Patterico's Pontifications


Guest Post by My Daughter Lauren

Filed under: Books,Real Life — Patterico @ 7:02 am

I asked my daughter Lauren (age 6) to write something for the site. The rules were clear: I did not get to help her with any spelling or grammatical issues. I showed her how to capitalize words on the keyboard using the “Shift” key, and set her loose.

She chose to write about the book “The Trumpet of the Swan,” by E.B. White, which I have been reading to her at night. Here is her post:

The Trumpet of the Swan. My dad says the dad’s voys silly. Loowis is a yung swan. He dose not know how to tolk. Sam Beaver was the first to see the Swans. Loowis tuged Sam’s shoe lase. Sam thoght that was strange. Loowis wans to know how to write. Sam tuk him to first grade. His teacher’s name was Mrs.Hamerbufin.

The reference to my saying the dad’s “voys” funny is to the fact that I tend to use different goofy voices when I read to the children. I enjoy doing goofy voices, and I’m an admirer of people like Hank Azaria or Harry Shearer (both of “The Simpsons”), who are really talented in this area.

My voice for the “cob” (Louis’s dad) is primarily the “Professor Frink” voice from the Simpsons, slightly refined into a pretentious elegance befitting the good-hearted but long-winded and pompous cob.

We’re only a couple of chapters away from the end, and Mrs. P. and I already read “Stuart Little” and “Charlotte’s Web” to her. That leaves no more children’s books by E.B. White to read to her, which is a minor tragedy.

I plan on starting on a regimen of Roald Dahl when the sad time arrives. But I don’t think it will be quite the same.

P.S. I’m going to bump this to the top.

73 Responses to “Guest Post by My Daughter Lauren”

  1. this is very cute, but no one could ever pull off a site writing about cute things is daughter does nearly every night.

    Nope, can’t be done.

    See-Dubya (f7706f)

  2. Some other classics:

    The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

    The Little House books, Laura Ingells Wilder

    The Anne of Green Gables books, L.M. Montgomery

    Oh, how I loved them all.

    goddessoftheclassroom (783baf)

  3. Lauren writes a lot better than many undergraduates I’ve taught.

    Federal Dog (9afd6c)

  4. How about The Elements of Style? Not as imaginative as his three children’s books but a good way to help a child fall asleep.

    Pat Patterson (5b3946)

  5. The Pushcart War is pretty great.

    And so’s anything by E.E. Nesbit.

    Polybius (7cd3c5)

  6. Be sure you keep away from “My Uncle Oswald” when you take up Dahl.

    pigilito (0be124)

  7. Narnia. And The Hobbit.

    Anwyn (a130c1)

  8. Not that, you know, you asked. :)

    Nice book report, Lauren!

    Anwyn (a130c1)

  9. Thank Lauren for a nice report. I like to read in funny voices, too, even though I am not good at it.

    “The Wind in the Willows”, Kenneth Grahame (I didn’t get to this until I was an adult, and greatly enjoyed it.) The sequels are not as good, in my opinion.

    Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” series might be a bit too old for her, but only for a year or three, and there are twelve of them, each as good as the last. Reading order (and much else) is discussed at the Arthur Ransome Society site.

    “Treasure Island”, Robert Lewis Stevenson.

    (For the adults, E.B. White’s son Joel, a naval architect and boatbuilder, was the subject of a heart-wrenching book, “A Unit of Water, a Unit of Time, Joel White’s Last Boat” by Douglas Whynott.)

    htom (412a17)

  10. The Oz books by L. Frank Baum.

    TCO (b7caf1)

  11. Suggest much more of her writings, much less from the trolls.

    Old Coot (caf903)

  12. Harriet the Spy
    The Black Stallion

    Darleen (543cb7)

  13. P and I take turns reading to Lauren every other night. While he is finishing up “Trumpet of the Swan,” I am finishing “Summer of the Monkeys” (by Wilson Rawls, who also wrote “Where the Red Fern Grows”). It is a great book. Before that, we read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” and before that “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Wonderful books, all. We have “Black Beauty” and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, but I don’t know what we’ll start next. P and I enjoy it as much as Lauren does, I think.

