Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Read-Alouds for the Coming School Year

It's that time of year again...the time when I begin to compile my book lists for the coming fall. Actually, I usually do this in June or July, but this summer has been so busy I'm just now getting to it in August. And that thanks mostly to a sinus infection! (Silver lining, anyone?)

In the past, I've discovered that, as I look ahead to the next school year, I'm really compiling several lists. There are books I want to recommend to the sweet girl for independent reading. Her reading totally took off this summer -- she has been swallowing books whole, and actually completed the entire booklet for the library summer reading program (all 36 hours). Then there are books that I know I either want her to read independently or us to read together -- books that tie into subject matter we're tackling. This year the subject list contains ancient history, late elementary/early mid-grade biology, Middle Eastern geography, ancient art, and the orchestra, just to cover the biggies.

But then there's the really fun list: the list of read-alouds we do as a family, mostly in the evenings and on car-trips if we end up traveling during holidays. We've always tried to keep this a mix of fun things that we all just really want to read (which can include light and fluffy reading, especially during the summer) and literary classics (which may or may not always fall under the "we really want to read this" but we try to do them anyway). I like this list because we can really stretch it. Since we're reading the books together, we don't have to worry too much if the content or style is "over" the sweet girl's head -- because we can talk about it together. Sometimes it's good to pitch high even if the throw ends up a bit wild.

So I'm trying to compile a list of potential good reads for this coming year, when our dear daughter is ten and will be working through fifth grade work. A few possibilities so far include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Railway Children (to follow up on our Nesbit read from last year -- Five Children and It); The Blue Fairy Book; Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh; Swallows and Amazons; Bella at Midnight; Little White Horse; Wind in the Willows; Little Women; Anne of Avonlea (sequel to Anne of Green Gables, which she loved last year); Bambi; Black Beauty. Ah, and we want to do more Shakespeare from the Lambs and from Nesbit (more on that another time when I finally get around to finishing my post about this summer and King Lear).And we plan to read the last Martha book in Melissa Wiley's wonderful series, and maybe venture into the Charlotte books too.

The jury is still out on whether or not we will venture more into Kipling -- we did big portions of Jungle Book and Just-So Stories last year. Captains Courageous? Kim? Poetry? And I'm not yet sure if we'll do more Twain past Tom Sawyer yet (maybe The Prince and the Pauper)? The sweet girl loved both The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, so should we try Little Lord Fauntleroy (one I've not yet read...)? How about Peter Pan? Sherlock Holmes (abridged or not abridged, that is the question...) My husband and I have been discussing Dickens -- all we've read aloud together so far is A Christmas Carol. What do you think: would a ten year old be up for Oliver Twist?

I know I am leaving off tons of good things...so please, please recommend more books. We may have read them already, we may have considered but forgotten them, or we may already have them on a list for later, but regardless, I'd love to hear some of the gems you think our little family would love.


Anonymous said...

I love, love, love The Railway Children. It's my favorite Nesbit, even above The Enchanted Castle (which, to my mind, has everything a proper MG fantasy should have, and ought to have a far larger fan base than it does).

Little Lord Fauntleroy - eh. I read it when I was younger and thought it the most boring thing ever. Peter Pan is great, especially for talking about what it means to "grow up." I had a hard time with Kim, but I was reading it as an adult, and I actually think I might have liked it more as a kid. I did enjoy The Prince and the Pauper, actually more than Tom Sawyer (I loathed Huckleberry Finn). Oliver Twist ... that's a tough one. It gets into some pretty heavy stuff, but if you're reading it as a family it might be ok ... guess I don't really have an opinion on that!

Beth said...

I'm so glad to hear you love The Railway Children! I've never read it. I'm a big fan of Five Children and It. I like Enchanted Castle, but had an odd reading experience the only time I've read it so far (misprinted book with missing pages...I had to stop in middle and get another copy from the library)! I should probably give that one another go.

My husband is a big fan of Peter Pan. I've always been a bit on the fence, but I do think it's worth doing as a read-aloud. I liked Huckleberry Finn but would not have been ready for it before high school, so am sticking with my gut to hold off on that for now. Agreed that Oliver could be a stretch, though that's not necessarily a bad thing.

It occurs to me George MacDonald should probably be on this list. My daughter's only ever heard/read The Light Princess. So many good books there...

Beth said...

Oh, and I'm debating Princess Academy (Shannon Hale) and Meet the Austins (L'Engle) for this year too. Not sure if we'll do those as read-alouds or I'll point her in their direction on her own. The problem is that when books are near and dear to my heart, I love sharing them as read-alouds! What I've discovered is that my daughter usually goes back to her favorite read-alouds and reads them on her own again anyway. :) At the moment she is enamored of Stuart Little.