For Christmas, I bought Sammy The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is, by far, the longest book Sam has ever attempted, even though I got an abridged version. The book I bought included an audiobook version on CD, and I figured that would be a great way to start Sam off reading longer stories.
Since I finally cracked it open about a week ago, we've listened to the entire book at least four times. Every single trip in the car means another installment of The Secret Garden. Sam can't get enough, and that's fine with me, because I love it too! We've also read parts of the book out loud to her, but she is less interested that way. I'm sure that will change, though. I have a feeling that The Secret Garden is going to be one of those special things that both Sam and I remember as an integral part of her childhood, just like Little Bear has been (and still is!).
I'm not even sure why I bought this particular book. I had some vague recollection that it was a classic, but after hearing the story, I don't remember it from my own childhood. Maybe I did read it, but it didn't stick with me into adulthood. But I'm so glad that I did pick it up. It's a wonderful story, and it's just the right level for Sam right now - a bit of a stretch, but comprehensible to her.
Today I was catching up on the VanDamme Academy video blogs (have you been watching? you should be) and came across this one, in which Ms. VanDamme actually uses The Secret Garden (as well as Burnett's other classic, A Little Princess) as an example of a children's book with "good, rich, thematic material." So maybe I picked up the book on a half-remembered recommendation from Ms. VanDamme or someone else in the little Objectivist educators' world.
Whatever - I have a new world of books for Sam now. Amazon.com says that A Little Princess is for reading level ages 9-12. I suspect that there are many wonderful books for that age that Sam could appreciate. Audiobooks are a good thing.