Today might be Valentine’s Day, but every day is perfect for sharing a love of reading with your child or teen. There’s nothing quite like settling down, cozying up and sharing a great book.
Way back, when my son was a toddler, his favorite book was
‘Moo, Baa, La, La, La!”
by Sandra Boynton. In recent years, I have used it at Mother Goose Times, for children under two, with equal success. It starts off with what a cow says, and then a sheep until, three singing pigs appear and say, “La, La, La!” The response, ‘No, no!’ you say, ‘that isn’t right. The pigs say OINK all day and night.’” The sheer silliness and variety of animal sounds are fun and giggle-inducing for all.
Until my four year old niece and nephew picked out a wordless picture book I had no idea what fun they could be to “read” aloud. In case I missed the point, the children requested it every night the week they were visiting! “Chalk”
by Bill Thomson uses images that look computer generated, but are indeed done by hand. Three children head to the playground on a rainy day and discover a bag of chalk. Undeterred by the weather and the wet pavement, they begin to draw. First, what they wish for the most, the sun. Instantly it appears in the sky and creativity ensues until one child draws a tyrannosaurus rex! The now real-life creature chases the children, much to their delight, until one draws the only thing that can stop it…a rain cloud.
There are two chapter books for elementary aged children that make great read alouds and provide laughs (even for the adults!) Both have incredibly precocious main characters with families who understand and accept them just the way they are. In “Clementine”
by Sara Pennypacker the main character helps her friend Margaret get the glue out of her hair with scissors. Then, when Margaret wants red hair instead of brown, Clementine uses her prettiest magic marker and colors it for her. Margaret is unhappy with the results so the remorseful Clementine cuts her own hair off in solidarity.
Before Alvin went to school, in “Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things”
by Lenore Look, he was a superhero named Firecracker Man with a cool costume made by his gunggung (grandfather.) Now, he has a PDK, Personal Disaster Kit, that goes with him everywhere and contains everything from garlic, to fend off vampires and teachers, to band-aids. It’s not enough though. Alvin talks at home and on the bus, but not at school; it’s just too scary. Luckily, his class is full of lively characters that help Alvin feel a little less frightened.
Jeanne Birdsall’s award winning “The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy”
is a wonderful family story for all ages. When the girls arrive in the Berkshires for a summer vacation they discover beautiful gardens, an elegant mansion and a boy! When Batty, the youngest, finds herself in the bull’s pen, Jeffrey rescues her. He plays piano beautifully and is everything they want in a friend. So when he is unhappy with his mother’s impending marriage, they simply must help.
Your teen probably won't cuddle up with you, but good stories can be shared from a respectful distance. Holling Hoodhood in “The Wednesday Wars”
by Gary D. Schmidt is not off to a good start with his teacher. In 1967, all of the other students in his class go to religious training on Wednesday afternoons, but as the only Presbyterian his teacher must stay with him until the school day is officially over. When she decides to teach him Shakespeare those afternoons, he knows she really hates him.