My son has great technical reading skills, but like so many kids his age, needs a little more comfort with reading. He can digest almost any word he comes across thanks to All About Reading, but still doesn’t have the natural speed and ease to make reading more fun and less work. In short, he needs reading practice.
So this school year, we started a book club. We picked one book a month to read and we both had to get it read by the end of the month for a discussion on what we liked and disliked about each book. I wanted this to be fun, so I let him choose a few lighter books, but I also wanted him to be exposed to some good writing, so I picked a few of the books too. I tried to stay somewhere around his reading level, but didn’t require it, so we have a few easier books too. Here are the books we read this year for our book club:
The Magic Finger (Roald Dahl)- I do love some Roald Dahl. This was a shorter and simpler book – a quick read to warm him up to the author. My son loved it. He was very engaged in a discussion on the ethics of hunting afterward.
Dragonbreath #1 (Ursula Vernon)- My son adores dragons, so this was a natural choice. Dragons and science in a comic format mixed very well for a book club pick. Perhaps not the most challenging book, but Dragonbreath was fun for him to read some of the comic style pages.
Judy Moody #1 (Megan McDonald)- This book was a lighthearted story building into a bigger series. I don’t think that my son loved having a girl as the main character; he’s still allergic to girls. He did enjoy the book, but I don’t think he’ll be asking for more.
The Spiderwick Chronicles #1 (Tony Black)- This was a great pick for October. My son got so interested in the story that he read the first four books, then promptly stopped. At least he enjoyed it. Maybe one day we’ll revisit and knock out the rest of the series.
Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing (Judy Blume)- You can’t do a children’s book club without Judy Blume. The main character was close to my son’s age, and had an annoying younger brother. My son identified strongly with the main character and was very sympathetic to his plights.
Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder)- This was another classic mom pick. My mother was so thrilled to share these books with me when I was a child, I thought I’d continue the tradition. I don’t know if they quite meant the same thing to a boy, but my son still enjoyed the story.
The One and Only Ivan (Kathrine Applegate)- This book was the highlight of the year. A story about a gorilla and his animal friends? Yes please! For a book about animals, it was actually surprisingly deep, and took a hard look (but still child-friendly) at the way animals are kept and cared for. My son loved this one.
The Finches Fabulous Furnace (Roger Drury)- I remembered reading this as a little girl, but all I could remember was the basic plot. I couldn’t remember anything else (including the title). A quick internet search, and I finally found it and got to share it with my son. He enjoyed it, and I had the satisfaction of reuniting with a very long lost book. Thanks internet!
The Indian in the Cupboard (Lynne Reid Banks)- This was another book I read as a child and had to bring it back for my son. He loved the idea of magic toys (who doesn’t) and enjoyed the book very much, after a discussion of Native America’s changing roles in media.
Animorphs (K.A. Applegate)- It’s cheesy, there are about 900 of them, and they don’t exactly qualify as high-quality, but sometimes you have to read what amounts to candy for the brain. Who doesn’t want to read about kids who can turn into animals and fight aliens? It’s kind of a no-brainer for a boy.
My son loved our book club. I think reading along with him and then discussing the book instead of a boring book report or sheets of questions really made the difference. He’s already looking forward to next year’s books, and my youngest is excited to start his book club too.