Avid reader Preston Helfand, 8, doesn't leave home without two books - his current read and a backup in case he finishes it.


Our son, Preston, who is 8, can't get enough of books. He loves to read. He won't leave home without a book in his hands. Actually, he takes two books with him wherever he goes - the one he is currently reading and a second book as a backup in case he finishes the first book.

I know parents should never discourage their children from reading, but we had to draw the line at Preston walking and reading at the same time. Our compromise is letting him sit and read on a bench or a chair at stores while we shop.

It has been really fun over the past couple years watching Preston dive into children's literature. He has discovered some great series and authors.

Preston enjoys classics such as "Tom Sawyer" and "Treasure Island." He read all 58 of "The Hardy Boys Mystery Stories," first published in 1927 and extensively revised starting in 1959, and many of "The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories."

Preston also loves reading graphic novels such as the "Geronimo Stilton" series that originated in Italy and is about a talking mouse that is a journalist and newspaper editor. A classmate recently introduced Preston to "The Adventures of Tintin," one of the most popular European comic series of the 20th century.

The "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series is another favorite, with fun illustrations throughout the books.

"The 39 Clues" series was unlike any other that Preston had read. Several authors collaborated to write the adventure books. The writers include Rick Riordan, known for his "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series. "The 39 Clues" publisher, Scholastic, includes six cards with codes in each book that the reader enters online to unlock clues and play games. I'm sure we'll see more book tie-ins with the Internet in the future.

Preston has begged me to let him read "The Hunger Games," which isn't surprising given all the hype the book and movie have gotten. I have read the first two books in the series and in my opinion the content and themes aren't appropriate for my third-grader.

Librarians, teachers and friends have been helpful with reading suggestions for Preston. But with summer vacation and lots of lazy days right around the corner, Preston is looking for more new series and authors to check out. If you have any recommendations, he and I would love to hear them.

E-mail Kelley Helfand at foothills@azstarnet.com