Monday, April 9, 2012

Books for the Young, Loved by All Ages

A tutor asked me for recommendations of children's books that her learner could read to her daughter. Reading to children is a frequently stated goal among Literacy Network learners. Here are three titles that I suggested. I hope you find them useful. While they are written for a younger audience, they are neither twee nor precious. By that statement, I mean that I still love them after countless re-readings. All of them are available at Madison Public Libraries and through Barnes & Noble or Amazon.
Here is the cover of Roman Diary by Richard Platt. He opens the story from the point of view of a young girl and her brother, recently sold into slavery. She sees some of the Roman empire as an outsider in the process of becoming an insider. Spoiler alert: she gains her freedom in the end. It’s fun and interesting. The author has some other highly engaging titles, e.g. Castle Diary and Pirate Diary.

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is a best seller. should be able to find it in any library branch or any bookstore. It’s popular for good reason.

Finally, here’s a timeless, ageless story that would be a wow to almost anyone who has a human heart: Orville, a Dog Story by Haven Kimmel. Orville is a phenomenally ugly dog who can smell people's back-stories. As the story opens he has lain down and decided to die. He survives after being taken in by a caring but clueless couple. The story gets most interesting when Orville decides to adopt a young woman with a job and a pickup truck but nobody to love. It has low-lexical density, meaning that the vocabulary tends to repeat a bit, which makes it easier to read, but the story itself has real depth. Here is a sample: "The woman walked right up to the dog and offered him her hand...This is what he learned...Her dearest wishes were, in order: To fly a little airplane. To lead a parade. To serve as the sheriff of a small town."
Hope you and your learners enjoy them as much as I did. What have you got in your library of children's books?

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