Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2 New Early Chapter Books

I am always looking for good early chapter books. I think kids move from Henry and Mudge to Harry Potter too fast and often lose interest in reading because of it. I am always thrilled when I find great books that help kids build the stamina they need to get through longer books. I also like these books to recommend for teachers looking to add chapter books to their primary classroom read aloud time. Finding books that are easy enough and appropriate for young children, while also giving them real issues to talk and think about is not always easy. These two do both of those things.

LAYLA, QUEEN OF HEARTS by Glenda Millard is one that I just discovered. I like it because it has a bit of depth that you don't often find with earlier chapter books. This is the story of a friendship between Layla and Miss Amelie. Because Layla's grandmother has recently passed away, Layla has no one to take to Senior Citizens' Day at school. With the help of her neighbors, she finds a new friend, Miss Amelie. But Miss Amelie is often very confused and forgetful. Layla isn't sure that Miss Amelie will be able to make it to Senior Citizens' Day after all. The thing I like about this book is the way that it focuses on the relationship between the two characters and the kindness they show to each other. I think it is often difficult for young children to begin to understand the things that often come with aging and illness. This book puts these things into a story that children can understand. I love the characters in this book. The author focuses on the good in each character and the ways in which they support each other. They will stay with me for a while.

And, if you've ever wished your doll would come to life (and who hasn't, really?), you'll want to read THE VERY LITTLE PRINCESS by Marion Dane Bauer. I am a big fan of Bauer and this is a very different kind of book for her, I think. Marion Dane Bauer often deals with hard, real issues in her books. She does so in this one, but cushions it in a tale about a doll coming to life. I so love that. I love this book. It is a short read. About 120 pages. The basic story is like many others--a girl who finds a doll who comes to life. I love this kind of a story--any little tiny people who come to life. But this one is about more than that. It is about pain and loneliness, friendship and abandonment and about living today to its fullest. It is amazing to me that Marion Dane Bauer could pack such big issues into such a fun book. I shouldn't be surprised. She is an amazing author. Again, this would make a great read aloud or a great book for talking about.

(The title of this book is The Very Little Princess #1--could it be that there will be MORE of these coming soon?)


  1. Franki, thanks! I'm adding these to my tbr list. The Very Little Princess was already on it, but I'm moving it up!

    You might already know that MDB packed a ton of the pain from her son's death a couple of years ago into TVLP. She said her editor had to really point out that it was too hard, too sad. It sounds like her revision totally hit the mark.

    And I see here: http://www.mariondanebauer.com/working.html that she just finished draft 1 of a prequel to this book...

  2. I agree that many kids are so eager to begin reading "big kid" books that they pass over the bridge from picture books to chapter books without a thought. Besides, Henry and Mudge and Frog and Toad there really aren't many quality "between" books to choose from. I'm so glad you found these! I will check them out for my daughter, who is venturing into chapter book territory... Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the titles, can't wait to use for our summer reading at home.

  4. Thank you for these suggestions. I just placed a hold for these titles through the library.

    We love Henry & Mudge, and we are ready for books at the next reading level--Picture books are what I know best so, your suggestions are very helpful. Thank you!

  5. You're so right about these types of books and how kids tend to jump right past them. Thank you for these recs! Will be finding for my daughter.


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