5/30/2012

Reading Aloud

One of my favourite things about home-schooling is reading aloud with the kids. Recently, I finished reading the whole of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series with Calum.


He loved them. I absolutely loved them.


I'd never read these books - not even as a child - though I'd seen the TV series. I had expected to enjoy them, but I have to say that they far exceeded my expectation. I simply loved them. As read-alouds, I simply cannot recommend them too highly.


Whilst on the subject of recommending, let me recommend reading aloud as an activity to any mums who don't already do it.


Why?


- the kids love it. It is, without doubt, our Wee Guy's favourite time of the day, and I don't think I ever read with him without hearing, 'Oh, mum, another chapter, pleeease.... Just one more!'


- it's a precious time for mums. Both he and I love snuggling up on the sofa. He may move on to 'better' times in his life. I doubt I will.


- so many opportunities for discussion arise. In the Little House series, we talked about the lives of pioneers, the sacrifices they made, the animals they encountered, the protection God had over them. We learnt so much about the way in which they farmed, and especially about the countless ways in which they used all kinds of foods. In Farmer Boy, I was in awe of Almanzo's mother and her knowledge of what to do with every single part of a slaughtered animal or a harvested plant.


Our generation is so ignorant compared with those who went before us.


As for this series, I'm going to ask the Wee Guy a few questions.


Mum: Out of the whole series, did you have a favourite?


Calum Stewart: Yes, I think it was Farmer Boy.




Mum: Tell us what you liked about Farmer Boy.


Calum: I like books which tell of times that are going well, and in Farmer Boy, life was going good. I loved reading about all the work Almanzo was doing on the farm. 


I loved reading about the County Fair where he entered a Pumpkin competition. He won it and then he worried that he may have cheated in the way in which he fed the pumpkin ... he'd fed it with milk, and had left the plant with only that single pumpkin. He realised that his dad would never lie, and so he told the truth, only to be told that all was well. He'd won his prize fair and square!


Also, on Independence Day, the family went to town to celebrate. There was a stand with pink lemonade for sale at 5c per glass. Almanzo was being teased by his cousin that he wouldn't get money from his father to buy lemonade, but when he asked his father for money, his father gave him two things: the money and a choice. He said he could buy the lemonade if he wished, or he could buy a tiny piglet, which he could feed up, breed and make money from. Almanzo made the right choice! I loved reading about that!


Mum: Any other books that stand out for you, Calum?


Calum: I liked The Golden Years too. The Long Winter was a good book, but it was kind of hard to read - it was a terrible time for the family, and it really made you realise how hard some of the pioneers' lives were.




~   ~   ~   ~


I must say that these books stood out for me too. The Long Winter was tough - really, really tough. Reading it truly affected the way in which I bought, prepared and ate food for quite some time. I truly felt a thankfulness for our abundance - thankfulness which should be there at all times, but I have to be honest and admit that I take so much for granted. 


In Farmer Boy, I was in awe of the knowledge they had, whether in the fields, in the barns or in the kitchen. No part of an animal went to waste, and all the vegetables and grains they grew were harvested and stored to give them an abundance of good food for the year ahead. Their work ethic was incredible. Almanzo's mother had no problem living up to the standards of the Proverbs 31 woman, in terms of her organisational skills, her work ethic, her knowledge and her running of her household.


Did she, and does she put me to shame? Without doubt - yes.


But what is even more awe inspiring than Almanzo's mum is Laura's Ma. In all her trials and hardships and difficulties - and, boy! there were plenty of them - she is not to be heard complaining. Not even once. Really, although these books are wonderful children's books, I would recommend them to anyone. I could do with being inspired again and again to be more like Ma, who always had a smile for her husband and for her children; who was gracious in her manner, regardless of circumstance; and who never ever complained, no matter what her lot was. 


She was amazing.


We finished this series a month or so ago, and now we're onto reading Scotland's Story, by HE Marshall. Although we haven't finished reading the book yet, I'd have no hesitation in recommending this as a read-aloud too. The Wee Guy is loving it, and I'm learning so much about our own history from it.


If you have made a habit of reading aloud with your kids, I'd love to hear from you. Was it an enjoyable time? What made it better? Or what could spoil it? Which were your favourite books? How old were your kids when you stopped reading aloud with them?



28 comments:

  1. I grew up on the Little House books...read them over and over as a child...and, as an adult went through them multiple times with my own children. If you can find it, check out THE PRAIRIE PRIMER by Margie Gray. It is a fantastic curriculum that uses the Little House books as the basis of your literature, but then spreads out into all sorts of unit studies. It's AWESOME! I did it with my youngest child (a boy) and we had a complete ball! To add to the fun, we live right in the middle halfway between the Little House on the Prairie site in Independence, Kansas and Laura and Almanzo's home in Mansfield, Missouri. We have visited both of these sites several times over the years.

