What should my 6 year old read?
April 7, 2009 6:56 PM   Subscribe

What should I read to my 6 year old? What should she read to herself?

My six year old and I are lovers of literature. I like to read to her, and she likes to read to herself. She's a strong enough reader to easily conquer (and enjoy) a Nate the Great level of complexity. She's read longer, more complex stuff if its really interesting to her. I'm particularly interested in finding new books that broaden her understanding of cultures outside our own (middle-ish class and white).

Some stuff we've loved so far includes: Nate the Great, Roald Dahl (everything), the Ramona Quimby books (she totally identifies with Ramona), Rabbit Hill, the Borrowers books, the My Father's Dragon books, William Steig, Junebug by Alice Mead, The Secret Garden. We got half way through the Narnia books when she finally admitted she doesn't like them - too much fighting she said, but I suspect she was also having trouble following or was just getting bored. A friend read her Harry Potter, and she liked it.

I refuse to read Magic Tree House or its ilk because I'm a big snob. However, if there's something along this line that you think she might enjoy reading quietly by herself, go ahead and recommend it.

Thank you!
posted by serazin to Media & Arts (51 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I read the hobbit to one of my sons; he also really enjoyed the thirteen clocks.

The magic treehouse series is really bad- poorly written, even by the relaxed standards of kids stuff, but my other son really loves the captain underpants books- he's at the burping and farting == hilarity stage.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:08 PM on April 7, 2009

Well I'm no parent, but I've always believed that Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree should be read by (or to/with, preferably) every child. A lovely book and ripe with all sorts of follow-up discussions about mortality, history and friendship.
posted by elendil71 at 7:10 PM on April 7, 2009

I love this question! Well, for read alouds - if she digs The Secret Garden then she'll love The Little Princess and Heidi. (Note that both of those share the theme that what looks like disability is often a simple lack of gumption - this is a terrible lesson! Let her know that it isn't so!) Beverly Cleary's other books are generally a little old for your girl, but she might like Mitch and Amy, the Henry Huggins books (I identified with Beezus, so I liked other books that she appeared in), and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. As for reading on her own, maybe Amelia Bedelia books? And she might be ready to tackle Shel Silverstein's poetry (Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic) by herself - otherwise those would be hilarious to read to her.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:10 PM on April 7, 2009

Seconding The Little Princess. If nothing else, the language is lovely. Have you/she read the Winnie-the-Pooh books? Because they're fantastic.
posted by rtha at 7:18 PM on April 7, 2009

Ooh, I can't recommend enough the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sidney Taylor! These are books about five Jewish sisters growing up on New York's Lower East Side at the beginning of the 20th Century, and my sister and I (and now our niece) absolutely love them.

Other favorites:

The Little House books
Pippi Longstocking
Ronia, The Robber's Daughter
The Hounds of the Morrigan (very long, but easy to break up into chapters)
The Twenty One Balloons
The Great Brain series
Charlotte's Web
Stuart Little
Understood Betsy
The Happy Orpheline series
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
The Littles series

All of the above have been endorsed by someone who was six not too long ago. Some may be out of print, but will probably be at your library or available used from Amazon.

Enjoy reading together!
posted by corey flood at 7:22 PM on April 7, 2009

My favorite childhood book was The Twenty-One Balloons. I must have read it two dozen times. (Including once when I was in college, and man, it still holds up.)
posted by pluckemin at 7:25 PM on April 7, 2009

Oh, also, Louis Sachar's Wayside School series. They're really wacky and entertaining. Plus, if your daughter gets into math, he also wrote a series of books of Wayside School-themed logic puzzles.
posted by pluckemin at 7:30 PM on April 7, 2009

Seconding almost all of corey flood's recommendations! A few more:
The Boxcar Children series, Caddie Woodlawn, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
posted by bluestocking at 7:41 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was excited when I saw the title of this question, but you already beat me to the punch with what you've already read to her!

My favorites when I was little were all the Roald Dahl books, and The Secret Garden. Does she have her own copy of these books? I think I read and reread the Secret Garden approximately seven gazillion times. My friends and I also LOVED Shel Silverstein poetry books around that age.

I also really liked reading the American Girl book series when I was about that age. They're good because they are interesting and have a good message (history/culture/etc.) That migh be kinda what you're looking for. The other thing that was good was that they were relatively short, and followed a consistent format, so they didn't drag on and get boring.

