I don’t think my boys have ever laughed as hard at a book as they did at The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. There is something to be said for a character who continues to be relatable more than 140 years after he was written.
Tom’s antics and adventures are the stuff of every little boys’ dreams. And probably every little girl’s, too. Tricking everyone into doing your chores for you? Running away to a deserted island? A treasure hunt and a dangerous criminal? I mean, Come On.
Plus, the book is just plain funny. Just ask my boys.
We read Black Beauty as a class several years ago, and all three of us enjoyed it immensely. Told from the point of view of the horse, Black Beauty addresses the issues of kindness to animals proper treatment of horses.
Anna Sewell slipped and injured her ankle as a teenager, making her unable to stand without a crutch or walk for any length of time. She became dependent on horses because carriages were a must in her life. She came to love the animals and to deplore their treatment by so many people of her time. In her own words, Sewell wrote Black Beauty “to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses.”
(Cool tidbit–Black Beauty was the first-ever popular novel told from the POV of an animal. Without it, we might not have such wondrous books as Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows, or Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. Think about that for a sec.)
We learned so much about horses by reading this book. If you want your littles to get even more out of it, try some of the following activities to get them thinking.
Ramona Quimby is one of my all time favorite characters. Poor, misunderstood, trouble-making Ramona. Her first book, Beezus and Ramona, isn’t told from her point of view but her older sister’s. And Beezus is extremely annoyed with Ramona All The Time. But she’s a good sister. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in this book that any little would enjoy reading it.
Short and easy to read, Beezus and Ramona is a perfect story for introducing chapter books to littles, and you don’t have to wait with this one. Read it to them when they’re 4 like Ramona is in the book. Read it to them when they’re 6 and they’re ready to start learning comprehension. Read it to them when they’re 8 and they can use these activities to deepen their understanding.
Getting your young readers hooked on a good story doesn’t have to be too difficult, but sometimes comprehending the story isn’t enough. Sometimes comprehending the meaning behind the story requires us to think on a deeper level. For me, those are the best kinds of books.
One of my favorites in that respect is Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Basically a political treatise disguised as a children’s fable, Animal Farm has all the things. And since it does, it might take a little work to get your readers thinking about it and understanding it the way they should.
Don’t worry. I got you. But first let’s talk about some of the key strategies for reading comprehension that you should implement no matter what you’re reading.