Books for 3-5 year olds
Berkeley Parents Network >
The Arts, Books, Entertainment, & Media >
Books for 3-5 year olds
I would like to start reading chapter books to my kids (ages
4 and 5) at night, before bed. Now, we read short books,
where we get the whole story in one sitting. Am I pushing
it? Is it too young to read long stories (many nights)with
more complex plot lines and characters? Of course, in my
mind, I have books like Harry Potter and the Hobbit, but I
realize that those are still a few years off.
What age did you start reading long (4+ nights) books to
your kids and what books did you read?
We can't all fit into any one bed, so for the most part I
was thinking that I would sit in a chair and read while the
two kids were lying in their beds.... is that what you did?
If your kids ever fell asleep during the story-- do you stop
there, or re-read that section again the next night?
I know my mom read to me, but I can't remember anything
about the logistics.... and I don't remember the early titles!!
can't wait for chapter books!!
My two boys (4 and 7) are both able to enjoy non-fiction chapter
books and, to some extent, fiction chapter books. However, non-
fiction works better for us. The 7-year-old really is at the edge of
getting into more complicated fiction, and the 4-year-old isn't ready.
So we are not at the 4+ nights stage. We tried Harry Potter but the 4-
year-old absorbed incredible detail about insignificant plot elements
(!) and wasn't able to pick up the larger scene-setting and story arc.
The 7-year-old just wasn't into the magic aspect of it all. You may
have better luck picking something that appeals to both with your age
We've talked about (and talked up) what a cliffhanger is so I use this
as a way to crack open longer books and stop partway through. Most
longer books take 2-3 nights max. Tonight, e.g., we read an advanced
early reader book about the discovery of King Tut's tomb and I told
them the cliffhanger was waiting to go inside the tomb, and we
stopped at the chapter that describes this. We've also read junior
science books (e.g. Seymour Simon's books) and the Juliana Hatkoff
wild animal rescue books (Owen and Mzee, Leo the Snow Leopard,
etc.) this way.
We sit together on a rug and floor cushions in their room and then
they get into bed after we're done. I ''prepare'' them by asking them
what happens after we've finished reading x number of books and
they respond that it will be bedtime. This is pretty routine now, but
when they were younger it was essential to stave off the ''one more
book!'' bedtime delay tactics. If they drift off (rare), I'll stop, explain
quietly to the awake child that we'll save the story for tomorrow, and
then we do pick up a page or two back the next day.
Recently we introduced longer (e.g. Stuart Little, The Rescuers) books
on CD and will try to actually read the same books in the next couple
In terms of fiction, the My Father's Dragon books are what worked out
well for both kids (when they were just 4 and 6) as have the Boxcar
Children and Magic Treehouse books. All good on cliffhangers, too...
As they get older, you can also have the older child (who presumably
will be reading first) pair up with you on reading to make ''easier''
narratives more interesting.
Books aloud reader too
I would highly recommend that you just jump in and try a longer book. I
started reading ''real'' books to my son when he was 3 or 4. We read Dragon in
the Sock Drawer, Dragon in the Driveway, The Little Prince, and the first two
Harry Potter books before he turned 5. Although he bounces all over the place
while I read, and often asks me to explain things (and clearly missed what's
going on at times), he understands much more than I had expected, has been
building his vocabulary quite a bit, and absolutely LOVES it (save The Little
Prince for later, though, I learned). I've stopped reading him the Harry Potter
for now because the story gets a bit intense in later volumes, but he is still
asking me for regular updates of the non-scary parts. We are now on a quest
for what to read after Harry Potter. Have fun with it, and see what happens. I
have SO enjoyed reading these books with my son, and am so glad that my
mom gave him the first book, which I thought was too advanced.
I'd visit a library or bookstore with them and look around together for a book.
Let the kids choose, providing them with info about characters and story that
you can remember about the book.
We have done series books in our house. My husband read the Narnia series to
our 4- and 6-year olds last year. I have since read the Little House books. I plan
to visit a library with them to let them choose the next one. I think that
choosing power is important for kids.
We read upright and together on the sofa with me in the middle. It is a night
time ritual and they know that after getting ready for bed we'll begin. Typically
I'll read for 20 to 30 minutes.
Beverley Cleary books! We read all of them to our 5-year-
old son. Also the Magic Treehouse series - not as well-
written but quicker reads.
Welcome to the fun world of reading! I started reading
chapter books to my oldest daughter when she was almost 4
and she was ready! We started with part of the Betsy Tacy
series, the Little House series, and a whole lot of Beverly
Cleary books and then over the course of the next couple of
years read some more challenging books like EB White's
Trumpet of the Swan and Alice in Wonderland. She was
immersed and, when I asked her questions to gauge reading
comprehension, she was clearly understanding and
comprehending even when she was four.
My younger daughter seems more restless about reading;
she's 3.5 now and while she likes being read to, she is not
obsessed with reading like our oldest daughter. We have
read her some simpler books (i.e. Frog and Toad series,
Mouse Tales and Mouse Soup) and some Easy Readers (i.e.
Poppleton, Henry and Mudge, etc) and will be trying out
some chapter books soon, probably Little House in the Big
One way or another, reading with children is great!
Regarding Harry Potter, I tried reading it to my eldest
when she was in kindergarten and it scared her too much at
that time (the Wizard of Oz book was another one that
scared her). However, she learned to read in the summer
between kindergarten and first grade and this year at age 7
has read books 1 through 4 by herself and is seriously
thrilled by the books, reading, and life in general.
Sometimes timing is everything.
Every child is different, and you'll find what books your
kids like. I have a son who is now 6 and we have been
reading chapter books for a couple of years. At age four,
My Father's Dragon series (3 books)
Little House in the Big Woods
The Mouse and the Motorcycle (3 books in series)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
At Age 5, he liked:
Henry and Ribsy (and other books in this series)
My niece liked:
B is for Betsy (and other books in this series)
All of a Kind Family
The rest of the Little House books
There are lots of great easier chapter books out there. Our
librarian pointed me to some of these. If you start reading
and they are restless or uninterested, stop and wait a
while. I wanted to make sure I didn't push too early and
ruin the experience. My sense is that Harry Potter would be
too advanced for most 4/5 year olds, as would the Hobbit,
but there are likely some children out there who would enjoy
Also, my son still likes to take breaks between reading
chapter books. My tendency is to want to start a new one as
soon as we're done, but he will often want to read some of
his older picture books, and I try to follow his lead, while
introducing the chapter books gradually.
chapter book reader
Check out the Magic Treehouse Series. Perfect for kids the age of yours
(whether they are boys or girls). They will be engaged and will be able to follow
along. It may take 2-4 nights to finish them. We started reading Harry Potter
with our daughter about mid-way through kindergarten. She loves it.
There are many benefits of reading aloud to children, especially chapter books:
the soothing sound of your voice (doesn't matter if you're reading a foreign
language - they like the sound); learning new vocabulary - they figure out the
meaning from the context and if they can't, they ask; the ability to follow a more
involved plot - they can indeed do it by age 4/5. As for falling asleep while
listening - ask them the next night ''what do you last remember? where do you
want me to pick up?''
So, in other words, start now! Go ahead and plunge into Harry Potter, Hobbit.
Many generations grew up listening to the Narnia Chronicles or Winnie the Pooh
being read aloud. Or go for shorter, funnier books - Beverly Cleary and Roald
Dahl were my first intro to chapter books. I discovered the longer, stranger
classic folk and fairy tales in our libraries - my kids loved those. Talk to your
librarian - they know the classics, the newly popular, the ones that are fun to
read aloud (do you like to get into character? do voices? do you like
Mom of Two
I recently started reading a few short chapter books to my 5
and 3 year old. I don't think the 3 year old quite has the
attention to really follow the plot over several nights, but
she still likes it anyway. And the 5yr old loves the more
involved stories, and is excited to be in charge of the
bookmark. I haven't explored too many books yet, so I'm
looking forward to other responses you get. But one series
we all really like is the Mercy Watson books. They are fun
little adventures of a pig named Mercy Watson, and each has
about 12 chapters. The chapters are very short, so you could
actually read the whole book in a night, but we usually read
only 3-4 chapters in a night, to make it last for a few
nights. (They always ask for ''one more!!!'' so I usually tell
them I'll read 3, so I can add one more if I feel like it.)
When we are in the middle of a book, I start by asking them
if they remember what happened so far. We look at the
pictures from the beginning of the book to remind them. As
for logistics, I usually lay next to the 5yr old, so she can
see the words as I'm reading or try to read some on her own,
and then show the pictures to the 3yr old (whose bed is
nearby, but not angled so she can see while we are reading).
Sometimes she comes up on her big sister's bed.
FYI - We also tried the Ivy and Bean books, but I wasn't as
much a fan, mainly because there was some mean-girl pre-teen
behavior that I'd rather not have emulated just yet!
Dick King Smith!
