When children are learning to read, the focus is on sounding out words rather than enjoying stories. Once kids have mastered basic reading skills, the next step is to introduce them to books that they want to read, that instill a love of the written word. These are some wonderful chapter books to consider for beginning readers between 7 and 10 years of age.
Number the Stars
The Holocaust is not a topic most people would want to fully address with a child this young. This book does a good job of introducing the topic without going into a lot of upsetting details. Number the Stars is set in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen. It's about the friendship between a Jewish child Ellen and a non-Jewish child Annemarie. Readers will learn all about the privations suffered by families during the war. Ellen's family has to be smuggled to Sweden as roundups of Jews are beginning. They do escape, so the story has a happy ending. However, the story does have a very sad part to it. It deals with the deaths of Annemarie's sister and her fiancé who both were resistance fighters.
Bridge to Terebithia
Bridge to Terebithia is about the friendship between a 5th-grade boy named Jesse and a new girl named Leslie who moves next door. The story centers around the friendship between Jesse and Leslie. They have a lot of challenges and struggles in their lives. They create an imaginary world called Terebithia, where they rule as king and queen. However, the story takes a tragic turn when Leslie is killed and Jesse has to come to terms with her loss.
My Side of the Mountain
My Side of the Mountain is about a boy who gets tired of living in a cramped apartment in New York City. He runs away to live alone on an abandoned farm in the Catskills Mountains. Children are fascinated by the idea of being independent and not having anyone telling them what to do. The main character Sam is a brave, outdoorsy type who somehow has all the skills he needs to survive in the mountains. This book was written in 1959, so many of today's parents may have read it when they were kids.
Where the Red Fern Grows
Where the Red Fern Grows is another story about a boy living in the mountains. This time it's the Ozarks. This is a beautiful but sad story about a boy and his two dogs Old Dan and Little Ann.
The two Liberty's Kids books are Justice for All: December 5, 1773-September 5, 1774 and Freedom at Any Price: March 1775-April 19, 1775. These books are a good and exciting introduction to the American Revolution for kids. There is also a PBS TV show based on the books.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
This is a wonderful story about a mouse who must save her sick son. He has to be moved to a summer home before the plowing begins but he's too sick to make the journey. If he goes, he will die but if he stays he will be killed by the plow. Mrs. Frisby turns to a group of highly intelligent rats who escaped from a science lab to help her. This story is full of excitement and suspense.
"Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service."
George's Secret Key
George's Secret Key is a six-book series written by Stephen and Lucy Hawking. The books have both fiction and nonfiction portions. The nonfiction may be too difficult for some beginning readers. But most will probably love the fiction story about the adventures of George and his friend Annie. In the first book George's Secret Key to the Universe, Annie's dad is a scientist who created a computer called Cosmos. Cosmos can open up "doorways" that allow the kids to go anywhere in the universe. The other books include are George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt, George and the Big Bang, and George and the Ship of Time. The series should be read in order. George's Secret Key is a great way to teach science in a fun way.
What Katy Did
What Katy Did is about a 12-year-old girl named Katy Carr. She is a tomboy, who is always getting into trouble. She is also ambitious and hopes to do great things someday. A terrible accident makes her an invalid. Her 4-year recovery gradually teaches her lessons about being good and caring. This book was set in a time when girls were expected to be lady-like. Katy first fights against that but later ends up accepting that role.
While this book is a lot of fun it's also controversial because it embraces traditional gender roles. That aspect of the story may go over the heads of many 7-year-olds. However, this could be a good way to introduce the topic of the stifling gender expectations that people had to deal with long ago and how things have changed. What Katy Did is available online as a free public domain ebook from gutenberg.org.
The original Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte will be too advanced for most beginning readers but there are abridged versions available that should be a big hit. Jane Eyre is the story of an orphan who is raised by a mean aunt who later sends her away to a boarding school. When she grows up, she becomes a governess and falls in love with her employer Rochester.
Anne of Green Gables
Like Jane Eyre, the original will be too much for most beginners but abridged versions are great for this age group. This is another story that deals with the difficulties orphans faced long ago but it's a much happier story than Jane Eyre. Anne of Green Gables is about an orphan named Anne Shirley who goes to live with an elderly brother and sister. Anne is good-hearted but her temper always gets her into trouble. This is a very funny story that should be a hit with both boys and girls.
Tom Sawyer Abridged
What child won't be enchanted by the story of the mischievous Tom Sawyer? Like Anne Shirley, Tom is a good-hearted child who gets into a lot of trouble. You should be able to find an abridged illustrated classic version of this book.
5 Classic Children's Books You Should Read
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 LT Wright
Claire on July 29, 2018:
I really enjoyed this article