    Mrs. Patterico (de0616)

  14. At this time of the year it is refreshing to read about real families doing what moms and dads have done forever. One point – you should have given your daughter the spell check key. I guess she will have to learn that one on her own. Thank you for a happy story this holiday season

    Ray father of 2

    Ray Simpson (ffddf3)

  15. Unfortunately, your daughter has better writing skills than the majority of my urban area middle school students. She certainly spells better and has a sense of punctuation. She wins capitalization hands down. Ask me why this 30 year public school veteran sent his daughter to 12 years of Catholic education. By the way, a little heads up; she’ll be reading “Gone With the Wind” or it’s ilk, by age twelve. Good work dadster…


    mason (5bf80f)

  16. When I was that age, The Trumpet of the Swan was my favorite book. I’ve always been mildly astonished that, despite the popularity of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, it has not had a movie adaptation.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  17. hi lauren. no matter what your daddy says, you don’t ever have to use the shift key. next, read:
    the two lewis carroll books
    watership down
    tailchaser’s song

    assistant devil's advocate (d131cd)

  18. That your daughter can write this well at age six is something that you and Mrs. P should rightfully be proud of. She may not be too old for Eugene Trivizas’s “The Three Little Wolves And The Big Bad Pig”. In any event, you will like it.

    nk (bfc26a)

  19. My son is six and pretty much chooses his own books. We hear him at night chuckling himself to sleep with his Captain Underpants books. Nothing more heartwarming than knowing your children will enjoy as you do the wonder of books and flying poops.

    spongeworthy (45b30e)

  20. Hmmm…while so far all of the books suggested are certainly worth reading, I personally think that many might be be a little old for your daughter right now. An absolute must-read(or be read to)if she loves E.B. White would be “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden(it even has fantastic illos by White’s favorite illustrator–and mine–Garth Williams). There are a couple of sequels if she loves this one.
    “Cricket” is very similar in tone and feel to the overall spirit of the White books, even if it’s not “Stuart Little–but then, nothing is.

    Another series recently reprinted that I LOVED at her age: the “Freddy the Pig” books by Walter R. Brooks, also with wonderful illustrations, this time by Kurt Wiese.
    Written at the same time as the White and Selden books it’s in still in print for a good reason–the stories are fun, the characters are believable and charming and spunky, and they’re about animals that talk–even if only to each other. Try them out.
    And thanks for posting your daughter’s piece–it’s been a little treat I’ve enjoyed today.

    Jen (e52c22)

  21. Try Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. I read it to my kids right after Stuart Little (which they loved), and, if anything, they liked Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle even better.

    Something about a book about kids being naughty really appeals to my kids, I guess.

    Amy Ridenour (df1d39)

  22. Good to see your kid is sticking to the facts and not editorializing.

    Amos (a0e983)

  23. The original books by A. A. Milne are very good. These include the Pooh books and the poems. Hooray for a young reader and writer!

    M. C. Ridge (a703c1)

  24. Cute, and at least you don’t have her ranting about O’Reilly and religion on YouTube any time soon.

    Randy (69db30)

  25. She is a pretty good writer for 6 years old. Definitely better than most of the students I worked with this past 3 months as a student teacher. Always having been a reader myself, I am rediscovering children’s literature, and all the new books that are out since I was a child.

    In my opinion, a child’s academic success is directly correlated to the amount of parental involvement. From the looks of things, you little girl will go far…

    Miss Ladybug (2bd013)

  26. Are you sure that wasn’t written by a graduated product of public education and whole language.

    Chris (39e1f1)

  27. T H White: The Sword in the Stone. It’s the first part of the Once and Future King. The later parts are definitely too dark and adult for a six year old, but TSITS is definitely age suitable.

