Does your little one ever dream of traveling to far-off places? For would-be adventurers and time travelers, look no further for a literary hero than Jack and Annie of Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. They're the main characters in Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series, now over 15 years old and still going strong. Whether your child still needs to be read to or he's ready to read on his own, Jack and Annie are the perfect guides to introduce him to chapter books. Here are some reasons we love Jack and Annie:
1) They go on lots of great adventures...
In this series, Jack and Annie find a tree house filled with books that magically transport them to different places and times -- ancient Egypt, the Amazon rainforest, prehistoric times, the moon, you name it. In each story they have to solve a riddle or complete a quest in order to get back home. Jack and Annie face obstacles like dinosaurs, ninjas, and crocodiles, making the storylines exciting enough to capture a young child's attention -- but nothing really bad ever happens to them.
2) ...but they're just normal kids.
Through all the fantastic things that happen to them, seven-year-old Annie and eight-year-old Jack could be the kids next door. Just like real siblings, they bicker and argue, but despite their differences, when things go wrong they stick together and support each other just like a brother and sister should. Everyone can see a bit of impulsive, emotional Annie or cautious, intellectual Jack in themselves. They act and react just like real children would, which makes it easier for young readers to lose themselves in the story.
3) They keep it simple.
The short sentences, simple vocabulary and frequent repetition of words and phrases (my favorite is Jack's catchphrase, "Oh man...") give a beginning reader the confidence he needs to finish these books on his own.
4) They let our imagination take flight.
Children get to travel with Jack and Annie to all sorts of places and learn a little bit about each place. Thanks to Jack and Annie, we don't need an actual magic tree house to visit the antarctic, or ancient Greece, or a medieval castle: we just have to open up a Magic Tree House book and follow along. The best thing about The Magic Tree House, and Jack and Annie, is that they show our children the magical power of books to take us away to any place on earth, and beyond.
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