Early reading brainstorming!

Hi, folks! Two posts so close together? What miracle is this???

Here’s the terrifying truth: the Changeling, my darling little baby girl, is heading rapidly towards age 5 and with equal rapidity towards reading on her own. Right now I can’t tell exactly how well she’s reading as opposed to how much she has memorized, but, well, she can decipher my handwriting with disturbing ease, so I’m forced to conclude that she really can read pretty well by now. This means that some old favourites, such as her old beaten up, chewed on Sandra Boynton board books, have resurfaced since she enjoys reading the simple text.

But both she and I would prefer a bit more variety and, shall we say, complexity in the story and characters. Once again, some old favourites come to our rescue: Swap!, for example, is as engaging as it ever was, but the simplicity of the text makes it perfect for the Changeling to read aloud at bedtimes. Where the Wild Things Are is another beloved book enjoying a renaissance, and, of course, there’s the simple process of reading anything at all aloud and allowing the Changeling to burst in with whichever words she can read on the page– Shirley Hughes is brilliant for that since her stories are engaging but her diction isn’t particularly complex. Or Frog and Toad, with its wonderful characters and pared down text.

But, frankly, I could use more books. I’m getting a little bored.

(Don’t tell my husband I said that. He might blow a gasket and/or point to all of the boxes in the basement waiting for our move.)

I want more books, though: I want ones with simple text, beautiful pictures, and mind-blowing stories and characters. I want new books which the Changeling hasn’t already memorized. I want good rhythm to it (whether or not it’s poetry it should be beautiful to read aloud) and I want a certain level of sophistication to the design.

Also, cats and ballet are good. The Changeling goes for anything to do with cats and ballet these days.

So I turn to you, oh Internet and Blog Readers! What books did you read with your little ones when they were starting to explore literature on their own terms?

And another, related, question: When did you start reading beyond picture books with your children? I’m dying to introduce the Changeling to Eleanor Farjeon and Arthur Rackham and Joseph Jacobs and Andrew Lang, but I also don’t want to start before she’s ready and bore her or, worse, turn her off. (When can I read her The Cat Who Walked by Himself?)

So, please, tell us your stories! What did your kids love to read on their own? What did you love to read to them, and when? If you’d prefer to email me rather than comment here, my email address is deborah@childrensbookroom.com. Tell me what books to buy! I’m ready and waiting.

7 thoughts on “Early reading brainstorming!

  1. Our grandson, also an early reader, loved the Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo. Mercy Watson is a very mischievous pig who likes buttered toast. Stories are whimsical and you’ll enjoy reading them aloud. There are four books in the series.


    • Thanks, Diane! I love Kate DiCamillo, though I’ve never read the Mercy Watson books! I know any recommendations from your grandson are excellent, though, and I look forward to checking them out.


  2. I can’t help getting in on this one, although it seems my brain has stopped in about 1960. Some early reading books we enjoyed are “The Bears of Hemlock Mountain.”


  3. Sorry, I hit post before I had finished commenting. The Changeling is sure to like repeating the refrain “There are no bears on Hemlock Mountain, no bears, no bears at all.” Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Beezus and Ramona, Ralph S. Mouse, The Cricket in TImes Square (she’ll like the cat), Winnie the Pooh (and also Finding Winnie), Charlotte’s Web, All About Sam by Lois Lowry, You’ll have to decide if she’s ready for some of these. I’m sure I’ll think of more, but now I have to get ready for the the 7th night. Chag sameach.


  4. Wow, thanks so much! It will be fun to revisit some of these old stories with the Changeling. I bet she’d love Winnie the Pooh, for sure– and I should definitely pull out Finding Winnie again, she loved that book a year ago but we haven’t read it so recently. Thanks a ton! And chag sameach to you all, too. I’d better get back to my kitchen, but talking books is more fun….


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