Monday, May 5, 2014

First Daughter's First Grade Books

We started First Daughter's first grade reading by finishing up The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, which I reviewed here last year. We did two lessons a day for a few weeks. Near the end of the book, the lessons get quite a bit longer, so then we went back to one a day and even sometimes split one between two days. She finished the book in week 6 and we moved on to real books. I wasn't sure what her level would be and she read a few books at the beginning that were pretty far below her challenge reading level, but they are good books so it was fun to read them.

I had First Daughter read aloud to me for the entire year. She had a bad habit of skipping words and I wasn't sure why. Was she struggling with words she should know how to read? Was she skimming and substituting a word she knew fit the sentence? (First Son used to do that, replacing words he couldn't read with a word he knew fit.) In the end, I decided she was just reading really fast and skipping short little words she didn't think were very important. So while her reading level was quite good, I asked her to continue reading aloud and made sure she slowed down enough to read each word. If I had been busier this year or had a newborn or something, I would certainly have switched her to independent reading. To provide some practice and time when she was forced to read slowly, I would have asked her to read aloud to me once a week or so, but probably a book I would otherwise have read aloud to her to decrease the time involved.

So, on to the real books! Here's the list of books First Daughter read aloud to me in her first grade year:

Grasshopper on the Road by Arnold Lobel, because no education is complete without Arnold Lobel. I made sure there were a few of his books lying around so she could read them for fun, too, but she was already pretty far beyond this reading level.

Hot Fudge Hero and Bertie's Picture Day by Pat Brisson, both of which are among my very favorite books. Bertie is a great kid and the relationships he has with his parents, his sister, his friend, and his neighbor are the kind I want my kids to emulate. First Daughter also read Little Sister, Big Sister by the same author about a different family. These books are all out of print, but our library has them all. I snagged my copies on, where as I write they are all available, though not necessarily in hardcover.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner is the first of the Boxcar Mysteries. First Daughter enjoyed this book and I like introducing it to kids because it gives them a whole series to read on their own, but I'm not going to have the other two read it aloud to me. I can't explain why, because the children are sweet and the content of the stories are perfect for early readers (exciting, but not too exciting), but I just don't care for it. We own the first six books in the series and neither First Son or First Daughter read them all.

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg is a book about change. It's sweet and funny.

The Best-Loved Doll by Rebecca Caudill is an older book, but the love of little girls for the dolls is still strong today. First Daughter loved this book. I think she read it over two days.

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh is one of those easy to read chapter books that are worthy of being read by anyone. First Daughter was a little frightened by this book, but I kept encouraging her to read on and she persevered.

Daisy Dawson Is on Her Way! by Steve Voake is a wonderful little book and the beginning of a series. It's perfect for early elementary readers, especially girls. First Daughter and I were both delighted by Daisy.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is a classic for a reason. First Son never read it because I didn't realize how simply it is written. First Daughter loved it and I was as happy to listen to her read it aloud as I had been to read it myself the summer before.

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh is another of those books I love to hear my children read aloud. Sarah's courage is the kind that of courage we all need to do things that seem frightening but are surmountable.

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, a story of high entertainment for the early elementary crowd.

"B" Is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood is the first book in a series. Betsy is in first grade in this one and the descriptions of her class and her adventures are sweet. First Daughter loved this book and I actually enjoyed it more listening to First Daughter read it than I did when reading it to myself.

Unlike First Son, First Daughter devours books, often reading for long stretches of time during the day. In addition to the books she read aloud to me, I have a need to provide lots of supplemental reading for her. Throughout the year, these are the books she read in her own time:

The Complete Ramona Collection, multiple times. She has, in fact, read some of these books so often that my old copies fell apart. Thank goodness for the library.

The Magic Tree House books, though she tired of these after the first twenty or so.

The Junie B. Jones books, which I have never read. First Daughter thought Junie B. Jones was based on Ramona, and she's probably right.

Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl and Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take by Jessie Haas, which First Daughter particularly enjoyed because she thinks we need a pony here on the Range. (If only they were not so expensive to feed!)

Like Bug Juice on a Burger, the sequel to Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie.

The rest of the Daisy Dawson books

The sequels to Sarah, Plain and Tall, of which there are four. (I've only read the first two of these, though I keep meaning to read the last two just to see what happens.

A variety of Flat Stanley books, none of which I have read, but which First Son and First Daughter have both been enjoying.

Off and on throughout the year, she read from the Little House books. She is now currently in the middle of The Long Winter and intends to read the rest of the them this summer.

Just for comparison, here's the list of books First Son read when he was in first grade. It's interesting to me to see how different their interests are. First Daughter didn't really want to read any of the Magic School Bus chapter books. First Son had to be forced to read the Little House books and the Narnia books in third grade. They basically took him through the whole year. Even though he enjoyed them, he had no interest in reading ahead on his own time. First Daughter will probably jump at the chance to read the Narnia books all on her own.

I have a long list of books for First Daughter to read, but given her propensity to read at all hours of the day, I'm always happy to hear more suggestions. Let me know if there's something you think she'd enjoy!

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