Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Starting with Chapter Books: Junonia

Recently my oldest daughter turned 5. We'd been talking for a while about starting a chapter book. Then we found the newly released Junonia (HarperCollins Publishers, 2011) by Kevin Henkes. Henkes is a favourite author around here so we went for it.

My daughter isn't reading independently yet (and this isn't a beginning reader chapter book, either) so I read aloud one or two chapters to her each night before bed. I was amazed that 1. she could sit still long enough to listen without accompanying pictures and 2. that she could answer comprehension questions and discuss the chapters with me after we'd finished each one. A common characteristic of Henkes' writing is his strong development of his characters and settings. I think this was quite helpful to my daughter. While there were very few pictures in the book she could easily use the colourfully written descriptions to visualise the story in her head.

Junonia is a story about family, friendship and discovering oneself. On a yearly trip to Florida with her family, Alice is about to turn 10. She has one goal on this trip: to find herself a rare junonia shell. Amidst her desire to fulfill her quest Alice discovers important things about herself and how she has grown, as an individual, a daughter and a friend.

We both enjoyed reading our first chapter book together so much that we've started a new bedtime ritual and we've started our second novel together. What are your favourite childhood chapter books?

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