At 6 (and 1/2 she is quick to remind me), Esme is a precocious little bookworm. In the last year, she has graduated from picture books to chapter books, which she devours by the stack every week. Luckily she still humors me and listens patiently as I read aloud from a chapter book each night to her, a ritual I'm not going to give up easily. I am so amazed at how much she reads with and without me!
These are three books Esme is loving right now:
1. Big Questions From Little People is a brilliant work of non-fiction for kids. In it are questions that curious little people (and many big people) find themselves pondering.
- How do chefs get ideas for recipes?
- Why can't I tickle myself?
- Why is the Sun so hot?
- How did we first learn to write?
- Who named all the cities?
There are tons of questions, compiled from actual school children, and they are silly and philosophical and completely fascinating for adults and kids alike. The answers are provided by a number of great minds and written with simple charm that kids can appreciate. With responses from a variety of people, from Richard Dawkins to Mario Batali, the answers are both informative and interesting. Esme hasn't put the book down since it arrived in the mail, and now she can tell you exactly why the sky is blue!
The book concludes with what may be my favorite part, a section of Out-Takes with silly answers to the questions written by some well-known comedians. This section is a lot of fun (especially for a nerd like me)! Will we ever be able to go back in time? Only if Doctor Who agrees to take us. Why are some people taller than others? The others just aren't trying.
2. The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester is a great read aloud for the 6 to 9 crowd and a book that the 10 to 13 crowd will enjoy reading on their own. We picked up this book at the recommendation of Annie of Bird and Little Bird, who wrote a lovely review of it recently.
An ordinary summer break in Georgia turns into an adventure for young Owen Jester and his friends when they discover a Fantastic Secret that has fallen off a passing train. With the adventure to guide it, this story leads us through the terrain of young friendships and difficult choices. It's a book about following your heart and listening to your conscience. With likable characters and complex friendships that kids can relate to and learn from, this is an enjoyable read with an ending that satisfies completely.
In her review of this book, Annie notes that this novel might draw some objections from parents of sensitive readers. Check out her review for her thoughtful analysis, with which I wholeheartedly agree.
3. Every Thing On It is perhaps the most read book in this house. Esme takes it to bed with her every night and I hear her giggling from the bedroom as the pages turn. She has read it so many times now that she can recite a great number of the poems from memory, and she frequently does!
This collection of poems is as silly and charming as all the rest of Shel Silverstein's work. They are funny, weird in a way kids really appreciate, and heartwarming. Published posthumously, this is a collection of never before published poems and drawings. Esme adores this book, as I expect most kids would, and I do too. Shel Silverstein always reminds me of how much fun it is to be a kid, to be silly, to laugh out loud.
What were some of your favorite chapter books as a kid?