November 23, 2010

When Mother Reads Aloud

When Mother Reads Aloud

When Mother reads aloud, the past
Seems real as every day;
I hear the tramp of armies vast,
I see the spears and lances cast,
I join the thrilling fray;
Brave knights and ladies fair and proud
I meet when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud, far lands
Seem very near and true;
I cross the deserts’ gleaming sands,
Or hunt the jungle’s prowling bands,
Or sail the ocean blue.
Far heights, whose peaks the cold mists shroud,
I scale, when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud, I long
For noble deeds to do...
To help the right, redress the wrong;
It seems so easy to be strong,
So simple to be true.
Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd
My eyes, when Mother reads aloud.

- Author Unknown

When people talk to me about homeschooling, it is usually to say that they don't see how I can possibly do it. I think that to most people who don't do it, homeschooling looks like too much work to be worth it. Although I agree that it is a lot of work, and sometimes I dwell on that fact more than I should, homeschooling is also a lot of fun. I truly love the time I get to spend with my kids every day. Performing science experiments, going on nature walks, doing art projects and attending field trips are all so much fun, and I feel so blessed that I get to be the one doing all of these things with them, but the thing about homeschooling that I love the most is reading with my children. There is something about reading great books that brings us together like nothing else can. Every school-day morning, we begin the day with a 45 minute "family devotional". Part of that time includes me reading from our current "family read-aloud". Through the books we have read together we have learned valuable life lessons, met some of our greatest friends, and had the most wonderful adventures, all on our living room couch. As Charles W. Eliot said, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."  

Since I am always on the lookout for our next great family read-aloud, I thought I would share with you some of the books that have made the biggest impact in our lives over the past few years.

Understood Betsy is a lovely story about a little girl who discovers her true inner strength and abilities as she is faced with what at first appears to be one of her greatest trials. It is full of humor and great insights. We especially loved the quips made about education. It helped us to examine how and why we learn, as well as giving us a better perspective on serving others. 

The Wind in the Willows is on of my all time favorite books, and luckily the children love it too. Kenneth Graham has such a magical way with words!  He has the ability to express things in a way that makes me want to reread each phrase again and again to soak in the beauty of the words and the scenes he creates with them. Charlotte Mason has said, "Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." If we can immerse our children in beautiful language, thoughts, and ideas, the more likely they are to simulate those things in there own lives. This book is a great start down that path.

One of the times that I felt closest to my Savior was during the Christmas season that I read The Life of Our Lord aloud to my children, while I was also reading Third Nephi in my personal scripture study. Many times we finished the reading for the day with tears in our eyes. There are a few doctrinal discrepancies in the book, but Dickens depicts the life of the Savior with so much love, simplicity, and beauty that it was truly a sacred experience for all of us.

While we're on the topic of Christmas, and Charles Dickens, no list would be complete without A Christmas Carol. My children beg for this book every Christmas, and I am always happy to oblige. If you are a little frightened about loosing your young children to the Victorian English in it, try it and they just might surprise you. My children first listened to this book as young as six. It took them a bit of the first chapter to get used to the language, but after that they were hooked. It is a great introduction to other classics written in a similar style.

Two of which are The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, and The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. My boys loved these books. We all cried at the end of Robin Hood, and thrilled at the exciting adventures in each. Pyle has a charming way of showing his young readers how the wonderful deeds performed by the heros in his books are things that they themselves can achieve if they live lives of honor.

When we first started our family, and it appeared that we were only going to be blessed with boys, my biggest disapointment was that I wouldn't get to share any of my favorite "girl" books with my children. Even though I have since been blessed with two little girls, last year I decided to try out one of my favorites from my childhood on the boys. We read A Little Princess and guess what, they loved it! It is a magical tale about courage and hope and love, one every child should have the chance to read.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew was another lesser-known book that we all loved. The Peppers are a family of five children, who have lost their father and are trying to help their mother make ends meet. It is a simple, heartwarming story that shows the beauty of family life, selfless service for each other, and finding joy despite our circumstances. 

The problem with making a list like this, is knowing where to stop. I could go on, and on, and somehow feel like I am slighting someone by not including all the books we have loved. Everything by Edith Nesbit that we have read, has been a treasure. E.B. White is the same. We loved the Princess and the Goblin, and subsequent books in the series, and of course there are the Little House Books, and Chronicles of Narnia. These, and so many more, have all added to the wonderful memories we have created together, cuddled up on the couch, reading a book. 

Now I've introduced you to a few of our friends, I would love to meet a few of yours. . .

Andrea is the grateful mother of three boys and two girls who all love to read and/or be read to. You can read more about their adventures and the books they're currently enjoying on their Harvest Academy Blog.

6 comments - Add a comment below -:

Tristan said...

Love the read aloud ideas you offered! We've read a few and I was just thinking about trying Dickens' A Christmas Carol - I just may grab it from our shelves today.

Rebecca said...

We are reading Little Men right now. My 11 year old son loves it and my 5 year old son is listening and picking it up.

We have been reading Robin Hood, but we are getting bored with seems to just be one merry feast and some "cudgle" fighting :0, followed by another merry feast and then some "smoting on the pate", followed by another merry feast.....and on and on. Does it get better? Should we continue? We are over a third of the way through it and although my son has enjoyed the book, we are both finding it repetitive and boring.

Jeanette said...

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew is an old favorite. As well as the other titles in the series. My grandmother sent them to me many, many, years ago. I have not read them to my kids yet but plan to in the not to distant future.

Camille said...

Thank you so much for this post!! I recently finished our last read-aloud (The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett), and it was such a hit with my kids that I was kind of stuck trying to find a book to read-aloud next that they would enjoy as much, so I am grateful for all your ideas!
One other book that my kids loved is a book my mom read to me when I was little: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron. It would go great with a study of the solar system.

treen said...

My girls are 4, 3, and 7 months, and we're just starting with chapter books at our house. I have the entire Little House set stashed in the closet waiting for Christmas, and I'm on the lookout for a box set of Anne of Green Gables. My 4-year-old is SO much like Anne sometimes! I also love Louisa May Alcott - can't wait to get into Little Women with them as well!

Andrea said...

Rebecca, it is a lot of the same kind of adventures over and over again. The last several chapters become a bit more exciting and suspenseful though. It has been a couple of years since we read it so I don't remember if we thought it was slow at first, but like I said, my boys loved it, hopefully yours will too.