The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

If you find reading to baby to be a chore or even a battle, fear not. This month will feature many options for reading to children.

First off is what we’re doing at the moment: a chapter book. I know you might be thinking: what is a baby getting out of a chapter book? The answer to that is: possibly more than they get out of those typical, colorful pages.

Infants in particular show more interest in faces and voices and even have trouble seeing two dimensional objects. For this reason, you might find your baby loves to listen to you read a chapter to them as they face you rather than look at glossy pages with a few words. Reading to them is also a bonding experience, helps associate reading with positive experiences and everyday life, and puts them ahead on the track to language development. Truthfully, just listening to you speak helps them acquire the language.

You can even read to really little ones what you’re reading now; they won’t catch on to the controversy, or you can pick a chapter classic meant for slightly older kids, revisiting your own childhood or seeing what all the fuss was about with something you missed. Evy’s first book was A Tale of Desperaux. She loved it and still recognizes the mouse from the cover, but probably doesn’t remember the plot.

Right now we’re on one of my old favorites, The Secret Garden.


What I like about the Secret Garden:

  1. It is basically about how awful it is to be a brat and how it always backfires.
  2. It doesn’t shy away from racism, classism, or sexism, though subtle.
  3. It is dark. The first chapter basically ends “everyone was dead”. Not boring.
  4. It beautiful captures a setting.
  5. It’s magical.

What Evy likes about the Secret Garden:

  1. We read it outside
  2. The title, apparently, since it gets a toothy grin every time.
  3. My Yorkshire accent.
  4. The attention.
  5. The cover.

This book has an amazing movie version to put on guilt free when you’re done. It’s The Secret Garden, 1993, and let’s be honest it’s what brought me to the book.

Ahh the 90s… Remember all the victorian set children’s literature being made into Warner Brothers films, (featuring many future Hogwarts professors)? The triad included tales published from 1877, 1905, and 1911: Black Beauty, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden.

medlock Mrs. Medlock

black beauty Jerry

The latter two both featured young female protagonists and all three were penned by two female authors, Frances Hodgson Burnet and Anna Sewell. They feature death, morality, poverty, India, the moors of England, the streets of London, and the city of New York. They are magical and an especially great choice, in my opinion, for young girls.

Do you have a favorite of these stories? Another favorite chapter book?

So far this book is a great fit for our weather, from flowers to snow in a week. Hope this post gives you new life this spring in reading to your little ones!

-Evy and Me.


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