early read-aloud chapter books

i’ve begun reading short chapter books with lots of pictures to the happy little dude before bed each night.  we still read a picture book or two each night in addition to a few chapters from a longer book, but i wanted to start working on longer books just to see if he could follow them.  plus, i tend to get tired of reading the same picture books over and over and over and over, and we can usually get away with reading chapter books only once (or maybe i read them once and mr. happy staff reads them once and then we can take them back to the library).  i’ve tried to steer away from books with human characters that are way older than he is (the early elementary students who are usually reading these titles and are therefore their target audience), and that leaves us largely with personified animal books.  fine with us!  here are a few series and titles we’ve enjoyed recently:

down girl and sit by lucy nolan   “down girl” is the narrator dog for these stories about her adventures with the next-door dog named “sit” and her owner named “rruff” and the cat next door named “here, kitty kitty.”

moose and hildy by stephanie greene  a pig and moose are unlikely, but endearing best friends.  be aware, if you read the whole series, that “pig pickin'” deals with the threat of hildy (the pig) becoming barbeque (she avoids that fate, but it might be disturbing for vegetarians to read?).

maybelle by katie speck  maybelle the cockroach and her best friend (a flea) live in the peabody’s house where everything is “just so.”  what happens when maybelle gets too interested in trying out food that is fresh?

flat stanley by jeff brown   stanley becomes flat when a bulletin board on his bedroom wall falls down on top of him.  flatness, as it turns out, has its advantages!  we’ve only read one of these so far.  they might be a little old for the happy little dude?  but apparently… there’s an app!

my father’s dragon by ruth stiles gannett   a classic title with some old-fashioned values (i did a bit of editing on the fly when his mother beat the cat before throwing it out the back door in chapter 1).  happy little dude is looking forward to reading the second in the series.

lulu and the brontosaurus by judith viorst   reading this to a three-year-old who is still throwing tantrums and doesn’t necessarily understand that lulu is old enough that she shouldn’t be throwing tantrums is risky business.  i’m never quite sure if he’s getting ideas about how to manipulate us, or just enjoying the story…

welcome to the bed & biscuit by joan davenport carris   we’re reading this one right now and i’m enjoying the gentle plot line and the loveable characters and the illustrations.  although there are a few two-page spreads with no pictures that make a certain listener very antsy, when i ask him questions about the story, he can answer them correctly, so i know he’s listening.  tip for anyone attempting this in your own home–if your pre-reader child gets wiggly while you’re working your way through a long block of text, run your finger under the words you’re reading to let them know where you are (almost done!) and to re-iterate the “print awareness” knowledge (i.e. “those letters spell out the words that mom is reading”).  if you’re presenting this title to a beginning reader, you should know that the vocabulary is not simple!  tonight’s selection included the word, “lugubrious!”

others i’m looking forward to reading:

mokie & bik by wendy orr

the trouble with chickens by doreen cronin

any favorites in this genre/reading level that your family would recommend?

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