Thursday, February 28, 2008

Books of Books

I decided to start looking into some home schooling resources since I might start some real activities with First Son in the fall (his pre-K year).

Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt

This is the book that started it all. I found a bunch of others on the same shelf at the library and was quickly surrounded by books of lists of books. This one doesn't show any research, unlike The Read-Aloud Handbook, but advocates the same actions (reading aloud to kids and as a family). It was primarily focused on the imaginative and spiritual growth of children in the family that reads together. It's Christian, so there is a whole chapter about reading the Bible as a family and isn't afraid to reference religion in every day life in other chapters as well. The book lists were excellent. I loved how many of them were out of print, for the most part. I know it'll help us find tremendous books we would have missed otherwise, but it is hard to get a hold of them if we decide we want to buy them. Luckily, there are tons of options for buying out of print books online. (I was surprised to find a handful that weren't even offered by anyone on Amazon.) I added a ton to our wish lists (which you can find if you know us off-line by searching on Amazon) and will be winnowing through them to either increase the priority (if we want to own them someday) or taking them off. I'm making a note to myself (here!) to check the book out again when I have kids in the 9-12 age bracket. (I love the library!)

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading for Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike
by Esme Raji Codell

This book is huge! So I haven't read the whole thing, but I would love to have this on my bookshelf. Unlike the one above, this one has quick and easy lists for just about anything you can imagine and I think it would be a valuable resource for the home-schooling family (along with the quality public library we have). It also has loads of activities. (The back cover says "hundreds".)

Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children's Literature by Elizabeth Wilson

I liked this book's description of each of the books listed, something lacking in the two above. It's also nice, sometimes, to have a solid list of books reinforcing the Christian world view, as all of these books do. It seems most useful for older children (most of the books listed are for those already in school) so I didn't pull too many to add to our list right now. I've decided it's a good one to reference again later when the kids are older. I think I like the topic-based lists in Esme Codell's book above better.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

If you ever questioned the value of reading aloud, this book will change your mind. You'll also find extensive book lists, which I think included descriptions of each of the books. I can't do a real comparison because I read this so long ago. I intend to buy it eventually to have on hand as a reference, but keep thinking there will be a new edition pretty soon so keep delaying.

Any other recommendations for lists of books for kids?


  1. I'll have to check out the book by Codell. I've read the other three, and my only complaint is that I'd really like to find something recently updated. I know there are some great books out there that have been written in the last few years, but I haven't been able to find a good list. Let me know if you come across anything!

  2. Current books are harder. I've had pretty good luck with the book reviews in Cookie magazine - at least it's not all those Eric Carle and Good Moon suggestions you get from most parenting magazines. (In fact, they have an article this issue with tons of suggestions of older books, too, but usually it's just a few reviews.) The book I just finished, Buy, Buy Baby, suggested most new children's books are not that good and even the reviews published for libraries don't tend to highlight the best books all the time. Still, I think a librarian in an extensive children's section or a helpful employee in the children's section of an independent bookstore (preferably a children's bookstore) is going to be able to pull out some good choices for you. (Those big bookstores don't have well-trained employees in the children's section - usually.)

    I feel the same way about new children's as new adult books...there's so much now that isn't good, I'd almost rather wait a few years and see what comes up on the recommended lists.


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