The summer is coming and school is almost out in our area. Thanks to this, I am looking ahead to items to read with NHL. Many of the local libraries are sponsoring fun summer reading programs. Two years ago, NHL was really into it. He loved trying to read as much as possible and getting prizes. Last year, we were not as motivated.
The reality is that NHL loves to read, BUT (and it is a big one) he is not a fan of trying chapter books on his own. I have tried numerous books that I have from my teaching days, we have bought countless others, and even tried audio with some. NHL was nervous about the number of pages, lack of pictures, and concept of chapters. As a certified reading teacher, I was more interested that NHL was reading and was not going to fight him. The reality is that many picture books have higher levels of vocabulary and concepts within them.
A while back, I had heard about the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy. The books have three main characters that solve mysteries and each of the 26 books starts with letter of the alphabet. I really wanted to find something that would increase NHL’s independent reading confidence and that we could talk about when we read on our own. So, I bought the entire set from Scholastic Books. I was going to save them, but was too excited to show them to NHL.
More about the A to Z Mysteries:
Here is a great video of Ron Roy talking about the series from Random House Children’s Books. As you will see, the A to Z Mysteries have expanded to a new series called Calendar Mysteries:
My son decided to start with The Absent Author
About The Absent Author from Amazon: A is for author…. Dink writes to his favorite author, mystery writer Wallis Wallace, and invites him to visit Green Lawn. To Dink’s amazement, Wallace says he’ll come! But when the big day arrives, Wallace is nowhere to be found. The police think he just missed his plane, but Dink suspects foul play. It’s up to Dink and his two best friends, Josh and Ruth Rose, to find the famous writer–before it’s too late!
The Absent Author (A to Z Mysteries) – Written by Ron Roy – Illustrated by John Steven Gurney - Random House 1997 – $3.99 (paperback) – Ages 9-12 – 96 pages
What we think so far:
I think we have a winner! Yes, my second grader is reading a chapter book on his own. For the past few days, he asks to take The Absent Author to the couch, or does it on his own. While there, he will read a chapter or two. NHL smiles and laughs as he talks about reading the adventure of Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose. While he was at school the other day, I pulled the book out to read the section that he was up to so NHL and I could chat about the books. The teacher in me drafted comprehension questions in my mind. I wanted to know about the characters, plot, and I also wanted to have him predict what would happen next.
After I picked NHL up from school, I told him I wanted to chat about The Absent Author. I think he was a bit surprised with my interest. He forgets from time to time that I am a teacher at heart. So we drove to our destination chatting about the book. I asked some pretty specific questions and he got them without flinching. Yes, my 7 year old son was really reading the books. I knew he was reading the books, but this involves more than just saying the words on the pages and flipping further along. NHL really got the point of the story. He recalled little items, figured out the game plan of the characters, and had his own theory on how the rest of the book would go. It was at this point that I told NHL I was so proud of him. He had overcome his fear of chapter books and was reading them!
Here is a look inside the book.
The use of note from Wallis Wallace takes away from the fact that the entire page is full of text. This is a subtle trick that kids never get, but works well. They love seeing an item that belongs to the characters and want to learn more. There are also illustrations from time to time that connect with the story. This is huge when you are trying to get a reluctant chapter book reader to become independent and try things on their own. While browsing Ron Roy’s website, I found his letter to parents. It really hit home with me. Roy not only wants to engage children in his books, but teach them to use their brains to solve problems with their friends. As a parent and teacher, I respect his philosophy and it makes me even more confident in my kids reading this series and others by Ron Roy.
Yes, I do believe that we have a reading project for the summer. NHL and I will be reading and doing projects as we move along with the A to Z Mysteries. I have a feeling we may also move onto the Capital Mysteries as well as the Calendar Mysteries.
Do you have something that you or your children plan to read this summer? I would love to know.
What have you read recently? Please be sure to link up to your Book Posts, and/or leave a comment below. Include something you read on your own, with a child or someone else. Tuesday Tales are all about spreading the love for books.
Disclosure: I purchased these books from a Scholastic Book order form that my son had sent home recently. One widget within the review is for my Amazon Affiliate where I will receive a percentage of money for the sale of the books should you opt to buy the book mentioned.