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Leveled Reading Books - Helping Finding Fun Ones

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Initial post: Apr 16, 2012 6:27:54 AM PDT
Our son is 7 and in the first grade. In the fall he was in a general education public school class. Half of the class was ESL due to the demographics of our neighborhood. This was not a bad thing as when the ESL teacher pushed in for reading the ratio was of course much better.

PJ went to a smaller learning setting in January. He has a mild form of Aspergers. The change in him is nothing short of miraculous. He went from a reading level of E/F and is now reading I/J . A first grader in NYC is expected to be at this point by the end of the academic year.

One of the biggest challenges we have is content. His brain moves at the speed of light so having books that are of interest to a 7 year old boy is critical. His fixations are age appropriate -- Pokemon, Bakugaun, Ben 10, etc. (many Asperger's children have fascinations with non-traditional items like trains and vacuum cleaners).

I am desperately trying to find books that will make him want to read more. I find the lists confusing as there are so many different ways that publishers use to structure appropriate material.

I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions on books PJ might like . . . Any help is truly appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2012 7:22:17 AM PDT
G. says:
Some older book suggestions that he may enjoy:
The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries)
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective

Have you tried the magic treehouse series with him yet?
Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, No. 1) (Book & CD)

I have three daughters, my oldest is 7. The seven year old really enjoys this series because it is so FUNNY to her:
My Weird School #5: Miss Small Is off the Wall!

Good luck. I wish I had more boy-centric suggestions. I introduced my daughter to a plethora of book series before she honed in on a couple that she loves. The good news is that the other books she didn't like? Hopefully my younger daughters will enjoy them! I wonder if the mystery type series would appeal to your son? He sounds like a bright little boy.

Posted on Apr 16, 2012 8:02:48 AM PDT
Have you tried the Wayside school books by Louis Sachar? Wayside School is Falling Down

My kids are much older, but I remember that my boys loved non-fiction in whatever their interests were at the times (sharks, dinosaurs, etc.)

Otherwise, I'd second G.'s suggestion with the Magic Treehouse series. The good news is that if he like these books, there are lots of them (40+, I think).

Good luck!

Posted on Apr 16, 2012 8:20:44 AM PDT
The The Knights of the Kitchen Table #1 (Time Warp Trio) series by Jon Scieszka is good. It's kind of like the Magic Tree House series but with three main boy characters, it has a little different feel to it. I think there are at least ten books in the series, maybe more.

Posted on Apr 16, 2012 9:38:13 AM PDT
Ms. P. says:
Hi Madelon,

It can be really difficult to find books at that transitional stage. All of the books the other posters have written about here are fantastic, but higher than a level I/J. (The first Magic Tree House book, probably the easiest one listed above, is level M).

The good news is, he is getting close to a level where kids tend to take off, and jump dramatically in their reading ability. I've seen kids jump from I to L in a matter of a few weeks, especially in the spring.

One good "series" (the books are un-related to each other) to look at in that level is to search for "Step Into Reading Step 3" in the Amazon search bar. You'll get a list of several hundred books, and the Step 3 ones are all around level I, J, K and there's a huge variety, fiction, non-fiction, popular characters.

Another great place to look at this stage is the non-fiction section in the children's area of your library. There are literally thousands of appropriate non-fiction books that are very difficult to find outside of a library -- each title by itself just tends to not show up in easy-to-find places. But most boys, especially, love non-fiction. And you'd be surprised at how many books there actually are about trains and vacuum cleaners.

Another great thing to have around that he'll be growing into soon are some good children's reference books, with lots of pictures, words, and definitions. Some of the ones I couldn't tear my second grade students away from are:

Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia
Scholastic Children's Dictionary: (2010 Edition)
Scholastic Visual Dictionary
Scholastic Children's Thesaurus

Really, they'd fight over these ones. Especially the Visual Dictionary, which is just filled with diagrams of almost anything you could imagine, naming all of the individual parts.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2012 5:22:38 PM PDT
K. McNamara says:
I'm not entirely sure about levels, but I think this might be close to what you are looking for:

Sharmat's Nate the Great series ( boy detective)
Rylant's Henry and Mudge series (boy with dog)
Lobel's Frog and Toad are friends, Owl at Home, etc.
Yolen's Commander Toad series
James and Edward Marshall's Fox on Wheels, etc.

You can usually find these in the early reader section of the library.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2012 5:25:46 PM PDT
Ms. P. says:
Those are all great ones, too. Totally second the recommendations of those! :)

Posted on Apr 16, 2012 8:16:08 PM PDT
Thank you so much everyone. I truly appreciate your help. I happened to be in Manhattan today and got to go to the Scholastic book store. As Teacher Mommy has said . . . This is an in-between period. I will order more from here but I wanted to get some things to start with. I got the first Fly Guy book but they had the Level 2 readers for the Magic School Bus! My son did not want to put it down which has never happened before!!! I cannot thank you all enough.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2012 9:50:45 PM PDT
Ms. P. says:
So glad to hear, Madelon! :) I'd forgotten about those Magic School Bus Readers ones. They are fantastic, and even better they eventually lead into the bigger Magic School Bus picture books (which are more challenging reads than you'd think) -- and after that there are chapter books. :) Awesome for non-fiction.

