We Recommend: Sci-Fi for a 6-Year-Old, in Which I Fail

It's We Recommend, where (when?) you request book recommendations, and we attempt to reach our hands into the rushing river of children's literature and yank out the right book for you (or yours). Want a recommendation? Just email us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com, with the reader's likes, dislikes, loves, interests, reading habits, and anything else you think might be helpful, and we'll do our best. And always, always look in the comments on these: it's where the very best suggestions are. – See more at: http://www.thediamondinthewindow.com/the-diamond-in-the-window/we-recommend/#sthash.D3KryaZM.dpuf

 

It's We Recommend, where (when?) you request book recommendations, and we attempt to reach our hands into the rushing river of children's literature and yank out the right book for you (or yours). Want a recommendation? Just email us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com, with the reader's likes, dislikes, loves, interests, reading habits, and anything else you think might be helpful, and we'll do our best. And always, always look in the comments on these: it's where the very best suggestions are.

Now let's not think about this next one as difficult. Let's think about it as challenging

My son is turning six in one week. We are a homeschool family and so he has absorbed a LOT of chapter books through his older sister (nine years old, horse and fantasy lover). He likes fantasy well enough, but I think the genre that is truly going to set him on fire is science fiction, because he is a natural-born inventor, he loves anything scientific, and he's crazy about anything mechanical. He "invents" a different kind of robot every single day. The problem is that I didn't get into science fiction until high school, so my knowledge of the genre starts with A Wrinkle in Time and Ender's Game. The only book we've read lately that falls into the sci-fi category is Tony DeTerlizzi's A Search for Wondla, which should have been perfect for us, but which missed the mark for reasons I cannot identify. Is there anything at this age that will gratify a future tech-head who doesn't yet have much real-world
grounding in science?

Wow, so here is my theory: Perhaps what the young gentleman is looking for is not science fiction so much as, well, science? You know, like, good old, nonfiction, science stuff?

I say this because many young excellent gentlemen (and women!) of my acquaintance lately have been seeming like they're yearning for, well, information, for want of a better word. And I think that with a lot of kids, and (not to be sexist, but probably sexist anyway) a lot of boys especially, the desire for narrative is less strong for a while.

So. I can prattle on about various theories all I want, but theories alone don't give this person anything to read, do they? They do not. In my mind there is some perfect kid's version of Thomas Edison's life, except it'a not a biography exactly, more like a history of each invention, and then also it would have big pictures of the inventions, and….

OK. Focus. I can focus, I swear I can. What's a science-based, engrossing book that has robots in it? Or at least, science?

And I think it's time that I admit failure: I don't know a book. So I looked and looked till I found something that looked right. Is it right, though? I do not know.

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I read a few pages, it looks good, but…I don't know. I mean, I think 6 years old is too little for I, Robot, right? But are their other sci-fi books for little kids? Am I barking up the wrong tree?

Help me, readers! I bet you guys know what he should read. Put it in the comments!

We Recommend: Advanced 4-Year-Old Edition

It's We Recommend, where (when?) you request book recommendations, and we attempt to reach our hands into the rushing river of children's literature and yank out the right book for you (or yours). Want a recommendation? Just email us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com, with the reader's likes, dislikes, loves, interests, reading habits, and anything else you think might be helpful, and we'll do our best. And always, always look in the comments on these: it's where the very best suggestions are.

And so, we return to a well-loved realm: books for the small who love to read, but are, you know, small.

I am looking for ideas for my 4-year-old. She turned 4 this fall, but has been reading on her own for a year or so. She is very sensitive and gets frightened more easily than most children her age it seems (I try to help her avoid dark and scary subjects), but her reading level would probably be considered about a grade 2-3 level. We're almost at the end of the Little House on the Prairie series and I'm not sure what to find her for when we're finished. It was a great series for her at the beginning, but even that is losing its relevance for her as Laura and Mary get into their teenage years. It's hard to find appropriate books for her because most books written for 8-year-olds are too advanced for her in their subject matter – she can read the words, but doesn't understand the concepts or finds them frightening.

She loved the early books in Little House, about living in the woods/family life/nature/animals, and she loves princesses as well.

The only problem with this request is that there are SO MANY perfect books. I know, from having been in a similar situation with a similar early reader. And…well, there are a million, and they rush me back to an earlier time. Interestingly, these books often fall into the same realm as the Little House on the Prairie series, in which we start out right with the characters, but they age so fast! Still, these books are well worth reading, particularly the early ones in the series: I would direct our reader to the Betsy-Tacy books, All of a Kind Family, Ballet Shoes. The list goes on and on. But the rules of the game (in my own rigid mind) say that we must choose 1 (one) book for this person, before we open it up to our most excellent commenters, who will proceed to offer all the rest (Oh! Trumpet of the Swan! Ivy and Bean! OK, this is totally cheating and I will stop.)

Ahem. So, in a surge of nostalgia, I will simply offer the book that a very nice bookstore worker offered Diana when she was a young, hungry reader with a tender heart:

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It was just right, sweet and light and such a pleasure to her. But this is only one (or four if we count the whole sweet series). Let's see if we can generate a whole wonderful list in the comments, because this family has many library visits in its future.

The Mantle is Passed

This past holiday season, Diana had the excellent idea that her cousin, who has just started to read chapter books, and is a very foused, intense sort of person, should read Secrets of Droon.*

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Oh, how this series was loved in my house. It's a sort of sci-fi/fantasy version of the Magic Treehouse? Sort of? There are many, many volumes.

So we went to Book-Off and purchased books 1, 2, 3, and 4. And lo and behold, Diana was right. He started reading the first one—and he couldn't stop. He burned through 2, 3, and 4, and now the sky's the limit. My sister called me asking whether we had any more. And thus began the roundup. We went through all the shelves, gathering book after book. Tossed in as well were Jack Russell: Dog Detective, A to Z mysteries, a seemingly endless slew of Boxcar Children books, until we had three big bags, and my kids' shelves looked…like the shelves of people who are 13 and 11. Which they are, but still.

