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Friday, September 16, 2011

Oh, magic hour!

Ben reading Leaves in Fall, by Martha E. H. Rustad

"Oh, magic hour,
when a child first knows
she can read printed words!"
~ Betty Smith,
from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943

Over the past couple of months, Benjamin has been learning how to read.  I love to watch his eyes light up with understanding and pride as he reads aloud to me after school every day.  "I read that page all by myself, Mommy!" he'll say, or "I know that word!"  We've been checking out lots of "easy reader" books from the library for him.  I also went through all of our books at home, pulling out the ones that are for beginning readers.  I thought I'd share a few of our favorites here: 

Cat Traps, written and illustrated by Molly Coxe, 1996... My sister bought this for my daughter Emmalie when she was learning to read.  All three of my kids have enjoyed the rhymes and silliness in this book!  Cat wants a snack, and keeps setting traps in order to get one, with unexpected consequences....

Cookie's Week, written by Cindy Ward and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, 1997... This is another fun story about a mischievous cat who keeps getting into trouble.  I love dePaola's colorful illustrations, as well.

Send It, written and illustrated by Don Carter, 2003... This book follows a package as it travels from its sender to the recipient's home.  Containing pictures of several vehicles -- mail trucks, trains, airplanes -- this will especially appeal to those kids interested in things that go!

Trucks, written by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Ivanke & Lola, 2009... Another book for vehicle buffs, kids and parents will enjoy the rhyming text and the interesting illustrations.  (Benjamin spent quite a bit of time looking at all the little details in the pictures!)

 When kids are ready to start reading some longer books, here are a few that I recommend:

Are You My Mother?, written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman, 1960... A baby bird hatches, then tries to find the mother he's never seen before.  My kids and I have always appreciated the humor in this book, as the bird meets various creatures -- a dog, a cow, a "snort" -- and wonders if they are his mother.

Little Bear, written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1978... This book contains 4 short, sweet stories about Little Bear, his mother, and his friends: "What Will Little Bear Wear?", "Birthday Soup", "Little Bear Goes to the Moon", and "Little Bear's Wish".  Minarik's simple text and Sendak's tender drawings complement each other very well, creating a classic that's delighted children and their parents for over three decades now. 

Surprise in the Tree, written by Sara Asheron and illustrated by Susan Perl, 1962... I've owned this book since I was a little girl, learning to read myself.  About a  young boy named Jerry and his inquisitive kitten, Penny (who keeps him on his toes), this story still makes me smile.   Along with the story itself, I have always loved the whimsical drawings by Perl.

I'd love to get suggestions for new books to look for at the library, for Ben to check out and read to me.  What are your favorite Early Reader books?  

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