Saturday, January 1, 2005

Chapter Books

 While I was a voracious reader during my childhood, this does not appear to be something I've passed down to my boys. I have FIVE boys ... I realize that they aren't going to enjoy many of the books dear to my heart (Anne of Green Gables, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Baby Island, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, etc.) and I accept that. In addition to not liking "girl" books, my second son Callahan (who is my best reader) also doesn't like "old" books (which would be anything that was out when I was his age). So I've really tried to pay attention to recommendations of new and exciting books that would appeal to boys. I try to read them myself, so I know what the boys are reading, and so I can discuss the books with them ... here are some that I, and a boy or two, has read and enjoyed ...

Percy Jackson and the Olympians
This is a well known (and reviewed) series. Callahan (and I) have read all five books in the Percy Jackson series. Callahan went on to read (and LOVE) "The Lost Hero" (the first book of the "Heroes of Olympus series, which takes up after PJ finishes up) but I am waiting until that series is complete, so I don't have to wait in-between books. It took me a little while to warm up to Percy Jackson, but after my initial hesitation I did like the entire series. I've always enjoyed Greek mythology, and these books are FULL of it ... every story you've ever heard of (plus plenty you haven't) will make an appearance at some point. Even Landon made it through FOUR of the books ... I'm pushing the fifth and final book, I'll update when/if he gets it read!

This series hit hard in Utah a few years ago, perhaps in part to the author being local and LDS. He even came to our elementary school for a book signing. Callahan and I have read all five books in the series (Landon and Grandma have read the first couple ... they need to finish, it gets pretty exciting and there were a couple twists that caught me by surprise!). This is full fledged fantasy with all sorts of exotic creatures and lots of action.

Hatchet (and other Brian books)
This is a small book and an easy read, a break from the "fantasy" genre. Reminiscent in a way of other classics "Island of the Blue Dolphins" and "Call it Courage" (two other books I really enjoyed), featuring a teen on their own in the wild, trying to survive (although this is a more modern story than the other two I mentioned). It has several sequels as well, I've read the two immediately following (The River and Brian's Winter), and would recommend reading "Brian's Winter" first (even though it was written after "The River"). I haven't read "Brian's Return" and "Brian's Hunt" yet, but will update here when I do. Landon, Callahan and Keaton have read the first book.

The Missing
Callahan was the one to introduced this book to me, after hearing good things about it from friends at school. We thought it was a trilogy (Found, Sent, Sabotaged) ... but as the third book ends in a cliffhanger ... there are more coming. This series is science fiction, dealing with time travel, and the kids will learn a little bit from the historical settings. The author has another series (Shadow Children) that looks interesting, and a few other stand alone books. ** Update 11/2011 ... The fourth book "Taken" came out, I just couldn't quite get into it and neither could Callahan.

The Ranger's Apprentice
I stumbled upon this series while looking for books for the boys. This has a lot of good reviews and I add mine to it (the boys haven't read it yet, Callahan says the cover looks scary). Set in a medieval time, with kings and knights, to me, it had a touch of a "Lord of the Rings" feel, with an evil power gathering an army of creatures. There are several books in this series. The first one wraps up nicely, but the second book leaves you hanging. I haven't gone on yet, but I've heard you need to read the third and fourth book together. I'll update when I do (or when the boys give this series a try). I recommended this to my nephew (who enjoys reading) and he zipped right through the entire series!

The Underland Chronicals
The "Hunger Games" series is quite well known (I've read it, Callahan is reading it now). The same author wrote a series of five books called "The Underland Chronicals" ... my little niece is the one who recommended these. I enjoyed them, Callahan read the first one (he liked Percy and Fablehaven better ... I would see similar themes with "prophecies" and quests). This takes place in an underground world ... rats, cockroaches, spiders are almost as human as the humans that live there (the underlanders). A boy and his little sister accidentally slip into this world ...

Landon picked this up at the school library ... well, he actually picked up book #2, The Vampire's Assistant (the first two books have been combined and made into a movie, carrying the name of the second book). While of course my boys mock all things "Twilight" this vampire series is much more aimed at boys. I have always liked vampire stories, and as I want to know what the boys are reading, I went ahead and picked this up (I started with book #1 rather than book #2, go figure), I read them both before Landon got even halfway through (and didn't finish). While I don't know that I loved this, it was quick and easy reading (I finished in a little over a day) and I think it would keep the interest of a young reader (if their name isn't Landon).

I picked this up for Landon several years ago (the cover pictured here looks like an updated publication!). He made it through the first book and actually seemed to enjoy it. I read it too and liked it, although I did have to go back and reread a bit as I had gotten a little confused as to what was happening. Landon went on to read the second and third books (or at least he said he did, I haven't continued on to quiz him and make sure he'd actually been reading). Callahan said they read this at school and it didn't quite capture his interest, but I think he does better reading at his own pace at home.

