I love back to school time. My job as a reading interventionist lets me work with kids all year on their reading skills....dream job! I often lament that I don't have enough time to read whole books with my student groups the way I did in the classroom. I miss really digging into a novel and its characters because I saw so much growth and excitement when we did. Kids wanted to read the sequels or books by the same author and many times it spurred them to try books on their own when they didn't want to read much the year before. But I've started trying excerpts from classic books if I don't have time for the whole novel and I've been pleasantly surprised at the results.
Kids who are behind are often just given practice passages to work on skills and while that is sometimes necessary in school it doesn't do much to ignite their love of books. The more they love books, the more they will read, and the more they read, the better they will be at it! So when I can, I use parts of a really solid, well written time tested book to work on comprehension and hope it will make them want to read the novel in its entirety. Below are some of my favorite classic kids books. If they are a bit above their level yet, consider finding the audiobook and letting them read along with it while they listen.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
- Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
- Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
There are some really great contemporary kids books and I know students respond to literature that relates to their lives. But I think we are doing them a disservice if we think this can only be accomplished with current best sellers. An "old" book is a "new" book to a kid who has never heard of it. It's so much fun to hear them say "I love this book!" and know they will want to keep reading on their own.