Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book List for Early-Reading Girls

I have been asked a couple times about books I would recommend for beginning readers (beginning in this case meaning beginning to read books all on their own, not just barely beginning to read words), and both times it happened to be for girls, and since I am a girl, most of my favorites are for girls anyway, so that worked out nicely.  :)  So here is a list of ones that I really love and recommend.  Some of them you’ve probably seen, but hopefully some of them you haven’t.  Or if you have seen them, but never happened to pick them up, maybe this can be a good motivation to do it.  (For some reason I feel compelled to confess that I have never read ‘The Secret Garden,’ ‘A Little Princess,’ ‘Little Women,’ or ‘A Girl of the Limberlost,’ so you may refuse to take any of my recommendations anyway.)  (I would also like to point out that making book lists always makes me sad that I have so many boxes of books just sitting in a dark shed, far, far away.  Sniff.)
1. Ronia, the Robbers Daughter –Astrid Lindgren
Ronia, the Robber's Daughter
This book easily tops the list—it is the FIRST one you should buy because it is the best.  At least, in Hazel’s and my humble opinions.  From my goodreads review:  The perfect story. Really-- there are no flaws, no boring parts, nothing that you don’t love. Every character, every scene, every feeling is absolutely right. I love Ronia. I love Birk. I love Matt and Lovis and Noddle-Pete and everyone. This book made me laugh out loud and even brought tears to my eye. I love the adventure and the cockiness and the love and the, well, everything!    (p.s. I even wrote out a ‘scene’ from the book and tried to get Hazel and Jethro to memorize it and act it out so we could make a little movie, but while we almost got there, the project never reached fruition.)
2. Little House on the Prairie –Laura Ingalls Wilder

I’m sure I don’t even need to put these on the list- everybody knows that they’re fantastic, but still, they’re SUCH good books!
2. The Fairy Rebel –Lynn Reid Banks
The Fairy Rebel
What a perfectly magical story.  I’ve loved it since I was little.
3. The Ordinary Princess –M. M. Kaye
The Ordinary Princess
Super super fun story about a princess whose fairy godmother gave her the gift of being ordinary. 
4. The Light Princess –George MacDonald
The Light Princess
George Macdonald is a master writer.  Another princess story where the princess is cursed from birth—this time the curse is a lack of gravity.  How will the spell be broken?  (Okay, I have to also recommend more books by George Macdonald—he really is sooooo good, and kind of like in the Narnia books, his stories can have deeper meanings.  I remember when I read ‘Day Boy and Night Girl’ when I was a kid, I wrote down some quotes from the book because they were so wonderful.  So also check out that one, and ‘The Princess and the Goblin’ and ‘The Princess and the Curdie’ which I must admit to not having read yet, although I own them but they are in Utah, so I actually just re-ordered the first one so I could read it to the kids while we’re here.)
5. Caddie Woodlawn –Carol Ryrie Brink
Caddie Woodlawn
I’m a sucker for books about adventure on the frontier.  This one is great.
6. Naya Nuki –Kenneth Thomasma
Naya Nuki: Shoshone Girl Who Ran
This book I remember reading and loving as a kid.  There are several other stories about Indians by the same author, and Hazel has one called ‘Doe Sia’ about a Mormon pioneer and an Indian girl.  They’re quite easy-reads, but I didn’t notice that when I was little, just that they were very exciting.
7. Castle in the Attic –Elizabeth Winthrop
The Castle in the Attic
Exciting story about a boy who goes back in time to the ages of castles and knights.  This one in particular is great for boys too.
8. The Moorchild –Eloise Jarvis McGraw

