First Chapter books to read to DD at bedtime? - Mothering Forums
Books, Music, and Media > First Chapter books to read to DD at bedtime?
parsley's Avatar parsley 09:41 AM 07-21-2011

DD is  3 1/2 and has a great attention span and loves hearing stories before bed.  We've read from collected volumes with lots of text and few pictures so I'm thinking she might be ready for me to start reading her some chapter books at bedtime-- reading a couple of chaps each night.  We read for at least 30 minutes each night and I am SO ready to move onto something more substantial-- and I think she is too. 

 

Anyone have any ideas on good books to start with? 

 

She adores the movie Mary Poppins (one of two she's actually seen) and I was thinking of trying the original book by P.L. Travers but I've never read it so I'm not sure what we're in for (I love the movie too!).   I'd love a few other ideas so I can experiment a bit to find one that sticks.

 

Thanks in advance!



Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 06:14 AM 07-22-2011

Mary Poppins has some slow parts that might be a bit dull for a 3 year old.  My Father's Dragon (and the two sequels) is a good starter chapter book that both of my kids enjoyed at about that age. 

 

Some other suggestions:

The Jamie and Angus Stories

Winnie-the-Pooh

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Boxcar Children

Jenny and the Cat Club

Catwings


parsley's Avatar parsley 07:25 AM 07-22-2011

Thanks for the suggestions, Daffodil.  I'm definitely going to get a copy of  My Father's Dragon-- I read a lot of good reviews about it.  And, it seems like a match for my daughters (and my taste).   

 

We've read Winnie-the-Pooh already (and it's not a favorite of mine so we're not likely to go back to it soon). 

 

I'll have to check out the others.  I did read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Boxcar Children as a kid, I'm not sure either is great for DD as I remember them both as having conspicuously absent parents, something that seems to ruin stories for her.  (She hates Madeline for that reason, for example).

 

 


ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 07:40 AM 07-22-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by parsley View Post

 

I'll have to check out the others.  I did read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Boxcar Children as a kid, I'm not sure either is great for DD as I remember them both as having conspicuously absent parents, something that seems to ruin stories for her.  (She hates Madeline for that reason, for example).

 

 

 

Catwings might be problematic then. They are lovely stories, but they start out with the kittens forced to leave home and the mother cat. 

 

Dick King-Smith (of Babe, The Talking PIg fame) has several sweet stories about a little girl named Sophie. Sophie's Tom, Sophie's Snail and a few others. Sophie lives with her family, so I don't recall any abandonment issues. 

 

-Paddington Bear

-Olga daPolga

-Curious George - I couldn't stand Curious George, but I have a thing about monkeys. They are all creepy, as far as I am concerned. However, IME, pre-schoolers all love George. They identify with his mischief-making and are always relieved that he is loved and forgiven. 

-The Wind in the Willows 

 

Judy Blume's books about Fudge are funny and all about family. 

 

 


elanorh's Avatar elanorh 06:28 PM 07-25-2011

Jenny and the Cat Club is really great. 
 

We read "Heidi" early into our chapter books, but the point where Heidi leaves and is so homesick was very, very hard for me and for dd (who was 5 at the time). 

We started at a little past 3 with my eldest, and the books I can recall that we read were (not necessarily in this order):
Heidi

Despereaux (the move was awful but the book was good)
A Little Princess (also some tears)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Lin)

Ivy's Everafter

All the Little House books (caveat:  be prepared to explain some things - I know some people avoid the Little House books because of the portrayal of Native Americans or African Americans, but instead we talked about those portrayals). 

 

 


Owen'nZoe's Avatar Owen'nZoe 10:00 AM 07-26-2011

E.B.White's books are always good for the little ones. My youngest son is 4, and he likes to listen along when we read Roscoe Riley and Captain Underpants books. You may or may not want to expose your little one to Captain Underpants, but the potty humor does go over big with the preschool set...


parsley's Avatar parsley 10:14 AM 07-26-2011

Thanks for the great suggestions.  We started _My Father's Dragon_ this weekend.  She loves it!   I had ordered a collected version of _My Father's Dragon_ and the other two books, the first of the Mary Poppins books, and Beverly Cleary's _Ralph S. Mouse_ (or whatever is first in the series.) 

