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lights out

Reading a book or two at bedtime is part of our nighttime ritual. I love cuddling up with my little ones and reading with them. It's the perfect way to end the sometimes not so calm day. But there is something new I've been wanting to try.. a chapter book. (I attempted this last year with Charlotte's Web, but the kids grew tired of it after about a week. It's nice to see how much their patience has grown in a year.) 

We gave the kids a copy of Stuart Little for Christmas, so we've been trying to read a chapter a night. And we've made a few changes to our nighttime ritual. We're gathering in mom and dad's bed, where we all get to sit under great grandma's big quilt. And the best part.. we've been reading by flashlight. (Thanks to Jennifer and her lovely blog for the great idea) After we finish the chapter, we play a game of flashlight tag on the ceiling before shuffling the kids off to their beds. 

Stuart Little is a wonderful little book, I may have liked it as much as the kids. Each chapter is a complete little story, so it's perfect to read in little chunks. We would talk about Stuart's adventures throughout the next day, and I would try to help the kids remember what had happened the night before.  When we finished the last chapter a few days ago, both Bee and C were sad to see Stuart's adventures end. And so am I.

We'll go back to picture books for a bit before starting our next chapter book.. any suggestions? (My kids are 2 and 4, so it needs to be short and not too involved.. and a few illustrations along the way really helps my littlest one stay interested.) What should we read next?

Want to know more about Stuart Little and how the book was written? I almost forgot to mention this article I read last summer in The New Yorker. 

UPDATE: Guys! Wow, thank you all for taking the time to let me know your favorite books. I just finished reading through all of your recommendations and I think we will have plenty of great books to read for the next few months.. maybe years! Thank you!

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Reader Comments (45)

Pippi Longstocking, illustrated by Lauren Child. This was such a hit with my 2 and 4 year old girls that we named our third baby after her!! Like Stuart Little, each chapter is it's own story and she has so many hilarious adventures, I'm sure they'll love it too.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commentercate

What about 'Wind in the Willows'? I haven't read 'Stuart Little' so I can't compare them, but I loved it as a child and still do! Also the original 'Winnie The Pooh' books, and the poetry 'When We Were Six' etc. We tried reading Pooh to my 3.5 year old and while she was keen she just couldn't keep up the interest for more than a couple nights. Perhaps we need to try with something else and be persistent.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

You have got to try the Magic Tree House series! they are very exciting, educational, and not too long. They also have some pictures- Fantastic series. Also Junie B Jones series is good as well, very funny- my kids were laughing out loud. We are reading Ruby Gloom right now. Good Luck!

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commentertanya

try one of kate dicamillo's "mercy watson" books--short chapters and illustrations on each page. arnold lobel's "frog and toad" books also make good first chapter books. and don't forget roald dahl! we started with my all-time favorite: "james and the giant peach".

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenteron-hand modern

Love the flashlight idea! My son just turned two and I have no idea how he'd take to a chapter book (probably not very well). LOL But I'm saving this idea for later definitely! Thanks for sharing!

The Bridge to Terabithia was a hit with my son who was 3 at the time. Now, there is some sadness in the book but he hadn't grasped the emotion that comes with it just yet. It's a great fantasy adventure. We are doing the The Magic Treehouse series right now and he absolutely loves those (he is 4 years old now).

Thanks for the flashlight thing ... I know he would just love that!

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I don't have kids yet and that's a long way off for me, but your post gave me a huge smile. I'm officially looking forward to being a mom. What a sweet ritual.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterApril

brooke, we read charlie and the chocolate factory on a road trip in october. i've got a half-written post about it saved somewhere... eve loved it, ruth liked it a lot and chip and i were in heaven. i think we're going to give the BFG a try next (i don't think you can go wrong with roald dahl).

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

Some of my favorite picture books:
Company's Coming by Arthur Yorinks
While Mama Had a Quick Little Chat by Amy Reichert
Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent by Lauren Child
Where's Wallace? by Hilary Knight
Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham
A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

Some of my favorite chapter books:
Queen Zixi of Ix by Frank L. Baum
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Freddy the Pilot by Walter Brooks
Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterGina

also, i think we need to get some of those small flashlights. the girls have a giant maglite next to their bed and after about two minutes of holding it while we read ruth is exhausted. poor girl. she just wants to be the "splash light holder" so bad. . .

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

What a timely post, I just started reading "Winnie the Pooh" - it's a chapter book - to my 4 year old. He enjoyed the first chapter last night - and like Stuart Little, the chapter had a beginning and ending, it's own small story - with a few darling illustrations.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill

We loved reading Stuart Little! A favorite is also The Mouse and the Motorcycle and The Littles. Happy Reading!

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I second Pippi Longstocking and also suggest Jenny and the Cat Club.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Gannett is the perfect first chapter book. There are plenty of illustrations, the chapters are short, and the story is both charming and funny.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAly

I second My Father's Dragon. I also believe there are few more books in the series which would be great if the kids wanted to keep the story going. I suggest Mr. Popper's Penguins. Simple story with a few illustrations scattered along the way.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Little House in the Big Woods is wonderful. A decent amount of sweet illustrations to hold little ones' attention. I loved reading it again, this time through a parent's eyes. The writing is descriptive, but simple. Harper Collins also publishes a nice collection of illustrated children's picture books based on the early Little House and Farmer Boy books. We get a couple of them every time we go to the library. This might help prime the pump, or at least give them more visuals. My kids also liked My Father's Dragon. Reading at night is one of my favorite parts of the day. Partly because I can lie down. :)

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenteranother amy

We liked Old Mother West Wind, and the short stories in James Herriot's "Treasury for Children". As far as chapter books...Roald Dahl is a great author for little kids. One of our favorite read alouds is "James and the Giant Peach". More later...

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSooz

love the reading by flashlight idea.

Mine is 3, and she doesn't have the patience for "involved" stories yet. Her current favorites are:

"This is San Francisco"
"Ella Sarah Gets Dressed"
"Can you say peace"

She also likes the whole Touch the Art series, e.g., "Feed Matisse's Fish"

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

Hi Brooke,
My favorite chapter books when I was little (but a little older than C & B), were the Moomintroll books. They are wonderful!!!
I should maybe re-read them.... you have inspired me.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Ross

Love the flashlights. I am trying that tonight.

A few months ago, Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Cleary was my first successful foray into chapter books with my 4 year old daughter, though it didn't hurt that it was my favorite book as a little girl. Such as sweet and innocent story [though you may have trouble explaining woolen underwear]. I like the simple plot lines and the timeless theme of being a good friend.

I also ditto the Magic Treehouse suggestion. We love them, and have even structured our preschool around some of the historical facts in the book. Now that we are doing well with chapters, the possibilities are endless.

01.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenteramylinn

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