    Here's a link on my own site that I thought you might enjoy...

    http://rebeccashearthandhome-proverbs31heart.blogspot.com/2011/05/another-little-house-on-prairie-laundry.html

    Have a blessed rest of the week!

    Love,
    ~Rebecca

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    1. Rebecca, what a wonderful, wonderful place in which to live. I only discovered the Little House based curriculum in the past few years, and couldn't justify throwing out all I had to pass down to the younger kids. I *love* the idea of it, though.

      Great stuff! :)

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  2. We also loved reading aloud - didn't do it too often as eldest was a voracious reader and got quite frustrated at the slow progress of one or two chapters a night! What could spoil it? the said child sneaking the book to her bedroom, finishing it and telling her sisters the ending!!!
    Loved the Christmas mystery though, and did that a few times. Seemed a chapter per night was special as it was advent based.

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    1. Oh Paula! That is a *real* spoiler! The wee rascal! Our wee guy gets a bit impatient too and often reads ahead. Fortunately, he still likes me to read the chapters he's already read.
      A x

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  3. The little house books are some of our favourites too. This last year, I have transitioned from reading to our middle son aged 11 to reading chapter books to our five year old. I have found that the younger children need something to play with while I read to older siblings-reading outside, in this weather, is ideal. Other favourites are "Lord of the Forest" by BB-the story of an English oak tree over several hundred years and the Piet Prins books, about William of Orange,although these aren't easy to obtain in the UK.

    I've posted about "Lord of the Forest."
    http://weshallobtaindeliveringgrace.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/lord-of-forest.html

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    1. Thanks, Sarah... I'll go check these out
      A x

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  4. My Mom read aloud to us for years - well into high school. If you liked the Little House books, another great series to try is the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody. It's another true story of growth from childhood to adulthood on the American frontier, this time about a boy's growth to manhood on cattle ranches in the west. The family goes through incredible trials, but always with humor, ingenuity, adventures, hard work, and faith. My brothers and I loved those books. I introduced my husband to them recently and he can't put them down.

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    1. That's definitely a series I'm going to have a look at. Sounds just like our kind of thing.
      Thanks, A x

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  5. The Little House series has been top-of-the-list in our house since I was little! And just like you, the way they were introduced to all of us was when Mom read them aloud to us every day during school!!!! :) I actually don't remember a time when I didn't know about these wonderful books.
    The Farmer Boy is one of my favorites, as well. Every time I read it I'm astonished at the ginormous meals Almanzo's mom makes for them! ;) The illustrations are amazing, too! I really love how Garth William's captures the story in a simple way.

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    1. Yes, the food... the FOOD! It was amazing - I seemed to get this image of a bulging table, almost creaking with the weight, in my head every time we read of their mealtimes. We read it just after The Long Winter and it all seemed almost.... ooooh, hard to read, having just read the awful deprivation the Ingalls had gone through. Oh, it was tough :(

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  6. We love reading time. Lately we have read some older books from Lamplighter Publishing, The basket of flowers, and Mag and Margaret. In both of these the main characters are falsely accused. It was very good for the children to see in the end (though they suffered) truth won out. My children are 11, 9 and 7...I plan to continue reading to and with them as long as we can find edifying and entertaining books.

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  7. I read the whole series to my boys when they were little, 6-9yrs. They were in cub scouts at the time, so we were able to work in several scout projects, such as building a windlass (like Pa uses to lower something--a candle?--into a well), along with science, geography and the like. As stated above, we loved Farmer Boy because it was unreal how much that kid ate and how hard they all worked to survive.

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    1. Becky, there is so much in the books to discuss and learn. I know there is a whole home-school curriculum produced based on the series, and I can sure understand how it could be done.

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  8. Oh my goodness. I loved this post! It's so much fun to read about your experiences with reading aloud with your little man. I have lots I could say about this, but I'll try to keep it short. ;-)

    First, I'm reading the Little House series to my boys right now, too. We just finished By the Shores of Silver Lake and are ready to start The Long Winter. My mother read them to us as children, and I've always loved them; but it is DIFFERENT reading them as an adult. I identify so much with Ma and Pa and the very real challenges they faced as they raised their family. Those books are amazingly powerful.

    One of the difficulties for me about read-alouds is the interruptions that sometimes come from Tobin and Shav, but they're getting a lot more used to playing quietly or listening during read-alouds, so that hardly qualifies as a hardship anymore.

