A reader wrote in with this problem: her very bright child had taught herself to read at age 3, and now at age 5, wants to read fiction, but her parents are having a hard time finding books that don't make her anxious or frightened. The little girl has not been exposed to rudeness or meanness, yet, so her mom is trying to avoid that kind of content. too.
This is a real challenge. My children and I brain-stormed through the ER list and tried to recall what elements they might contain that would be scary for a 5-year-old. Humor seemed to offer the most possibilities.
We told the mom that she would have to screen all of these first. (So much for having a great list to go by! But her child is especially sensitive. At least most of the books are quick reads.)
Here's what we came up with:
Eddie books, but NOT Eddie's Menagerie (a kitten dies)
Here's a Penny
Robert Rows the River
Little Bear (just picture books, which won't be very satisfying for the little girl in question.)
Cam Jansen by David Adler: does feature thievery, etc. Very easily screened by parents, though.
Enid Blyton: Wishing Chair, Faraway Tree
Peggy Parish: Amelia Bedelia
Richard Atwater: Mr. Popper's Penguins
Michael Bond: Paddington books
Walter Brooks: Freddy series
Henry Reed books by Keith Robertson
Thornton Burgess books: Old Mother West Wind, and many many others (there is hunting in these). For some reason Burgess is not on our list. Note to webmaster: let's add some of those titles.
Forget about traditional fairy tales. Some of them scare me.