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February 21, 2012

Comments

Annie

I think the problem isn't just with the writers--it's with the movie studios and publishing houses that are selecting these stories to be told. I'm sure there are a lot of writers out there who create engaging and complex female characters, but if producers aren't willing to take the chance that maybe there's an audience for these characters (we're RIGHT HERE!), those stories won't get heard.

That said, I don't think it's as easy to simply "make" a character male or female. When I write, a character tends to come to me one way. Changing aspects like gender or racial background or religion does change that character, and maybe that's not the story I'm trying to write.

Amanda Brown

I still think that Bronies are an interesting addition to this discussion. College student boys, raised in the female character poor environment, are now embracing it. They can see past it.

I am in college. My roommates, friends, and I have had many discussions about how the movies we watch impact the way we perceive our ideal "significant other". For example, our friend Kelvin wants a girl who is sweet, innocent, friendly, and loves everybody. She shouldn't be independent, she should depend on him.
On the other hand, we have found many of the girls we know are attracted to jerks--men with strong personalities who tend to leave them in the dust.
At first, we didn't think anything of it. Then we realized, most of the Disney princesses are sweet and innocent. On the other hand, most of the superheroes are jerks-they ignore the women in their life to save the world.

While this is all very generalized and I sincerely doubt it plays a huge role in how we live our lives and who we are attracted to, I think it is an interesting observation.

QueenEnna

Girls in Enna Burning: Enna, Isi, Doda, Sidi, Hesel, the blue-eyed woman, plus the woman in the prologue and mentions of Bettin and Gilsa and Enna's mother.
Boys in Enna Burning: Leifer, Finn, Geric, Razo, Talone, Sileph, Tiedan, Thiaddag, Monulf, Pol, Fahil, Tusken (sort of), and other various nameless characters.
I get that it's a war setting, and soldiers are usually males, but I'm just saying.

Margie Allred

Don't forget the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flannagan. He originally wrote them to get his son interested in reading.

Bridget

Something that did turn me off about Enna Burning was how the soldiers were all male. I suppose it is a society that still has a very clear gender divide. I haven't finished EB yet, but I will eventually, and we'll see what happens, if that gender divide gets crossed somehow :)

Maybe you missed my comment to Susan; I told her the same thing, that Disney had retitled "Rapunzel" to "Tangled" based on what happened with "Princess and the Frog," etc. I blogged about this if anyone's interested, but it'll be a few entries back since this is old news. But I tend to blog about girl culture in general, if you're interested.

Yes, Sherman Alexie's novel is an awesome example of a YA book starring a boy. I can think of other titles, but since I don't particularly like them, I'm not gonna list them lol

FYI I just saw Miyazaki's "Arrietty" in theatres yesterday. Sadly, I was forced to watch the English dub, which is awful and makes several subtle changes to the original Japanese script. But I also managed to find the Japanese version, so yay. (Blogged about the differences recently if anyone's curious.) But anyway, my point with mentioning that is that Miyazaki has always been great about having great female characters as well as an even match of boys and girls.

Kristie P.

1. Hi, Dennis!
2. For Emily: 100 Cupboards, Pendragon, The Lost Gate, Pathfinder.
3. I would like to add another theme that is in most animated film. That of the child without 2 parents. (And it is usually the mother that is not present. Or the mother that is evil). This is another topic that I believe is worthy of discussion someday.

KaylaJewel

River Secrets :) and sea of trolls, that was then this is now, treasure island (sort of a kids book though)

Uly

Emily: "To counter this, I have a hard time finding YA boy-centered books for my son. So...there you go."

On the contrary, I find that most of the interesting YA and middle grade literature has male protagonists, or a trio with two males and one female.

Most of the girl-protagonist YA seems to be of the same mold: Middle School/High School Realistic.

And there's nothing WRONG with Middle School/High School Realistic (with or without a side of romance), but proportionately there's a lot of that for girls and very little in the way of fantasy, sci-fi, or historical fic... and half of what there IS involves the main character dressing up like a boy. *headdesk*

The attitude is that girls will read anything, but those poor boys won't read books where boys aren't the center of the action. Bless their little hearts.

