Chapter Books for Preschoolers: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

I’ve had lots of questions about when to start reading chapter books and what chapter books to start with, so I thought I’d keep a running log of the chapter books I’ve read with L&L:

#8 Mr. Popper’s Penguins
by Richard and Florence Atwater

We finished this book this week.  It was quite a treat as DH and I had never read it before ourselves or seen the movie.  We all really loved the story of Mr. Popper, his family, and his performing penguins!

Recommended for Preschoolers?
Absolutely!  My almost 3-year old and 4.5 year old loved it, as did DH and myself.  The kids laughed whenever the penguins in the book would say “Gook!” or “Ork!” and I even caught L&L adding the sounds into their pretend play, where they would eventually erupt in violent giggles.  In addition to the charming penguins, L&L liked the fact that there were also two children in the story — the Popper children.

Teaching with Mr. Popper’s Penguins:
While we just read the book for enjoyment this time, there are LOTS of teaching moments in the story and you could really do a lot with history and geography to go along with the book. There is lots of information about the North and South poles, arctic explorers and explorations, and even traveling to various cities across the United States.  This is a great book to read with a map handy! 

Another teaching suggestion would be to (obviously) focus on penguins: visit some at a zoo or aquarium, read nonfiction books about penguins, watch some science videos about real penguins, make some penguin crafts, waddle like penguins around the house, etc.

My only critique of the story would be the ending, and maybe I’m just picky, but I honestly just wasn’t fond of it.  While I was happy that Mr. Popper would finally get to fulfill his dream of visiting one of the poles, it made me sad that he simply waved goodbye to his family and said something to the effect of, “I’ll see you in a year or two!”  If this ending isn’t your favorite either, perhaps another teachable moment would be to talk about alternate story endings that put a greater value on family. 🙂 

Additional Notes:

  • There is a recent Mr. Popper’s Penguins movie starring Jim Carrey.  It is rated PG.  We have not watched it yet, nor have I researched whether it is appropriate for preschoolers, but I will update this when/if we do watch it.  Feel free to leave comments if you’ve seen it!
  • We did not own a copy of the book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, but wanted to start it right away, so I downloaded the Kindle version and we read it using the Kindle app on our iPad.  At the time, it was only $1.99 so it was cheaper even than the used copies of the book on Amazon.  
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a Newbery Honor Book.

See the other Chapter Books for Preschoolers we’ve read here.

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