We love to read at our place! Although our kids are now 8 and 10 years old, we still read to them every night at bedtime. It is a ritual that we put into action when they were very young to introduce them to books and reading, and it is still a way for us to introduce them to new books that are a little too tricky for them to read to themselves yet. It gives us a fabulous opportunity to share and talk about the characters and themes in books — not that they realize that I'm cleverly slipping in some education at bedtime!
These are our favorite titles to read together at the moment.
Nanny Piggins is hilarious! She is pig who used to be in the circus, has a huge love of cake and now is nanny to three children. Despite their father's constant disapproval, Nanny Piggins takes them on adventures every day. My children love her outrageous statements and often retell these stories to Dad if he misses our reading time. Lots of other ridiculous characters appear in the stories including Boris, the ballet dancing bear; Nanny Anne, the strict nanny; gypsies; policemen; 13 identical twin sisters; and the circus ringmaster. There are a number of books about Nanny and her charges, and usually each chapter is a separate tale, making it easy to read a little each night.
I loved these books as a child myself, so I was thrilled when my 10-year-old came home and said her teacher was reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to her class. We found a copy of the entire series and read them together one by one. The stories are great for boys and girls alike — plenty of action and fantasy — but I love that the kids also picked up on some of the deeper messages that Lewis hid within the tales about good and evil and treating people with respect and fairness. These are classics that will be read over and over in our house.
My son received The 13-Storey Treehouse as a gift one birthday, and it was the first book that held his attention enough to read by himself. He quickly moved onto the 26, then the 39-Storey Treehouse books. The illustrations are liberally scattered throughout the text, helping kids understand the story, plus there are all kinds of funny cartoons along the edges of the pages. The story revolves around two boys who live in a tree house that they built themselves with all kinds of special features that kids will love to imagine — like a shark tank, an ice cream parlor, and a machine that fires marshmallows into your mouth on demand! Again these are books that make us giggle together and encourage the kids to use their imaginations.
At first I thought only my boy would like this father and son pair, but we soon were all laughing over their antics. Mr. Undy and his son, Josh, like to compete against each other all the time, so they play all kinds of crazy games and constantly challenge each other to do silly things. Each chapter ends with a "reward" in the form of a puzzle, which is a clever device for reluctant readers. These books also have cartoon illustrations, so I'd recommend them for 7- to 8-year-olds rather than 10-year-olds.
Emily Rodda has written a lot of kids books, mostly in the fantasy genre. Rowan sets out on a quest with others from his town thinking he won't be useful, but in the end he is the only one to stay the course and save the town. You can expect dragons, magic, a fantasy world, and clever rhyming clues as you read. There are also more books about Rowan and his town to follow. This an exciting adventure that especially appealed to my older child.
What have you been reading with your kids lately? Are there some clear favorites at your house?