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Old 19.07.2013, 11:41
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English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

So - being neither a parent nor a teacher, I am in need of advice from those of you who are.

My neighbor has asked me to spend some time speaking English with her two boys, ages 5 and 6. The boys lived in Canada until ages 3 and 4 but have forgotten their English since moving here. The mom would like the boys to spend time with someone who is a native English speaker in the hopes that some of the language will come back.

This would by no means be teaching English, simply a bit of motivation to keep the language alive, quite informal. So I'm looking for something fun, appropriate to 5 and 6 year old boys. I'd like to start by reading simple stories to the boys and then talking a bit.

So to my question: what books would you recommend?

Would the Dr Seuss or the Curious George books be age/interest/difficulty level appropriate, or too young?

I have no idea what new books are appropriate for children of that age and English level...

Any ideas and recommendations would be most appreciated.
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Old 19.07.2013, 12:50
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

What sort of stories are you looking for? Short ones? Longer ones?

Here are some suggestions in absolutely no order
  • Harry Potter
  • Patrick Ness' "A Monster Calls" - also a great story to get them talking
  • Neil Gaiman's "Graveyard Book"
  • Derek Landy's Skullduggery Pleasant books
And yes, I am aware that these books might not fit the wholesome let's-keep-kids-sheltered-until-age-39 mindset, but the kids will be better off having knowledge of these stories.
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Old 19.07.2013, 13:31
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

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What sort of stories are you looking for? Short ones? Longer ones?

Here are some suggestions in absolutely no order
  • Harry Potter
  • Patrick Ness' "A Monster Calls" - also a great story to get them talking
  • Neil Gaiman's "Graveyard Book"
  • Derek Landy's Skullduggery Pleasant books
And yes, I am aware that these books might not fit the wholesome let's-keep-kids-sheltered-until-age-39 mindset, but the kids will be better off having knowledge of these stories.
None of those.

Books with pictures for that level. You read, they listen and look/read.

Our son learnt to read English that way

I reckon the best ones are the Julia Donaldson/Alex Scheffer ones - they are great stories and because they are in rhyme - they're fun to read to someone too (for your benefit).

The paperbacks are quite cheap at the book depository in the U.K. (free delivery here)

Recommended ones are:

The Gruffalo
Stickman
The snail on the whale

Actually, they're all good.
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Old 19.07.2013, 13:40
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

I taught this age group for many years and I'm a parent.

Dr. Seuss, Leo Lionni, Eric Carle are my favorite.

My son loved Curious George but they can be too long sometimes. Would depend on the boys but if you have them I'd give them a try.

Anything with pictures is good.

I brought 3 boxes of books with me from the states, all levels, that I'm going to donate at the end of the summer to my son's school. I might have some I could lend to you until then...where are you at?
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Old 19.07.2013, 13:54
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

Ooo... The Gruffalo - I remember reading that with my godchild (who will soon be heading off to university - where does the time go?)

I haven't had much of a chance to assess how much English the boys have retained - but since they have not had much (if any) English exposure in 2+ years, I'm guessing it will be at the stage when they left Canada, the 3-4 year old level, or perhaps a bit lower if they have lost some. I should probably keep to simpler books/concepts.

Now you've got me thinking...

Thanks, everyone.

ETA:

Another question:

What would you guess is the being-read-to attention span of boys this age? I'm guessing that I should read a bit, then talk with the boys, then read a bit... but how long would you think 'a bit' should be?
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Old 19.07.2013, 14:02
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

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What sort of stories are you looking for? Short ones? Longer ones?

Here are some suggestions in absolutely no order
  • Harry Potter
  • Patrick Ness' "A Monster Calls" - also a great story to get them talking
  • Neil Gaiman's "Graveyard Book"
  • Derek Landy's Skullduggery Pleasant books
And yes, I am aware that these books might not fit the wholesome let's-keep-kids-sheltered-until-age-39 mindset, but the kids will be better off having knowledge of these stories.
All very nice books, but way beyond the abilities of a 5-6 years old!