Heidi Noel

Being the mom of an advanced boy reader I can feel your pain Emily. He isn't a young adult but on that reading level. I have struggled to find books for him. A lot of the books mentioned are still inappropriate for his young mind, but he is beyond The Magic Tree House and like. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, The Janitors and The Warriors series (I forget the author) have worked well for us plus a few others that were mentioned.

Miranda

Emily- please, please introduce your son to Orson Scott Card's novels. Ender's Game and Pathfinder, of course, but also Seventh Son. Absolutely brilliant writing!
A word of caution:OSC is Mormon and so has values in his books, but also writes semi-real world books. That means there is some vulgarity... so, maybe not early teens, but mid-to late teens for sure.

Uly

When Miranda says "OSC is Mormon and so has values in his books", what she means is that his views on homosexuality and the respective roles of men and women sometimes come through in his books. In Ender's Game we're explicitly told that due to "evolution" very few girls make it into the army training for super-smart kids... women are just too kind and loving for that. In his sci-fi rewrite of the Book of Mormon we're told that even millions of years from now, gays will still be totally ostracized, but that's just normal.

Emily's Reading Room

This post and its predecessor, which I didn't read until after this one, blew my mind. I honestly never knew. But, the older I get, the more feminist I get. At least in the respect that woman can and do just as much as men. As I've grown in my professional career, I've been astounded by the stereotypes and barriers that I am constantly faced with. When I bring it up to my male coworkers, they either say that they didn't think of it that way, or that I'm "reading too much into it." Even my mother feels that way.

What do we do about it? I'm not sure. But, this is my opinion. We need to not add more girls just for the sake of having more girls. We need women of value. And now you've got my wheels turning. Because you're right, something must be done.

Bonnie

Women just get ugly?! So rude. I appreciate hearing someone talk about equality of the genders instead of going to the other extreme that someone women are so much better than men and who needs men anyway. To me it is just so obvious that both are great, and we need each other.

MKHutchins

Here's some recs:

There are a ton of Redwall books (by Brian Jacques) that are great for kids who want a higher reading level, but not the adult content. Big, epic, adventure fantasy without the kissing scenes. I have 15 of these on my shelves, and I know I'm missing some.

I also really loved Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles (starts with The Book of Three), though this is more towards the MG-side. The Amulet of Samarkand, by Stroud, is also good MG.

Variant, by Robison Wells, great YA read.

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is MG, but hilarious -- I enjoy these as an adult. Actually fell off the bed while I was pregnant because I was laughing so hard...we were both fine.

And there's Wolf Mark, by Bruchac, a great YA as well.

That was off the top of my head...I have heard that "Boys go straight from MG to adult," but this is conventional "wisdom" that people are still publishing against, anyway.

Amanda

My son read the Twillight series when he was 11, I learned that what he doesn't understand or isn't ready to understand just goes over their head when reading. So although we should monitor what they read you can be more lenient with books than movies. He is 14 now, and reads all sorts of things and still loves 39 clues, Janitors, and such. He loved and so did I the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. About a 14 year old spy. I like them, because I like those kind of stories minus the foul language.

Uly

"I appreciate hearing someone talk about equality of the genders instead of going to the other extreme that someone women are so much better than men and who needs men anyway."

LOL, Bonnie, who says that?

"This post and its predecessor, which I didn't read until after this one, blew my mind. I honestly never knew."

Oh, yes. It's the infamous Bechdel Test that so few pass:

http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-film-schools-teach-screenwriters-not-to-pass-the-bechdel-test/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLF6sAAMb4s

Rosalyn

I absolutely agree with this post! To give a slightly different perspective: my background is in rhetoric, and I'm currently teaching a university-level rhetoric course. It's eye-opening for my students when we talk about the expectations for "good" public speaking--even now, the "default" speaking style is "masculine" (linear, argumentative, objective)--which is not, of course, to say that women can't be good speakers, but women have to make more of an effort than men do to conform to social expectations. When they don't (as is the case with, say, Hilary Clinton), they get lambasted for all sorts of reasons that have little to do with politics. I'm glad to see people talking (and thinking) about this kind of issue.

Betsy

Emily - Check out Diana Wynne Jones' books. Many (though not all) of her books have boys as the protagonists. And they're fabulous stories that are as great for pre-teens and young readers as they are for older readers. And her writing and use of language are wonderful as well.

