I know most teachers and students have been back to school for a couple of months by now, but my storytelling sessions are just beginning next week at the little school I visit.

I love to begin the school year for the Kindergarteners and First Graders with Roald Dahl’s fabulous read-aloud  – The Enormous Crocodile.

At a recent writers’ conference, I heard editors say that the current picture book market has definitely skewed toward the younger end of the picture book crowd, and that they need picture books to be much shorter than they once were.  I have heard other editors tell me, somewhat apologetically, that the book sellers have told them they need picture books to be short and snappy, as parent don’t want to have to read books to their children that are “too long.”

The Enormous Crocodile

 If only those same book sellers could see what I have seen over the past 18 years as I read this book aloud.   It takes about 15 – 20 minutes to read it aloud – about 4 times longer than the picture books we see being published today!  And yet – there is not a
sound to be heard as these little ones sit with saucer eyes and hanging
jaws – totally spellbound by Dahl’s masterful language and Blake’s whimsical illustrations.

Children love to be frightened – just a little – as they see that cunning crocodile scheming clever tricks and nasty plans that involve gobbling up little children.  And how they grin when they see him soundly trounced for all his nastiness!

Here’s to more picture books that help our children to fall in love with language and experience the sheer delight of a story masterfully spun – no better place to begin than with a Roald Dahl classic such as this.