I still remember my 5th grade teacher reading aloud My Side of the Mountain while the class colored mandala pages. I recently read it to my own family (ages 4 to 10) and it has definitely held up over time. While the book feels like a nonfiction account of a capable kid who lives off the woods, it will get your child’s imagination turning about the wonders of nature and what it would be like to be so self sufficient.
Title: My Side of the Mountain
Author: Jean Craighead George
Publication Year: 1959
Age Group:Late Elementary, Middle School
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I remember being completely enchanted by this book when our teacher read it out loud to our class back in 5th grade. Getting to color mandala patterns while our teacher read a chapter was a highlight of all the kids in my class’s day.
Now that my oldest is in 5th grade, I decided it was time to try this one as a family read aloud. I was a little nervous that it would not hold the interest of my 4 and 6 year olds. However, I can say for certain that my 6, 8, and 10 year old really enjoyed it. I don’t know for sure how much my 4 year old got out of the read aloud experience, but he at least did not interrupt which shows that it held his attention at least more than some books.
I can’t say exactly what it is about this story that is so mesmerizing. It seems completely implausible that a 12 year old boy could run away from home and live in the mountains for nearly a whole year. However, it doesn’t feel implausible when you are reading it. Sam knows exactly what he is doing. You feel like you are right there with him in the forest as he catches fish and trains his falcon.
This book is unlike any other I have read. I am glad I took the time to introduce this book to my family. I want my kids to be as enchanted by nature’s beauty and power as they are by modern technology and this book helps achieve that goal.
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