Gift Guide: Series Chapter Books (Fiction)

As you all know, we are bookworms around here. While there are lots of great books the girls have read here and there, these are some of the series books they keep going back to time and time again. It could be an unending list if I let it keep going, but we’ll stop at the top 10 plus a few others. After I typed it up, I realized many of them are geared toward girls. Boys can certainly read and enjoy them as well, but since I have two girlie girls, that is what I know best for now. Later on, I may ask my nephew or some boy friends what they enjoy reading.Series Chapter Books (Fiction)

The Little House – I have never read this series when I was younger, but I ordered it for Melody when she was starting Kindergarten, and she has probably read it at least a dozen times since then.

The Magic Tree House – The girls have picked up so much history (and science!) knowledge from these books. I am very impressed by the free curriculum and games they have on their website. There are also some non-fiction books that are useful for research. I’ll share about them in a different post.
magic tree house

American Girl books – I can’t keep up with which dolls are going to be archived and all of that, but we do love reading the American Girl books around here. I blogged about some of that HERE. We are slowly but surely finishing up the Kaya series and hoping to start the Grace series in the new year. We have watched all the movies that have come out, except Grace since she is a newer Girl.
american girl

The Boxcar Children – I never got into The Boxcar Children as a little girl. I was more of a Baby-Sitters Club and Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister reader. Someone recommended this series to us when Melody was about four because even though the books are quite lengthy, they only had a certain number of words used in every book. So she didn’t need a large vocabulary to read the stories. The girls also really enjoy THE MOVIE.
boxcar children

Ramona books and most other Beverly Cleary books – We had a reluctant start to this series even though I told the girls I had read these books when I was a little girl. We ended up checking out the Ramona and Beezus DVD from the library and they liked it, so we read some more of the books. 🙂 I think the girls like identifying with Ramona during the different stages of her life in each of the books. And of course, some of the Henry books are great, and what’s not to like about Ralph S. Mouse.

Nancy Clancy books – The girls read the Fancy Nancy books when they were younger, so they naturally grew into read these chapter books. We loved learning fancy French words from the books. Nancy is a third grader who solves mysteries. You can probably already tell the girls really enjoy mysteries as most of the books on this list are mysteries. :p
nancy clancy

Thea Stilton and Geronimo Stilton – These book series are originally from Italy. They are definitely different from your typical book. There are lots of fun lettering and bold photos in these books. Besides the Thea and Geronimo books, there are a few other mystical and mystery books. There are also DVDs as well, but it turns out the girls aren’t as big of fans as they are of the book.
thea stilton

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew and Nancy Drew Diaries – I have been trying to get Melody to read the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew books for a long time. I actually read one of the regular books when I was in 4th or 5th grade, and oh boy, it was scary! I never read another book after that even though I keep hearing about them from friends. :p They didn’t have the Clue Crew books for younger kids back then.
 nancy drew diaries

Cam Jansen – Jennifer Jansen is a girl with a photographic memory, thus her nickname – Cam! This is an oldie but a goodie. These books first came out when I was born, but have been reissued in the last decade. There are some book study guides on their website and there is also a series for younger kids as well.
cam jansen

Judy Moody – Judy is always in a mood. She’s just a girl with a little brother. She loves to collect things like Band-Aids. It is always an adventure wherever she goes.
judy moody

A few other series chapter books that are read around here are: The Chronicles of Narnia, I Survived, Magic School Bus Chapter Books, Amelia BedeliaRainbow Magic, Princess Posey, Sophie books, Just Grace, Ivy & Bean, Benjamin Pratt & Keepers of the School, and Critter Club.

Coming soon will be a gift guide for more chapter books (not a part of a series), non-fiction books, early readers and picture books, Christmas books, and books on our to-read list! I already share the books I have enjoyed reading each month (although I still need to give an update for this month), so check out the complete book list HERE and some of the monthly updates HERE.

What series chapter books do your children enjoy reading? What did you enjoy when you were in elementary school?

