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Reading is fun•damentally awesome

It never ceases to amaze me that I was able to teach not one, but two of my children to read.  And yet I still get panic attacks at the thought of teaching Jensen.

But that could have more to do with Jensen, than my ability to teach him.

Whatever.  Cabinet is well stocked with Excedrin.  Extra strength.

Emme has been flying through books faster than I can keep them stocked from the library.  She’s read ALL of the American Girl series, including the mysteries.  And she’s about to finish the Magic Attic series (which sadly, is no longer in production).  And it’s magic in the sense of the use of the imagination, not the occult. Just wanted to clarify.

I’ve tried to interest her in Nancy Drew, to no avail.  I have no idea why, because I devoured those mysteries when I was her age.

And the Bobbsey Twins have no appeal for her either.

She loves series books, and if it’s a mystery, she’s delighted.  But I don’t know where to go from here.

I was haunting the online library site last night in search of a book series that I read when I was a girl.

And btw, reserving books and DVDs online is the way to go.  All you have to do is sprint in with your card, grab your cargo, and run like the wind before your son does something to further damage your library privileges.  Just sayin’.

Anyhoo.  I remembered that the author’s name was Ruth M. Arthur.  I googled her, and found some titles that I remembered from long ago.  I also remembered how I was mesmerized by those stories that I read.  Haunted by them, really.

Two book titles that came up were, “Requiem for a Princess” and “Candle in the Wind.”  There was absolutely nothing of hers in our library system.  Which as far as library systems go, ours is pretty large.

Then I did some more digging on google, and read the synopsis of some of her books.  Oh.  Good heavens.  Those books were infused with the occult, witches, curses, and tragedy.  I must have blocked out that factoid.

No wonder I needed therapy.

And add to that the fact that my mom regularly took me with her to see movies that were WAY beyond my comprehension.  Think “Bonnie and Clyde”.  (She just wanted someone to go with her, since my dad was not a movie buff.  Unless John Wayne was involved.  Pilgrim.)

Really, it’s a wonder I turned out as well as I did.  Fiddledaddy will enthusiastically argue that point with me later, after he reads this post.

So.  I am in need of some book suggestions for my 9 (almost 10) year old daughter, who loves mysteries and books that come in a series.  Books written for girls.  And all the wonderful girly angst that goes along with that.

I will be encouraging her to read the Little House series.  I read it to her years ago.  And we’ve read “Anne of Green Gables” and the subsequent books from that author.  I would love to find another book series that is infused with moral character.

And btw, this post that I wrote ages ago, (from your children’s book suggestions) continues to be one of my most read posts!

So, does anything come to mind?


38 Responses to Reading is fun•damentally awesome

  • We love the Boxcar Children here. As a kid I devoured (in addition to Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins) all of the Trixie Belden mystery series. But that might not be her cup of tea if she isn’t a ND fan. Good luck! I’ll be checking back to see suggestions since I have one of these readers as well.

  • I love your blog and your wry way with words. You just make me giggle!

    Here are a few suggestions for your daughter – some were my favorites, some are my daughter’s.

    There are new additions to the “Little House” series that detail the lives of Laura’s daughter Rose, and her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. A handful of different authors wrote these.

    The “Betsy-Tacy” series, by Maud Hart Lovelace. (Similar to the “Little House” books in the century-ago era and sense of innocence.)

    The “Elizabeth Gail” and “Sadie Rose” series, both by Hilda Stahl. Christian mystery series for girls.

    “Trixie Belden” mystery series books. I think these have been reprinted since I read them as a tween.

    “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew”. There are twelve books in the series, but this remains the most endearing volume, I think! The others are out of print and can be hard to find. Not a mystery but a great read-aloud.

    The “Mandie” series by Lois Gladys Leppard. Mystery series for girls. I think there are well over thirty volumes.

    American Girl “History Mysteries”. These are now out of print, but are available on the secondhand market and may be available through interlibrary loan. For 8 to 10 year old girls. A series in the sense of different volumes, but different authors and characters make them more individual stories.

    “Annie Henry” series by Susan Olasky. We actually included this in our study of the American Revolution. My daughter (age 11 at the time) enjoyed these thoroughly! Not mystery, but more adventure.

    Lucy Maude Montgomery wrote many other stories besides the “Anne” books, worth exploring.

