Categories
Curricula and Books

Magic Tree House Series For History And Making Connections

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Pea is obsessed with Mary Pope Osbourne’s Magic Tree House series right now. If you aren’t familiar with this series, the stories revolve around Jack and Annie, two young siblings who travel through history (and sometimes space) to help an enchantress collect stories and lift spells. I won’t give away more plot than that. Each book is 10 chapters long, and the “missions” they go on are in groups of four books. It’s the perfect bedtime reading for Pea. She can’t read them on her own yet, but they help stretch her vocabulary and are a great way to introduce some history. Plus, by reading a few chapters at a time we can spread the reading of stories over days instead of minutes and go through the exercise of recalling what we’ve already read before starting each night.


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And she gets completely lost in the stories. We read three or four chapters each night, and she loves to look ahead at the pictures and try to predict what’s going to happen next. At the end of each book, she loves to go get the next book in the series and see where Jack and Annie will go next.

Keep in mind, she’s five years old. Bug is three and doesn’t quite appreciate the depth of the stories yet. I think her exact words were, “Jack and Annie aw bawing!” And of course, New Baby isn’t a huge fan either since these books aren’t very chewy and don’t have large colored photos.


Last night, something really cool happened while we were reading Magic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday. Pea was looking at the front cover photo of Jack and Annie crossing the Delaware with George Washington, and I was reminded of this post I wrote a while back. I was telling her how I used to lie on her bottom bunk and read a big-grown-up story about the same thing we were reading in the Magic Tree House adventures.

Just like Bug doesn’t quite get the stories on the level Pea does, Pea doesn’t understand how cool it is that she and I sat in the exact same spot and enjoyed the exact same story. Isn’t it cool that she will very likely read this story at least three or four times? I have no doubt she’ll go back and read the Magic Tree House series on her own when she’s able. She’ll also learn about the Revolutionary War and the Christmas night crossing of the Delaware when studying history (non-fiction). And if I am able to influence her, she’ll also catch it again in the historical fiction version I read last year.

We’re already on the hunt for the next series of books we think she may like. Anyone have ideas for kids who love Magic Treehouse?

Categories
Just For Fun

Oh Yeah, This Is Fun Too

The other night I was reading the girls a book at bedtime, and I picked up on something I think may be really important to our girls learning to read. Now, we seem to always be on the lookout for “teachable moments” around here. Sometimes that means stopping to ask questions about the book we’re reading or pointing out some aspect of the book that ties in with something else we’ve been working on. We’re lucky that they usually lead us into this , so it’s not as if we’re forcing them into it. In fact, we never push anything on them if they don’t seem interested because we want them to enjoy the learning as much as we enjoy the teaching.

But this time something weird was going on.┬áChick Pea wasn’t stopping me on every page to ask questions about the story, and Bug wasn’t grabbing at the book or pointing at the pages while yelling out made-up words. They were both sitting quietly, listening to the story. They were engrossed. So I went with it.

I realized later that I wasn’t actually missing out on a teachable moment. I was taking advantage of one.

The lesson I was teaching them is that reading is an enjoyable and fun thing to do! We don’t always have to have a measurable objective every time we pick up a book. ┬áSometimes (most of time?) the best part of reading is getting so into the story that you lose yourself in it. If we can one day establish a love of reading independently in our kids, just imagine the gains they’ll be able to make in fluency and vocabulary on their own, not to mention all the other things they’ll be able to learn about.

We have to keep our long-term goal in mine: give them the tools that allow them to read to learn.

Loving to read is a pretty powerful tool.