The very greatest thing about having kids! Theres a lovely
little series called ''Sophie's Snail'' It goes about four
pages between illustrations. Promise me you'll enjoy him
with your kids. He was such a lovely Brit. Contributed so
much to my kids upbringing.
Also ''My Father's Dragon''
My friend's son is seven, and he loves Captain Underpants.
I don't know if your kids are old enough for that, or if
you would even like it. It does have chapters, however. I
remember reading a very long version of Pinnochio when my
kids were little, and that could not be finished in one
night. When they were older, we loved reading ''A Wrinkle in
Time'' together. Even when my son was in middle school, and
had trouble going to sleep, I would read to him. I remember
reading a little bit of Earl Stanley Gardner's ''The Case of
the Grinning Gorilla'' to him, and he would go to sleep
after a couple of pages. That book took months to get
through. It's wonderful that you are reading to your
children, as it is so important.
You're a good parent
your kids are definitely old enough for chapter books - just
make sure that the chapters are short! My kids are 4 and 6
and, for the past year, we've been really enjoying the
Boxcar Children series and also the Magic Treehouse series.
I've heard really good things about the A to Z mystery
series too -but for whatever reason, they don't hold my
Can't Wait Until the Harry Potter Years!
My kids are 4 and 6, and we started reading multiple-night
books to them a lot more in the last half a year, and the
kids love it. Here are some books we've read: Abel's Island
(William Steig), Magic Tree House series, shortened versions
of classics (Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels). I worry
somewhat about stealing from their future young reader
library, i.e., what they would/could be reading themselves
in 3 or 4 years, but I assume/hope there is a whole world of
good stuff out there, so it'll be okay if I ''steal'' some for
reading out loud now.
This past year My 4 year son and I started to read Pippi
Longstocking and we enjoyed them together so much. It really
was a bonding experience because we laughed so hard
together. It is nice because each chapter is short and not
totally dependent on what came before. Another idea is
fairy tales. I have not ventured out to other chapter book.
I have heard before that there is still a lot for children
to gain from picture books and not to rush them too fast
into chapter books. I have also exercised some restraint
because there is something to be said for saving some of
these wonderful chapter books for when the children actually
take up reading themselves for them to discover and enjoy.
But, there is something nice as well to read with your
parents. A really wonderful book I play to read soon and I
think is great for kids is Salmon Rushdies Haroun and the
Sea of stories. Looking forward to what others have to say.
I recommend starting with the Pippi Longstocking books, and
also the Milly-Molly-Mandy books. We read these endlessly for
years to both my daughter and my son. They are really linked
stories more than novels. They're completely innocuous -- you
don't have to edit anything out (unlike Harry Potter, which we
edited quite a bit in the early years). When you're ready for
a little bit of mild gore, Treasure Island is wonderful to
I just wanted to throw a shout out to the ''Fablehaven''
series. I have been reading them/with my 8 year old. We
share pages. They are fantastic, not quite as dark as
Harry Potter and my boy is riveted. The author of the
series is Brandon Maul and there are 6 books I believe.
They have centaurs, satyrs, fairies, imps, the works.
Really well written and paced perfectly for the age.
Hope you try them out!
Here are some great books that have amazing visuals to help
transition to chapter books or to satisfy an older child who
wants something with more meat and younger child who needs
The Brian Selznick books (he wrote The Invention of Hugo
Cabret and Wonderstruck). The movie was decent, but the
books offer a completely different experience with amazing
charcoal drawings that are more than just illustrations;
they actually move the plot along.
The Bone Series. These are graphic novels for kids. We have
read this entire series multiple times.
The Big Book of Tashi: couldn't find these at local stores,
so had to order, but these are wonderful. The author
basically retells old myths or classic stories through this
kid Tashi who moves to a new city and becomes friends with a
boy named Jack. Because the stories are old stories, we've
had fun going back to the originals with our kids.
a reader raising readers
My 2 1/2 yr old daughter has really liked ''Twas the night
before Christmas''. She regularly picks it for bedtime
reading - and she's started reciting parts of it.
We'd love to get another book or two of these sorts of
'story poems'. The only I know of is Shel Silverstein.
Would love to hear some other ideas.
What has gone over well with your young kids?
mom of a poet
Many picture books, from ''Green Eggs and Ham'' to ''Goodnight
Moon'' to ''Madeline,'' are essentially story poems. If you
think of it that way, there are tons of options out there.
If you're seeking actual poems turned into books, look in
the juvenile 811 section of the library - one of my
favorites, sophisticated but with a wonderful sing-songy
rhythm, is Robert Frost's ''Stopping by Woods on a Snowy
Evening'' illustrated by Susan Jeffers. For shorter poems,
my kids enjoyed ''Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young,''
compiled by Jack Prelutsky and containing everything from
Ogden Nash to Prelutsky himself. Have fun exploring - I
love reading rhyming books out loud!
My son loved Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks, and
the follow-on Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers, both by Calef Brown. Weird, funny,
and great illustrations. And each one is the perfect length for the bedtime routine.
It's been about 10 years and I can still remember each poem
and the different voices I would use to read them!
Robert Louis Stevenson!
I'm coming in a little late on this one, but in case it
wasn't exclusively Christmas poems you were interested in,
the poems my son found most entertaining were: Oh, the
Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss, the Shel Silverstein books, a
Big Treasury of Children's Verse I got for him (sorry, I
can't remember the exact title, but it contained many of the
traditional English favorites such as Little Boy Blue,
etc.), and Robert Louis Stevenson. Basically anything that
rhymed worked. When I was little, my mother took a course
in poetry, and she was enthusiastic to the degree of sharing
adult poetry with me. I loved Lewis Carroll's Twas Brillig,
but I also latched onto Browning's My Last Duchess and
Keats' Eve of Saint Agnes (which is kind of racy!). I was
probably six or seven. It's really the sound and richness
of language that can pull a kid in, and if you're in, you're
in for life. Compliments to you for wanting to initiate
your little one into the fun and beauty of verse.
Douglas Florian has some wonderful poetry books for kids. On the Wing, Beast
Feast, and Insectlopedia are just some of his books. The reading level is age 5+
but they are great for read alouds for younger ages.
Try a good Mother Goose anthology or A Child's Garden of Verses (Robert Louis
Stevenson). When she's a bit older check out Jack Prelutsky's books, and the
anthology Poetry Speaks to Children. Visit your local library and talk to the
librarian who handles children's literature-- these people are a great resource!
There's a children's book version of ''The Owl and the
Pussycat'' with beautiful illustrations. Not sure of the
author (Brett? maybe?) but it's a love book with lovely rhymes.
My father used to read this for me when I was a little girl
growing up in India -- A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert
Almost 40 and still remember some of those poems.
Ladybug Magazine includes poems in every issue and we have one of their
anthologies of poems from the magazine. Your daughter might like both a
subscription to the magazine and one of the books.
This is a book that is out of print so you'll have to get
it used but I can still quote from it. *The Golden
Treasury of Poetry* by Louis Untermeyer. I was tiny and
my dad read it to me and I adored it. I read it to my kids.
Also, Dr. Suess books rhyme and give that magical quality
that poems have.
Poetry lover from the beginning
Check out all the books by Karma Wilson. My almost-3-year-old loves
them. They're all written in verse, with lovely, large illustrations and a
good sense of humor.
My daughter also likes the Duck in a Truck series by Jez Alborough.
And maybe your daughter is ready for Dr. Seuss?
Also, I'm not sure where you live, but the Rockridge library has a section
of kids rhyming/poetry books, so it'd be easy to browse those. Just ask a
librarian where they are.
A Rockridge Mom
My son also likes poetry. Volumes with illustrations are especially good for that
age group. We like:
A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, edited by Caroline Kennedy
Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Color, Mary Le Duc O'Neill
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, T.S. Eliot
Also Shel Silverstein, as you mentioned.
Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child's Garden of Verses. I
still remember some of these by heart! I think you can
find a lot of the poems online for free.
My kids and I have absolutely loved any of Calef Brown
books. They are so witty, clever, and the illustrations are
fantastic. I never tire of reading them. The first book
called ''Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks'' is the first one.
He's written several more over the years. They are so funny
that it's my ''go to gift'' for anyone with young kids now.
We really enjoyed ''When we were very young'' by A.A. Milne.
judith viorst has a couple of good collections.
Whiffle Squeek -- if you can find it.
Zin, Zin, Zin a violin! by Lloyd Moss (my son loved this one
so much that he had it mostly memorized at the age of 2.5)
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson ..
Berenstain Bears books (in the Reader section at the library) ..
The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet ..
Also make up poems with her. My son loves to do this at
dinner time. We start him off and see if he can add a line:
There was a bear whose nose was runny,
so he went to buy some honey...
What fun! I have a number of ideas... first, ask your local children's library
for an anthology of children's poetry, which will have great stuff for little
ones by some of the best poets (think, ''Tyger Tyger burning bright'').