    Patricia Clapp wrote several historical novels for girls, not mysteries, but enjoyable reads. “Constance” was one I read at about 12 years old (about the Mayflower and Plymouth) and I still re-read it. There is another one based on the American Revolution that my daughter loved.

    If you don’t already have these resources, I highly recommend them, especially since you homeschool. “All Through the Ages” (History through Literature Guide) by Christine Miller, “Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children’s Literature” by Elizabeth Wilson, and “Who shall we then read?” by Jan Bloom. I use all of these resources to direct me to literature that brings history alive for our homeschooling or to get a trusted review of children’s literature. (Jan Bloom’s book is especially helpful with this latter need.)

    Hope that helps!



  • The Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard is a Christian mystery series for just Emme’s age. And the Grandma’s Attic series by Arleta Richardson is another Christian series for her age. She might enjoy the Boxcar mysteries by Gertrude Chandler Warner, although she could be a little old for them. Those are just a few suggestions that come to mind.

  • I loved the Boxcar Children. They are mysteries. I think their are 60 some in the series. That should keep her busy for a few days!

  • I ran into your blog from a friend of mine and have just love it!
    I’m 26 now, but when I was your daughters age, my mom pulled out a box of her old books and I discovered Cherry Ames…
    She’s a cheery nurse who goes on all sorts of adventures…
    I found some at my local library, though I DID often have to order them from elsewhere.
    I also used to find them in antique shops and whatnot..usually for 3 or 4 dollars. To this day I really love them.
    Also try the Chalie Bone series..a little Harry Potter esque but absolutely wonderful. A friend of mine that teaches 5th grade always reccomends them and she has me hooked as well!

  • My oldest daughter loves mysteries. I was able to find a Christian mystery series called “Red Rock Mysteries”. It is about twins (girl and boy) who solve mysteries together. My daughter can’t get enough of them! You can buy them from CBD.

  • Magic Tree house is a good one, I have only read one or two myself, but I have friends who love it for their kids.

  • I will be watching with interst the comments you get. I’ve got the 10 year old, but she is NOT excited about reading. I’m always looking for “THE BOOK” that sparks her reading adventure.

    Lately, I’ve been having fun reading tween books to see if I will let my girls read them. It started innocently enough….I read one Mandie book….then I had to read them all! 😀 Those were fun.

    As a kid I read Nancy Drew….now I’m reading The Hardy Boys. Makes the books a lot more interesting to envision Parker Stevenson as Frank and Shaun Cassidy a Joe as I read! 🙂 Ahhh, somedays I really am still 12 at heart.

    BTW: I’m also amazed/baffeled that I taught my kids to read. It is a feeling you just can’t describe! I remember when we started our homeschooling journey, I felt that if I could teach the kids to read (the ONE thing I was truly afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do) everything else would be simple! It is…..as long as I don’t think about calculus! hahahahaha

  • I agree, the Mandie series or the Elizabeth Gail series were my favorites as a kid — and I was WAY into the mystery books as well. 🙂

    I also loved the Caddie Woodlawn books, though I can’t remember who wrote them. Not necessarily mysteries, but great stories about a girl with a fiery temper and attitude. 🙂 LOVED them!

  • I LOVED Trixie Belden when I was that age. They were about Trixie, her best friend Honey, and Honey’s adopted brother Jim, and they solved all sorts of mysteries and had all sorts of adventures. I think they’re out of print, but you can get them on Amazon for $.01.

    How about Father Brown? Or Miss Marples? They might be a little old, but I loved them. I’ve heard the Redwall books are good.

    I’m looking for adventure stories for my eight-year-old son. He’s been reading The Hardy Boys and The Black Stallion books. He also liked Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little.

    Have you seen this website? http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/celoop/1000.html

    It’s a 1000 Good Books list, separated by reading level. Very cool.

  • I loved the Trixie Beldon mysteries, and I second the Walter Farley Black Stallion books.

  • I vote for Trixie Belden. I loved that series when I was her age. Also, what about Madeleine L’Engle? She wrote “A Wrinkle in Time” and the series that followed that. It was supposed to be Christian based, but has been so many years ago…that might need to be checked out. Also, “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” series, if you haven’t already read that one. Perhaps that is a bit old for her yet?

    Let us know what you decide, because I have a nine-year-old who doesn’t like to read and could use some ideas also!

  • Hi DeeDee:

    I also reflect back on the horrible stuff I read and viewed growing up – remember Dark Shadows?!
    Didn’t have a clue then, neither did my mom – whatever was the trend was Gospel. Yikes.

