Thursday is National Read a Book Day and it got me thinking about how important books were to me when I was growing up. Way back in the 1900s when I was in elementary school a magical program called “Book It!” found a way to get millions of kids excited about reading – free pizza!
In exchange for reading a certain number of books every six months, you received a Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan acknowledged the effectiveness of the program in a letter to Book It! organizers. I was delighted to learn that the program still exists! Its website boasts that over 600,000 classrooms across the country participate. Homeschooling families can also participate.
As parents prepare for another busy school year there are many suggested reading lists available to help gets kids started on their reading journey whether it’s with a program like Book It! or other program. However, be aware that many reading lists (like everything else these days) may have a political bias. There are overtly political books like A Child’s First Book of Trump, Little Donny Trump Needs a Nap, and Don’t Be Like Trump. (There is only one pro-Trump children’s book, which is actually pretty adorable – Thump: The First Bundred Days.) There are also books that purport to emphasize strong female leaders, but focus more on telling little girls that no one believes in them. That’s not empowering. Strong Is the New Pretty lectures girls about the so-called wage gap. Grace for President“ pits a well-qualified girl against a boy who barely tries.” Subtle!
Here’s an example from the very popular She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton: “Sometimes being a girl isn’t easy. At some point, someone will probably tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible.”
That’s not the female experience. That’s the human experience.
One syndicated reading list includes books focused on “resistance, resilience, and activism.” While some of the stories are important to history and children’s education, the emphasis on adults’ political agenda shouldn’t be the basis of children’s reading. Below are some books that educate, as well as entertain without pushing a political agenda. So, forget the trendy children’s books written for liberal book editors and check out these book series instead because bedtime is a terrible time to get children “woke.”
Ellis the Elephant series (ages 4-8)
Everyone knows the idiom that “an elephant never forgets.” Ellis the Elephant is the perfect guide through America’s historical and pivotal moments, like the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, the Boston Tea Party, the expedition of Lewis and Clark, the landing on the Moon (including the planting of the American flag!), American Christmas traditions, as well as books that focus on U.S. Presidents and First Ladies. Ellis the Elephant will help ensure little ones never forget that America is an exceptional nation.
Freddy the Frogcaster series (ages 4-8)
This series is written by Janice Dean, Fox News senior meteorologist, and teaches science and weather. This series is great to help explain weather phenomenon like tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards. The books also include learning activities and tips on being prepared for storms.
Magic Tree House series (ages 6-9)
This series follows a brother and sister who are able to travel through history from the time of dinosaurs to imperial China to the Titanic thanks to a magic tree house.
The Spy School Collection (ages 8-12)
I love the premise of these books – “Can an undercover nerd become a superstar agent?” Kids will relate to the fish out of water experiences of Ben Ripley, the book’s hero. There are a few reviews that mention curse words in some of the books, but don’t indicate which ones. You may want to read it first if this is important to you.
Emily Windsnap series (ages 8-12)
For girls who love mermaids and fantasy, this series is will be a well-worn favorite. It is about a 12-year-old girl who lives on a boat, yet her mom won’t let her near the water. She soon finds out it’s because she’s half-mermaid. What struck me is that many of the reviews are written by the actual young readers – “I wish I could go back in time and read them for the first time again and experience the magic for the first time over and over again.”
The Incredible Adventures of Rush Revere series (ages 9-12)
Rush Limbaugh listeners are probably familiar with this series. Much like Ellis the Elephant, the book’s main character travels through time to learn more about important battles and historical figures, but there is no political agenda. Books are also available as Audible audiobooks for kids who learn better by listening rather than reading.