Ivy & Bean by Annie Barrow & Sophie Blackall
A baby’s first step is a turning point into walking. The reading equivalent is not as easy to spot, but for my daughter, Georgia, it happened while reading Ivy & Bean. She went from being a struggling new reader, to a confident reader. I know it took years of work, but, just like a first step turns instantly into walking, it really appears as though my daughter got over the ‘reading hump’ with this book. As a result Ivy & Bean will always have a special place in my heart. I also owe a special thanks to Georgia’s good friend Elsa. Elsa’s love of the series was just the incentive Georgia needed to focus and become the reader she has wanted to be for a long time. A little peer pressure can be a good thing in young children.
There are several books about mischievous young girls that drive me crazy. At best they glamorize bratty behavior, and at worst they are riddled with bad grammar in the guise of ‘child talk.’ Ivy & Bean is neither of these. It is a sweet book about creative and independent girls who discover a great friendship. There is certainly plenty of naughty behavior, but it is funny and, along the lines of the older brother in the Wonder Years, it does really seem like the older sister deserves it. The writing is excellent, with the perfect balance of a quick paced flow and enough details to make children relate. It is rated at a 2nd grade reading level, and is tolerable as a book to read along with your child. I highly recommend this book for 1st grade girls, particularly ones that have strong friendships. You can learn more about the series at this url: http://www.anniebarrows.com/ivyandbean/ivyandbean/about/
Friendship is what brought Georgia this great book about two girls who become unexpected friends. Georgia saw Elsa enjoying this book, and, for her part, Elsa would read Georgia the funniest parts. That was just the enticement Georgia needed. Like Bean with Ivy, I’m sure over the years Elsa will entice Georgia into many things I am not so happy about, but for now I am grateful.