Five Little Monkeys and Learning to Read

The Five Little Monkeys books by Eileen Christelow are a hit in my county.

My husband has used the books as a tool for reading enrichment the last four years.

He’s part of a group that spends half an hour a week in a local elementary school reading with first and second graders.

His company supports the activity and he and several workers spend Monday mornings with an assigned child.

He’s on his fourth child now.

Boys or girls, they have one thing in common: they love the Five Little Monkeys books.

Who are the Five Little Monkeys?

Oh, you know–five little monkeys who jump on their bed?

One fell off and bumped his head.

What did Mama do?

Called the doctor. He repeated this warning with each incident:

“No more monkeys jumping on the bed.”

(Hey, say that with gusto!)Five Little Monkeys

Christelow has turned the monkeys into a franchise.

Those five little monkeys get into all sorts of mischief besides jumping on the bed.

They wash cars, go on a picnic, play hide and seek, bake a cake and a host of other activities.

Their hapless mother loves them, despite their well-intentioned troublemaking.

Why are the Five Little Monkeys popular with new readers?

My English Literature degree tells me their scansion is part of the appeal.

(Scansion is the rhythm, the meter, of rhyme in a verse).

My experience teaching children to read is the repetition helps, along with the colorful pictures.

According to my husband, the children giggle at the silly stories, the expected conclusion and the fact the children never learn.

Their mother hugs them every time, too.

Why does my engineer husband love the Five Little Monkeys?

He’s had the experience, four times now, of seeing a child begin sounding out words in September with no comprehension.

When they finish that laborious process, he rewards them by reading a picture book.

Sometimes he reads a story brought from home, usually a Dr. Seuss they may have heard before.

Within a month or two, he brings in our copy of The Five Little Monkeys Treasury and starts with that bed jumping.

(He always asks the kids what the Mama is doing on the last page of the book. They don’t usually notice Mama is jumping, too!)

5 little monkeys

He likes to read to children!

The next week, they want him to read it again.

Indeed, they usually want to skip their work and have him just read.

He shakes his head and opens the book. It’s their turn.

Their eagerness delights him, but their desire to read better–so they can read the book themselves–is a major motivator.

I love the days he comes home and says, “she got it. She understands the meaning of the words and can hardly wait to read about the Five Little Monkeys.”

This year he has a second grader and she, who stumbled in September, is fluent in April.

He still makes her read her prescribed school work, but then just hands her the book.

Getting to read a Five Little Monkeys story is her reward.

Five Little Monkeys at the library

She’s read all five stories in our treasury, now, and so I’ve gone afield to the library to check out more.

Five Little Monkeys

I met Christelow at a book signing many years ago and purchased Five Little Monkeys on a Picnic.

My husband laughed as he looked at the stack yesterday.

“Wow, you found one I haven’t even read!”

His reader will join him on Monday to learn what happens when The Five Little Monkeys Go Shopping!

(The Five Little Monkeys have their own website with interactive games. Check it out here.)

Do you remember the picture book that made reading come alive for you?


Five Little Monkeys teach children to read! Click to Tweet

Rhythm and rhyme: Five Little Monkeys and early readers. Click to Tweet

What children’s picture book made reading come alive for you? Click to Tweet



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  1. My kids all love The Five Little Monkeys books. LK taught two of his younger siblings how to read with them, and even the not-quite-2 year old will sit down and “read” them to herself or her doll.

  2. Michelle Ule

     /  May 9, 2017

    Love it! 🙂


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