Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Meanest Birthday Girl by Josh Schneider

I've spent lots of time this summer catching up on series books that I think my new third graders will be reading when school starts next month.  Catching up on these transitional books is key to supporting their reading development. I'm also looking for stand-alone books that help readers understand the power of story and that help them build conversation to understand character, see the world differently, and laugh and learn together.  3rd grade is a challenging one when it comes to book choice because it is tempting to choose books that are just beyond what kids are ready for so they don't quite understand them.  They are 8 year-olds so their life experiences are not quite ready for the depth of some middle grade novels. And I am a firm believer that if we give kids great books too early, we take away the joy of experiencing an amazing book later, when they are able to fully enjoy and love it.  But, I also know that third graders are brilliant people who have lots to say and need books to help them think through life. It's just that finding books that match the stage of life is not as easy as it appears.

But, I found one this weekend that I think is perfect!  The Meanest Birthday Girlby Josh Schneider seems to be the perfect book for early third grade. I am thinking it will make a great read aloud and one that we can revisit and discuss. I am not thinking it is one with huge depth but there is depth and humor that will provide for conversation and kids will need to infer lots to fully understand the message here.

Dana is the birthday girl in this story. And because it is her birthday, she can do whatever she wants. So she pinches, steals desserts from others' lunches, and calls people names.  At the end of the day, she has a birthday party and gets presents and this is where the fun begins.

The book is a short chapter book (48 pages total). The illustrations add to the fun of the book and the characters are some of my favorites.

I think this book was written for young children in that they will have to really think to understand the message but they will love the fact that they "get it".  Them message is a good one and there will be lots to talk about when it comes to choices, kindness, and how we treat each others.  Lots to love about this book.

And, Anthony? Well, he might be one of my favorite new characters ever. Even though he only says a few words in the whole book.


  1. Can't wait to see this one! It sounds perfect for second and third graders. And I want to meet Anthony.

  2. I wonder if Anthony is like Rosemary Wells's Max...He's one of my favorite characters!

    Looking forward to reading this book--Thanks for the rec., Franki.

  3. May I quote you in my blog? "...books that help readers understand the power of story and that help them build conversation to understand character, see the world differently, and laugh and learn together." is such an important concept to get across to people who regard children's reading as being less important than schoolwork. Well said Franki.


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