105 Ways to Give a Book

Thursday Three: Classic Read-Alouds

The lazy days of summer are a perfect time to bring out some classic chapter books for reading time. These are a few that practically beg to be read aloud, particularly because the reading level is high for the intended audience.

by A. A. Milne

Winnie-the-PoohI still hold onto a memory from fifth grade where a teacher saw me reading House at Pooh Corner and complimented me on choosing such a challenging book. These days we think of Winnie-the-Pooh as a preschooler thing, an idea pushed forward by the whole Disneyfication of the characters. It’s a crying shame. The watered-down versions of the classic books ruin our appetites for the real thing. Fight back by reading aloud the true version with its melodious language, gentle illustrations, and sophisticated story-telling.

Jenny and the Cat Club
by Ester Averill

Jenny and the Cat ClubWhen New York Review Children’s Collection republished this book among other classics, I felt like I had found an old friend. I can’t say that I had been searching dusty old bookshops for a copy. To be honest, I had forgotten all about this book until I saw the cover. And there was Jenny, the shy black cat with the red scarf. Oh, how I had missed her! The story follows a shy little cat who wants to be part of the Cat Club and finds friends, adventure, and courage in their world. This book and the other Jenny books are perfect read-alouds for the younger set because the language and plot are simply — yet wonderfully — done.

Paddington Treasury
by Michael Bond

Paddington TreasuryPaddington Bear has also received the Winnie-the-Pooh treatment in recent years (what is it about bears?) with a ton of simplified boardbooks and adaptations. Again, you need to go back to the original to capture the heart of these stories of a bear found at a train station who goes on to make every day into exciting adventures as he bumbles along. The tales are wonderful for elementary school children, but the old-fashioned language and references can make reading the books a struggle. As a read-aloud, however, it’s magical.

(This post was previously published at PBS Booklights.)

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The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

I never heard of Jenny and the Cat Club. Thank you. I'll try it on my granddaughter. For boys, the Indian in the Cupboard is a great read aloud. I also remember a weird and wonderful book called the Tadger Tales. Take a look at it. It was my mother's favorite to read to us. Here a line to a free online copy you can download.

Honeythorpe said...

Ugh the Disneyfication of the Milne characters has a lot to answer for. Winnie-the-Pooh is the best read aloud ever. I have very fond memories of my mother reading them to me as a very small child and when I was a student, in one of my flats we used to have a weekly Winnie the Pooh story. Piglet may be one of my favorite ever literary characters.
My mum also used to regularly read to me from the Milne poetry books - When we were very young and Now we are six. She used to read me lots of poetry but it is Milne's I remember best.

UCLA Library said...

Thank you for bringing Jenny and all her cat friends back into my life. Beautifully, elegantly written, evoking a far more innocent and serene atmosphere!