Jr Biblio-file – January 2022
Happy New Year from the Pinawa Public Library Junior Department!
I have never met anyone of any age who does not love being read to. There is something cozy and comforting about curling up on a dark evening and having a good story carry you away on a loved one’s voice. I think this is the root of the popularity of audiobooks. I love them myself, and my children, (who get read to often, and are voracious readers themselves) can’t get enough of them. Lots of people hate reading aloud though. They think they will butcher the story, or not read smoothly enough, or they can’t do the character’s voices. I am here to tell you dear hesitant narrators, that your fears are completely unfounded. Experience overwhelmingly proves that you don’t have to be a professional actor to read aloud to someone. Even if it’s halting and slow, the time together, and the shared story will still be treasured. And practice does improve performance.
That being said, there is something to be said for choosing the right story to read aloud. You have to know your audience first and foremost. And you have to be comfortable with the story. Maybe don’t start with one of Tolkein’s books. Definitely read Tolkien, even out loud one day. It’s absolutely worth it. But the language is complex and detailed, and not for the faint of heart, or young children.
So to pass the long dark evenings of the next few months let me suggest some excellent read aloud books from our collection.
When reading to young children picture books are an easy choice. But there are still things to consider. I look for books with shorter passages per page. Turning the page is an event for them, and if the reading takes longer than they take to fully absorb the illustration they will get bored. And as always choose according to the child’s interests, but don’t forget to share some of your childhood favourites as well.
Picture book suggestions:
The princess and the pony by Kate Beaton – It has warriors in cozy sweaters and a flatulent pony. What more could a kid want.
Animals should definitely not wear clothing by Judi Barrel – It’s an old book and a bit fragile, but don’t be afraid. The pictures are hilarious, and if it’s loved enough I’ll gladly get a new copy.
Giant dance party by Betsy Bird – The illustrations are so sweet kids will want to start their own school in hopes the giants will show up.
Anything by Jan Brett – Her illustrations are both complex and beautiful, and the stories are always enjoyable, and we have many to choose from.
Anything by Eric Carle – These are true classics every one, and we have most of them in our collection for you.
Click, clack, moo by Doreen Cronin – the cows go on strike at the farm it’s hilarious.
Anything by Phoebe Gilman – She is one of my favourite picture book author/illustrators. Every story is a treasure, and all the pictures are delightful.
The owl and the pussycat by Edward Lear – A perfect nonsense story with Phoebe Gilman’s perfect illustrations. We do have others though.
Make way for ducklings by Robert McCloskey – I want to read this book every spring when the ducklings hatch. Every spring.
Anything by Robert Munsch – Need I say more? I think we have every one ever written.
All the Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’Connor – Nancy is a little girl with a big vocabulary. If your kids are like mine they will start using the most marvellous language after reading these books.
Dear boy by Paris Rosenthal – Because little boys are fantastic.
Ding dong! Gorilla! by Michelle Robinson – A little part of your kid will always hope for a gorilla when the doorbell rings.
Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw – Our copy is a collection of 5 minute stories, so the fun doesn’t have to stop after the first one.
The adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat – In this story an imaginary friend goes on an adventure to find a child of his own.
Everything by Chris Van Dusen – Here is another author/illustrator worth adding to your favourites list.
Bear wants more (and all the other Bear books) by Karma Wilson – These make perfect calming stories for when you want someone to “stop jumping on the couch already!”
How do Dinosaurs… by Jane Yolen – All of these are excellent. they teach good behaviour with dinosaurs as the children. And each dinosaur shown is correctly identified for our insistent paleozoologists.
Board book suggestions:
Hippos go berserk by Sandra Boynton – the words are lyrical (they are songs) and the illustrations are delightful and unique. Besides how can you not want to read this book after seeing the cover?
The slightly annoying elephant by David Williams – When a boy “adopts” an elephant at the zoo, he never expects the elephant to turn up at his house!
If I had a Gryphon by Vicky Van Sickle – It s a cute story of mythical beasts that should definitely not be restricted to babies.
Vegetables in underwear by – Does any more really need to be said?
The pokey little puppy by – One of our small collection of classic Little Golden Books for those of us who love them forever.
One duck stuck by – The repetitive rhyme and extensive use of onomatopoeia is great for building language and thinking skills, and the solution is satisfying.
It will probably be strange the first time sitting down to read aloud with a child who can read for themselves. They may seem very distracted, but even if they are on their phones, their ears are picking up everything. If you are persistent it will become a happy memory of home when they move out. For those readers who have grown out of picture books, I prefer stories that flow easily and are not too emotional or personal. Those I keep for just the book and me, I don’t want to share those depths with a narrator. Here are some suggestions for those who don’t want picture books anymore (about 8-800 year olds)
Junior fiction suggestions:
The Wizard of Oz series by Frank L. Baum – Our little library has the distinction of holding more of the series than any other library in Manitoba. Most people don’t read past the first book, but I encourage you to, there are more adventures to be had!
Anything Roald Dahl – Our library has all the stories and even a few of his memoirs which are more amazing than fiction.
The Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke – What if there were people who, by reading aloud, could actually bring the characters to life in our world?
Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine – This book was made into a very cute movie. (As were a lot of good read aloud from this section) It’s a bit of a twisted fairy tale in that it has all the elements of Cinderella and yet is completely unique.
A.A. Milne books and poetry – We have a number of these delightful volumes of stories and poetry. I love them and I hope you will too.
Owls in the family by Farley Mowat – Set in a small Saskatoon of his childhood, all I can say is every kid will want an owl their own after reading this one.
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan – I’m sure your kids have already discovered how much fun “Uncle Rick” is as an author. There is just as much hilarity and adventure when read aloud together.
The Rescuers by Margary Sharp – Yes, those rescuers. The glamorous Miss Bianca and the intrepid Bernard doing what they do best.
For Young Adults:
The Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo – These have recently been made into a Netflix series, and they are a very good read.
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi – Those in the know, know that Avi is always a good choice. In this one a polished young lady takes a boat home, and through a series of circumstances, becomes a pirate captain.
The Larklight series (and really anything) by Philip Reeve – It is no secret that this is one of my favourite authors and book series.
Harry Potter by JK Rowling – There is a very good reason that these have been so popular as audio books. I dare you not to do “the Hagrid voice” while reading. You won’t be able to help it.
The Winnowing by Vickie Van Sickle – This author has visited our library in the past 5 years, and her book is very well written.
PG Woodhouse books – I admit this is a dark horse suggestion. It could either be your favourite or go down like a lead balloon, depending on your sense of humour. It’s in the adult section and has a very British style of humour.
Agatha Christie books – Mysteries have always been a favourite genre in this town, and now our kids are getting into them too. Share the classics with them. These have great writing and they are never too dark or violent. My kids have loved them since they were in elementary school.
I know every home is incredibly busy, and at the end of a day you are too tired to think. But I encourage you to try a read aloud with your family. You could read a little each week on an evening, or a weekend morning, or around the dinner table. If you do want to try this out, don’t be shy, and ask your librarian for an extended due date. We will be happy to accommodate that and you can still have all the renewals.
If there are any read alouds you love that I’ve missed, and you would recommend, please send us an email suggestion and we’ll add them to our list or collection!