Roald Dahl: Graduating to Big Kid Books

The discovery of Roald Dahl is a treat for both young readers and their parents. It's hard for even the most reluctant page-turner to get drawn into the author's worlds of whimsy, while moms and dads appreciate the healthy dose of sarcasm Dahl doles out to keep things from getting saccharine-sweet (even when the setting's a candy factory). Secondary kid characters tend toward the nasty; adults are often flawed, removed, forcing a Charlie or Matilda to step up and stake their claim. MK's collective fave is Danny, the Champion of the World, but you won't go wrong no matter where you start in the Dahl canon — as MomSpeaker Sandra Telep and son Leo are finding out, to their delight.

Lately, Leo has really been enjoying longer books. He has always been an enthusiastic reader, but only recently has he really asked for these types of books that take several days (usually . . . on rainy days we've read one in a single day) to read and have few or no pictures. His Uncle Julian gave him The Roald Dahl Treasury and so far we've read Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He does still enjoy shorter books — picture books, even board books, which is good because Zoe still wants us to read those over and over (and over and over).

It's been awesome curling up to read these longer stories with Leo. These days he's all jumping and climbing and talking a million miles an hour, so slowing down to cuddle and read is especially nice. Since, these books do NOT usually hold Zoe's attention, it's tough to find time (aside from her naptime or when she wants to nurse) to really settle in to reading with him. We've certainly been making good use of the bookmarks he got for his birthday.

The last book we read was Charlie and Chocolate Factory. My absolute favorite moment during that book — or possibly ever — was when we were reading the part when Charlie is slowly opening the wrapper, hoping to find a golden ticket. At that moment, as I read, Leo quickly covered his eyes and exclaimed, "I can't look!" There wasn't a single picture on the page — he was just so overcome by the story. It was freaking amazing.

After we finished the book we had a weekend double feature viewing both the Gene Wilder and the Jonny Depp movie versions. Leo picked out every little difference between the book and each movie. From major changes like, "Why doesn't he have a dad in this movie?" to strangely small things like, "In the book he used the word ___ instead of ____."  If it weren't for the novelty of it being the first time we watched a movie based on a book we've read I might have asked him to can it after a while.

I'm looking forward to reading more and more chapter books with him, though I'd like to diversify a bit. This list is a good start, though Roald Dahl does hold 4 of the top 10 spots, so I guess we are on the right track. What chapter books do you enjoy reading aloud? 

Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of two. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.