My son has finally shown an interest in chapter books! I tried to introduce a couple to him last year, Freckle Juice and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but he just didn't have the patience at that time.
On the last day of kindergarten before winter break, Spinky got a flyer for movies that will be shown, with coupons. Usually I get really irrationally angry when I see these. They give them out to kids who can't read, and my son gets so excited to see Toy Story 3 or Cars 2 or something and then *I'm* the one who has to explain to him that we aren't going to see it because it is in Japanese. Okay, I guess this is my fault, but there is no way I am paying 1800 yen for me and 1000 yen for him (for those of you keeping track at home, that's $36 US) to see a movie that is dubbed away from my native language.
They used to show big movies with subtitles and dubbed so you could choose. Oh those were the days. Then stupid 3D came along and nothing directed at kids is shown subtitled anymore. I hate dubbed movies with a passion.
Okay, that was a little angry tangent. (You should see me, my eyes are all green and my face is red, my husband is laughing when he asked what got me so angry, he's seen me get so angry over this before.)
Anyway, one of the movies on his little flyer was Magic Treehouse. At first I thought this would be a dubbed version to, but the characters looked awfully Japanese anime-like. So I looked it up, and the movie is based on the wildly successful Magic Treehouse books, but it is a Japanese production. Annie is voiced by Mana Ashida, whose voice is everywhere in Japan as the 7-year old singer of Maru Maru Mori Mori, the current earworm here.
I thought that if he was interested in the books maybe we could go to his first movie. So I ordered the first four books, they arrived on Boxing Day, and we've been reading them ever since. Now he wants the next four asap!
Domba, at 2.75, does not have the attention span to listen to me read aloud. She drifts in and out while I'm reading. Spinky usually watches my face on the pages without pictures, but he sometimes closes his eyes too. I too like closing my eyes while someone else is reading aloud, so I can concentrate on imagining what is happening.
I really like the plots of the Magic Treehouse series. I was just slightly too old for them so this is my first experience with them. The chapters seems just short enough to hold a kindergarteners' attention, and the vocabulary choice is good too. We have learned a lot of new words but context helps a lot. The pictures also help, as when in Book # 2 Mary Pope Osbourne introduces the word "precipice." The best thing about the book is that each chapter ends with almost a cliffhanger, so my son really wants to go on for more.
I am not thrilled with some of the sentences, however. So many of them seem to start with and. There are also many places where I would prefer a comma instead of starting a new sentence. I don't know if I am just being an old fuddy-duddy here. It's been a number of decades since I read a beginner's chapter book so maybe this is the style?
I am still not 100% sure if we will see the movie. I'm not even sure how I am justifying this exception to my "English-only" rule. I guess since it's not dubbed, originally in Japanese, and based on English books that it might be okay! We'll see.
What other chapter books are good for beginning readers? Do you have a favourite Magic Treehouse book?