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Judging a Book By It's Cover

Lexile Framework for Reading, Fountas & Pinnell levels, Developmental Reading Assessment…one size does not fit all when it comes to finding the right book for your child. Children develop reading skills at their own pace. And even though we've been told not to "judge a book by its cover," the cover (back cover, usually) can give important information as far as the difficulty level of the book by its designated reading level.

But as you're looking over titles and their reading levels, remember that levels are simply guidelines. Look for books that will challenge Junior enough to for him to make progress and learn new skills, but don't push; especially at home when he's going to read for pleasure. If he is happy reading dozens of Goosebumps books but you think he's ready for War and Peace, let him enjoy his Goosebumps! He'll move on eventually. Choosing titles appropriate for your child's reading skills can open up a whole world of reading, but if you push him to read things he's not ready for and finds too difficult, you might turn him off of reading forever.

Oscar and the Bat, A Book about Sound

Geoff Waring

Candlewick Press, 2006, $6.99. Ages 4 and up

Oscar is a cute, curious kitten who is fascinated by new sounds he hears in the meadow one evening. Young readers can practically hear the "cheep, cheep, cheeps" of the blackbirds and "rumble, crash!" of the thunder as Bat explains the different sounds to his pal Oscar.

Oscar and the Bird, A Book about Electricity

by Geoff Waring

Candlewick Press, 2006, $14.99. Ages 4 and up

Oscar the kitten is at it again, this time with his friend, Bird. Young readers will get a great start in science as they read Bird's explanation of electricity as an "ink of energy that people use to help things move, make sounds, light up or heat up."

Quentin Quirk's Magic Works: The Purple Sluggy


by Matt Kain

Kingfisher, 2009, $5.99. Ages 6 to 10.

Jez and Charlie peruse the aisles of the Magical Emporium looking for something that will beat that annoying Francesca in the local talent show. Armed with a jar of Worry Warts and The Box of Tricks, they think they've found just the thing. Do they have an "edge," or will chaos reign?

The Pet Sitter: Beware the Werepup

by Julie Sykes

Kingfisher, 2009, $5.99. Ages 7 to 10.

Fang seems cuddly enough, but when the clouds part and a full moon pops out one night during a walk, Max finds out that the job he took on as a pet-sitter for Ned Nettles' "puppy" is more than he bargained for…

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook

by Eleanor Davis

Bloombury, 2009, $10.99. Ages 9 to 12.

Julian, Ben and Greta, three super-smart middle school inventors, have a blast in their super-secret science club as they work in their high-tech lab on projects like the Stink-O-Meter and the Nightsneak Goggles. But their techno tinkering skills come in especially handy when they uncover an evil scientist's plan to rob a museum. A high-tech comic adventure told in a vivid graphic novel style.

Rose's Garden

by Peter H. Reynolds

Candlewick Press, 2009, $15.99. Ages 12 and up.

Rose is ready to put down roots after traveling around the world in her magical teapot. She finds her corner of the world where she readies the soil, plants the seeds…but a beautiful garden doesn't just spring up overnight. A lovely story about the power of nature, beauty and faith, as reflected by Senator Ted Kennedy, "..poignantly captures my mother's enduring spirit…"


The Other

by David Guterson

Knopf Publishing Group, Reprint 2009, $15.00

A look at two different views of what it means to live a good life, this intense novel delves into questions of youth, idealism, growing up and compromises. Neil Countryman, from an average blue-collar Irish family, and John William Barry, who's pedigree includes wealth and breeding from two of Seattle's "best" families, meet in their teens, with their love of the outdoors as a common denominator. The years pass with each man choosing his own path: Neil as a family man and schoolteacher, and John William as a recluse who lives off the land in the deep woods. When tragedy strikes, one man is left with the shock of a lifetime.

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