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A New Chapter

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We’ve started a new chapter at our house.

Literally.

We’ve started reading Chapter Books to Claire at bedtime!

(Photos provided by The Casual Perfectionist.)

When she turned 4-years old at the end of November, I thought it would be a good time to see how she’d do with a Chapter Book. Moving on to books that are more words than pictures is a big step. These books make you create the pictures in your own mind. Sitting still long enough to get the images to form is a skill, and I just knew she was ready to tackle it.

And, she was!

What books did I decide to use on our maiden voyage to the land of Chapter Books? The Little House on the Prairie series.  I loved these books as a child. My school district had a special reading rewards program (RIF = Reading Is Fundamental), and through that program, I collected Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, amongst others. In addition to the single books I collected, I thought for sure I had the entire set. I could picture the pale yellow box, with the neat little books standing tall.

But, I couldn’t find it in my box of treasures. All I could find was a handful of the pale yellow books, and there were some major gaps in the storyline.

I wasn’t even sure if Claire would like them, so rather than insist on starting at the beginning (with Little House in the Big Woods, for those of you playing along at home), I got out Little House on the Prairie, technically the second book in the series.

She loved it.

Every night, we’d read a chapter, and she was enthralled. She wanted to read more than a chapter a night, but I held firm. I think a chapter is a good unit of measure, plus the thought of reaching the end of this one without being able to go on to the next one, On the Banks of Plum Creek, made me twitch. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t find my box set!

So, I turned to the Internet. I found the box set, and it was on super-sale. It arrived much quicker than anticipated, and just last week, we moved on to read about Laura’s adventures on the banks of Plum Creek.

Purists would have problems with me skipping Little House in the Big Woods, and also Farmer Boy, but those people didn’t see the look on Claire’s face when I told her we had to wait until the next book to see what happened to the Ingalls family as they were forced to ride away from the homestead they’d built in “Indian Territory.” We’ll read Farmer Boy at the end, and Little House in the Big Woods will be a good way to start the series again, because I have a feeling she’ll want me to start all over when we’re done.

Every night, she begs for the next chapter. In all honesty, we’ve never had a lot of bedtime struggles.  There was a time when she was three that we had to resort to trickery to get her off to bed, but it was never really a full-blown issue. (Yes, I know we’re lucky!)

But now? Now that the Chapter Book is waiting for us? Now, she never hesitates when we tell her it’s time to go to bed.  We do our bedtime routine, and she snuggles under her covers, waiting to hear what happens next. She loves seeing the few pencil drawings there are in the chapter, but then lets her own images fill her head.  There is a glimpse to another world waiting for her, and I’m thrilled that she’s discovered it hiding in a book.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing is just as colorful as I remember, and I love ending the day submerged in another way of life. I love that my daughter is getting to experience a time that is so important in our history, even if it is one chapter at a time.

I love the memories these books conjure up for me, too. I’m enjoying the books this time around just as much as I did well over 25 years ago. My view has shifted a little, in that rather than seeing things only from Laura’s viewpoint, as I did all those years ago, I can also see things from the adult standpoint. The things Caroline and Charles went through are very real to me. I find myself fighting back the tears at things that mean so much more to me now than they did when I was little.

Even though I’ve read them over and over, I, too, can’t wait to see what happens next. And, if you must know, I have a confession: In my mind, Pa will always look and sound just like Michael Landon. Always.

What about you? Were you hooked on Little House on the Prairie (the books and/or the show) when you were little? What chapter books are a favorite in your house?

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 28, 2010

    Honestly, I hadn’t even thought of doing this with my daughter because she’s still bringing home regular children’s books from the school library. You’ve inspired me to move to the next chapter. 🙂

  • comment avatar Melissa January 28, 2010

    Daddy tried to start a chapter book with our 4.5 year old son, but we never made it into a routine, so it hasn’t been read in a while. They were reading The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket.

    We do read a lot of books at our house, right now they kids love Mo Willems and the Critter books by Mercer Meyer.

    I *loved* Little House On The Prairie. I always thought Laura could have been my sister because I felt I looked like her. I sadly have never read the books. I better get some out of the library!

  • comment avatar Aimee January 28, 2010

    HUGE fan of Little House on the Prairie. HUGE.

  • comment avatar Liz January 28, 2010

    I still remember my Mom reading one chapter, every night after dinner, to all of us. I have boys but I will definitely be reading them these books. Thanks for bringing back good memories!

  • comment avatar Becky Risch January 28, 2010

    Wow – great idea! Sawyer mentioned that she likes the chapter books read to her at school, so I’m absolutely going to try this!

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver January 28, 2010

    With two, especially a boy and a girl, we’d need to take turns. So Harry would alternate with Laura.

    Time to try again. Thanks for the prompt!

  • comment avatar Read Aloud Denver March 17, 2010

    Wow! Chapter books at 4 years old. That’s so awesome! Looks like your daughter will be a lifetime reader.

    I volunteer with the Arapahoe Library District’s “Begin with Books” program where we read aloud to kids at designated daycares. Since it’s so hard for daycare providers to bring the kids to the library, “Begin with Books” brings the library to the kids.

    I’m trying to help encourage moms, dads, and daycare providers to read aloud to kids everyday, starting from birth. I created http://www.ReadAloudDenver.com which lists the Storytimes at libraries and bookstores in the Denver area.

    So far, the calendar includes Storytimes at Denver DPL, Arapahoe, Aurora, Englewood, and Litteton and also Borders, Barnes & Noble and Tattered Cover bookstores.

  • comment avatar Marcia Reagan July 11, 2010

    Reading to your children is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. I truly believe it makes them better students when they enter school.

    I read to my kids all the time when they were little. When we were shopping, I never said no to them when they wanted to buy a book. A new toy I might say no to, but a book, never! They both became avid readers and are now straight “A” high school students.

    Keep Reading!

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