Mystery reader needs help
November 15, 2017 12:14 PM   Subscribe

If you were an auntie who was asked to be the mystery reader for your favorite 4 year-old's preschool class, what would be a funny book or one with surprises in it? It must be short enough to read in 15 - 20 minutes, have good pictures for sharing, and not be one of those books that every 4 year old has already read. (Mystery has nothing to do with the genre of book, BTW -- the reader is a surprise to the students, but a mystery would be great!)
posted by mmf to Education (35 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The Book with No Pictures is always a big hit with that age group, though many are probably familiar. My current 4 year old loves the Francis books and especially Bread and Jam for Francis. Amazing Grace is gorgeous, though less funny. Jon Klassen's books are pretty funny (very deadpan and great). Interrupting Chicken is cute and funny. Michael Ian Black has written a couple of kids books that are cute. My 4 year old is particularly partial to "Naked" but maybe not as appropriate in a preschool.
posted by goggie at 12:24 PM on November 15, 2017 [8 favorites]

BJ Novak's "The Book With No Pictures" is hands down the favorite to be read aloud here. Obviously, no pictures but you can show the pages.

Dragons Love Tacos is also great. And any of the SkippyJon Jones books have a fun rhythm for reading.

But I'd go with the Book WIth No Pictures.
posted by neilbert at 12:25 PM on November 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

This Book Just Ate My Dog! is another great one. His other books are also a lot of fun.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is a good one if you want to spend some time discussing the illustrations. It's one of those where the text says one thing but the visuals are where all the punchlines are. Kids LOVE pointing out what the main characters are missing, and it leads to some additional discussion if you like that. (If you pick this out, spend some time looking at the illustrations beforehand so you know where you can lead the discussion. Especially the last pages vs. the first pages... :) )
posted by LKWorking at 12:35 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

William Steig's books are so great and seem to be shamefully under-read. Doctor DeSoto is a sure fire winner.
posted by Mid at 12:36 PM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Bunnybear is a really charming book about a bear who identifies as a bunny. It warms my heart and introduces kids to the idea of defying society-imposed norms in a positive way.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:39 PM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

I know you're saying it doesn't have to have anything to do with a mystery, but I am a huge fan of The Monster at the End of This Book
posted by Mchelly at 12:43 PM on November 15, 2017 [12 favorites]

Everyone Poops was a huge hit with my kid's preschool class.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 12:45 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Jon Klassen's, Mo Willem's, and Kate Beaton's books are some of my recent favorites to read aloud. Some kids might be familiar but they're not as ubiquitous as, say, Eric Carle.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:46 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

OK, I already had this idea in my head before you said that you weren't talking mystery genre, but it's still great: The Night I Followed The Dog
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:51 PM on November 15, 2017

One of my favorite to read is Leonardo, the Terrible Monster. I challenge myself (and you) to read the climax in one breath, as it is written.
posted by fedward at 12:51 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Duck in the Truck is another book that's really fun to read aloud (though practice first, because there's one word that needs British pronounciation to rhyme properly).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:53 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I keep thinking of good ones! How to Hide a Lion is awesome!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:55 PM on November 15, 2017

Oh and my absolute favorite: Library Lion. Pick this one. Please!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:56 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Daniel Manus Pinkwater's The Big Orange Splot
posted by ElGuapo at 12:58 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also fun from a "celebrity reader" viewpoint is Fox in Socks, especially if you're willing to see how fast you can take it.
posted by Mchelly at 1:01 PM on November 15, 2017

The Day The Crayons Quit- bonus if you create special accents for each crayon. Esteban is my favorite- he so badly wants to be an adventurer!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:02 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Gruffalo? It's much better known in the UK than in the US, so kids might not have heard of it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:05 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Peggy: A Chicken on a Brave Adventure and Moo! Are my recommedations.

