Read Alouds – August 2014

I so love reading aloud to my children. The sharing of stories and adventures is a delight. It is always interesting, and sometimes entertaining, to see the different reactions to stories. Sometimes as we are reading, one person will laugh when no one else does. Tears may slide down cheeks during an intense moment. Discussions around the dinner table over our books builds memories that will last a life time.

As much as I love it, it is so hard to have the time to read aloud like we use to. Life is just crazy at times. So I’m protecting my read aloud time. I’m making it a priority. Slowly and steadily we are getting back to settling in for a good read; together.

For the Littles

Here are  few picture books that we have enjoyed this month. And while I select them with my little ones in mind, we all enjoy a good story!

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson – A mouse, a walk in a dangerous forest, and an imagination. With rhyming text, Ms. Donaldson tells of a mouse who encounters enemies when walking through the forest. To save himself from being something’s dinner, the mouse invents the Gruffalo to scare his enemies away. But is the Gruffalo just an imaginary beast? Mouse soon finds out that the Gruffalo is real! How will he save himself from the Gruffalo? My little ones enjoyed this book. The turn it took when the Gruffalo arrived on the scene had my older ones chuckling. I’m sure it is one that we will check out again. And again.

The King’s Taster – Kenneth Oppel – Max eats like a king. Max just happens to be the dog belonging to the king’s cook, which means he tastes the food before it is presented to the king. Max’s yummy life is in danger. The king refuses to eat. The king’s cook travels far and wide to present such fare as french fries and pizza. But the king still won’t eat and says “off with his head”. Thankfully Max finds out why the king won’t eat. When you read it, pay close attention to the illustrations for a hint.

Llama, Llama, Red Pajama – Anna Dewdney – Every Sunday when driving to church we pass a llama farm. My little kiddos always yell out “llama mama” or “llama pajama” or something. The phrase may differ but it is always loud. Reading this book was just to enjoy some llama rhyming. When we finished reading about the little llama who needed his mama some of my kiddos said that the llama really needed a bit of discipline.

We also enjoyed Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack. Who doesn’t love Angus? An adorable little terrier that takes an adventure outside of the gate. The Angus Books are ones we just enjoy over and over.

For the Big Kids (and the little ones…and the dad….)

The Penderwicks of Gardam Street – Jeanne Birdsall – When we finished up The Penderwicks my girls already had the second in the series waiting for me to read. Today I showed them mercy and postponed my lunch to finish it up. We have enjoyed our time with the Penderwicks. This family of four girls, a widowed dad, and Hound, the dog, shows life; from messy bedrooms, to homework, and neighborhood friendships. There are times when my children were laughing because they could relate to the story (we have six sisters in this house) and times where, at least I, felt close to tears.

In this book, the Penderwick girls are on a mission and the “Save Daddy Plan” is put into action. Why do they need to save daddy? Aunt Claire is pushing Mr. Penderwick into dating. The last thing the Penderwick girls want is a stepmother taking over. Along the way we have an Aztec Play, a Bug Man lurking in the neighborhood, and Marianne Dashwood. This is a really fun read that the whole family can enjoy. I wonder if the next book is already on its way to the library hold shelf?

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom – Christopher Healy – Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty…I’m sure you have heard their stories right? What about those Princes Charming; all four of them. Hmmm, who were they? I can tell you! Liam, Duncan, Frederic, and Gustav. Four Princes Charming who the bards did not feel worthy of being named. How wrong the bards were! Mr. Healy introduces us to these four princes and you will never read fairy tales the same again.

I grabbed this book to read aloud hoping that it would be enjoyable. It has far exceeded my expectations. This book is hilarious! As I am reading, laughter abounds in the house. I started reading this book one evening before bedtime. My husband issued a decree that we can only read it when he is home. Yes, it is that funny. My four year old, Sam, requests this book every day. Prince Liam is his favorite, by the way. This story with giants, a witch, and a few dwarfs thrown in will keep the attention of all ages. I have no doubt we will be reading the rest in this series. Well done, Mr. Healy, well done.

To be Read:

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane – Suzanne Collins

Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls


What have you been reading aloud this month?




Summer Reading in the 1800s

While not intentional, I found myself reading two books this summer that dealt with life in the 19th century. I do enjoy history and the 1800s has been a favorite time period. However, both of my selections were non-fiction: The Ghost Map: the story of London’s deadliest epidemic – and how it changed the way we think about disease, cities, science, and the modern world and The Bronte’ Sisters: the brief lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne.

The Ghost Map deals with the cholera outbreak in the 1850’s in London and how the source of cholera was discovered by John Snow. Not only do we meet the doctor of John Snow but we see Broad Street in London, we watch the residents gathering at the pump for water, we smell the human excrement being tossed out into the street, and we are saddened by the number of bodies being buried.

The Ghost Map is a book of science but it incorporates so much more. The book was not what I expected and I am still a bit shocked that I finished it  I found myself again and again sharing excerpts with my children. I even overheard my four year old discussing how mommy’s book was about human waste. I think my family and I all have a greater appreciation for clean water and flushing toilets.

There were a few bones to spit out but that is to be expected with books of mainstream science; well, at least for me. A bit of evolutionary talk here and there, huge push for city living and small families….we all have a right to voice our opinion so I just spit out those bones and enjoyed the read.

The Bronte’ Sisters is actually a young adult biography. My intention when picking this up was to pass it along to my daughters who enjoy the writings of the Bronte’ sisters. During a late night nursing session, I grabbed it up and began reading. I found myself intrigued by these three sisters, their family and circumstances. In a time and place that wasn’t a friend to creativity, the Bronte’ Sisters produced novels and poetry that were beautiful and bittersweet. Since reading this I have added a few Bronte selections to my “to read” list.

Another bonus of reading these two selections is that they fit perfectly with the mini-challenge from the The Summer’s Flying By Reading Challenge. The mini-challenge this past week was “Not Your Typical Genre”. A science book and a biography both fell into that category!

There is a new mini-challenge this week: A Reader is Born. Hmmm…I need to find a book with October in the title. I thought of The Hunt for Red October but not sure that is the direction I want to go. Anyone have any suggestions?

The Girls’ Turn to Party!

After celebrating the Boys’ Birthdays, we have a short break before the partying begins again. This time for the girls. Since Hannah and Sarah have a whole five days between their birthdays, they have chosen to celebrate separately. This is probably a good thing as meal selection would be challenging with these two!

Hannah Joy turned 8 on November 22nd.  What a joy she is. Always smiling, full of energy, and ready for adventure. She loves to draw and create with paper. Enjoys reading a bit but will quickly put her book away for a chance to run in the woods.

Hannah is a no frills kind of gal. Comfy clothes and a simple pony tail is all she needs to be ready for the day. Her birthday request was to have Indians on her birthday cake; no princesses needed. Hamburger and fries were the birthday meal. No one was complaining.

Sarah Michal turned 6 on November 27th. She was very thankful that her birthday did not fall on Thanksgiving this year (both girls’ birthdays can fall on Thanksgiving); having turkey for her birthday dinner is not a good thing. Sarah’s choice? Bacon. Smart girlie.

Sarah is growing up so quickly. Her strong spirit and quick temper have mellowed as she has gotten older. She does like to stay busy. A bored Sarah is one who tends to find trouble. She loves her school work and drawing. And more drawing. And hey, why not some more drawing? And cutting all the things she draws. She should have asked for a case of paper for her birthday. I do love my Sarah Bear!!

Happy Birthday to my very special girlies!!!!.