Mini has taken to reading like a house on fire, all of the sudden, nearly overnight. She has been sounding words out for months now, but — more or less on her sixth birthday, her prehensility with the written word bloomed. She beams at this achievement. “I can read chapter books,” she boasts. “I can read anything.” I’d never thought critically about how her — and every child’s — pre-literate years might have felt exclusionary. She is surrounded by symbols that do not carry; she is reliant on ciphers. Now, reading has unlocked both autonomy and belonging. It has been a joy to watch her internalize these gifts, attendant as they are with other rich bestowals: confidence, curiosity, determination.
Every morning, I open the door to the scene above. And every evening, I close the door on it. I can think of no better posture for a six year old. The vignette delights, reassures me.
Today, sharing some great finds for early readers.
01. BOOK CASE // 02. ALICE AND WONDERLAND // 03. MAGIC TREEHOUSE SET // 04. DORY FANTASMAGORY // 05. AMELIA BEDELIA SET // 06. LADYBUG BOOKMARKS // 07. THE SECRET GARDEN // 08. WHALE BOOKMARKS // 09. CAM JANSEN // 10. MY FATHER’S DRAGON // 11. PERSONALIZED LIBRARY TOTE // 12. ACRYLIC BOOK CART // 13. MAGNETIC BOOKMARKS // 14. BOOKPLATES
Mini’s favorite series at the moment are The Magic Treehouse books. She rents them weekly from her school library, and owns at list six. In this series, siblings Jackie and Annie find themselves transported to different adventures by way of a magical treehouse. They problem-solve, they explore, and they have each other’s backs. I love these sets because they are adventurous but grounded in siblinghood. These, along with a set of personalized bookmarks, are my new go-to gifts for early readers. Tuck them into a personalized library tote for extra bonus points, or bundle with bookplates.
A couple of other series we’re dabbling in:
Books I’m planning to read together (will need more of my reading support): My Father’s Dragon, The Secret Garden, and Alice and Wonderland.
One thing Mr. Magpie and I realized as we were buying mini all of these new books was that our son rarely gets “new books” of his own, except for on high holidays. He’s inherited most of his library from his elder sister, and they are in…”well-loved” condition. They are also, unfortunately, often still handled possessively by his elder sister, even when she knows she’s outgrown them. The subtext is: “These books belong to ME, but you can borrow them until I want them back.” So we decided we wanted to invest in some new literature just for him.
A few of the books I’m giving my son:
A SCARF FOR KEIKO BY ANN MALASPINA
WAITING BY KEVEN HENKES
SLEEP LIKE A TIGER BY MARY LOGUE
THEY ALL SAW A CAT BY BRENDAN WENZEL
OWL MOON BY JANE YOLEN
THE LITTLE ISLAND BY MARGARET WISE BROWN
THE LITTLE HOUSE BY VIRGINIA LEE BURTON
NEFFY AND THE FEATHERED DINOSAURS BY JOE LILLINGTON
MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL BY VIRGINIA LEE BURTON
FREDERICK BY LEO LIONNI
We are also hoping to add some more furniture and storage to his room in the coming months. I’m specifically eyeing a book case like the one seen in the collage above. For even littler kids, I love a cubby system for books and toys — keeps everything at eye level, and the cubes means they are less likely to all slant/fall to one side/devolve into chaos. For even littler ones (board books for babies), this little storage solution is clever.
P.S. More books we love.
P.P.S. What a gift — to be raised as a child of books!
P.P.P.S. It reminds me of a favorite quote on growing up with lots of spare time on one’s hands to wander long corridors and empty attics.
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9 thoughts on “Books for Early Readers.”
This picture of your mini warms my heart!
To be honest I’ve been feeling challenged a bit in this area with my daughter, who is now 5. She used to love, love, LOVE books. I thought that she’s maybe losing interest in her collection of books, but then I know the repetition is good for her. We’ve been checking out books at the library every few weeks, listening to book podcasts in the car (we absolutely adore Julie’s Library, with Julie Andrews and her daughter — they choose the best books, and I want to note they include a lot of BIPOC authors), but she just hasn’t been that motivated to read lately. I hope it’s just a phase. She’s been sounding out words for quite some time now, reading consonant-vowel-consonant words, and recognizes a lot of familiar words. I know some parents who swear by BOB books, and I introduced them a couple of years ago and they did not hold her interest AT ALL. I’ve reintroduced them again and again and she just wasn’t into them, so I didn’t force the issue, though I’ve just let them sit out for her to access. Funnily enough, one afternoon she opened the box and just started reading (since they’re mostly CVC words)! Then she didn’t open the box ever again (??). We’ve always stuck to a bedtime reading routine, and she does show a lot of interest at that time, but not at other times for whatever reason. I’m not as concerned with the actual decoding process right now as I am with her reduced interest/motivation. For now I’d rather that she take pleasure and delight in books than being able to “get” reading.
