We read to our kids as much as we can, and one book our kids are happily addicted to is Eileen Christelow’s version of Five Little Monkeys. (I went to her site for the first time today! Go look!)
There are some books the students will politely sit in a semi-circle for. For this book, nearly every child tries to crawl over the others and into our laps for a closer better look, no matter how many times we read this to them.
The drawings are pure silly fun and instantly understandable.The surprise ending always prompts a pile of high-pitched giggles.
We also like it because we can “sing” the story. Because of the comfortable pace, most kids are singing along by the time the 3rd monkey bumps her head, and this gives the kids the added sense that they’re reading, too.
Older kids like recognizing phrases they’ve learned for bedtime rituals, the various facial expressions lend well to reviewing emotions, and some kids try to guess which monkey is next to fall off. Changing the verb from jumping to almost any other kid-friendly gerund you can think of appeals enormously to those very familiar with the story (swimming on the bed?? whee!). One class liked to identify the family members, and the sight of the doctor launched a whole exhibit of everyone’s scrapes, blisters, and other ouchees.
They all laugh at the old-fashioned phone.
When the book is finished, the kids are giddy, because they know that next we’re going to really sing Five Little Monkeys. That requires a whole bunch of jumping around and deep-voice talking and finger wagging just like big people do (well, wait: big people jumping around?).
The kids are usually tired of monkeys at this point, but we can pull the book out again a week or two later, and there they go again. It’s great.