    Have you tried Lamplighter Books (www.lamplighterpublishing.com)
    I think you mentioned hearing Mark Hamby speak at the homeschool conference – it is his entity. Mark is a good friend of ours. We just started reading his books this past year. They are awesome. My 10 year old son squawked at first, but he loves them now. Also, another good one is Vision Forum. They have books for all ages. Probably won’t be in the library though, so you would probably have to buy them.

    YES! HUGE DARK SHADOWS FAN!!! Oh the nightmares. 🙂

    And I love the Lamplighter series. I always look for those books at the used book sales. I go and listen to Mark at every homeschool conference I can!!! Very inspirational.


    PS: My husband even admitted the other day that when he has a Lamplighter Book, he plays NO Solitaire on the PC – imagine that!!!

  • Actually my daughter and I have been reading the series by Meg Cabot called “Allie Finkles Rules for girls” they have at least 4 books in the series, plus Meg Cabot was who wrote the princess diaries. I have enjoyed reading these books with my daughter they are really funny. Allie Finkle is 9. I think your daughter would love these.

  • Is the “Allie Finkles Rules for Girls” appropriate? I typically find that Meg Cabot has *erm* interesting themes.

  • I adore all of the Maud Hart Lovelace books. I own most of them and continue to collect them. Betsy books are some of my all time favorites and I happily re-read them today. 🙂

    The Five LIttle Peppers series was fun was fun as well. The Mandie books were good… hmmm, I thought I’d come up with loads of titles for you, but I’m drawing such a blank now!

    I loved reading anything set in a different time period. The Anne of Green Gables books are all favorites of mine. I read them as a child and I’ve continued to read all of them over and over as an adult.

    Good luck in the search. I love that she loves to read. I have a five year old that is currently reading much much faster than the library can provide the books. I’m always looking for new suggestions there as well.

    Happy Reading! 🙂

  • These aren’t really just girly (some are) but the Trailblazer Books written by Dave and Neta Jackson are Christian adventure books for kids 8-13. They are really good. There is another series that I can’t think of right now, but when I do, I’ll pass it along. It is more girly and filled with mystery.

    Are you going to compile another post of good reading? Would love that. I refer to your other post all the time!!

    I just started a homeschooling blog and I have you on my blog roll. I was wondering if I could put a link up to the last book list post?

    Absolutely, you can link up to the last book list! I’d be honored.

  • I agree – the Mandie books are great (I still like them as an adult!). There are 40-something volumes, so that should keep her busy for a few minutes.

    You might also try the Elsie books by Martha Finley. They were recently revised and republished, so they should be easy to find in paperback (I prefer the older versions, but that’s just me – and good luck finding them, they were originally published in the 1800’s). Not mysteries, but good clean reading 🙂

    And does she like Hardy Boys?

  • Grandma Attic series by Arleta Richardson 10 stars… sorta like Little House, fiction based on true stories during late 1800’s

    Cynthia Rylant. Cobblestreet cousins

    Sugar Creek Gang series, about a boy, but Biblical based

    Any Margueritte Henry books, write about horses. Misty of Chincotgue is her most famous.

    Thornton Burgess books, especially The Adventures of… ones. Good beginner chapter books.

    Mice of the Westing Wind series, by Tim Davies, another 10 star

    Astrid LIndgren and her Pippy Longstocking series and the Children of Noisy Village books

    Eleanor Estes books

    Maud Hart Lovelace

    Swallows and Amazons series

    Betsy and Tacy series about 2 girls

    Rebecca Caudill – Happy Little Family series

    Mrs. Piggle -Wiggle

    Secret Garden
    Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
    Island of the Blue Dolphins

    That should get you started 🙂 Unfortunately good books are hard to find in the library. You probably won’t find many of them there.

  • My 10 yo daughter loved the “Dear America” series (multiple authors). The books are written diary-style by young girls throughout American history. Although these are fictional, they’re written from the first-person perspective & make the reader feel like they’re part of the story.

    One thing I really like is that there are stories about girls from both sides of an issue or event. For example, there’s a story about a girl in a Tory family during the Revolution & also a story about a girl from a Rebel family. There are stories about girls from Northern & then Southern families during the Civil War, & there’s even a story about a slave girl during that same time period.

