-5.
    For these very young ages I also like the books by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Eric Carle. Panda Bear Panda Bear, What do you See? Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you See? Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do you Hear?
    Sandra Boynton books. Love them. They go up to age 4 or so.

    Frog and Toad books. Arnold Lobel. Classic. Love them.
    A Visitor for Bear. Bonny Becker. Recent discovery for me. Love, love, love it.
    I Love you Stinky Face. Lisa McCourt. Love.
    Are you kidding me?! There is absolutely no way I can limit to 1 or 2 books. This is my favorite category because it is picture books. The next age begins books kids can read.....I have to list some more.
    Blueberries for Sal, Robert McClosky
    Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkira
    The Lion and the Mouse, Jerry Pinkney (only pictures--gorgeous)
    Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
    I could go on and on.....

    The age of my girls now. They still love all of the picture books I read to them, but now they can read. So you have two categories here, books they can read themselves, and books that they can't read easily themselves, but are age appropriate to be read to them. They check out books at school to read by themselves, but I always read to them at night, and will for many more years. It didn't matter that Alex was an excellent reader, I still read to her every night until the triplets were born when she was 11. We both loved it. We were in the middle of the Harry Potter books then. I anticipate reading to the girls even longer.
    Magic Tree House Books are great for them to read themselves.
    Little House on the Prairie Books are great for me to read to them.
    The Chronicles of Narnia will probably be next.
    Junie B. Jones....I hate. They weren't around when Alex was young, but came a few years later. I heard so much about them that I bought the whole set one time in a Scholastic Book order for a Christmas gift. I started reading the first one to the girls and was very uncomfortable because Junie B. Jones was so disrespectful and disobedient, and just bad. The girls kept looking at me with wide eyes. Of course, that is the whole point of the books, she is supposed to be funny. Not funny to me.

    I loved the 1st 2 Harry Potter books. Decreased love after that. I know they are awesome and have helped so many kids get into books. But just like the Twilight series, they seem to go downhill. I was reading out loud to Alex in the truck one time from I don't know what book--3rd or 4th, and it was the first time Dale had ever heard any part of Harry Potter. It was all about death and prison and pain and torture--and Dale said, "What in the world are you reading to my girl?". That was eye opening to me.
    Somewhere in here has to by A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. You can tell I am a female with no sons =).

    I don't really know what to say for teens. Pride and Prejudice =).

    I really liked the comment one mom made about audio books for her son. I think about Dale (my husband) because there have got to be kids like him. He has never, ever in his life read a book just for enjoyment. Reading is a chore for him. He has obviously read a lot, and has always done well in school, but he hates to read. It is very strange to me, but he can not read faster than he can say the word out loud. That is just how his brain works. However, he enjoys listening to books.

  9. From Luanne Porter:

    Here are a few of the books we’ve loved enough to hang onto:

    Magical Hands by Marjorie Barker. A reminder that just our pair of hands can make a difference in other’s lives. Hard to find – buy if you can find. Beautifully illustrated.

    Today I feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis. Joyful recognition of our many emotions.

    The Book of Shadowboxes by Laura Seeley. I’m a sucker for a fine illustration. This is an alphabet ‘search’ book at its finest.

  10. From Julie Jones:

    Brooklyn just read "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon"
    Age category 8-13

    Brooklyn: I like this book because it teaches you good lessons on patience and understanding. It has a really good beginning that gets straight on to the plot and there are many shorter stories- Chinese legends- that are also fun. One thing I really like about this book is the font is really big and the pages are thick and there are color illustrations.

  11. I just reread Beauty by Robin McKinley. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Beautifully written and entertaining. Probably for ages 11 and up.