Sure, we play outdoors. However, the public library is also an adventure for us and it saves us tons of money. My kids are book-a-day readers. The best early chapter books for boys and girls come in series or box sets that are really worth buying. Even if your Kindergarten to 2nd or 3rd grader isn’t quite ready to read these on their own, they are awesome for reading aloud.
I encourage you to support your local independent bookstore. In OC, that would be a place like Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe. Or buy from the Friends of the Library bookstores to support your local library. Or check the books out from the library for free. We own at least one book or, in some cases, all in these series because we love them so much and they stand the test of time.
It surprises me how many parents don’t know about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and her “cures.” They are so much fun when read aloud! We always have tons of giggles with her names — and I’m particularly entertained reading about this Beaver Cleaver world. Things were sure simple back then. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm isn’t included in the Treasury, so you’ll want to get that one separately.
The Boxcar Children
My sister, cousin and I used to play out this book in make-believe outdoors. We’d wrap up our cheese and bread in a bandana and tie it to a stick like hobo. Then we’d pretend we were taking shelter in an abandoned boxcar during a storm. Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote almost 20 stories about these brothers and sisters.
Magic Tree House
These books got my son hooked on reading. I handed him a highlighter and had him highlight any words he didn’t know. He could get the rest from context and didn’t really need my help! Pretty soon, the highlighter disappeared and he’s been such a big reader and researcher ever since. The references to history in these fictional books make them especially fun. HINT: You gotta print out the Magic Treehouse Passport to Adventure – it kept him motivated to read the next book and then next! Kids just answer 3 simple questions and they get a stamp for their passport. We printed ours out.
Oh, Geronimo! One of my very favorite newer book series! Get ready for lots of cheese puns and entertaining illustrations. Even the words are illustrated to represent their meanings – just flip through the pages next time you’re at a bookstore. They don’t need to be read in order.
Half Magic and Edward Eager’s Tales of Magic
This one is almost like Boxcar Children with magic. But it’s not “normal” magic – things always seem to be going wrong here. Parents will be guessing what’s going to happen next along with the kids!
E.D. Baker Books
Okay, this is the only series in my list that may fall more towards girls than boys. However, there are plenty of male characters in these books to make them fun for boys, too. She takes all sorts of twists on existing fairy tales. You never know who or what is going to pop up in these stories.
The series that starts out with The Wide Awake Princess — yes, Sleeping Beauty’s sister — is my favorite series of Ms. Baker’s books.