Gateway Books -- Benjamin reviews the Magic Tree House series

"Hey Mom, do you still have the list of, like, 'You Should Read These' books?"

"Yes." I could tell Benjamin was referring to a guest post I put together a little while back.

"Because I want to put Magic Tree House on there, because if you don't like reading, you read one of those and it just, like, changes your life."

books for 6 year old boy

BAM! When your 6 year old says something like that? That's book recommendation GOLD right there. I knew I was going to have to interview him about Magic Tree House books

"What do you mean it changed your life?"
"When I actually read a book and found out what it was, then that actually changed my life."

He brought me one of the Magic Tree House books, as corroborating evidence:

books for 6 year old boy
"See, Mom? Like that."
Magic Tree House series
by Mary Pope Osborne
includes 52 fiction books and 29 non-fiction companion books, series still in progress.

Let the interview begin!

Tell me about the Magic Tree House books.
They're really fun. Once you like know what they are you're like "Wow, I love reading them." They can get whisked back to a time of true places and false places. And in Midnight on the Moon (which is in one of the pictures) they get whisked forward in time! Kind of weird. You don't know what's going to happen then, right? They're just awesome!

books for 6 year old boy
My mom sent us a big stack of Magic Tree House books a couple months back.
Featuring Midnight on the Moon.
Who would you say would like the Magic Tree House books? Hm. People who love to read; people who don't love to read. They're great.

How do you feel about the characters in Magic Tree House? I feel like they're nice. And like they're really good. They actually make better choices than you would probably make. [Agreed! Jack and Annie are definitely models of good behavior] What are their names? There names are Jack, Annie, Morgan, Teddy, Kathleen. . . . Teddy and Kathleen are in the "Merlin Missions." Merlin. I think that's all.

What do you think of the adventures that Jack and Annie have?
Exciting. Cool. Awesome!!!

What is different in your life now that you've read the magic tree house books?
That now I love reading them! Do you read more now, than you used to? Because of the books? Yes. [He definitely does. These books were his gateway into independent reading.]

Levi jumped in at the end: "Mom, I want to tell you something. Kathleen can actually turn into anything."
Benjamin: They met Kathleen in the library book that I have! Summer of the Sea Serpent

books for 6 year old boy
"Take some pictures of me pretending to read."

These books really are popular for good reason. Jacob commented, "They're nice because they're short." And I have to agree. The last two nights I've read Summer of the Sea Serpent out loud to the boys before bed. Levi wanted in on the action, you see. Two nights of not-too-many chapters, and we are more than halfway through this little adventure.

There is something to be said for the way the books are structured: Each book is short, about 10 chapters, less than 100 pages total. A nice, short chapter book. However, continuity is kept in larger arcs across 4 books at a time. The Merlin Missions, mentioned above, begin with book 29, and signal the end of an arc across books 1-28. My point here is that you can read as much or as little as you like in the series, and that flexibility is really liberating.

So, does it surprise you that Benjamin has requested some more of the Magic Tree House collection from Grandma's shelves? My younger sister (now all grown up and not even a teenager anymore) enjoyed these books for a long time. You're probably familiar with them if you have a child in school. But if you aren't there yet and you're looking for something a little more grown up than Mercy Watson and a little more adventurous than Junie B. Jones, this will hit a sweet spot.

These books are super easy to find used -- I bought several at Goodwill a couple weeks ago. But if you'd like to purchase them new, you can do so through my affiliate links below and I'll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. (In fact, I earn if you purchase anything after clicking through my affiliate links.) Thanks for helping to support our reading lifestyle!

Here's an Amazon link for books 1-4
in the Magic Tree House Series.

Here's a fun collection I found from Barnes & Noble.
It includes Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, and others.

So, what is your take on Magic Tree House books? (If they changed your life, I really must hear about it.) What books were your gateway into independent reading?


  1. Thanks for this. Coincidentally my 4 year old has just discovered these books. We're reading one to her, and she loves it. I want to save them for when she can read them herself, but I go where the requests come from, when it comes to read-aloud. There are plenty of books in the series.

    1. No problem! And yes, there are plenty of these. I don't really consider "saving them" to be necessary for my four-year-old because I've noticed lately that the young memory is very short and they don't remember their very favorite books from a year ago. So, if we own, we can reread!

  2. Oh that Benjamin kills me! He is so funny and cute! We love Magic Tree House round these parts!

  3. They are a wonderful combination of fantasy, history, and realistic fiction. It is easy to identify with both Jack and Annie. The plot is always exciting and progresses quickly. I have seen them appeal to a very wide range of readers. Mary Pope Osborn did it right!

    1. A glowing recommendation! Thanks for the clarifications. :D You sum it up so well.

  4. Levi is LOVING a reading snuggle with the BRILLIANT Benjamin!

    1. He always snuggles up to him when Benjamin does his independent reading. Sometimes his pleas for Benjamin to "read out loud!" are met impatiently, but for the most part they have a great time together.

  5. We also love Magic Tree House! I actually read every single one aloud to my 4-year-old, and felt that I should get some sort of merit badge upon finishing. I've learned quite a bit from them myself, and it's nice that I find them interesting so we can enjoy the books together. I agree with Benjamin--Jack and Annie are so kind (to each other and others), which is refreshing. I also love how they model applying things learned in books to everyday life!

    1. Haha! Funny you should mention merit badges! Since this posting Benjamin has discovered the website, www.magictreehouse.com, and earned the rank of "Senior World Navigator."


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