We discovered the Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne when my oldest was in kindergarten. I have to admit, I was unsure how I would like them when we first checked them out of the library.
But after reading the first book, Dinosaurs Before Dark, aloud to my children, I decided I had found a gem of a series.
The Magic Tree House books feature Jack and Annie, a brother and sister who have great adventures in a tree house which appears in the woods near their house. They visit distant places and times, solving puzzles by studying books Jack has stashed in his backpack.
In their adventures, they (and the reader) learn more about the time and place they are visiting. Their adventures take them all over – Pompeii, ancient Greece, aboard the Titanic, ancient Japan, to name only a few. A few of the books have companion research guide, which give more facts, stories and vocabulary related to the topic.
My children and I love the Magic Tree House books, however I do have a word of warning. Our family avoids any of the books classified as A Merlin Mystery. In my opinion, they include sorcery-type magic (as opposed to the magic of imagination in the other books) and require more than just research skills from Jack and Annie. For some families, this won’t be a problem. For our family it is, so use your best judgment.