Lisa Ripperton

Author Archives: Lisa Ripperton

Introducing Chapter Books: Burgess Bedtime Story-Books

by Lisa Ripperton

​January 10, 2019

This on-going series – Introducing Chapter Books – is intended to highlight books that are ideal for families who are just beginning to read chapter books aloud with their children. In our experience we have found that children are typically ready to undertake the challenge of listening to stories without illustrations on each page around age five, and all of the books mentioned in this series have been selected with this age and purpose in mind. A later series will discuss books to use when your child is transitioning to reading chapter books independently.  

After enjoying picture books for ​several years, ​children are typically ready to undertake the challenge of listening to stories without needing to see pictures on every page​ by the time they are five. In our experience, this age marks an ideal time to introduce books with fewer illustrations and more text, if you haven't done so before. 

The key to success is to choose books that capture your children's interest and attention. We've found over the years that most children love the Burgess Bedtime Story-Book series​ ​– spirited stories about the animals who make their home in the Green Meadow – and we recommend that you try a title from that series first. (You can start with any one of the 20 titles, but children may prefer to read them in order once they discover that the last paragraph of each book reveals the name of the next one in the series.)

In the first book of the series, young Reddy Fox is sent to Granny Fox "to learn the things that every fox should know." He also encounters Johnny Chuck, Peter Cottontail, Unc' Billy Possum, and others, all of whom will be memorably featured in later books of the series. Granny Fox has all sorts of clever ways of teaching Reddy, and the other animals in the Green Meadow help out in his training too, alternately playing tricks on, and looking out for, one another. ​

​Everything is done with such a spirit of fun and good humor that most children find these tales to be absolutely delightful. The listener also can't help but absorb information about how the different animals act, how they gain sustenance, where they live, what dangers they face, and how they avoid them.

Although the titles in the Bedtime Story-Book series are excellent ones to read aloud to begin strengthening your children's listening skills, they may not appeal to everyone. The children who love them really love them, but the ones that don't, well, don't. If your child falls in the latter category, don’t worry – there are plenty of other books to read aloud to this age group, and we’ll be posting more on this topic soon! (Please also email us here if you have questions about specific titles. We love helping people find the perfect books to read with their children!)

And, even if your child loves the Bedtime Story-Books, we suggest that you don't read more than a half dozen or so aloud to them. This way, in a year or two when your child is ready to begin reading independently, they can return to this series with gusto, and reading will be all the easier for them because of their familiarity with the vocabulary and way sentences are structured, as well as with the characters and setting.

We hope your children will join the generations of children who have enjoyed the books in Thornton W. Burgess's Bedtime Story-Book series since they were first written over a century ago – give them a try and be sure to leave a comment below to let us know how it goes!


A Kindergarten Read Aloud Banquet

by Lisa Ripperton
January 3, 2019

      Every child should have an opportunity to hear a story and a song, a poem and a rhyme every day of the year. With the Kindergarten Read Aloud Banquet now available at Gateway to the Classics, it is easy to make that happen for five year olds.

      When you enter the Read Aloud Banquet, you are greeted by a brightly illustrated rhyme and a selection from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. Upon refreshing the screen, a new rhyme and a new poem appear to delight the reader.

      Scroll down and you encounter a set of nursery songs for the current month with sound controls so you can start and stop them. These songs come from The Baby's Bouquet and The Baby's Opera, selected and illustrated by Walter Crane. Click on the song title and you will see illustrated sheet music for the song, often followed by a full page color illustration, like the one pictured below. According to Frances Epps, "The Baby's Opera and The Baby's Bouquet are perfect feasts of delight to little people of two years old and upwards; the picture and music alike fascinate them." ("Song for the Nursery," Parents' Review, Volume 1, pp. 144-164). Every month automatically brings a new set of songs fitting for the season.

       Scroll down to the bottom and one of the 17 richly illustrated tales from Frederick Richardson's Book for Children and Old, Old Stories Retold will be on view. As with the rhyme and poem, a new folk tale appears when you refresh the screen. A few of these tales have accompanying audio, narrated by Daniel Ripperton.

       In scrolling to the bottom we passed over a schedule of readings for every day in the week. The week displayed corresponds to the week of the year. In this plan there is a story and a rhyme to read each day. Click on the week number in the lefthand column to display all the readings for the week that you can then copy into a file for offline reading, if need be.

     As you can see from the overview of the reading plan below, the stories and rhymes come from a variety of different books in a range of genres. Instead of reading one book straight through, with this plan you read from a different genre every day of the week, with each book read once a week over a number of weeks.

​       While only 12 weeks of ​the plan are available for your perusal now, the other 40 weeks will appear in due course. The​ yearly plan consists of four 12-week blocks, with a 4-week holiday block at the end of the year. ​Where possible, books are started at the beginning of a 12-week block. The stories in the books read on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday ​should be read in order, from the beginning. ​The stories in the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday books, which could be read in any order, ​have been arranged as much as possible to follow the seasons, at least for those living in the northern hemisphere.

       Subsequent posts will offer more information about the different books in this plan and why they were included.

           NOTE: The Kindergarten Read Aloud Banquet is NOT meant as a replacement for the reading of picture books. Nor is it meant as a substitute for participating in whole family read aloud time. Young children gain more than you might imagine from listening to books well above their comprehension level.

The Power of Reading Every Day

       The selections for a given day can typically be read in under 15 minutes, assuming no interruptions. With interruptions, of course, it will take longer. In the course of a year, if you read all the selections, you will complete the reading of THIRTY books in their entirety (all the ones pictured below), and selected stories from a handful of others. Granted, EIGHT of them are one-time reads, but that still leaves TWENTY-TWO substantial books to finish in the course of a single year!

Spreading a Broad Feast

       In offering the Kindergarten Read Aloud Banquet we are spreading a broad feast. Children who partake are likely to show a greater interest in the out of doors, wonder more about the lives of children in far away places and in bygone times, have a greater capacity for expressing their thoughts, and have more examples to guide their actions. Take a look at the Kindergarten Read Aloud Banquet now, try it out with your child, then share your thoughts with us by adding a comment below.