For a long time, a lot of this blog has focused on my older daughter’s insatiable reading habits and my own adoration of all things children’s literature. But I have a younger reader who is finding her own way in the world of books right now and plowing through series like no tomorrow! It is great to be getting back into some of the younger chapter books to see how much they have changed in just a few years and how a different child approaches them.
When hanging out in a book store recently, we discovered the series Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot. When E’s class was doing their latest Scholastic group order, I purchased a set of the first four books from the series in hopes that E would enjoy them. The books arrived Friday and by Saturday she had read through all 4.
The Owl Diaries are a part of series of books called Branches that Scholastic introduced two years ago. It wasn’t on my radar at the time since I didn’t have a young reader then. The concept of this series is to provide entertaining reads in the early chapter book realm when your child has mastered leveled readers but isn’t quite ready for longer chapter books. This explains why E breezed through them so quickly, since she is already reading longer chapter books, but they are still quite fun and I’m excited to check out some of the other titles in the Branches group.
The Owl Diaries focuses on a little owl named Eva. Each book starts with Eva introducing herself and telling her diary things that she loves and things that she does not love. What is great about that concept is that she instantly becomes relatable to the young reader. I know that E laughs at a lot of the things she doesn’t love, like her brother’s stinky socks and the word plop. The books follow Eva for a week or two and show her dealing with some sort of problem. Eva also uses some words that are very “owlish” which kids at this age find hysterical. For example, E thought it was funny that Eva would night-dream instead of daydream and say anyhoot instead of anyhow.
In book one, the issue is that one night Eva gets bored waiting for sunrise (she is an owl after all). Her best friend Lucy is busy, so Eva needs to occupy herself somehow. She comes up with a bloomtastic idea to create the first ever Bloomtastic Festival celebrating spring. Her teacher thinks it is a great idea and gives her a week to get it all set up. A week? How will she ever get it done in time? Can she actually focus on planning the event instead of just having fun?
One of the things Eva disliked at the beginning of the book was asking for help. But she realizes that she can’t do this whole thing on her own, although she does try. She learns an important lesson that she needs to ask for help and that involving others can be incredibly rewarding.
Another important lesson that gets quietly brought up is being kind to others. Early on, we learn that Eva thinks Sue Clawson is the mean girl in her class and she even nicknames her Meany McMeanerson. When the class first hears of Eva’s festival idea, Sue asks why Eva is in charge and says that she should be in charge of the fashion show part since her mom is a fashion designer. When Eva finally, reluctantly, asks Sue for help, she happily agrees and is quite kind.
A final part of these books that is wonderful for early chapter books is the last page where they encourage the parent and child to talk about what they read. Sometimes, as a parent, it can be difficult to come up with engaging questions to get your kid talking about the book, but Scholastic has taken the hard work out of the equation.
These are a wonderful addition to the world of early chapter books for kids. There are a variety of great series to appeal to any child. You can check out Scholastic’s website to learn more about Branches.