Saturday, May 31, 2008

Summer Reading for the Kids

While we are on the topic of reading, let me share with you several thoughts on selecting books for kids. I really love what Andrew Campbell has to say in LCC:

"When selecting books, look for three things: literary language; worthy stories and characters; and quality illustrations. Ask yourself, "Does this story ennoble the child's mind? Does it speak to her heart? What aesthetic, intellectual, and moral models does it place before her? Will she be a better person for having read it?" (p.75)

Quality illustrations factor in pretty heavily when it comes to my purchases, and some of my favorite illustrators for young children's tales include K.Y. Craft (breathtaking fairy tales), Paul O. Zelinsky (beautifully illustrated Grimm's tales), A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter (my three year old is totally infatuated with Peter Rabbit right now, nap time cannot begin without a short story about Peter, Jemima Puddle Duck or Jeremy Fisher). Milo Winter's version of Aesop's fables is simple and beautiful. I also love Arthur Rackham, but some might consider Rackham a bit dark for the youngest.

Many people struggle with making decisions about literature, especially when it comes to fairy tales, mythology and fantasy literature. A Landscape with Dragons is a wonderful resource if you are unsure about how to approach these genre, and how to determine whether a book puts forth moral models (not every "good v. evil" story is a positive moral model!). It is written from a Christian perspective, and discusses the usefulness of appropriate fairy tales, while comparing older stories with some of the currently popular myth adventures, pointing out that many can appear "Christian" or moral, while in reality they are often subtly undermining true Christian values. While I don't agree with everything the author writes, it gave me some insight into many of these issues. That said, here is a list of what the kids will be reading this summer:

"the crocodile hunter" - age 9
Wonderbook for Boys and Girls (he needs to finish the last 2 stories from school year)
Black Ships Before Troy - Sutcliff
Wanderings of Odysseus - Sutcliff
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Lewis

"the little princess" - age 7
Reading-Literature: First Reader - Yesterday's Classics

Read Alouds:
Swiss Family Robinson (I have been reading this to them for over a year, they love it, but we just have not been able to finish it, so this summer we will finish the last few chapters)
The Secret Garden (I am planning to plant a "secret" garden space for the kids in addition to our vegetable garden, so I thought this would be a fun read)
The Jungle Book
Among the Pond People - I cannot say enough about how much fun this series is! - great living books science!


Erin said...

Thanks for your suggestions! Fun to see what you're all reading. We're reading Swiss Family Robinson as a read-aloud this summer, too! And maybe Black Beauty, though I don't know if I can make it through that one.

::Sylvia:: said...

thanks for all the terrific suggestions! I can't wait to check them out, we're big readers here too, i've always been one, but not having t.v. has made the rest of the family follow suit so we're always looking for great new reads!

Off topic: Join us in a swap I'm having over at my blog! Spread the word!!