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When to start reading non-picture books to child?

18 replies

Pollaidh · 05/04/2013 23:18

My (just) 3 year old loves stories including when we read picture books to her (up to 40 pages long), memorises whole books and then 'reads' them to us, loves when we make up stories, and loves making up stories.

She's drawn to 'real' books in the library and at home. She's bright (at 5 year old+ level of development in most areas) so I always find it hard to judge when to move on a step. Do you think it's too early to start reading her non-picture books? If it's time, could anyone recommend some good, not too complicated, books (for a girl), but not too scary please?

OP posts:
NeoMaxiZoomDweebie · 06/04/2013 01:01

I recommend My Naughty Little Sister...fantastic shortish tales...about small people but "real" books in the sense that they have minimal pictures...just the odd line drawing.

But girls and boys tend to go for the same things when they're only 3...even when they're ahead developmentally. Please don't look for "girl's" books.

You might miss the best of the best.

simpson · 06/04/2013 01:09

Would second My Naughty Little Sister it was the first chapter book I read to my DD when she was 3 (she is now 5).

The Happy Families books (mr creep the crook etc) are great too. But they are not chapter books.

Have you tried fairy tales? Little red riding hood etc?

Pollaidh · 06/04/2013 12:07

Thanks Simpson and Neo, I will definitely try these. We do the fairy tales already from memory, and much embellished.

Neo I try to give gender neutral/boy toys etc (I'm a tomboy myself) but have somehow produced a little housewife. All she's interested in at home is cooking, cleaning, babies, pink and fairies. Possibly a reaction from nursery where all her friends are boys, she seems to need femininity at home.

OP posts:
Campaspe · 06/04/2013 16:50

My DD is 6, and we are making the transition from me reading her picture books to sharing chapter books (she's not yet confident enough to read them independently). I continued a diet of picture books, but began to intersperse them with longer texts and less pictures, and there are lots of these sort available. I would agree with the recommendations given above, and also recommend these books as being gentle ways of bridging that gap:

Noddy books by Enid Blyton (I find little in the way of racism or sexism to object to, but you will know where you stand on the thorny issue of Enid Blyton)

Milly Molly Mandy stories - I love the old-fashioned language as I think it exposes children to storybook language that they might not hear in everyday speech

The Mrs Pepperpot stories

Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl and The Twits (I personally found some of the language used to describe old people a bit near the knuckle and actually more offensive than Enid Blyton, but again, a personal taste thing)

The Little Wooden Horse - Ursula Williams

The Giant Jam Sandwich - John Vernon Lord. A little gem. It's a short story told in verse, but I think a bright 3/4 y o would love it. Possibly more of a picture book than a chapter book.

Winnie the Witch - first enjoy the picture books (Korky Paul's illustrations fascinated my DD), and then move on to the collections of short stories. You could also try the Worst Witch stories by Jill Murphy, though these have less illustrations and are set in a boarding school, which may be an alien concept to a 3 yo?

You could try as well the Lighthouse Keeper books by Ronda and David Armitage, Mr Majeika by Humphrey Carpenter, the Katie Morag series, The Polar Express, The Jolly Postman, Clarice Bean...oh, the list is endless really. And I haven't even mentioned poetry!

Pollaidh · 07/04/2013 20:25

Thanks Campaspe, some great suggestions here. We're already fans of the Katie Morag series.

Have you tried the Babar books for your six year old? Many of the original books are very long for picture books, with beautiful illustrations, although those with 'handwritten' text would be difficult to read.

OP posts:
Periwinkle007 · 07/04/2013 20:38

Campaspe has covered all my favourites I think :o)

I am a big fan of Katie Morag and also the Lighthouse Keeper ones.

what about the James Mayhew Katie in the art gallery books, they are still picture books but a lot more text and longer stories. They introduce all the major artists and famous works of art, Katie is a little girl who steps into the paintings (whilst her grandma has a nap) and then has little adventures. Lovely books and there is a lot to look at and talk about.

Also Laura's star books are wonderful stories with nice illustrations too.

You can read normal books at whatever age she is ready but I wouldn't cut down too much on the picture books myself yet because I think they play a large part in the enjoyment at that age. My daughters are 4 (just) and 5. Both were very good with long stories too and both are early readers (my 5 year old in reception is now starting to read chapter books, she still prefers the ones with pictures in though so mostly early reader ones) and my younger daughter is on about level 3 reading books and keen to do it herself and be like her sister. She gets a great deal of enjoyment from the pictures too.