Hillary

I always find this discussion fascinating, because, while I agree that boys are overrepresented in the media, and that girls often only seem to be respected when they start acting like boys, my experiences in real life have been very different. I think this is largely because I'm a dancer, and that's still viewed as a "girl" thing (incidentally, this has only been the view for less than a century. Before that, dance was also a male thing). I feel like I meet very few strong, dynamic, active men - far fewer than the amazing women I meet. I also find this true in my job teaching in schools, even with the students, and at church. I can never understand why men still seem to be dominating so many fields when I never see this in my life. But sometimes I think the real problem is that boys need to be liberated so that they can value "girl" things like the arts and feelings and relationships. Girls can now do whatever we want, but boys are still very limited by gender roles. Girls definitely need to be better represented and not always expected to act like boys to get it, but boys should be allowed to be whoever they want too. Girls get to play soccer and be good at science all they want now (at lest where I'm from), but boys still get made fun of for dancing or for wanting to dress nicely. Liberate the boys. Then maybe we'll see more female protagonists in fiction, and more dynamic, capable men in the real world.

Linda W

That's why I wrote my master's thesis on the heroine's journey. I wanted to explore strong female characters in books. So this post and the one from the before have really interested me. While I'm still looking forward to seeing Brave, I see what you mean about the bored princess trope.

Chelsea

I didn't comment last post but I'm enjoying the conversation!
I do feel like in the next few generations we'll be seeing change in the movie industry, simply because there are more girls going into jobs in the film world. I've always found it sad and beyondo frustrating that film is still so male-heavy. I can only think of three female directors off the top of my head, and even then I don't like one's movies and the other two do mostly chick-flicks. There are a lot of female editors, but it's a virtually invisible job. Kudos to all of the girls going into the film world and I hope you make big differences!!!
I'm sick of living in a world where this is even an issue anymore. It seems like such a simple thing that people should be viewed on an individual level and not in terms of race, gender, color, etc. Maybe someday we'll get there.

Jessica

So can we maybe talk about how the low ratio of female to male characters is probably more a symptom of the types of people making the films than anything else? Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that this is an issue and one that can be problematic, but what more can we expect from an industry that is still dominated in large part by men? Until both genders are equally represented, it will be hard to convince large companies to make realistic films about female characters (and also to convince them that all women are not dichotomized as either naive princesses or evil queens).


(Though I do love a good evil queen character.)

(And this is a great discussion- I'm loving it.)

Robin_Weeks

Hillary: "Girls can now do whatever we want, but boys are still very limited by gender roles."

So true! As the mother of three boys, I've been fighting a constant battle on this front. So much of what boys are told ("stop whining like a little girl" for one) teaches them from an early age that they shouldn't value "feminine" traits in themselves... and that most negative traits are feminine (I keep wondering what my hubby would say if we had a daughter who was whining--and he honestly tries hard to be gender neutral). I think it's so interesting that, once a traditionally "male" trait/profession/interest (like dancing, knitting, or wearing high heeled shoes, makeup, and the color pink) is inundated by women, the men will abandon ship and leave us to it. If they keep it up, soon there will be no "male" professions left (which wouldn't be bad philosophically, but if men refuse to do "female" jobs that could get old really fast).

I'm also embarrassed that I was hesitant to have my boys watch Tangled before my s-i-l assured me it was more of a boy-movie. And that the only princess movie we own is Beauty and the Beast. And that all the villains in my own book are male. *hangs head in shame*

Amelia Loken

I had a whole list of books for Emily and almost all were shared already. But to emphasized my favorites: John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, Brandon Mull's Fablehaven (MG) and Beyonders (YA) series, All of Rick Riordan's books, Eragon series, 39 Clues series (MG), most stuff by Robert Louis Stevenson (old school, but good; Treasure Island and Kidnapped are favorites in our house), Margaret Haddix "Among the Hidden" and "Missing" series, and Redwall books.

Though its not YA, I LOVED James Herriot's books when I was a teen in the 80s-90s. My mother had several on audio tape. There is swearing in some stories (He**, Da**, Bl**dy, and A**) but somehow, it made no real impression on me. It was real life; animal and human nature painted warts and all. Some of it was laugh out loud funny. Some stories made you cry or shake your head. I learned quite a few life lessons in the Dales of England travelling around with the veterinarian James Herriot on his visits to care for farm animals and pets.

