When my kids were babies, we started them on a bedtime routine that included a story. They’d snuggle up on our laps and we’d look at a picture book — probably one we’d read a hundred times already — and we’d read out loud, then tuck them in.
Our older two — ages 7 1/2 and just-turned-six — are beyond the picture-book stage, though. We still love to read to them at night, but it is getting harder to find appropriate books. We’re looking for novels, longer books that will allow them to get involved with the characters and story, and also to have to remember what has happened from day to day. We want something that is family friendly and age appropriate – not too scary, not involving awkward dating issues. We’re also trying to encourage them to read by themselves at their own level, so we don’t want to read any bedtime books that they really could be reading themselves.
So these magical books have to be a) advanced chapter books but b) not TOO advanced and c) classics we can all enjoy. Not too much of a tall order, no?
I thought I’d post about this in order to get some ideas from anyone else in this spot. What are you reading your Grade 1 and Grade 2 kids at night?
Here’s what we’ve tried so far in our quest to move beyond picture books. Gal Smiley, at age 6, prefers books where “something happens” right away – she has no patience for a slow build. So, like her brother before her, we are finding that short stories work well.
So far we have read Louis Sachar’s Wayside Books (start with Sideways Stories from Wayside School) — each story is the perfect bedtime story length and your kid will find them hilarious. We also read the A.A. Milne Winnie-The-Pooh books (we have them all collected into one volume called The World Of Pooh). They’re also really funny (although that last one is QUITE the tearjerker, have tissues ready or skip it altogether), and the stories are long enough that they can be broken over two or three nights.
Right now we are reading Pippi Longstocking by Lindgren and it’s a big hit. It’s funny right from the first page and although it’s a novel, it reads more like a series of short stories. I’m not sure what’s next up for her – I thought I might try Little House On The Prairie, or I’ve heard really good things about The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – does anyone know if that is action-packed yet not too scary?
The Captain has been through all the Flat Stanley books, and they were a hit, and he’s also read a few of the slower moving classics like The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary and Stuart Little by E.B. White. He also enjoyed Freckle Juice by Judy Blume and he’s currently reading James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, which is weird as Dahl usually is, but doesn’t seem to be causing too many nightmares. He also recently read the first Harry Potter book – I’m iffy on those in terms of scariness but he seems to be doing okay. I think he and Sir Monkeypants are going to tackle the second book soon, but after that we will take a break from Harry for a while until the Captain is old enough to handle them.
I have a list of other books I loved as a child that I’m anxious to share, but I’m not sure my kids are ready for them yet. Any suggestions for six and seven year olds?