I second the Gruffalo advice. There's loads of books like that: not too long, with nice pictures.

I think Dr Seuss can be a bit tricky for kids who don't master the language well. My son never found those books funny for instance.
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Old 19.07.2013, 14:18
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

Another for the Gruffalo recommendation (or any of that series). In addition, look out for books with loads of pictures so you can discuss them in more depth which will broaden their vocabulary and usage.

Play games such as "I went to market" (or adapt it to something like "I went to the fairground" or something else a bit more "cool" for today's kids). This way they have to remember a growing list of words in order to stay in the game.

Get them to bring stuff to you that they are interested in (hobby related, holiday scrapbook or a set of collection cards, for example) so they have something they can readily talk about and you're not casting about trying to make conversation.

A German teacher I had told the class a really great joke at the end of each lesson (yes, there are funny German jokes ) so finding something hilarious to tell them each time will build some humour in which is always a good way to keep motivation high.
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Old 19.07.2013, 14:25
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

Absolute no to Doctor Seuss or kids' novels until you know exactly what level they're at. They're far too young for Harry Potter. You need interactive visual picture type books allowing you to ask questions to encourage correct sentence and grammar use.

The Stephen Tucker/ Nick Sharrat books are really great. One of their books is "You Choose" where kids have to choose their favourite place, favourite form of travel, what they want to be when they grow up, what fancy dress costumes they would like. The better the kids can answer, the more complex your questions requiring more detailed answers.

Also have a look at the brilliant Starfall site online. Something the Children can do at home with their Mum as well as with you to practice their reading/phonic use.
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Old 19.07.2013, 15:03
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

JUlia Donaldson also teamed up with Nick Sharrott for some of her book eg: One Moe Digging A Hole.

Room On A Broom, and THe Snail And The Whale, and A squash And A Squeeze, are three of Donaldson's books that have appealed strongly to my young (4-6 years old) students over the last few years - asking for many retellings of the stories. They are all illustrated by Scheffler, so have lots of detail to talk about.

Attention span could be anything from two minutes to an hour.

Doing practical activites works well with Little Language Learners: have them over to help you bake cakes and cookies; Take them for walks in the forests; play card games with them ( fish, memory, snap); take them to the supermarket, make models from lego, toothpicks, playdough, - these all provide lots of talking opportunities.

It may be that having them over one at a time, will actually promote faster English learning as they won't be abe to fall back into speaking their home language to each other.

Have fun.
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Old 19.07.2013, 16:12
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

Hi Meloncollie, I have two boys who are 8 and 4 (almost!)

Mine like reading and books on their own terms! I.e. at bedtime when their is nothing else to do. Sometimes in the day they may listen to a story. But generally they like to be moving and doing!

Here are my suggestions
1) definitely the Julia Donaldson books. Especially the Gruffalo. They both love that.
2) Thomas the tank engine (it may be too young for them but mine like them) and mine are obsessed with trains.
3) the Mr Men box set. They both like them as well.
4) the Little red Train series. Another favourite. I think you can see the trend here in respect of train stuff!
5) can you do something with them like cook something - mine both like doing that as well.
6) I agree with the other poster who suggested maybe one at a time. Mine can be quiet individually but together they are not often quiet. Currently, I can hear them building a prison in another room and setting a trap for me.
7) what about teaching them about the dogs? Mine would LOVE that. Not sure your dogs would be so keen though!
8) I am happy to lend you some 'boy' books. Either I can post them to you or if you are around then come get them.
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Old 19.07.2013, 20:15
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

My son is a little younger than these two boys, but some of his favorites are the Richard Scarry books
- what do people do all day
- busy, busy town
- cars and trucks and things that go

Each page is filled with LOTS of pictures, and they can be funny too. Lots to look at and lots to talk about.