 

I'm going to put more books on hold/order since we're going through _My Father's Dragon_  rather quickly!  1/2 hour of reading does add up :)

 

She's seen the Curious George tv show on occasion and loves it-- I didn't realize there were longer books about him (I'm not much of a fan) but I think that will be a great choice for her.  Potty humor is quite popular as well (with the whole family these days, I'm afraid Sheepish.gif) so I'll be checking out Roscoe Riley and Captain Underpants shortly.   I loved Judy Blume's books-- so I'm definitely going to check out Fudge asap. 

 

I was a HUGE Little House on the Prairie fan as a kid and look forward to sharing those books with her when she's a little older but for know I prefer to stick with things that are more playful for just before bedtime.  Though she's fascinated by the idea that long ago there were only dinosaurs-- no people!  So, she may get a real kick out of beginning to think about how people lived differently in different times and places. 

 

Thanks again everyone.  I really appreciate all these suggestions and am looking forward to hearing more ideas! 


Owen'nZoe's Avatar Owen'nZoe 12:22 PM 07-26-2011

For Captain Underpants, I should also mention that there is quite a bit of name calling and some mean-spiritedness in the books. My kids find it funny and I haven't noticed that it affects the way they interact with others, but I know some parents also reject the books on those grounds. Just wanted to give a full disclosure! :)


hildare's Avatar hildare 01:08 PM 07-27-2011

the wind in the willows (the best book ever for anybody of any age)

the hobbit (a great read-aloud, very compelling and not like LOTR at all)

the beatrice and ramona books.  they have a good family representation. 

what about roald dahl?  people either love that or hate it.. there are some for the younger set.  witches might be too old for your lo but that's one of my favorite read alouds ever. 

eta: pooh commercialization and popularity has come and gone, but winnie the pooh and the house at pooh corner are essentially very sweet and good for little ones and read alouds.  i tend to cringe just because of the marketing of the characters these days, but i do remember a time when i adored the stories. 

 


Owen'nZoe's Avatar Owen'nZoe 02:58 PM 07-27-2011

I see Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows here - both great books, but could your children understand them at that age? My kids really struggled with the British English, and I abandoned them because we just couldn't get through more than a few sentences without them asking what something meant. I'd like to try them again now that the boys are older, but I found them both to be an exercize in frustration with preschoolers.


Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 03:58 PM 07-27-2011

My kids both enjoyed Winnie-the-Pooh starting at around 2 1/2.  I'm sure they didn't understand everything, but they got enough out of it to stay interested.  The Wind in the Willows, on the other hand, doesn't strike me as the kind of thing that could be expected to appeal to 3 year olds.  I haven't read it since I was a kid (quite a bit older than 3), but I recall it being moderately interesting at the start and then getting pretty boring.  (And I was an avid, advanced reader who enjoyed other books with complex writing.)  I haven't even tried it with my 8 year old yet.

 

I think a lot of the suggestions on this thread are great for kids who are a bit older, but wouldn't really work for 3 year olds.  On threads like this, I usually try to include only books my own kids actually listened to and enjoyed when they were the age of the kid in the OP.


parsley's Avatar parsley 07:12 AM 07-28-2011

I love hearing all of the suggestions and I'm glad to make a list to try out now and revisit later!   So, please keep sharing your ideas!

One of my very best memories of school (and I LOVED school) was my fourth grade teacher reading _The Witches_ out loud to the class.  I can't wait to read it to DD!  But, we are definitely not there yet...  I'll have to check out some of Dahl's other work.  I think the only other thing I've read is _James and the Giant Peach_. 

 

We actually read Winnie-the-Pooh a few months ago and DD enjoyed it.  I tend to translate as I read so the language is never a problem.  But, we've also been reading long stories from collected volumes from around the world for over a year and poems beginning when she was an infant so both her language and her attention span are up to many of these books posters have mentioned so far.  (Our favorite poetry is actually A.A. Milne's _When We Were Very Young_ and _Now We are Six_, btw).  

 

At the same time, she's very sensitive so we need sweet and fun stories with good characters-- not scary or sad ones.  (Tell you the truth, my reading taste is similar even today smile.gif ).

 

For what it's worth, we stopped with _My Father's Dragon_ after reading the first book and began P.L. Traver's _Mary Poppins_.  She LOVES it.  We spent our whole breakfast comparing the movie, the current Broadway production and the book.  Really fun! 