Myrna Foster

John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series would be great for boys, and it has some great female characters in there as well. :o)

The princess element was not the only reason The Princess and The Frog did poorly. It's sad that they assume it had something to do with that when it could have been any number of things. I didn't see it because I heard it had voodoo in it, and I thought that would be too scary for my kids (the boy included). I took the boy to see Tangled, even though it was very pink and purple, and he loved it. We all loved it. I will also take him to see The Secret of Arrietty and Brave.

He also loves Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack. :o)

Rebecca F.

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.... actually most of his books would be good for YA boys.

Jeanna

Another book recommendation: The Cardturner by Louis Sachar.

Julia

Sometimes, I don't think we realize how many guy roles are put into our books and movies when we are writing them. After all, it was like this with Pixar, wasn't it? They realized that they had never had a female leading role. They didn't mean to do this, it just never crossed their minds.

Somehow, I just think we need to find a good balance between female and male roles. I think The Hunger Games is and will be a great example of this. Though Katniss is the main character, Peeta is mostly with her every step of the way. This is probably why both genders love the books and are completely ready for the movie. (Including me!) Sadly, the movie is not animated, so we can't add it to our list.

Book recommendation: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay; all by Suzanne Collins.

Abby

This is super interesting because I haven't even thought about it before and it hasn't bothered me. I think I always kind of accepted it because that's just the way things are.

I'd also like to point out that the Harry Potter series does a pretty good job with male/female, in my opinion. I don't know the exact ratio and if I figured it out I'm sure there would be many more males (the main character, of course, is male) than females. But my point is that the females in Harry Potter aren't just silly girls hanging off to the side who are just there for the sake of being there, which is what happens in some books/movies. They're just as crucial to the story as the male characters, which kind of makes up for there not being as many females.

I also think, in the sense of animated movies, that there are more males than females because often "bad-guy" roles are filled with males. Like I said I haven't thought about this until reading these posts and I'm still trying to organize my thoughts. :)

Kiers

Queen Mary! Queen Elizabeth! Pocahontas! Sacajawea! Joan of Ark! Eleanor Roosevelt! Lucille Ball! Doris Day! The Amazons and their Warrior Princesses! The Celtic deities (mostly girls, barely any guys [and those are even Greek gods reincarnated!)! Titania!
....
Just to name a few gals in history that didn't need a man by their side. (didn't Queen Mary kill a few guys...? :/ )

Anna

Growing up my brother and I would try to come up with super humans, like Wolverine+Batman+GeorgeWashington+CaptainKirk= awesomeness; but trying to that with females was so hard.....LittleOrphanAnnie+Storm+EleanorRoosevelt=mediocre. Perhaps we need to start throwing strong female characters out into the world. Men have dominated for so long, and it has trickled down into our culture now. it'll take time, but I'm confident that with authors like Shannon Hale, writing about strong females, our kids and grandkids will have strong women movie characters...eventually.

Ashley R.

All of my book ideas were already posted. But my favorites are all of Rick Riordan's books (The Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and The Heroes of Olympus),Artemis Fowl, The Maze Runner Trilogy, and Fablehaven. Plus Rapunzels Revenge and Calamity Jack. Great conversation. :)

Amy Wilson Marshall

I already commented on this on facebook but I wanted to read the comments here. I just want to add one more thought. What message do we want to send to young girls? Do we want them to think they are only strong if they are like men? Do we want them to think "women's roles" such as being a loving wife and mother are weak or beneath them? Do we want them to believe they have to achieve something noticable in the world to be valuable?
I know this is specifically about animated movies and children's/YA books but what roles do we see for women in adult movies? The only woman I truly related to in a movie in recent memory is Mrs. Weasley. Thankfully, she is definately a strong women. Most of the time women in movies only find "meaning" and "value" if they do something BESIDES mothering and housework. Why? If I wrote a book for young women about my life it would never be published! One of my most exciting moments this week was getting a grape juice stain out of my tan carpet! And let me tell you, I want to skip and squeal every time I see that spot! Blockbuster film? I think not!

Sheri

If Emily's son is interested in going back in time, I'd start with Mark Twain's books, specifically Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn-two awesome books (even if I am a girl :-)

Emily

Wow thanks everyone for the book lists for boys! You guys are awesome. I, officially, stand corrected. Guess I wasn't asking the right people. I am writing down all these as we speak!