    Someone mentioned Nesbit. Several of her books are available online:

    kishnevi (bd6c91)

  28. That was awesome, Lauren!

    Since people are recommending books, I’d like to add
    The Borrowers by Mary Norton. This was among my children’s favorites. They designed little Borrower habitats for months, even years, after we read this book.

    (If you saw the movie, don’t let it put you off. It bore no resemblance to the book.)

    Melody (277fc5)

  29. My 8 year od daughter and I started reading the “Harry Potter” books. She loves to hear me read it more than watching the movies.

    My 7 year old daughter, however, has become a fan of Roald Dahl and reads them on her own to my wife and I. She has been reading “George’s Marvellous Medicine” lately and has decided that she is going to read his entire collection at home, except for the ones that she reads in school.

    It has helped her as a second grader read at a fifth grade level.

    I don’t know what the 8 year old’s issue is, other than it helps us bond even closer…and nothing is better than the bond of a father with his kids when they do things such as this. Truly moments to remember when we are in a wheel chair and drooling on ourselves.

    Hosedragger (c26d4a)

  30. Oh, there is also a series called “The Magic Treehouse” The girls seem to really love those as well. Total imagination excersize.

    Hosedragger (c26d4a)

  31. Dads who read chapter books to their children are TOPS on my list! I’m a huge fan of Jim Trelease’s “Read Aloud Handbook” — I give it at baby showers to first-time parents along with books and a cuddly blanket……

    My daughters have been blessed with a dad who agreed with me that reading aloud should be a family priority. We have so many awesome memories of this — just as you and your daughter will.

    Thank you for sharing, Patterico, and thank you, Lauren, for telling us about The Trumpet of the Swan. Enjoy the Roald Dahl books when you get to them…maybe after that you can check out Because of Winn-Dixie (the movie didn’t do justice to the book!), Bud, Not Buddy, Caddie Woodlawn and oh-so-many others! I could go on and on and on because I love children’s books…….

    Anyone ever read Richard Peck’s books A Long Way from Chicago; A Year Down Yonder; Fair Weather or The Teacher’s Funeral? GREAT fun, and great read-alouds — they might be a little over Lauren’s head at this point, but I recommend them for the future. Oh — and Walk Two Moons was one we really enjoyed when my daughters were a bit older than Lauren is now…..

    You got me started…now I need to go scan the bookshelves…. :)

    Ann (b8ea7e)

  32. I began to read “The Hobbit” to my three year old son every evening when he was 3 1/2. We moved on to The Trilogy. About the time he was eight I turned over the responsibility to read to him. We finished the books about the time he was twelve, and both of us remember with great fondness that continuous time of security and wonder. That little boy is now a friend and about to comission in the Air Force. Enjoy, my friend

    Ken (9f37aa)

  33. Wow, I have read Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web to my 5 1/2 year old, and we are reading Trumpet of the Swan right now. He doesn’t write as well as your daughter, though.

    The Mommy Blawger (ff6213)

  34. Three words: Freddy the Pig

    Written in the 1920s — 1950s, the twenty six books in this series are PERFECT for reading aloud to kids! Well, at least 21 or 22 of them are, anyway. Start with Freddy the Detective and
    Freddy the Ignormous and work from there! (I’m rather fond of Freddy and the Bean Home News, too)

    TMA (c44da6)

  35. Thanks for a great report, Lauren! As a mom of four I love to see children excited about books. :)

    Some of our favorites to try:

    Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace…

    Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder…

    Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher…

    B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood

    (Lots of Betsy’s there, but they’re all different!)

    Best wishes, Laura

    Laura (ee9fe2)

  36. As long as you intend to go through the works of Roald Dahl with your little girl, may I point out his often-overlooked work “Fantastic Mr. Fox” ?

    Gina (dbf1cb)

  37. She may be a bit young for them now, but I would recommend any of the works of George MacDonald.

    Two of his most famous are:

    -At the Back of the North Wind
    -The Princess and the Goblin

    Penthesileia (984fcf)

  38. I enjoy doing goofy voices, and I’m an admirer of people like Hank Azaria or Harry Shearer (both of “The Simpsons”), who are really talented in this area.

