A few weeks ago, we started reading Olive chapter books. I thought she might still be too young at 4 to forego giant color illustrations and shorter stories, but she took to the books surprisingly well.
We started with Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox in anticipation of the Wes Anderson movie. (I’ll have a movie review tomorrow. Short story: it is indeed fantastic.) We read two to three chapters each night at bedtime, and she showed remarkable ability the next night to recall the story in progress. Turns out she wasn’t too young at all.
Then there was the older subject matter. Now, I don’t know when was the last time you read Fantastic Mr. Fox, but there are a heckuva lot of guns in it. Those farmers are mean! Yet somehow, this didn’t bother her or me. We talked about it a little bit, but really she was only interested in what the foxes were doing. I also think the reading went well for this trial run because there was promise of a movie ahead.
When we were done reading Fantastic Mr. Fox, she immediately wanted to dive into another one, so naturally we sidestepped right into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – a perfect fit for a 4-year-old. Naughty children, candy, chocolate rivers, Oompa Loompas! Honestly, what could be better? We have yet to show her those movie(s), but I’m bumping the Gene Wilder movie to the top of our Netflix queue.
Next up, The Cricket in Times Square for our little New Yorker. The adventure of a cricket, a mouse, and a cat in the subway was really appealing. And the beauty of reading aloud (especially with these older books) is that you can change things as you read. The scenes that take place in Chinatown are not the most… um… P.C. scenes around, so we were able to soften that dialog on the fly.
If you’ve been wondering about starting chapter books with your kids, I say go for it. What a great way to expand their world, their vocabularies, and their knowledge about shotguns.
Check in tomorrow for more about the fantastic Fantastic Mr. Fox movie.