Also, some classics-- A Child's Garden of Verses, Mother Goose, plus
Winnie the Pooh and the Alice in Wonderland have fun poems in them
(''Jabberwocky,'' ''You are old, Father William''). Also, Ogden Nash and
Edward Lear for wonderful humorous poetry. Finally, how about songs--
many of which have great rhymes... I was thinking of the classic children's
songs, but also of musicals, most of which rhyme -- Cole Porter, but even
newer stuff as well. Sounds like you have a neat adventure with your little
Poet and don't know it
First of all, thank you to all other responders to this thread - I've been looking
for suggestions for poetry and rhymes for my toddler son, and the suggestions
have simultaneously brought back childhood memories and given me great new
I did want to chime in about one of my all-time favorite rhyming books: The
Giant Jam Sandwich, by John Vernon Lord. The story is unique and fun, the
illustrations are wonderful, and the overall message about what can be achieved
when you work together is timeless. Enjoy!
Flamingos on the Roof, by Calef Brown!
Silly, fun, whimsical, and wonderful illustrations. Both my
boys (now 3.5 and 6), have loved this book for several
years. Allicater Gatorpillar is a favorite.
10 cent haiku is a great one too
Have you read the book Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip
I LOVE this book still. It is funny and has wonderful
illustrations. I remember my dad reading poems out of
this book for me as a child.
Context: I read an interesting chapter in the book
NutureShock (Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman) about how to
improve sibling relationships. There is a researcher who
showed that books about conflict resolution are actually
detrimental. 90% of the typical conflict resolution book is
about the problem brewing and 10% about a happy resolution.
It turns out the kids remember and practice the 90% more
than the 10%. Evidently there are books out there that model
the positive behaviors, but I don't know them.
Request: I'm looking for books that model good behaviors for
3 - 5 year olds. It would be useful to have a title and the
positive behavior that book models.
ie. 'Anna's Book' models a toddler reading alone to a
stuffed animal after parent can't read book to daughter again
I don't have particular topics that I'm looking for, but
here are a few brainstorm type ideas:
- how to include others (ie. don't exclude someone)
- what's a nice way to stick up for oneself
Let me share my favorite book site:
I'm an infant-toddler teacher and my beloved mentor, Julie
Olsen Edwards, is the brains and soul behind this web site.
She coauthored the recent book ''Anti-Bias Education for Our
Children and Ourselves'' and she vetts every book in the
Peace Library. A great thing about this site is the search
function, where you can enter parameters and get a list of
recommended books. And just reading through the various
topics is inspirational.
I just glanced at the (new) list of Anti-Bias books that
Julie recommends, and found this one that seems directly
applicable to your question:
Pegi Deitz Shea (Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, PA, 1996)
A loving, gentle, older brother hurries home from school
each day to show his baby sister the wonders of the moon and
teaches her first word, ''luna'' (moon). (Also shows culture)''
The saddest part about the library is that it includes some
fabulous books that are out of print (''What To Do About
Pollution'' comes to mind). But I've been slowly building my
own library and have had good luck finding many of the
out-of-print classics. Good luck finding what you need.
There is a good series called ''Learning to Get Along'' by
Cheri J Meiners. They are simple, short books that focus on
a particular subject - titles include ''Join in and Play'',
''Be Polite and Kind'', ''Share and Take Turns'', ''Try and Stick
with it'', etc. They're not very exciting storytelling, but
they explain concepts in easy-to-understand terms, and
include at least some of the subjects you mention.
Our almost-3 year old loves the Frog and Toad books (by
Arnold Lobel), and they show a lot of cooperation and caring
between friends (as well as persistence, problem solving,
tackling projects, and other positive behaviors). There are
four of them:
Frog and Toad are Friends (1970)
Frog and Toad Together (1972)
Frog and Toad All Year (1976)
Days with Frog and Toad (1979)
Our son also loves books of ''Mutts'' comic strips, which I
realize does not exactly contain a long narrative structure,
but which has two best friends, Earl and Mooch, going on
various adventures together. Our nearly-3 year old will
often designate himself as Mooch and our 16 month-old as
Earl, and then invite his brother to come play with him.
(Or, well, demand that he do so, but close enough for us,
There are also the Piggie and Gerald books by Mo Willems. I
haven't read them all, but if I remember correctly, the two
best friends often take on some conflict or adventure together.
A really great question -- I look forward to other responses!
Try ''D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners'' (or something like
that) for toddler/preschool etiquette. By Marc Brown.
''You Can't Say You Can't Play'' is one that is used in our kids Jr Kindergarten
class that we quote from regularly, even 10 years later.
Book Lover too
Little House series and older books in general. Spring Hill Farm. Twig. etc. Fairy
tales can be good for a slightly older child, if you pick one where the bad
behavior comes from the troll, witch or wolf, and the virtue belongs to a heroic
BTW, I totally agree with your impulse here. I think what we don't show our kids
is as important as what we do show them. The problem you describe (90%
conflict and bad behavior, with 10% resolution and good sense) is worse on T.V.
Even on PBS. Want you kids to learn how to whine and fight? Turn the T.V. on.
Best of luck.
I didn't see the original post, so I dont know what age
group you are looking at, or whether you are looking for
books for kids to read or to be read to, but I'll put in
my two cents anyway. These are books I have read to my
daughter, between ages of say, 5 and 11. I still read to
her, and love the closeness and discussions that have come
out of these books (and I believe they are gender
Isaac Bashavis Singer- Stories for Children (and a he has
a few other children's stories collections, all good).
Various books of Russian, Jewish, and other central
European Folk Tales. Some are of the Russian tales are
grisley, so pre-read if you or your kid is sensitive).
When she turned 9 or so, I started to read to her western
classics that have kids in them: David Copperfield, Oliver
Twist, Silas Marner. Also Jane Austin, which may not be as
interesting to boys (Emma, Pride and Prejudice)but my
daughter loved the whole relationship pieces of these.
We took these books really slowly, I often had to stop and
explain what was going on, but I really enjoyed revisiting
these and we had so many great conversations about human
beings, good and evil, resilience, relationships, justice
(By the way, she still reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid and
other such stuff . . . )
Mommy Loves the Classics
I'm wondering if any parents out there have had success
''crossing reading interests'' with their kids so that they
can read to both of them at the same time... I guess age
matters (this used to be easier when they were both
younger). My oldest will be 8 in a few months and she's an
advanced reader, mostly wanting to read to herself, but I
(selfishly?) crave the connection of still reading together.
My 4-year-old likes longer books lately (William Steig, some
chapter books like Mercy Watson and Mr Putter and Tabby). I
wonder if there's something I'm not thinking of that would
enchant them both?
Loving to Read Mama
You might try hidden object books like the ''I Spy'' or ''Can
You See What I See?'' series. My kids (3 and 5 years) both
love these books and they take turns picking which page to
look at. If the older kid is finding things too fast or
getting bored waiting for the little one to catch up, have
her help the younger one along by giving clues to where
the objects are.
If the older child is a good reader, and you want family
time... why not have the older child pick a book and read it
to the younger one? They'll enjoy it and so will you!
Have you tried the Magic Treehouse series? By Mary Pope
Osborne? My husband and I have read all of them (there
are about 45 books in the series) with our 7 year old
daughter and they are fantastic! Start with the first one
in the series and work your way through. The series is
about a brother and sister who find a treehouse filled
with books, and when they open a book, will be transported
back in time to be a part of the story. Most of them are
factually based, and I've learned a lot by reading them,
actually. In the beginning of the series, the brother
writes notes in a journal that he always carries with
him. When my daughter was ''too shy'' to read in front of
us, we could always get her to agree to read Jack's
journal entries since they are short and easy to read.
Now, she's reading on her own and we really miss the
books. I think the stories would be fun for a 4 year old
My 4 and 6 (almost 7) year olds love The Faraway Tree
stoires (Enid Blyton). It's 560 pages. The adventures are
fun but fairly bite-sized so your younger child won't get
lost in a complex plot. Very imaginative.
I think it is set in the 1930s. Three kids move to the
edge of The Enchanted Wood which has a tree with various
magical creatures and lands. They climb the tree and have
Our kids are about the same age and we have all enjoyed sharing books
like Charlotte's Web, Wind and the Willows, All of a Kind Family, Magic
Treehouse series, James and the Giant Peach, etc. A newer graphic
novel called the Invention of Hugo Cabret worked for the different ages
Hi. I'm looking for recommendations on good chapter books
to read aloud to a 4.5 year old girl with good language
skills. Just to give you an idea of parameters... She's
really enjoying listening to the Magic Tree House Series,
but I'd like something that's better written and has more
complex and beautiful language. We really liked the
Lighthouse Family books by Cynthia Rylant. But Little House
in the Big Woods is a little too hard for her and she starts
to lose interest(chapters are too long...) Thanks for any
Here are some ideas:
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Ramona Quimby, Age 5
Rabbit Hill (may be too flowery in language, but you could
truncate the parts with the father rabbit going on and on).
The same author has a book called 'Edward, Hoppy, and Joe'
which is absolutely wonderful for younger kids, though it is
out of print and has some dated sections (particularly the
chapter on going 'Out West' which need editing by a careful
James Herriott's Treasury for Children (chapters which are
really distinct stories by an English country vet-- with
beautiful pictures, appeals both to my 4 1/2 year old and my
8 year old)
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books
-hoping to get more ideas from the other responses!