I hope you have a great time! When i was the mystery reader the surprise was spoiled because my niece had just learned how to read and read the reminder note sent home. Busted. But still lots of fun!
posted by river99 at 1:07 PM on November 15, 2017

I just found out they're (re)releasing this as a movie...
Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand
posted by ElGuapo at 1:26 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Books by Robert Munsch. Especially if you are willing to ham it up a bit. Top five in (my) preference order = Mortimer, 50 Below Zero, Mud Puddle, Stephanie's Ponytail, Thomas' Snowsuit. The kids will laugh.

15-20 minutes would likely give you time to read two or three average picture books, so have an extra or two ready. Have fun!!
posted by ClingClang at 2:02 PM on November 15, 2017

Fox in Socks can be read aloud in under 4 minutes. And there's enough rhythm to it that the kids could start memorizing it.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:15 PM on November 15, 2017

What Do You Say, Dear? was always one of my favorites. It works very nicely to point out that the basic rules of politeness don't change, regardless of circumstances.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2017

It's a mystery and all the kids I've read it to adore it, although the parents are a little scandalized:
The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit
posted by teleri025 at 3:15 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ame Dyckmen is seriously one of the best picture book authors of our time. Wolfie the Bunny, Horrible Bear, and Tea Party Rules are all wonderful books. I also love the book Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudson, and Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio. I recommend you practice before reading before the big event, the best read alouds have a good balance of anticipation and page turns. Another author who is usually a hit is Kevin Henkes.
posted by momochan at 5:26 PM on November 15, 2017

Down the Back of the Chair

Link goes to full text (though no pictures). It's wonderfully sing songy and silly.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:23 PM on November 15, 2017

The Monster at the End of This Book for the win.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:45 PM on November 15, 2017

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
posted by mdrew at 8:55 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

This Book Just Ate My Dog! is wonderful.
posted by BibiRose at 9:16 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

No Time For Flashcards has a good list, and the author notes having read many of them to her 3-year-old child.
posted by one for the books at 11:25 PM on November 15, 2017

Williems just came out with a sequel to Leonardo.

Doreen Cronin's Click Clack and Susan Meddaugh's Martha books.
posted by brujita at 4:14 AM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

While you have some good suggestions, many of these should be familiar with many four year olds (assuming you are in an area where parents read to kids regularly). My daughter loved getting this book from the library. Yard Sale is a fun silly book with the bonus of being multicultural.
posted by maxg94 at 10:29 AM on November 16, 2017

There are a lot of good suggestions above.

A great picture book mystery for this age would be Matilda and Hans by Yokococo.

Another great option with some surprises would be choosing a few poems from I'm Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris
posted by TrarNoir at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2017

I’m a huge fan of This is not my Hat and giggle every time I read it. No idea how popular/known it might already be among kids, though.
posted by duien at 1:19 PM on November 16, 2017

I don't think This is Not My Hat is that familiar, fwiw. But I'm the type that would overprepare by bringing a backup book or two in case the teacher says, "Oh, we did that last week."

For reading to a group, I am fond of books with really large almost overstated graphics like Circus Ship or almost anything else by Chris Van Dusen. You can point to stuff and ask the kids what is going on. And they are comparatively easy to read while holding out to face the audience. (Hopefully you will have pre-read, but you won't have the book memorized.) For whatever reason, Circus Ship doesn't seem to be that commonly known.

Kids really love Mo Willems. I quite often get a bunch of kids jumping up and down saying "Oinky Oink Oink!" while reading Happy Pig Day. Those are somewhat popular, though.

I really, really like the suggestion of This Book Just Ate My Dog!, though. There's a point where you have to turn the book upside down and shake it to make stuff "fall out." Kids just love that kind of physical interaction with a book.

Have fun!
posted by BibiRose at 4:15 PM on November 16, 2017

I've been a mystery reader a couple times. My criterion is not just a witty story, the language has to flow. I can read a mean Green Eggs and Ham but I want to suggest Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:13 PM on November 16, 2017

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