Saturday, February 24, 2007

Of Magic Beds and Chapter Books

We moved into our new house in late August. Our house in the city had only six rooms, so this new house, with a living room and family room was in need of new furnishings. We outfitted the new living room with 2 sofas, one a sofa bed. When William began school, he had a rough first week. In an effort to get him on the bus each morning, I promised him if he made it through the first week, that he could sleep on the sofa bed. "You mean the magic bed," he said, "the one that is hidden in the couch?" Absolutely. Little did I know that I would be required to join him.

That was more than five months ago. We now spend every Friday night sleeping on the magic bed. We watch Meerkat Manor and read. Friday is library day at school. Friday afternoons we visit the public library after school and pick out new books for the week. With so many books to choose from, these are usually the ones we read while hunkered down in the not so comfortable magic bed. However, last week we entered the territory of chapter books, so our read last night was much different. Instead of plowing through a wide range of short picture books, we were able to spend the entire time savoring just one book.

William received a copy of Toys Go Out for Valentine's day. While we have been reading a lot of easy readers with short chapters (think Mr. Putter and Tabby or Henry and Mudge, both series by Cynthia Rylant), these are the books William is learning to read with, and they aren't books that I generally read aloud. Toys Go Out was our first chapter book for read aloud. We read the first chapter while stranded in the Newark airport on Friday, the 16th. At one point I looked up and found three little girls, sitting at my feet, listening as well. We thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter, and couldn't wait for more. We finished the last chapter on Thursday, which meant a new book was in order for last night.

Our new book is The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin. We snuggled up close and read for nearly an hour! We love the drawings that are sprinkled throughout the chapters, and since William is very fond of The Ugly Vegetables, he is excited about the writing project that Pacy undertakes for the big contest. I am happy that he can enjoy books with both male and female characters at this point, as I'm sure this won't always be the case. At the rate we're reading, The Year of the Dog will be history before the weekend is over. If you have any suggestions regarding chapter book titles that my 6 year old might enjoy, please let me know.

I'm off to fold the magic bed and have a fabulous day with my son. Happy Saturday, all!


  1. Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker. I just read it to my 7-yr.-old son, and he enjoyed it. I figure he can now read it to himself if he wants to read it again. Clementine is a scamp who has wonderful intentions but gets into a lot of hot water.

  2. Thanks, Susan! I'll definitely look for it.

  3. Tricia,

    The first chapter book I used to read to my second grade students every year was RAMONA THE PEST. They loved the book--and so did I. I read other Ramona titles, too: RAMONA THE BRAVE, RAMONA AND HER FATHER, etc. Even the boys couldn't get enough of the spunky Ramona Geraldine Quimby. They'd race back in from recess to hear the next chapter of her escapades. On Fridays, when we went to the library, my kids would clear the shelves of Ramona books. Some begged their parents to buy copies of the books I read in class so they could reread them at home.

    They also liked other Cleary books about Henry and his dog Ribsy, THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE...

    Reading children books they love is a great way to bond with them. I am sure your son will have fond memories of Friday nights spent reading books in the "magic bed."

  4. Thanks, Elaine! I forgot about Cleary books. It's been so long since I read them. I think we may try The Mouse and the Motorcycle. William is in Kindergarten this year, so at school they're completely focused on picture books. We still read a lot of these, but I am ready for stories with a little more substance.
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  5. My 6-year-old really liked the Dick King-Smith books, starting with "George Speaks," and some of the ones about animals like "A Mouse Called Wolf." They're short, funny, and have simple plotlines. Short chapters, too, which I appreciated!

  6. Thanks, Els. I'll look for some of these!

  7. Tricia,

    Here's the title of a cute Dick King-Smith book: THE NINE LIVES OF ARISTOTLE. It's not a picture book. It's an illustrated fiction book that isn't broken up into chapters. It's the story of a mischievous kitten who's always getting into trouble. His owner, a good witch named Bella Donna, is always on hand to help out. (Bob Graham did the book's illustrations.)

    Here are some great picture books for reading aloud:
    - RATTLETRAP CAR written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Jill Barton
    - MY LITTLE SISTER ATE ONE HARE written by Bill Grossman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
    - PIGGIE PIE written by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Howard Fine
    -GUJI GUJI written and illustrated by Chih-Yuan Chen
    - THE BEST PET OF ALL written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama
    -BEAR SNORES ON written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman
    -MUNCHA! MUNCHA! MUNCHA! written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
    - LOST AND FOUND written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

    That's all for now!