I'd suggest the E.B. White books (Charlotte's Web, Stuart
Little, and Trumpet of the Swan), Wizard of Oz series,
Boxcar Children, My Father's Dragon and the two sequels, the
Ramona books by Beverly Cleary (especially Ramona the Pest,
about Ramona starting kindergarten),and Jenny and the Cat
Club series. bookworm
a few suggestions:
'My Father's Dragon' (and sequels) by Ruth Stiles
'Mrs. Piggle Wiggle' series by Betty MacDonald
The original A.A. Milne Pooh stories
maybe too easy/not so 'chaptery,' but I also really like the
Amanda Pig books by Jean Van Leeuwen happy reading!
My son enjoyed the Dragons of Blueland trilogy by Ruth
Gannett. I think we also read Winnie the Pooh at that age.
Does anyone have any CD recommendations for 3 year olds? I want to
listen to stories in the car, but can't seem to find any on Amazon.
1) Library. Main branches have the most. Ask the librarian -
sometimes branches file them in two sections (with music and in
their own section of audio books).
2) Search ''Books on CD'' in Amazon. I particularly recommend the
Rabbit Ears Treasury.
3) Other titles I'd recommend: Winnie the Pooh treasury,
Paddington, Beatrix Potter, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. There are also lots
of nice compilations of fairy tales, Aesop's Tales, and folk tales
told by one or different readers.
Mom of Two
My 3-1/2 year old son is crazy about this boxed set, which my
sister sent me from Ireland. It's called ''The Gruffalo and Other
Stories'' and it's a set of 6 cds, each with a different story (and
related songs). The stories are read by Imelda Staunton and they're
packed with music and adventure.
Lisa in Oakland
we really enjoy ''the house on pooh corner'' as read by jim
broadbent. he does great characterizations for each animal and
it's really fun to listen to. i'm pretty sure he's recorded the
first pooh book as well. we bought ours at cody's last year (sigh),
but i've seen it on amazon as well.
Check out your library...they usually have a pretty good
Try Uncle Wiggly's Storybook and Good Luck Duck, both by Jim Weiss.
I think he has others targeted at this age, as well.
Any recommendations for preschool (boy) storybooks with a
moral, but non-religious message? My partner and I have not
resolved the religious upbringing issue (him a slightly
observant jew, me a believer in the beauty of all religions).
I'd like to start reading my son stories with a moral message -
how to be friends, how to act and speak toward others, how to
do good deeds, how to be kind and generous, etc. But without
having to explain who or what god is.
Check out the original Thomas the Tank Engine books - there are great
morals throughout and my son loved the stories. The trains have
personalities and challenges and always learn something along their
adventurous ways. My son is older now, but we read them together for a
few years and both enjoyed the stories.
The ''Arthur'' books are great for this. There's always a
message--don't try to cover up when you did something wrong, be fair,
keep your promises, etc. We bought a set of 8 books that specifically
identified each books moral theme on the cover.
The Mr. Rogers book series gives those moral lessons in the same way as
the tv show - gently and in the context of life. Most preschool
''moral'' books are heavy-handed and not much fun to read--I'm sure
you've noticed that your child will choose some books to hear over and
over, while others languish. If the point of the book is to transmit
morals, he will mostly not be interested. Truly the best way to teach
morals to preschoolers is to practice them and be sure to share your
thinking with him, e.g., ''Even though I'm busy I want to make some
muffins and visit Mrs. Smith because I know she's feeling lonely now.''
I'm not wild about the illustrations, but the Bearenstain Bear series
of books are pretty good at addressing all the moral topics you
I've seen them in most libraries, but they're also reasonably priced
paperbacks you can find in Longs.
As a 'person of faith' AND an educator, I find the sort of books you
describe hard to find and very much needed. A colleague recently gave
me Amy Krouse Rosenthal's 2006 book ''Cookies: Bite-Size Lessons.''
It's right on target, with a wide range of children's ethnicities
portrayed and the so-called moral message more simply an illustration
around the sharing of cookies. There is a Christmas book due out later
this year and it will be interesting to see if that is equally
accessible to all kinds of families.
We really like the VeggieTales set of books and movies. They are
produced by very Christian people, but I find the christianity in them
to be very subtle. The TV shows always end with a bible verse, often
from the old testament. And the early shows were generally bible
stories (David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, etc). But many of the
shows are also spoofs on other shows/movies (like Lord of the Rings,
Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes, etc). Anyway, each is geared
toward a ''christian value'' like honesty, sharing, love your neighbor,
etc. I find them very entertaining and hilarious, and good clean fun.
You can easily avoid the more directly religious titles if you are okay
with a generic reference to ''God''.
Maybe your looking for something more didactic, but I think many of the
Dr. Seuss books have a strong moral imperative. The Sneeches, The
Lorax, Horton Hears a Who, Yertle the Turtle all deal with timely
issues about religious intolerance, racism, environmentalism, the power
of one etc. They're also a heck of a lot of fun. My kids and I have
had many heady discussions (even at the preschool age) stem from these
Dr Suess! start with Yertle The Turtle and other Stories and go from
morals without the guilt factor
Because of You by B.G. Hennessy and Hiroe Nakata
One Winter's Day by M. Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton
Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jane Dyer
The Wonderful Happens by Cynthia Rylant and Coco Dowley
The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell
I'm looking for some chapter books that I can read to my
four-year old that will hold his interest but not be full of
content that is too old for him. He has been reading by
himself for awhile, so I would like to leave the picture
books for him to read to himself and get some books that I
can read to him at night that may not have tons of pictures.
It would also be great if each chapter built on the one
before it, rather than each chapter be a brand new story
(e.g. Frog and Toad books).
We already have winnie-the-pooh. Are there other choices out
there? Thanks for any guidance.
The author of Make Way for Ducklings wrote two very gentle chapter books
as well. They are called Homer Price & Centerburg Tales (both are about
the people that live in the same small town as Homer Price). Very gentle
books, with humor. My son loved to hear us read them to him and well as
read them to himself as he grew.
Have you tried reading the Little House on the Prairie books? These are
You'll get lots of suggestions for this, but my two cents are the ''Mouse
and the Motorcycle'' books by Beverly Cleary. There are three of them. I
read them with my daughter when she was four and we both loved them.
We read the following to my daughter when she was 4:
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Some of the Beverly Cleary's: Romona Quimby, Age 5 (? the one where Ramona
goes to kindergarten), Ribsy, Henry Huggins, The Mouse and the Motorcycle
and its sequel, Ralph S. Mouse
The Quigleys, and the rest of that series by Simon Mason. My daughter
loved this series (and still does one year later), although some editing
may be required, or you might want to read ahead to decide if the content
is OK with you.
She also liked the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books, but they drive me nuts. Each
chapter is also distinct in those books.
Also, you might check out Holling C. Holling's books. We have Seabird and
Paddle to the Sea.
I can't think of any others right now, but I hope you get lots of answers,
because I'm always trying to find chapter books that won't scare my
sensitive daughter, but will keep her engaged.
My 4-year-old son has enjoyed having us read aloud from the Mrs.
Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald, as well as ''Mr. Popper's
Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
Mr. Popper's Penguins
we started my almost 5 year old son on chapter books over a year ago, and
have had alot of fun with it. It is fascinating what little ones are
capable of retaining and comprehending! (Naturally, here is also alot of
explaining, reminding, and reviewing too.) Some of the ones we've read in
the past year include Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (we've read it 3x
times already), Charlotte's Web, James & the Giant Peach and Stuart
Little. We also have read some of the Magic Tree House books, which are a
little less complex than the titles above, but he hasn't been as
interested in those. Some of the books do deal with some heady issues (ie.
poverty in ''Charlie'', death in ''James'' & ''Charlotte'') but kids this
age are pretty unfazed by such themes, and better at processing these
tragic themes and moving on that most adults! Try them out; you can always
revisit if he doesn't seem too interested. We still mix in picture books
too, but are currently half-way through the second Harry Potter book (my husband and I practically fight over who gets to read
to my son each night!)
Have fun with it!
My Father's Dragon - a three book series, fabulous!! The Magic Treehouse
If you have the stomach for obnoxious bathroom humor that four to nine
year old boys love, try the Captain Underwear books. Any thing by Dick
King-Smith, like Babe.
We've been reading chapter books with our 4 year old as well. We've
already done Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, which were both fun to
read, and are now working on the Ralph mouse books by Beverly Cleary (The
Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ralph S. Mouse and Runaway Ralph). She's pretty
excited about getting a new chapter each night at bedtime and finding out
what happens next.
I would recommend the Magic Treehouse books as good begining chapter
books. They have a few pictures but are mostly text. They have short
chapters and engaging plots (but still tame enough for the little ones).