    I grew up in a family where doing impersonations was a pretty standard part of repartee. It wasn’t unusual, for example, to go through an entire dinner with my brother spot-on impersonating Sean Connery and me keeping up by doing Shatner until our mother and sister were in stitches (or other times we’d do Peter Graves, Leonard Nimoy, Judd Hirsch, Alex Trebek and later Al Bundy and Sam Waterston.) Once, in a McDonald’s, we did a back and forth Archie and Edith Bunker that had the whole place cracking up … and got us kicked out by the management. (People applauded as we left though.)

    Then, I went to college, and found out that not only families did things like that. But eventually, my friends learned that I was constitutionally unable to get into a political discussion about Reagan or Bush without actually imitating Reagan and Bush.

    And to this day, when I lead a scripture reading in Sunday School, I sometimes do it in an impression of NPR’s Corey Flintoff that can be downright creepy.

    Simpsons-wise, I do a great Burns, Smithers, Lenny, and, surprisingly, Marge. But I prefer Futurama. Even after 20 viewings, its reruns are still funnier than the dreck the Simpsons have become lately.

    V the K (48b4d1)

  39. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? Isn’t she the drug pusher who offers kids a magic pill for everything that goes wrong in their lives? Or do i have her mixed up with someone else?

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  40. You did a great job telling me about that book, Lauren! You made me want to read it! Your Daddy sounds like he’s funny when he reads these stories to you.

    And guess what! You are going to LOVE the Roald Dahl books! Especially The BFG and Matilda- those are the funniest!

    Jewels (d01c8a)

  41. Sigh.

    I really could have used this thread last weekend when I was shopping on Amazon for my nephew. Great recommendations, everyone!

    FWIW, my nephew just finished The Indian in the Cupboard which I recall as being excellent.

    Darkmage (4de99c)

  42. Hi Lauren!
    You are a wonderful writer! Isn’t reading the BEST thing ever to do? You can be anyone, anywhere, when you are reading a good story!

    Lauren, maybe your mama and daddy can find Eloise books (by Kay Thompson) for you, too. Eloise is your age, and oh my Lord! she’s silly (and a bit spoiled)! You will looooove her, though; my daughter, who is almost 8 now, sure does! She also loves Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Lauren! Santa’s almost here…yay!

    Beth (4c11b6)

  43. […] His six year-old daughter! Hooray for little kids blogging! Go say hello and congratulate her on her book report and her debut into the blogosphere! Via Michelle Malkin, who says “this could become a trend.” I’ll be in all kinds of trouble if I don’t mention a certain little girl who has her own blog (which she needs to update!). You have to register to comment there, and they’re all moderated (thanks, spammers!)–just so you know. So if kid blogs become a trend, you could say Little Miss Princess was an “early adopter.” Cutting-edge! […]

    Patterico gets a guest-blogger | MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (1b383c)

  44. I began early reading Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child to my kids and read it often. It may teach them to question and that asking questions brings answers. Isn’t that a unique contribution in this century?

    Bill-Lee (4d8275)

  45. Other rec’s as your daughter gets older …

    In demonstration of my own girls’ eclectic tastes…My cupboard is filled with both The Babysitter’s Club series as well as all the Goosebump books.

    Darleen (543cb7)

  46. While awaiting the last Harry Potter book, we’re plowing through the Little House books. My daughter is enthralled, and I’ve found that one “Would Laura and Mary talk that way to Ma and Pa?” can stop a bad attitude, Millenial comment mid-sentence. But some of the chapters have been a little too scary, particularly the many that deal with then-ubiquitous wolves. My six-year old is terrified of the wilderness, being such an urban kid, sad to say. She batted not an eyelash over the goings-on at Hogwarts, but pioneer life, now that’s some scary stuff!

    The pleasure of these books, which I read over and over as a pre-teen, comes flooding back to me. It’s a pure joy, an (unrevised) American history treasure trove, to be able to read the Little House books to one’s child, and I’m already thinking associated vacation plans to “Indian Territory” for the summer.