    There are 30-40 books in the series, so my daughter learned TONS of history while reading them. The main characters are almost exclusively girls, but there are a few that feature boys as the diary writers.

    Happy Reading!

  • I read the Trixie Beldon series and THEN got into Nancy Drew. Spent many a summer day making TWO trips to the library because I read them so fast.
    Caddie Woodlawn is by Carol Ryrie Brink and is one of my favorites too. It is a Newberry winner.
    I know your little girl is interested in mysteries but have you tried the Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott? Never to early for the classics. Heidi by Johanna Spyri is also wonderful.
    My little girl is seven so I took many notes from the comments section. Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions.
    Blessings and Happy Reading!

  • I’m not sure of any specific titles, but maybe you can check out http://www.eagerreaders.com...

  • The Chronicles of Narnia!

    Not mystery, but FABULOUS. No 10-year old should go without…I have read these books so many times since I was that age, and I still read them.

    I was a HUGE Nancy Drew fan myself, and can’t understand why your girlie isn’t getting into them…*shakes head*

    I also second whoever brought up the Mandie books…I loved those too as a girl. I liked pretending I was Mandie. 🙂

    And…I still check closets for Narnia.

  • Trixie Belden has been mentioned. She was a favorite of mine. My library had a whole series about the “Happy Hollisters” but not sure if they’re in print any more and they were old when I was young 🙂 But it was about the kids in a family that traveled a lot and solved mysteries.

    And how about books by Patricia St. John? My kids loved them! Her “Treasures of the Snow” was the first fiction my son read (he was 8 at the time) and he liked the book so much he re-read it again immediately 🙂

    The Beverly Cleary books. Oh, a stand alone mystery that I adored (as did my kids) was “From the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler” and that was also made into a movie.

  • My most favorite book at this age, although not part of a series, is the “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler”. It’s an amazing book! It’s about a brother and sister who feel ignored and runaway. They runway to the Metropolitan Museum in NY. They explore the museum by day, and by night!, and then they solve a mystery about a statute that may or may not be by Michelangelo. I am 42 years old and I actually read it again a few years ago! I also saw a commenter who recommended the Cherry Ames series. Oh boy did that bring back memories!!! Very 50sish BUT still…she was a nurse, she worked and wasn’t married. Wow!! Oh, and did you know the Wizard of Oz was only 1 book in a series by Frank Baum? True. It’s a whole series and while I never made it through, I was entrigued!! And I also recommend the Harry Potter series. I know there are some who believe that it promotes occult but I respectfully disagree. While God, the Devil and angels are not mentioned by name, the characters can be directly correlated to God, the Devil, angels and saviours … and it teaches lessons in civility, humility, character, personal responsibility, living by a moral code, being a true friend and standing by your principles. The books grow with the child and while there are issues of violence and death, they arise in the last books, at an older more mature age. Just my 2 cents!

  • Lets see….
    i totally agree with the boxcar children and bobbsey twins
    i have also been grabbing other old books when i can find them like
    How To Eat Fried Worms
    Freckle Juice
    The Great Brain

    all bev cleary titles
    judy blume titles and right now we are into the Fudge/Supefudge series

  • Aw, man! All our faves are up already! My daughter is just a tiny bit older than yours, and LOVES to read!
    We loved Mandi, Cobble Street Cousins, Betsy/Tacy, The new Little House books with Rose, Caroline, Martha and Charlotte. American Girl, Dear America, and Elsie.

    I’d add: Main Street series by Ann Martin, Sisters in Time series, Dollhouse series by Ann Martin & Laura Godwin, and Kenneth Thomasma’s American Indian kids. Sophie series by Dick King Smith, and Emily Windsnap series.

    I love that my kids have begun recommending good books to me! I’ve really enjoyed Artemis Foul and the Gregor set, but they are boy books.

  • My oldest loved the Magic Tree house series and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He still goes back to re-read them.

  • Patricia C Wrede is an awesome writer with a lot of female protagonists that win through being smart/clever/logical. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a great place to start and see if you like her writing style. Her humor is clever enough to entertain adults and clean enough to be appropriate for kids.

    Tamora Pierce is another favorite of mine. She has several series that start with a young lady around the age of 10 and she ‘grows up’ over 4 books. Also fantasy and also entertaining for adults. Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, Book 1) is a good place to start.

