In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book lists and rhyme, all the time

Dear Aunt Debbie,

I really want to see Hugo.  Going to need babysitting for that one.  We took the girls to their first movie-theater movie this weekend: the new Muppet movie.  It was a total hit, both girls mesmerized by the big screen.  Isabel didn't say a word, and practically didn't move, for more than two hours.  Eleanor had much more active reactions, laughing, squealing, even crying towards the end when it looked like the bad guy was going to win.  She knows a lot of stories, but doesn't yet fully understand that comedy means the good guys are going to come out on top at the end.

While movies are clearly a different medium from books, and what they require from an audience is different as well, I can't help feeling that the sustained attention span Eleanor and Isabel have built up in all our reading time has something to do with their ability to follow the narrative of a full-length movie.  It certainly informs the way they tell stories.  A couple of nights ago, they were in the bath together, each girl playing her own separate narrative game.  Eleanor had a Barbie in the tub with her, who she had cast as Cinderella, and there was a complex dialogue going on, Eleanor voicing Cinderella and herself and a small cast of other characters.  Right next to her, Isabel swam a rubber crocodile through the water, saying, "And the crocodile swam toward the child, and the child kissed the crocodile" (she picked it up and kissed it) "and took the crocodile home to its mother."  I'm a sucker for kids narrating stories about themselves in third-person.

But back to books.  Earlier tonight, Nick left a comment asking about more recommendations for rhyming books for 3-year-olds.  I'll answer that partially by encouraging readers to check out our Book List pages.  Under Picture Books, I have two lists that might be helpful: "Books it's fun to read aloud because of rhythm and rhyme" and "Rhyming books."  I've just added a few titles to each from the archives.

Lately, Dr. Seuss has been circulating heavily in our rotation.  In an earlier discussion of poetry, you mentioned Green Eggs and Ham, one of Isabel's current favorites.  Talk about rhythm and rhyme -- this book has an engine thrumming beneath every page:

I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

I didn't realize until I had kids that, of course, this is a book about picky eaters.  How many times has every parent played out this same scenario? "You do not like them.  So you say.  Try them!  Try them! And you may."

Dr. Seuss has so much going for him: the strange, effective creatures, the loopy twisting roads and railroad tracks, the rhyme, the repetition.  It's funny -- I don't feel the same affection for his books that I do for, say, anything by Margaret Wise Brown, but he is classic, worth rereading often, and a natural place to go to when you want some serious rhymes.

Love, Annie

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Annie! I'll take a look at the new titles on the list.

    Best, Nick