Keep in mind, though, just because she CAN read complex and culturally important books doesn't mean she always should. When I was about age 9-12 or so, I was addicted to Sweet Valley Twins books. Sure, I could have been reading more challenging stuff, but they entertained me and my mom didn't stop me. Overall I think it was much more positive than if I'd been watching TV all the time. And they really ingrained in me the fact that reading can be fun and easy and not necessarily hard boring work. If my mom would have stopped me from reading them in an effort to get me to read 'better' books, I think it would have been entirely counterproductive. So by all means, show your daughter all the books we've mentioned. But don't give her a hard time if she chooses something else. My mom always let us browse around the library on our own. And she just checked out the stack of books we picked out without looking or commenting. I really think that was the best way she could have done it.
posted by lblair at 7:46 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've always thought the list of Newbury Award winning books was a great way to find excellent books for children.
posted by visual mechanic at 7:59 PM on April 7, 2009

For Read Alouds:

Books by Edward Eager - Half Magic, et al. They are not a series really, but some of the books have the same characters - my kids loved them at six. These really are fun to read.

The Betsy and Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are perenial girl favorites.

My daughters both loved Anne of Green Gables and one wanted the whole series read to her (the other quit after the first two)

A little bit older and you have the Redwall series. A six year old may find it a bit scary.

All my kids loved Cornelia Funke's books - the age range they appeal to varies, but the Inkheart series may be better for eight and up.

Reading on her own -
When my kids were beginning readers they gravitated towards series books, which I tried to move them away from. They took comfort in reading #23 in the Babysitters Club or whatever and eventually moved on to more interesting books. I read Nancy Drew and Boxcar children in the same way, pure predictable entertainment. Magic TReehouse is of the same ilk. Once I tried to read one aloud and could not do it, went on strike until I was allowed to read something that had some flow to it.
posted by readery at 8:00 PM on April 7, 2009

Ditto The Littles! Loved those books.
Would she like something like the Swiss Family Robinson? Nancy Drew series?
Would you/she be happy with Enid Blyton a la Famous Five and Mallory Towers series (LOVED those as a little girl, boarding school seemed so cool... )
Anne of Green Gables was also good!
posted by latch24 at 8:02 PM on April 7, 2009

Let her read anything she wants. Really.
posted by bradth27 at 8:02 PM on April 7, 2009

I gotta say, I love the Magic Treehouse series for being an introduction to a vast span of historical time periods and places, even as caricatures. If she's expressed interest in reading them herself, I'd say let her devour them on her own time. There is literally nothing like them that I can think of.

I love love love Rapunzel's Revenge, a girl power magical wild west fairy tale graphic novel written and illustrated by three people with the last name of Hale. I've heard good feedback from a 5 year old who had it read to her and from everyone on up.

As far as more multi-ethnic stuff, Lenore Look has some delightful books about a very spirited 8 year old, probably a little easier to read then the Ramona stuff. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson was one of my favorite books when I was a kid, and it turns out to have been very autobiographical as far as Bette Bao Lord's actual experiences coming from China in the 1940's.

Some people have objected to the Little House books, particularly with Ma Ingalls' opinion of Native Americans, but they're still such a captivating look into everyday life back then that I couldn't imagine kicking them off the reading lists.

Some other recent titles that may be awesome:
The Penderwicks: Feels classic but is set in modern day, has a bunch of sisters in it.
Emmy & The Incredible Shrinking Rat: A recent book that really reminded me of a very Roald Dahlish story, but is set in modern day as well. One bite from the rat shrinks you, a second bite turns you into a rat yourself. Like a cross between the Witches and Matilda, but a little sweeter.
posted by redsparkler at 8:04 PM on April 7, 2009

I was on about her reading level at that point. Even as an adult who loves to read I am still incapable of finishing "The Hobbit", so I don't blame her there.

I love love loved the "Little House on the Prairie" books. I firmly believe that exposure to those books is directly responsible for my love of historical fiction as an adult. (And when she's 20 or so, introduce her to the "Outlander" series.)

