Reading to a classroom
October 29, 2012 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Book suggestions for reading to my child's grade three class.

Every few weeks my child's class has a mystery reader. Next week its me! I have a half and hour +/- 15 minutes to read anything I wish to the class. I have NO idea what to read. The class is in french but most people have been reading in english. Either language works for me. My child reads mostly Calvin and Hobbes, Star Wars, or Capt'n Underpants, none of which really appeal to me (Underpants) or is appropriate (C&H comic strip format). Help me pick a memorable/cool story.
posted by njk to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Kids that age won't be able to handle a story that runs any longer than 15 minutes so including an interactive element might be a great way to stretch out your allotted time and keep the group engaged. You could do a Dr. Seuss book, or a Bill Peet book (both have crazy words that make little kids' brains spin). It would even be nice to do some poetry. Shel Silverstein is perfect for that age group. My recommendation would be to do a shortish story ad then have the kids draw a scene from it or write their own ending or version. That takes a little bit more planning but it's fun.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2012

How about Robert Munsch? The Paper Bag Princess is a really good one.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:13 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anything by William Steig, but especially The Amazing Bone and/or Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. You may be able to fit both books into the allotted time.

Steig is an absolutely wonderful writer, with great tone and really wonderful, thought-provoking stories that are simultaneously sly and heart warming. He's also not overly sentimental, which IME is very uncommon in this genre. His stuff is also great to read out loud.

Given that you only have a limited amount of time to read and you don't want to launch into a chapter book, I think he would make a great choice.

Oh, and in case he needs any more credibility, he's the original author of Shrek (though I am not actually recommending that book because it is likely overexposed to these kids).

One more recommendation: James Thurber's Many Moons, which is another wonderful story to read aloud, and an appropriate length for this age and time limit.
posted by mosk at 1:18 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Kids are usually eight years old in grade three, so Dr. Seuss will be way too young for them.

I'd read a chapter out of a novel, choosing something that's reasonably complete on its own. You can check out some classic children's books like Pippi Longstocking, one of the Narnia books, something by Roald Dahl or E. Nesbit, Mary Poppins, The Borrowers, etc.
posted by orange swan at 1:21 PM on October 29, 2012

How about L'Petit Prince?

Or Madeline?

Both are easily available in French.

Curious George?

I'm SO old school!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:29 PM on October 29, 2012

I asked my son (grade four) what he thinks and he recommended you read one of the Magic School Bus books. One of them (reading all the details and digressions) should take about half an hour to read out loud.
posted by flex at 1:35 PM on October 29, 2012

My first thought was to do French -- Le Petit Prince would be awesome.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:00 PM on October 29, 2012

Roald Dahl is perfect for this age. My mom teaches fourth grade and reads James and the Giant Peach to her class every year (doing about a chapter a week). They love it.

Find a great Roald Dahl passage (maybe even start out a novel for them so they get hooked) and read that to them. They'll eat it up. I mean, French is nice and all, but...ROALD DAHL. COME ON.
posted by phunniemee at 2:29 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh geez, and if you can do voices (not even super great ones, just anything), they'll love that. 95% of impressing kids is not being afraid to embarrass yourself.
posted by phunniemee at 2:31 PM on October 29, 2012

Books that have a whole story in each chapter (I was not a fan of people who stopped half way through a story):

Homer Price
Encyclopedia Brown
Little House (some chapters)
The Mad Scientist's Club (original two books)
Sideways Stories from Wayside School

I would expect to get through maybe 20-30 normal pages in that time frame.
posted by anaelith at 2:36 PM on October 29, 2012

Oh yeah, if you did Roald Dahl's "The Twits" I bet the kids would be all over that. Clear it with the teacher first - I remember my mother thinking it was a pretty mean story (because the Twits behave so nasty) - but that was one of our favorite books at that age!

You could read it in that time frame I think - it's longer than a picture book, shorter than a novel, and there's illustrations all through it that are pretty funny (Quentin Blake did them) so it should be pretty engaging even if it's longer than half an hour to read.
posted by flex at 2:51 PM on October 29, 2012

I've done this many times. I'm always surprised by how fast the time goes and how happy the children are to have anything read to them. Do practice what you read out loud to be comfortable with the wording and transitions from page to page. My favorites are:

Any Skippyjon Jones - these are hilarious and - hey - Spanish influenced not French. Skippyjon is a Siamese cat with quite an imagination, thinks he is a chihuahua and has adventures in his closet. Read slowly and clarify with English words as necessary. Make sure to do the song parts loudly and allow time for the responsive "clap-clap". A Spanish accent is a must, "My name is Skippito Friskito, (clap-clap) And I think there are Martian perritos. (clap-clap)" - from Lost in Spice.

Arnie the Donut is funny and clever as Arnie doesn't realize he is going to be eaten!! Of course - spoiler alert! - all is well at the end. Practice this with an audience preferably and be prepared to skip or paraphrase as needed. A nice touch if your food school rules allow is to bring in some doughnut holes so the kids can bite into them at the end and scream softly "don't eat me!"

Other tips: Don't think the reading material needs to be sophisticated. Point the book pages to the audience and point out particularly funny illustrations moving the book from side to side so everyone can see it. Take your time greeting the students and getting into place - start with a funny joke that this age loves (what is at the end of rainbow? "W" haha , get it?). Take your time wrapping up and giving everyone time to transition back to their desk or end of day. Either of these books will take 30 minutes if you take your time and that is better than being rushed.
posted by kimmae at 4:50 PM on October 29, 2012

a chapter from a mrs piggle wiggle book
posted by brujita at 4:52 PM on October 29, 2012

Response by poster: I cannot thank you all enough. This is sooo wonderful to get all these suggestions. My gut says Dhal, but I am going over every single suggestion tomorrow so that I can decide and prepare. I will post how it goes, until then accept my overwhelming gratitude. Thanks
posted by njk at 6:24 PM on October 29, 2012

When I was in third grade I loved loved loved story time when the teacher would read a chapter from Mrs. PiggleWiggle.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:42 PM on October 29, 2012

I came in to nth Roald Dahl - my daughter is 8 1/2 and in 3rd grade, and her teacher is reading a lot of his stories lately, and the class loves it. Her current favourite is the Magic Finger. I love the Boy Who Talked With Animals.
posted by peagood at 7:50 PM on October 29, 2012

Response by poster: If you are reading this from the future and wonder what happened, I read Roald Dahl's The Magic Finger. It went over really really well, and it took about 20-25 minutes and the kids were quite enthralled.
Well done mefi, well done.
posted by njk at 7:12 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

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