I posted here about my fancy girl’s current favorite series. I meant to post last week about the series that are captivating my boys right now but time got away from me. We had a French exchange student for the past two weeks which was very fun but meant a lot more time than usual out of the house. But we still found time to read, as always.
David and I are currently working our way through the Tomie de Paola 26 Fairmont Avenue books. de Paola is familiar to most people who know children’s books. The Fairmont Avenue books are an autobiographical series about his childhood in Connecticut in the 1940s. We are both really enjoying these (as is John who listens in as well).
These books are a great read-aloud for someone David’s age (almost 5) . They have fairly short chapters and some pictures which I find helpful at his age. They would also make a good independent read for an older child. de Paola does a great job of making the history come alive while also telling details that kids can relate to. My boys particularly liked the story where the young Tomie went to kindergarten the first day and then went home because the teacher told him they weren’t going to learn to read that year. They thought that was hilarious.
A small warning: there are eight books so far and the second four all deal with World War II. It’s a very sensitive and engaging depiction of the war through a child’s eyes. However, de Paola doesn’t shrink from talking about how he was scared. In the book we are currently reading a cousin of his who is a pilot is killed in action. I think he does a great job of dealing with these issues but they could be potentially disturbing to some kids. David so far hasn’t been bothered, I think because he doesn’t really understand the scary parts. John does understand and I think has been a little more bothered but it’s been a good way to introduce some tough topics with him.
John and I have been enjoying one of my favorite series from childhood, these by Elizabeth Enright featuring the Melendy family. These books also take place in the 1940’s and follow the adventures of the four Melendy siblings: Mona, Rush, Randy and Oliver. The first book takes place in New York City. The four siblings pool their allowances and alternate going out on a special outing every Saturday. I think what I loved most about this book as a kid was the completely novel idea of a 11 or 13 (or much younger in the case of Oliver) kid going out in the big city all alone. There isn’t a lot of plot or excitement really but I think the fact that these books have endured for so long is a testament to the richness of the characters and the great writing.
The other books in the series are equally good. In the second book the family moves out to a house in the country and in the third book they add a new member to the family. In many ways, the fourth book is my favorite. In it, Randy and Oliver are the only two of the kids left at home and are lonely and sad until someone sends them a mysterious clue to the beginning of a treasure hunt that lasts an entire year. Each chapter begins with a puzzle that the reader solves with Randy and Oliver. I loved it as a kid and I’m enjoying sharing it with John.
Check out Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word for more great reading suggestions.