Friday 13 January 2017

Chapter books for emerging readers (Preschool years)


Ever since Doll has learnt to read comfortably, I've been in search for chapter books for her. Yes, I'm very eager for her to start diving her nose into chapter books. I don't insist my children to read so that they can improve English grade, I'm eager because I want them to discover the pleasure of reading. I love to read and I enjoy being yank into another world that I otherwise would never know nor experience. I don't read to better my English and I don't think my English is that great. I just think reading is so pleasurable, relaxing and enjoyable that I want my children to experience themselves as soon as possible! Nothing pleases me more than seeing my kids bury their faces deep into their books. Whatever comes after that (improve their English) is of course a bonus but it's not my primary focus. 

I've managed to find a few chapter books - with much difficulty. I generally scour through the library and the various bookshop shelves one after another just to look for chapter books for Doll's level. I'm looking for chapter books that are relatively thin, with easy to understand context and a storyline that appeals the girl. Yes, i suppose with those criteria, it makes it difficult to find the right one. Still I'm very pleased that I managed to find quite a few, I am even more ecstatic that these books come in a series! Yay, that helps to lighten my search load! I'm listing them here for sharing. I won't put an age category to these books because it very much depends on which level is the reader. But in general, if the child can read Peter and Jane books at level 9 and above, these books should be perfect for them. 

1) Katie Woo by Fran Manushkin

Image result for katie woo

This series is all about moral values and everyday life. Great pick for parents who want their daughters to read and get some moral education. The words are relatively easy to read and understand. Doll can read almost the entire book all by herself. This is one book that I need not read to her.
2) My freaky family, Rude Ruby
Don't be fooled by the title of the book. It is nothing immoral or mischievous about this series. I love this set because the stories are simply twisted in a funny way. It is so ridiculous but really entertaining.

3) Amber Brown
This is a book about a girl and her best friend, Justin. There are aplenty of puns in this book that can be hard for a 5 year old to understand. But still, Doll loves this book as she found some parts funny.

4) Early readers, various authors
This book tickled Doll funny bones. The words are also easy to read and understand. Doll didn't need much help reading this book. Personally, any book that Tony Ross writes or illustrates is always funny and entertaining!

There are many other titles under this series, we have read Rainbow Magic, Emily Mouse's Birthday Party etc.
5) Cowgirl and Cocoa, Betsy Lewin
This is a book I just picked out from the library. Doll has yet to read it but I've browsed through the content and I am certain that she will love this series too. It is about the friendship about a girl and her horse and their adventures together.
6) The Gaskitt stories, Allan Ahlberg

This series is a tad difficult for the 5 year old in my opinion. It is not that the words used are bombastic or anything but there are multiple storyline going on simultaneously which eventually converged as one. For instance, one chapter focus on the mom, another on dad, then another on the kids and the last on the cat, the cycle gets repeated until they all merged into one ending. It can be quite hard for the young minds to keep up. But Doll likes this series, I suppose the stories are pretty interesting.
7) A Faraway Tree Adventure, Enid Blyton
I read this title written by Enid Blyton when I was a little girl. I remember being totally drawn in by the enchanting story and yet not entirely comprehending the magical content. But I know I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was eager for Sonshine to try but hesitant because I don't know if he likes it. So I was ecstatic when I found out that the story is being made it into a simpler version. This means Doll can read it too! And as expected, like the little girl that I was, she too got drawn in by the magic of this book. I am a happy mother seeing my own daughter enjoying the same story that I had once loved.
Most of the above books come in a series. I love books in a series because it makes the search for similar chapter books easier. I may return back to this site and add on to this list.

Add On

The New Friend


A book about a girl, cat or is it a cat-girl and her relationship with her friends. Its all about friendship and all the drama that comes with it. It is a great book as the girls get to learn how to cope when friends disappoint, fail, hurt etc them.

The Slide


Oh my goodness! This series is HILARIOUS to the MAX! Even my 10 year old enjoys it even though it is way too simple for him. The book depicts the strange activities of a group of students and their teacher and her big, wobbly, jiggly erm, bum. Too bad, there are only 4-5 (I cannot recall) titles under this series. I wish there was more!

Image result for rainbow magic belle birthday fairy

When I set my eyes on the Rainbow Magic series, my heart leaped with joy. I told myself I must expose the daughter to this series. Have you seen the number of titles in this series? It is MASSIVE! The Popular bookshop at Bras Basah dedicated an entire row of shelf to this particular series! As I said, I love books that comes in a series because it saves me from looking out for books for the kids (lazy mama here). I started letting Doll read this series under the Early reader books. After reading two books, she asked to read the intermediate level (those three stories in one books). I really hesitated but I decided to let her have a try. She has indeed proven herself. And that is when I realised she is ready to move on to thicker chapter books.  So, I'll be going in search for such books for her. Here we go!


Book for Boys


Being a mother to both a girl and a boy, I am quite certain that it's (generally) more challenging to get boys to read than girls. To make it more difficult, it is also hard to find chapter books that would interest them. 

Unlike girls, who read a wider selection of books, boys have a narrower preference in the type of books they like to read. Typically, they prefer comics and slapstick  comedy (with lots of farting). But if your sons are anything like mine, they WILL pick up bad habits and languages from such books. So although I try not to restrict his preference for books, I do my best to 'distract' him away from these books by recommending better (in my opinion) reads. 

