Mem Fox, Alice Ozma, Jim Brozina, teachers, librarians, teacher-librarians and countless others agree that reading aloud to children is one of the most significant things we can do for them! Picture books are wonderful (they really are) but if you want to go exploring, there are also lots of amazing options (even for younger children and pre-readers) in children’s chapter books. Reading these kinds of books aloud to children is not only worth every minute of cognitive nurturing, but it’s also a great way to spend time together, slow down for a while, discover shared interests, and build a library of interesting things to talk about long afterward.
There is a wide range to choose from in the junior fiction section. Some books are brief, as short as three chapters long, and have lots of pictures. Some are thick as Montréal sandwiches with narrower margins, no pictures, and dozens of chapters. All can be found in the same place, with the label J FIC (for junior fiction). Because my three children are still relatively small (4, 5, and 7), I am always on the lookout for the sweeter, simpler of these chapter books. To that effect, I want to shine a special light on a book called Following Grandfather by Rosemary Wells. There is a lot going on in these five tiny chapters. It’s the story of a grandfather mouse and his granddaughter, Jenny, whom he takes care of while her parents are at work. Following Grandfather is also the story of an immigrant who made his way in a new country. It’s a story that celebrates seniors and their stories, a celebration of Italian culture, and the wisdom of loving the good things that you have. It is also tinted with sadness, with loss, with honouring the past and growing into the future, even when it doesn’t fit right just yet. I feel like I could go on forever with this book—incredible given its brevity! We loved Following Grandfather, and recommend it to anybody who needs a book to enjoy together, one or two chapters at a time.
Here are a couple of recommended books regarding reading aloud to children:
“Mem Fox reveals the incredible emotional and intellectual impact reading aloud to children has on their ability to learn to read.”
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
The true story of a father and daughter who read together for 3, 218 nights. Each chapter opens with a perfect quote from one of the books that they read together.
Happy reading. 😉