Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Books for Early Readers (FAMILY magazine reviews)

These books for busy parents are perfect for beginning readers! They feature easy language, short chapters, large print and sometimes pictures linked to the story.  All are under 130 pages, with interesting characters and surprising stories to keep a child’s attention. 
Here are several ideas to keep in mind as you choose a book to read with your child: 
1)    Pick a book you already like, or one you think your child will enjoy.
2)    Read it first, yourself – this gives you a chance to understand the flow of the sentences and how the story is set up.  It’s also a good way to find any words you think your child might have trouble with and show those words in advance, to make your child’s reading successful.
3)    Decide:
a)    Are you going to read to your child?
b)    Will you ask your child to read to you?
c)    For variety, maybe you’ll want to take turns reading a page or a chapter with your child. 
This last choice gives your child a break from reading. It also adds the pleasure of listening.  Part of the delight in a good story is the sound of the language – this is especially true for your child when YOU are the reader!
·      Choose a time when you and the child are not too tired or hungry.
·      Find a comfortable place to make it easy to pay close attention.
·      Snuggle, so you both look forward to this time together.
·      Have fun!

Mrs. Noodlekugel 
by Daniel Pinkwater
illustrated by Adam Stower 
Candlewick, $14.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 4 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online)
            This weird and wacky tale begins as an ordinary story of a brother and sister.  Nick and Maxine just moved into a tall city apartment building.  However, a magical turn happens when the curious children visit a cute little house behind the building. 
Even though their parents warn against it, they find a pleasant old lady and a talking cat.  Also, four farsighted (not blind) mice help with baking and shaping gingermice cookies.
The author’s trademark playful style makes it an odd and funny book. With black and white pictures to match the large print, it’s also easy to read.

Sadie and Ratz 
by Sonya Hartnett, 
illustrated by Ann James.  
 Candlewick, $14.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Grades 2-4 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online)
Hannah has named her hands Sadie and Ratz.  Although they are NOT animals, they act like wild beasts -- especially around four-year-old Baby Boy. 
Then, something strange happens in Hannah’s house.  Tricky Baby Boy names Sadie and Ratz for drawing on the wall with black marker.  Later, when he skins his knee, he tells Grandma, “Sadie and Ratz pushed me.”  
Hannah decides Sadie and Ratz “must go on vacation.”  But, when a special clock gets broken. AND it stopped at 2 p.m.  AND Baby Boy blames Sadie and Ratz.  Mom and Dad realize it can’t be -- Hannah “had been at school.”
This early chapter book is a skillful blend of peppy text and lively charcoal drawings that express feelings on faces and in actions.  It’s also a clever story about the power of imagination, and how big sisters and baby brothers change each other.

Pinch and Dash and the Terrible Couch 
by Michael J. Daley, 
illustrated by Thomas E. Yezerski  
Charlesbridge, $5.95 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3  
 (This series is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Homestead Branch)
            Pinch’s Aunt Hasty’s is living in a new tiny apartment.  So, movers (Push and Shove) deliver her couch to Pinch’s place.  Now Pinch’s room is too crowded -- he can’t enjoy his cozy chair.
Also, Pinch is NOT happy because his curtains have “pleasing pinches of orange.”  But as Dash, Pinch’s friend says, the couch is covered in fabric with “daring dashes of red.”           
Pen and ink and watercolor paintings match the conversation in the text.  The pictures add humor in this short six-chapter adventure. 
As the two friends try moving the furniture to fit, they get tired, thirsty and hot.  When Dash falls asleep on the couch, Pinch opens the window to cool off, giving him an idea that leads to a happy ending.

Sassy: The Birthday Storm
by Sharon M. Draper. 
Scholastic, $4.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Grades 2-4   
(This series is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Homestead Branch, Lemon City Branch, Little River Branch, North Dade Regional)
            Nine-year-old Sassy, with her Sparkle Sack, is back! This new adventure begins with her family’s trip to Florida.  But, a tropical storm threatens to spoil Granny’s birthday party. 
            On an early morning beach walk, Sassy and Granny find an endangered sea turtle’s nest. The eggs are buried close to the ocean’s edge. Maybe the storm will wash them away! 
Poppy calls a friend who is a sea turtle expert.  Before the hurricane, Michael and the entire family move 87 eggs to a safer spot. 
            The “stuff” Sassy pulls from her sparkle sack helps with the sea turtle eggs.  And even changes the ruined birthday party.  This family story isn’t just about safety and being together – it’s also about the “power and beauty of nature.”

Try these books for more great stories!

Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up 
by Melissa Thomson
illustrated by Frank Morrison  
Dial, $5.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This series is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, Homestead Branch, Lemon City Branch, Little River Branch, North Dade Regional)

Magical Monty 
by Johanna Hurwitz
illustrated by Anik McGrory.  
 Candlewick, $15.99 (hardcover) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 
(This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online)

How Oliver Olson Changed the World 
by Claudia Mills, illustrated by Heather Maione  
Square Fish, $5.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Grades 2-4 
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library; Main Branch, North Dade Regional)

Marty Maguire 
by Kate Messner
illustrated by Brian Floca   
Scholastic, $5.99 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Grades 1-3 
(This series is available to purchase from Books & Books online)


  1. This post is so informative and makes a very nice image on the topic in my mind. It is the first time I visit your blog, but I was extremely impressed. Keep posting as I am gonna come to read it everyday! furniture Online