The New Year began on a high note: my daughters have forgotten how disappointed they were when they received books for Christmas. They have wanted marathon reading sessions to the point that I have committed some of the new books to memory, and, in combination with an impending cold, I am losing my voice from reading aloud.
My girls love their new Fancy Nancy books (I Can Read, Level 1) which are written by Jane O’Connor with illustrations based on the artwork of Robin Preiss Glasser. These books feature a precocious redheaded child named Nancy who loves being “fancy” in everything from the way she dresses to the vocabulary she uses. The level 1 books are for beginning readers, like my five-year-olds, who are starting to sound out words as they read them.
Nancy is a fun fictional friend for my twins because she is an imaginative, intelligent child who finds herself in sticky situations familiar to real children, such as lying, giving herself a lopsided haircut, feeling excluded, and being envious of what others have. Also, my daughters get a kick out of the fact that she has red curly hair just like they do.
So, my daughters like Fancy Nancy, and I like her books because they teach my children new words through cute stories. The new favorite Fancy Nancy book in our house is Pajama Day, in which Nancy and her friends get to wear pajamas to class. It begins:
‘Class, don’t forget!… Tomorrow is…’
‘Pajama Day!’ we shout in unison. (That’s a fancy word for all together.).
As we read this story, my daughters, who wore their Batman pajamas to their preschool last week, shout “Pajama Day” to the tune of “Mahna Mahna” from The Muppets.
My twins’ least favorite book of the new Fancy Nancy Level 1 books is My Family History, in which Nancy embellishes a report about her great-grandpa. It begins:
Do you know about your ancestors?
They are people in your family
who lived long ago
(You say it like this: ANN-sess-terz.)
Isn’t that a great fancy word?
My daughters thought that “ancestors” was a great-sounding, but boring word. One of them explained, “Well, they aren’t here anymore. I don’t know them because their bodies are broken.” It was hard to describe why our ancestors matter to a pair of five-year-olds, a difficult concept even for adults to grasp, as I discussed in my post, Uncovering Our Roots: Why Does Family History Matter?
They liked the rest of the story, though, particularly the part where Nancy gets herself into a bind by lying about her great-grandfather’s history to turn his ordinary story into an extraordinary one. My five-year-olds might not understand the significance of family history just yet, but they most certainly understand the importance of telling the truth!
We spent much of the last few days reading these books together. As Fancy Nancy would probably conclude, “The experience was invaluable! That’s a fancy word for very good.”