I get asked the question all the time “at what age can my child read Charlottes Web, Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Call is the Wild?” And the list of classic books goes on and on. Many families in homeschool communities have advanced readers. This means at the age of 7 they are capable of reading a 5th grade level book.
However, just because they can read the book by reading skill level doesn’t mean they should read it.
Before I go any further in this thought I would also like to caution those who use audio books for listening to stories this is another way your children can “read” (listen) to books above their age level. Again I would say just because they can listen and it holds their attention doesn’t mean they should read it.
I completely get wanting to rush to let your children read classic books that you loved as a child. It’s so fun to watch them experience these same lives, meet characters that shaped your childhood, and enjoy these same stories. We want our kids to be yelling “get em Dan get em” as they dream of a dog like Dan from Where the Red Fern Grows, laugh till they cry at the silly situations Anne with an E gets herself into. These are sweet moments that every child should experience.
However just because they they can read it doesn’t mean it’s the right time! You can only read a book for the first time once.
Let me say this again: you can only read a book for the first time once!!!
Yes, your child might have the skill to read or listen to the audio book at a much younger age, but until their emotional make up is advenaced enough, humor has developed enough, processing skills have formed they miss it. They miss learning the skill of reading and processing well. They also miss the opportunity to learn to write like their favorite authors because they lack the writing skill. And this is always my encouragement to parents with advanced readers - gear what they read more to their writing capabilities then the child’s reading capabilities in younger early elementary years. Though at 9 your daughter is capable of reading Pride and Prejudice - don’t steal from her the joy of falling in love with Mr. Darcy because she’s to young to process romance. Wait till she’s a teen and she’ll be dreaming of her own Mr. Darcy!
Just wait! Save some of the really great classics until the age it’s recommended to read. I promise there are plenty of great reads that will hold your children’s attention in and around their current age and writing skill level.
If you are looking for recommendations on books for your children to read I’d love to suggest Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt or Honey for a Teen’s Heart. Her books are packed with the best of reading lists! Use her books as a guide for what and when your children should read. You won’t run out of book ideas using Gladys Hunt books!