People Who Enjoyed Reading The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh to their Toddlers Also Enjoyed...
July 11, 2011 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Finished The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh for the third time. Help us pick something new to read before bed to our two-year-old twin boys...

For a while we were reading "their" books to them before going to sleep. Mostly board books (Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Snowmen at Night, Cat in the Hat, etc.) that they enjoy "reading" on their own as much as they like being read to them. After unpacking some old boxes we stumbled upon Pooh and it turns out that they like us reading it to them as much as we like reading it.

We've tried some other kid lit type things such as Frog and Toad and The Boxcar Children which neither we nor they like as much as Pooh. I'd be sort of content to read Pooh over and over again until they're tired of it, but it seems like there's got to be something else out there like it that we're missing. Suggestions from both Amazon and two local bookstores have been kinda meh.

We like that the language in Pooh isn't dumbed down, the stories are a good bedtime length, they're interesting for both the reader and the listeners, and that it's not "scary." The biggest problem with the other books we've tried is that the language is maybe a step above "See Spot Run, Run Spot, Run." I'd try Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, The Phantom Tollbooth, etc.etc.etc. but it seems both like they'd be somewhat scary and way over their heads (and I may be mis-remembering their awesomeness). As an example... I'm thinking Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales might fit, but we haven't tried it yet.
posted by togdon to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
It's been a really long time so I don't remember them well, but I really liked Paddington Bear when I was little.
posted by phunniemee at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the writing in Pippi Longstockings may be what you're looking for: not dumbed down but not as complex as Harry Potter. The edition I have is sprinkled with wonderful illustrations.
posted by Specklet at 1:39 PM on July 11, 2011

If you can find a copy of Kathryn Jackson's Around-the-Year Storybook, that might be perfect. It's out of print so you'd have to buy it used, but Amazon looks like it lists quite a few used copies in varying conditions.

I was an early reader and my parents read to me a lot, and I had a great affection for big collections like Richard Scarry's Best Story Book Ever. The detail of the pictures in Scarry was as big (if not more) of a draw than the language, though, and since you say you're looking for more sophisticated language and story, the Around-the-Year is the best you'll find of those "big" books. As you'll see in the link, it also has some nice children's poetry in it, which is a great thing to start with your little guys early on.

The Beatrix Potter sounds great, by the way. It's probably not too early for Charlotte's Web, also.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:00 PM on July 11, 2011

Think they'd like The Wind in the Willows?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:02 PM on July 11, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth
posted by radioamy at 2:20 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Eloise, Babar and Madeline are in that cannon of well written books for children.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:21 PM on July 11, 2011

Two is pretty young, but My Father's Dragon, maybe? Or even though it's shorter and more picture focused, Harold and the Purple Crayon? I still want to give that hungry moose and deserving porcupine another pie.
posted by deludingmyself at 2:21 PM on July 11, 2011

I would second Wind in the Willows and Beatrix Potter. My daughter also loved Stuart Little at that age. And I highly recommend the Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson.
posted by sunchai at 2:27 PM on July 11, 2011

I loved the "Jolly Postman" books when I was a kid because each page had an actual "letter" you could take out of an envelope and read. Letters might be a PITA at bedtime, but the books are charming and fun.
posted by ShadePlant at 2:46 PM on July 11, 2011

Maurice Sendik

Francis books: Bedtime for Francis, Bread and Jam for Francis, etc

Little Bear books

Three little wolves and the big bad pig

And my child loves loves loves Tintin
posted by zia at 2:49 PM on July 11, 2011

Maurice Sendak

Oh, right. Look for Higglety Pigglety Pop, or There Must Be More to Life. Wonderful read-aloud, not dumbed down in the least.
posted by dlugoczaj at 3:00 PM on July 11, 2011

I read the Pooh books, The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Higglety Pigglety Pop, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to my two-year-old at bedtime over and over and over. YMMV.
posted by milk white peacock at 3:02 PM on July 11, 2011

Seconding Paddington Bear. If you like them, you could also try Olga da Polga, also by Michael Bond.
posted by bentley at 4:01 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

For something more modern, maybe the Ramona books by Beverly Clearly?

Also I used to love the Brambly Hedge series about field mice.

Finally, you HAVE tried Thomas the Tank Engine, right? All two-year-old boys must have read Thomas.
posted by lollusc at 4:05 PM on July 11, 2011

Finally, A. A. Milne wrote a lot of poetry for kids as well as the Pooh stuff. It's FABULOUS. Try "When we were very young" and "Now we are six".
posted by lollusc at 4:07 PM on July 11, 2011

I loved reading Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan to my daughter when she was 4, but it's certainly a chapter book. I learned more about marriage reading Peter Pan as a grownup than I ever thought I could.

We loved reading all the weird Grimms Fairy Tales together. "And then he turns into a poodle who has to eat hot coals!"

Short and quick but not boring -- Shel Silverstein. We read a bunch of poems before bed each night. And of course Dr. Seuss.

More modern: Everything I Know About Monsters; Everything I Know About Pirates; Open Me, I'm A Dog; Little Lit, The Stinky Cheese Man
posted by Gucky at 4:51 PM on July 11, 2011

We've gotten a lot of mileage out of the Wizard of Oz books - some scary parts, so you might want to tone it down a bit (we did, anyhow).

Mary Poppins is also wonderful.

Also, most kids at that age love Amelia Bedelia, especially if they like language jokes.
posted by Mchelly at 5:52 PM on July 11, 2011

Seconding Amelia Bedelia and Shel Silverstein.

I loved Bill Peet as a kid. Google Books has a preview of part of Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent, if you want to check out the style.

You mentioned Cat in the Hat, but have you tried other Dr. Seuss as well? And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was a bedtime favorite.
posted by rebekah at 6:58 PM on July 11, 2011

Cleary's Henry books too. Mo Willems'....though Pigeon's meltdowns are better for daytime. ;-) Harry the Dirty Dog. Rosemary Wells Susan Meddaugh's Martha books.
posted by brujita at 6:59 PM on July 11, 2011

Catwings! Ursula K Le Guin. There's even a few sequels.
posted by misha at 7:49 PM on July 11, 2011

At that age, our son looooved Little Bear, night after night. I myself found it annoying, but hey.
posted by lakeroon at 8:02 PM on July 11, 2011

When it comes to Shel Silverstein, you have to be a bit careful. Some of his books really are intended for kids. Some of them are very, very adult even though they look at first glance like kid's books. (For instance, "Uncle Shelby''s ABZ" is not for children.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:17 PM on July 11, 2011

I highly recommend Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. It's charming and short, and immensely quotable.
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
posted by arungoodboy at 9:28 PM on July 11, 2011

My two sons have been obsessed with Curious George stories at about that age. They're very formulaic, but I think the formula helps kids process good and bad behavior.

In each story, George gets into trouble for something he sees as essentially innocent (and often as "helpful"), causes chaos then makes up for it by being helpful, and everyone is proud of him in the end.

Why no George, it's really not OK to rearrange the letters and numbers on the Grand Central Station departures board because the pattern isn't actually random, even though it looks like it to you. But it's great that you saved a kid from running onto the train track after his escaped toy train. Here, have an extra special seat with the train driver.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 9:52 AM on July 12, 2011

Thank you for all of your great answers!

So far we've picked up the Beatrix Potter which is good but doesn't seem to have the consistent characters of the Pooh books. I've got the first Paddington and Moomintroll books on the way. I'll probably end up marking everything as best answers as we work our way down the list... :)
posted by togdon at 10:41 AM on July 17, 2011

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