children's books

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Anna Sewell (30 March 1820 – 25 April 1878)

English novelist, best known as the author of the classic 1877 novel Black Beauty. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: 1. Cover from Black Beauty The Autobiography of a Horse By Anna Sewell. With Fifty Illustrations. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1897. 2. Cover from Black Beauty; The Autobiography of a Horse By Anna Sewell. Illustrated. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, n.d. 3.-4. Cover and frontispiece from Black Beauty; The Autobiography of a Horse By Anna Sewell. With Forty Illustrations. Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, n.d. 5. Frontispiece “’I fell heavily to the ground on my side’” from Black Beauty The Autobiography of a Horse By Anna Sewell. With Fifty Illustrations. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1897. 6. Title page from Black Beauty; The Autobiography of a Horse By Anna Sewell. Illustrated. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, n.d.

6 Reasons Why Series Books Are Great for Kids/Less Practiced Readers

1. They like them.

If you want someone to get  into reading, they need to like the material. If it gets someone to read, that’s the most important thing.

2. Series books mean recurring characters in a familiar setting. 

This allows readers to practice reading without having to learn a whole new cast of characters and a whole new universe to become familiar with.

It might not seem like a big deal to you or me, but to someone who’s still learning to read it takes off a huge part of the stress of picking up a new book, as it means they can focus on the reading and not on learning new info. 

3. They help readers learn how to pick up things like foreshadowing and clues.

Because series books tend to follow a certain formula (e.g. in Harry Potter Harry starts at the Dursley’s, goes to Hogwarts, has some subplots surrounding a mystery, then faces Voldemort or another villain) readers start becoming trained to pick up certain clues. 

If you ever read any Goosebumps as kid (or Nancy Drew, etc), go back and re-read a copy. I’ll bet you’ll be able to pick out the twists before they happen. That’s because now you know what to look for, even if subconsciously.

4. They build up a child’s confidence in their reading abilities.

Children like big numbers. 

Reading lots of short books in a small period of time feels really impressive and satisfying to them. Remember bragging  to your friends about how you read THREE WHOLE BOOKS over the weekend? Did the fact they were shorter books ever matter? 

5. Series books don’t  discourage kids from reading more complex material. They encourage them.

Less practiced readers tend to read in cycles – they’ll read a few series books then pick up something more challenging then read some easier books, and so on. 

Eventually the series books become too predictable and readers move on to the next level on their own. 

Series books are like taking breaks between climbing up a hill – if you go too fast you crash and decide it’s too hard to keep going. If you pace yourself you make it to the top.

6. Nearly all heavy readers and book lovers began with series books.

Literally. 

Research on reading repeatedly find that heavier readers began by practically inhaling any and all series books they could find, until they got to a point where they were too good at a certain reading level and moved on to the next one (all the while trying a harder book every now and then).

That’s certainly  how I learned.

The first books I read in English were Clifford and Biscuit. Then I moved on to Little Critter and Franklin the Turtle books. I soon moved to chapter books like Magic Tree HouseBailey School Kids, and Captain Underpants.

By Grade 6 (roughly a year after learning English) I scored “Grade 12 or higher” in the provincial reading ability test.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, if there were any children’s books in a house, at least one of them was likely to be a Little Golden Book. With their golden spines and brightly colored pictures, they begged to be grabbed off a shelf by a curious child — which is exactly what their creators intended. Those beloved books celebrate their 75th birthday this year.

'The Poky Little Puppy’ And His Fellow Little Golden Books Are Turning 75

Image: Courtesy of Penguin Random House

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North being 3 💛☺️📚

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Kwame Alexander believes that wonder lies between the lines of poems.

His new book Out of Wonder, is a collection of original poems for children written in the style of some of the world’s most famous poets — Rumi, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou. The poems were written by Alexander, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth and illustrated by Ekua Holmes.

There are three aims for the book — to encourage kids to read poetry, to introduce them to great poets, and to inspire them to write poems of their own.

“It’s a lofty goal, but I think that’s a metaphor for what poetry is,” Alexander says.

Find his conversation with NPR’s Rachel Martin here.

– Petra