Category Archives: reading

Best Books: Who Was Charles Darwin

We recently discovered a new to us series, the “Who Was” series. We love to read about history and learn about new people and places. My kids love when they can read a book by themselves and not need me, and with non-fiction that can sometimes be difficult because the language used is often lofty and advanced. The “Who Was” series is great because their target audience is early readers. The language is simple and straight-forward and they are meant to act as a beginners guide to early learners.

There are so many different books available in this incredible series. Biographies range from Jane Goodall to Martin Luther King, and include others such as George Washington, Genghis Khan, and William Shakespeare. Each book allows the reader to get an introductory look in to an historical figure.

This month we chose Charles Darwin because our kids are interested in exploration, animals, and how the animals change. This book gives a great introduction to Survival of the Fittest, looks at Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands, and gives some details in to his personal life. If you have a child that is interested in learning about adaptation and how species change or disappear this is a great book to start with. Many schools will even give extra credit at the beginning of the school year for students that read and log their reading or create book reports during the holidays. This is an excellent book for a book report, so check it out.

Best Books: Magic Tree House Pirates Past Noon

We love to read at our house, and our kids bring home a new book from school every week to do their AR practice for class (Accelerated Reader Levels). Recently our oldest has become obsessed (and that is putting it mildly) with the Magic Tree House books.

If you have never heard of the Magic Tree House books let me explain, the series is written by Mary Pope Osborne, and each book follows Jack and Annie a brother and sister that discover a magic tree house filled with books. The tree house is owned by a magical enchantress, Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur’s half-sister. Morgan sends Annie and Jack on amazing adventures through time where they meet famous people, experience historical events, cultures, and interact with historical and legendary animals and creatures.

The books follow Jack and Annie on their adventures around the world and each book is different. Currently my oldest is reading Pirates Past Noon and is adventuring the high seas, finding mysterious maps, and searching deserted islands. The books each give insight in to the incredible time periods in which the story takes place. It is a great historical fiction adventure that teaches as the kids delve further and further in to the imaginary world of Jack and Annie.

The books are great for beginning readers, my oldest is a first grader reading 10-16 chapters in each book. However, there are also Merlin Missions that are for more advanced readers that can read longer books with a more extensive vocabulary. The Magic Tree House books also have a Fact Trackers line of books that allows your child to read the Non-Fiction facts used in the novels. it is an excellent way to connect the real world with their imaginary adventure.

If you have a young reader you should definitely check out one of the magic Tree House books, they truly are a world of imagination filled with increible real-life connections!!

Best Books: Flat Stanley

Have you ever read the Flat Stanley books? Flat Stanley has been around for over 50 years. The endearing boy who was flattened by a bulletin board that fell on him while he slept has been sharing silly and fantastic adventures for over 5 decades. Multiple generations of families have enjoyed the one-dimensional, but never dull stories of Stanley Lambchop. Stanley goes on incredible journeys using the postal service to travel the country and world. He saves the Famous Museum from sneak thieves, he finds jewelry lost in places we thought never to see again. But perhaps the most important thing about Stanley is he teaches us the lesson of inclusion, of how we are all different, yet we are all the same.

We may not all be as different as Stanley is, but we are all definitely unique in ways that to us at least, seem to isolate us and make us the obvious choice to bully. Flat Stanley is a great story for kids who think they are different, or for kids who may not want to interact with someone who is different. It is an excellent tool for teaching diversity, inclusion, acceptance, and making someone understand the pain that is left behind when someone is bullied.

While the books help to bridge the gap between this major issues they do so in such a fun and simple way that readers do not feel they are being forced to read a book that will make them learn. The journey that readers experience with Stanley is organic. It changes and grows with the reader and allows them to follow along unobtrusively. Check out the Flat Stanley series now if you haven’t read it before. We highly suggest starting with Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure! You will not be disappointed!