Tag Archives: required reading

Required Reading Redux

It’s now been several months since we started our “required reading” program.  You can find the first post with the book list here.  Basically, I made a list of books I thought would be good third grade books.  Every month, they had to read one of their own choosing.  I purposefully listed some easier and some harder books as well as a wide variety of genres.

Fast forward to now.  Early on, we made a rule that you could choose one sequel or book by the same author to count as well.  And now we’re pretty much untethered from the list and I need to make a new one.  However, I wanted to celebrate all the books the kids read so far.  Of course, they’ve continued to read their own books for fun as well, but those are mostly easier and lighter reads than these.

Mushroom’s Books

Tornado by Betsy Byars
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
Frindle by Andrew Clements
A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averil
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

BalletBoy’s Books

Tornado by Betsy Byars
Frindle by Andrew Clements
Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averil
Jenny at Sea by Esther Averil
Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary
Freddy the Detective by Walter Brooks
The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farmby Betty MacDonald
*Additionally, I’ll give BalletBoy half credit.  He read half of Ribsy, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Poppy.

Overall, I’ve been incredibly happy with our required reading system.  Mushroom has read a great variety of books, which he has loved.  BalletBoy has discovered that while he dislikes real animals, he really likes them in books.  Also, I’ve discovered that he’d rather read a sequel than anything else and that while he’s more likely to stay up late reading, he also is the pickiest reader ever!

Right now, Mushroom is working on The Bad Beginning from the Series of Unfortunate Events.  BalletBoy is thinking about reading another Freddy book since he’s so fond of always picking the sequels option.  I’m thinking about having them read a book together, namely My Side of the Mountain, which I think we would all enjoy and which would fit in with our nature study this year.

Of course, the kids read for pleasure as well, but neither of them are voracious readers and if given the choice, I’m pretty sure BalletBoy would never finish anything.  This has ensured that everyone keeps going with reading a good, challenging book, even though making time for it can be tough sometimes.

Wait, Is that Voluntary Schoolwork?

So you know how some kids have to do a little project or create an art piece or write a report after they read a book?  I’ve never really bought into that.  I try instead to have conversations about the books the kids are reading – both the required reading ones and the pleasure reads.  I see how they’re liking them and check their progress.

Well, imagine my surprise when I leave the kids alone for a couple of hours and come home to discover that Mushroom has made a little poster and a big dragon puppet out of paper for the last required reading book he finished, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  Huh.   Well, I never would have assigned it, but I’m still kind of pleased.  BalletBoy apparently felt left out, so he made a comic of one of his favorites from the required reading list, Jenny and the Cat Club.

photo (88)

Required Reading… Sort Of

I went back and forth and back and forth about introducing required reading this year for the first time. It’s third gradeish this coming year. Both the boys can read well enough to be assigned a book like something from the Beverly Cleary cannon. I want them to begin reading more literary books independently. I’m completely fine with piles of Tintin, Amulet, Bones, Choose Your Own Adventures and various things of that ilk as well. We get plenty of classics read aloud, after all.

However, I want to push them a little. They have both read books like Runaway Ralph and Mr. Popper’s Penguins of their own accord, just few and far between. So I think they just need a small push.

The problem is that I do feel a little like their reading is fragile. And that loving reading is fragile in general in the lives of seven year old boys (or soon to be eight year old boys). Every once in awhile they will dive into a book and read for hours, but they are not nose in the book types most days. They enjoy reading, but they aren’t addicted like some children. There is an unschoolish part of me that is fine with our free reading time, but less fine with regulating it by forcing books that I think are better.

In the end, the two parts of me have decided to compromise a little. There will be required reading for third grade, but it will be choice reading, from a longish list and just one book a month. I was struggling to say which books were worthy of being absolutely required anyway, so this frees things a little and makes everything more open. I think the kids will like this as well: being given a choice yet also a push. BalletBoy, especially, craves the changes and new challenges that a new school year or a new math book brings. He’s not always the hardest worker, but having a new system and a new requirement usually spurs him on for the good.

To start us off, I printed a little poster with the book covers and made a box of some of the books, which I’ll unveil whenever we actually start third grade.  Here’s the list for the first half of the school year.  I assume that at some point later in the winter I’ll suddenly want to add some more options, which I think is fine.  I’ll note as well that I’ve ruined a lot of books that would have been perfect by reading them aloud, which I only occasionally regret, but I did sneak a couple of them on the list of choices anyway and I also included some things that one boy has read but not the other.  I tried to pick things across a number of genres and with different levels of difficulty.  Sometimes you’re in the mood for something easy and sometimes something harder.

  • Poppy by Avi
  • Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith
  • Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Avrill
  • Tornado by Betsy Byars
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
  • Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
  • The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
  • The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
  • How to Get Fabulously Rich by Thomas Rockwell
  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
  • The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
  • Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
  • Frindle by Andrew Clements
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith
  • Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner
  • By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman
  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord