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Most children want to read a book because it's about something they love or are curious about--dinosaurs, magic tricks, ballerinas, sports, secret codes, and a host of other topics. Now with this unique book, Kathleen Odean, current chair of the Newberry Award committee and author of Great Books for Girls and Great Books for Boys, makes it easy for parents and teachers to satisfy a child's individual cravings for good reading on ...
Most children want to read a book because it's about something they love or are curious about--dinosaurs, magic tricks, ballerinas, sports, secret codes, and a host of other topics. Now with this unique book, Kathleen Odean, current chair of the Newberry Award committee and author of Great Books for Girls and Great Books for Boys, makes it easy for parents and teachers to satisfy a child's individual cravings for good reading on any subject. Inside you'll discover
¸ More than 750 books divided into 55 categories, from Airplanes to Zoos
¸ Professional appraisals that are balanced, intelligent, and fun to read
¸ Stimulating book-related activities and helpful tips for parents
Whether the format is picture book, poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, here are wonderful selections like Why Does the Cat Do That? and Exploring the Titanic . . . tried and true characters, from the beloved aardvarks Arthur and D.W. to the hilarious Junie B. Jones and the courageous Harry Potter . . . new heroes and heroines to cheer for such as Katherine Paterson's Princess Miranda from The Wide-Awake Princess and the exciting Jack Black from Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves by Carol Hughes.
Great Books About Things Kids Love creates a book-rich environment in which the habit of reading can take hold and flourish for a lifetime.
"I like stories about children and wild animals and explorers."
Garnet in Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
"Would you like me to read to you?"
"Yeah. About airplanes."
So Anastasia climbed up on the high hospital bed and read to Sam from one of the library books she had brought him.
Anastasia at Your Service by Lois Lowry
Annie put the dinosaur book back with the other books. Then she gasped.
"Wow," she whispered. "Look at this."
She held up a book about Egypt.
Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne
"What sayeth he?" asked the red-cross knight's friend.
"Methinks they know of us," whispered the tall one.
"Sure," I said. "I've read all about you guys--the sword in the stone, Lancelot and Guenevere, Merlin the Magician."
Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Scieszka
"The best kind of book," said Barnaby, "is a magic book. . . . The best kind of magic book . . . is when it's about ordinary people like us, and then something happens and it's magic."
Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager
"What is the use of a book," thought Alice, "with-out pictures or conversations?"
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Wild animals, explorers, airplanes, ancient Egypt, knights and wizards, and stories about magic in everyday life--these are just a few of the things children love to read about. The speakers quoted above are all fictional characters, but they speak for real children, too, who have so many interests they want to explore, often starting when they are young.
When I think about what motivates a child to pick up a book and read, or prompts a young child to ask a parent to read aloud, the answer often has to do with the subject of the book. True, some avid readers have an inner drive to read, but most children choose a book because it is about something they love. In my seventeen years as a children's librarian, I have seen child after child check out a book not just because I said it was a good story but because it was about dragons, dinosaurs,
or dolls. Children who ordinarily wouldn't pick up a book unless they had to changed their minds when offered a collection of brain teasers, a photo-essay with great shots of snakes, or books about baseball, ballet, trucks, horses, monsters, or drawing.
Most children don't realize what a rich array of books exists on so many fascinating subjects. Parents can take ad-vantage of their children's excitement about different subjects as a way to get them excited about reading. This guide will help parents and children find books to satisfy their curiosity and their thirst for "pictures or conversations."
The larger goal of this guide is to help your child learn to love reading and to make sure that books mean more to him or her than just a school assignment. (For ways to incorporate reading into your child's everyday routine, see the sections of the book under the heading "Encouraging Your Child to Read.") If a child isn't enthusiastic about reading in school but loves soccer, a book on soccer technique may suddenly make reading worthwhile. A novel with a lot of soccer action or a biography about a favorite player may capture his or her inter-est.
The child's devotion to soccer will spill over to books on the subject, giving books and reading a new and positive status.
Learning can take on a practical purpose--such as under-standing soccer better--that hooks a child into reading.
Oftentimes, children don't understand why they are taught certain things in school, particularly when they have to study things they don't enjoy. Why do they have to study geography?
What is the point of learning math? Outside of school,
parents can encourage their child's individual interests and help make learning an active process that arises from the child, not from a set curriculum. Many children who can't see the relevance of reading in school feel differently if they are calling the shots and deciding what they learn about. Frequently these are subjects that never surface in a classroom,
like figure skating, detective work, magic tricks, or marbles.
Sometimes children want to learn more about what they've studied in school, after the teacher has gone on to the next subject. For example, children who develop their love of poetry thanks to an enthusiastic teacher may want to make it part of their lives at home. Children who have learned origami in school while studying Japan often want to do more origami outside of school. Or they might listen to a novel about knights and castles in school and want to read other books like it on their own. These are great opportunities for parents to promote books at home and this guide is a great resource for these times.
Parents can also use this book to nudge children who already enjoy reading to widen their horizons. Readers who have been immersed in fiction sometimes extend their enthusiasm to nonfiction if the topic is right. Biographies offer an effective segue into nonfiction thanks to the strong narrative line biographies use to tie the facts together. Historical novels pair naturally with books about history. Children who read Number the Stars, a novel about the Danish resistance during World War II, will readily pick up Tell Them We Remember, an informational book about the Holocaust.
Conversely, readers who prefer nonfiction may be drawn to novels related to a topic they love. Children who like the outdoors and treasure their field guides often relish wilderness survival books like My Side of the Mountain, or fiction about wild animals like Swimming with Sharks.
