Friday, October 19, 2007

What's on your kids' reading list after Harry Potter?

I know the Harry Potter phenomenon has run through the news cycle by now, but in our house we are still really feeling the effects of Life After Harry. What can my ravenous 8-year-old reader turn to next? We still like to read books aloud together in addition to her independent reading, so I am on the lookout for good books we can both enjoy.

Common Sense Media put out a very helpful list on this topic, featuring fantasy recommendations, with age-appropriateness guidelines, for 8 to 12 year olds.

In our house, my daughter is grooving on:

Multiple reads through The Spiderwick Chronicles. These are good to get from the library because they are rather expensive in hardcover for such short books.

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The first title is The Lightning Thief.

She also loves the trailer for the upcoming movie version of The Golden Compass. I think the film will be interesting for her. I read the His Dark Materials trilogy by myself this summer and recommend the first book for ages 10 and up, and the second and third books for ages 12 and up. Very theological, philosophical, intense. It reads as a grown up book to me that happens to feature kids as main characters.

We both really enjoyed The City of Ember, which from the cover I incorrectly thought was for an older audience. But it's very appropriate for 8 year olds, and is a simpler story and easier reading than Harry Potter. I give the Book of Ember 4 stars, The People of Sparks 3 stars, and The Prophet of Yonwood a big ????? I am halfway through it and not sure I'll even finish it. It is a very disappointing third volume "prequel" that doesn't do the series justice.

My daughter did read all the Harry Potter books but by the end I was really wishing she'd waited until she was 10 years old. The last couple were too intense. My comfort there is that I do believe that when reading, kids bring to it what they can understand.

Oldies but goodies: I have enjoyed reading the first two Little House on the Prairie books with her, but she's not that interested in more right now. The funny thing is that reading those books from a Mom's point of view you realize just how many times the Ingalls family narrowly avoids being maimed or killed. The prose is so matter of fact that it's not sensationalized, but the facts are there about how risky their pioneer lifestyle was.

I asked my daughter for her additional opinion on reading recommendations and she reminded me that she'd like to co-author a fantasy book with me. I got my start as a writer of young adult fiction with my book High Water so that's a distinct possibility. Stay tuned on that one!

What are the favorite books in your home? Books you enjoyed as a kid that you are sharing with your family? New books that you are surprised to like as much as your children do?

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Blogger Florinda said...

My almost-8-year-old stepson is working his way through the Harry Potter books on his own, and he's up to Goblet of Fire. He's a very capable reader, but I strongly agree with you that 8 is too young for for the last few books, so I hope he'll wait for those. But since his mother has a firm rule that "you can't see the movie if you haven't read the book," I suspect he'll move right along.

I'm trying to get my 13-year-old stepdaughter into the His Dark Materials trilogy before The Golden Compass movie comes out, but haven't gotten too far - I suspect her father might read it before she does. I agree with your assessment that they're grown-up books with kid characters.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous coffee queen said...

I posted my list on our blog: They are The Trumpet of the Swan, Little House on the Prairie, The Ramona Quimby books, James and the Giant Peach, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

My daughter is young (5), so we've read only the first two HP books. I told her we'd read one a summer until she's old enough to read them herself. At that point, I'll probably let her decide, although like the rest of you, I think the last few are better suited for older children. Right now, we're reading Stuart Little. She loves it!

9:43 AM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

It's amazing to see how much consensus there is on many of these books. I too love E. B. White's work, from Charlotte's Web to Stuart Little. In Stuart Little's case, I was really sad to see the charming book turned into a stupidly modernized movie.

The one beloved book from my childhood that didn't stand the test of time was, surprisingly, A Wrinkle in Time. I reread it a few years ago on my own, and it was not nearly as engaging as I remembered. Maybe it's just being a grownup. I wonder if it will translate for my daughter. I love that there has been so much wonderful children's literature written in the last 30 years and there are more choices.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

When I was around that age, I was very into the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Sort of similar to Harry Potter in general from what I hear (ordinary kids find out they're special and destined for greatness, etc.) I haven't read Harry Potter, but if she liked that, these five are a good bet.


12:15 PM  

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