Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Fun Early Reading Adventures with The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set {A Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

It's no secret that having my children develop a love of reading is very important to me. It brings joy to my heart to see my children curled up with a good book, even in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping. Because, well, that is just so much like me. The girls are now reading chapter books; however, we are having trouble finding books that will catch Harold's interest. He still prefers shorter, simpler books. So, when the opportunity arose for Harold to read The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set from Albert Whitman & Company, we were thrilled.

You see, Tabitha had read a whole slew of the original Boxcar Children books when she was younger. So, I was sort of hoping that Harold would develop an interest in the chapter books after reading these Early Reader versions. And even if he didn't, he would still be reading some great stories. 

We received hardcover copies of the first four books in the series. There are currently six available, and there will be another two coming out this year. They are also available in paperback. Each of these books is adapted from the original story, and are at the Level 2, Reading with Help, stage of reading readiness. They have short sentences with font in a larger type. They are engaging stories with simple dialogue and illustration support.

Harold was quite excited to receive them. He got started reading them right away, and was able to zing through each book.

I think he was able to read each one in around 30 minutes.

Let's look at each book.

In The Boxcar Children, we are introduced to the four orphans, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. 

When we first meet them, they are outside a bakery discussing going inside to buy some food and find a place to sleep. We learn that they do have a grandfather who could care for them, but they think he is mean as he never came to visit them. So, the children run off and fend for themselves, trying not to be found by their grandfather. They end up making their home in a boxcar they discover during a storm. Jessie and the younger children, Violet and Benny, make it into a real home and Henry gets a job cutting grass to support them. All is well until Violet gets sick and they need help. They request help from the doctor that Henry had been working for, and when he arrives at their boxcar, his suspicions are confirmed regarding their identity, that of being the children their grandfather is searching for. It turns out he isn't such a bad guy after all, and they finally have a real home with him.

Surprise Island appears to be the next book in the series, and it's also the longest out of the ones we received. It's summer time and the children learn that their grandfather has an island where they are going to get to spend some great time adventuring. They get to live in a barn and use the loft to put together a museum of objects they find around the island. A young man named Joe spends time with them as they do such things as digging for treasure and exploring the island. On one adventure they discover a clamshell mountain and then what appears to be an old tool in a cave. They loved that they had a mystery to solve, and were thrilled when Joe helped them solve it. And the biggest surprise was that they learned that Joe was actually their cousin.

Harold really enjoyed this book. He decided to use this one to do a couple of projects. He made a beach cake with help from his sister.

Then he spent time on Minecraft creating the island with the barn.

I loved that I could sit near him and hear him talking about the book as he created the different parts of his island. It was clear he was getting a lot out of these books.

In The Yellow House Mystery, the children are visiting Surprise Island with their grandfather and cousin Joe. This made me think this book must come after Surprise Island. Again they stumble upon a mystery when they ask why no one lives in the yellow house and discover that a man named Bill used to live in it and take care of the island, but then he just up and disappeared. They follow clues that lead them on a hike to Bear Trail and then on to Old Village via hiking and paddling boats.

At the end of their journey another mystery was solved.

I'm honestly not sure where the next book, Mystery Ranch, is supposed to fit in, because on the first page it states it is the first day of summer, and yet in the beginning of Surprise Island it states, "School was over. It was finally summer." And we know they spent their summer in Surprise Island on the island. It's not a huge deal, just a bit of confusion that seemed to have gone over Harold's head anyway. So, I guess, if you are wondering which order to read them in, just make sure to read The Boxcar Children first, then make sure to read Surprise Island before The Yellow House Mystery, seeing as Joe is introduced in the one and takes part in the adventure in the next. But it doesn't seem to matter where Mystery Ranch falls as far as plot points.

This time the children are on their way to visit their great-aunt Jane, grandfather's sister who isn't doing well. They get to take a long journey on a train. They meet a man on the train who ends up getting off at the same stop, so Benny dubs him "Mystery Man." They then meet their Aunt Jane and Benny realizes he can cheer her up by sharing their dog, Watch.

Another mystery is the strange glittery stones that they find by the road leading to the ranch. And then they find out that some people want Aunt Jane to sell the ranch. The children help their great-aunt take care of the ranch and then discover another mystery, a lean to and a campfire where it looks as if someone is camping out on her land. The mystery is finally solved when they go to the sheriff and find out who the "mystery man" is and learn he is actually there to help their aunt, and of course, it involves the strange glittery stones.

These books are a wonderful way to get children into reading and possibly interested in reading the original Boxcar Children books. Harold actually went straight to the book shelf at the library where those books are held, and took the first book out. Unfortunately, after a couple of chapters, he decided he wasn't interested in the longer chapter book yet. So, I am not going to push it. I'm just glad he had this to say about the books we reviewed, "I loved them." He had nothing else to share, but I know he must have enjoyed them to reread some of them and get excited about doing projects revolving around the one book.

I love that the story sticks to the original stories, yet at a level for younger children to enjoy. The pictures definitely help younger children to keep interest in the story. There are illustrations on every page and not too much text at a time. Quite appropriate for younger children working on reading independently, but who may need a parent to read with them.

I definitely recommend these books for your younger children of early elementary age.

You can find Albert Whitman & Company and The Boxcar Children on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set.

The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set {Albert Whitman & Company Reviews}

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