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kids books 8 to 10 year old: suggestions?

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message 1: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments I just started a re-read of the Phantom Toll Booth with an eight-year old. It is a very good kids' book. Most of the wordplay is well beyond him, but the thing is so well written that he stuck with it the whole way.

My copy is one given me in fifth grade by my aunt. It was the first hard cover that was exclusively mine. I took it to school and dropped it in the mud, and it still has the stains to prove it.

I had been struggling with reading with this child. He comes from a household where his guardian/grandmother is truly illiterate - can sign her name but can't read. He is plenty bright but doesn't get much reenforcement for scholarship at home. I made what I now realize was a mistake when I took him book shopping so that he could pick out his own books. What a drag. First was one of the stunningly stupid contrivances from the Spiderwick Chronicles that he had had read him by a teacher. I guess it was OK, but I hated it and he was bored by it.

Next was an illustrated novel from the even worse Fantastic Four series. I soldiered in as best I was able, but even he couldn't hold focus on these completely empty shells.

So I finally stopped mid story and went to the shelf for the Phantom Toll Booth.

I read (much of the vocabulary and word play are way beyond him) but he loved the story and made it through an hour and a half of reading tonight - with a half hour break in the middle.

I will need another when this one is finished. Any suggestions?


message 2: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments My #1 suggestion is "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L Frank Baum. Best is to get the facsimile of the first edition, with all the wonderful WW Denslow illustrations, and the typeface printed in 4 colors (for each country in Oz). The Oz books in general (the 20 I've read anyway) are wonderful and don't ever go in for obvious preachiness -- being filled with puns and clever dialogue throughout -- but they do have a wonderful message about tolerance of the strangeness and differentness in others, and of the value of all creatures -- men, women, boys, girls, animals, the whole world. They are profoundly "progressive" in the best sense.

Other top choices IMO would be "Stuart Little" and "Charlotte's Web" (EB White) and "The Wind in the Willows" (Kenneth Grahame). Perhaps it's a little too early for "The Hobbit".

I'm not so great with newer stuff, will leave that to others.


message 3: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments Good call on TWWOz. I'd forgotten completely.

Ex Sister in law, painter, lived near Chittenango, NY where Baum was born. The city commissioned her to make life-size signs after the Denslow illustrations for the entrance to the city some years ago. Very cool stuff that a kid would like.

The others are great as well. I really don't have any kid stuff so I am mostly starting from scratch.


message 4: by Jay (new)

Jay Garcia (jayg) Well, I don't have a kid, but I regularly scour the "best of" lists on various websites, and I came across a book on Amazon's Children's/YA list called The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It's recommended for ages 9-12 and has a lot of illustrations that are integral to the story. I haven't read it, but it piqued my interest enough to make note, and I generally don't seek out and read young adult literature.


message 5: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments Man, I love the Phantom Toll Booth. That was also made into a movie, which I remember liking as a child. Nice 70's style cartoons. I can see that the PTB might be a bit tough for a child with that kind of background.

What about fantasy books like Harry Potter? I'm opposed to Harry Potter in general, but it might be accessible enough for the child. There are tons of other good books... James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web.

Wizard of Oz is also a great book, like MHatch says.

I remember reading a bunch of books about football as a kid. Little fictional stories from the 50's about the undiscovered talent walking home from prep school that throws the perfect spiral back to the athletes on the practice field and gets asked to join the team. They had great names like the Scat-back (gross?) and stuff.

What about T.O.'s book? T.O. Learns to Share?


message 6: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments Treasure Island and Kidnapped also are great. I remember my dad reading them to me as a child and loving it. Kidnapped is pretty strongly scottish though, so it might not appeal to all types of kids. But it's a great adventure story.


message 7: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments 20000 leagues under the sea is another good adventure story


message 8: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments Oh yeah, Verne is great, though I'm not sure that I'd try most of them out on an 8-year-old. Well, without knowing how his reading/vocabulary comprehension are, anyway. I'm partial to "Journey to the Center of the Earth" myself, probably due to a long-time fascination with caves, the underground, closed-in spaces; but everything I've read from the man has been great and I definitely want to read more some day.

I loved Lewis Carroll as a kid too, but again -- hard to say at what age it's best to read. It's actually fairly difficult in some ways with the puns and allusions -- an annotated version is the way to go for sure.


message 9: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments Annotated Alice didn't find me until college. Then there was a period where all of my papers had epigrams that were quotes from Alice or Through TLG. Chess matches were followed on a board set up on my desk. A six LP recording of a stage play provided sound bite drop-ins for my late night radio show. I must have been as insufferable as ..... well I won't say, but you get the idea.


message 10: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments Treasure Island was a favorite as a kid. I'll have to look that one up. Never read Kidnapped though.

I never saw the Phantom Toll Booth movie. Might have to look that up sometime.




message 11: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments Jayag,

I heard a story on the radio this afternoon about Hugo C winning the Caldicot. The librarians were whooping it up like a bunch of bachelor-partying 23-year-olds at a strip club. I just got back from a quick run to the author's site where I looked at some of his stuff. I'm sold. I'm getting this one for myself if no one else.


message 12: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments Kidnapped is every bit as good as Treasure Island, in my opinion.


The Phantom Toll Booth movie is not near as good as the book, but it's still interesting to see. It's very dated.


message 13: by Jacob (new)

Jacob | 17 comments Some of these comments, I'm wondering if they're age appropriate. If the kid's a gifted reader, they'll be fine, but I work with college prep high schoolers who struggle with work at that level, especially the stuff written prior to 1950 mentioned here (which throws in cultural stumps in addition to linguistic). I'll try to remember to ask my wife for suggestions (until this year she taught 8 year olds in second grade, now she teaches 6-7 year olds in first grade).


message 14: by Jacob (new)

Jacob | 17 comments If he liked the concept of the Phantom Tollbooth, maybe something along the line of The Chronicles of Narnia. She also suggested The Time Warp Trio and Hank the Cowdog. They're at the level he could possibly even read to himself. Hank the Cowdog sounds like a picture book, but it's actually a chapter book (early childhood education speak for book that's in chapters and not picture driven). It's actually series of books and said that the kids really seem to like them. Also, A Wrinkle in Time, The Indian in the Cupboard, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm. In a different vein, she suggested Where the Red Fern Grows, Shiloh, Hatchet, and I actually used to teach The Watsons Go to Birmingham. It's actually age appropriate for the latter end of that age frame, just be aware that it does deal with the bombings in Birmingham during the Civil Rights movement at the end of the book. I also really liked The Call of the Wild and White Fang as a kid.

I actually didn't notice that you were reading to him to start with, so my comment about the stuff being above his head isn't as relevant. I do remember finding many of those stories kind of boring as a kid, but then I was reading them to myself and not hearing them told.


message 15: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments Kipling's books and stories...

captains' courageous


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