Monday, April 11, 2016

Another Book of Book Lists

Most homeschoolers I know, including myself, are continually looking for reading lists with ideas for books their children can and should read.

A good friend of mine gave me this book by Leslie Raynor and Christopher Perrin to peruse and asked me my opinion of it.  I read through all of the lists in the books and found it to be problematic.  It tries to do too much in a small space.  The lists are divided into K, Lower Grammar (1-3), Upper Grammar (4-6), Rhetoric (7-9) and Dialectic (10-12).  Within the lists, books are classified by genre and then by level (1-3--easy, normal, challenging).

I discovered as I read that book that I would not recommend this book for several reasons.

1.  There is almost no realistic fiction in this book. I only found 2 books--From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenwiler and Bridge to Terabithia in the 4-9 lists.  Dickens is considered realistic fiction by these authors.

2.  The way the books were leveled didn't seem appropriate for several books.  So, if you do purchase this book, don't depend on the levels.  Wind in the Willows was given a 1 for grades 4-6.  Wind in the Willows has an enormous amount of vocabulary that is appropriate for a much higher reading level (7th or 8th grade), though the story line is appropriate for a much younger child.  It is good for grades 4-6, but is not an easy reading level.  I don't consider the Lord of the Rings Trilogy appropriate reading level wise for grades 4-6.  There were many other books that I did not think were either as hard or easy as the authors judged them to be.  The Redwall series was rated as easy for grades 4-6, I think--I was quite surprised by this!

3.  The Giver Series, Ender's Game, Science Fiction (except for the Perelandra Series) were notably missing.  None of Cynthia Voit's books were included for older ages.  The lists also did not give a well rounded education about the world.  The older lists focused primarily on European literature and didn't seem to include books about Asia, Africa, and South America.  I did not notice books about the Civil Rights Movement in the US either.  Maniac Magee and Hatchet--two classic middle school reads were not included.

4.  The lack of realistic fiction to help kids make sense of the world they are living in stood out to me.  Homecoming (by Cynthia Voigt), Paper Things, Flipped, The View from Saturday, and Hope was Here are some examples of good modern-day realistic fiction.

5.  Harry Potter, books 1-7 were all lumped together for grades 4-6.  Books 1-4 are understandable, but after that the books start getting much darker and are more appropriate for older children, I think.

6.  Lastly, the older lists for grades 7-9 and 10-12 didn't include a lot of what I'd call "fun" books.  They are scholarly classics.  So, if that's the kind of list you're looking for, then you'll find it here.  Also, the list for grades 10-12 did not seem to include many books that would appeal to most girls I know.

Rather than purchasing this book, I'd send you over to Gladys' Hunts books:  Honey for a Teen's Heart and Honey for a Child's Heart.  These are much thicker books and include a ton more helpful information.  The book for Teen's is very helpful once your child hits a 5th grade reading level (no matter the age) because she rated books by both reading level and maturity.  I do recommend that you purchase new editions of these books and not older ones, though.

Reading lists are helpful and if you want a list of just the classics, you'll find it in this book.  Just watch out for how it groups books and rates them for reading level.  You'll probably find that you have to make those decisions yourself for any given book.

If you're looking for another list of books to peruse for ideas, I have my own list that I add to when my kids find books they love and when I find books I want them to read HERE.


becky.onelittle said...

I would classify Dickens as realistic fiction, wouldn't you? I understand it isn't contemporary tho. Wind in the Willows is excellent for very young children. As an audiobook! I don't think my kids have actually read this till middle school or upper elementary. But I agree with them on Redwall. It isn't my cup of tea, but Ian approved it and all my reading children save one have consumed them. My 4th grader has read every single book in the series. My 2nd grader has read the first 2 and struggles through them because her siblings love them.
I haven't introduced The Giver, Ender's Game, or any of Cynthia Voit's books either. I think next year we're going to do The Giver and Ender's Game as we will be studying modern times. We're going to try to cover more contemporary realistic fiction too like the The Breadwinner Trilogy and Paper Things and Hope was Here. I've discouraged Harry Potter entirely, but all of my children have read or listened to the Lord of the Rings a zillion times. I'm looking forward to perusing your reading list.
What grades are your children now? Mine are just turned 3, rising 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th graders next year! I am not ready to homeschool highschool! I just don't have time for that. But I supposed I don't have the heart for the alternative either.

Anne said...

I wouldn't classify Dickens as realistic fiction anymore. In my mind, realistic fiction is really contemporary fiction. I consider Dickens Historical fiction because of when it was written. It was written as realistic fiction, but now is historical fiction because it was set in the past. Perhaps that's semantics ;) But, the world Dickens wrote about is not the one we live in today and I feel one of the important things about realistic fiction is to help give my children perspective. Redwall seems like a great series for advanced readers in 4-6th grades. But, the books are rated at a much higher reading level, which was what my concern was about how it was classified. It was given an easy rating for 4-6 grades when the books are rated at an almost 8th grade reading level by the publisher. Autumn just read through all 4 Giver books and her book group discussed it. The discussion was great. This past month they read Long Walk to Water. I don't think it's written that well, but it does expose American children to a world they have no concept of. I haven't read the Breadwinner Trilogy. I'll have to look that one up :) My kids are in 2nd, 5th, and 7th this year :) I have my plan laid out for high school. My oldest is going to take 3-4 high school courses next year in 8th to ease up on some of the pressure to get so many courses packed into high school. (Health, Bible, Art, Algebra I) Please let me know if you have books you think I should add to my reading list!! :)

Anne said...

Sami loves the Redwall books and I've been collecting them for her :) I just went to her room to look at one when I wrote my reply to your comment and was really pleased with how well they're written!