Read Aloud Thursday: Owls in the Family

I had forgotten about this very funny book that John and I read a few years ago until our recent study of owls for kindergarten reminded me. Farley Mowat is apparently a well-known and somewhat controversial naturalist and Canadian conservationist. I say “apparently” because I hadn’t heard of him before reading this book. This slim autobiographical account of his Depression era childhood on the Canadian prairie was first published in 1961. It tells the tale of Billy, a young boy who decides he wants to add an owl to his collection of pets (including gophers, mice, dogs, and birds). Eventually, two owls, Wol and Weeps, become part of his menagerie and the book details the various adventures Billy, his friends and the owls have. Mowat’s voice is funny and convincing as an eleven year old boy.

With both boys, I have begun reading chapter books to them at about 3 years old. At first, we don’t always read a whole chapter. It takes a special kind of book to bridge this time between reading only picture books and reading more complex chapter books. I like books that have reasonably short chapters but that aren’t Magic Treehouse (I actually like Magic Treehouse a lot, just not for reading aloud.) For David, it will ideally be about animals or be funny, bonus points if it’s both. Owls in the Family is just about perfect for our purposes.

There isn’t a super long list of these kinds of books but here are some I’ve enjoyed with my boys at this stage of chapter books.

My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea by Wendy Orr
Soup by Robert Newton Peck
The Fairmont Avenue books by Tomie dePaola
Babe by Dick King-Smith
The Story of Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
the Humphrey the hamster series by Betty Birney
any of the Ramona or Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (this is more complex, but it’s such a perfect book it’s been the first chapter book I’ve read to both boys)

What books have you enjoyed as first chapter books? I’d love to find some new ones for us to try.

Even though I’m late this week, be sure to stop by Hope is the Word for more Read Aloud Thursday.

7 thoughts on “Read Aloud Thursday: Owls in the Family

  1. Thanks for this list! I have always had oodles of ideas of what to read to my daughter (now 7.5), but I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to what chapter books to start reading to my soon-to-turn five son. The first chapter book I read to my daughter was Little House in the Big Woods, and then I think we read Betsy-Tacy after that (or possibly reverse of that order). She loved both those books at age 4.5 or 5 or so…but I didn’t think those would be great choices for a boy! 🙂

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Kirsten! Both my boys have really enjoyed the Little House books. We’re actually finishing up Little House on the Prairie now (for my oldest it’s the second time) and they said they want to read the next one. I think they appeal to all kids. I did also try Betsy-Tacy with them both and they weren’t fans. 🙂 I’m looking forward to sharing those with my daughter.

  2. Owls in the Family sounds great. It is one of those books my oldest read on his own, but I have yet to read. Now, I’m thinking perhaps I should read it to my youngest after My Father’s Dragon (That’s a fun one I don’t want to miss!)

  3. Owls in the Family sounds like a book my son would enjoy! I wrote about our gradual transition to chapter book read alouds when my son was 4 here: http://fannyharvilleunschool.blogspot.com/2009/07/chapter-books.html

    For him, I eased the transition into chapter books with books where the chapters were were more a series of linked stories rather than one continuous novel, such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington, Homer Price and More Tales from Centerburg. He also loved Little House in the Big Woods.

  4. Thanks for a great review, Alice. I remember watching Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf as a kid and being slightly traumatized by the view of the protagonist running in the buff through the wilderness. 😉 My girls would probably really like this one. It sounds a lot like Sterling North’s Rascal to me.

    You’ve probably seen my list of good beginning chapter books already, but here it is again, just in case:
    http://www.hopeisthewordblog.com/2011/06/30/read-aloud-thursday-chapter-books-for-the-youngest-listeners/

  5. Pingback: Read Aloud Thursday: 2012 Chapter Books | Supratentorial

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