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Thursday Three: Classic Chapters

Posted by Pam on September 17, 2009 at 10:03 AM in Chapter BooksClassics
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Thinking about Susan's post on reading to a wiggly preschooler, reminded me that there's an easier time ahead in reading to a snuggly elementary schooler. After a long day at school being a big kid, there's nothing better that getting book time with mom or dad. Picture books remain wonderful choices, but now chapter books become a healthy part of the reading menu. Certainly any book is fine. But there are some that practically beg to be read aloud, especially those where the reading level is a bit high for the intended audience. Here are a few of those classics:

by A. A. Milne
Winnie-the-PoohI still hold onto a memory from fifth grade where a teacher saw me reading House at Pooh Corner and complimented me on choosing such a challenging book. These days we think of Winnie-the-Pooh as a preschooler thing, an idea pushed forward by the whole Disneyfication of the characters. It's a crying shame. The watered-down versions of the classic books ruin our appetites for the real thing. Fight back by reading aloud the true version with it's melodious language, gentle illustrations, and sophisticated story-telling.

Jenny and the Cat Club
by Ester Averill
Jenny and the Cat ClubWhen New York Review Children's Collection republished this book among other classics, I felt like I had found an old friend. I can't say that I had been searching dusty old bookshops for a copy. To be honest, I had forgotten all about this book until I saw the cover. And there was Jenny, the shy black cat with the red scarf. Oh, how I had missed her! The story follows a shy, little cat who wants to be part of the Cat Club and finds friends, adventure, and courage in their world. This book and the other Jenny books are perfect read-alouds for the younger set because the language and plot are simply - yet wonderfully - done.

Paddington Treasury
by Michael Bond
Paddington TreasuryPaddington Bear has also received the Winnie-the-Pooh treatment in recent years (what is it about bears?) with a ton of simplified boardbooks and adaptations. Again, you need to go back to the original to capture the heart of these stories of a bear found at a train station who goes on to make every day into exciting adventures as he bumbles along. The tales are wonderful for elementary school children, but the old-fashioned language and references can make reading the books a struggle. As a read-aloud, however, it's magical.

What are your favorite read-aloud books?


Susan Thomsen writes...

Mitali Perkins' RICKSHAW GIRL is a great read-aloud. We've read it twice!

Rebecca Reid writes...

I read my son Winnie-the-Pooh and HaPC when he was 4 months old and again last month, when he was 22 months old. He loved this second time around, and ran over to find the pictures. (I read as he plays.) I plan to read it to him every year or so, until he begs me not to.

Thanks for the other recs. I haven't heard of Jenny before, but I do remember liking Paddington! Off to find them for my son!

Terry writes...

I loved Winnie the Pooh, but I'm afraid that Mr. Disney has ruined it for Catherine. We tried reading it, but she was continually stopping to tell us the "real" Winnie the Pooh stories. [sigh] We have all (even Dad!) enjoyed sharing the Roscoe Riley series.

aquafortis writes...

I definitely remember my mother reading me Paddington and Pooh! She also read me almost halfway through the Narnia series before I took over on my own. (We left off at Voyage of the Dawn Treader...I remember that distinctly!) I think there was also some reading aloud of Ramona Quimby.

Bethany writes...

I adore reading The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane aloud. They are written very episodically, and lend themselves well to daily readings.

Sarah N. writes...

I remember my mom reading Paddington and Pooh to me as a kid. Jenny and the Cat Club is new to me. I'll definitely have to check it out. Some of our favorite read alouds are the Little House series, Harry Potter, the Ramona books, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Betsy-Tacy.

Jen Robinson writes...

I don't have a lot of first-hand experience with reading chapter books aloud. But I recently read Masterpiece by Elise Broach, and thought that would be a fabulous read-aloud for older kids (it won an award for that, too, so it's not just my opinion).

My favorite recent read-aloud title is A Visitor for Bear, though that's a picture book, of course.

tanita writes...

I really mostly remember my mother reading me Bible stories aloud. I honestly have no fairytale memories of her at all -- which isn't a bad thing; she wanted me to know what she felt was important.

BUT, my favorite memory was a second date with Tech Boy, where he started reading The Hobbit to me... and finished it with subsequent nightly readings on the phone. I will always love that book for that reason; it was magical, for a variety of reasons, but it started the read-aloud-at-night tradition for us that we still have.

Jen Robinson writes...

Just had to chime in to say that I love Tanita's favorite read-aloud memory. Thanks for sharing it!

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