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little by E.B. White
Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Most Roald Dahl books, not just the well-known ones, but also the shorter
ones - i.e. Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Minpins
The Mouse and the Motorcyle, Ribsy and other books by Beverley Cleary
The Cricket in Times Square - George Seldon
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (recently discovered that book is
very different and much better than the film)
Mom of Two
There is an great book for book recommendations for reading aloud, it is
called the Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. It is an incredible book
that is updated every few years. My mom used it as a guide to pick out
chapter books for our family when I was young and I have many fond
memories of the books we read. You can also visit his website,
trelease-on-reading.com. It's a must have for every parent and recommends
books for every stage of reading aloud.
I can recommend The Faraway Tree Stories, The Wishing Chair Stories, or
anything by Enid Blyton. She is British, and so you won't be able to find
any of her books here in bookstores, and will probably need to find them
on Amazon. They may take a while to get here, but they are well worth the
Enid Blyton fans
I recommend the Mouse and the Motorcycle and Ramona the Pest by Beverly
Cleary, and also the Magic Treehouse books.
We have been reading 'The Magic Treehouse' to our 4 yr old. We love this
series for a/ the suspense b/ the number of books - there are 28 of them
(that i know of) that are broken up into a series of 4 that build on each
other c/ the fact that there are not that many photos and d/ little Annie
is the brave one
My kids really liked the Magic Treehouse books. They are formulaic, to be
sure, and you'll get totally sick of them at some point, but most kids I
know seem to enjoy them. Plus, each story has an easy-to-digest history
lesson attached. Many of the stories have a correlating nonfiction
background book. For example the Magic Treehouse book ''Revolutionary War
on Wednesday'' has the kids traveling back in time to the Revolutionary
War, and the companion book has kid-level facts and points of interest
about the war.
This is a great question to ask your local children's librarian!
Here are a few titles popular at our house:
Mr Popper's Penguins
Boxcar children series
Little House on the Prairie series
- we all love chapter books!
I have been reading the Magic Tree House series to my 1st grade daughter
and almost 4 year old son. They love the books and each one threads into
the next. My youngest is captivated and I really enjoy the stories myself!
I would recommend any chapter book by Linda Sue Park such as the Newbery
Award Winning book A Single Shard or books by Laurence Yep such as
Dragonwings and Child of the Owl.
I would not recommend Cricket in Times Square because it is racist.
Chinese people wear Japanese Kimonos. Chinese people are portrayed as not
when to stop bowing to each other. A Chinese man speaks
VERYstereotypically with all l's instead of r's, i.e. ''Oh, velly good.''
As a school teacher, I would NEVER allow my students to read this book.
In such a diverse community as we live, this book is so damaging. But if
anyone insists on still reading it, I hope the parents are teaching them
not to be ignorant and racist by discussing how awful the stereotypes and
misrepresentations are in this most ignorant, racist book. Here's
I have an inquisitive 4 year old daughter. I want to get her
the first set of encyclopedias with lots of interesting pictures
and easy to understand explainations. Any suggestions out there?
Mother of a 4-year old
I just bought ''Big book of knowledge'' from DK. It's not an
encyclopedia SET, but it's a terrific book for exactly what you
are looking for, on all sorts of topics. I partly bought it for
my daughter (who is inquisitive but has a limited attention span
for things that require active thinking, i.e. ''work''), partly for
a neighbor kid who is extremely inquisitive and loves those kinds
of books, and ok, partly for me. I couldn't put it down the first
few days, even though my daughter was tired of it. So you should
check it out as a first step. It will probably be PLENTY for a 4
yr old, and you'll learn from it, and an added bonus: you can
take it with you when you travel! The back of the book says
$17.99, but I think I paid less than that at a book fair. It says
it has 200 categories (even how they came up with the categories,
which covers almost everything, is fascinating), and 3,000 photos
and illustrations. At least check it out before you go for an
encyclopedia, which might be better when she gets a little older.
I really like the encyclopedias by DK Publishing. My almost-4yo
son has adored the DK First Encyclopedia (for ages 4-8) for the
past year. It's packed with pictures and has nice simple
explanations. They also make a 2-volume set for slightly older
kids called the DK Illustrated Family Encyclopedia. The way I
see it, once they outgrow these kid encyclopedias they're ready
to use the ones at the library or do research online.
We bought a set called ''Young Childrens' Encyclopedia'', and my
son absolutely loved it. Before he could read very well he
enjoyed the pictures, and once he could read he read and reread
every volume, and branched off from the little stories/articles
into books from the library on subjects that he encountered in
the encyclopedia. It has great illustrations, mixes stories
with more fact based short articles and even poetry. We give
it five stars!!!!
You might stop by your local library and ask the children's librarians
what they recommend. You can also test-drive a few. If you really want
to make an investment, World Book has a junior multi-volume encyclopedia
(I think it's called Student Explorer, or something like that) that's very
good. It's still much too old for your 4-year-old, though, being more
appropriate for a third-grader, and costs somewhere around $600. Or if
you want a single-volume general encyclopedia for little kids, Kingfisher
makes a nice one. Kingfisher also makes specialized topic encyclopedias
-- animals, the human body, etc.
My 4/12 year old daughter has recently shown some interest in
chapter books. I have the Junie B. series (which I'm luke warm
about); My Father's Dragon series (which we love) and I'm going
to start The Magic Treehouse series. Does anyone have any other
recommendations for chapter books that are age appropriate for a
4 year old? Thanks.
Try The Boxcar Children books. My daughters started reading them at
about that age and one daughter read the entire series (well over 100
books) in order!
We like Pixie Tricks by Tracey West alot. It is a series. Magic Tree House is good. Of
course anything by Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Maltilda and any of
the others. Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Borrowers or anything by Elenor Estees
(Pinky Pie, Ginger Pye, The Witch Family amoung others.)
The Pixie Tricks series is about the length of the Magic Tree House if you like that
Catwings (and follow-up books) by Ursula LeGuin
Commander Toad by Jane Yolen
I'd also go to the main branch of the Berkeley Public Library and
talk to one of the librarians. They've been great when my child
has asked for new books and authors. You might also consider
picture books -- many of them are written with more complex
language than chapter books, and they also develop your child's
mother of a reader
My kid loved Iris & Walter books, Henry & Mudge, Wizard of Oz (I
thought they were too old but he didn't!), Junie B Jones, The
Elmer Dragon ones, Betsy-Tacy, All of a Kind Family, Lois
Lowry's Sam books (all about Sam etc.), nate the great, oh, boy
so many good books to discover! The library has a nice section
of early reader chapter books--try it out!
happy reading mama
Starting at about the same age, my son and I (who also loved My Father's Dragon) did A
Mouse Called Wolf, the Ralph S. Mouse series, all of the Winnie the Pooh books (the
originals by A. A. Milne), Charlotte's Web, Babe the Gallant Pig, Frog and Toad are
Friends, the Wind in the Willows, and, believe it or not, the whole of the Chronicles of
Narnia (I'd planned on saving those for awhile, but my son INSISTED -- and LOVED
them). A bit harder, but still enjoyable (think a year from now) were the Shy
Stegosaurus books, The Enormous Egg, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, and Stuart
My husband and I found wonderful books for children that we
enjoyed too by going back a few generations of authors. EB
White's books, Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, for instance,
were popular with our four year old. My son enjoyed many of the
Little House on the Praire series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (I
did a bit of editing as I read for a number of issues about
Native Americans, but otherwise they were pretty good.) I find
the Beverly Cleary books much better than the June B. Jones
series. You might try visiting the library or an online resource
and scanning for titles that you remember liking from your
childhood. That worked for us.
I am looking for good books to read aloud to my 4 1/2 year old. He likes chapter books
and we have read ''Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'' and ''James and the Giant
Peach'' and ''My Father's Dragon''. But now I just don't know what other books to read
to him. Any suggestions?
here are read-alouds that my 5 year old has enjoyed: (and some
Dr. Dolittle and follow-ons
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Flat Stanley (and follow on books): 1950's home, father works
outside the home, mother doesn't, no diversity
My Father's Dragon (sweet kid and not nice world, and he does
The Cricket in Times Square (again, a sweet book, follow-ons
Carbonel, Prince of Cats
The Castle of Grumpy Grouch, by Mary Dickerson Donahey (hard
to find...1905 and 1948, about a princess who loses her temper,
which runs away, she has to go find it, and meets talking
animals, rescues a prince, etc. on the way)
Jenny and the Cat Club (about a shy cat joining a group of
cats, follow-ons great too.)
The Wizard of Oz
The reluctant Dragon
The old man mad about drawing: a tale of hokusai, by Francois
Place and William Rodarmor (an apprentice to a famous painter in
the 1700's, told from the child's eyes).
Half Magic by Edward Eager (a tad sexist, the mother works
only because there is no father).
Mrs. Pepperpot stories (again somewhat sexist as the
woman cooks and minds the house etc.)
MAGIC TREEHOUSE BOOKS!!! My son loves them! He's very sheltered
(just turned 6) and it's been hard to find books that are complex
and fun, without being too violent or scary.
