Tuesday, August 13, 2013

an accomplishment

Sometimes the goals that I set for myself are unrealistic, and sometimes they just don't manifest in the way I hoped they might. Sometimes I just lose steam or the goal manages to slide further out of reach with each step I take. Although it was a rather open-ended goal, I set an intention this summer to read aloud to my kids as much as possible.  I can't always get them to read the books I'd like for them to read, but they will listen to almost anything that I read aloud. (I think reading Dickens to them in early elementary school proved that.) I tried to choose a variety of topics and interests, and not every book was read aloud to every child. I set a goal of reading at least one book a week out loud, although some weeks that was 2 books because I read one book to Finn and a different book to Elizabeth. The week and a half that we were on our road trip, I didn't read aloud to them at all, but they did listen to 5 audiobooks during that trip (Sarah Plain and Tall, Skylark, Caleb's Story, The One and Only Ivan, and The One Hundred and One Dalmatians). Finn also received and all of the kids listened to the first set of Story of the World CDs.

The list of books and my opinions of those are as follows:

Ancient Egypt: We spent a couple of weeks studying ancient Egypt this summer. (I was a bad blogger for not showing you some of our projects!) Although choose-your-own-adventure books are not my typical read aloud, this fit with our topic and was fun to read with the kids.

Cleopatra: We read this book during the second week of our ancient Egypt study.  The slog through parts was a little dry, for Finn especially, but it was very informative over all.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle: I've wanted to introduce Finn to Doctor Dolittle for a while, and eventually decided to read this to all the kids.  They enjoyed it a great deal, although I can't say that it will go down as a favorite read aloud.

Happy Times in Noisy Village: We are great fans of the Noisy Village books and this book is no exception.  The older kids had already read this so it was a read aloud to just Finn.  He loved it and in fact, we read it twice in one week.

Betsy-Tacy Treasury: This a treasury of Betsy-Tacy books that Elizabeth and I have been reading for some time.  We only read Betsy-Tacy Go Downtown this summer, but the entire treasury is wonderful! In hindsight, all 4 kids would have enjoyed this as a read aloud. However, Elizabeth and I have come to really enjoy our private Betsy-Tacy time.

Nicholas on Vacation: I picked up this book on our roadtrip to Toronto at a cute little bookshop in Kensington Market. It has all the appeal of a European classic children's book.  Unfortunately, as I read it aloud to Finn, I found myself cringing at the obnoxious misbehavior of the title character and really did not enjoy reading this at all. Finn and I did discuss some of the character's behavior as described in the book and why we thought Nicholas might act that way. (I'm truly baffled as to why this has so many positive reviews on Amazon.)

Wonder: Paulie read this back in the spring and I really wanted Elizabeth to read it as well.  She has other books on her list that kept her from getting to this one. One of the weeks that Paulie and Philip weren't around I started reading it to her. Finn wanted to listen as well, and they both enjoyed it tremendously.  So much, that I read it up to 2 hours a day, and we finished it in less than a week. I had Philip read it as soon as he returned and he really enjoyed it as well. It's a must read for upper elementary/middle school age children, in my opinion.

Out of My Mind: Similar to Wonder, this book does an equally good describing life from the perspective of a child with disabilities. I hope my kids will never view a special needs child (or adult) the same way after reading this book. Very descriptive, informative, and well-written, we are currently reading this together as a family and thoroughly enjoying it.

Three Times Lucky: Elizabeth and I read this book together. It has been lauded as one of the best middle grade reads of 2012, and although I found Wonder and Out of My Mind to be better, I can definitely see the draw.  The intrigue and mystery keep the pages turning. My hesitation likely stems from the portrayal of small-town NC, which I recognize can be rife with grammatically-incorrect speech. It just seemed heavy in it's stereotypical portrayal of that area of our state. Elizabeth enjoyed all of the mentions of Winston Salem though, since that's where her school is located.

The Enchanted Wood: After finishing The Magic Faraway Tree back in the spring, my kids were begging to hear The Enchanted Wood, which is really the first book in the Faraway Tree series. It didn't matter to them that we read them out of order.  They loved this one as much as the Magic Faraway Tree and now they are begging for the final book in the series. I really enjoyed the illustrations in the 1993 hardcover version we bought.

Over the Hills and Far Away: This collections of stories about gnomes, elves, fairies, and other magical folk has been sitting on Finn's shelf for over a year. I think Elizabeth read it when we first bought it, but Finn and I just got to it recently.  He loves the stories and we try to read a few of them each day.  We're only about half way through right now, but we hope to finish before school starts next week!

That completes the list of books we've read this summer. It feels like quite an accomplishment to have so much summer reading under our belts.  The kids have read their own books as well, of course, and now I'm trying to choose some good read alouds for the autumn. If you have any recommendations, I'm all ears!


  1. One of the prime reasons I started reading blogs was to learn about new books. Thank you for keeping that alive. :)

  2. There are a lot of books on this list that I have not read yet, but look like something my son would love, so thank you! This is a very useful post. I'll be pinning it so I can refer back to it.

  3. I love hearing what books you guys are reading/have read. The only one we also read this summer was Wonder, and we looooved it. see you at back to school time! - Sherri

  4. Somehow Nicholas is more charming/outrageous/funny (like Calvin and Hobbes, maybe?) in French...I will have to try it in English.


I love to hear what you think!