For those who haven’t noticed, I actually have a YouTube channel running. Over there, I read kid’s books out loud. In my head, the content is for two distinct groups. It’s for the parents who are curious about which books are worthwhile, or perhaps might be wondering about some best practices when reading aloud to a kid. It’s also for kids, to be able to watch a video of their new favorite book read out loud. Go subscribe. Please. PLEASE!
I realized that I might not have mentioned this to you all enough, so I figured I’d tell you a bit more about the book I read in the video that went live this past Sunday. It’s called The Monster at the End of this Book, and it was one of my all-time favorites when I was a kid. It’s also one of Harley’s favorites, so it was an easy choice to share. There are even apps for it, where it becomes an interactive storytelling experience.
(Full disclosure: Yes, links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you click them, I could earn a small commission.)
Why I Like It
Part of learning to read is learning the rhythm of reading a book, including turning pages. Any book that interacts with the act of turning pages or moving a book around is a winner. This one is particularly fun because it builds suspense, making kids wonder if they really should turn the next page, but of course, they HAVE to. It’s fun and silly and makes the process of reading the book as much a part of the experience as the actual words and story.
It’s also good from an emotional intelligence perspective. Grover is so scared of the monster at the end of the book, he’s willing to go to great lengths to stop the reader from turning pages. It’s hilarious and fun, but also part of emotional learning. He is scared, and open about his fear, which can be helpful for kids to share their fears. In the end, the tension is relieved, leading to his embarrassment about having been scared. It’s cute and funny but also gives an opportunity to explain to your kid what it means to be afraid and to be embarrassed.
From a reading and literacy perspective, it’s also about the right amount of color, pictures, and words on the page. Even the most impatient kid can probably get through the sentence or two before they get to turn another page and cause more mayhem. The illustrations are amusing, but not so complicated that your kid will spend hours pointing stuff out to you and losing the plot.
Here is the video of me reading the book out loud.
What Could Be Better
I’m not always a fan of using TV characters in books. I know Sesame Street characters, Disney characters, and other TV and film characters are all part of pop culture. It’s not that I think that children need to be shielded from it or something. Harley thoroughly enjoyed this book before ever seeing a single episode of Sesame Street. So it’s not to say that you can’t enjoy this book because it uses Grover as the main character. But it is something that I don’t think will appeal to all parents and kids as a result.
Random extra ramblings
I love reading books with Harley that I enjoyed as a kid. There are plenty of new books out there that are fun, many of them way better than some of the odd children’s literature that was around when I was growing up. But some stories are just classics, and I really enjoy them. It just feels like something coming full circle to share the stories and experiences with her.
Speaking of coming full circle, it’s been a bit of a weird week for me. When I lived overseas, I celebrated Thanksgiving because I really missed it. Being away from the US makes holidays feel more important somehow. I wrote before about how odd it was for us this year on the 4th of July because we didn’t follow our usual traditions, even if those traditions were made outside the US. Well, this year, we did a traditional Thanksgiving, complete with extended family, turkey and cranberry sauce. Honestly, I never realized how much I liked cranberry sauce with turkey until I had it this year. SO good!
I got the meal catered from Whole Foods, and it was worth every penny. Prep was super easy. Just threw stuff in the oven for the prescribed times and temperatures, and it was pretty much sorted. No chopping, no agonizing, no checking recipes 7 times. Just throw in the oven and go back to the wine and snacks. There are some tweaks I would make next year – like adding extra onions to the stuffing – but mostly it was ideal. And the day felt like coming full circle, like finally celebrating the holiday where we should, in a way we should.
The long weekend is just hard, though. I could see the results on Harley by Sunday. It’s great to not have work, to relax and spend time with family. Dean’s mom is in town from South Africa and staying with us. My mom came down for Thanksgiving – it’s so wonderful to be close enough to spend the day together so easily after so many years apart. Thanksgiving was centered on the meal, and then on Friday, we did the shopping thing a bit, although it wasn’t nearly as busy as I’d feared. But we were still all over the place this weekend, showing Dean’s mom some of the cool stores we like, driving around for stuff we needed, and generally just getting stuff done.
By the actual weekend, Harley was shattered. She woke up in the worst mood on Saturday. She told me that she had a bad dream, but I think she was just grumpy. No matter what we did, she was on the verge of tears. Sunday was a bit better, but as my Facebook Live showed, not much. I think she was just overstimulated and off-kilter. To be honest, I think I was, too. I’m hoping that being back at work and school helps us find our balance again. As much as I’ve never been one for structure or routine, a daily rhythm really does make a world of difference.