 

I'm going to pick up a copy of _The Hobbit_ this weekend and give it a pre-read.  It would be so fun for me for sure!  I'm also going to pick up _The Wind in the Willows_ because I have never read it...


hildare's Avatar hildare 07:12 AM 07-28-2011

the WITW, i guess it does depend on your child-- whether he or she likes to listen to just the flow and sound of words or if they need to know what everything means.  if you've got an inquisitive vocabulary builder who will stop to ask every word then the WITW is probably not a good choice.  there are LOTS of really high-level vocabulary words, but i do think that in the context of reading out loud, the actual flow of the words and the story and characterization make it a good choice for the laid back listener.  i do get that it might get frustrating otherwise! 

i haven't read pooh in a while but i think it was on a lower level.  however, that's kind of the beauty of reading out loud-- you can say the word "gravely" in a way that your kid will pick up the meaning...


ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 07:59 AM 07-28-2011

 

I also think it depends on "how" you read. DH is a master storyteller and he will portray the different characters with funny voices and mannerisms and act out the scenes a little as he reads. The Wind in the Willows lends itself to that kind of treatment because the characters like Mole and Ratty are so entertaining. If you just read the words out loud off the page, then, yeah, I can see how some books and some kids wouldn't mesh well. 

 

OP, have you tried the Frog and Toad books (and others) by Arnold Lobel? They are very simple early readers but sweet little stories. 

 

Since you mentioned Mary Poppins in your first post and your dd's great attention span, I think pp have assumed that you were looking for some higher level books to read to your dc. Books that may be a little challenging, but the action and characters tend to keep even very young children engaged if they like listening to well-told stories. I think that's the wonderful thing about read-alouds - you can share books with children and extend their literary experiences. A child will let you know pretty quickly if they aren't ready for a book. if a child isn't interested, then you can always skip it and come back in a year or two or five. You can always re-read a book in a few years with them or let the child re-read it on their own when they are older and they will have a new understanding and insight into it. There's nothing wrong with trying something a little challenging.  A parent may be pleasantly surprised by what the child enjoys. 


parsley's Avatar parsley 08:27 AM 07-28-2011

Yup!  Challenging is not a problem!


hildare's Avatar hildare 09:10 AM 07-28-2011

this just popped into my head since it goes along with what we're talking about-- has anyone seen the book The read aloud handbook

from what i remember there were good read aloud book recommendations by age/interest in there, as well as just being an all around resource for anybody wanting to get more out of the read aloud experience.  i LOVE this book... i read it, thumbed through, dog-eared the pages when i was reading to kids on a regular basis.  most libraries have it on hand, too. 


ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 09:29 AM 07-28-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post

this just popped into my head since it goes along with what we're talking about-- has anyone seen the book The read aloud handbook

from what i remember there were good read aloud book recommendations by age/interest in there, as well as just being an all around resource for anybody wanting to get more out of the read aloud experience.  i LOVE this book... i read it, thumbed through, dog-eared the pages when i was reading to kids on a regular basis.  most libraries have it on hand, too. 


Yeah, that's a great resource. Another good resource is the local library. A good children's librarian is wonderful for finding new materials. If you have a good branch, it makes it easier to try different books without a huge investment. 

 

 


AAK's Avatar AAK 11:50 PM 07-28-2011

I have to second the recommendation for the Dick King-Smith books!!!!  We have read "Lady Lollipop" and "A Mouse Called Wolf" by him.  They are adored by all my kids.  There has yet to be anything real scary in them.  I wouldn't hesitate to read them to any age (provided they were ready/willing to listen to chapter books)

 

Amy


Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 05:25 AM 07-29-2011

Yes, there are a lot of Dick King-Smith books that are good to read to young kids.  The only one I've come across that people might want to be cautious about is The School Mouse.  In that one, most of the mice in the school die from eating poison, and there's a sad scene where the main character sees her brother eating the poison and realizes it's too late to save him.  My kids (5 and 8) actually liked the book just fine despite that, but it might be too much for some kids.  All the other Dick King-Smith books we've read have been mild and appropriate for any kid.


AAK's Avatar AAK 09:31 AM 07-29-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

Yes, there are a lot of Dick King-Smith books that are good to read to young kids.  The only one I've come across that people might want to be cautious about is The School Mouse.  In that one, most of the mice in the school die from eating poison, and there's a sad scene where the main character sees her brother eating the poison and realizes it's too late to save him.  My kids (5 and 8) actually liked the book just fine despite that, but it might be too much for some kids.  All the other Dick King-Smith books we've read have been mild and appropriate for any kid.



Thanks Daffodil for the heads up.  My kids have recently grown super-sensitive to death in books--unless it is the "bad guy"


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