Posts Tagged ‘knights’

Mysteries, Humor and School Life for Reluctant Readers

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Chapter Books for Reluctant Readers Mysteries Humor School Life




Almost every time I make a Parent Ed presentation, someone asks for recommendations for the preteen crowd. Sometimes the request is very specific, “My daughter loves skating. Could you suggest a chapter book she might like?” Very often the request is for something, anything that a reluctant reader will enjoy. Lately, I’ve been kept busy by Ready Set, Learn presentations. I’ve not had much time for reading. When the calendar is full to the brim, I often turn to short chapter books, looking for a new gem that will appeal to young readers.

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading…

The Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake written by Kristiana Gregory
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Scholastic



Let’s begin with The Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries). This is the second book in the new Cabin Creek Mysteries series. Appropriate for seven to ten year olds, it has a grade 3 Reading Level. I enjoyed the book and am confident that this is a series both boys and girls will enjoy. Set in a small, lakeside town, we follow three cousins as they investigate the dumping of a large and mysterious bundle into the lake near Lost Island. Young detectives will enjoy the twists and turns as Claire, David and Jeff work to discover the contents of the bundle and who is responsible for dumping it in ‘their’ lake.

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.com

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.ca

Sir Gadabout Out of Time written by Martyn Beardsley
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Orion Children’s Books




Sir Gadabout is the ‘Worst Knight in the World.’ A creation of Martyn Beardsley, the series is illustrated by Tony Ross so we know that we are in for some fun. In Sir Gadabout Out of Time, disaster strikes when King Arthur allows Sir Gadabout to cut his hair. Before long, Merlin is enlisted to turn back time. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the spell goes wrong and Sir Gadabout finds himself in a futuristic world with cell phones and cars. Good fun for nine to twelve year olds.

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.com

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.ca


Ivan the Terrible written by Anne Fine
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Egmont Books Ltd


Poor Boris, he is in a real ‘pickle.’ He’s been asked to be a ‘chum’ and translate for a new classmate. They both speak Russian and Boris is asked to help the new boy adjust to life at St. Edmund’s, the civilized school. Before long, Boris realizes that Ivan is really quite nasty and the job of translating is going to be trickier than he had expected. A fine choice for nine to twelve year olds,
Ivan the Terrible won the silver medal in the 2007 Nestlé Children’s Book awards.

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.com

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.ca

Visit our page about reluctant readers for more information. You will find our posts about chapter book series here.

Read Alouds for 7-10 year olds, approved by a difficult-to-please 8 year old boy

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Suggests Read  Alouds for 7-10 Year Olds



Finding great books for 7 – 10 year olds to enjoy can be enormously rewarding. The initial learn–to-read phase is complete and we hope our children will chose to read for pleasure. When, as parents, we check to see why things are so quiet and discover our children with a book, it is indeed a special ‘a-ha’ moment.

Just as reading picture books aloud is important to very young children, it is vital that mom and/or dad continues to read aloud to emergent readers. Long after your child reads independently there are books worth exploring together. Sharing wonderful chapter books with your child will motivate him to read more challenging books. There are marvelous fantasies, legends, and mysteries for you and your child to discover.Charlotte's Web

A grade two teacher recently wrote to me, hoping for some read aloud recommendations. She had already shared James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl, Freckle Juice by Judy Blume and Charlotte’s Web
by E.B. White with her class. I replied to her and shared these suggestions – I have personally tested each and every one with a difficult-to-please eight year old boy.

Here are my suggested read alouds for 7-10 year olds

Follow this link for many more chapter book suggestions for 7-10 year olds

image of cover art for A Mouse Called WolfA Mouse Called Wolf written by Dick King Smith
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Yearling, an imprint of Random House

When looking for books to share with this age group, I would encourage you to take a look at Dick King-Smith’s books. King-Smith wrote Babe: The Gallant Pig and Ace: A Very Important Pig and numerous other wonderful animal stories. A Mouse Called Wolf is one of my favourites. It explores the love of music and also the loneliness that sometimes accompanies old age.

Reading one of Dick King-Smith’s books might launch a reader into his entire booklist.

A Mouse Called Wolf at Amazon.com

A Mouse Called Wolf at Amazon.ca

image of cover art for The Legend of Spud MurphyThe Legend of Spud Murphy written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Glenn McCoy
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Miramax

My 8 year old and I enjoyed Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy and Eoin Colfer’s Captain Crow’s Teeth together. Both were good fun and will be enjoyed by 7-10 year olds. The Legend of Spud Murphy has a very good message about reading and books therefore, I chose it as my favourite. Eoin Colfer is the author of the Artemis Fowl series (for older children).

Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy at Amazon.com

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy at Amazon.ca

image of cover art for The Seven Wonders of Sassafras SpringsThe Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs written by Betty G. Birney and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

For something completely different, I like The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs . Here we have a young boy who reads about the Seven Wonders of the World and longs to explore the world outside his hometown. His dad agrees to send him on a trip but first he must find The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs.
There are all sorts of opportunities for extention activities, possibly building an entire unit around this book. Perhaps your students could be encouraged to find a ‘wonder’ all their own.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs at Amazon.com

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs at Amazon.ca

image of cover art for Truly Winnie Truly Winnie – written by Jennifer Richard Jacobson and illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Sandpiper

Winnie, Vanessa and Zoe are off to their first overnight camp! They’ll be away from home for two weeks – swimming, climbing, boating and making new friends. Winnie, whose mother died after she was born, knows all too well that she is different from other girls. When she is assigned to a tent away from her closest friends, she is forced to make new friends. When getting to know her fellow campers, Winnie tells of her mother’s many accomplishments and before long is caught in a web of deception.

I read Truly Winnie aloud to my eight-year-old son. When I suggested we give it a try, I thought he might resist because the main characters are all girls (imagine!) In fact, the camp theme and compelling story made the Truly Winnie a good choice for both boys and girls. Nominated for the 2004 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award and chosen by the School Library Journal for their annual Children’s Curriculum, Truly Winnie offers many opportunities for discussion including

How it feels to a be a ‘third wheel”
How being away from home changes the campers and
Why Winnie feels she must invent a mother

Truly Winnie at Amazon.com

Truly Winnie at Amazon.ca

The Boy with Lightning Feet – written by Sally Gardner and illustrated by Lydia Corry
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Orion Children’s Books

Timmy Twinkle has lived with his grandfather since his mom left the family and moved to Spain. The loss of his mom leaves Timmy feeling empty. He tries to fill the void with food and before long he is chubby, friendless and a target for bullies.

Timmy dreams of playing football (soccer), but his weight problem renders him clumsy at sports.

When a friend comes to stay with Timmy and his grandfather, she shares her passion for physical fitness. Before long Timmy is lean and ready to discover the magic in his toes.

Part of Ms. Gardner’s Magical Children series, The Boy with Lightning Feet will hold a special appeal for football (soccer) players and children who lack confidence in their own magical qualities. It was a definite winner in our household.

The Boy with the Lightning Feet at Amazon.com

The Boy with the Lightning Feet at Amazon.ca

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad – written by Martyn Beardsley and illustrated by Tony Ross

Sir Gadabout holds the dubious title of Worst Knight in the World. When King Arthur dispatches him to collect Merlin and deliver him in time for the Magic World Cup, Gadabout and company encounter Demelza and Morag, two decidedly wicked witches. Before long, Gadabout is convinced that the witches have turned Merlin – reining world champion wizard – into a talking dog.

Great fun here for young readers and their parents to enjoy together. Read it aloud and enjoy the inside jokes.

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad at Amazon.com

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad at Amazon.ca


Sir Dragon Offers a Thoughtful, Thorough Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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The Tale of Sir Dragon: Dealing with Bullies for Kids (and Dragons) – written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Martine Gourbault

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

The Tale of Sir Dragon: Dealing with Bullies for Kids (and Dragons) is part of the Dragon Safety Series. Other books in the series provide suggestions regarding fire safety, water safety and stranger safety.

Best suited for children aged five and up, this is a thoughtful, thorough treatment of a difficult problem; bullying. Dragon and his young friend get together for an enjoyable day of imaginative play. When they meet up with other children, the dragon is told he is not welcome:

“A dragon!” He smirked. “We’ve told you before,
You’re too big, tall and green to play knights anymore!”

“Let’s chase him away!” he cried, raising his shield.
“We’ll vanquish that dragon! We’ll make that beast yield!”

The dragon’s friend responds by standing up for his buddy and, when that does not solve the problem, seeking help from nearby adults. The adults respond promptly and effectively: while one adult talks quietly with the bully’s victim, the other adult chats with the bully and his friends.

The King asked us, “What does it mean to belong?
Was treating the dragon that way right or wrong?”

“Have you ever felt picked on?” I asked. “Have you felt small?
Have you felt like there’s no one who likes you at all?”

Endnotes for the book provide anti bulying information for children as well as ways we can all help to stop bullying.

A highly-recommended anti bullying resource

Printable Stickers for The Tale of Sir Dragon

Tale of Sir Dragon, The: Dealing with Bullies for Kids (and Dragons) at Amazon.com

Tale of Sir Dragon, The: Dealing with Bullies for Kids (and Dragons) at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts’ page about bullying and antibullying resources has additional book suggestions.


Sir Cassie to the Rescue Celebrates Knights, Castles and Make Believe

Posted on February 7th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Sir Cassie to the Rescue celebrates play and make believeSir Cassie to the Rescue – written by Linda Smith and illustrated by Karen Patkau


When Cassie reads a story about knights, the lure of the story prompts her to build a castle in her living room and enlist her brother to be a damsel. Her brother resists this role but does agree to be a fierce dragon. The entire family becomes involved in the make believe fun until the queen announces a noontime feast has been prepared and it is time to clean up the castle.

A cheerfully illustrated picture book, Sir Cassie to the Rescue celebrates make believe and play and will be enjoyed by children aged 4 to 8.


Sir Cassie to the Rescue at Amazon.com

Sir Cassie to the Rescue at Amazon.ca


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