And another vote for the Gruffalo and Mr. Men books
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Old 19.07.2013, 22:07
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

My son is 6, some of his favorites:

- Dr Suess books
- Curious George
- The Pirate series (so stinking cute!! My nephew only speaks Swiss German and even he stayed by to look at the pics and listen to me reading it): http://www.amazon.com/Pirates-Dont-C.../dp/0152053530
- The Magic Treehouse series is quite awesome, but there are not a lot of pictures in it.. so maybe once their English is stronger. My son loves them though.
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Old 19.07.2013, 23:45
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

My son is 6 years old and loves Dr Seuss books.

The language is very simple and they are excellent for him, because English is not our mother tongue.
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Old 20.07.2013, 10:02
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

How about songs? They might have fun learning songs like wheels on the bus, old macdonald's, I squished a baby bumble bee, etc. you can look for camp songs online, they tend to be funny and often have actions, too.
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Old 22.07.2013, 09:33
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

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All very nice books, but way beyond the abilities of a 5-6 years old!

I second the Gruffalo advice. There's loads of books like that: not too long, with nice pictures.

I think Dr Seuss can be a bit tricky for kids who don't master the language well. My son never found those books funny for instance.
I was thinking that maybe the kids being read to (as stated in OP's post) would make for an interesting, engaging pastime where they could ask questions and the reading person would explain. Because I would guess that "Can you ask this question in English?" would be much more of a thing that the kids want to do if they're curious about what the answer will be. Because I'm convinced that learning a language should not be something where someone just bombards them with language until they have learned it by heart. Challenge the kids, give them something to wonder about, engage them.

And maybe, just maybe, books that are written for a bit older kids work better than easy-to-understand books for kiddies. Because there will be rephrasing, simplifying and questions.
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Old 22.07.2013, 09:44
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

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How about songs? They might have fun learning songs like wheels on the bus, old macdonald's, I squished a baby bumble bee, etc. you can look for camp songs online, they tend to be funny and often have actions, too.
Good point. Many children will sing in English well before they leave the mute stage for speaking. But, to keep it meaninglful, be prepared to have graphics to go with the songs - just drawing stick figures is fine.
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Old 22.07.2013, 09:57
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

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I was thinking that maybe the kids being read to (as stated in OP's post) would make for an interesting, engaging pastime where they could ask questions and the reading person would explain. Because I would guess that "Can you ask this question in English?" would be much more of a thing that the kids want to do if they're curious about what the answer will be. Because I'm convinced that learning a language should not be something where someone just bombards them with language until they have learned it by heart. Challenge the kids, give them something to wonder about, engage them.

And maybe, just maybe, books that are written for a bit older kids work better than easy-to-understand books for kiddies. Because there will be rephrasing, simplifying and questions.
You are right in theory - at least for children who are being read to in their native tongue. But for foreign language young learners, the text needs to be well understood for the word to have meaning for them. Hence, simpler texts and illustrations. Otherwise the word are jut "blah, blah blah" and the young listener's attention is going to meander away very quickly.

The books that have been recommended ( eg: Lynley Dodd) have repetition, but also a rich variety of adjectives. Couple those with the lively illustrations and quirky story-lines, and I have yet to find a 4-6 year old who does not listen, learn and contribute with them.

With regards to Harry Potter books ( which you mentioned) I had only one child in my class of that age, who showed any interest in them at all this year. Personally, I only bothered to ever read the first one, and found the text to be rather unimaginitive - much like an old Enid Blyton book. I was bored.
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Old 02.08.2013, 21:18
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

They might enjoy Astro Boy and Dr Who.
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Old 02.08.2013, 22:22
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

I like the alphablocks as it starts with the most commonly used sounds and so they can learn to read the sounds too accompanied with pictures the books give tips on what to ask them to involve them in the story also has the dvds and a read alone cdrom to pop in to.

I like the biff and chip oxford reading books which are great to move through have used with my sons. These start simple and again come with questions and a activities at the end so would say worth a look at.
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Old 02.08.2013, 23:47
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Re: English books to read to 5 and 6 year olds?

Thomas the tank engine
Paddington bear
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