What We Read

posted in: Kids Activities | 9
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I’ve had a few readers recently ask how we choose our read-aloud books. I wish I could tell you I had some grand plan about which books to read and when. Some map, covering sixteen important topics for growing maturing into responsible citizens. But you know me better than that. I read aloud to my children the same way I blog. Something catches my fancy, and I go with it.

 

Having said that, there are a few criteria I use in evaluating books. As far as picture books for my younger children, I have always (since Adalia was a baby) sought diversity. A good mix of fiction/ non-fiction, books about other countries, cultures, and people, and books that reinforce our religious beliefs. I want my children to grow up knowing the United States is not the whole world, nor is this little part of Northwest Washington. Life is very different for children in New York City, or Texas, or Nepal, and I’ve always sought to find books that tell about other people and places.

 

And I only read books I like. You read that right. I learned back when Adalia was a toddler, that if she brought me a book I hated, I was more likely to put her off. “I’m busy” or “we’ll read that later” or sigh in resignation and read the hated book. How much better to only keep books in the house I enjoy reading? Doesn’t that limit what my poor children get to hear? No. There are way too many good books out there.  You also won’t find me reading books about Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, or books I consider just plain dumb. Sorry, but they’re my children and I get to pick the books I read 🙂

 

But onto to chapter books. I sometimes pick them based on the History we are studying in school. Our last book was The Harmonious World of Johann Kepler. We loved it. It combined History, Geography, Math, and Astronomy all in a book my children enjoyed listening too. How much do my littlest ones get out of books like this? Probably not a whole lot. But they do learn to sit quietly (great training for church). And sometimes they surprise me. Just last night Tucker (3) came up to me and asked, “Mama, was Johann’s mom Old Winkwack?”- a witch from a fairy tale we recently read.

 

I try to switch between easier and more difficult books. This way my little ones aren’t always lost. Just be for we read the book about Johann Kepler, we read the entire American Girl Kit series, which captivated everyone.

 

Another way I choose books is to pick ones I remember and loved from my own childhood. I love introducing and sharing with my children a book that impacted me. This is how my children were introduced to Tuck Everlasting (and my sixth-grade teacher Mr. Buesseler is to thank for that. He read it aloud to our class).

 

We are currently reading The Number Devil. When I introduced this one, Adalia (13) said, “Mom, all you ever read to us is books about math and  astronomy!” So I made a deal. I’d read the first chapter and if they hated it, we’d pick a new book. As you can imagine, I read the first chapter, and the children were begging for me to read the second. And so on. This particular book introduces higher math concepts (Algebra) in a fun way. The storyline is so good, even my three and four-year-olds are loving this book.

 

I also like to fluctuate between fiction and non-fiction. Historical fiction is a favorite genre around here for everyone.

 

Some other books we’ve read aloud and enjoyed are:

 

 

 

The Little House books

 

 

It seems to me that every book we’ve enjoyed together is an old friend. Just typing out these names makes me smile as it brings back memories.
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9 Responses

  1. Charity Grace

    Your blog is always such an encouragement to me. My mom was the queen of reading aloud, something I am not so good at…We have been working on doing it more…Your comment about only reading books you like is helpful. I find that sometimes I don’t read because I am just not a fan of the book.

  2. Emily Weaver Brown

    I totaly know what you mean about hating to read some of the books written for kids. I hate Disney books too, and books without plots so many baby books have no plots and are just about identifying colors or animals – they are so boring. Thanks for the tip on getting a diversity of books this probably something I would not have thought about doing but now I will make a more conscious effort.

  3. Jo

    Oh so its not just me that said no to the new winnie the pooh! I love classic pooh for even my age kids, they are older than pooh but love the original AA Milne Collection and so do I… We are on book 4 reading aloud on little house and my son learned a good lesson. Reading ahead of the group a chapter just means you know what to expect that evening, and it isnt worth it… He is back to waiting with baited breath!

  4. April

    Have you ever read the book From Anna? My fifth grade teacher read that book to our class and I fell in love with it then. It was one of many that I’ve read aloud to my children – but definitely a family favorite.

  5. Lindsay

    Have you tried the Elsie Dismore series? the first qouple are a bit slow but then they are better.
    ps: we are anti-disney as well!

  6. Colleen

    You inspired me!
    I’ve been wanting to get rid of a bunch of dumb books my kids received as gifts, but felt bad because they liked them. Last night I went through the bookshelf and tossed all the ones my husband and I groan over. Today at reading time the kids didn’t even notice a change, and were just as excited as ever for the “good” books! Hurray!
    I really loved the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley as a kid, but I was a bit nuts about anything that even barely mentioned “horse,” so much so that my fifth grade teacher told me I read too many horse books! Thankfully my parents & I both concluded that she was very wrong to suggest such an absurd thing!

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