Usually the kids sketch/colour/draw/paint/play with lego/etc while I'm reading, and they love these hours almost as much as I do. It's been great to see the progress in Seth and Lizzie over the years - how we've gradually been able to work up from the simplest of story and picture books to reading terrific chapter books that take some time to finish and a much high degree of comprehension to get through. They don't always understand everything that I'm reading, and I stop regularly to answer questions or explain something that I think is over their heads, but I'm a firm believer in reading above a child's 'level.' And increasingly, gradually, the kids' vocabulary and comprehension are expanding.
I am particularly excited about the book we just started; one of my all-time favourites, Tolkien's The Hobbit. I've been waiting for some time to get into it and Matthew's ready for it now; even Seth and Lizzie are catching on to the story and are interested in it. We're only about 50-60 pages in, but it's been a great start and I'm so excited. I haven't read The Hobbit since I was in my early 20s and it's lovely to read again one of the books that helped to shape my literary interests all of those years ago. Because it's such a beloved book, I'm going to take some extra time with it - I've planned numerous sensory things to go along with our reading. For example, tomorrow we'll be baking seed cake to remind us of Bilbo Baggin's love of seed cakes for breakfast and tea time; while baking and eating, we will talk about Bilbo's desire for a comfortable, well-to-do home and chat about the contrast between the rather complacent Baggins' side of his personality in comparison to the adventurous Took-family side of his personality. I've got dagger-making planned, have made a vial of goblin blood for when it's needed, and have lots of other things in the works to make the story come alive for them. It should be fun!
When it comes to reading fiction to the kids, I usually have a plan on the go. In fact, I have several active lists that I work from:
- For example, I have a list of Five in a Row books that I've started working through with them.
- In addition, I have a desire to read through as many (short version) fairy tales as possible over the next year or two - mostly because I want to round out and cement Seth's and Lizzie's knowledge of fairy tales that most kids would have heard prior to the ages at which they joined our family; my goal is that they also have a memory of these books if/when they have children of their own.
- I also have a list of books that I'd like to read to each of the kids individually this year, catered to their particular interests and ages.
- Matthew has a list of audio books that he'd like to listen to from audible.com, and Seth is seeming to join him in this. The boys both have ipod nanos, and these are used exclusively for audio books, and for music that we have chosen together.
- Also, in December I began to prepare my big 2015 list of fiction that I'd like to read to all three kids - a read aloud list for us to enjoy together. The list is not yet complete, and I'm happy to add/delete books throughout the year, but I do find it helpful to have a list to work from. Some books we race through...others we spend more time on (as we will be with The Hobbit). Below I'm including this list, which you are welcome to make suggestions to! Maybe something on this list will inspire you as you think about books to read to your kids!
The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander (may be a little too old)
El Deafo, by Cece Bell
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
The Penderwicks series (#1, 2, 3, 4) - will be via audio book
Anne of Green Gables (#1), by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, by Ronald Dahl - will be via audio book
Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey (if we like this one, we’ll also read Centerburg Tales)
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo - will be via audio book
The House with a Clock in its Walls, by John Bellairs
The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary - will be via audio book
Sugar Creek Gang series, by Paul Hutchens
The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
James and the Giant Peach, by Ronald Dahl
Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
Jonathan Park - a radio drama (audio) - Christian
A Year with Miss Agnes, by Kirkpatrick Hill
The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Watership Down, by Richard Adams
The Birchbark House series, by Louise Erdrich (The Birchbark House, The Game of Silence, The Porcupine Year, and Chickadee)