Thanks Shannon for starting the conversation!

Laura

Amy Wilson Marshall: Yes, thank you so much for bringing that up! I'm all for more awesome female leads in animated movies, but in execution these days they can also carry the unfortunate implication that if you're a girl but not also a butt-kicking and brilliant action hero, you're not qualified to be a "strong female character" (cf. previously mentioned misgivings about Brave). Also, kudos for getting out that carpet stain. That takes legit skill.

Melissa (Book Nut)

I haven't taken the time (shame on me!) to go through all the comments, but it seems that no one has mentioned Miyazaki in all this. He's made a whole bunch (Howl's Moving Castle, Tuturo, Spirited Away) that not only have strong female protagonists, but strong female protagonists doing things other than breaking out of their assigned gender roles. Perhaps, though, the thing we should draw from this is that the Japanese are way ahead of the Americans on this issue??

(By the way, thanks for this discussion; I'm finding it fascinating and enlightening.)

(Oh, and Unwind by Neil Schusterman, anything by Jon Scieszka, The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry, Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now, and anything by Jack Gantos.)

Amy Wilson Marshall

No one has mentioned the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage. I think they are very entertaiing for boys.

Simini

I just had time to read a part of this as I have to head off for work and I haven't had time to go through all the comments... But,

In defense of Brave,I don't think it's trying to say "girls need to be like boys" but more that they should have the independence to choose, whether they want to dance at the ball or shoot a bow and arrow, or both (and following that, I can only think of one other animated (disney) movie where the girl chooses the "male role".. mulan- and that's not a "princess" movie). There's nothing wrong with the "elegant pursuits"- but one should have the choice. Most "princess" movies I would say in fact celebrate all the elegance, and I love them. But I also love Mulan, and I'm sure I'l love Merida, becasue for most of history, girl didn't get to choose that adventure. And maybe it's the easy way out... but showing girls breaking out of their gender roles is perhaps just the easiest way to show that independence through story symbolism.

And maybe this sort of story is out dates, and the film industry is just 20 years behind... But I'm 25 and living in the year 2012 and I still feel like I'm being told all the time what I should think and feel and be BECAUSE i'm a girl. Gender-stereotyping is still very much alive and well. So,I for one will never get tired of a story about a girl who's independent. It's not about which is better, bow or arrows, career or domesticity, it's about having the choice.

Simini

(Should add that I'm currently working in the completely male dominated video game studio... 12 women out of about 225 employees- it's turned me into somewhat of a raving feminist)

Michelle Garcia

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but one thing I learned in a Social Health class was that, although we spend a lot of time talking about the minorities, we don't talk about white males because they're essentially invisible. We see lots of trends surrounding women and other races in movies/media in general, but we don't stop to study what these same media says about the "invisible" guys and what their roles are supposed to be. I'm not saying we shouldn't focus and study on what's happening to women in movies, but we should put a lot of focus on the guys while we're at it because it's their invisibility that makes them able to play every part in a movie--they're blanks. Whereas with women, we have all this baggage that has to be addressed. "Oh, so she's a strong woman? What made her strong then?" "Oh, so he's black but he works in a predominantly white job? What made him do that?" The thing is, we never drop a guy outside of his comfort zone in media. We don't put a guy in the kitchen or raising kids on his own or overcoming obstacles to do something "traditionally" feminine. If you have a 50/50 cast of females in a war movie or somesuch, society says you have to explain how each of them got there because it's so unusual and that can be a lot of work. So if we focus on the guys and do something different with them, we might get farther faster.

--Michelle 21, white AND latina, female,

Lia

I grew up reading mostly books about boys (for no particular reason). Now I read mostly women's fiction/books about girls. I don't feel that either one has impacted me in a negative or positive way. I wish we could learn to look past gender stereotyping and just have books and films about interesting and worthwhile people.