Also, when she turns about 10 or so, have the "Song of the Lioness" Quartet queued up for her. Medieval fantasy feminism ftw!
posted by olinerd at 8:05 PM on April 7, 2009

Oh, sorry, it's Malory Towers (one L)... and St. Clares! and The Secret Seven! and the Magic Faraway Tree! ohhh the memories... Enid Blyton how I loved you. Sorry. Stopping now.
posted by latch24 at 8:06 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I recommend The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, and Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Personally, I couldn't get into Alice in Wonderland at age six, but I think it would have been a joy to have someone read it to me. I remember getting a ride home when I was twelve with my literature teacher and her adult daughter. And the daughter all of a sudden burst out with Will you walk a little faster! Said the whiting to the snail! And the mother replied There's a porpoise close behind us! And he's treading on my tail! And they did the whole thing, with voices, and gestures, with me sitting in the back giggling, gasping for breath. If you read Alice to your daughter that could be you!

Also, I second the Winnie the Pooh books. Oh! and your daughter is just the age for Milne's Now We Are Six. The poems, the illustrations! Oh god. Children are so lucky.

There's also, well, Enid Blyton. When I was your daughter's age I loved most of the books you mentioned, and I found Narnia mostly quite boring. So I have to say that I also really loved old E.B. - perhaps most of all. She seems not really to be done anymore, what with the racism and the sexism and the blatant moralising and the astonishing quaintness. But I loved those books and there are a hell of a lot of them, so maybe there's that. (FWIW, I liked the magical Wishing Chair, Faraway Tree, elves and living toys ones, not the silly earthbound mystery ones.)

Also, you might consider a subscription to one of the Cricket line of children's literary magazines. They have short stories, poems, articles, activities. And they are beautifully illustrated, offer frequent glimpses into foreign cultures, and contain no advertising. They're where I first encountered Ursula Le Guin. Try Spider (ages 6-9; sample issue) or Cricket (ages 9-14, but manageable, I think; sample). Best wishes! You and your daughter must be having such a good time. :)
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:15 PM on April 7, 2009

The Bunnicula series of books are pretty fun at that age because they can be scary in a very silly kind of way, besides everyone loves Harold and Chester.
posted by Edward L at 8:26 PM on April 7, 2009

As a kid growing up in Bulgaria, I loved The Little Prince (an absolutely essential book for children, in my opinion). I second Winnie the Pooh.

Please consider classics such as the books by Astrid Lindgren--for some reason she is not as immensely popular in the States as in Europe, but I cried on the day she died--as well as Erich Kaestner's Emil and the Detectives, which I was crazy about, and of course Michael Ende's Neverending Story and Momo.
posted by halogen at 8:26 PM on April 7, 2009

Hugh Lofting's Dr. Dolittle stories aren't known nearly well enough (and are as different in tone and intent from the Eddie Murphy movies as chalk from cheese, although the Rex Harrison / Anthony Newley movie kept the spirit well). In the same vein, the original Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. Also the Bunnicula stories by James Howe. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Poetry that begs to be read aloud includes Dennis Lee's Alligator Pie.

Seconding bradth27, too. My parents didn't censor my reading at all. About 13 years old I started reading books full of sex and smut, thought they were exciting but also knew they were really badly written and I got tired of the stupidity and monotony quite quickly. I became a voracious reader with a knack for literary criticism.

Have fun!
posted by angiep at 8:27 PM on April 7, 2009

You folks are rad, as usual. These are great and I'll print this page for the next library trip (probably by the end of the week!) Please keep the suggestions coming.

Just to clarify, I am fine with her reading Magic Treehouse etc, I just don't want to have to read them to her. When I'm reading aloud, I'd like to get something out of it too. And I can get something out of most books. Right now my method for offering her books to read on her own is to check out a giant pile of stuff that I think she might like - all of which passes some sort of evaluative test by me but definitely isn't all "highbrow", and seeing what she chooses out of the pile. So I am creating an available range, but I don't pressure her to choose one thing or another. A certain number of books just get returned to the library untouched.
posted by serazin at 8:29 PM on April 7, 2009

And once she's interested in picking books off the shelf on her own at the library, which for some reason she isn't yet, she can grab all the Magic Treehouse or whatever she likes. SHe's got her own library card!
posted by serazin at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2009

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, by Julie Andrews Edwards (yes, that Julie Andrews).

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, by George Saunders.

I read these to my boys at bedtime when they were around your daughter's age, a chapter a night. Nothing beats that cliffhangery feeling of closing the book before the story is finished. The heroine of Gappers is named Capable, I just loved that!