    SpaceyG (d24952)

  47. One of the best children’s books I ever read and that I remember afer 50+ years is “Cotton in my Sack” by Lois Lenski. She has some other good titles also.

    Judith Dulaney (eb09b0)

  48. These may be a year or two off, but what about that great series by Madeline L’Engle that started with ‘A Wrinkle in Time’? My mom read Wrinkle to me, and I read the others on my own (A Swiftly Tilting planet was one of them, don’t remember the other(s)).

    Justin (81aa80)

  49. My favorite book as I was growing up was “Little Women”. I didn’t like any of the others, but Jo was my hero. Keep up the good work Lauren.

    Cara (e57216)

  50. Lauren, excellent review! Good job blogging! I’ll be sure to read this book to my children.

    Oh, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. My kids LOVED that one. And Lois Lenski. Excellent! We’re reading Thornton Burgess right now.

    Susannah (64cf21)

  51. Wonderful to see parents still reading to their kids and encouraging them to write about what they hear too. My son, bless his heart, loves it when I read to him. Too many kids grow up without this positive and conforting interaction.

    Way to go Lauren I think you did a great job with your report.

    CS Lewis is one of my favorite authors, personally. The books listed by other commenters are all good too. Also Beverly Cleary she did the Ramona series. I remember reading them as a girl and loved them.


    Amanda (aecaa4)

  52. She sounds absolutely adorable! (And honestly writes better than many of the young people I run across online, who are 3-4 times her age!)

    My little one is now 9 and loves to write. I am toying with the idea of setting up a private blog so she can store her entries online. :)

    Nicki (926935)

  53. Makes me nostalgic for when my girls were younger and I used to read to them. I remember on time when, after reading Treasure Island, I was tipped the black spot by my older daughter. What a joyous time.

    Anything by Marguerite De Angeli (eg, Door in the Wall) or Alice Dalgliesh (eg, Bears on Hemlock Mountain or Courage of Sarah Noble) are wonderful. Their books for favorites with mine when I was reading to them. Also, for picture books, anything by Virginia Lee Burton.

    don (bf10a3)

  54. Right about the age that I read and enjoyed E.B. White’s books I read Babe by Dick King-Smith. It’s the book the movie is based off of. Babe was very similar to the style of E.B. White. I looked Dick King-Smith up on Wikipedia and there are many, many books by him but I would recommend Babe first, it’s one of my favorites. I loved Roald Dahl and I also really liked the 21 Balloons- enough that I bought it as an adult.

    Sera (1b31ab)

  55. Careful with E. Nesbit — there’s one that kind of turns into a horror story in the middle. (The Enchanted Castle possibly? Someone will know.)

    kate q (febb94)

  56. I haven’t seen Edward Eager mentioned. His Half Magic book is a classic.
    Also Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain is a must read.
    I think horror story might be a bit strong for The Enchanted Castle by Nesbit. There are some cardboard people who come to life in it but I wouldn’t term it as horror. But it might be good to hold off on that one till your child gets a little older. For an alternate, The Railway Children by Nesbit is very good.
    Another series that is very, very good is the Boxcar Children by Warner. Too bad children nowadays aren’t as self-sufficient and responsible as these kids were. I can’t imagine any 8 or 10-yr-old today being able to cook a whole meal much less care for a younger sibling under bad circumstances.

    Penguinmom (644f8d)

  57. Ah, also forgot Freddy Goes to Florida by Walter R Brooks. First book in a funny series about a very intelligent pig on a farm full of interesting animals. Other titles include Freddy the Detective, Freddy the Pilot, and Freddy plays Football.

