Whenever your preschooler expresses an interest in longer stories, or if you’re eager to introduce one-chapter-a-night bedtime reading, you should look for: engaging stories that don’t need too much explanation, short chapters, enough action and humour to keep them involved, and a few well-done illustrations. This is a starter list, I’m always finding new titles, so there will be other similar lists in future posts.
Here they are, in order from totally non-scary to slightly more adventurous:
1. Winnie the Pooh and sequel The House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne – 10 chapters apiece
These are so gentle and funny that they are suitable for very young listeners. (Good for travels too: there’s an excellent audiobook 3 CD set starring Stephen Frye, Judi Dench, et al.) Particularly if they’ve seen the Disney film (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, 1977), and are familiar with the characters, a 3-year-old will sit enraptured by these stories.
2. My Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett – 10 chapters
I’ve raved about this one before: brave boy on a quest to save dragon faces and outwits jungle creatures in a very funny adventure story.
A mouse befriends a boy staying at a motel and drives the boy’s toy motorcycle all around the place, getting into numerous scrapes. A great story for a range of ages; the mere idea of a mouse zooming around on a tiny motorcycle is fascinating for all.
4. Aditi and the One-Eyed Monkey, by Suniti Namjoshi – 16 chapters
A princess and her animal friends (elephant, ant, and one-eyed monkey) set out to confront a dragon who is terrorizing the land. Classic fairy tale in form, but very modern in approach, as they are always looking for peaceful solutions to their various problems and obstacles. In one chapter, however, the elephant has a bloody fight with some lions, but all survive.
5. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – 24 chapters
This is a longer read, and notably different from the classic movie, but with same main characters on the same quest. There are numerous battles along the way, but perils are quickly overcome and good wins out. An entrancing, magical adventure for all.