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4th Grade Literature

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We've been homeschooling almost two months. I've assigned reading from modern children's books. My intent was to get my daughter used to reading longer books. She never read enough in school because she wasn't allowed to read what she wanted and she didn't have much appetite to do free reading in the evenings because of homework. Even though I've assigned the reading, I've allowed DD to choose the books so she now gets to read what she wants. I also assign books for history. We're studying the Civil War and I've assigned the Addy, Marie-Grace, and Cecile American Girl books as well as Behind Rebel Lines, which is a book about a girl who joins the Union Army and becomes a spy. I know the American Girl books aren't great but she's enjoying them. She really enjoys history. 

She seems to have gotten over the hump in reading and is now reading books for fun. She's currently reading the first Lemony Snicket book which appears to be about 5th grade level based on the Lexile score. I've been reading Mrs. Frisby as our read aloud and she took it bed last night after I stopped reading. I think Mrs. Frisby is about 5th grade level too. 

I think that I should stop assigning children's books and let her read those for fun. Instead, I should assign books that she would not choose to read on her own. 

What do you think? I've reviewed the AO list for year 4 and I don't see her reading Kidnapped or Robinson Crusoe. MP uses Homer Price, The Cricket in Times Square, Dangerous Journey, and selections from the Blue Fairy Tale Book in 4th grade. 

What should literature look like in the 4th grade? I saw some program (can't remember what) that assigned Little Women in 4th. Little Women seems more appropriate for older children to me. I know I was older when I read it. I think my daughter would be devastated by Beth's death right now. I know some programs do Alcott's Eight Cousins before Little Women. I've never read Eight Cousins. Is it less adult than Little Women? Anne of Green Gables also seems like an older book to me because the series extends to Anne's adulthood. 

I've considered the Narnia books and perhaps dipping our toes in the fairy tale references. I've seen some unit studies for Narnia online but they are for older children. 

 

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18 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

We've been homeschooling almost two months. I've assigned reading from modern children's books. My intent was to get my daughter used to reading longer books. She never read enough in school because she wasn't allowed to read what she wanted and she didn't have much appetite to do free reading in the evenings because of homework. Even though I've assigned the reading, I've allowed DD to choose the books so she now gets to read what she wants. I also assign books for history. We're studying the Civil War and I've assigned the Addy, Marie-Grace, and Cecile American Girl books as well as Behind Rebel Lines, which is a book about a girl who joins the Union Army and becomes a spy. I know the American Girl books aren't great but she's enjoying them. She really enjoys history. 

She seems to have gotten over the hump in reading and is now reading books for fun. She's currently reading the first Lemony Snicket book which appears to be about 5th grade level based on the Lexile score. I've been reading Mrs. Frisby as our read aloud and she took it bed last night after I stopped reading. I think Mrs. Frisby is about 5th grade level too. 

I think that I should stop assigning children's books and let her read those for fun. Instead, I should assign books that she would not choose to read on her own. 

What do you think? I've reviewed the AO list for year 4 and I don't see her reading Kidnapped or Robinson Crusoe. MP uses Homer Price, The Cricket in Times Square, Dangerous Journey, and selections from the Blue Fairy Tale Book in 4th grade. 

What should literature look like in the 4th grade? I saw some program (can't remember what) that assigned Little Women in 4th. Little Women seems more appropriate for older children to me. I know I was older when I read it. I think my daughter would be devastated by Beth's death right now. I know some programs do Alcott's Eight Cousins before Little Women. I've never read Eight Cousins. Is it less adult than Little Women? Anne of Green Gables also seems like an older book to me because the series extends to Anne's adulthood. 

I've considered the Narnia books and perhaps dipping our toes in the fairy tale references. I've seen some unit studies for Narnia online but they are for older children. 

 

 

We listened to tha audiobook version of both Little Women and several Anne of Green Gables series the last couple of years (DD was 2nd grade).  She LOVED the Anne of Green Gables first couple of books. And the first book of Little Women. But yes, we had to stop listening when she realized Beth was going to die.

