Friday, August 17, 2012

Beyond Picture Books: Longer Real-Alouds for Preschoolers

My kids still love picture books.  Picture books have wonderful illustrations to explore and discuss, rhymes that are terrific for phonemic awareness, and they are just fun to read together, especially when you only have time (or patience) for a couple minutes of reading.  My girls (who just turned 3), however, have started begging for more and more stories and I found myself reading as many as 30 picture books to them every day (we usually read 4 times a day, anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour!).  So I found some longer books to read aloud to them....

Mercy Watson

I got the girls the Mercy the Pig box set with all 6 books, and both of them ask for Mercy frequently.  These books are really cute beginning chapter books which can each be read in one sitting (approximately 20 minutes if you discuss the story a bit).   Don't expect a deep plot - all conflicts are resolved by eating toast (with a great deal of butter on it), which is Mercy's favorite..

Frog and Toad

The Frog and Toad books are a collection of stories about best friends Frog and Toad.  They have many different themes from friendship to bravery to self control.  I enjoy these stories as much as my kids do, and we often find ourselves recalling specific stories related to things we're currently doing. 

Little Bear

Little Bear is a beginning reader, meaning that the sentence structure and vocabulary is limited to something a First Grader could tackle.  This, however, does not take away from the adorable stories and illustrations in the book.  Little Bear makes 'Birthday Soup', flies to the moon, emulates his father, visits his grandparents, and has lots of fun adventures that my kids adore to hear about.

Two Times the Fun

This chapter book includes stories about 4-year old twins.  When I first glanced through the book, I thought it would be too dull for my kids - the twins in the story do everyday things like dig holes in the yard, give dog biscuits to a cat, get new boots, and collect thingamajigs.  But my own twins LOVED IT!  Beverly Clearly just has a magnificent way of relating to kids.  The chapters in the book are independent stories, so they can be read on their own, but my kids often ask for the entire book in one sitting (which takes about an hour to get through!)

My Father's Dragon

This is the first 'real' chapter book we read (where the chapters need to be read consecutively for the plot).  In fact, it's really a trilogy of books that we got through.  The story is really clever and suitable for older kids (and parents), as well.  The first book is about a boy who uses his wits (and the right equipment) to save a dragon who is being held prisoner on an island, and the subsequent books deal with more of his adventures with the dragon.  I had to abridge the story a bit when I would see the girls losing interest, but overall they understood the plot and enjoyed the exciting adventure (L was especially enthralled).  It's actually been a couple months now since we read these books, so I think we'll read them again pretty soon.

We're a family that loves to read, and I'm really enjoying the special time I get to spend reading with my kids, whether we're sounding out words in picture books or enjoying a chapter-book adventure.  I recall reading chapter books with my own parents, and reading them to my youngest sister, so I'm glad I get to continue this tradition with my own little ones...

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