This is going to be fun! If you are very clever, you may have deduced from the name of this blog that my daughter and I plan to read and review 100 books, using the list of top children’s novels listed on the School Library Journal website. (You can check out the entire list on our “About the books” page.)
First, some introductions: my name is Patti – I’m the Mother half of the team. My daughter is Katie; she is 12 years old and in the 7th grade. We love to read and talk about books (not unlike most of you who have stopped by here, I’ll wager). Over the past year, I’ve been following 101 Books, written by a blogger who is reading his way through many of the great 20th-century novels. He’s working from one of those lists full of books that you think that maybe you should read someday – but you hesitate – just because a book is considered a “classic” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy reading it. Well, this former English major has plunged in ahead of us and as he reads, he provides background info, stuff about the authors and concise, thoughtful book reviews – the type you might receive from a well-read friend rather than from the “Books” section of a newspaper or magazine.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to do the same thing for children’s novels. As a parent, I’m happy if my daughter wants to read pretty much non-stop, but I like to know that she’s working in some quality material in among the lighter stuff. I also want to know that it’s age appropriate – not only to keep her away from stuff that she shouldn’t be reading, but also so her thoughts and vocabulary will be challenged and stretched.
I didn’t discover a lot of children’s classics till I was a parent (and a few I did read as a child hadn’t been around long enough yet to become classics :-)). In reading many of these books as an adult, I have discovered that a great book is simply a great book – you can’t really “outgrow” it. If anything, it will just keep getting better and reveal new depths, new insights when you re-read it. When I found this list of Top 100 children’s novels, I thought it would be fun to read through it with my daughter, and hoped it would be helpful to others to offer reviews for each book from two perspectives – the Mom and the Kid (and the Kid graciously agreed to help me out).
We’ve read many of the books on the list already (Patti: 47; Katie: 39), and we own 36 of them. But for each review, we will read the books anew. As we’re reading, we’ll offer information about the authors and any little tidbits we learn along the way. We will also include any fun activities inspired by what we’re reading – like cooking some of the foods that might be included in a story. If there’s a movie based on the story, we’ll review that as well after reading the book.
We will be choosing numbers out of a hat to determine the order, though we have rigged it so that we will read books from the same series in the proper order.
And here are the first five books we’ll be reading:
#1 Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#2 Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#3 Half Magic, by Edward Eager
#4 My Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett
#5 The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
We’ve drawn a fresh batch of stories that are new for both of us. I’ve read The Graveyard Book, but other than that, it’s all new exploring for both of us. A fantastic beginning!
We still have some settling in to do here in this blogspace – we need to move some of the furniture and hang some pictures, but we’ll get started reading right away and let you know all about Little House in the Big Woods.