My children have been disinterested in listening to me read long books. They suffered through The First Four Years (Little House) (because it wasn't available on audio book and they asked me to read it), but they find it difficult to concentrate when it's just me reading long selections. (Hopefully First Son is ready for more of that next year as I think we're increasing our reading next year.) In the van, though, they are confined to their seats and can gaze calmly out the window while listening to someone much better than I perform a story. I've tried audio books at home, but find the children are easily distracted and spend so much time making noise themselves that they have not listened to the story at all. So the van it is.
Here's our list for first grade, including a few we took along on our Christmas vacation:
- By the Shores of Silver Lake (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Long Winter (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder - You would never believe how interesting this book is, given that nearly nothing happens beyond darkness, wind and hunger. If you ever find yourself struggling to feel grateful for heat and enough food, spend a little time with this book.
- Little Town on the Prairie (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- These Happy Golden Years (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I think this is my favorite Little House books - everything seems so calm and pleasant.
- Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
- Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary
- Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
- Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney - Kansas Dad and I didn't enjoy this book very much, but the children liked it.
- How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell - First Son thought this book was hilarious, but I wish I had waited a while to share it with the children. It had been too long since I'd read it, so I didn't remember it properly. There's a bit more antagonism between the friends than I would like my seven and four year olds to hear. They didn't seem to imitate it, though.
- Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne - I had been reading these poems at home to the children's delight, but they loved listening to a professional recite them even more. Even Second Daughter started reciting them during her games. Despite the popularity of the title, I had been unprepared for how wonderful the poems are. Mr. Milne knew what it was to be a young child.
- Green Eggs and Ham and Other Servings of Dr. Seuss by Dr. Seuss - Frankly, I thought many of the Dr. Seuss poems lose something without the book
- .Rascal by Sterling North - Kansas Dad and I enjoyed this book tremendously. We often stopped to entreat First Son not to follow in Sterling's footsteps, but much of the tale is idyllic. Please be sure to share this tale with your young boys!
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - I was hesitant to listen to this with the children at first. I wasn't sure First Son would be interested enough in a young girl from India and her sickly cousin. He seemed to enjoy it very much and I realized again how much I love this story. I'd forgotten quite how much "magic" is mentioned and invoked, but the "magic" they speak of is quite easily explained as God's intervention. It is a lovely story of sunshine, bright thoughts, redemption and relationships.
I find myself excited for our drives, knowing we will be able to listen to the next part of our story. I highly recommend finding good audio books to make driving more enjoyable for everyone.