These are such great ideas — series/chapter books will probably help motivate her. Though she’s not at that reading level yet, I imagine following characters in a series will help her feel more invested, I suppose? We’ll see.
I had a moment last week that sparked pure joy for me – my almost 8 year old son was reading Harry Potter and my 6.5 year old daughter was reading Ivy & Bean while I made dinner nearby. To be raising two readers is an absolute delight and for them to be reading quietly while I make dinner was simply a moment I hope I remember forever (and that it happens again!). It felt so far from those newborn and toddler days when I could hardly make dinner without 20 interruptions or carrying a child on my hip.
A couple of other series that we have loved in our house – Ivy & Bean is a newer favorite, we read The Secret Explorers and Zoey & Sassafras together and now they are starting to read on their own, and my son in particular has LOVED The InvestiGators graphic novels.
What a beautiful moment, and I’m so glad you were able to capture it/bear witness to it IN THE MOMENT. So, so special. I feel like you’re going to think of that many times in the future.
Thank you SO much for the book tips! Added all to my shopping list!
Sophie Mouse is another sweet series that my daughter loved when she was first reading chapter books. I would also add to not shy away from graphic novels when you get to that point- I’m a school librarian and many people still look down on them as less then other books, but they are such a great option for those who are either reluctant readers or newer readers. The pictures help support the writing like a picture book would, but the writing is at a higher level and they are actual novels (not comics!).
Hi Kellie! Thank you so much for the recs, and for the encouragement! Actually, comics were the first books that really grabbed Emory. She was VERY into DogMan (still is) for about six months, and they were the first books I ever saw her “read” on her own, sounding things out, etc. They gave her early confidence. I don’t love the Dog Man series, though. The language, the themes, the unkindnesses of its characters — sigh. Any more uplifting / creative options out there?
Love this so so so much! My 4 year old is beginning to sound out some letters and I am looking forward to the moment she unlocks the magic of reading.
A question though – how does Mini logistically fall asleep reading a book? A light with a timer? My daughter asks to do the same but still sleeps in pitch black with the white noise situation and I am at a loss on how to set up a new routine? I remember loving to get in bed with a book but I read by night light, which was horrible!! Thank you! 🙂
Hi Rayna! I know – it’s hard at first, when they’re still sleeping with all the toddler accoutrements. Emory is pretty responsible/good about knowing when she feels sleepy, so we do the bedtime routine (including putting on her white noise machine) and then leave her in her room with her bedside table lamp on so she can read. She will usually come down about 30 minutes later for one last good night hug, and when she returns to her bed, she’ll turn off the lamp herself. But in the earlier days, we had a more structured version of this. We’d go into her room 15/30 minutes after bedtime routine and tell her it was time to turn off the lights, and turn them off for her. You might try that. She’ll probably get a kick out of being permitted to “stay up a little later to read.” You could even make a big to-do out of it and say “Now that you’re learning to read, we’ve decided it’s time you have reading time in bed. We’re going to do prayers/read a book together/rub back/turn on sound machine and then I’m going to leave the light on so you can read in your bed for 15 minutes.” Then you can go in and turn off the light.
Maybe that will work for you, too?
Oh how I loved The Magic Treehouse series as a kid! Such memories getting lost in them, and delighting when I would discover a new one that I hadn’t already read. They are *perfect* stories and I remember feeling that confidence and pride that you’re seeing in mini. Not every stage in parenting is fun, but when you hit a good one, nothing better. Enjoy this one!!
Thank you for the reminder to soak this exciting, sweet time up. It has been such a joy to watch her. I can’t fully capture the sensation it engenders in me, but part of it is a kind of relief (?) and excitement (?) that she has found and hungrily fallen into books, which have meant so much to me throughout my life. It fills me up with happiness to see it!