Tag Archives: literacy

Word Game Review: Pairs in Pears

The other day, I posted about Bananagrams and how I was waiting for the companion books and Pairs in Pears game to arrive. Well, they did, and I’ve already enjoyed several hours of word puzzle fun.

One of the reasons I decided to order Pairs in Pears was that Amazon’s Product Description was, “A fun way for children to develop memory and cognitive skills while learning alphabetical order, word construction, consonants, and vowels, vocabulary, rhyming, etc. Entire alphabet in each of 4 patterns (104 ivory-like tiles) Ages 5+.”

Banangrams is for ages seven and up. I am closer to up, so that was what I had put on my birthday list. My youngest son is actually seven, but is unable to play Bananagrams easily, due to a learning disability (sort of like dyslexia for the ears). As a result of his issues, he has difficulty rhyming and sounding out words. I hoped that Pairs in Pears might help him and be fun at the same time.

There are many ways to play, all of them simpler than Bananagrams. In each variation, the players split up the letter tiles and try to make crossword pairs, with three or more letters in each word. When my son and I sat down to play, I was pleased to see him enjoying himself, mastering words for once, rather than being frustrated by them.

As the game progressed, I noticed that being able to hold the tiles in his hands and move them around seemed to help him figure things out. Rather than commiting the letters to a page (and getting them “wrong”), he could manipulate them until they seemed right. When we were done, he wanted to play again. 

School is out in a few weeks, but next week is his last visit with the reading tutor. He told me that they only write things down in her class, so we’ve decided to get her Pairs in Pears as a goodbye gift. Maybe my son can teach her a thing or two.


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Young Advanced Readers: An Age Appropriate Book List for Puzzled Parents

Recently, a commenter mentioned that she was having trouble finding good books for her second grader, an advanced reader who enjoys Harry Potter, but is prone to having bad dreams from reading content that is developmentally inappropriate.

As usual, the answer lies largely in OLD BOOKS, which are comparatively more challenging than much of the modern fare aimed at younger readers. Most of these recommendations were written as series (I have marked these with an asterisk), so there are actually many more books on this list than first appears.

One great quality of advanced readers is that they are usually not book snobs. While they can comprehend and enjoy things written for older children, a book written for their peers can be fun, too, as long as the story is a good one. I have included both in this list.

Many of these titles can only be found at the library, but information about them is still available on Amazon.com. A few can also be found on Kindle, for free, from the Kindle Popular Classics list. To see summaries, reviews, and other books in each series, click on any title.

The Wizard of OzL. Frank Baum

The Story of Dr. Doolittle* Hugh Lofting

Rabbit Hill Robert Lawson

Aesop’s Fables

My Father’s Dragon* Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Adventures of Uncle Wiggley* Howard R. Garis

Harold and the Purple Crayon* Crocket Johnson

The X Bar X Boys* James Cody Ferris

Anything by E. Nesbit

Rikki Tikki Tavi Rudyard Kipling

The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase* Joan Aiken

Any children’s book by E.B. White

Encyclopedia Brown* Donald J. Sobol

The Happy Hollisters* Jerry West

Anything by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Mad Scientist’s Club* Bertrand R. Brinley

Brighty of the Grand Canyon  Marguerite Henry

Homer Price* Robert McCloskey

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet* Eleanor Cameron

Danny Dunn* Jay Williams

Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss

Beautiful Joe Marshall Saunders

Black Beauty Anna Sewell

The Chronicles of Narnia* C.S. Lewis

Pippi Longstocking* Astrid Lindgren

The Borrowers* Mary Norton

The Mouse and the Motorcycle* Beverly Cleary

Dr. Seuss’s bigger books: Horton Hears a Who, Horton Hatches the Egg, Bartholomew and the Oobleck

The Children’s Hour 16 Volume Set Marjorie Barrows, editor

The Fairy Books* Andrew Lang

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to stick with fiction. Books such as The Boy Who Invented the Trampoline, about the history of various inventions, can be a source of interesting reading, as can biographies. There are many written for juvenile readers, and helping your children select people whose lives they might want to learn more about can be a lot of fun.

For more on this topic, see my previous post,“Considering Asynchronous Development in Book Selection.” (1/11/10)

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