Children who have not developed strong interests or an affinity for books can be steered toward both with help from adults. All too often, children assume that the books assigned in class represent all books, and their experience tells them that reading leads to worksheets or book reports. These children are delighted to hear about books that require no work-sheets,
on topics they never thought books would address, like secret codes or roller coasters. Even television and movie fans can find tie-ins that lead them to reading, as more children's books are made into movies and television shows. Interest in a popular movie can spill over to books, too; for a while, any book with the word Titanic in its title snagged even the most reluctant readers.
Adults need to remember that there's a lot children don't know about the world of books. Children don't automatically ask if a novel they like has a sequel or if the nonfiction book they just read is one in a series, yet if they knew, it would extend their enthusiasm about one book to the next. Most children don't realize that they can find directions for building forts, making pop-ups, or knitting finger-puppets in a book.
And they have to be introduced to different types of books like field guides and shown how to use them. But with help from caring adults and with access to the growing number of wonderful books, children can move smoothly along the path to becoming lifelong readers.
How I Made the Choices
To choose the books in this guide, I read or reread every one,
and read many of the shorter ones and some of the novels aloud to children. A number of the novels have also been read aloud by classroom teachers I know, with great success. Still others I've given to older children to read and tell me their reactions.
The guide is a selection from the many good children's books in print and is far from exhaustive. I had to make choices among the relevant books available, trying to achieve a balanced whole, so inevitably many fine books are omitted,
which should not be interpreted as rejection. For most of the subject categories, many other books are available. In the back of the guide, I list resources to help parents find more books if their child wants to pursue a topic further.
The subjects I've included do not exhaust the topics that interest children. You will not find entries on fads such as Pokemon or Beanie Babies, or music and movie stars, simply because their popularity can wane so quickly. Plenty of books are available on these topics, and they might be a good choice for the child who doesn't usually enjoy books but is caught up in the fad.
I drew on my extensive experience as a children's librarian in choosing the topics, but I know that individual children will have serious interests I didn't cover. In my work, I've had children ask for books on fencing, specific military battles, how to perform magic spells, and much more. Children who have immigrated from other countries often want to pore over photographs of their countries of origin. I couldn't cover every topic, on account of space limitations, but I urge parents to
pursue their children's specific needs for information at a library,
through the public library interlibrary loan system, or at a large bookstore. Again, a section at the back of this guide gives useful information about locating more books.
In the area of picture-story books, I looked for different art styles as well as strong writing, since these books often provide the main way many children see art. I looked for novels with good prose, fully developed characters, and strong plots. Not all topics lend themselves to novels, so in some areas, the list of novels is shorter than in others. The nonfiction varies the most, from nearly wordless books of visual puzzles to photo-essays to long, well-documented texts on serious subjects. In areas where information changes quickly like geography and science, I tried to find the most recent good books whenever possible.
In all the categories, my goal was to include a diversity of cultural groups, to reflect the many backgrounds of children in this country. I also tried to include a balance of books in which the main characters are girls and others where they are boys. This effort is most obvious in the sports fiction lists, al-though it was not always possible to find enough books on girls to create a balance. My annotations reflect the strengths and weaknesses of each book to make it easier for parents and children to make decisions on what to try.
|How I Made the Choices||xvi|
|How to Use the Guide||xviii|
|Helping Your Children Discover Their Wings||xxii|
|Animals, Animals, Animals||3|
|Horses and Horseback Riding||30|
|Insects and Spiders||36|
|Reptiles and Amphibians||49|
|Zoo Animals and Others||62|
|Arts and Crafts||69|
|Art and Artists||69|
|Dance and Theater||82|
|Music and Musicians||89|
|Folklore and Fantasy||103|
|Dragons, Wizards, and Other Magic||103|
|Folktales from Around the World||112|
|Folktales from Europe||117|
|Ghosts, Aliens, and UFOs||126|
|History and Adventure||137|
|Archaeology and the Ancient World||137|
|Cowboys, Cowgirls, and the Wild West||150|
|Explorers and Adventurers||156|
|Knights and Castles||161|
|Kings and Queens||167|
|Native Americans Past and Present||180|
|Pirates and Buried Treasure||186|
|Games, Puzzles, Hobbies, and Holidays||198|
|Brain Teasers and Riddles||198|
|Mysteries, Detectives, and Criminals||208|
|Holidays and Festivals||214|
|Games, Hobbies, Toys, and Magic Tricks||227|
|Sign Language and Secret Codes||235|
|Visual Puzzles and Optical Illusions||239|
|Science, Math, and Technology||243|
|Computers and Robots||243|
|Human Body and Sexual Reproduction||263|
|Math and Money||269|
|Science Experiments and Inventions||275|
|Space Exploration and Astronomy||282|
|Sports for Everyone||288|
|Transportation and Engineering||333|
|Airplanes and Ships||333|
|Buildings, Bridges, and More||341|
|Cars, Trucks, and Trains||347|
|A Basic Reference Shelf for Home||361|
|Encouraging Your Child to Read||366|
|Creating a Life Rich in Books||366|
|Tips on Reading Aloud||372|
|Books, Field Trips, and Travel||376|
|Creative Writing and Making Books||380|
|Learning More About Authors and Illustrators||383|
|Movie Tie-ins to Books||386|
|Television Tie-ins to Books||388|
|Fiction in Series: A Suggested List||391|
|More Resources and Tips for Parents||403|
|Locating the Recommended Books||403|
|More Resources About Children's Books||407|
|Finding Nonfiction Books in the Library||409|
|Keeping Up with What's New in Children's Books||411|
|Useful Books on Serious Subjects||413|
Posted November 12, 2012
Posted June 27, 2001
This book is the perfect gift for anyone with a child. When I couldn't decide which book to give a friend for their child, I have given them this one or one of Odean's earlier books. All of them have found useful tips on how to encourage their child to read as well as how to find the perfect book for their child.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.