 

However, you can read Anne of Green Gables without reading the whole series. And even the first book of Little Women without moving on.

 

I remember, in 7th grade, in English we read the first book of T.H. White's Once and Future King but did not read the entire book.

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Hello, Ordinary Shoes. Fourth grade is a wonderful year for introducing girls to the rich selection of quality literature available to them!

May I gently encourage you not to worry too much about the grade level? My own kids (10 and 8) read far above their grade level and they read far below their grade level. They are falling in love with classic children’s literature, and that’s more important than following a grade-leveled list.

What you may want to do over the course of the next few years is to think about what books are important to you to have your daughter read. This will probably be classics and the books that delighted you when you were a child, the ones that you can’t wait to share with your daughter. If you at all have room, then make sure that those books are in your home library. You never know when your daughter will be looking for something to read and will just go and pick out a book for herself.

I am a life-long Louisa May Alcott fan.  Little Women breaks naturally in the middle, if you would like to do just the first half and avoid Beth’s death. You may also want to start with Little Men, which is a lot more about kids and the fun and adventures they get into. I started with Little Men myself as a kid, and it opened up all the LMA books for me. Eight Cousins is also a nice choice.  It's not "older", though it does have a sequel for older girls. You may also want to look into her lesser-known books. We just did Under the Lilacs as a family read aloud to introduce my kids to the LMA children’s canon for the first time.

Other books and authors that my now fifth-grade daughter recommends are:

Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink

Anything by E. Nesbit

All of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum

The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong

A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Wind in the Willows,by Kenneth Grahame (an annual favorite in our house!)

And yes, when the time is right, all of the L. M. Montgomery books are wonderful.

Also, don’t discount the value of the read alouds that you do with your daughter. Sometimes the older language is much easier to grasp when it is heard, rather than read. It’s also fun to add your own expression. We are reading Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood right now, and the archaic language, rather than being a hindrance, becomes a source of fun when Mom or Dad has fun pretending to be “jolly Robin”. 

It takes a couple of years of to get your homeschooling “sea legs”, so don’t get discouraged, and give yourself time to figure out what school looks like for you and your daughter. Have fun! You may discover children's books that become your new favorites!

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I forgot to mention that we listen to many audiobooks. I try to select audiobooks that are long (I want my money's worth) and above my daughter's reading level. We're currently listening to Peter Nimble. It's by the same author who wrote Sweep, which we loved on audiobook. My daughter has also loved the Mysterious Benedict Society audiobooks and we are anxiously waiting for the new book, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of the Ages which should be released in a few weeks. 

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5 minutes ago, Quarter Note said:

Hello, Ordinary Shoes. Fourth grade is a wonderful year for introducing girls to the rich selection of quality literature available to them!

May I gently encourage you not to worry too much about the grade level? My own kids (10 and 😎 read far above their grade level and they read far below their grade level. They are falling in love with classic children’s literature, and that’s more important than following a grade-leveled list.

What you may want to do over the course of the next few years is to think about what books are important to you to have your daughter read. This will probably be classics and the books that delighted you when you were a child, the ones that you can’t wait to share with your daughter. If you at all have room, then make sure that those books are in your home library. You never know when your daughter will be looking for something to read and will just go and pick out a book for herself.

I am a life-long Louisa May Alcott fan.  Little Women breaks naturally in the middle, if you would like to do just the first half and avoid Beth’s death. You may also want to start with Little Men, which is a lot more about kids and the fun and adventures they get into. I started with Little Men myself as a kid, and it opened up all the LMA books for me. Eight Cousins is also a nice choice.  It's not "older", though it does have a sequel for older girls. You may also want to look into her lesser-known books. We just did Under the Lilacs as a family read aloud to introduce my kids to the LMA children’s canon for the first time.

Other books and authors that my now fifth-grade daughter recommends are:

Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink

Anything by E. Nesbit

All of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum

The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong

A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Wind in the Willows,by Kenneth Grahame (an annual favorite in our house!)

