Monday, February 22, 2021

Joyous Read Alouds: The Books of Audrey and Don Wood

 There is a house
A Napping House
Where Everyone is Sleeping

Thus begins one of the great read aloud books of all times, The Napping House, by Audrey Wood, illustrated by her husband, Don Wood. Audrey Wood's parents worked as tent and mural painters for the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, which wintered for years near Wood's home in Sarasota, FL. Audrey loved to listen to the stories the circus performers told. When she grew up, she wrote her own stories driven by the tales and cadences she heard from the circus people's stories. The playful use of language is evident everywhere in Wood's stories, which are perfectly matched by the raucous world depicted in Don Wood's illustrations. It is that playful language, plus those large and comic illustrations that make these books perfect read alouds. 

An absolutely delightful, cumulative tale of  nap time at Granny's house with a snoring Granny, a dreaming child, a dozing dog, a snoozing cat, a slumbering mouse, and one wakeful flea who upsets the quiet repose and causes a huge commotion. The language will have the children tapping their toes and snapping their fingers and the illustrations will induce squeals of laughter. Language Development 101.

This Caldecott Honor Book tells the comical tale of King Bidgood, who would not get out of the tub. He holds battles in the tub, has lunch in the tub, goes fishing in the tub, holds a dance in the tub and no one can stop the madness until the young page pulls the plug. More wonderful repetitive language and the illustrations of goings on in the bathtub are each worth a story in themselves.

This book is sure to resonate for any child who has used a bad word in polite company without really realizing what the word meant or the impact the word would have on the adults in the room. In other words, a book for every child. Elbert's cure is the same as we might have imagined, he gets his mouth washed out with soap, but Elbert finds a more creative way to tame the bad word,-by adding new words to his vocabulary. Delightful tale.

How do you hide a red ripe strawberry from a big hungry bear. Little Mouse tries many ways to hold onto the strawberry. He disguises it, locks it up, buries it, but ultimately determines there is only one way to protect the red, ripe strawberry. Lots of onomatopoeia and huge witty illustrations of the biggest strawberry you have ever seen, make this book a winner for the primary school set. 

Heckedy Peg finds Audrey Wood in Grimm Fairy Tale mode with the story of a mother who risks her life to save her seven children from the evil Heckedy Peg. Don Wood's illustrations evoke the old time fairy tale mode as well. Masterful storytelling.

So, there you have five from Audrey and Don Wood, each a can't miss read aloud for young children. Today would be a good day to read one aloud!


  1. My daughter loved "The Napping House" when she was little. She had that one basically memorized. She wanted to read it aloud to just about everyone she met.

    1. It is so wonderful and the rhythm draws children in. I wanted to read it to everyone when I first encountered it, too.