Sometimes we guys get accused of being NOISY … LOUD … BOISTEROUS. Yes, it is a gift we have. So as a guy, when I get a chance to read picture books for story time at the library, I like to pick books that let me BE LOUD — all in the name of dramatic interpretation, of course. Here are some of my favorites.
The Louds Move In, by Carolyn Crimi (lexile: NA; AR book level: 3.1; 32 pp)
Things have always been quiet on Earmuffle Avenue, where Miss Shushermush, Mr Pitterpatter, and Miss Meekerton engage in quiet hobbies like collecting china figurines and pincushions. But then one day the LOUD family moves in, and everything changes. The brightly-colored, big-mouthed, cartoonish Louds speak in all capital letters (“THE BABY’S EATING OUT OF THE GARBAGE!”). They try to befriend their quiet neighbors, who want nothing to do with them. But when one day the Louds disappear, could things become too quiet? If you read this aloud, it’s fun to contrast the whispers of the neighbors with the bellowing of the Louds.
Gorilla! Gorilla! by Jeanne Willis (lexile: NA; AR book level: 2.3; 32 pp)
Baby Mouse is missing — and his mother can’t find him anywhere! Just when she thinks things can’t get worse, out jumps a hairy scary ape! He chases her all over the rainforest — all over the world, in fact — yelling (in your best deep gorilla-voice) “STOP!” And Mother Mouse repeatedly cries out (in your best squeaky mouse-voice):
“Help! Help! He’ll catch me!
He’ll squash me and scratch me
He’ll mince me and mash me
And crunch me up for lunch!”
The twist at the end reveals the kind-hearted gorilla’s real motives, and even teaches a little lesson about judging by appearances.
The Super Hungry Dinosaur, by Martin Waddell (lexile: NA; AR book level: 1.9; 32 pp)
A book about a super-hungry T-Rex of course provides plenty of opportunities to ROARRR! and GRRRR! when read aloud. In this simple story, Hal and his little dog Billy are playing in their backyard when the ravenous dinosaur shows up, wanting to eat Hal. Hal stands up to the beast, and refuses to let him eat his mother, his father, and even Billy. A chase ensues, but Hal and Billy together subdue the dinosaur and make him apologize. And there’s a happy ending for even the dinosaur when Hal’s mother brings out a giant plate of spaghetti.
Backbeard and the Birthday Suit: The Hairiest Pirate Who Ever Lived, by Matthew McElligott (lexile: NA; AR book level: 2.6; 32 pp)
You can use your best pirate-voice (“AARGH!”) to read aloud this funny tale of the world’s toughest, hairiest, stinkiest pirate — Backbeard! He’s so smelly his parrot leaves him. After the crew of his ship, the Five O’Clock Shadow, throws him a rowdy birthday party (culminating in Backbeard throwing them all overboard in good pirate fashion), he decides it’s time to get some new clothes. However, the tailor he visits onshore has no pirate clothes, and convinces Backbeard to take on a whole new look, complete with a new mascot to ride on his shoulder. Will his crew recognize him, or will he become the most stylish pirate to sail the seven seas?
McElligott does his own illustrations, and as usual they are bright and funny, and young listeners will want to study them for all the clever details. You can also find Pirate Radio, How to Talk like Backbeard, and Lessons Plans to go with the story on McElligott’s own website.
Fans of Backbeard will also want to read the sequel, Backbeard: Pirate for Hire. When the Pirate Council tries to force Backbeard to give up his colorful clothing, he decides to give up pirating and try to get a job on shore. But how will his pirate skills fit in more everyday occupations?