Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fourth Time Through our Family Read-Alouds


The living room books – there are downstairs children's bookshelves, homeschool bookshelves, Nigel’s bookshelf, sewing bookshelf, and you’ve seen my cookbook bookshelf if you’ve linked over to my cooking blog. Pardon the remaining stack on the bottom right that will live there until the kitchen remodel is done.

I’ve been getting Tarquin’s first grade language arts material together this last week, and part of that is digging out the family read aloud list. He just wasn’t ready to begin last year, plus I did “Five in A Row” with him, and that included its own list of shorter read-alouds.

I read this list of books aloud to Malcolm (and many more – anyone who uses/used Sonlight curriculum knows what I’m talkin’ about), then read it again to Nigel/Sophia/Clara, and again to Gareth/Araminta/Lucinda, and now I’m heading into the fourth time through this book list. There have been a couple of additions or subtractions over time. But this is the basic list. I’ve divided it in three sections to roughly correspond to three years, but I do a little juggling at times depending on my listening audience.

The Books That Mama Reads Aloud

Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charlie?
Beezus & Ramona (or Ramona the Pest)
McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm
Betsy's Little Star
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
My Father's Dragon
Pippi Longstocking
The Boxcar Children
Mr. Popper's Penguins
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
James and the Giant Peach

Charlotte's Web
Mary Poppins
Little House in the Big Woods 
Indian in the Cupboard 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 
Stuart Little 
All-Of-A-Kind Family 
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 
Ginger Pye 
Phantom Tollbooth 
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew 
Caddie Woodlawn 
Harriet the Spy
The Hundred Dresses
Homer Price 

Eight Cousins
Kildee House
The Lemonade Trick
Little Princess
The Wizard of Oz
Anne of Green Gables
The Borrowers
Roller Skates
Secret Garden
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler
Enchanted Castle
The Swiss Family Robinson

I only read Swiss Family Robinson to Malcolm, but I’m thinking after what will be about an 18 year break, I just might be ready again to read it to Tarquin in a couple of years. Maybe. Gosh that book goes on forever! One of those things that feels good having done it, and I sure doubt that any of my children will make themselves read it after trying out the first chapter. And I am talking about a family of readers here. The last three books Clara has read for summer beach fun are Les Miserables, Vanity Fair, and Jane Eyre, and when we were discussing S.F.R. she said, “Oh yeah – I couldn’t make it through the whole first chapter”. Still. Anyone read it? I find the whole thing fun once I get going, although a bit irritating how that boat acts as a deus ex machina. “Oh right, why don’t you just swim out to the boat and handily find a surgical suite?” you find yourself muttering under your breath. Hmmm. Anyone notice that I’m not quite recovered from reading it to Malcolm yet? Maybe I can guilt him into reading it over Skype! Hey, there’s an idea . . . surely he owes me, right? :-)

I have an ironclad rule: I don’t read sequels or others in a series. This rule has served me well over the years, providing a strong incentive to learn reading skills well enough for the child to read the rest of a series that caught their interest. We do own the entire series of the books in our list that are part of such, so I’m not tormenting them or anything . . . I just want to make it through the whole list, and as I say, this rule has had happy consequences.

So anyway, that’s the read aloud list. I’ve been asked about it over the years off and on and will be glad to have a place to link. If anyone sees this who loves to read aloud to children, and has something magical I’m missing, do comment! Some of these are definitely not “classic” in any sense (Lemonade Trick, I’m looking at you) but I use them for light relief among the longer or linguistically harder selections. In the first year in particular, the “Pippi” and the “Piggle-Wiggle” are really needed. But we always love a new classic, and our family library is full of other wonderful children’s books they read on their own.


caulistats said...

Great list for me to keep for future reference!

Anonymous said...

I just put My Father's Dragon into the get-rid-of box over the weekend. Their Papa and I both sighed just a little.

Malcolm said...

Oh my goodness! That entire list was like a nostalgia hug! I remember distinctly and vividly my little imagination being captured by Swiss Family Robinson. While I don't remember very many specifics, I strongly believe that the adventure and exploration and inventiveness sparked an excitement in me that affects how I think about things even today. I am a HUGE fan of that book, dryness and dii ex machinis (a pluralized form surely courtesy of his mother's patient Latin classes), notwithstanding.

Kimberly said...

:-). Notice, gentle reader, that while Malcolm speaks most lovingly of Swiss Family Robinson, we do not see the enthusiastic volunteer of reading services ;-).

Oh well, that's a third year read aloud and I have two more years to finish the recovery process.