I am something of a snob too, but I've managed to stifle my snobbishness so my boys could find their own way to the books that matter to them. My younger son (now 13) alternated Jack London and Captain Underpants, and now he's got both The Shining and Life of Pi on his bedside table. It's his journey, and it included some Magic Treehouse titles early on. I'm just sayin'.
posted by headnsouth at 8:40 PM on April 7, 2009

the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are perenial girl favorites.

And boy favorites, too - I enjoy reading them to my son (he's now 7), and he likes hearing them too.

I also turned my nose up a little at the Magic Tree House ilk, but like headnsouth said, it's his reading journey. (Though I have to admit a small amount of "you go, kiddo!" when he reads the Rainbow Magic books.)
posted by Lucinda at 8:57 PM on April 7, 2009

Mistress Masham's Repose is wonderful, and nicely linked to The Borrowers.

If she likes boats at all (or even if not), any of Arthur Ransome's books (starting with Swallows and Amazons) might be fun.
posted by dizziest at 8:59 PM on April 7, 2009

Esperanza Rising, The Higher Power of Lucky, and Everything on a Waffle are the first books that come to mind for me, but they may skew slightly older. I wouldn't discount popular series, either. Most avid readers I know read lots of trashy series as kids (hello Baby-sitter's Club). Amber Brown, Cam Jansen, Judy Moody, Allie Finkle, and Time Warp Trio are popular series.

Do you have access to a library that subscribes to NovelList? It's a database with some great search functionality so you can narrow by subject, reading level, and other factors. For example, you can search for books about six-year-old girls and sibling rivalry with a certain reading level. They also have some great reading lists which are compiled by librarians. Definitely also check with your local children's librarian.

There are some great children's books from the last 10 years, really! Just pointing that out since most people seem to be recommending older books, probably because that's what they read as children.
posted by wsquared at 8:59 PM on April 7, 2009

The Arabel & Mortimer books by Joan Aiken are excellent, if a bit tough to find other than online. My kids love them! I wrote about them last year, if you'd like to read more about them.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:04 PM on April 7, 2009

nthing Dr. Dolittle and Mary Poppins.

I'm surpised no one has mentioned Eleanor Estes and pretty much everything she's ever written, but especially the Moffat books. Also, Elizabeth Enright is wonderful, especially Thimble Summer and the Melendy series. Both the Moffats and the Melendys appealed to me when I was 6-ish because they're about close-knit large families, which I was fascinated by as an only child.
posted by coppermoss at 9:12 PM on April 7, 2009

Harriet the Spy! My favorite. Also, Freaky Friday and the two sequels Billions for Boris and Summer Switch.
posted by artychoke at 9:38 PM on April 7, 2009

Max and Moritz.

My dad read this to me when I was young. It's got great illustrations that give a vivid image-- and the poetry is delightfully fun.
(Start with the link that says "Forward". It has seven "tricks" (vignettes), a forward and a conclusion, so it's easy to read all at once, or spread out over a week or more.)
posted by Seeba at 9:48 PM on April 7, 2009

In addition to the books mentioned above, I'd recommend reading Dickens or Shakespeare to her. Some of my earliest memories are my mom reading the Charles Dickens classics to me for bedtime stories -- I must have been four or five. Obviously, it'll be a while before she gets into those on her own. :)

Other books I liked when I was little (maybe a little older) were Caddie Woodlawn, The True Adventures of Charlotte Doyle, and The Castle in the Attic.

Awesome parenting, by the way.
posted by motsque at 10:36 PM on April 7, 2009

The grandparents I saw least got me the complete works of Hans Christian Andersen and the Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales for my seventh birthday. My eight-year-old has them now, but alas, has not gotten into them yet. They are among the best, most memorable, presents I have ever gotten and among the best stories I have read even now. You'd need to decide whether your child is too sensitive for a lot of the stories, but if you're picking things to read to her and you read through them first and hold off on some of the bloodier stories for a few years, I'd recommend them.

My favorites at age 7 were "The Dead Child" (though the imagery is very religious in a way I don't think I picked up then; I don't know your position on religious issues), "The Snow Queen," and "The Little Mermaid." I was a pretty morbid child, though.
posted by Cricket at 11:19 PM on April 7, 2009

+1 on the Edward Eager recommendation, although some of the details were getting a bit dated even when I read them about 20 years ago. And to follow up on Halogen's rec of The Neverending Story, Michael Ende also wrote a less-known book called The Night of Wishes that's good and not quite as dense. Looks like it's out of print, though, so a library may be your best bet.

