Under Cover: Favorite Family Reads

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Under Cover columnist Edie Crabtree’s son, Luke Crabtree, with Brandon Mull, author of "The Candy Shop War."
Under Cover columnist Edie Crabtree’s son, Luke Crabtree, with Brandon Mull, author of “The Candy Shop War.”

As part of my on-going focus Family Reading Month in May, which highlights the importance of sharing the reading experience with your children, I have compiled a list of some of our family’s favorite titles, as well as a couple we are looking forward to enjoying in the near future.

Reading together is an activity that can be enjoyed across all ages. Beginning with a toddler sitting on your lap, excitedly turning pages, and continuing through the various stages of development, shared reading experiences are one of the best ways to highlight the importance of literacy, grow your child’s vocabulary, and prepare them to be successful, independent readers and writers.

Of course, my 16-year-old would probably balk at the thought of curling up to hear me read aloud, but our shared experience still continues, as I try to stay current with what he is reading. We often read the same book concurrently, giving us the chance to still discuss how the books impact us.

Here is a look into what we enjoy – hopefully, you will too!

For the early years:

“Who Wants Arthur?” by Amanda Graham: In this fun picture book, Arthur the dog wants so desperately to be taken home from the pet store that he tries to adopt the personas of the other pets chosen before him. After unsuccessfully impersonating several species, he finds his forever home by just being himself.

“Quick as a Cricket” by Audrey Wood and Don Wood: A young boy lists his personality traits, along with the animals they call to mind. This reminder that one child can be both “as nice as a bunny,” and “as mean as a shark,” also lends itself to using lots of fun voices.

“Press Here” by Herve Tullet: A new favorite amongst my husband’s youngest students, this clever book lets imaginations soar as readers see what happens to a series of colorful dots when they follow the instructions on each page. This is a great interactive read for pre-school aged children.

For middle graders:

The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling: I would be remiss not to include these books on any list comprising our favorites. The seven book series follows wizard Harry Potter from age 11 to 17. Asharry potter Harry matures, the writing does as well, lending itself to increasingly older readers. My two older boys and I each read the complete series together, one on one, and the time spent in those pages remains amongst our most fondly remembered.

“Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein: The new town library was designed by none other than the world’s most famous video game designer, who is running a contest that will allow a few lucky children to spend the night in the library before it opens to the public. What they don’t know, however, is that once they are in, they will have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles, in order to find their way back out!

“The Candy Shop Wars” by Brandon Mull: In this book, we meet four friends who are captivated by the unique sweets offered at Mrs. White’s candy shop. Her one-of-a-kind confections offer indulgers powers ranging from weightlessness to becoming a master of disguise. As the foursome embark on different jobs for Mrs. White in order to secure her special sweets, they stumble upon the legend of a hidden treasure in their town, and set out to keep it safe from the magical folks trying to steal it.

For older readers:

“They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys From Sudan” by Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak, with Judy A. Bernstein: This is what my oldest is currently reading in his English class. Not a lover of reading, on his first night with the book, he told me that it was a must for me to read if I hadn’t already. Recounting their stories of leaving Sudan, at the tender ages of five and seven, and crossing through Kenya and Ethiopia as part of the massive migration of child refugees that would come to be known as the “Lost Boys,” the authors give us a raw look at war and genocide through a child’s eyes, yet also manage to fill readers with hope.

Edie Crabtree is an avid reader and the mother of three active boys. She can be reached at [email protected]

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