    A fairly ‘new’ series is “The Sister’s Grimm” by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson. I’m not as confident in this series because it is fantasy set in a modern setting and I would be concerned that some kids could have issues with separating the fantasy for reality. Pierce and Wrede have fantasy that is so clearly NOT real that there is no chance of any confusion.

    Narnia is awesome 🙂 The Anne of Green Gables series is fun too. So are some of the other ‘old’ classics. A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Heidi, Little Women, Harriet the Spy, Black Beauty, etc. If you look up one in Amazon, it’ll ‘remind’ you of other classics you might like as well.

  • My now-13 year old loved the Magic Tree House series, Junie B. Jones, and Ramona Quimby. I’m not sure what age they’re aimed at. She read them when she was 5-6, but she learned to read when she was 4. I think they’re for children Emme’s age. She also enjoyed books of poetry by Shel Silverstein.

  • Just one book and not a series, but I LOVED “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” by Avi, when I was around her age. Very exciting adventure book for girls.

  • I just saw this post, and was too excited about it… My KayKay is just getting into reading, and as I was the BIGGEST bookaholic as a kid, I’m totally on this! :O) Most of the books I would recommend are on here already, however, I will say this – if you can’t find something at the library because it’s out of print, try eBay. A lot of the old classic childrens series are out there on the cheap. I got 25 of the Happy Hollisters mystery series from the 1940’s for $25. In near-perfect condition, I might add. And each one is a good 200 pages, besides the fact that you can resell them on eBay when Emme is done.

    Anyhoo, I’m going to second a lot of these, but there are a couple I’ll throw in that haven’t been mentioned:

    1. A Wrinkle in Time series
    2. Narnia (of course!)
    3. The Happy Hollisters (if you can find them)… They’re by Jerry West.
    4.The Boxcar Children
    5. The Mandie books (I LOVED these as young girl and even into my teens)
    6. The Wizard of Oz series… Apparently there’s like 9 or 10 books aside from the original book, and I have had them highly recommended to me by several people (I haven’t had a chance to read them yet).
    9. Little Women and its companions. Lousia May Alcott also wrote a book called “Jack and Jill” based on the nursery rhyme that was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite books.
    10. There is an absolutely delightful childrens series called the “Maida” books, written around the turn of the 20th Century, and if you can find them, I would say SNAG THEM. They’re extremely difficult to find, but so wonderful. Maida is a little girl who is crippled and whose father is very rich, and he gives her lots of things to keep her occupied because she can’t go to school, and she in turn, blesses the other children she interacts with out of her bounty. The one that I’ve read is “Maida’s Little Shop”, but there are around 10 others, maybe more.

    Alrighty, I’ve said enough. I’ll shut up now. :O)

  • I loved reading all the recommendations! I’m going to put this in my favorites for when my little girl is a bit older.

    I’m going to second someone else’s Beverly Cleary suggestion. I always loved her books as a child.

    Check out http://www.sistersintime.com/index.html They have books about girls in different time periods from 1620 – 1939. Their site has different games and explains some of the words from the books.

    Also, try Janette Oke’s http://www.christianbook.com/janette-animal-friends-volumes-1-boxed/janette-oke/9780764287961/pd/2306?event=AAI Animal Friends series. I read them when I was Emme’s age. They’re lots of fun! These are some I’m sure your library either has or could order for you.

    Lastly, I have a few of these Pony Pals books http://www.amazon.com/Pony-Pals-1-25/lm/3OAIMBSQI45GT I haven’t personally read them yet, but they look like the kind of books that a nice young lady would enjoy.

    Thanks for sparking this discussion! I’m off to make a book list now!

  • I just compared by copy of “The Impatient Turtle” with an excerpt from the site I posted above and I see that the newer books have been “dumbed down” (for lack of a better term). The Animal Friends series that I have was copyrighted in 1986 and would be much more appropriate for a 10 yr. old than the newer books. The newer books look to me like they would appeal to a 6-8 yr. old (which would probably work for your younger daughter). Sorry for any confusion. I just didn’t want you to think I was recommending a “baby-ish” book series for a 10 yr. old! If you can find the 1986 book series I would still highly recommend them for a 10 year old. 🙂

  • Sorry to comment again! I just want to add a link for you. This is what the older “turtle” book in the series looks like: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/o/janette-oke/impatient-turtle.htm

  • I don’t believe anyone mentioned: The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. My granddaughter’s all time favorite series at that age.

  • how about the little grey men written by b.b. still in publication my graandchildren love this series