This is actually still one of my favorite books, so I went and checked what the age recommendation is on Amazon, and it said ages 9-11 / grades 4-6.  Not that it’s scary or anything like that, it’s just a bit more mature than some of these other books, and I would definitely let Hazel read it.  But anyway, go read it, it’s awesome!  (And it always reminds me of the time my older brother asked for different book recommendations, different meaning not a Louis L’Amour, and so I gave him this, and then he read it and completely mocked it-and me-for a long time, dancing around trying to sing in a high, elfish voice and pretend to play the bagpipes- pretty awesome.   So, I guess I don’t recommend this book for young twenty-year old men who only know how to read Westerns.  Go back to your Louis L’Amours!!)
9. The Fledgling –Jane Langton
The Fledgling (Hall Family Chronicles #4)
I have always loved the idea of flying, and this book is a very enchanting story about a girl who meets a Canadian goose who teaches her to fly.  It’s really beautiful.  I think there are quite a few other books about the same family, but I’ve never read them.
10. Children of Noisy Village –Astrid Lindgren
The Children of Noisy Village
This I discovered only recently.  It’s just cute little stories about the life of some children who live next to each other on their farms in Sweden (Astrid Lindgren is from Sweden)— it’s just really simple and funny and sweet.  There are more books about the Children of Noisy Village (Happy Times in Noisy Village and Christmas in Noisy Village) but awesomely, when I was at a second-hand store here, I found a German book of Noisy Village that had all of them together!  And I thought, you know, this is really strange that my 8-year-old daughter can read stuff, and I have no idea what she’s reading.  So weird. (Yes, I do get that feeling quite a lot, in case you haven’t noticed.)
Here are our English and German versions together:
And Hazel asked if it was okay if she colored the pictures in the book, so I said okay, so now about the first half of the book has nicely colored pictures (and there are lots of pictures).
While we’re on the topic of books in German, here are some other books we have found in second-hand stores here.  Astrid Lindgren Fairytales, which includes a ghost story about a ghost/dead body, which I had actually seen a separate book for on Amazon once, in English it’s called ‘The Ghost of Skinny Jack’ and kindof wanted to buy it.  You can read a synopsis here.  It seems quite creepy from the pictures (such as below), and I’m kindof sad that I couldn’t read it.
IMGP7249 IMGP7250
Hazel also liked the book Emil’s Pranks (also by Astrid Lindgren, we have a lot by her, the best being Ronia of course, but also Noisy Village, Emil’s Pranks, Lotta on Troublemaker Street, Pippi Longstocking (by far the most well-known of hers, but I find it totally annoying), and The Tomten, which is a picture-book), and we found another book of him at the store.  I’m not sure if it’s the exact book, because there are more than one Emil books, and Hazel hasn’t read it yet, but I thought it was funny that his name is ‘Michel’ in German.
And then, just recently, what did I spy but LAURA books!!!  I just saw one, and recognized it as the Little House in the Big Woods, and I didn’t buy it.  But when I told Hazel that I had seen it, she begged me to go back and buy it because “I always tell my friends about her, but they don’t know her!”  So I went back and found not one but THREE.  What an exciting day, I tell you what.
It’s so funny to us how names are changed and things.  Of course Ma and Pa aren’t called Ma and Pa.  The dog Jack is called Nero, Charles is Karl, and Carrie is Kathrin.  Although, the books are translated by different people, and it’s not the same between books (even though you’d think they’d try to be consistent).  Anyway, and it’s also strange to see the different pictures.  I mean, the Garth Williams illustrations are just part of the books it seems like.  Fun stuff.
Okay, in case you’ve made it through all that, here are a few extra books that we like and  recommend:

  • The Moffats, Eleanor Estes
  • Half Magic, Edward Eager
  • Rascal, Sterling North
  • Narnia series
  • Indian in the Cupboard series, Lynn Reid Banks
  • Gwinna, Barbara Berger
  • The Wish Giver, Bill Brittain
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School
And, here are some of the books that I’d really LIKE to try out/have Hazel read, but haven’t ordered yet (it’s hard to order ones I haven’t read when there are so many I want that I already know are good).  So, you can try them out for me and tell me if they’re amazing or if it’s okay to pass, let me know.
  • The Children of Green Know, L.M. Boston
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce
  • The Brothers Lionheart, Astrid Lindgren
  • Five Children and It, E. Nesbit
  • The Saturdays, Elizabeth Enright
  • The Enchanted Castle, E. Nesbit
  • The Enchanted Wood, Enid Blyton
  • The Golden Name Day, Jennie Lindquist
  • The Railway Children, E. Nesbit
  • The Runaway Princess, Kate Coombs
  • Little Old Mrs. Pepperpot, Alf Pr√łysen
  • The Year of Miss Agnes, Kirkpatrick Hill - SOOOOO GOOD!
  • Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • The Apple Stone, Nicholas Stuart Gray
  • The Glassblower’s Children, Maria Gripe
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken - Loved it!
…to name a few.  :)
And now you have plenty of ideas.  If I have missed any of your favorites, tell me!


The Haws Family said...

I can't believe you haven't read Little Women. And you call yourself a sister. Sniff. You are dead to me. (good list by the by)

Christina said...

Thanks for the book list! I always love to try out new books recommended by people I know and trust. I just finished reading a book recommended to me by a 9 year old and it was so so wonderful. It's called Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. I heartily recommend it for Hazel.

jill said...

Thank you for this! I need some new books for my almost 7 year old and you have some that aren't the usual suspects.

Andrea said...

We really loved The Wolves of WIlloughby Chase. You are not dead to me, but really--Little Women is excellent.

Alisha Erin said...

I don't know anyone else who has even read Ronia, but it is pretty much the greatest book ever.

Lynn said...

Holy! Awesome list!

Jessica said...

Great list :) I am going to pin this!

Ginger said...

Thanks, this helps a lot. Leah tends to read the books that Sam is reading at the time. She is finishing Harry Potter right now and beginning the Percy Jackson series....and I'm not excited about that last one. Yuck, in my opinion. I'll try out a lot of these...Leah will read anything as long as she has the time.

Andrea said...

Thanks again for sharing all this with my awhile back! I've referred to the email many times already. I ordered Ronia and we'll actually be starting it tonight!

Andrea said...

Oh--and I actually bought Castle in the Attic a few months ago, even though I didn't know that would be on your list...I remembered enjoying it when I was a kid so I wanted Elise to try it. Funny thing about Little Women-I just read it about 3 years ago, even though I had gone and toured LMA's home and bought a nice hard cover of it long took me awhile to get around to reading it and once I read it I coudln't believe it hadn't taken me so long. I think I appreciated it more having lots of girls. There are lots of little gems in her writing.

Andrea said...

You're a donkey. Hee-haw.

Jan Rasmussen said...

How about a boy book list? Please/thank you ;)

emily ballard said...

This is such a great list. Makes me want to go to the library.

Amanda said...

I jotted a few down for our next library trip. We listened to the audio book (on a long car trip) of The Doll People. It was awesome and both genders loved it. It would make a great read aloud.

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