Yes, it's time for We Recommend again, which you'll be seeing a lot more of for the next while as we've let something of a backlog develop (sorry, everyone!). Anyway, here's where you write in asking for a book recommendation for some young person you know, and we magically come up with the perfect book, and when you guys help out in the comments. Without further ado…
I have been avoiding this particular post for a while, because for some reason I just keep reading it and coming up empty. I don't know why—it's not particularly complicated or anything, it's more that I have some sort of inexplicable block. So I am going to have to rely on you readers for help.
I have a request for book suggestions for my 4 year old boy. He can read if he wants to but he prefers his pre-bedtime books to be read to him. He can sit through a book without many pictures but he likes books with at least some pictures. We have torn through the Jack and Annie Magic Treehouse series — all 40+ of them. We have read Poppleton, Nate the Great, Marc Brown Arthur chapter books, the Magic School Bus chapter books, Iris and Walter, Mercy Watkins, and are currently cruising through The Littles series. His favorite series of all times is the Dinosaur Cove series by Rex Stone. He likes boy adventure books (but ones that won't give him nightmares).
He has looked at the Laura Ingalls series and said that he isn't ready for it. I've rejected Thirteen Clocks until he is a bit older. And he appears to be uninterested in Beverly Cleary. I don't think he is ready for Narnia yet, but I imagine he'll love that series in a few years.
Why is this hard for me? I don't know. I suspect myself of having a hidden lingering mourning for a certain type of sleepy reading. Nonetheless, we have a job to do.
What I really like about this request is the sweetness of it. This guys not looking to swim in the rude and fart-y sea of Captain Underpants, but just wants a story. Adventure, sure, but nothing crazy. He craves that awesome-ly comforting sensation of being read to.
I thought of Secrets of Droon, which my kids were so addicted to, but it's not quite good enough. The great thing about reading aloud is you can read something with a sophisticated story and complex language. So I'm thinking about adventure, but tame adventure, with complex language and bedtime sweetness. And I'm going classic:
I loved reading this book aloud. Adventure? Sure—is there anything better than fixing up your own canoe, then chopping down a dandelion for the milk and having dinner? Or racing your boat across the pond? But sweet—so sweet! And episodic—each chapter is its own discreet story within a larger whole, making it perfect for bedtime.
Looking at it here sort of breaks my heart; it's just right for only a certain time, and then no more.
But I will stop looking out the window at the beautiful rain and feeling wistful and melancholy. And no doubt you will come up with cheerier, peppier, more modern stories that will be exactly right for this guy (and please do! We need you!).
But for my money? This is just a perfect pleasure of a book.