American Girl Books: Caroline & Molly

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This post is late in coming, but I wanted to share about the last two American Girl series we read – Caroline and Molly. The girls are really interested in reading about these historical characters. They ask to read a chapter (or two) each night and will legit get mad at me if we aren’t able to read. We usually take turns reading them as we all take turns brushing and doing each other’s hair…except for Norm since he doesn’t have much hair to brush or do. :p These books really present opportunities to discuss so many topics pertaining to history, differences between cultures and past/present, and relationships, and so I included a list of things we have discussed and can be discussed during and after reading these books.

Caroline’s story takes place in Sackets Harbor, New York on the shores of Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. Some topics of discussion we had were about the following: Lake Ontario, ships and sails, prison (when Caroline’s dad was arrested), enemies, bravery, friendships, ice skating, and embroidery. There are 6 books in the main series. We also read 2 of the 3 mysteries, and 1 of the 3 Beforever books.

Other possible topics for further discussion are:

  • War of 1812 – how and why war was declared, opposition of war by many people,
  • Geography – Sackets Harbor, Philadelphia, New York, big cities in 1800 compared to present day, the Great Lakes
  • Transportation – ship use for economic reasons as well as poor travel by land
  • Relationship between America and Upper Canada
  • Relationship between Britain and America
  • Relationship between families and soldiers (being housed in towns where battles were taking place)
  • Relationship among family members – disagreements about the war, soldiers who were sent off
  • American Revolution – how America has grown and changed as a nation since Felicity’s time
  • Navy
  • Communication – many sailors were not even aware war was declared because news traveled slowly, many military forces were not even aware war had ended with the signing of a treaty
  • Women and children – increased responsibilities when men were absent, informal education/homeschooling
  • Holidays
  • Native Americans
  • Weather
  • Star-Spangled Banner flag
  • Spies
  • Slaves

Molly’s story takes place in Jefferson, Illinois during World War II. Some topics of discussion we had were about the following: World War II, rationing, volunteer/war effort, Christmas, and patriotism. There are 6 books in the main series. We also read 2 of the 3 mysteries.

Other possible topics for further discussion are:

  • Radio shows
  • Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings
  • American serving in the armed forces overseas and in the United States, different roles
  • Companies producing war equipment and supplies vs. consumer goods
  • School culture – more strict than today
  • Rationing (changing recipes because certain items were not available), scrap drive and other ways Americans supported the war effort (victory gardens, etc.)
  • Junior Red Cross
  • Ally countries were sending their kids to America (A girl from Britain (Emily) comes to live with Molly’s family for awhile.)
  • Summer camp
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder of the soldiers and other emotions felt by those returning from war

We are currently reading the Kaya series, and learning lots about the Nez Perce tribe.

Have you or your kids read any of the American Girl books? Which ones? Any favorites? What AG series should we read next?

Are you or your kids interested in other historical fiction books? Any recommendations?

American Girl Books: Felicity & Kit

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Melody has read lots of the American Girl books lots of times already, but Emily got really interested in them after she played with the Felicity doll while we were in Australia. So we started with reading the Felicity books (there are six of them) and then the Kit books (there are also six of them, and we also checked out the mystery book and the “Beforever” book). They also have the DVDs of the movies at the library, so we watched those too.

Emily started really reading with fluency and expression right before she turned five, and there has only been a small number of times when she really showed interest in a book, especially chapter books. She does love to read, but it’s not her first choice if she could be playing or drawing or eating. 😜 I think part of her sudden interest is due to the fact that she is able to figure out what was happening during a specific period of time because of all the memory work she learned for the history sentences with Classical Conversations, and also where they are happening because of our recent travels and geography in CC as well.

Both girls are super excited to finish reading the Felicity series, and then get started on reading about Samantha!

I never read this collection of books growing up, so most of the stories are new to me. If these books are new to you too, I will say that there are many topics of discussion if you decide to go through them as read-alouds or if your kiddo is reading them on their own. Just in these two series, you can find yourself discussing war, apprenticeship, slavery, Boston Tea Party, Declaration of Independence, ownership, the Great Depression, friendships, the economy, technology of the past and present, fashion, history, family dynamics, home management, the Underground Railroad, being resource, the law, right and wrong, careers, and lots more!

Have you or your kids read any of the American Girl books? Which ones? Any favorites?