Magic Tree House Series

 
Fun, educational chapter books have something for everyone.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Jack and Annie visit historical times and locations, meeting dinosaurs, eskimos, Native Americans, ancient Greeks, great composers, painters, scientists, and more. Depending on the volume in the series, children will learn about science, music, history, literature, art, music or nature, and there's at least one book in this series to appeal to any child's interests. The series also includes a limited selection of nonfiction companion books, called Fact Trackers, which allow kids to dig deeper into the topics that interest them.

Positive messages

Jack and Annie's mission, as developing "master librarians," is to gather and preserve important books from all places and times. The series tells kids that books are essential historical documents, to be saved and treasured. There's also a strong message that knowledge is power, as everything the kids learn about the locations they visit helps Jack and Annie achieve their goals. The books also make a statement about cultural differences: The more knowledge and understanding we gain, the more we learn that all people are fundamentally the same.

Positive role models

In their various adventures, Jack and Annie are guided by master librarian Morgan le Fay, and later by Merlin the magician. Both of these mentors/teachers are very good and very wise. Jack and Annie are both lovely role models for young children: Annie is brave, enthusiastic and curious; her brother, Jack, is more timid but uses his intellect to solve problems.

Violence & scariness

There's a suspenseful arc to each one of these early-reader chapter books. Jack and Annie are going to be in danger at some point in the novel, but the fear factor is perfectly calibrated for 6- and 7-year-olds, especially once they've read a couple of the books. Jack and Annie face challenges, but no one in the books is ever hurt.

Language
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the Magic Tree House books, written by Mary Pope Osborne, all revolve around siblings Jack (age 8) and Annie (7), who discover that a tree house in the woods near their home can transport them to different places and historical periods. The children are sent all around the globe to achieve specific goals, usually to rescue an important historical document. The books are all highly entertaining and educational. Each volume follows a certain suspenseful arc, so the children end up in at least one precarious situation, but things always turn out well. Later books in the series have a little more sophisticated language and some have more fantastical plots, for slightly older readers, but they are no more scary than the early books. Read by the author in an audiobook collection of books 1 through 4.

What's the story?

Each of the books in the MAGIC TREE HOUSE series begins with the story of how one day in Frog Creek, PA, 8-year-old Jack and 7-year-old Annie discover a tree house in the woods near their home. The tree house was put there by master librarian Morgan le Fay. In the first 28 chapter books in the series, the children notice that a certain volume from Morgan's library has been left for them to explore. When they point to a location in the book and say, \"I wish we could go there,\" they are magically transported to that location and historical time. Books 29 and on are \"Merlin Missions,\" in which the kids are guided by Merlin the Magician; these books are somewhat more fantastical and more sophisticated to appeal to slightly older readers. As of December 2012, there are 48 books in this series, in which Jack and Annie explore history, cultures, music, art, science and natural phenomena.There's also a companion series of nonfiction Fact Trackers, written by the author's husband and sister, Will Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, which delve deeper into the subjects addressed in some of the novels.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Mary Pope Osborne's MAGIC TREE HOUSE books make wonderful first chapter books for first and second graders (or advanced kindergartners) to read alone, or for parents of young school children to read aloud. The formula that all of the books follow may seem repetitive to parents, but kids find these books fascinating and comforting at once, because they know Jack and Annie are going to get home to Frog Creek. Pope Osborne is enormously successful at teaching and engaging children, and there's something in this series for every kid, whether they're into dolphins, pandas, painters, or pilgrims.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Morgan missions vs. the Merlin missions: How are they different? Which do you like better and why?

  • Do you think these books would make a good TV show?

  • Which books in the series do you like best? Are their places/subjects you learned about that you'd like to investigate further?

Book details

Author:Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrator:Sal Murdocca
Genre:Adventure
Topics:Dinosaurs, Magic and fantasy, Sports and martial arts, Adventures, Arts and dance, Book characters, Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, History, Holidays, Horses and farm animals, Music and sing-along, Ocean creatures, Pirates, Space and aliens, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House Children's Books
Publication date:July 28, 1992
Number of pages:68
Publisher's recommended age(s):6 - 8
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old March 28, 2013
age 8+
 

they are my favorite series

Itis a really good series.It was so good that I told my brother to read that series when he is in first grade. It is my favorite series.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byiantojonescoffeeclub January 4, 2013
age 4+
 

READ IT

When read this book at age 5 it was my frist chapter book I read on my own. This book is the one that was so good for my little mind its what got me hooked on reading. This book helps the young discover the world a single book can take you. All kids should read it.
What other families should know
Educational value
Parent of an infant, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 11 year old Written byResponsibleParentOf9 December 31, 2012
age 6+
 

GREAT for kids!

Teaches kids about many subjects in a fun way! 2% violent, 5% scary but NO ONE ever gets hurt. Still great for kids!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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