    But here's the real obstacle to me reading aloud - and I'm a little embarrassed to admit it ;-) - I always cry!! :) The Little House books touch my soul deeply, and in all of the books I've had times where my emotions rise to the surface and I can't help but cry. My boys just roll their eyes at me. :) Honestly, for a while I didn't read aloud very much because I thought, "Oh, great. I don't want to cry again." And if that's not a silly reason for not reading aloud with my beloved children, I don't know what is! :)

    As I have pondered what I want to do in this coming year of homeschool, my number one goal by far is simply to do more read-alouds with my children. With my oldest almost ready to turn 10, I'm realizing that the years are slipping by, and I haven't done all that I want to do with him (and the others) yet! I am definitely looking forward to making read-alouds a priority this coming year.

    Another series that we've enjoyed as read-alouds is the Grandma's Attic series by Arleta Richardson. Even though the main character is a girl, my boys have really enjoyed those books, especially the hilarious predicaments that the girl gets herself into. As for me, I love the faith lessons that are incorporated through the book.

    OK, I need to stop now. But there's so much to be said about the wonderful subject of read-alouds, especially the Little House books!!! :)

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    1. Oh Davene...! Welcome to my world!! Before the Little House series, we read the Love Comes Softly series (with the older girls too). I cried every. single. day. They'd all hear a certain tone in my voice, realize what was coming, and yes, I'd get the rolling-of-they-eyes too! It was terrible. I posted about it some time back and one of my biggest problems is that I can't even cry 'elegantly'. I *really* cry, and then give myself a headache for the rest of the day...!!

      Soooo glad I'm not the only one!
      A x

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    2. This made me smile. :) I totally understand...

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  9. One of the greatest joys of my life was reading aloud. Have you read the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody? It is every bit as good but from a boys standpoint and both of the series are important still in my life.
    Long Winter is still one of my favorites. When you are reading Farmer Boy don't you just want to jump up and make donuts? How about baked beans?
    I do think they are better read aloud. I always loved Pa playing his violin in the evenings and I loved Jack. My least favorite is On The Shores of Silver Creek. I always hated it when Mary went blind. But I did see God's had in it because Laura had to be Mary's eyes and it helped her be the writer we all love.
    Gosh I could go on and on but I will stop now. Have fun and I can't wait to hear about your next book.

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    1. Ah yes! We didn't make the other stuff that all sounded so appealing, but we did make popcorn ;)
      Priorities, an' all that!

      And I must check out the Little Britches series.... :)

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  10. I do love to read aloud, I think more importantly kids love to be read to. It is nice also to take the time to slow down and do something like this. I think it is one of the best perks about homeschooling. I love the Little House series, when our belongings arrive from our move I wanted to read this with my Daughter, We had been reading the Anne of Green Gables series and enjoying that one. ~Happy Reading Love Heather

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  11. Ruth in England31 May 2012 at 12:59

    Hi, this is my first time commenting on your blog though I have been reading for a while.
    We have recently read two Enid Blyton's that I found in a charity shop but had never seen before- Seven Cousins on Mistletoe Farm and Seven Cousins Again. They were not your typical Enid Blyton (not a secret passage or smuggler in sight) but focussed on two families having to live together due to a house fire in one of their homes, and how every individual grew and changed in terms of character through the experience. They were fantastic. My 13 year old daughter took them off to bed to get ahead with the story, and my 10 year old son wanted to begin again as soon as I had finished. Highly recommended

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. I'll need to check this out for our wee fella. I believe I read them as a child myself, but we definitely don't have them here now.
      Always love finding new books.... as my home would reveal were you to see it!
      A x

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  12. That was always our favorite time of our school day, our read-aloud time. School days are over for us, and whenever I get a chance I read-aloud newsletters from missionaries in Africa w/ the family, so we can enjoy something similar again. Although, no one snuggles up to me, or lays their head upon my lap anymore. *sigh* how I miss those days. I'd love to read the book on Scotland you recommended. A nice treat for you and the Wee Guy to dig into!

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  13. I loved the Little House series as a child. Unfortunately, my daughter didn't care for them. But, we've spent many, many hours doing read-alouds! She is now 11.5 and we still love this time together! And, just sharing the adventures.

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  14. I read these books as a child and LOVED them. My daughter had some interest in them, but not as much as I wanted her to have!

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    1. Aye, so often we're determined that our kids *will* like what we like! .... Doesn't always work, does it ;)

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  15. When the girls were much younger, we read aloud the Little House series - my favourite is Farmer Boy too, and one of my girls was determined to try the pumpkin growing trick for the pumpkin growing contest at our local fair - but her seedlings got neglected...

    Both girls are teens now, and we don't read aloud together as much, but we make a point of it during the Christmas Holidays - we did the Hobbit two years ago, and this year we did The Mysterious Benedict Society. In years past, when it was me doing most of the reading, we did Anne of Green Gables, the Incredible Journey, and some Roald Dahl.

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    1. I love that you still do it at holiday times... these are such precious memories at 'special times' for your girls. They'll always remember them :)

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