“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we believe we left without having lived them, those we spent with a favorite book.” –Marcel Proust
Children’s books transport us to fond childhood memories. When we open these past relics of our young lives, we remember that Clifford the big red dog made us imagine owning a massive pet that required a mansion to house, or we can hear the sound of Silverstein’s homework machine—clunk, click, bang— inelegantly shooting out our finished homework that we dreaded doing ourselves.
We can also feel long gone sensations—the angle of the sun as we flipped through Where’s Spot?—the sound of the rickety rocking chair on the porch swaying with the swirling leaves as we read Goosebumps. When we read aloud to children, we not only develop their vocabulary, we also create memories they will store for the rest of their lives. Let us discuss one best read aloud children’s book worthy of being remembered…
CAN I KEEP HIM? BY STEVEN KELLOGG
Can I Keep Him? is about an imaginative boy who keeps asking his mom for a pet. Sometimes he wants a kitten, other times a dinosaur. You might think—this plot has been done again and again. Yes it has: but not this well. I too get sick of reading children’s books about a pet-loving child wanting a pet, but this one, I assure you, is different, playful, well-written, masterfully done.
Steven Kellogg is a great writer. He plays with his sentences, sometimes making them long, suspenseful and descriptive. Other times his prose is concise. You feel like you are on a hot air balloon ride, joyfully trapped in his wondrous imagination, floating in that airy space between heaven and earth, sometimes even touching each realm—up, down, up, down. His prose exposes children to different sentence types and syntactic structures.
CHILDREN’S BOOK FOR VOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT
He uses excellent words that will develop your child’s vocabulary. You will read of a bear with “a disagreeable odor” a python whose “skins clog the vacuum cleaner” and a tiger with a “terrible appetite” [the family] “could never afford to feed.” It’s funny, joyful and sometimes mocks the humorous horrors moms find on a daily basis (the wild buck tearing apart the couch might remind you of the time your toddler wrote on your sofa with permanent marker).
Meanwhile, your child might relate to how the boy feels—that his desires to roam, explore, and know nature everywhere and in every way continually get denied. The boy is so intensely curious.
The ending is atypical, which is refreshing. So many children’s books end in an everything-gets-resolved fashion.
The boy in the story does not get a pet in the end. However, he finds a friend and together they find pets outside. The ending reminds me of that life lesson we all must learn again and again—that some problems can be resolved with the resources we currently have. The boy learns that outside in nature there are endless amounts of pets. Sure, they are not domestic pets, but he can watch many animals in their natural settings. The boy sees that the wonders of wild animals can be even more of a treat than the mundane habits of domestic ones.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: STEVEN KELLOGG
Steven Kellogg is one of my favorite children’s authors. Nearly all of his books are excellent. Some authors have one “good” book, others produce stunning works again and again—Steven Kellogg is the latter.
He’s also an illustrator. This means his pictures are incredibly in sync with the words. And I love his pictures. I get lost in the details of his pictures; they awaken parts of my imagination that have remained dormant for years. As I stare at them, I am reminded that life is composed of unending detail.
READING ALOUD TO DYSLEXIC CHILDREN
If a child is below grade level, it is critical to read aloud to them. Reading aloud to children helps develop their vocabulary, and later contributes to excellent reading comprehension. While children are learning to decode, they might not be able to read books that teach vocabulary words. Complex orthographic units are too complicated for a struggling reader to decode.
Thus, to develop a dyslexic students vocabulary, you must read to them. Every other week I post about a best read aloud children’s book.