In regards to what you said about Tintin...I'm a huge fan of the original comics and while, yes, of course, they might have chosen a different comic book to make into a film, I think there are very few comic books out there of similar quality. Rapunzel's Revenge, naturally, is one :)

Alysa (Ruby Diamond)

Just cruisin' my bookshelf for Emily: The London Eye Mystery, The Giver, The Wee Free Men, The Bronze Bow, The Underneath, The True Meaning of Smekday, Crogan's Vengeance, Bad Island, Americus, The Book Thief, Nation, Swan Lake. All of these are approved by the teen and adult men in my life. :)

If you go to my book blog (by clicking on my name) and click on the tags "abe's list" "micah's list" and "ransom's list" you'll see books I've recommended for my brothers (ages 12, 19, 28).

re: Animators at BYU. WOW. Sounds like there are some subconscious opinions people will be confronting with this one. Stick to your guns Megan and Chasm will be a standout! Go Cougs -- show yourselves and others that women in their 50's aren't therefore ugly or stupid.

I agree that in order for minorities to be talked about, majorities have to be talked about, too. I agree that white males shouldn't be ostracized for dancing or dressing well. It seems like good dressing men are typically villains or weakminded, and their dress is an indication of their vanity. Women are permitted to be well dressed whether they play good or bad roles.

Holly

Shannon, thank you for attacking color and gender blindness. I just saw Miss Representation and I love being able to share your blog post on facebook and tagging my friends that went to see the movie with me to continue our conversation on ideas of social difference. Keep up the unabashed postings about race and gender. It can only help in building a more socially just, equitable, and diverse future for our children.

Ashley R.

Emily. Just a warning about Mark Twain's books. They can be hard to understand because of the way they spoke. This could be more of a high school book. At least that's what I've found.

melody

Emily should check out The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. They are fabulous.

Alyson

Refering to your comment about female-led movies, My dad who works in the film industry says that the reason male-led movies are so much more common is because male-led movies appeal to men and women, but female-led movies only appeal to women, so the movie industry leads toward male-dominant movies to appeal to a larger audience. (My dad, who works for Disney, said that that was the reason Tangled was narrated by Flynn, and why it took so long for the name to be released (they had to change it so it was not too "girly"). The movie appealed to a larger audience when it appeared to be about Flynn, and not Rapunzel, so Pixar is taking a huge leap with Brave because it is solely focused on the girl, and it is not as appealing to the male side of the population.

Mary Lou Hart

Another reason to love Jane Austen, she was well ahead of her time. P&P had by my count almost twice as many women as men mentioned.
Females: Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty, Lydia, Mrs. Bennet, Charlotte, Maria, Mrs. Lucas, Miss Bingley, Mrs. Hurst, Georgiana, Anne, Lady Catherine, Mrs. Jenkins, Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Foster, Aunt Phillips, Hill.... (20)
Males: Darcy, Bingley, Wickham, Mr. Collins, Mr. Hurst, Mr. Bennett, Denny, Mr. Gardiner, Sir William Lucas, Colonel Foster, Colonel Fitzwilliam.... (11)

And my counts on the others are:
Sense & Sensibility 16 female & 10 male
Persuasion 11 female & 9 male
Emma 7 female & 6 male
Mansfield Park 11 female & 9 male
Northanger Abbey (only one with more male) 4 female and 6 male
Lady Susan 5 female 2 male

Sally

I'm finding this conversation very interesting and thought provoking for me as a mother of 2 boys and 2 girls. Honestly, we just don't watch many movies anymore because I find what's coming out of Hollywood has so many problems on so many levels.
As for book recommendations, I was looking for the original comment but couldn't find it, but I think you said he was beyond Magic Tree House and the likes. If he's an advanced reader still in grade school and not ready for the YA themes, here are my suggestions: anything by Scott O'Dell, Gary Paulson, E. Nesbit, Andrew Clements, Elizabeth Enright (Melendy Quartet is an all time favorite), there is also a series called the Time Warp Trio, more biographical series called Childhood of Famous Americans, there's the more boy oriented Beverly Cleary books (as well as Mouse and the Motorcycle ones) and there is one book that we've loved in our house called Captain Underpants (great read, just overlook the title). As for the classics like Huck Finn, Treasure Island, etc, I find those books are great to read out loud to my kids. Gives me a chance to explain the context and language that's found in them. I still read those kinds of books (we are doing Dickens right now) to my 13 and 11 year old books. My theory is that they are never too old to read out loud to.

sally

Blame it on lack of sleep, I did not mean captain underpants (actually can't stand those books) but Captain Nobody...loved that book.

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