And yes, when the time is right, all of the L. M. Montgomery books are wonderful.

Also, don’t discount the value of the read alouds that you do with your daughter. Sometimes the older language is much easier to grasp when it is heard, rather than read. It’s also fun to add your own expression. We are reading Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood right now, and the archaic language, rather than being a hindrance, becomes a source of fun when Mom or Dad has fun pretending to be “jolly Robin”. 

It takes a couple of years of to get your homeschooling “sea legs”, so don’t get discouraged, and give yourself time to figure out what school looks like for you and your daughter. Have fun! You may discover children's books that become your new favorites!

Thanks. The reason I mentioned grade level is that because she's finally choosing to read books at her grade level, I feel like I can somewhat relax about reading. She also chooses books below her reading level. She still likes to read the Judy B. Jones books, for example. 

 

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Literature for us is broken down into specific goals.
Our main program, English Lessons Through Literature, schedules books and work that go together.  It's older titles.  This year, 4th, he's reading Heidi, Ozma Of Oz, Black Beauty, The Reluctant Dragon, Tanglewood Tales, and The Book Of Dragons.  Things he may not pick up on his own, but are definitely age appropriate and good exposure.
Our side program is a book from the Elson Reader set for half of each year.  I like these for two reasons: the literature or authors included in the texts are often ones he is familiar with, and it's nice to revisit.  The other reason is the connected themes.  Each section of the book has a connection between the stories and poems in that part.  The actual stories are so short that they allow for rabbit trails.  Last week the connections centered around perseverance, dedication, and hard work.  My 9yo picked up a biography of Terry Fox and instantly made the connection between that and the stories in his reader.

I don't micromanage what my kid reads on his own time, but I may suggest books for bedtime reading if he looks like he has "run out" of what he calls good books.  He likes Roald Dahl and funny books?  I gave him Richard Peck's The Teacher's Funeral.  Eventually I'll hand him The Great Brain.  He liked Oz so I gave him The Phantom Tollbooth.
It's a tricky age, I think, because I want him to enjoy more, but he still prefers books with pictures and drawings.  It's a good balance, finding some of the older books with beautiful illustrations and nice, large type that isn't discouraging.

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Yes, it is a hard age if you are looking for older books. First, so many of the "classic" books recommended for this age are about boys, with the exception of the Secret Garden, The Little Princess, and Little Women. My daughter prefers reading about girls. Second, many of the "classic" books are intimidating for my daughter with lots of text and very few pictures. Third, my daughter is still very sensitive to death and so many of the "classic" books have important characters who die. She's especially sensitive to the deaths of animals. 

I'm sensitive to sexism and racism that is sometimes found in these older books. Basically I don't want older, "classic" books just because they're old and "classic." But I do want her to read books that require more from the reader than many children's books, KWIM? Harder vocabulary. Different styles. More complex sentences and grammar, etc. But without adult themes. 

We listened to the Secret Garden and the Little Princess audiobooks. I read the Wind in the Willows to her a few years ago. 

Maybe the Narnia books are a good option? 

 

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I've done fourth grade differently with each of my four.  There is no right way to do it at this level and, yes, enjoyment is key.  With my last one, she was not a read for pleasure girl at the beginning of the year.  In fact, although we are big, big readers, she claimed not to like to read.  So, I had her read relatively easy books and then, when she caught the Harry Potter bug, I let her fly with just reading those (nothing assigned.)  I read a loud to her daily and we gently discussed things from the books I read (and then when she would come to me so excited about HP.)  Before the HP books, I would have her do short narrations (retellings) of what she'd read the day before so I was sure that she was understanding the story.  My focus was building reading muscle and enjoyment.

So, at this level, as long as you are reading aloud "good literature," I think it's fine for her to read what she wants for her independent reading time.

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On 9/3/2019 at 10:37 AM, Ordinary Shoes said:

...Even though I've assigned the reading, I've allowed DD to choose the books so she now gets to read what she wants. I also assign books for history... She really enjoys history. 

