I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my three-year-old daughter's newly expressed interest in being read chapter books, in addition to her regular diet of picture books and early readers. I asked people on the post and on Facebook to share titles that they had read with their children while were still pre-readers. I collected a number of titles, and was especially pleased to be reminded of a post that Melissa Wiley wrote a couple of years on this very topic (Chapter book suggestions for a four-year-old). Out of these suggestions, and my own opinions, I've come up with a list of the top five series I most look forward to reading with my daughter. They are (in approximate age order):
1. The Clementine Books by Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee). I absolutely adore Clementine. I think she is a wonderful character, and that the books are spot on in terms of both realism and humor. Frazee's illustrations perfectly capture Clementine for me, too. And there are enough illustrations that I think Baby Bookworm will be ready for the first book soon. In fact I just ordered a new copy, because I apparently gave mine away (back in the days before I knew that I'd have a daughter to read it to, I suspect). And as a bonus, the books are set in Boston, where my family's pro sports loyalties will forever lie.
2. The Pippi Longstocking Books by Astrid Lindgren. My daughter has a 3-year-old's love of the ridiculous. I think that she'll be as charmed by the irrepressible Pippi as I was. And perhaps she'll be inspired by the way that Pippi solves her own problems. Pippi gives new meaning to the term "strong girl." My second grade class did Pippi as a class play, with my friend Holly as Pippi (her real braids manipulated out to the sides with a coat hanger or something). I was Annika, and I'll never forget it.
I also splurged on the DVD boxed set of the four Pippi movies from the 1970s. This was more for me than for Baby Bookworm, in truth (though she adores movies), because I have fond memories of my dad taking my siblings and I (or probably just my next-youngest brother and I) to see them in the theater. Pippi in the South Seas was my favorite of the movies, and I look forward to seeing it again (after we read the book).
3. The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (ill. Garth Williams). This was the first series that I remember reading on my own, devouring book after book. Little House in the Big Woods will forever be the first middle grade title that Baby Bookworm expressed a serious interest in reading (admittedly inspired by Little House in the Big Woods paper dolls). So it is naturally on our Top 5 list. But as we've progressed in attempting to read the first book, it's become clear that she's more interested in hearing the stories associated with some of the pictures than in actually listening to the whole book right now. No worries. The books will wait.
4. The Penderwicks Books by Jeanne Birdsall. I adore The Penderwicks. To me these books are modern classics, with the characterization and emotional resonance of the Elizabeth Enright books (childhood favorites of mine), but with a more up-to-date feel. Clearly 4-year-old Batty will be Baby Bookworm's favorite character, if we read the books any time within the next few years, but I imagine that one day she will identify with Jane or Skye or eventually Rosalind. These are books I'd like to read with her while she's in elementary school, when she's old enough to discuss Rosalind's crush, and Jeffrey's loneliness. But young enough to feel the endless potential of summer in the first book.
5. The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling (ill. Mary GrandPre). OK, this one is a bit of a cliche. But really, who doesn't look forward to reading the Harry Potter books with their child? I did, in fact, read Baby Bookworm the first book when she was an infant, but I look forward to her being old enough to appreciate the story. I don't want to start too soon, because the later books are pretty dark, and I know that once we start we're likely to want to keep going. But I do look forward to spending time with my daughter in Harry Potter's world. In fact, I think this one will be a family affair, because I can't imagine my husband not wanting to participate, too.
There are lots of other books that I hope to read with my Baby Bookworm when the time is right. I hope that she will be as captivated by the work of Elizabeth Enright and Zilpha Keatley Snyder as I was, and am. I imagine that she'll love The Borrowers. I hope that she doesn't find A Little Princess or The Secret Garden dated. I hope that we are able to read book after book after book together. I think that there are some books that she'll enjoy more if she discovers them on her own (though I can't say which ones off the top of my head). But the above five are the series that I am most looking forward to sharing with her. Perhaps in a future post I'll look at some standalone titles (Matilda, perhaps?).
What books do you look forward to reading aloud with your children? What books did you enjoy when they were younger? If you've already been through it, don't you kind of envy me, having all of these books still ahead of us? An unintentional upside to having a child late in life. Thanks for reading!