Nora's Reading List
As the year draws to a close, I decided it would be nice to jot down a few of the books we enjoyed reading with Nora and Hannah this year. During the summer, I decided I was sick and tired of the books we had been reading to Nora. It seemed like she was in that awkward stage of being too old for Little Golden Books but too young for chapter books. Our trips to the library led us to the exact same books, and a person can read only so many Fancy Nancy books before beginning to stress about accessories. I gathered suggestion from a writing group, wrote down the authors, and headed to the library. After some looking and pruning, these are the book series I would recommend.
Our entire family adores these books. The main characters in the series are an old man and his cat and an old lady and her bulldog. The storylines are heartwarming and funny, and the illustrations are excellent. They are short (very short) chapter books in the Young Reader section, but even Hannah enjoys them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I narrowly avoided a library fit when I assured her during one trip that we did indeed have some Mr. Putter books in our bag. I love how the hero and heroine of these books are, well, old. I can’t think of any other books we read with main characters who aren’t children.
These stories follow a little girl named Annie and her pet bunny named Snowball. Annie lives next to her cousin Henry, and the two of them spend their days on adventures with their pets. The books don’t tackle tough issues, but I am so okay with that. The focus of the books is family and allowing children to be children.
Sensing a trend here? I can’t speak for all of Cynthia Rylant’s work, but I think she hit the nail on the head with her short chapter books. The Henry of this series is the same cousin Henry from the Annie and Snowball series. He has a HUGE dog, Mudge, as his friend. Once again, the stories are charming and heartwarming.
Part of me doesn’t even want to explain this series. If you haven’t read the books, read them. We have only read through three of the books with Nora, but this is a series we will continue to come back to. Life for Laura and her family was hard, yet simple. I love talking with Nora about how hard Laura worked and how thankful she was for the little things.
I have a love-hate relationship with these books. But, since I have little girls, I’m going to go with a mostly love relationship. Nancy is an imaginative little girl who LOVES to accessorize. Each book has a list of “Fancy Words” that are introduced with the intention of building a child’s vocabulary. Sweet stories. You just might have to take away most of your daughter’s clothing if she starts throwing fits about not looking fancy every day. (This example is of course not from personal experience.)
Is there a little girl who doesn’t dream of becoming a ballerina at some point in her life? (I’m sure there are, but let’s go with a “yes” answer for the moment.) Angelina Ballerina is a mouseling who lives in Mouseland among countless other mice who all seemed obsessed with dancing. I can’t say these are my favorite books – all of these stories are pretty similar – but my girls LOVE them. In fact, they were Angelina Ballerina and Alice Ballerina for Halloween this year. It was definitely a costume you had to explain, because Nora was never satisfied when people simply thought she was a ballerina. Now, Hannah often insists we call her Angelina Ballerina a handful of times during each week.
Chu is a darling Panda who has a problem sneezing – achoo! Great writing and great illustrations. My only problem with this series is that it is only three books long. Definitely not enough books for my family, but they are still worth a read.
If you haven’t read these, you should! They are light-hearted, funny, and written in a rhythmic rhyming pattern. For some reason, Nora doesn’t seem to understand what makes words rhyme, so I really enjoy reading these to her. It has to click at some point, right? Bonus – even though the stories are funny, they address some good topics: fear of being away from mama, being mad at mama, being a bully, etc.
Ladybug Girl features a spunky little heroine just like Fancy Nancy. This little girl just chooses to dress like a ladybug instead of accessorizing with sparkles. The stories aren’t earthshattering in their content, but they are enjoyable to read and colorfully illustrated.
Who knew that the Pioneer Woman could write? I certainly didn’t, and somehow I can’t see her name without thinking, “butter.” But, that’s another topic. Granny gave the first Charlie the Ranch Dog book to Nora last Christmas. We read it and really enjoyed it, but I had no idea she would write more books. My girls were so excited when we found more books about Charlie at the library a couple of months ago. The books are written from Charlie’s point of view. He’s a very loyal basset hound who thinks he’s the best hand on the ranch despite his propensity for naps and bacon.