Other books are things like Thornton Burgess (adventures of reddy
fox, for example), but the magic treehouse books are beloved. BTW, you can buy
CD's in which the author reads the books (or get
them at the library) and my son absolutely adores them.)
Curious George is OK - if you can get beyond wanting to bap the
buy in the yellow hat for endangering wild animals.
We're reading Paddle to the Sea right now, too. It's very nice.
Here's a list I just pulled off of Amazon for the FUTURE. This is
for 7 year olds who are reading at a 7 grade level. I like it
because the content is a bit circumscibed.
My just turned 5 year old has enjoyed The Wizard of Oz, Charlotte's Web, and we
are currently reading Stuart Little
All About Sam, and any of the Sam books would be great. Debbie
When my son was 4 1/2, we started reading the Captain Underpants books. Also,
that's about when we began the awesome Magic Treehouse series. We tried a few
Little House on the Prairie books. Nanu Clark firstname.lastname@example.org
My 3 year old daughter ( she will be 4 in October) still doesn't show much interest in
books. The only times we can read to her is right before bed time and even that is
sometimes a drama.
If I pick the books out she screams. When I let her pick the books out it' usually
picture books or baby books. She is growing up billingual ( German /English) and
does pretty well in both languages. She also attends a German preschool.
Usually I read the German books ( I am German) and my
husband ( the english speaker is reading the English books). We never mix
languages. I only speak German to her and her dad only speaks English to her. She
actually doesn't want me to read English to her. Since it gets harder to translate her
books the older she gets I thought I read her some Books in English but of course
she hates that. I do have German books too but sometimes I want to pick
something new. When I go to the library with her she doesn't want me to read to her
the books even when I translate it into German. She wants to look at it herself. When
I tell her '' let's go read some
books'', she sais no right away and takes the book out of my hand. At preschool she
also doesn't show interest in books. After lunch the kids have reading time and the
kids who don't want to be read to can go outside. Of course she never sits in the
reading corner and instead runs outside with the 2 year olds. Since she is almost 4, I
am starting to worry about it. She is an active child but not hyperactive. I am worried
that she is going to have problems in school if this continues. All the other kids in
her preschool ( except some 2 year olds) show interest in books. I know that reading
to a child is important but how can I read to her when she doesn't let me. I am
seeing myself fighting homework with her in the future.
I think you should stop trying to read to her. it looks like it is becoming a power
struggle, and she probably feels that. let her do other things she enjoys doing best. or
sit beside her and read your own book... so that she knows it is an enjoyable activity
for you. but don't force it on her. she will eventually earn to love books, but at her own
It sounds like a classic power struggle dynamic (normal for
3-4 year olds) that just happens to fall on an issue that you
take very seriously. Unfortunately, perpetuating the power
struggle by trying to get your daughter to spend more time
with books is not likely to achieve the results you want.
Your daughter has clearly decided that reading is an area of
her life that warrants her control. The reasons for her
decision may range anywhere from feeling overwhelmed by
the responsibilities she associates with reading to feeling
that it is simply the one area of her life she has the greatest
opportunity to control. It is normal and healthy for a child of
her age to want control over her life. And, at her age, it will
be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to change her mind.
However, that does not mean that the issue cannot be
My professional recommendation is that first, you take one
month to completely let go of any and all emotional
investment you have in her reading related behaviors. This
step is absolutely crucial to successful short- and long-term
resolution of this issue. During this month, do your best to
not mention her reading in any way, shape or form. As a
matter of fact, if she (by some miracle) chooses a book at
bed time and asks you to read it, make sure to BE VERY
MATTER OF FACT about agreeing (maybe even asking her
to wait a minute while you finish what you are doing, before
sitting down with her.)
When that month is over, get hold of some books that are
the closest thing to picture books you are comfortable
having her read. DO NOT OFFER TO READ THEM TO HER.
Instead, at bed time (or any other convenient time), settle
down in a cozy chair and read them to yourself (genuinely
enjoying them.) If she asks you to spend time with her, let
her know that she is welcome to join you in what you are
doing, and that you are going to finish what you are doing
(reading) before doing anything else. Take a couple of
weeks to establish this patter of behavior.
If these steps bring about change in her attitude, you are on
your way, and it would be fine to gradually and gently (with
no pressure) begin offering to read to her.
If these steps do not change her attitude at all, my guess is
that there are some deeper reasons that she is resisting
books. She may have had what felt to her like a traumatic
experience around reading, or she may somehow have the
idea that if she never reads, she won't ever have to go to
'real' school (which she may, for some reason, fear having
I hope you find this helpful.
I am looking for picture books about science or nature for ages
about 4-7. Anybody have any favorites?
There are so many -- what kind of science? You should totally go to the library with
this question. For two series that cover many topics, try ''True Books'' (formerly
known as ''New True Books'') -- solid if uninspired -- and ''Magic School Bus'' --
makes even potentially dull topics (water treatment plant, anyone?) interesting.
Seymour Simon has many science books with fabulous photos. But there are so
many great ones!
Off the top of my head (all on the younger end of your spectrum):
Growing Frogs -- French and Bartlett
Actual Size -- Jenkins
Red-Eyed Tree Frog -- Cowley
How Much Is a Million -- Schwartz and Kellogg
The Usborne series of books is really good, and they publish
works at several different levels, so it's easy to find one that
is right for your child. The Nature Center at Tilden Park, near
the Little Farm, stocks lots of them.
You might also just browse museum stores, like at the Academy of
Sciences, or at the Exploratorium. I often find good stuff there.
I think Usborne Books does an excellent job in the
nature/science area. Our favorites for our kindergartener are
the one on the human body and the picture atlas of the world
(with animals/foods of the world pictured as well). I HIGHLY
recommend this company for books of all manner! The website of
the person I buy from is below (I think you have to buy most of
them online, but I'm not sure):
Usborne Books has some great science books for ages 4-7. Check
There are several different series that I like. They include the
Beginners' Science Series, Beginners' Science - New Format,
Beginners' Nature, Beginners' Nature New Format, the First
Discovery Series (ages 2 and up), and, my personal favorite - the
Starting Point Science series. If you do an advanced search (at
the top of the screen), you can search for all the titles in any
of the different series.
We have a few titles from the ''Let's read and find out'' science
series and they've been very popular with my 6 year old, and my
3 year old is starting to take an interest in them. Here's some
info on the series:
We especially love ''Food Chains and Food Webs'' but we've barely
even scratched the surface on the series.
The books are small and easy to handle but have a fair amount of
detail at an appropriate level, and in the ones I've seen, nice
My 3.5 year old is starting to read and I'm trying to find books
that are simple that she can read herself. Ideally I could find
books where the vowels are mostly short (versus long) since she
only sounds out her vowels the short way. Just a few that she
could have fabulous success with so she doesn't get so frustrated
with all of the long vowels. I have no interest in pushing her
-- I just want her to enjoy it. Being only 3.5 she is pretty
sure that her way is the RIGHT way and I'm happy to leave it that.
I am a reading specialist and tutor. First congratulations on having a preschool who has started reading.
Of course the public library has quality children's books. One way to support the reading is to select
books with patterns and pictures that support the text. That makes the reading easier.
I would also like to suggest writing some books together. It is often easier for a child to read back
their own words. And you have the benefit of connecting reading and writing. I also use an online source
with my students called Readingatoz. The site caters to teachers, but the annual fee is reasonable and
you can download books that are increasingly more difficult. And if your child is reading this early they
are obviously learning from you and should progress rapidly. Carol
My early reader liked the Bob books. The first set deals with
short vowels so it may be right up your kid's alley. We also read
Dr. Seuss books (The Eye Book, The Foot Book, A Woset in the
Closet, etc.) which are great due to their rythmic quality. Have fun!
Susan Boynton books! They're just the right size for her to hold and there's enough word repetition (and
silliness) to appeal to kids her age. I would say go to Cody's on Fourth Street, let her sit down with a
few and see which appeal to her. (Or try them out by borrowing from the library.)
Love Children's Books
Try the Bob books (www.bobbooks.com) - they're small books that come in packs. They're very easy,
graduated levels, and give kids positive feedback that they can read whole books by themselves.
How wonderful that your little one has started enjoying reading, and that you are encouraging her!
another early reader who still loves reading
Try the ''Bob'' books. There are several series of ''Bob'' books which get progessively more difficult,
but the very first series has 10 or 12 little paperback books with just 2-3 words per page, cute
whimsical drawings and short vowels. My daughter began with them around age 4 -- you can buy them on
line or in some of the bigger bookstores -- they come in sets of 12 little books I think. I got them
used from Amazon. happy reading
There are two excellent kids bookstores you and your daughter can
check out -- Lucciola (sp???) on Piedmont Avenue, and Mr. Mopps
on Martin Luther King just south of Rose. They have a number of
series of early readers for you (and her) to choose from. My
other suggestion is to go to the main branch of the Berkeley
Library and talk to one of the librarians -- they are amazing --
I remember when my daughter was very small and interested in
books about dogs, Elizabeth helped us find several books that
were perfect. Since then we've gotten help from many of the
librarians when new topics come up. It sounds like your daughter is a natural reader. My other
suggestion is that you continue to read a variety of books to
her, so that she stays interested in the stories, and picks up
some of the other myriad English phonetic rules.
