Good books for the Non-Ham to read to small children
October 19, 2008 1:59 PM   Subscribe

This post reminded me of something I needed to ask. -> What are some good books to read to kids, for those of us who are not very good at (or comfortable with) being characters or using different voices? Surely there are some librarians on Ask Mefi that have experience with storytime?

Basically, I need a list of books that are suitable for a more shy/reserved person who has to read to a group of children — I am not overly shy, I can project confidence; but I will definitely become shy upon being faced with having to do voices, sing, or make kiddy jokes about farts or something. :)
posted by nomnomnom to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: i feel like i'm the same way. i can be as goofy as all get out when it's just me and the kids, but when there is another adult in the room i become really shy.

i think dr. seuss books are really good for this. there is a reason they are classics, and i have never had a moment of panic when reading them.

a favorite book of mine (and all the kids i've read it to) is don't let the pigeon ride the bus. again, no panic-striken moments and the kids can participate. (bonus! make them be the silly ones)

some others that i haven't read in a while but don't recall being too silly...

if you give a mouse a cookie, cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

good luck!

(if it's a specific age group i might be able to come up with more things...i'm not a librarian but a daycare worker. hurray.)
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 2:16 PM on October 19, 2008

I Stink! or any of the other books by Kate and Jim McMullan. The books are written in such a strong voice that you don't have to "do" anything, just let the words carry you along.
posted by jrossi4r at 2:27 PM on October 19, 2008

I have fond memories of The very hungry caterpillar. The story is narrated, and the caterpillar, being the only character, doesn't speak.
posted by timmow at 2:30 PM on October 19, 2008

I always like Shel Silverstein books for this purpose. It's easy to fall into a natural cadence that facilitates the rhyming, and even if you read in a complete monotone, the silliness of the words is still entertaining for kids.
posted by messylissa at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2008

Sigh ... just read to your kids ... read anything they might be interested in. Kids like to be read to. It seems like you get bonus points for being entertaining in this world, but really, the good books don't need to be performed. Neither of my parents were the type to do voices or perform in that way. We are all pretty reserved in my family. It never bothered me a bit. I loved the books and the fact that my parents cared enough to read to me. What I remember is the intimacy and love behind it, not the performances per se.
posted by gudrun at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2008

Dr. Seuss books are fun, but they are so. freakin. long.

I've read a lot of the "Pigeon" books and they are all cute.

Goodnight Moon is my hands-down all-time favorite book. I guess it's not technically appropriate if you are not reading it at night, but it is just so nice.
posted by radioamy at 4:29 PM on October 19, 2008

What is the age range? Any other demographic details may be helpful in fine tuning some suggestions as well. How many kids will you be reading with? How many books are you looking for and in what kind of window of time do you want to read...15 minutes, 30 minutes etc?
posted by pazoozoo at 5:23 PM on October 19, 2008

I read to my (now 4 year old) boy all the time and voices or acting out aren't really necessary. Kids love to be read to. Just read in a clear, expressive voice. If you are reading picture books one thing that really opens up the experience is to take a moment from the text to talk about what is going on in the pictures - it really helps them to put together and stay engaged in the narrative.

Age range is an important consideration here. If you are talking about picture books (toddler to early elementary age) pretty much everything they did on Reading Rainbow is good. Honestly there is so much great stuff I wouldn't know where to begin, but as Richard Scarry said, children's librarians are the best librarians, so don't hesitate to ask them.
posted by nanojath at 7:16 PM on October 19, 2008

If you give an approximate age or age range, it would be easier to recommend some books. Also, while metafilter is a good source, the forums for children's books on would probably have some good suggestions as well.
posted by gudrun at 10:08 PM on October 19, 2008

Response by poster: gudrun: These aren't my kids I'm reading to. I have to read to groups of kids sometimes in my job - eek.

pazoozoo: Generally the kids are young; toddler to elementary. The size of the group varies, but I would say usually between 10 and 25 kids. We usually read for about 30-45 mins (some of that time is spent mucking around, or colouring) and I don't mind if that's broken up with several short books, or one long book.

I will come back and mark my favourite answers when (if?) I get some more suggestions. :) You guys are lifesavers, I really need help here!
posted by nomnomnom at 12:30 AM on October 20, 2008

"Click, Clack, Moo" and Doreen Cronin's other books have a dry wit at their core -- so deadpan is great. Same for Shel Silverstein.

With older kids and more time, could you do short Roald Dahl stories?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:33 AM on October 20, 2008

My comment was aimed downthread, not at you, but I could have been more clear, sorry. Never at my best when sleep deprived. Lots of good links here. This New York Public Library list is great for the little ones.

In general, the advice to use books with their own rhythm and rhyme works well, hence the suggestions of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. Also, Maurice Sendak usually works and the old favorites/classics like Goodnight Moon, counting and alphabet books or list books in general for the younger set. Consider also The Mrs. PiggleWiggle books, Charlotte's Web, the Little House books (Little House in the Big Woods works well for the young ones). Most of the classics will work for the slightly olders, like Roald Dahl, the Phantom Tollbooth, the Boxcar Children ...
posted by gudrun at 5:02 PM on October 20, 2008

« Older Audio-Video-Computing wish list   |   Please help me find unconventional wedding rings! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.