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A Children's Summer Reading Challenge: From Books to Movies

Updated on January 2, 2014

A Hefty Summer Reading List


The books we read as children remain with us forever

Welcome to the Mueller household where books live a precarious and dangerous life full of movement and travel. There is no Kindle, just an Ipad that sometimes downloads books and only by Mr. Mueller. There are books in the bathroom (4), books on the side table next to the bed (6), some on the patio (2), some in the hallway (15), car (8), desk (4), kitchen (12) and some even on shelves. The books on the shelf though know that their turn is coming and rustle their pages in eagerness. When on the shelf, they behave themselves and somehow find the time to be arranged first by author and then into groups. Favorite authors have entire shelves and are composed of only hardback books. Compulsive buys are in paperback and if deemed worthy are placed on a shelf (others, though missed, are sent on to other readers). The nonfiction is regulated to a shelf of their own as their placid, unimaginative ways may be contagious to the rest of the books. The true secret though lies inside a closed cabinet. Hidden from the ranks of Mercedes Lackey, Jim Butcher, Orson Scott Card and Isaac Asimov, opened only in case of the flu or a moment of rare weakness, lies a secret collection of Brian Jacques. In hardback and most are first edition. Here there be brave mice, stoic badgers, and laughable rabbits. Here are childhood memories, and they are precious.

Getting started with chapter books has never been so easy!

My son, Hippo,at seven years old- is an avid reader. As we speak he is reading a stage three book about cartoon characters and I can see his mind expanding as he reads. Oh how he loves books! We caught him reading in bed, he wants to read at the table, in the tub, in the car....everywhere! However, we were having a hard time pushing him from the now easy thin little books with colorful illustrations and into real content. And that was when it hit me. The idea of a lifetime. He was no longer being challenged and we needed to get him into chapter books. But how?

In all instances of parenting - when in doubt, call your mother. If you can't call your mom, call someone who has been a mom. That is what led to the Summer Challenge. The conversation went something like where I complained about his veracious reading appetite and how to move him up in his ability and dived straight into stories of my own childhood and love of reading. Getting her back on track though was difficult as she talked about how much I had loved The Secret Garden..."oh yeah," I thought,"I loved that movie." And then I said it aloud....and then, it happened! I realized how many of the children's movies I owned were based on books.

But which books would be appropriate for his rather young age? Obviously Harry Potter would be too difficult and Bernstein Bears would be too easy. A trip to the library was in order. We chatted with a lovely librarian who had a true passion for books and she was able to point out ones that I had never realized had been books prior to the movies. She was also able to realize that we had no desire to scare our kid with movies that were not yet in his age range even if the book was a good fit. After our visit we had narrowed down the book list to nine books and a worthy summer goal of reading one chapter each day before bed and two chapters on the weekends.

Some criteria for your own search:

  • What is the age of your child?
  • What is the reading expectation of your child by his/her teacher?
  • What content in a movie is "too much" for your own sense of parenting?
  • What content in a book is "too much" for your own sense of parenting?
  • What are your child's interests?
  • What are your own interests (cause lets face it, you don't want to hear them read it if you will be bored to tears) ?

Our Summer Reading List

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, By Ian FlemingShiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds NaylorBed Knobs and Broomsticks, by Mary NewtonStuart Little, by E.B. WhiteBlack Beauty, By Anna SewellWinnie The Pooh, By A.A. MilnePippi Longstocking, By Astrid LindgrenCharlotte's Web, By E.B. WhiteSpiderwich Chronicles, By Diterlizzi and Black
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, By Ian Fleming
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, By Ian Fleming
Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Bed Knobs and Broomsticks, by Mary Newton
Bed Knobs and Broomsticks, by Mary Newton
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
Black Beauty, By Anna Sewell
Black Beauty, By Anna Sewell
Winnie The Pooh, By A.A. Milne
Winnie The Pooh, By A.A. Milne
Pippi Longstocking, By Astrid Lindgren
Pippi Longstocking, By Astrid Lindgren
Charlotte's Web, By E.B. White
Charlotte's Web, By E.B. White
Spiderwich Chronicles, By Diterlizzi and Black
Spiderwich Chronicles, By Diterlizzi and Black

The Results!

What worked:

  • We decided to read our books in order of the easiest first based on actual difficulty of reading.
  • Antique-dated and unknown words were an issue for him but we brought out a dictionary and set it to the side in case we needed it for our adventure and found that this helped since he liked learning new words.
  • Pulling out the movie prior to reading the book got him excited to zip through the book so we could watch the movie afterwards. If he had already seen the movie in the past, he got excited if we told him that the movie was made because the book was so great and that the adventures in the book were better then the movie.

What Failed:

  • Assuming he would love a book because I did was not a great concept. While I have a love for strong heroines he loved animals and brave boys.
  • If the book was harder then we had expected, we ended up reading more to him then having him read to us. While he still is gaining a love of classical children's literature, I think he would grasp it more if he did most of the reading.

Children's Movies

A child's love of learning cannot be measured

Do you read with your child?

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    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is a fun idea. I am both a movie buff and a book worm, so this challenge hits my fancy. My five year old is learning to read and I can see this being a fun way to also introduce some of the thin, colorful books.