Read This! Winnie the Pooh (Preschool)

My daughters and I discovered some great books during the library's summer reading program. Here is another of our recommendations.

I grew up listening to Winnie-the-Pooh stories, about the bear with very little brain, so to me it was a given that my children would hear and later read Milne's tales in their original format. Naturally, one should always read the stories in an English accent (it helps that I'm a Brit), although parents do get extra points for giving Kanga and Roo an Aussie twang. Helpful hint: It is okay to read Eeyore's voice just like the cartoons, it seems to exactly match the voice I imagine.

Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees by Stephen Krensky, A.A. Milne, and Ernest H. Shephard (Easy-to-Read Dutton Easy Reader) was another good find; it's a simplified, edited version of Milne's tale, but keeps the charming illustrations and wording of the original. If all your children have ever heard are the sugary Disney versions of Pooh bear, then you owe it to them to read the original stories, as they are quite different.

The original tales are pure fun, entertaining for both the reading adult and listening child (or reading child, if older). While the modern version has dumbed down Pooh into a bumbling if loveable bear, the stories are too simplified and naturally, have a moral at the end (if they could make you exit through the gift shop, I'm sure they would.) The original Pooh, born 87 years ago in 1925, was curious, innocent, and smart. Or as in this story, smart enough to rationalize that when honey bees aren't falling for his disguise as a raincloud, it's simply because they're the "wrong sort of bees."

A.A. Milne's books are split into chapters, each as its own story. In these easy-to-read tales, the author has taken a chaper and made it into its own book. The text has been lightly edited, but there are still some longer words that young readers probably won't know. For example: some chapters have titles like "Chapter 3: In which Pooh refines his plan."

In my opinion, this helps to broaden your child's vocabulary; she may not use that new word in everyday speech, but she'll be more attuned to such words when they come up during reading assignments at school. (Our daughters have always been complemented on their vocabulary range, and I like to think steering them to books with broader vocabulary is partly responsible for that.)

The Pooh stories were written to be read aloud to children and thankfully, this series retains that idea. Here, the preschooler gets to concentrate on the excellent E.H. Shepard illustrations while listening to you tell the story. It should also be noted that the illustration and storytelling style should appeal to boys who would not usually let you come within 100 feet of them with those "girly" Disney Pooh books.

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