Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In Praise of The Magic Tree House

My Kindergartener was a new reader when we first discovered The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.  He was still transitioning into reading alone and had really done well on his comprehension.  He was ready for something a bit longer, stories with more depth.  That’s when I discovered the first Magic Tree House books.  I read a couple to him and he enjoyed them.  Soon he was actually waking up early and laying in his bed reading them by himself.  To be more accurate, he was devouring them.  He couldn’t get enough of these stories.  When I pulled out the next boxed set of four books you would have sworn it was Christmas morning.  Within days he was begging for the next one, and believe me, it didn’t take much begging for me to pull out the next set.

He just turned six and reads two or more of the books per day, we’re on #36 and he’s the one worrying about how many are left in the series and whether she’ll write more in time for him to continue.  My new reader has the reading bug and I know I owe a great deal of thanks to Ms Osborne for creating a series with that impact.  I think it wasn’t until I was a pre teen reading The Chronicles of Narnia that I felt what he’s feeling now.  That urgency for the next adventure, the need to know the next part of the story, the longing to spend time with those friends between the pages.  The love of books that never lets you go.

I’m a writer myself, so you can imagine the thrill in seeing his love of books take off so early.  There is nowhere you can’t go with a great story, nothing you can’t conquer.  What better way to help our children’s imaginations and potentials soar than helping them discover the possibilities a good book can offer. 

I applaud Ms Osborne for the wonderful potential she has tapped by discovering these adventures for our children.  A writer that can make history as exciting as fantasy is a treasure to us all.  I’ve put my money where my mouth is and continue to invest in this series.  I hope as an author she is reaping the rewards of a craft well honed, but what she has done is more than monetary rewards can sum up.  She’s tapped into the earliest of reading potentials and struck a chord there which will change how children think and feel and view their very own potential.  She has brought to them a love that will see them through every phase of their lives, the love of reading.

Her stories are crafted intelligently, with words to grow on.  They are exciting, but not frightening.  They teach without telling, but by showing and feeling.  If you have kids who are beginning to take off in their reading skills and it’s time for chapter books I cannot recommend this series enough.  The Magic Tree House is where my son goes to grow and learn, explore and have many adventures.

Thank you, Mary Pope Osborne, for your dedication to this series and to the children who wait anxiously for each new adventure in it.  We’re catching up with you, maybe it’s time to invest in some of those Research Guides and Fact Trackers now, so we can hang in there while we wait for the next installments in your amazing series.

Go buy these books!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Yankee Doodle Dandy

My grandmother was born on the 5th of July. She's had to compete with parades and fireworks and BBQ's her whole life. She also grew up in Seattle, WA. Throughout her childhood she remembers big 4th celebrations planned, traveling to the islands, family galore, and her birthday somewhere in the afterthoughts. Since it was Seattle, she also remembers rain. Lots of rain. Rain, rain, rain right up to the 6th of July, when summer would start.
All her anticipation would mount, then fizzle out along with the sparklers in the rain. Then there was her birthday, otherwise known as the day traveling back home with everyone soggy and tired.
As you can probably tell she's handled 92 years of this in classic Grandma fashion, drilling her sad story into our heads year after year.
I finally realized why she's always had such an issue with red white and blue things, like banners and tshirts and fluttering flags. She's jealous of the USA. I guess it's hard to share your birthday with an entire country.

Happy 92, Grandma... At least it's sunny!

She's a Yankee Doodle Dandy, well, almost.