A Quick Update
I can’t believe it’s been two months since I blogged! *faint* A big thank you to all of you who emailed to ask if everything was okay with us. Yes, everything has been okay. More than okay.
We’ve been busy busy busy here! Took two short holidays because Tee Chiou’s schedule is lighter in the summer. One was to Gananoque, gateway to the Thousand Islands (yes, home of the salad dressing!), which was just under three hours away. The other was to Toronto and the Niagara Falls, which was about 7 hours away. We took the trip in two days. Daniel isn’t great in the car unfortunately, so we can only do about three hours at a stretch and even then during his nap time. We also spent a beautiful Saturday at a friend’s cottage up north in the Laurentians and were awed by God’s creation! And we celebrated two birthdays in September (Tim’s on the 15th and Thea’s on the 19th).
And then we’ve been busy in the home. It has taken us a ridiculously long time to get settled into a routine, and now I think we have finally gotten it. I seem to be doing laundry all the time, what with clothes for six and bedsheets and too many floor mats and dish cloths, etc. The kids help, which is great! But I still have to mastermind it. And all that cooking too!
Books for Boys
So here I am back again. Finally. With a post about reading lists for boys. It started with a question on the Singapore Homeschool Group forum. A mom asked for recommendations for her 9 year old son, and I posted with a list off the top of my head. No, actually it was off the top of Tim’s head. Other moms responded also, with some books I had forgotten, then today I went up to our bookshelves to look up more so I could come up with a more comprehensive list.
Now, this is also a list for girls. I should know because Alethea has read almost all of them.
My suggestions of appropriate ages are very tentative, because interests and abilities vary so greatly in boys aged 6 to 9. I read somewhere that whether early readers or late, children are almost on par when they are 10. In the meantime, though, I strongly suggest that you continue reading to your child, whether or not they are reading competently on their own. This way you will not miss out on some of these wonderful books. If a child only becomes a competent reader at 9 or 10, they may not want to read Wind in the Willows or Winnie the Pooh. And that would be such a pity.
But First …
Here are some general points about reading in the Ng household:
1. We try to read only complete and unabridged books. We figure if a child is not old enough to tackle the real thing, he’s not old enough for the book. Why water it down
to something the author never intended? There are many books for each age and ability. So we feel there is little reason to read an abridged book.
2. We rely on reading lists from homeschool curriculum providers/advisors like www.sonlight.com (my kids find the readers for their age a little light, but have been doing well with the read-alouds for the same age), www.veritaspress.com, and our personal favourite www.amblesideonline.org. I do this because then I know that
someone else has been through that book and decided it was “okay”. Or I go to the
bookshop, take down book titles (I just take a photo of it with my smart phone), come back and read reviews (1-star first) on Amazon.
3. We try not to let my kids get stuck in any one genre. And they can’t say they don’t want to read a book after just reading the blurb at the back or looking at the cover.
They need to give them all a chance. So my son read Little House on the Prairie (wasn’t crazy about it), Caddie Woodlawn (loved it), The Little Princess, What Katy Did (listened to both on audio and enjoyed them thoroughly). So I try not to allow them to do too many books in a particular series unless they are read alternately with other books at the same time. I find books in a series, especially a LONG series, becomes formulaic after a while. It helps that I have an older daughter who is
always actively recommending books to her brother to read.
4. We believe that you should continue reading aloud to your children. I’m still reading to our oldest who is reading Shakespeare on her own. *shudder* If you cannot find the time to read, invest in good audio CDs (choose the unabridged ones where possible) or borrow them from the library or buy from www.audible.com. You can also get an excellent selection for free from www.librivox.org. We really got into audio books when I was faced with having to read the Narnia series and balked at the prospect of almost 40 hours of reading aloud. Now we have over 90 audio books in our collection and are currently listening to the How to Train Your Dragon series (we’re on book 4 or 5 and it is HYSTERICAL!) and it’s great entertainment for the whole family! You mustn’t mind language like “you winkle-hearted seaweed brain limpet-eating pig” though.
5. It is really easy to tell a good book from a not so good one. If you find it engaging yourself, it’s good. Each family has different standards, but if you look at a book and have your doubts (like I do when I see the likes of Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Robert Munsch, sorry to all the Munsch fans out there, Harry Potter from the 4th book onwards), then don’t let your child read it.
6. We read “old” books because getting used to that kind of language prepares
them for reading the classics and Shakespeare etc when they are older. If they cannot handle it, read it aloud to them. It is important for our children
to be exposed to good literature. I do allow them to borrow the lighter reads or books in a HUGE series (like Geronimo Stilton) from friends or the library, but I try not to have too many of them lying around for them to pick up too easily.
For 6 to 7 year olds
- Winnie the Pooh series (unabridged please) by A.A. Milne. Not at all trivial. We still listen to them today and hubby and I are still delighted by the stories.
- Peter Rabbit and other stories by Beatrix Potter (like A.A. Milne’s books, these are beautifully written)
- Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
- Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith
- Little Pear and Little Pear and His Friends by Eleanor Frances Lattimore
- The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark and other books by Jill Tomlinson
- The Littles series by John Peterson
- Mr Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
For 7 to 8 year olds
- Nicholas series by René Goscinny (we still re-read these because they are so funny! Author is of Asterix fame)
- Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
- Anything by Bill Peet. Bill Peet was a Disney animator and his books are wonderfully illustrated. A fantastic bridge between picture books and chapter books. Great for the reluctant reader.
- Frindle and other books by Andrew Clements
- Follow My Leader by James Garfield
- The Moffats, Ginger Pye and other books by Eleanor Estes
- The Saturdays and the other books in the series by Elizabeth Enright
- Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White (I did not like Stuart Little by the same author)
- Books by Thornton Burgess (fabulous books personifying animals written by a naturalist)
- Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
- Moomin series by Tove Jansson
- Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
- Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fendler
- Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
- The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
- Henry Huggins and other books by Beverly clearly
- Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry (don’t be deterred by the cover. This book is FUNNEE!)
- Random House has a beginning chapter book series titled “Stepping Stones”. The historical fiction titles are very good. Look them up here.
For 8 to 9 year olds
- Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol
- The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
- Zorgamazoo (an entire book written in rhyme) by Robert Paul Weston and Victor Rivas
- Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska
- Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (I couldn’t put this down myself!)
- Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Dubois
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
- Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
- Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
For 9 to 10 year olds
- How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. We don’t have the books but are listening to the audio versions of this now. Not be confused with the movie tie-ins. Read the real thing!
- The Mysterious Benedict’s Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart. An EXCELLENT series
- Silverwing and Airborn and other books by Kenneth Oppel (Tim’s current rave)
- Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat
- The Dangerous Book for boys (latest acquisition)
- 100 Cupboards series by N.D. Wilson
- Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld
- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Rascal by Sterling North