If you are looking for an exciting, educational book series for young readers, I would like to highly recommend Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House books. They have been favorites for both of my children over the past few years. With more than twenty-five titles in the series, Ms. Osborne aims her content at children reading on about a second grade level.
Featuring eight year old Jack and his seven year old sister, Annie, these books are a sure favorite of young readers everywhere. Jack and Annie live in Frog Creek, Penn., but they travel through time and space in their magical tree house. During their journeys they learn much about history, ecology, and more.
Topics covered in the series range far and wide, from the rain forests to the arctic, from Egyptian mummies to medieval knights, and from dinosaurs to dolphins. Also included are holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and special events like the Olympics and the moon landing. Natural disasters and historical events such as earthquakes, tornadoes, the Civil War and the Titanic are also among the subjects Ms. Osborne writes about.
She has done an excellent job keeping the material covered suitable for her young readers. With books being approximately ten chapters, or seventy pages, long, and black and white pictures spread generously throughout, these are the perfect length for the second grade crowd’s somewhat limited attention span.
For the more advanced readers out there, or those children wishing to learn even more about a subject, research guides that go along with many of the topics are also available. These books offer more in depth, nonfiction coverage of the subjects to help students extend their knowledge on particular topics.
The publisher, Random House, has a Magic Tree House website that offers activities, games, certificates, and contests for many of the titles. Also included is a “Teacher’s Tree House” where one can find a web page containing activity sheets, teacher guides, and educational planners. These are all excellent resources for teachers, home schoolers, and parents wanting to give their child enrichment activities.
One final bonus of this book series is that many planetariums have now added a Magic Tree House Midnight on the Moon show. The Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, NC, for example has the Magic Tree House show , as well as a summer camp based on the books. What could be better for a young reader than a summer camp based on his or her favorite book characters!