August 16, 2005

Need Your Help - Young Reader Question

I have a question about how you have handled giving your younger children books to read. I have a tender hearted 6 year old daughter who is a voracious reader and at a reading level much higher than her age. I am finding that even books that seem appropraite have phrases or events that are upsetting to her but she has a need and love of reading.

For awhile she was reading the American Girl series books which were fine but would have an occasional thing that would upset her such as the phrase "I will skin you alive", which made her visualize this actually happening. I had read an entire series of these books with her before we had this incident. How have those of you with advanced readers handled finding books with appropraite content and language for your child's age and reading level together? Do you preread everything?

Lately we have settled into a system where she immediately tells me anything that upsets her in any way and we talk about it. We then use these moments as teachable moments. She has a solid grasp on reality versus fiction but she is still so young.

I want to foster her love of reading but she is unsatisfied and unwilling to read storybooks geared for her age because they are lower than her reading level. Yet I don't want to introduce concepts, phrases and language that she is too young for.

Any suggestions and ideas are welcome. Please leave comments here or email me. Thanks for your help!


  1. My 5 yr old can handle scary books (such as Wizard of Oz) as read-alouds but they frighten her as independent reads. I think she feels more secure if I'm with her..then her fear turns to excitment.

    A few of the books that she has been able to read on her own without fear are:

    The Cobblestone Cousins series by Cynthia Rylant
    Lady Lollipop by Dick King Smith
    Milly Molly Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lancaster Brisley
    The Teddy Robinson Storybook by Joan Robinson
    any and all Bill Peet books.

    Hope this helps

  2. My friend, Kathy, suggested that you look for books that are older, like the Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, the books that are from my youth. The stories will be milder and still have challenges for the reader.

  3. I love (and my 8yo daughter, does, too) the Betsy-Tacy-Tib series, by Maude Hart Lovelace. Old-fashioned and homey, with great characters.

  4. I've found that for high quality vocabulary and age-sensitivity-appropriate content, go for copyright dates of 1900 or earlier! It's almost fool-proof. The characters and stories are endearing, exciting, and clean.

    Yes, I still pre-read everything. It's fun to talk about the things he runs across as he's reading, and if something does happen to strike him harshly, I can recall immediately what he's talking about and usually it helps to be able to talk about it in context on the spot.

    It's challenging to find quality literature for young, voracious readers. But it's out there!


  5. I was an early, voracious reader. Some books I recommend are the Marguerite Henry books... almost all of them are chapter books with girl heroines and horses/ponies. I read the CS Lewis books by the time I was 8. (some scary stuff) Enclyclopedia Brown are fun - mysteries to solve - not scary. Harriet the Spy books are fun and interesting for primary readers.

  6. I believe they are re-releasing the Trixie Belden series as well. I enjoyed them as an early reader myself. I can't attest to specific phrases, it's been tooooo long! You might see if you can find them, I really loved them as a kid.