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
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 ✔
The Lemonade Trick
The Wizard of Oz
Anne of Green Gables
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler
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.