Living and Learning in the Pacific Northwest
I am sure others can do a better job expounding on the many qualities of children’s literature. All I know is that I am passionate about children’s books now. I spend my alone time sitting on the floor of used book stores looking through stacks of them. I’m hooked.
We started out with Five in a Row curriculum. FIAR books were the first quality books I read to Hunter, as he did not want to sit for books before his fifth birthday. He only wanted storytelling in the dark before bed. I told him all the classic stories like The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Honestly, I had to look up these stories on-line to remember the details. I also made up a few stories too. Hunter liked to interject with ideas to change the story. Chandler is more interested in books than storytelling but sometimes we turn out the lights and tell stories.
I read Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. I read about what makes a great living book and looked at a variety of book lists for Charlotte Mason. I noticed duplicates on many of the book lists. As we started to read a few of these books, I could see what made them great. There are also a few new books that invoke the same feeling as a classic. They are just harder to find in a sea of commercial books for children.
Two newer books that we like are “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo and “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick. Though recently written, these books have a timeless quality.
Tanglewood Education suggests selecting a variety of books for the follow categories: Poetry, Fairy Tales, Animals, Tall Tales, Regular Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery. I agree with reading a variety. It is easy to focus too heavily on one genre or time period when reading classics. Science fiction is a genre we have not read yet but I think Hunter will like it.
Both of our boys love popular children’s classics like Mother Goose, Aesop’s Fables, Beatrix Potter and the original Winnie the Pooh. I like this article “Say “No!” to Sham-Pooh! We Want the Real Pooh!” We like Aesop’s Fables illustrated by Milo Winter and we also like this exceptional and beautiful book “Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop’s Fables” by Helen Ward. I’ve considered framing these illustrations for a wall, they are so beautiful.
I like Secular Charlotte Mason’s suggestions for a literature topic study such as “Cinderella Around the World.” We really enjoyed, “The Salmon Princess: An Alaska Cinderella Story” by Mindy Dwyer. We live in the Pacific Northwest and Hunter likes to fish, so this is a great story for us. I was happy to find The Indian Cinderella in a William Bennett book because our children have Anishaanabe (Ojibwe) heritage.
I should say that I am not a big fan of Disney. We try to read the book before watching a movie based on the book. I like to hear Hunter compare the book and movie even if it interrupts the movie. The Disney movies are based on these original books –a great list by Chez Smiffy.
Hunter is also enjoying Just So Stories. Kipling uses several words a child would say like ‘satiable curiosity instead of insatiable. Hunter loves “The Elephant’s Child.” The amount of spanking the elephant receives for his ‘satiable curiosity baffles and fascinates Hunter. Each time I read it he says, “You don’t spank me for being curious.”
It is a challenge to get Hunter to practice reading when he would rather hear wonderful stories. His on-line reading program is working well, so we have not had to cut back on our read-aloud time by much. Last night I read a couple of books to Chandler then asked Hunter to read one of his Headsprout books to his brother. They both liked that. Then we went off to Hunter’s room so I could read aloud to him. We keep several great books going at once and he likes to choose from the stack beside his bed.
Our bedtime routine is rather long. I recently started asking for narrations instead of waiting for the spontaneous narrations (sometimes lengthy) but so far I am only getting a word or two from him when I ask. We might need to move our reading that needs narration to earlier in the day.
I hope our boys never grow out of wanting me to read aloud to them. When Hunter read a book by himself for the first time, I congratulated him on becoming a reader. He got quite upset and said “I am not!” When I asked him why, he said with arms crossed and pouting, “If I am reading, you won’t read to me anymore.” I told him I would always read to him to which he replied “Even when I am 100 years old?”
Book lists and links that I like:
This post was originally published in March 2010.