I mean I know, this is what we wanted to do. And the cousin is so, so happy. It's just that it feels weird, that's all.

Chestnut sneaked in and liberated some Girls to the Rescue books ("they're my favorites"). And there's one or two George and Marthas hidden somewhere. 

The cousin is, reportedly, very happy. I am too. It's just…change is weird. Growing up is intense. And other news flashes.

*A note of caution: do not attempt to read these yourself, if you are a grownup. They are…they are not for us. And that's fine. 

We Recommend: A Regular Girl, from “Now”

t's We Recommend, in which we use our superpowers to find readers the perfect book. Got a kid who needs a recommendation?
Write us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the age,
reading tastes, favorite books, and any other relevant (or irrelevant)
information, and we'll give it a shot. And really? All the good
suggestions are in the comments.

Hold onto your hats, everyone, this might hurt your feelings a bit.

See, this one came in the form of a conversation, like so:

Here is what my 9-and-a-half year old just asked:

Mom, is there a book that is about a normal girl who is about my age or a
little older–5th or 6th grade–who has adventures but not problems so
much, kind of like Ramona (but I've read all those)

ME: How about Harriet the Spy?

D; I meant a modern girl, like from now.

ME: Harriet the Spy is from now.

D: Mom, no she's not. I mean like Ivy & Bean, except no offense but Ivy & Bean isn't well-written.

Got me stumped. You?

Ok, first let's get some things straight. Ramona the Pest and Harriet the Spy are from more or less the same historical period. Ramona was first published in 1968, Harriet the Spy in 1964. So we'll just see who's calling who not from now, missy!

But, at the same time…yeah. I mean, Harriet the Spy was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. And that may have had something to do with the fact that her life made some sort of sense to me. But now? I don't know, I think the absence of cell phones, googling—it's got to be noticeable to a kid.

So even though this made me think of a lot of "normal girl" novels—like, say, all of Judy Blume, and the Betsy-Tacy books—I will try to honor the desire for someone from now. Because while those are amazing (I think she would LOVE Betsy-Tacy), they are not, by any stretch, from now.

I turned, as I do, to Chestnut and Diana. Chestnut considered the Cobble Street Cousins. But, to address another sore point, I think her aversion to Ivy & Bean is more about its simplicity than any alleged poor writing. Though it could be that we just have different tastes. I will just put it out there that I, personally, find Ivy & Bean a delight to read (within reason). Then again, I have an aversion to the whole nomenclature of "well written" that is too complicated and weird to go into here. So I will just say: we think not, on the Cobble Street Cousins, as it might be too easy for her.

Which got me to thinking about Amber Brown. My hesitation? "not problems so much" Amber Brown has some problems, sort of? Hmm. And so, we came to this:

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OK, yes: the first of the Anastasia books was written in 1979. But! There are more! There are lots! And one was written as recently as 1995! Yeesh. Maybe it should be Amber Brown? Still—I think she would like this.

Help me out, youth of today! Got anything more recent?

We Recommend: FUNNY!

It's We Recommend, in which we use our superpowers to find readers the perfect book. Got a kid who needs a recommendation?
Write us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the age,
reading tastes, favorite books, and any other relevant (or irrelevant)
information, and we'll give it a shot. And really? All the good
suggestions are in the comments.

There is a clear subsection of you for whom this will, as they say, resonate. Because the truth is, some people just love funny. Last year on Thanksgiving when we went around the table saying what we were thankful for, Diana said "Comedy!" Read on:

My 9 yr old son read his first book independently yesterday, Captain
Underpants #3. It was lovely to see him in bed with the flashlight
resting on his shoulder, reading away, just as he has seen me do every
day of his life. He was pretty pleased with himself getting to chapter 9
the first night and then finishing it the 2nd night. His only complaint
was that his hands got tired holding the book!

Prior to this almost all of his reading has been online, so as a
book-o-holic, it has rather warmed my heart to see him enjoying an
actual so much – carrying it around, telling his friends he is reading
it, and showing me his favorite bits.

But while we have lots of books piled all over just waiting for the
right moment, he has told me he is only interested in reading really
funny books and I am struggling a bit to think of more titles. With me
doing the reading he has enjoyed diverse stories like The Moffats, Mrs
Pepperpot, Ronia The Robber's Daughter, Winnie The Pooh, Artemis Fowl,
etc, but for himself he is asking for serious humor only.

I have The Giggler Treatment, that's a direction I think he might like
to go. And I will look into Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He also loves physical
humor like the "Make Them Laugh" scene from  Singing in the Rain. He likes silly, funny, and of course, the more references to
nether regions the better for this 9 yr old!

We have Calvin and Hobbs, but from his obvious delight in finishing 9
chapters in one go, I am thinking he is wanting chapter books just now.

OK: the real sense of a kid behind this one just kills me. Of COURSE he wants something funny! But what shall we do? I mean, there are a whole lot of books that speak to just this type of person, a few of which have found their way to our bookshelves. Diary of a Wimpy Kid? YES. We also have Just Annoying, and who can forget, The Day My Butt Went Psycho? I mean, soon enough this young gentleman will be watching  Monty Python on Netflix (if we're any guide), but what book to recommend?

You'll see, of course, that I had no choice but to go straight to Diana. Her pick? This.

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I asked her if she was sure it was funny. And? She's sure.

But one is not enough! I ask you, picture this kid with the tired hands gleefully reading Captain Underpants, and see that you have a noble calling to fulfill! Find some funny, Captain-Underpants-like books for this guy, and put them in the comments!