Hop on Pop would be the best-also check other Dr. seuss books. Easy words, fun & entertaining. Go Dog Go
is also fun & pretty easy. Put me in the zoo is fun. I wouldn't worry about having short vowels too much,
since kids also simultaneously memorize & read, until the reading takes over more.
Go to the library and ask for BOB books. Both of my kids learned
to read these first... Mom of early readers
Beatrix Potter's books are wonderful for children as soon as
they're wanting to read and they will remain compelling for years
to come. You may be more familiar with Peter Rabbit, et. al, but
Miss Potter also wrote several books for beginning readers. Fabulous illustrations by one of the best
children's authors ever.
My 5 year old daughter has been completely entranced by the
Narnia series, but we are almost done with them. I'm looking for
any chapter books that feature fairies, fantasy, unicorns etc.
that are not too scary. Picture books with a lot of content would
be great too.
I have just the thing for you. My 7yo loves these:
The Unicorn's Secret Series by Kathleen Duey. Moonsilver is the first book. susan
For a fun fantasy book for your 5 year old that you will enjoy reading aloud, try DragonRider by Cornelia Funke. It is delightful and not scary. Her other books are a bit darker however and so better for an older child.
another parent with an avid reader
Books by Bruce Coville are a lot of fun fantasy and most are not
scary. We really enjoyed listening to them on tape. Aimed at
slightly older elementary school kids, but I get a big kick out
of them too. I particularly like the ''Aliens'' series(Aliens ate
my homework, etc), but Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher is great also.
The Dealing with Dragons series, by Patricia Wrede, was one of my absolute favorites when I was younger. The books are very entertaining and very funny, for kids and adults.
Amazon synopsis: ''Cimorene, princess of Linderwall, is a classic tomboy heroine with classic tomboy strengths--all of which are perceived by those around her as defects: ''As for the girl's disposition--well, when people were being polite, they said she was strong-minded. When they were angry or annoyed with her, they said she was as stubborn as a pig.'' Cimorene, tired of etiquette and embroidery, runs away from home and finds herself in a nest of dragons. Now, in Cimorene's world--a world cleverly built by author Patricia C. Wrede on the shifting sands of myriad fairy tales--princesses are forever being captured by dragons. The difference here is that Cimorene goes willingly. She would rather keep house for the dragon Kazul than be bored in her parents' castle. With her quick wit and her stubborn courage, Cimorene saves the mostly kind dragons from a wicked plot hatched by the local wizards, and worms her way into the hearts of young girls everywhere.''
Fairy Realm series by Emily Rodda --
not of Narnia caliber, but not scary and was very enjoyable for my 6 y.o.
My parents, dad in particular, read to me every night from a very
young age. I remember the Narnia series distinctly from when I
was about your daughter's age. I am now mom to a 3-year-old and
aunt or ''auntie'' to 5 book-loving girls, ages 16, 15, 12, 9, and
6. In our family, once a child reaches age 2, all gifts are books.
Try the Oz series by L. Frank Baum, not just ''The Wizard of...''
but also the 13 (really!) or so books after that like ''Ozma of
Oz'' ''The Patchwork Girl of Oz'' and so on. Amazon has them, the
Berkeley and Oakland Main libraries both have them. Also try
''The Phantom Tollbooth'' and Madeline L'Engle's ''A Wrinkle in
Time.'' In a year or two, she'll be ready for The Hobbit and
''The Dark is Rising'' sequence, but both are probably a little
scary for her now.
Beyond that, given individual tastes, my best recommendation is
my source for newer books (those that weren't around when I was a
child): ''Great Books for Girls'' by Kathleen Odean. She's a
former children's librarian, former head of the Newbery
Committee, and the books focus on strong female characters. Outstanding resource. Also try ''Great Books About Things Kids
Love'' by the same author. Both have great reads all around, and
usually in tune with modern, Bay Area sensibilities.
I have a gajillion read-aloud books for 6-12 year olds, but your
daughter is about a year away... Lisa
Can anyone recommend a reference book for a curious 5-year-old
who has suddenly started asking a million questions like, ''What
is plastic made of?'', ''How do picures get in the TV?'', ''How do
they make wine glasses...?'', and ''How does all that whipped cream
fit in that can?'' I can answer some of her questions, but not
all...is there a good reference book for parents to keep handy
with complete, yet easy to explain/understand answers? I saw a
few on-line, but they seem to be all about one subject
each--machines (The Way Things Work), or nature (The Way the
Universe Works), etc. I'd like a big, picture-&-diagram-filled
book of all kinds of subject matter, that we can keep around for
years and keep referring back to...anyone have a favorite? Thanks.
We often use a website that is great for explaining things like that. Check out
www.howstuffworks.com. You may have to read along and maybe explain some of
the vocabulary, but many of the diagrams and examples are really helpful.
I'm looking for picture books for my daughter (age four) that
deal with issues of shyness, fear, and self-esteem.
Two right off the top of my head are:
I LIKE ME! by Nancy Carlson (self-esteem)
and WEMBERLEY WORRIED by Kevin Henkes (fear)
But remember you can stop in at your local public library and ask the children's
librarian there--giving personal recommendations is her job! (I'm a children's
librarian, and I love it when people ask questions like this...) In the meantime, my
friends at the Allen County (IN) Public Library have a fine selection of online
booklists they call Parents' Primer, books for young children on a variety of tough
parenting topics. It's at:
Rosemary Wells has a small series of books about Edward the
Unready, which are sweet and accepting of a bear/boy who is shy
and still very attached to his parents. She has also written Shy
Charles, a great book, also about a child who is shy, but who
overcomes it in an important way. We've found her books at the
My 3 1/2 year old daughter likes ''My First Day at Nursery
School'' by Becky Edwards; ''Mommy, Don't Go'' and ''I'm Scared''
(addresses fear of dogs - but I use it for other things as
well) both by Elizabeth Crary; ''Cat's Got Your Tongue? A Story
for Children Afraid to Speak'' by Charles E. Schaefer.
My 3 1/2-year-old daughter has become fascinated by the Disney
princess thing, despite my misgivings. One of her preschool
friends has gotten her hooked. My daughter now wants to read a
book of Disney stories we got as a gift every night. I'm not
thrilled by the evil characters, violence (the evil witch wants
to cut out Snow White's heart and put it in a box!), and
passive female characters. Also, the good people are all
beautiful and evil ones ugly. I try countering these messages
by discussing them afterwards, but I worry that the images will
stay with her more than anything I have to say. Any suggestions
for an alternative book of stories she'd want to read from
every night? We have other books we read, but it would be nice
to replace the big Disney book with another book of stories.
Thanks for any help.
You may want to try Mad About Madeline. My then 3 year old
daughter loved it and she still does. It's big and packed with
I understand and agree wtih your concern, but I was brought up
on Disney, and all the other fairy tales with the same
themes....evil creatures are ugly, good guys are beautiful,
women are pretty, thin, passive....the manly heroes are handsome
and strong, lots of dungeons and violence.
I'm 51 now and pretty openminded, have my own business (as well
as a great hubby adn 2 kids), pretty feminist in philosophy....
So, I guess I'd say, don't worry....
As a kid I did want to be a mommy, ballerina, princess, etc.....
I think I grew out of it as I got older and saw more of the real
world ! and what the possibilities are.
I'd say, read all kinds of books to your daughter...her role
models will be the biggest teachers for her.
independant ,non-princess mommy
We ''lost'' the disney storybooks we had. Sure, there was screaming and
crying, but eventually she forgot about it.
She has a disney coloring book, but there aren't any stories, just
of the characters.
We like the Francis books, Babar books (although the mom dies in the
very beginning so we skip this page) Madeleine, and the Frog and Toad
Also anti-Disney princess
I think that there are now lots of books debunking the old
Try ''The Paperbag Princess''. Cute and not too serious. This
short book is about this cool princess who was gaga over a
preppy prince. He was taken by a dragon who burned all her stuff
too. She went to save him, dressed in a paper bag, and she
outwitted the dragon. When she went to save the prince, he
chided her for her clothes, and she noted that after all, he's
good looking and well-dressed, but quite a drag.
- a feminist dad
My daughter went through a phase of wanting to read these books
all the time too. I edited the stories: Snow White was smart,
kind stong and beautiful etc. Also, I commented on things like
if the animals could tell the dwarfs about the witch, why didn't
they just tell Snow White so she could save herself? or people
really don't get married as soon as they meet- do they? I
actually didn't mind the princess phase (truth is except for
those bor! ing stories) so much but if you do, don't worry, it's a
As an alternative to those shocking Disney story lines (dead
mothers, evil monsters, weak women, etc.), I always fall back on
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. A great feminist book
for preschoolers where the spunky girl saves the day. My son
loves it. Good luck!