I would get some of the longer picture story books and keep doing those as well as a bit of a longer story. When I was little books didn't have the pictures but now i look back at them and boy they look dull so perhaps it is me who likes the pictures in their books?

Have you got the Milly Molly Mandy books? They have all been republished relatively recently and I think there are 4 chapter books although the chapters are really just little stories. completely age suitable, nice stories, can get picture versions too. My daughters love them (and Mr Benn which was another of my childhood favourites).

The Wombles? The old books are chapter books I think and again more than suitable age wise

simpson · 07/04/2013 21:43

Unfortunately my DD does not like Milly Molly Mandy as she says the books are boring as MMM is never naughty Hmm

But she absolutely loved the Frog and Toad books (they were the first chapter books she ever read) they are simple chapter books with lovely illustrations in and each chapter is a story on its own (F &T are best friends and have adventures etc).

Periwinkle007 · 07/04/2013 22:34

no MMM is definitely VERY good

Periwinkle007 · 07/04/2013 22:35

not sure my daughter would go for frog and toad, she isn't a fan of amphibians. bumble bees, spiders, butterflies or any mammal, fish or bird would be ok but frogs and toads...

simpson · 07/04/2013 22:50

I think it is because when she was in nursery last year I read My Naughty Little Sister to her so she expected MMM to be naughty.

And she could not get over the fact that she was allowed to stay in the house by herself, cook by herself and camp overnight with no adult Grin

simpson · 07/04/2013 22:53

F+T has made them kind of human with human emotions etc...

DD still reads them (over and over) but then she does have certain books she will read again and again ie Frog and Toad, Topsy and Tim and Charlie and Lola.

Periwinkle007 · 08/04/2013 08:20

I gave away our Charlie and Lola ones, I couldn't stand them and my hubby refused to read them due to the silly font etc. So when the girls hadn't mentioned them for a while, I put them away and they didn't notice so I passed them on to my niece and breathed a sigh of relief :o)

I will look for a frog and toad book then and show her. I must admit they sound very sweet and she does like animals.

off to WHSmiths this morning to spend £10 to use a £5 voucher they gave me. I checked it out yesterday (voucher only valid from today) and there were 3 usborne first readers she doesn't have and would like so I think we will get them. Sadly most of the early readers they had in stock were Horrid Henrys. Only 1 other, the Parent Swap Shop and 4 Usborne ones. I was quite disappointed as I think with Early readers you really have to see the book to work out if it is suitable or not and Waterstones were similar, as was the other Smiths. Might suggest the Roald Dahl Crocodile one though and see what she thinks as it has coloured pictures.

best not tell hubby I am buying more books but we own more than our local library. Whenever we go there we struggle to find anything suitable.

babybythesea · 08/04/2013 14:47

DD is four and is LOVING the Wishing Chair series by Enid Blyton.
They are chapter books, but the first chapters are all individual stories/adventures - as you go through the book, an adventure starts to spread over 2 or 3 chapters.
DD loves them so much that all I need to say at bedtime is "I wonder what's going to happen to the children and the chair tonight..." and she's up the stairs faster than lightening!

I plan on moving on to the Faraway Tree series next as these have been such a hit.

She was enjoying Amelia Jane (naughty doll in a nursery, also Blyton) but those have been totally supplanted by the Wishing Chair, because it has fairies and magic in it, her favourite thing!

Periwinkle007 · 08/04/2013 15:33

I didn't even realise there WAS a wishing chair series. I remember reading The Wishing Chair from a set with The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree when I was 5 and I loved them. I didn't realise there were any other ones - might have to get them for my kids.

babybythesea · 08/04/2013 21:55

I've just thought - the other ones it might be worth a look at are Little Grey Rabbit?

We have a collection of these but I haven't started them with dd yet, as until recently we were also on picture books only.

My theory is that you might as well get the books, because you can try them, and if they turn out to be a bit too grown up then you just put them away for later!! Which is why dd has a shelf full of Famous Five books already.....!

Periwinkle007 · 09/04/2013 08:53

I forgot little grey rabbit - I have some of them in the loft. Alison Uttley?

GsyPotatoPieEyed · 11/04/2013 01:44

After a recommendation on another thread here I have just finished reading my 5yo DS his first long bedtime book, Little House In The Big Woods. It was perfect for "reading to sleep" as it flows easily and he enjoyed listening. He asked for the next one so tonight we started Little House On The Prairie.

TreeLuLa · 11/04/2013 01:51

My 3 year olds love the Magic Faraway Tree. And the Owl who was afraid of the dark.

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