If Roald Dahl and William Steig are appealing, you might try Margaret Mahy's The Blood and Thunder Adventure on Hurricane Peak, which had an awesome enough title to stick with me.

Also recommended on the Fantasy side are Patricia C. Wrede's four-part Enchanted Forest Chronicles beginning with Dealing With Dragons. A nice tweak on fantasy tropes, and the first and third have strong female protagonists. And I still, to this day, go back and reread Dianna Wynne Jones's stuff, which I started with Archer's Goon, although these days Howl's Moving Castle may make more sense.

When I was this age my mother got greatrecommendations from the Chinaberry catalog, although I have no idea if it's still any good. I know for a fact that's where we discovered Patricia C. Wrede.
posted by rhymeswithaj at 11:19 PM on April 7, 2009

I read everything as a kid, but the books I read over and over again were the older ones my parents (and probably their parents) read. Most of them you have already done, or they have been mentioned in the thread- The Borrowers, the Little House books, Swallows and Amazons, Pippi, and Alice and Wonderland. I especially loved all the E. Nesbitt books: I remember getting the Railway Children for Christmas when I was seven, and then after that came the Story of the Treasure Seekers, Five Children and It, the Phoenix and the Carpet, and a few more. I also loved all the Marguerite Henry horse books, and Ben and Me and Mr. Revere and I by Robert Lawson.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:20 PM on April 7, 2009

Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories.

Beastly Tales from Here and There by Vikram Seth.

Seconding Joan Aiken!

When I was your daughter's age I really enjoyed religious mythology stories. I had Greek myths, stories from the Bible, and Hindu mythology stories (my family background is none of these things). I read them as stories, more or less. They were so fascinating and set me up to be relatively well-informed about other cultures at a young age.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:17 AM on April 8, 2009

Oh and maybe also Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:32 AM on April 8, 2009

My daughter is six years old and at the same reading level. Six months ago she was reading nothing except the wretched Rainbow Magic books, but now she's moved on to a wider variety of books, and bedtimes are FUN again. (God, those Rainbow Magic books; I could feel my brain turning to mush; but I must admit they really turned her on to reading, and she's never looked back.)

Among the books we've read together recently: tons of Noel Streatfield (Ballet Shoes, Circus Shoes, Apple Bough, Curtain Up), all the Ramona books, all the Mary Plain books (by Gwynedd Rae, about a little bear called Mary Plain), Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (a great success, though she was upset by the ending where two of the rats get killed) and The Secret Garden (another big success; I had fun doing the Yorkshire accents). At the moment we're reading The Wind in the Willows, though I skipped over the 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' chapter. Next I'm planning to move on to Comet in Moominland, and then maybe the Professor Branestawn books, or The Extraordinary Wool Mill (one of the great things about having a child is rediscovering all the books you loved when you were little). The Dr Doolittle books I loved as a child, but I glanced at them recently and was repelled by the unconscious racism, so I don't think I'll be reading them again in a hurry.

The NYR Children's Collection has some great books for children. My daughter has also joined the newly relaunched Puffin Club and enjoys getting the magazine through the post every month.
posted by verstegan at 2:35 AM on April 8, 2009

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is fantastic.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is also ace.

Unless I missed it, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Judy Blume. OK, your kid isn't going to be reading Forever, but Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great are completely age-appropriate, as are loads of other Judy Blume books.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:37 AM on April 8, 2009

And don't forget the Moomin books. Although some of them do get quite odd and melancholy.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 2:37 AM on April 8, 2009

I have purchased 20 or so copies of The Paper Bag Princess over the years for various little girls between the ages of four and forty.

Strongly recommended, obviously.
posted by rokusan at 2:57 AM on April 8, 2009

Anything by John Bellairs is wonderful - clever and humorous spooky tales with great characters. As a bonus, most feature Edward Gorey illustrations. The House with the Clock in its Walls is a great starting point.
posted by susanvance at 6:58 AM on April 8, 2009

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a haunting story that will definitely take a girl out of her own cultural contexts. I learned about Aleuts, abalone, and cormorants. I still have the image of the heroine painstakingly boring holes in shells by hand to make a necklace for her friend -- what patience and devotion!

The Cat Who Went to Heaven is about a young artist in old Japan and the cat who assists and encourages him. It was the first book I ever cried over, feeling a strange new emotion that was halfway sad and halfway joyous. Definitely try to get the hardcover if you can, as it's a beautiful edition.

