Monday, June 15, 2015

2014-2015 Family Read-Alouds

This is a list of the books I read aloud during the last school year, fifth grade for First Son, second grade for First Daughter, kindergarten for Second Daughter, and preschool for Second Son. I like to alternate choices for the younger ones with choices for the older children. I have a list to begin the year, but we also sometimes veer off to meet an immediate interest.

I wrote earlier about the books we read during Advent and Christmas, when we set our official read aloud book aside.

The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton is the second book of the Borrowers series. We started this over the summer, selected by the kids, and finished it at the beginning of the school year. I like the Borrower series, but I would prefer the kids read them on their own. So far, they seem to prefer I read them aloud so no one has read any of the subsequent books. (purchased used copy)

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne was selected for my younger two who had never heard it. They loved it, but surprisingly, the 10 year old enjoyed them the most. I had forgotten how much of the cleverness is hidden from the young ones. (received as a gift long before I had children)

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody is one I had to keep returning to the library before we finished and then wait a month for the other patron to return it. We finally finished it this year. I don't think we enjoyed it as a read aloud as much as other families. (library copy)

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit was delightful. Four children discover an ancient sand fairy while digging in an old quarry. They receive one wish a day with exhilarating and enlightening results. I had never read the whole book myself and was as interested as the children in how it would all end. (library copy)

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley was much loved by the six-year-old girl. Mama got a little tired of saying "Milly-Molly-Mandy" over and over again, but the stories are very sweet. (library copy)

The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit is the sequel to Five Children and It. The sand fairy is only mentioned. Instead, the children discover a phoenix egg in a carpet and adventures abound. Nesbit's understanding of the detritus of childhood is fantastic. I lost my voice before we finished the book, so we listened to the end at LibriVox. (free Kindle version)

A Bear Called Paddington, More about Paddington, and Paddington Abroad by Michael Bond were universarlly loved by all my children (aged 11, 8, 6, and 4). I had only planned to read the first book, but they convinced me to read two more. Paddington is one of those characters that can be equally loved by parents and children. They enjoyed the new movie as well. (all library copies)

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo was easily one of our favorites of the entire year. Even Kansas Dad, who heard a few chapters in the mornings, eagerly awaited a narration from the kids to hear what he had missed. It is the story of a young boy swept overboard on a trip sailing around the world with his parents. He awakes to find himself on an island, but he's not alone. The tale of the friendship that develops between the boy and the island's resident is poignantly written but still exciting. It's recommended for Level 1A (second and third grade) by Mater Amabilis, but we didn't read it when First Son was that age. (library copy)

James Herriot's Treasury for Children was a selection for the younger children (6 and 4) who were too young (or not born!) that last time I read it aloud. Oh my! I'd forgotten how wonderful it is. We all enjoyed it. (purchased used copy)

The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton adapted by Nancy Carpentier Brown. I haven't read the original Father Brown stories, but we all enjoyed these. I wanted to introduce my kids to the character before my parents visited because they like to watch a BBC series based on the books. My dad listened in on some of the stories and was inspired to read the originals. (borrowed from a friend)

The King of the Golden City: An Allegory for Children by Mother Mary Loyola, illustrated by John Watson Davis - I wrote about this book on the blog earlier this spring. (purchased used copy)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. We enjoyed this book so much we moved right into Through the Looking Glass for our summer reading. (library copies)

On LibriVox - The Story of the Amulet by E. Nesbit is the third (and last) in the series that starts with Five Children and It. We'll finish this one over the summer.

Audio Books - I like to have an audio book available for drives in the van. Most of our drives are at least half an hour, so we have a lot of time to fill. (These were all checked out from our library.)

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus - I loved this book. The audio version is excellent.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I have a personal aversion to anything by Dahl but was convinced my children deserved to hear a little of it. My compromise was to get the audio CD from the library. As I expected, they delighted in the quirky story and I was glad when it was over.

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare appealed to all the children even those I chose it mostly for First Son.

The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by G. A. Henty was one I had planned to read aloud myself. The kids really enjoyed this story, but I found it dry and pretentious. We had to listen to the audio CD because I couldn't bear to read it anymore. (It was a little easier to listen to it.)

The Call of the Wild by Jack London was a book I was going to pre-read for First Son, but decided we'd just listen to it when I saw the library had it on audio CD. I have never read anything by Jack London myself. There were a few scenes in which animals were cruelly treated (most often by other dogs) and one fairly gruesome scene at the end where Buck attacks and kills a large number of people. As far as I know, it was all historically accurate (though fictionalized) and it was certainly beautifully written, but I probably would not have let my girls (6 and 8) listen to it if I had read it myself beforehand. They handled it without comment or gasp, though. It would have been worthwhile independent reading for First Son (11) either for school or summer reading.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien is such a fun book. We all enjoyed it. We also watched the movie, but none of us liked it.

The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit is not my favorite Nesbit book and the audio version interspersed the text with classical music which seemed to universally be in conflict with the mood of the story at that particular moment.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo. This book may be one of my favorites of all time. There's courage, goodness, honesty, and kindness, in a world that's a little bit silly.

We also listened to quite a few of Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events, but I'll probably post on those later on.

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  1. I always enjoy seeing what you've been reading and get so many good recommendations from you.

    Is Gemma old enough for Despereaux?

    1. She's probably old enough to follow the gist of the story. My six year old certainly did. I think she might find it more meaningful if you wanted a little while, though. I think my 11 and 8 year olds got much more out of it.

  2. Did you know there is a Father Brown Reader II? The twins used the first one for reading comprehension this past year. They and Catherine have all liked it.

  3. Did you know there is a Father Brown Reader II? The twins used the first one for reading comprehension this past year. They and Catherine have all liked it.


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