This school year my children will be entering 4th, 6th, and 7th grade, and they all have at least two books they are required to read over the summer. If possible, I like to listen to the kids read, read some myself aloud, and/or silently follow along. I read the most with my eldest daughter because she has a severe form of dyslexia and is dependent on audiobooks most of the time, but I try to keep up with the others as well. Lately, it dawned on me how much I have enjoyed the books my children read, and I wanted to put a plug-in for adults to revisit some of the old and new “classics” the kids are reading in school because I have found that these books are just plain good literature. Below I discuss a few of my favorite children’s books—some are early “chapter” books and others are novels for children.
A couple of weeks ago I was reading Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo with my son, and I just fell in love with that book all over again. The main character, India Opal, has just moved to a very small town in Florida with her father, the local preacher. Early in her move, India Opal rescues a stray dog causing havoc in the local Winn Dixie, takes him home, and the rest of the story centers around the pair’s ability to work their way into the locals’ hearts. It is a sweet story that has some sad moments, but it made me hanker for small town goodness. It is great for kids to read this because many can identify with how it feels to lose a parent and how it feels to be the new kid on the block, literally.
Last year, my daughter and I read Where the Red Fern Grows I by Wilson Rawls, a book I had never read before. This was a captivating story of a young boy who spends over a year raising his own money to buy two coon hunting dogs. For those of you who live in the city, these dogs are trained to sniff out and tree raccoons, valuable for their pelts. It does not sound like a book I would like much less immerse myself in, but I was hooked by chapter two. The plot is action-packed, the descriptions of what theses coon dogs are capable of doing are detailed and fascinating, and the attachment between a boy and his dogs stole my heart. Warning: This one made me cry—a lot—and if I think about the book today, I could cry again. It’s a real heart-wrencher. This book was so good for my daughter to read because she garnered an understanding of how other children her age had (and have) to work hard to buy and accomplish something.