Sometimes it can be tough to get new readers to read on their own.

Many beginning reader books are too complicated, too simple, or just plain don’t make sense. To be fair, it is really difficult to write a good story and stick within the necessary parameters for new readers: simple vocabulary, understandable content, and repetition.

So it’s pretty amazing to find something first graders LOVE to read, and even more mind blowing to see them fight over it.

The news straight from one of my favorite first grade teachers is that the hottest book in the first grade is…

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz!  This book was written in 1984 and it is still in demand.

It came to my friend via her school librarian, who can’t keep it on the shelf. Extra copies had to be purchased for the classroom so that four kids could read it at a time. The kids couldn’t seem to get enough of it.

I did a little research and found that our local library has many, many more copies of this book in the system than any other book by the same author. Reviews on Amazon are mainly put up by twenty-somethings who loved the book in their youth and hunted down a copy to have as adults.

And why is this book so hot?

Well, it’s readable to begin with, at just the right complexity for a reader finishing first grade. But it appeals to older kids too.

The reason is it dances on the edge of being scary but pulls back into ironic, silly, and surprising instead. First graders feel like they are venturing into big kid scary books, which heightens their interest and anxiety, but the surprising twist at the end of each story provides relief. My source tells me that kids find this wild ride hilarious.

The only caveat is that it is a little scary. A couple of reviews on Amazon reported nightmares so if your child is particularly sensitive, as mine are, this might not be the book for them quite yet. However, if your child is adventuresome and a little bored with the standard fare, enjoy!

Happy reading!

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