Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Reading with Children, Part 2

For this week's Sunday Salon I thought I'd step off my usual path again and talk about reading with children. In this post I discussed how precious reading is in our family. But one reader asked me: how exactly do you find books for kids?

Without a doubt, the best reading list I've found is the Sonlight list. You don't have to be a homeschooler to peruse, use, and appreciate the fantastic literature used in this curriculum. So how do you navigate this website? First, go to Sonlight's home page. From there, find the "Subjects" category in the header. Under Subjects, click on Core Curriculum From there, look at both Readers and Read-alouds and then the age/grade levels in which you are interested. Once you are in that level (finally!), click on the "individual items" tab to see all the books. I know that's a lot to go through, but it really is worth it. You don't have to buy these books, of course, but this will give you a chance to make fantastic library lists.

Sonlight's online list is a bit complicated. The company used to have a listing of all the books at the back of its catalog but has done away with that, unfortunately. I like this list of 100 Best Books, but I like the age-by-age breakdown here even better. And if 100 isn't enough (of course it isn't!), here is a list of 1000 Good Books for preschool-grade 12.

Paula's Archives is another great place for reading lists, such as
* Easy chapter books
* Literature to supplement history and
* Living books for science

What about books for babies through preschoolers? I think this is a great list from the NY Public Library. Scanning these titles, I feel a tremendous nostalgia for the days of Bread and Jam for Frances, The Carrot Seed, and Mike Mulligan. (On a side note, my 7 and 11-year-olds still like for me to read picture books to them. A few times a week I'll pull out an old favorite to read to them, and they love them just as much as they did when they were preschoolers.)

But there are a lot of hidden gems that are not on traditional reading lists. When my children were small, I read William Kirkpatrick's Books That Build Character and took copious notes. This is a guide to over 300 novels, myths and legends, science fiction and fantasy, folktales, Bible stories, picture books, biographies, and many other books that emphasize virtues and values. I still carry that yellow legal pad of titles in my library bag! Another fantastic guide to children's literature is Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt.

Another way to search for kids' books is simply by subject matter. The Best Kids BookSite has an extensive listing of books according to subject. Right now, for example, you can find dozens of titles on pumpkins or football or apples. You can also click over to the Book Wizard to find books according to interest and age.

Of course, one of my favorite ways to hear about new books of any sort is through book blogs. Here are some that specialize in reviewing children's books:
* The Well-Read Child
* Becky's Young Readers
* Mommy's Favorite Children's Books
* Picture Book of the Day
* The Reading Zone
* Kidz Book Buzz
* Never Jam Today
* Novel Teen Book Reviews
* The Longstockings
* Curled Up with a Good Kid's Book

Also, Maw Books and Semicolon , while not exclusively children's book blogs, often have excellent reviews of kid and young adult lit.

If you have a favorite source for children's literature, let me know and I'll add it in. However you find books for your kids, please read to them every single day. And if you don't have kids, remember that books make the best gifts for all those baby showers and birthday parties you attend!


Melissa Jungnitsch said...

I loved this post-so many great ideas and new info for me! I have a 16 month old who is JUST starting to really love her books and though our collection rivals that of the library, I'm always looking for new reads! Thanks again!

Sandy said...

Wow, that's an excellent post. It's going to keep me busy for a long time.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post!! I'm definitely going to bookmark it to return to again to peruse those great lists! Thanks!

Ruth said...

Awesome post! You've got so many great resources and lists here. Thanks for putting this together.

I always read to my kids when they were little, and I'm finding myself almost wishing they'd hurry up and make me a granny now so that I can read all the great new children's books to them. I picked up a couple the other day by Lance Waite that brought memories back even for me. A Day with My Dad and a Day with My Dad at the Beach are really great picture books that celebrate father-daughter relationships and I can't wait to read them to my granddaughters.