I’ve read out loud to my kids since they were in utero. Starting with the Time magazine and moving up to… well, The Very Hungry Caterpillar mostly. Reading aloud has many amazing benefits for kids (literacy, vocabulary, imagination) but, given we have to do it every single day, it helps if you’re reading a book that’s fun for you as well. Especially if you have dramatic tendencies.
As a wayward youth I studied drama. I wasn’t very good at it, but I very much enjoyed it. Now I have kids I’ve turned bedtime stories into my own personal platform to play out my repressed dreams of theatrical stardom.
If turning The Cat in the Hat into your own Greek tragedy sounds appealing, I’ve compiled a list of kids’ books that I really LOVE to read aloud to the kids.
1. The Day the Crayons Came Home
The Day the Crayons Came Home is the very funny sequel to The Day the Crayons Quit.
Basic premise: Duncan’s neglected crayons send him postcards from where they’ve been left or forgotten.
Pièce de resistance: Flamboyant-but-not-very-bright Neon Red crayon’s series of postcards documenting its attempt to return home, including allegedly crossing Newcastle on a camel (photo includes the pyramids in the background).
Will appeal to you if: You love doing a classic breathy Marilyn Monroe impression.
2. Oi Frog!
Oi Frog! is a wonderfully simple and hilariously ridiculous rhyming book.
Basic premise: An overbearing cat insists that frogs must sit on logs because it’s just the done thing – even though they’re ‘all nobbly and uncomfortable. And they can give you splinters in your bottom.’ Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, etc.
Pièce de resistance: My husband came up with the idea of reversing the cat’s commands to make it even funnier. So when he gets bored of reading the text ‘as is’, he reads his own version – where ploughs sit on cows and pillars sit on gorillas. Our 5-year-old LOVES it. Giggles galore.
Will appeal to you if: You’re good at switching between an aristocratic accent (because really, what else could you choose for the stuffy old cat?) and a relaxed, cockney accent. Also works with Australian private school English vs broad outback accents.
3. Fox in Socks
Basic premise: Mr Fox tortures Mr Knox by trying to get him to join in on tongue twisters of ever-increasing difficulty. Mr Knox eventually gets his revenge. It’s wonderful.
Pièce de resistance: Finally managing to read this passage in double time without pausing or falling over my words. I’m considering put it down as a ‘skill’ on my CV:
When a fox is in the bottle where
the tweetle beetles battle
with their paddles in a puddle on a
noodle-eating poodle, THIS is what they call…
… a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled
paddled muddled duddled
fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir!
Will appeal to you if: You like a tongue-twisting challenge and enjoy a good warring of the words.
4. It’s Bedtime, William!
Basic premise: William makes up every excuse possible to avoid going to bed. His parents aren’t buying it. In the ultimate karmic revenge, William finally goes to bed and finds a LION asleep in his bed. After booting the lion out, the lion then refuses to go to sleep… even though William is finally very, very tired.
Pièce de resistance: Smugly reading the passage where William has had enough because the lion keeps stalling on bedtime. It ends thus:
Do you want to hear a joke? (No!)
It’s really funny! (NO! NO! NO!)
Lion: Wait… there’s one more thing…
William: What is it NOW?
Will appeal to you if: You have a child who is a chronic bedtime refuser and excuse-maker and you’d like to fantasise about them getting their comeuppance.