Not all of the Disney princesses are as passive as Snow White.
Belle (Beauty and the Beast) and Mulan are a couple of the more
self-reliant types. But as a general rule, I find the Disney
books to be pretty poor literature, even aside from the gender
issues. My daugher and son both really like ''Arthur's Really
Useful Bedtime Stories,'' which re-cast fairy tales with Arthur
characters and give females a lot more control over their
lives. On the more literary side, we all really like ''Heckety
Peg.'' Based on your request, you might find it somewhat
intense, but your daughter will love it. She also would
probably like the Oz books, if she's ready for chapter books.
My son was also totally caught up in wanting to read Disney
books at the same age. We had none of the books and he would
read them at other people's houses and pine for them. We are a
major book-reading, no tv family so this was quite a challenge.
He knew that his friends were not only reading the books but
watching videos of the stories, but thankfully he never pushed
us on that angle. We were able to tell him that the video
versions were too scary and he could watch them when he was
older. I have heard that 5 is the earliest age recommended (by
child psychologists, etc) for most Disney flics.
He learned that there is a Disney section at Cody's and would
want to go there to read books, just so he could look at all
those. I too can't stand the violence and obnoxious graphics and
serious misogyny. I stopped in the middle of Peter Pan with him
because of the mermaids being cruel to Wendy and each other for
PP's attention. I talked to him about how it made me feel and
that I didn't want to read stories that had people being so
horrible to each other, etc. We also talked about how the Disney
stories are actually versions of much older stories. We got a
few other versions of the same stories (caveat. they are also a
bit scary). I particularly like the ones by Wanda G'ag that were
done in the '30s I think and have been reissued. In the
frontnotes of her Snow White, there are some comments about how
she did it to counter the Disney version which had just come out.
We have gotten over the obsessive part of it, partly I think by
letting him read some of them at Cody's, at his friend's etc. I
did end up getting him a Disney paperback version of Sleeping
Beauty because the short versions tend to leave out more of the
violence. He hasn't asked to read that book in close to a year.
Of course, I thought we were through with it entirely, but
recently when asked what his favorite book was, he said ''Disney
books.'' And I'm sure this will move on to bionicles or whatever
his friends are doing. But part of it is inevitable. I'm
grateful to have this forum to know that there are others out
there dealing with the same issues!
done with disney
And here's a great alternative to all those scary, sugary,
precocious Disney films. I got a DVD that was made for kids and
pets alike (I know, it sounds weird, but it's not). No crises,
no denoument with tears and relief. No nightmares. Very
authentic and reflective of a child's days and events. Calming.
Great music, no dialog. Captivating, it turns out, for kids and
Wally Roo's busy day was filmed by animal lovers, the star is an
Australian Shepherd dog (with parts and cameos by dogs, goats,
horses, cats, squirrels, etc.).
The ''plot'' is a great montage of the things that Wally does all
day: doggy daycare (so much like a child's day in daycare); time
in the park; a morning on the farm; and waking up at home,
playing with the cats.
It's sophisticated in its utter simplicty. High quality
production, delightful music. No harm or duress to the
animal ''actors'' (not trained to act, they just play). And my two
boys, ages 3 and 4 LOVE it.
We got it at http://www.wallyroo.com
My son has been obsessed with police and jails lately, and
as we talk about it more, I realize he's very afraid of the
police--that they are going to put him in jail. I'd like to help
him understand the role of the police better and not be
afraid. Can any one recommend books or activities that will
help a preschooler understand that police do more than just
catch bad guys and put them in jail?
Slightly off topic is Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy
Rathman. She is wonderful. Her other books are favorites of our
whole family--Good Night Gorilla & 10 Minutes to Bedtime.
There's a light-hearted story called ''Officer Buckle & Gloria,''
about a friendly police officer and his K-9 companion, who visit
schools and teach kids about safety rules (like looking both
ways before crossing the street.) Forgot the author's name but
I've borrowed the book from the Albany Library before.
''Officer Buckle and Gloria'' by Peggy Rathman is a wonderful book
about a police officer who is upstaged by his dog Gloria. Its a
picture book which will be loved by both adults and children.
The best news? It's available at the San Francisco Public
library to anyone with a library card. And yes *you* can have an
SFPL card if you are a resident of the state of California. No
fines on children's cards.
When I was little (a few decades ago)I remeber reading a book
that I think was called ''The Bed Book''. It was about all kinds
of different imaginary beds like a tree house bed and a bed in
space, I think even a bed made of ice cream. I really loved
this book and would love to find a copy to read to my kids.
Does this book ring a bell with anyone? Does it have a
Just hoping to get some more info on a hazy, but nice childhood
The Bed Book is by Sylvia Plath, and I believe it is out of
print. I had a paperback version for my kids purchased maybe
10 years ago, and just searched through their books, but
unfortunately, we seem to have given it away. Its a wonderful
story full of all types of magical beds, and worth keeping an
eye out for.
The book you have in mind is indeed ''The Bed Book'' by Sylvia
Plath and it is a lot of fun to read aloud to kids. The copy I
have was illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully and printed in 1989.
I purchased it used, I think from the used toy store on Solano
Ave. in Albany. Good luck in your search.
I think what you are looking for is ''The Bed book'' by Sylvia
Plath, her only book for children (''A celebration of different
kids of beds, including submarine beds and pocket-sized beds
that grow when watered'').
This is out of print. On Amazon, the cheapest copy is for $160
(collectible item), but if you just want a reading copy, you can
find it used on www.alibris.com for as low as $4.95.
(Disclaimer: I work there)
Lauren Child's ''My Dream Bed'' sounds like it could also be the
book you're describing. The narrator takes the child on a tour
of different beds: in a tent, in a flower, in a bird's nest, in
the ocean, floating in space, high atop many piled up
mattresses, on an elephant's back...
Favorite picture books for reading outloud:
The true story of the 3 little pigs / by A. Wolf ; as told to Jon
Schieszka ; illustrated by Lane Smith.
is a good one. Dianna
I'm not sure what the actaul age range is on these, but I truly loved them
as a child when they were read to me...I think I must have been between 5
Any Roald Dahl books (a few have recently become movies), but especially
"The BFG" which is full of funny words and an excellent young female
heroine. As a note, Dahl books are sometimes a bit darker than most
children's books ("The Twits" is a good example) so a pre-reading might be
Also, the "Frog and Toad" books. And "The Water Babies," the author of
which I can't remember. My grandmother had a richly illustrated hardback
version of that. I used to sit and stare at the cover and imagine myself in
We also read and loved "The Wind in the Willows" and "Watership Down."
Happy reading! Heather
We enjoyed all of the books in the Dorrie series by Patricia Coombs -- they
are story books about a little girl and her mom, who both happen to be
(good) witches, and their cook and cat. The little girl always wears socks
that don't match, and the introduction to each book very lyrically
describes this fact, and others.
Other favorites that remain on our shelf, and which we have enjoyed for
years (Kate is now 8):
How to Make Apple Pie and See the World
The Paper Princess, by Elisa Kleven (*wonderful* Albany artist!!)
"A little girl sat in the sunshine,
drawing a princess. The princess's dress
was like a forest. Her socks were
like starry skies. Her shoes
were watermelons. Her face was so
friendly and brave that the
little girl loved her."
The Dream Pillow
The Artist Who Loved Chickens (he loved to *paint* them, an odd, lovely story)
and then, segue into anything by Sid Fleishman (I especially liked "By the
Great Horn Spoon" which is a fanciful tale about the gold rush). The Sid
Fleishman books are chapter books, but are great read-aloud books for kids
who would prefer their chapter stories that way...and are fun for kids to
read themselves once they acquire that level of skill. Melissa
My favorite chapter books:
* Ramona The Pest, Beverly Cleary -- relates the adventures of a precocious 5 yea
old starting kindergarden. Last fall I recommended it to 2 families with kids
entering kindergarden and was thanked profusely. All the Cleary books are great,
but this one is particularly excellent.
* Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Betty MacDonald (I think) -- even though written 50 years a
this is a true classic. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle comes up with ingenious cures for kid
who don't want to bathe, eat, share, etc. Has humor for the adults as well.
* From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg -- one of
all-time favorite books and author. Two kids run away from home with their cloth
in their instrument cases and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they
involved in a great art history mystery.
A book that appeals to the 2 to 5 year-old-age range, as well as the adults
who read to them is All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes. The illustrations
are Norman Rockwellesque and the four stories are a real delight. Check it
out at the library. Rosemary
Book Recommendation: While attending a recent lecture with education
specialist Bev Bos, she recommended the book "Tough Boris" by Mem Fox.
It is the story of a tough, fearless, massive pirate named Boris who
becomes very sad when his pet parrot dies. The narrative is very simple
and kids of many ages and developmental levels can exercise quite a lot
of imagination as they interpret the story according to their own
needs. My three-year-old son and five-year-old daughter love this book
and refer to it often throughout the day.
this page was last updated: May 27, 2012
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network