Good website to find age-appropriate content at a advanced reading level?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Good website to find age-appropriate content at a advanced reading level?
Fri, 10-26-2012 - 5:27pm

Do any of you use any website or other sources to identify reading material with age-appropriate content for younger kids who read as easily as they breathe?  Malachi keeps picking stuff out of the library that is designed for middle schoolers, and is really too fraught in some of its content for a child his age and emotional maturity level.  He just tried a Little House on the Prairie book, and even that had gory sections about butchering animals, chapters featuring children being whipped for miniscule infractions (like sledding on the Sabbath), and archaic songs with blatantly racist lyrics.  There's non-fiction, but any other ideas?

Gwen<A href="http://s218.photobucket

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004

I don't know if you are still looking for books. My sons really got into the Animorphs series. There is some good philisophical content in them, and they started reading them when they were 6 (very sensitive to gore, but liked excitement, imagination and adventure) and frequently pulled them out even at age 9 when they were also reading adult books.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002

I think Malachi's difficulty with the Little House books illustrates the difficulty in producing some sort of a guide for appropriate reading. None of the stuff that was problematic for him was problematic for my kids, even at considerably younger ages (I think eldest dd read those books at 4). We are primarily vegetarians. The only meat we ate for many years was the meat we killed ourselves (chickens) or hired someone to kill for us. My kids have all been intimately aware of where food comes from. We milked goats, collected chicken eggs, stroked the lovely face of the steer we eventually ate. I guess what I'm saying is that sensibilities are a product not only of age and personality, but also of one's culture and environment. It's hard to create recommendations or ratings that apply broadly.

So our most helpful strategy has been to use sites like Amazon that have the "people who liked this also liked this" feature. Things still need to be well-vetted by a parent if the child is particularly sensitive, but I find it to be a help in tailoring reading choices to your particular child's tastes and sensitivities. When my kids were younger I read a lot of reviews when trying to find books to recommend to them.

I would like to put in a pitch for opening a child's mind up to injustices, prejudices and narrow-mindedness of the past through literature. I think that by discussing books with your child you can make him aware of the values that underlie our current practices in a way that affirms them, while also helping him see that in the past, in other cultures, people have believed differently. "Yes, long ago a lot of people didn't think girls could grow up to do much other than be mothers and housewives. Weird, huh? I'm so glad girls today have so many other options available to them!" That sort of thing. I don't think 4 or 5 is too young to start having those kinds of conversations with a child.


in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998

Not a website but I highly recommend, "Some of my Best Friends are Books." It's a great resource.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Do you discuss the books with your child? My daughter read the little house books in 1st through 3rd grade. If we want to eat meat, we have to butcher animals. Yes, it is good to know what you are eating. Times were different - what was appropriate for a song then is not now. How kids and women were treated were different. In many ways, I think these differences help kids to see why life now is better than it was...why we needed people like Martin Luther King Jr, Helen Keller, Susan B. Anthony to stand up and help make the world a better place. Maybe those scenes didn't bother me because I grew up on a farm where we ate some of our animals. I was able as a kid to also tell the difference with historical stuff too, as was my daughter.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004

Not really.  I sometime use reading lists from classical literature. But I am always on the look out too.  We just finished "Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster.

It's a classic that's been around for over 50 years.  Although it has bad guys, there is nothing gory in it.  This one is designed for around 4th grade-ish.  It's one of those written like they used to - multi level so that the whole family can enjoy the read.  We'll read this one at least 3 times at different stages of his childhood.

I also enjoyed the Bopsy Twins when I was little.  We do a lot of biography (like the Who Was series).  The Who Was has 2 levels - one targeted for around 2nd grade-ish and one targeted for around 5th.

We also like Ronald Dahl's books.  Over the summer we read "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" which DS really enjoyed.

A friend recommended the A to Z Mysteries.  Her daughter is advanced 2nd grade.  She and DS seem to be on the same reading level.  I have not read any though.  DS like Jigsaw Jones.  He also likes Ralph S Mouse (3 books) by Beverly Cleary.

If there is nothing else, he can sit through Junie B Jones.  We tie projects to this one.  If Junie has to write a poem, he has to write a poem.  Same with photo-journal.  But I think that might be below the reading level you seek.

I am surprised at the behavior many of the characters in modern chapter books use.  Our neighbor likes Judy Moody.  But I don't really like her attitude sometimes.

Another great question.  I'll be interested to see what others have suggested.