When he is ready for something closer to Magic Tree House, one thing he might like are the non-fiction "research guides" (like this one: Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1: Dinosaurs: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark that accompany many of the stories. Some of them are really interesting with lots of cool facts. :) More interesting than the story ones, even.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2012 11:13:44 AM PDT
jnstar says:
Madelon -
I've been teaching first grade for 26 years.
I like all the other recommendations. (Henry and Mudge is, by far, my favorite series!)
Another recommendation would be the "Let's Read and Find Out" (Harper Collins, publisher) series which features easy readers on a wide variety of high interest, non-fiction topics such as animals, the weather, cats and dogs, caterpillars and butterflies etc.
I'd be happy to share additional ideas if you are still looking around!
Happy Reading :)

Posted on Apr 18, 2012 6:01:00 AM PDT
You are all so amazing! We are going to go to the library and I will be hunting these books down. I want to have him "help" me find them . . . The Magic School Bus ones are amazing. Parker has library in school every Wednesday and he gets to bring home a book each week in addition to the class books he has. I spoke with Ms. S the librarian . . . Parker keeps picking MSB books but the ones they have are for much older children. She tries to guide him but he knows what he likes! I want to get a full set (6 books) of the level 2 readers to donate to the school with the hope that it will inspire other children as well.

The Scholastic store in NYC is having a MSB event on Saturday in honor of Earth Day. They will be reading The Magic School Bus And The Climate Challenge. The young lady who helped me is playing Miss Frizzle! I have a feeling that once she sees me she might have a spare moment to talk to Parker and really make it something special.

Watching my son sitting on the sofa and reading on his own versus going for the TV or a toy was a gift that I will always cherish. The world is now open to him and I am forever grateful for the help. Parker has a light that we need to help him harness -- now we will have yet another tool to help us achieve our goals.

Posted on Apr 18, 2012 6:09:42 AM PDT
I forgot to add -- I was in Target and found a perfect book based on the direction you all gave me . . . In the dollar spot they had Pinky Dinky Doo Shrinky Pinky! Reading Level 2 which is for independent readers. He loves this show and I think he will really like it :)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 18, 2012 10:57:26 AM PDT
I'm so glad that he's found books that he loves. :)

I need to put the MSB books on my kids list for the next time we're at the library.

Posted on Apr 18, 2012 11:25:30 AM PDT
I have five younger brothers, and they all loved The Toothpaste Millionaire and Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, another classic that's especially appealing to young boys.

I'm writing short book reviews on some of my favorite children's books here if you'd like more suggestions:

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 19, 2012 7:08:27 AM PDT

My son's school uses this site.

You can enter his grade level and interests and it will give you hundreds of sujestions with links to buy the books.

Good Luck
Wendy Taylor

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2012 5:26:40 AM PDT
Sabrina1 says:
Née Book out.
No such thing as a Genie, on Barnes & Noble, Amazon and
Recommended a School Teacher who teachers Level 1 reading
Recommended by three Libraries.
Fast Moving, Action, Funny and True Learning Facts about Australia
5 Stars from everyone.
Hope this helps

Posted on Apr 20, 2012 9:51:29 AM PDT
Tennis Betty says:
My sons both loved the "Henry and Mudge" and "Mr Putter and Tabby" series by Cynthia Rylant. Another great book that might be more of a read-together is "My Father's Dragon". Happy Reading!

Posted on Apr 26, 2012 12:19:35 AM PDT
Some of my DS's favorites at that age were the David Shannon books, and "Pirate Don't Change Diapers!"

Posted on Apr 29, 2012 3:31:06 PM PDT
S. Tyler says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Apr 29, 2012 4:34:00 PM PDT
jnstar says:
S. Tyler - Your post makes no sense here. The original poster is looking for leveled readers and books of high interest for her 7 year old son. Save your "commercial" for an appropriate audience.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 6:57:39 AM PDT
pfh says:
A to Z Mysteries is another great series that I recommend to my stronger first grade readers. There is also a series of Dragon books by Dav Pilkey, who writes Captain Underpants, which is very funny. Fly Guy might be on the easier side but all my 1st graders love them.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 9:19:00 AM PDT
This book should capture his imagination, its based in the Caribbean and is very descriptive and bright. You have elements of the stuff you mentioned, as in the video games/sci fi, as well as an outdoor adventure. Geared for boys, I think he will love it!
the mystery of the missing sea eggs!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 8:17:09 PM PDT
Mamma Ro says:
Check out "Common Sense Media" online. They have great ratings by experts that indicate whether a book (or movie, video game, music, etc) is age appropriate and also offer reviews.
I have enjoyed surfing their site for age-appropriate books for my kids. You can set up a profile and it will recommend items for your.

Posted on Apr 30, 2012 8:28:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 30, 2012 8:29:28 PM PDT
K says:
The levels are difficult at this early stage, but you might consider teaching him some basic phonics skills. This can help him to "jump" levels, as many of the words that the schools teach as sight words can actually be sounded out. Try these two: An Ant - Learn to Read, Book 1, Home School Version and
Learn to Read with REAL Phonics, Book 2, Homeschool Version: For Beginning Readers
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Discussion in:  Children's Books forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  24
Initial post:  Apr 16, 2012
Latest post:  Apr 30, 2012

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