Read Aloud Thursday – Family Reads

We have had great success with our family read alouds this month as. I can remember reading aloud when my 16 and 14 year olds were very young. They had to be around 3 and 4 when I began? Wonderful memories of sitting beside their beds and reading aloud a few chapters each night.

Times have changed a bit. Ahem. Now I have nine children and read aloud time isn’t always quiet and peaceful. As I read a variety of activities could be underway: drawing, Legos, knitting, and someone chasing the baby around. He is on the go and sees no need to stop for a good read aloud.

This month we enjoyed Honk the Moose (Phil Stong). I grabbed this one on impulse; it was an Honor Book for the Newbery Medal in the 1930’s. If you haven’t read it, you should! Fun read!

We also finished up Greenglass House  (Kate Milford) . It was a good read but slow to start. Depending on your children, you might want this one to serve as independent reading.

Currently underway is The Green Ember (S. D. Smith). A week or so ago it was free for Kindle so I quickly added to our Kindle before the opportunity was gone. We are halfway through this story and all of the children are loving the adventure.

The Green Ember introduces us to Heather and Picket, sister and brother rabbits. At first I was a bit put off because the rabbits can do anything; they are not limited to the behaviors of rabbits. As you read the rabbits will fight with swords, make pottery, serve up bowlfuls of soup, and sail in a boat. However, it doesn’t take long to get into the adventure and start to forget about the physical limits of true rabbits.

Heather and Picket’s family live away from most other rabbits and they don’t really know why. One day a strange visitor shows up and Heather and Picket are sent out to pick berries. They return to find their house in flames and their parents and baby brother are no where to be found. There is no time for anything else as a pack of wolves attack. Thankfully Heather and Picket are able to get away but the battle has just begun.

We are enjoying many discussion on the significance of different rabbits and what (or who) we think The Green Ember might be. Speculations are many on what will happen in the last half of this book. Different struggles of various characters have been discussed as well – pride, strength, perseverance, humility, arrogance.

If your children enjoy a good adventure, you need to read The Green Ember.

I’d love to hear what your family is reading aloud!

Read Aloud Thursday ~ For the Younger Crowd

My children have been doing an excellent job holding me accountable for reading aloud. Who can resist the most handsome five year old asking for books? I can’t!

The book basket has been full of a variety of books. The fun is that some were surprises for me! My older children are quite good at selecting excellent picture books.

Maple and Willow Together (Lori Nichols) – We read Maple several months ago and it was delightful. It might be possible that I loved it more than my children. When I pulled Maple and Willow Together, I had children squeal with delight. I guess they liked Maple more than I realized. This book show sisters, Maple and Willow a bit older. While the sisters love each other and even have their own special language, disagreement happens and the girls are separated. But a slipped note under the door and all is made right. This is a sweet, true picture of sisterhood. This one is pulled out of the book basket often. With six sisters in this house, I think we connect with the storyline quite well.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend  (Dan Santat) takes us to the land of imaginary friends. On this far away island, imaginary friends are waiting to be chosen by a real child. Beekle waits and waits and waits. Finally Beekle decides to set out and find his child himself. As he travels through the city, he finally finds his person and get his name: Beekle. The kiddos enjoyed Beekle. In the end, Beekle’s child has drawn pictures which are pages of the book. Sam, 5, had to take me back through the book to show me. Interesting perspective on imaginary friends; enjoyable for those who have imaginary friends or not.

Bear Has a Story to Tell (Philip C. Stead) was a surprise for me. We were settling in to read a few books and I pulled this one out. My 11 year old said that she had found this at the library and it was a really good book. She was right. Bear has a story he wants to share with his friends (frog, duck, mouse, and mole). However, winter is coming and all his friends are distracted with winter preparations. Bear is a most excellent friend and helps everyone instead of telling his story. Finally Bear settles in for the winter and soon wakes up to spring. Unfortunately now Bear can’t remember his story. No worries, Bear. His friends quickly step in and help Bear remember his story. While it is told very simply and with subtle illustrations, it is a sweet story of friendship that I’m glad found its way to our book basket.

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (Jennifer Fisher Bryant) tells the story of Peter Mark Roget, a young, shy boy who enjoyed writing. His writings were not stories but lists. Peter loved words and organizing those words. When he was older, Peter studied medicine and became a doctor but never lost his love of words. Those lists eventually became a book: the thesaurus. My youngest readers really only appreciated the illustrations. They were lovely, collage style illustrations. Those aged 7 and up appreciated the story of Roget. I like using these types of picture books to introduce biographies to my younger ones.

If you have a young inventor, he may enjoy Wendel’s Workshop. Sam loved it and it is a fun read.  He also grabbed It’s An Orange Aardvark; a favorite of his.

Mo Willems’ easy readers Watch Me Throw the Ball! and I Broke My Trunk! have been popular reads as well. Along with being read aloud, the kiddos enjoy reading them together; each taking a “part”.

Jasper and Joop (who can resist these adorable goslings?), Go, Dog, Go (they love this one), and Tap to Play (an interactive book that wasn’t that engaging) rounded out the picture book reads.

What have you been reading with your little ones?

Wednesday with Words – The Haunted Bookshop

Reading time has been minimal the past few weeks.  Last night I put my literary foot down and said, “Enough!” Enough of all the internet’s distractions, enough of laundry and lesson planning.  The little sick boy and I were going to snuggle up with a good book before bed. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley did not disappoint.

Mr. Mifflin’s is sharing his thoughts on dishwashing with a guest. He speaks of how he use to have a light handy and a book propped up to console him as he washed dishes. It was a worrisome task, you know. But then….

Then a new conception of the matter struck me. It is intolerable for a human being to go on doing any task as a penance, under duress. No matter what the work is, one must spiritualize it in some way, shatter the old idea of it into bits and rebuild it nearer to the heart’s desire. How was I to do this with dish-washing?

A couple of paragraphs later –

“Mr. Gilbert,” he went on, “do not laugh at me when I tell you that I have evolved a whole kitchen philosophy of my own. I find the kitchen the shrine of our civilization, the focus of all that is comely in life. The ruddy shine of the stove is as beautiful as any sunset. A well-polished jug or spoon is as fair, as complete and beautiful, as any sonnet. The dish mop, properly rinsed and wrung and hung outside the back door to dry, is  a whole sermon in itself. The stars never look so bright as they do from the kitchen door after the ice-box pan is emptied and the whole place is ‘redd up’ as the Scotch say.”

I read this and I smiled. I might have a child or two who props up a book to read as they work. More than once song sheets have been taped to the window at the sink so that the correct words could be sung while working. Makes the task a bit more pleasant, yes? And I do love a clean kitchen!

This scripture also came to mind:

“And whatever you do, do  it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24


This was a timely reminder to me. It can get a bit tedious or mundane: the laundry, the potty training, the math corrections, the sweeping. It can be looked upon as an intolerable task. A burden. A chore. Or perhaps we can push aside the attempts to distract us from the task at hand and embrace the tedious and mundane. And realize that those things, those chores, are really as beautiful as a sunset  and worthy of our best. Who are we doing these things for? Do it heartily as to the Lord.