...She seems to have gotten over the hump in reading and is now reading books for fun... I think that I should stop assigning children's books and let her read those for fun. Instead, I should assign books that she would not choose to read on her own... 

...What do you think? I've reviewed the AO list for year 4 and I don't see her reading Kidnapped or Robinson Crusoe. MP uses Homer Price, The Cricket in Times Square, Dangerous Journey, and selections from the Blue Fairy Tale Book in 4th grade...

...What should literature look like in the 4th grade? ...


JMO: I think many of the titles on AO's booklists are often 2-4 grades ahead of what are age-appropriate for the majority of children. I like AO's book lists -- but always go at least 2 grades down to get useful ideas of titles. Of those titles, Cricket in Times Square is at a 3rd/4th grade reading level, so it would fit her abilities. It just not fit her interests.

re: fairy tales
You might look at the Mary Pope Osborne fairy tale collection books, or this OOP Reader's Digest World's Best Fairy Tales anthology -- both are at a grade 3-5 reading level.

re: what should 4th grade literature look like
A lot of our read aloud were books that our average-reader DSs would be able to read on their own along about 6th/7th grade. Or even some 4th/5th grade classic children's books that we just were not going to get to through assigned school reading or solo reading. We also did some higher level read-alouds at that age like The Princess and the Goblin; The Twenty-One Balloons; horse books by Marguerite Henry; Anne of Green Gables; historical fiction ideas from the Sonlight booklists.

For readers, it is also perfectly okay for some of the books to be a bit below her comfortable reading level, esp. if it's well-written and would be a book she would enjoy. For ideas of readers, check out the booklists linked below. Some children really enjoy doing lit. units like LitWits kits to expand a book -- or possibly get together with a few other 4th grade homeschoolers once a month for a book club.

re: assigning/not assigning books
I never assigned books for "free reading" or "fun reading" (which was DSs' choice to read/not read in the afternoons/evenings/at bedtime). I did always have an assigned book for literature throughout grades 1-8 (and high school) that we read-aloud together "popcorn" style ("you read a page, I read a page"). Plus a separate read-aloud that I knew would be of high interest. Plus good books that were at and a little below comfortable reading level, in a basket for independent reading -- at 4th grade, I required about 20 minutes a day as part of scheduled school.

Curriculum Vendor Booklists (by grade or age range)
Sonlight/Bookshark
Build Your Library -- family reading crates; booklists per grade
Moving Beyond the Page
Heart of Dakota
Winter Promise
Tapestry of Grace
Veritas Press
Biblioplan
Exodus Books: Reading Roadmaps book packages

And also "living book"-based homeschooling websites:
Charlotte Mason Home Education: Twaddle Free Literature - good books, by grade level
Charlotte Mason Help: Books and Schedules - good books, by grade level
An Old Fashioned Education: Classic Literature - classics, by grade level

"Good Books" / Old Fashioned Book Lists
1000 Good Books -- by grade range; note: some of the gr. 4-6 books are advanced; also check out some of the advanced gr. 3 books
Teacher's First Recommended Reading Lists

Charlotte Mason Home Education: Twaddle Free Literature
Charlotte Mason Help: Books and Schedules
An Old Fashioned Education: Classic Literature

Historical Fiction/Non Fiction Book Lists
A Book in Time (K-12) - historical fiction / non-fiction
Home's Cool - SL books in WTM 4-year cycle, by grammar/logic/rhetoric stage

National Book Lists
Read Aloud America - annual best read aloud lists; by age/grade range
Listopia: Good Books: Children's Book Lists - good books by category; voted by web visitors
Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading 
Teacher's First Recommended Reading Lists
The Art of Simple: Summer Reading List for Tweens
NPR Backseat Book Club: 100 Must Reads for Kids Ages 10-14
Association for Library Services to Children: Tween Recommended Reads

Edited by Lori D.
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