It all seems gloom and doom when it comes to encourage our boys to read. But, before you throw in the towel, there are successful stories of boys who love to read. Apart those who naturally love books, there are boys, like my son, who have mothers who orchestrated their boys love for books. Today I'll share my successful story. 

To be fair, Sonshine love books right from the start. I remember when he was still a crawling baby, he wanted me to read a book to him. But I was in another room and he couldn't speak. So he went down on all fours, push the book and crawled all the way to me. Even at that age, he would sit on my lap and have me read books to him. He would stay on my lap for as long as I allowed him to. 

My difficulty only began when he was about 6 year old. I wanted him to transition to chapter books which he showed little interest in then. I suspect like most boys, he didn't like chapter books because it was too time consuming to read all the words and it took too long to get to the ending. He also prefers general knowledge books, those non-fiction, all facts type of books (ok, I think mostly are encyclopaedias). Chapter books were too much of a hard work for him. So what did this mama do? 
How I transition Sonshine to reading chapter books
I started with reading a chapter book aloud to him, yes, word for word, chapter by chapter. It is hardwork but it is worth it. Moreover reading aloud to my son means I get to bond with him AND enjoy a good book myself at the same time! I made sure to choose a book that will grab his attention and I also read it with a lot animation to make it even more interesting. When he was somewhat less resistant to chapter books, I continued to read aloud to him but this time I would always stop at the climax of the story. I would tell him that I will continue the story the next day. But he could not resist his curiosity and did not want to wait for another day to find out what happen next in the story. Curiosity got the better of him and he eventually picked up the book and read it himself. And that's how he began reading chapter books.
Recommended Reads
Finding chapter books for boys (that are not slapstick comedy) is not easy. At least I had a hard time. So, I am listing down some books that Sonshine really enjoyed. As you will see, Sonshine loves books that are quirky and out of this world- he finds them hilarious.  I also think it stretches his imagination which he loves doing. He also love to read about mischievous boys (SIGH).You will also find that he tend to read from the same authors.
 I'll be adding onto the list as he reads more books. I won't be summarizing all the books only a few.
1. Horrid Henry

This was the series that got him liking chapter books. The key thing is the content of the book, it is funny and Henry is every boy's dream because he is so mischievous (but never gets away with it).
2) Wayside School, Louis Sachar

This is not your ordinary school. The teacher is a little quirky and perhaps even dabbles with a bit of magic. The children are a little quirky themselves. School days are never normal here. This story is sure to entertain anyone who picks it up, young or old. I give it a all ten fingers up!
3) George's Marvelous Medicine, Road Dahl
4) Matilda, Road Dahl
5) The Witches, Road Dahl
 6) Danny the Champion of the world, Road Dahl
7) Gangsta Granny, David Walliams

How cool is it when your white hair granny turns herself into a thief in the night! Okay, for parents it is not that cool. But that is why Sonshine loves this book. Things that are not okay and normal in real life is suddenly made a reality in this book. He loves it!
8) Billionaire Boy, David Walliams
9) Mr Stink, David Walliams
10) Awful Auntie, David Walliams
11) Demon Dentist, David Walliams
12) The World's Worst Children, David Walliams
I think this book is written specifically for boys. You know boys who love to talk about farting and all that? Each chapter is about a child with different grotesque habits, one who drools non stop till it floods the street, one who plays the trumpet with her fart etc. I can almost hear now the parents and the girls are going EEEEWWWW and the boys going OOOOOOO. Yep, boys kinda books. (Honestly, I found it funny myself! LOL)
13) How To Train Your Dragon series, Cressida Cowell 

I am surprise that Sonshine is loving the books in these series. Of all the books he has read, I think this is the one that really sucked him in. Sonshine is a thrifty boy who never allows me to buy him books, instead always insist that I borrow the books no matter how much he likes the book. But this, this is the only series that he requested me to buy. I am surprise that he is absolutely loving this book because the setting is a little different, something that he has no clue about nor has interest in (he doesn't like dragons and pirate and all that stuff). Yet he is so drawn into the book- he can read 3 to 4 books simultaneously at the same time!  
I hope to add more onto the list!


Nicholas in Trouble

This series was recommended by Domestic Goddess, and she was very right. My son loves this series. I read it a couple of chapters itself, it tickles my funny bones. But it is relatively hard to look for this book for some reason, even the library (or at least the ones we visit) only stock up like two to three titles of this series. Sonshine has already read all that the library has and we are looking out for more..oh wait , that is, after he is done with the other series he is reading at the moment...

The Chronicles of Narnia


I saw the entire set at a second hand books fair and thought I should get it since I've heard many good reviews about it. I did watch the cartoon version of it as a young kid and I remember being drawn into it. But I have never read the books before. After purchasing it and reading the first pages of the first book, I immediately regret buying it. I thought the passages are pretty dry and difficult to comprehend. I personally dread passages with too much details such as describing the house, the dress, the chair and everything- which this book happen to have loads of it. also reckon that my son would feel the same. But I was pretty surprise that he actually loves it. He is completely drawn into the story.
I suppose the storyline IS fascinating. And some boys do like it. Well as they say, never judge a book by its cover. :P