“Just one more chapter? PLEASE?!?!”
It’s a little after 8pm, which is a little after the typical bedtime for my 6-year-old. But this book is getting better and better with each page, and it would be unfair to stop at a cliffhanger. My son quickly agrees to my request. “Okay, mama. One more chapter.”
This has become a regular exchange between us lately. My boy has realized the value of books with more words than pictures, and I have rediscovered great children’s literature. I used to be an avid reader. But then I had a kiddo, and the idea of sitting on the couch with a book became a laughable luxury. There were always more productive things to do. And, at the end of the day, I was too tired to finish even a chapter. But lately, I’m sitting on the couch, reading for pleasure as much as ever before. And what is most satisfying is it’s an engaging, educational, connection-building, healthy activity for my child at the same time. Win. Win.
Finding the Titles.
For some reason, I have the hardest time remembering titles and authors, so I rely on a running list of recommendations I keep in the notes section of my phone. It’s always there and easy to pull up at the library or bookstore. Some of the chapter books we’ve loved are suggestions from other parents (see the list below for my gift to you). But, a large majority are recommended by the children’s librarians at the Bloomington and Ellettsville libraries. After finishing a particularly good read, my son and I headed straight for the librarians’ desk, and we each told him what we loved about the treasure we had just finished.
“It has animals and forest scenes. And a big battle,” says my son.
“The chapter length and writing style are perfect. And it has animals, forest scenes, and a big battle,” I add.
The librarian works his genius and offers us five more titles we might enjoy. He is spot on with three of them, and the other two will likely work in a few years. A side note, friends: our public library is just the best, and the children’s librarians at both branches are pure magic.
“We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too.” -Anonymous
The books my son and I read together are ones that I would pick up and read on my own, but sharing them with him feels like we have a little book club of two. The stories become that much sweeter when I discuss them with him. Up to now, most of the ways I have engaged with my boy have been geared toward his interests and development. I love going to the park, and I can build Lego creations with the best of them.
But lately, I see glimpses of a future where I share my personal, pre-mama activities with a child who is genuinely excited to partake. There are longer hikes, dance parties with a mid-90s playlist (don’t judge), and skiing every chance we get in our future. These moments help me cope with how quickly he is growing up because I can see that the future is like a library of unread treasures.
As promised, here is a list of our very favorites.
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B White (holy moly, have the tissues ready for that last chapter)
- The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
- The Wonderful World of Oz by L. Frank Baum
And for those with kiddos who aren’t quite ready for chapter books yet, here are a few shorter favorites that we still visit often.
- Telephone by Marc Barnett
- Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
- The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen
- I Like Animals by Dohlov Ipcar
- At This Very Moment by Jim Aronsky