Right now, this is what my kitchen table looks like, completely covered in books. Fiction, mostly, with some poems and horses thrown in for good measure. You may notice many sequels, and a few new series’ starters…
Someone recently asked me what it’s like to have finished writing my book. The answer is that it’s a bit anti-climactic. I gathered all my energy and effort and focus pouring into a gigantic goal. And now it is done. So I’m taking a break from writing for a bit, both from books and blogging.
Instead, I’m pouring myself into curating a child’s reading experience.
My greatest delight and challenge lately has been in keeping literature on hand to inspire and feed my insatiable child’s mind. We seldom buy books, but frequent the library, where they have nearly everything! I’m a huge fan of the book-requesting system that the Nashville Public Library has: they will bring any book I want on the hold shelf at my local branch. I can get any book in the city… for free!
I finally started a spreadsheet to track my first grader’s reading. It felt silly and OCD to make a spreadsheet. Good grief. But I began to realize that I couldn’t remember which number of which series she was on, or which ones she’d completed. If you have a voracious reader at your house, you may sympathize! Also, she’s not old enough (at 6) to be simply let loose to choose all her own books. Of course, she does put in her request for some things (Boxcar Children Mysteries, Puppy Place, American Girls), but I want to invite her into more challenging books too, and I’m trying to walk the line between pushing her envelope and gathering easy books she’ll love. This is a great challenge at any age.
It is a tricky thing to find appropriate material for a child reading beyond their grade-level. After consuming nearly all material on the list of “Gentle Reads for Precocious Young Readers” (which was excellent!), I’ve been gleaning ideas online, polling friends on Facebook, cross-checking booklists and Amazon suggestions, and asking every children’s librarian I meet what their favorites are. It’s possible that I’ve never researched anything so extensively in my life. I’m rather obsessed, and if I find a new author or recommendation, I am compelled to look further and get it onto my list before it fades into a mist.
Meanwhile, I also have a rather sensitive child, who avoids conflict and crotchety characters, will only endure adventure if it’s entangled in a mystery, and doesn’t really like surprises. So I’m trying to expand her horizons a bit without sending her into flight (she’s pretty quick to put a book down in times of peril, and then we read through those parts together, until she can’t bear to put the book away, and then will finish it).
Unfortunately, I don’t have the leisure time to pre-read every book I want to give her, and I rely heavily on recommendations. If I’m still unsure of the content, I’ve been trying to carve out the time to sit and read (usually next to my reading kids during book time, or something). As a wonderful consequence, I’m whisked away into delightful stories myself.
Here are some favorite series’:
- The Boxcar Children
- The Penderwicks (and the 4th book is coming out this spring!)
- Misty of Chincoteague
- The Cricket in Times Square
- Little House on the Prairie (did you know they’ve made FIVE generations’ worth of series’?)
And a few other classics we loved:
If you need me, I’m probably at the library.
Also, you may enjoy these posts about early reading and picture book favorites:
- A Lifesaver: Book Time
- Some Favorite Children’s Authors
- More Favorite Children’s Authors
- The Nashville Library’s Storytime Downtown
- Pre-Reading Basics: Phonemic Awareness
- Pre-Reading Basics: Letter Learning
- Early Reading Basics Part 1
- Early Reading Basics Part 2
- We Both Read books
Disclosure: if you buy books from my Amazon links, they may send me money.