Friday, May 9, 2014

Amanda's Best Picks for Summer Reading -- Chapter books available in print or as ebooks

When I was young, I fell in love with reading. Elaborate pictures would develop in my mind created by the words I was reading. My father read the Berenstain Bears books to us every night, impersonating the voices of the characters and sharing with us the somewhat simple lessons that stuck with me as I grew up. My girls are still little, and it took a really long time to get them to sit still for a story of any length, but I kept pushing. I wanted them to share the love of books that I had. At age eight, Little Miss M still really fights chapter books, preferring stories that begin and resolve in just one sitting. However, if we read the novels together, she seems more open to exploring the vast amount of literature out there. Here's what is on our reading list, and please share with us what is on yours in the comments below!
1. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary - (iBook - $5.99) My girls go through this give and take relationship daily and this story gave us a great way to talk about it.

Four-year-old Ramona Quimby has an imagination that often leads to unintended trouble. She mortifies older sister Beezus at the library; disrupts an entire art class; and one rainy day, invites all her neighborhood friends over for a party—without even asking her mother. 

Sometimes Beezus can be patient with Ramona. After all, they are sisters. But when Ramona almost ruins Beezus's birthday, it's the last straw. Beezus knows she ought to love Ramona—but how can she get along with someone so exasperating? 

2. The Best Christmas Pagent Ever by Barbara Robinson - (iBook - $3.99) My parents read this story to me when I was little, I read it to my girls.

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.

None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale -- the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating -- has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year's pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.

3. Little Women by Lousia May Alcott - (iBook - Free) Perhaps my favorite book of all time, I cry and laugh each time I read Little Women.

While their father is away at war, the four March sisters try their best to maintain life in their New England home. Fifteen-year-old Jo, modeled after author Louisa May Alcott, is a bit of a tomboy, tends to get in trouble, and loves writing. The oldest, Meg, works as a governess and puts herself in charge in the absence of their parents. The kind and charitable Beth loves music and being a caretaker. The youngest, Amy, is slightly spoiled and frustrated by being treated as the youngest.

Alcott gives us a realistic account of the girl’s lives – the ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs, successes and failures. It’s long remained one of the most relatable and appealing works of American literature.

4. The Never Girls Series (books 1 - 6) by Kiki Thorpe, Jana Christy and RH Disney - (iBook - $5.99 each) This new series is so delightful to read with my girls. Themes of bravery, hard work, friendship, imagination and believing run through each cleverly crafted story.

The Disney Fairies star in a magical all-new early chapter book series for kids ages 6 to 10—The Never Girls!

Kate craves adventure and excitement.
Mia loves dresses, roses, and anything beautiful.
Lainey dreams of talking to animals.
Gabby believes in fairies more than anyone.

In a blink of an eye, these four best friends all get their biggest wish—they’re whisked off to Never Land, home to Tinker Bell and her fairy friends. The adventure of a lifetime is just beginning! But how will the Never Girls ever get home again?

Book 1 - In a Blink ($5.99)

Book 2 - The Space Between ($5.99)

Book 3 - A Dandelion Wish ($5.99)

Book 4 - From the Mist ($5.99)

Book 5 - Wedding Wings ($5.99)

Book 6 - The Woods Beyond ($5.99)

5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - (iBook - Free) I watched a play about Tom Sawyer in my youth and immediately fell in love with the little boy who lovingly caused so much trouble.

Living along the Mississippi River in the 1840s, Aunt Polly raises three playful children—Tom, Sid, and Mary. Like most boys his age, Tom is adventurous, which is just another way of saying he gets into trouble. Yet Tom and his partner-in-crime, Huck Finn, get in over their heads when they witness a murder in a graveyard. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an extraordinary classic of a young man’s creativity and affection, society’s hypocrisy, and the anxiety of an unpredictable world which has resonated through American culture for the past century. 

6. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson - (iBook - Free) This is another book that has made the short list of stories I am excited to share with my girls.

For the first nine years of her life, Mary Lennox was a mean, spoiled, and sickly English girl growing up in India. But when tragedy strikes her family, she is sent off to live at her uncle Archibald's giant manor in Yorkshire. No longer surrounded by servants, Mary finds herself alone in a big and scary new world. That is, until she finds a garden that's been locked away for years...

7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl - (iBook - $8.99) I bought the hard copy of this book for the girls, and I think this may be our next adventure in reading together.

Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life! 

8. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (iBook - $4.99) I vividly remember wanting to build a wardrobe in my bedroom just to see if the magic could happen to me.

Narnia . . . a land frozen in eternal winter . . . a country waiting to be set free.

Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice. 

9. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit (iBook - $3.99) I have loved this tale since the first time I read it. One of the things I love most about it are the insightful questions it inspires.

Doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

10. Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy by Daisy Meadows - (iBooks - $5.99) Little Miss M adores all of the Magic Fairies and their variety of talents.

Something's wrong on Rainspell Island!

Rainspell Island is the perfect place for a vacation. And Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy is the one who keeps it that way! But when Jack Frost steals three magical shells from the beaches, Joy starts to lose her sparkle. 

Can Rachel and Kirsty help her bring the magic back to Rainspell Island? Three times the fairy fun in one book!

As is the way, many of these enchanting books have been made into movies. Since we live in a world of animation in our house, I'm hoping that reading some of these cherished tales will help us expand our viewing repertoire to include some of these people-centered cinematic delights. Of course, we will only explore the movies after we've read the original stories.

In looking over her list, Amanda noticed a predominant theme of trouble making kids and has to wonder if there are some regrets from being so well-behaved throughout her childhood.

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