Written by Irina Gallagher
The books children read set a major tone for the way in which they view the world – especially when they take the enormous leap into independent reading. I don’t take this fact lightly and, because of this, I find it a bit difficult to scope out reading material for my 8-year-old who spends hours each day with her nose in a book. I rarely follow book recommendations without pre-reading at least the first book in a series. I’m cautiously optimistic about children’s literature and I believe that children can handle more sustenance than rude, snarky characters, and frivolous story lines. At the same time, just because a child has the capability of reading something, doesn’t mean that their hearts and minds are ready for certain content. I prefer first independent books to be a place of gentle solace for young readers rather than action-packed works of conflict laced with intermittent rudeness. I have also found that my daughter is much more engaged when reading series of books rather than stand-alone fiction. With all of that in mind, I have compiled this list for anyone with similar philosophies. Below is a compilation of our very favorite early chapter books (books composed of no more than 150 pages generally, that are geared towards early elementary grades). This list contains only books with which both my 8-year-old and I have fallen in love over the past few years (there is a slew more that one of us has liked a lot and the other has not).
The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels
This is not part of a series, but my goodness how I wish it was. Just look at the cover art. It matches the whimsical feeling of its contents perfectly. Miss Petitfour has sixteen cats (prepare yourself to say the cats’ names many, many times). On windy days, she likes to take her cats out in one kite-like string that travels through their city on many adventures. The frequency at which the main characters consume tea and jam certainly doesn’t hurt the lovely atmosphere this book evokes. Due to some skillful alliteration acrobatics on Anne Michaels’s part, Miss Petitfour is a perfect book to read together alternating readers at each paragraph. We read it together first before my daughter read it independently.