And although it doesn't depict a different culture, I just have to suggest Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I read it nearly to death at her age. It inspired me to begin a novel of my own (sadly never completed, although I did have the names of all the chapters).
posted by tentacle at 7:10 AM on April 8, 2009

We loved reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane together, and read The Tale of Desperaux together before the movie was even a glimmer in Hollywood's wallet. Our daughter also loves the Catwings series, and we've read practically everything E.B. White (including many of his essays and poems). We're currently in the middle of Ella Enchanted, and I've enjoyed it very much, to my great surprise (better than the movie, again). Last year we loved the Misty of Chincoteague series so much that we went to the Pony Swim for our vacation, and adored every minute of it. I grateful for all of the suggestions others made, and reminders of others I've loved; one of my biggest joys as a parent has been to re-read and discover all the books that I loved so much as a kid. I went on to do my senior thesis on Roald Dahl, and remember in second grade that we did a play of "the Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles". The ones I'm most looking forward to exploring again soon are the ones in the Children of Green Knowe series, but I do think she's a little young for them. I too am going to print this out and keep it in the library bag!
posted by peagood at 7:15 AM on April 8, 2009

I loved Louis Sachar as a kid, as others have recommended (Sideway Stories from Wayside School), and I also really enjoyed There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom and Holes. I don't know about the reading level exactly, but Maniac Magee is awesome and holds up. And as someone who fell in love with the Nate the Great books, I was and continue to be fascinated by The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base. The illustrations are incredible, and there are tons of puzzles and hidden objects even after you've read through the book and solved the mystery.
posted by joan cusack the second at 7:19 AM on April 8, 2009

The Rescuers, by Margery Sharp, featuring Miss Bianca, the very refined white mouse, who saves a (human) Norwegian poet prisoner. All the Miss Bianca books are illustrated by Garth Williams, who did the excellent drawings in Charlotte's Web and A Cricket in Times Square. Those may be just as much an incentive as the story. The story is very exciting, and the mouse-world scale of things (a meeting hall in an old wine cask, sitting on walnut-shell chairs) would appeal to a six-year-old.
posted by Tufa at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2009

The Dragon Slayers' Academy series by Kate McMullan is fun.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:53 AM on April 8, 2009

The OZ books! I can't believe I'm the first to come in with this!
posted by brujita at 9:35 PM on April 8, 2009

just a suggestion....get a video camera and have her read out loud and record it. Years from now you'll love watching it. Don't forget the facial expressions as she reads and over the shoulder view ( zoom in on the words) of what she's reading. I did this with our children, and it is "priceless". Even if she struggles at times.
posted by Taurid at 3:52 PM on April 9, 2009

I'll tentatively offer Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I know quite a large number of people think it either falls into the "predictable" or the "too out-there for children" category, but the way it talks about morality and fairness and figuring-out-you're-not-a-kid-but-a-person absolutely resonated with me. And I wish I got exposed to it earlier, having recently read it over the summer on a lark.

Seconding Sideways Stories (and the arithmetic/logic puzzles spinoffs aren't bad either). I reread that book far more times than I can remember; there are not enough absurdist children books.

Neil Gaiman's stuff is particularly suited to reading aloud. Neverwhere works as a (darker) fantasy novel for children, if you skip over the more violent sections when reading it aloud. Same goes for Stardust. (And then there's Coraline.)

I also loved Redwall as a kid (one book = hours of fun), but that might be more hit or miss.
posted by shadytrees at 4:00 PM on April 9, 2009

This was a great set of answers. I got a big pile of these from the library this week and we're starting to work our way through. Right now we're reading one of the Wayside School books and it's clever, simple, wonderfully absurd and blissfully free of moralizing. I'll probably pop back into this thread now and then to report on other books as we read 'em. Thanks again!

Oh, and the videotaping idea was great. I did that this week too.
posted by serazin at 8:31 PM on April 16, 2009

Still working through these great suggestions. We've liked reading more Beverly Cleary, Lenore Look (Ruby Lu is so cute!), the Rescuers, and All of a Kind Family which turned out to be a perfect book for her in its sweetness and simplicity.

For some reason she hasn't gotten into Pooh (sad for me) and the 21 Balloons seemed a bit too complex for her. I'll try again later.

Oh, and we'd already read (and liked) the Oz and Moomin books.
posted by serazin at 9:55 PM on May 8, 2009

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