5 tips for reading middle grade novels with your kids

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Written by contributor Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things

When my oldest children were small, I couldn’t wait until we could read middle grade novels together. I enjoyed reading picture books with them, of course, but it had been Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl who had sparked my own childhood imagination and turned me into a lifelong reader.

I couldn’t wait to introduce favorite books and characters to my kids.

The first novel I tried to read to my kids was Little House in the Big Woods. It was wildly unsuccessful.

I hadn’t yet developed my own read-aloud skills enough to deliver the long descriptive passages in an interesting way, and my girls hadn’t had enough practice painting pictures in their heads and following along with longer narrative to keep up with what was going on. It was such a disappointment.

Now, I maintain that Laura Ingalls Wilder has written some of the best books ever written (and we have gone on to read her entire series three times as a family), but I don’t usually recommend that parents just starting to read novels with their kids start there.

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Confessions of a non-classical reader

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The following is a guest post by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment.

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. –Haruki Murakami

I have a confession to make — I did not grow up reading classical literature.

While I have always loved to read, I have another confession to make: part of this love came, at least initially, through an incentive.

You see, when I was in elementary school, my parents sought to encourage my brother and me to read by offering us a penny a page for any book we read that they felt was at our current reading level or beyond.

For several months I read … and read … and read until something happened — my parents saw that I was now officially “hooked” on reading and they were no longer going to offer pennies as an incentive.

And – Eureka! They were right! I kept reading!

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Our top 25 read-alouds (ages 5-12)

Our top 25 read-alouds (ages 5-12)
Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

We started reading to our firstborn the day we brought him home. We didn’t start with Pat the Bunny or Goodnight Moon, although those both played an important part in our story time with all our children. We started with a college textbook, Western Civilization. We just wanted him to hear the sound of our voices and to get a feel for language.

Over the years we have read hundreds of books to our three children, from board books to great classics. Reading aloud comes in two forms in our family: as part of school (we have used Sonlight’s literature-based program for the  majority of our years) and before bed.

Beginning at about age 5 with each of our kids, we moved from a diet of picture books and short easy readers to serious chapter books. Don’t worry about your child not “getting” a book that is “meant” for older kids. They will.

Around age 12 or 13 the evening reading aloud ended, followed shortly by the end of our school-time read-alouds. We are down to just one child who gets all of our reading attention now, and we are determined to have lots of reading time together until he, too, prefers his own voice in his head.

Below is a list of our Top 25 favorite family read-alouds. They are in no particular order, except that I listed a few series at the end. Why did these books make the list when dozens of others didn’t quite qualify? These are the books the kids remember with almost a tender fondness and sometimes almost awe. These were books we lived in, the ones that do, indeed, seem like part of our family.
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10 new “must-read” nonfiction picture books

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10 new must-read nonfiction picture books ~ SimpleHomeschool.net
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

The love of good books flows steadily through my bloodstream–always has. I have to admit, though, that I tend to stick to the tried-and-true classics, titles that have staying power and have inspired readers for generations.

But I also love stumbling across a new-to-me book on a library’s shelf and flipping through to discover that it has the makings of a classic after all–it inspires, it teaches, it tells a deeper story. And in the past year there have been many such books released.

Here are ten nonfiction titles, along with excerpts from the reviews they’ve been given, that you and yours might enjoy checking out:
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How to deal with twaddle in your homeschool

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and blogger at Steady Mom

When we begin our homeschooling journey, we so desperately want to do things “right.” We want to use the right materials, books, curricula, and get the “right” results from our little ones.

It was with these thoughts and intentions in mind that I first came across the word “twaddle” — a word I’d never heard before my venture into home education began.

What is twaddle anyway?

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