This trilogy is getting a lot of buzz with a movie coming out in the near future. I read all three books and so did Callahan. I didn't buy them, but just got them from the library (I think sometimes that says something, if you liked it enough to want to keep it in your collection, or if you're content with just borrowing it and giving it back). I didn't love these books. I thought the first one was pretty good and moved onto the second. By the third book, I think I was just a little down and discouraged by it all and was ready for it to end. They say you can get lost in a book, but this was certainly not a place I would want to be. Hunger Games wasn't exactly pleasant either, and yet it didn't drag me down as much as these ones did. Callahan said he liked them, I didn't get much feedback other than that. They are very dark and violent, I wonder how the movie will be ...

There is also some buzz about "Ender's Game" being made into a movie. I had to buy a copy, because there were so many holds on it at the library. My brother highly recommended this (and the following books in the series which I have yet to read) and I did like it. It actually reminded me a little of MazeRunner (children being "tested" in difficult situations to try and save the world type of thing).  Callahan needs to read a science fiction genre, so I've given it to him for his next  book.

"Where is Harry Potter?" you might ask ... my boys have some strange prejudice against Harry Potter and they won't even give the books a chance. I read the entire series and really liked it. Loved the fourth book (moments had me gasping and almost in tears) but I didn't care for the 5th book, too dark and whiney.

My third son isn't interested in "scary" books, and let me tell you, it doesn't take much for a book to be classified as scary for him. He doesn't seem to have the same distaste for "old" books as #2 does, so I've started him on "The Great Brain" series. I LOVED these books when I was younger. My siblings seemed to enjoy "The Great Brain and the Academy" the most, but "Me and My Little Brain" was my favorite! So far so good, Keaton is on the second book now. 

Other "old" books I'll think about for him are ... Summer of the Monkeys, Indian in the Cupboard series, The Trumpet of the Swan, and The Forgotten Door ...

Other Books on the Radar:
  • Alex Rider: I have the first book (saw the movie) ... seems like it would appeal to boys.
  • 39 Clues: Callahan read the first book, but is wary of the series being written by different authors.
  • 13th Reality: The cousins have said they enjoyed this series.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers: A pre-Peter Pan series with good reviews.
  • Dangerous Days of Daniel X: Mixed reviews ...
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Callahan said they read several of these in school.
  • Leven Thumps: Seems to have good reviews.
  • Deltora: I picked up some "Dragons of Deltora" books, but it appears there are earlier books. I didn't feel I could start without going back to the original books (Deltora Quest)
  • Pendragon Series: Has good reviews
  • Eragon (The Inheritance Series): Landon wanted this years ago when it first came out, but soon gave up on it. I tried it, but it had so many similarities to Anne McCaffery (who I LOVED) that I was a bit prejudiced against it.

Chapter Books for Younger Readers:
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: My boys LOVE these and are anxious for the next installment to come out. I have NOT read them, I like a little more story ...
  • Captain Underpants: Keaton really enjoyed this series ... we'll see if my younger boys follow suit.
  • The Magic Treehouse: We read a few of these, I wish the boys would have had more of an interest. As a parent, I thought they were good. 
  • Wayside School: Quick, easy chapters.
  • Dragon Slayers Academy: Callahan enjoyed several books from this series when he was younger.
  • Henry Huggins and other books by Beverly Cleary
  • Little Eddie and other books by Carolyn Haywood (not as well know as Beverly Cleary, but similar, about a boy and his dog, and a "girl" set of books too (Betsy here, like Cleary's Ramona). I LOVED these, and there are a whole bunch of them! "The Mixed-Up Twins" was a stand-alone book I remember really enjoying.
  • Others: With boys, the Junie B Jones don't really appeal (and I actually didn't care for them much), we've tried some Ready Freddy books, Jake Drake Stories and Jigsaw Jones  and A-Z Mysteries, I have some Hank Zipzer we have yet to read. We tried Boxcar Children, but they didn't seem to take.

As I've discovered PINTEREST ... and I've pinned a lot of others reading lists and other helpful reading tips and websites. If you want to check out my board, click HERE

Recent Reading:

  • Landon: Hatchet, Cirque de Freak, Food Rules, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Hiroshima, FableHaven (1-3), Percy Jackson (1-4), Artemis Fowl (1-3)
  • Callahan:   Maze Runner Trilogy, Throne of Fire, Son of Neptune, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cabin Fever, Beyonders, Catching Fire, The Hunger Games, The Lost Hero, Percy Jackson (1-5), Found/Sent/Sabotaged, Gregor the Overlander, Fablehaven (1-5), Hatchet, 39 Clues, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1-5), Dragon Slayers Academy .... 
  • Keaton: The Great Brain, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants

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