    Penguinmom (644f8d)

  58. […] I have no view as to the correctness of the opinion, but my sympathies lie with the mute swan. I am reminded of Louis, the mute trumpeter swan, who is the protagonist of the E.B. White book I have been reading to my daughter. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Brett Kavanaugh: Heartless Judge Wants to Kill Louis, the E.B. White Character (421107)

  59. A favorite of my kids, who at the time ranged from 7 years to 18 years, was To Kill A Mockingbird. Another remarkable, though short, book is The Crows of Pearblossom, which was written by Aldous Huxley as a birthday or Christmas gift for a daughter ( or perhaps she was a niece). Surprisingly, a Huxley story one would give a “Family” rating if it were a film.

    GrammieMac (9d53dd)

  60. To add to the booklist. There is also the work of Lloyd Alexander. Many know of the “Black Cauldren” from his Prydain Chronicles (7? books). My daughter’s favorite, though, was “Timecat.” She also enjoyed his Vesper Holly books like “The Illyrian Adventure.” Like many of the recommendations these may be better suited a bit later. I think my daughter was in 4th or 5th grade when she read these.

    Chris (9f25f7)

  61. This is a wonderful post, Patrick. You’ve inspired me to ask my daughter if she’d like to do something similar (she’s ten and a voracious reader on her own, but she still likes me to read to her every night — we’re reading “A Christmas Carol” this week, and enjoying it!). Merry Christmas!

    Tim McGarry (798820)

  62. That’s very sweet, but come on she’s six she’s ready for Ayn Rand. Give her some “Anthem” or maybe “Atlas Shrugged”. Quit coddling her.

    Don Carne (6a04f9)

  63. Wow. Thank you, thank you!

    I haven’t felt so good in months. As the daughter of an English teacher (who died in my arms two months ago) and as a career English teacher who read to her children – in funny voices – I was made so happy by all the comments here. Sad, as well, for remembering how my mother inspired my love of books and wonderful stories… But ‘good’ sad.

    Phoenix (a4d719)

  64. Don, good point. I’d second that by noting that at the tender age of six, she’s still young enough to be excused for liking Ayn Rand.

    Xrlq (54553b)

  65. Rudyard Kipling is really fun to read aloud. My favorite one is the story of how the armadillo came to be, but I’ve forgotten the title.

    michele (3ad161)

  66. Wanda Gag’s translation of Grimm’s Fairy tales. This is the real stuff, not the pasteurized and processed versions.

    The Princess and Curdie (or other Curdie stories) by George McDonald. A seriously good writer and story teller.

    I am convinced that a solid exposure to really good writing makes a difference in how children learn to think. The older writers used a wider and more precise vocabulary.

    Eric (00f878)

  67. My daughter loved every R. Dahl book. She just defended her thesis in Nutritional Sciences.??

    Helen (d3ab79)

  68. Heidi, Black Beauty, and my father read Shakespeare’s comedies to me as well. I’ve tried reading some of it aloud and it rapidly became clear that my late, beloved father had a unique gift for making it understandable to a small child! But then, he was an exceptional man. Even now, at age 64, I still miss him and value having had him as a father. Patterico – that is what you are building with your daughter which is no bad thing!

    Gayle Miller (1288b1)

  69. Hi all!!! Cool site!!!

    klukitg (7aafb9)

  70. My favorite read aloud list includes Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

    In “Alice” the chapter titled “Alice’s Evidence” is this rule of court:

    King: “Let the jury consider their verdict.”

    Queen: “No, no! Sentence first–then the verdict.”

    Great stuff for lawyer dads and daughters to ponder.

    Then there is Carroll’s short poem, Jabberwocky, for dad’s joy over son’s triumph against adversity. Only two voices are used: the narrator and the proud father.

    Thanks for starting this thread. And thanks to all contributors for teriffic sugestions. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

    G. Holbrook (ce962c)

  71. Whadda cute post.

    Hi Lauren,
    You did a good report on The Trumpet of the Swan. I really liked hearing about what happens in the book and how your dad reads it to you. Soon you’ll be reading books to your dad and doing the funny voices for him. And he’ll like that too. Keep up the good writing!

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  72. Just saw the age of this post. *face red* Well I guess Lauren IS reading books to her dad by now. LOL

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

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