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What to read, what to read?

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My daughter is just beginning to be interested in books with more chapters than pictures. We’ve read Thornton Burgess’ Animal Stories together already and just finished 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. The Animal Stories were a huge hit, but my daughter would  ask me to skip some parts of the 101 Dalmatians that were too scary or too stressful for her to hear (mostly the bits featuring the woman my daughter considers the ultimate super-villian, Cruella de Vil).

So with that in mind, what should we tackle next?

Any recommendations out there?

6 Responses to “What to read, what to read?”

  1. Susan

    I am still waiting for the flood of recommendations from other people since I’m always looking for English books to read to my kids. (Living abroad, I can’t browse in a bookstore, and it’s hard to judge books online.) But we’ve tried a few chapter books.

    Four year-old Sophia quite likes books by Astrid Lindgren: “The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking” and especially stories about Lotta, a mischievous 3-4 year old. Admittedly, we’ve read them mostly in German so I don’t know how good the English translations (from the original Swedish) are, but according to Amazon, at least some of the Lotta books are available in English. (Sophia also likes another Lindgren series, but it does not seem to have been translated into English.) Both series are about strong-willed little girls, with the Pippi stories containing a fair amount of fantasy (not many girls can lift a horse) and the Lotta series being more about day-to-day situations that a real preschool-aged kid could get into.

    I’m reading “Charlotte’s Web” to Alexander right now. Sophia liked the first few chapters, but later found it hard to follow. However, Alexander (age 6) seems to like it.


    • shalahowell

      Susan — you and me both. I did get several good recommendations via Facebook from a friend of mine who taught preschool for many years in Brookline. Her list:
      – The Catwings series by Ursula LeGuin (4 small books about cats with wings)
      – The Lighthouse Series by Cynthia Rylant (also about animals).
      – Oz series post-the Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum (recommended for the language)
      – An author named Hoban
      – The old Uncle Wiggly stories

      Our copies of the Catwings series arrived today. I’ll let you know what we think of them. Thanks in turn for the recommendations re: Pippi. I’d forgotten about her entirely (how could I?). Also good info re: the timing of Charlotte’s Web. My husband and I were debating the timing of introducing that. Sounds like waiting another year or two is the way to go.


  2. Susan

    I read several of the Oz books when I was in elementary school and remember enjoying them, but I think they’d be too advanced for my daughter at the moment. However, I noticed a few months ago that they are all available as free iBooks, so you can check them out for yourself and decide whether you want to purchase the hard copies. I’m not familiar with any of the others that your friend recommended, but I’d be interested in hearing what you (and your daughter) think of the Catwings series.


    • shalahowell

      I will check the Oz books on iBooks first. Thanks for the tip. I imagine having a witch flattened early is going to be too much for my daughter to deal with, not to mention the scary flying monkeys. So we’ll probably wait on those here too.

      Our Catwings books arrived yesterday via Amazon. We sat down and read them all — all four — one after another this afternoon (took just over an hour). Now my daughter wants me to sew a pair of wings for her cat (the stuffed animal one). So I think it’s safe to say they were a success. And although the language is very simple, I thought more than once while reading them that I would have enjoyed reading them even if I didn’t have a child curled up against me, soaking up every word.

      Be warned, though. Mrs. Jane Tabby sends her children away early on in the story, and it really bothered my daughter. Fortunately we had talked about cats and how kittens don’t need their mothers after a few weeks in other contexts before, so I was able to remind my daughter of this and get over the hump of potential badness that way. That’s the only thing in the entire series that seems to have bothered my daughter at all. And it was helped later on by the kids coming home to visit their mother on occasion.

      And it occurred to me that Beverly Cleary probably wrote for this age. I’ve added her to our potential to read list. Have you read anything of hers recently?



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