Raisin is well in to early chapter books now. With Strawberry’s arrival and my subsequent absence from the blogosphere (as compared to my posting habits before her birth), I haven’t posted on his reading as frequently as it deserves. I feel like his reading skills improve from week to week!
Back in March, I posted about the early readers he was enjoying, including Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold and P.J. Funnybunny books by Marilyn Sadler. Now, just six months later, I feel we’ve skipped into an entirely new category. Here are some of the early chapter books he currently enjoys.
Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books are simply classic creations. There are plays on words, there are clever conundrums, and there is plenty of humor. Raisin enjoys reading all the books in the series. His favorite story may be the one where Toad goes swimming in his ridiculous swimming suit and all the animals laugh at him (“A Swim” in Frog and Toad are Friends). He also really likes when Toad grows plants and yells at the ground (“The Garden” in Frog and Toad Together). My favorite has always been the one where the two friends try not to eat the cookies (“Cookies” in Frog and Toad Together). We have the Frog and Toad puzzle game, and we like to tell the story of the two friends as we race to get to the finish line. (While the concept of the game sounds nice, it never quite works like the instructions suggest. Nevertheless, we still have fun with it, in our own way.)
And there is Cynthia Rylant, who is one talented writer. Her early readers have kept my son busy for months. The Henry and Mudge stories feature a young boy and his best friend, his dog. I think these were my son’s favorites, and since there are probably about 30 (or more?) different books of Henry’s adventures, it’s been a delightful necessity to always have a few of them on our “currently reading” shelf. My son will never have a dog (my husband and I are not dog people). We have a particular friend with a dog, however, and my son loves the dog and has adopted her as his “own.” Raisin seems to really relate to Henry’s adventures.
Ms Rylant also writes an impressive collection of stories about Mr Putter and Tabby, a man and his cat. Raisin likes Mr. Putter’s adventures; I’ll admitIi have not read as many of these myself. My favorites are the wry stories of Mr. Poppleton (yes, also by Ms Rylant). Mr. Poppleton is an anthropomorphic pig, and his stories deal with his own compulsive habits and his relationships with his neighbor, Cherry Sue the llama, and others in the community.
It’s amazing to me how Ms Rylant has succeeded in making an older man’s experiences, as well as an adult pig’s experiences, so clear that they seem perfectly relevant to a child as well. I suppose this is due to the universality of the human needs of friendship, personal habits and personal space, the desire to serve and relate to other people, and the commonality of obstacles blocking accomplishment. Anyone can relate, regardless of one’s age.
Finally, the last main series that Raisin has been enjoying in the past few months is the Young Cam Jansen series by David Adler. I had seen the Cam Jansen series before, but they were clearly too far above Raisin’s level, mostly because they had too much text and too few pictures. The Young Cam Jansen stories provide the extra pictures that my young son needed with similar characteristic mysteries as the older books. Raisin enjoys “solving” the mysteries with Cam, the girl with the photographic memory.
Raisin has dabbled in some other series, but none of them have captured his attention quite as much as these ones have. Right now, he’s picked up some more challenging chapter books: a book from a series called the Pee Wee Scouts, a Mercy Watson book, a Nate the Great book. The challenge for me is that he is not yet five years old, and many of the chapter books I see on the shelves had kids speaking rudely to each other or to teachers (Dann Guttman books, Junie B. Jones). I’m hoping we can hold out on the “attitude talk” a little bit longer.
I am constantly in awe of the pace at which he is blossoming into a reader. Sometimes I wonder if he’s really comprehending the stories, but then he’ll retell the story to me a few days after he’s read it, so I know he is. It’s fun to see him enjoying reading so much, and I look forward to seeing where his reading will take him next.
And as I say that, I’ll simply add in that I’m also eager to restart the board books/picture books stage with my dear daughter, Strawberry! She’s finally interested in everything I show her!