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Read Aloud Thursday–Looking Back & Looking Forward

In 2008, my girls and I have enjoyed many books together.  Although I have been an avid reader most of my life (and have even spent several years of my life as a public library aide and an elementary school librarian), reading aloud to my children has opened up a new world of literary ventures to me.  I want them to experience and love literature like I have in my lifetime, so I read to them.


However, I forget sometimes that they are only four and three, so I have been known to be a little over ambitious.  I was so eager to introduce them to characters with whom they would spend enough time to really get to know that I’m afraid that Lulu was not even four yet when I first introduced her and her then barely-two-year-old sister to the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. While this read-aloud experience was not a complete flop, I have learned that if I allow my children the opportunity to mature and develop just a little, all kinds of interests and passions might emerge.

The first thing I’ve learned is that right now, my girls prefer stories about children who speak in a way that they easily understand over stories about animals (or at least stories that have only animal characters) who speak in a decidedly more complex way (British English, to be exact).  We read The Wind in the Willows, but I’m not sure anyone besides me enjoyed it.  It says something about me that I soldiered on, but I’m not sure that what it says is something good.  On the other hand, I have fond memories of reading Charlotte’s Web to my girls while sitting out back under our shade tree.  The girls played around me, and just when I was sure they were not paying attention and was ready to give up on the story for the day, one of them would insist on just one more chapter.  That is happiness, let me tell you.  We went on to enjoy Stuart Little because I thought that one E.B. White tale had been such a success, why not try another?  Lulu still remembers the name of the little bird whom Stuart loved and lost in the story.  While I don’t think Stuart captivated them quite as much as Fern and Wilbur, I would still consider that a venture a success.

The story that surprised me pleasantly this year was My Father’s Dragon (read my review here).  It had the right combination of funny animals and a child to captivate my girls.  I am looking forward to reading more of Elmer Elevator in the new year.

I learned a valuable lesson during read aloud time this year that my years as an elementary librarian should have taught me but apparently didn’t:  pre-reading is important!  I picked up Mary Poppins at the library, thinking that it is a harmless little tale that my girls would enjoy.  Well, they certainly did enjoy it, but I must admit that I was shocked by a few of its more gruesome elements.  I think I’ll wait until the girls are a little older to try any more of Travers’ works.

Out of all the chapter books we’ve enjoyed, though, I think my girls have liked Clementine the best.  Maybe it is that “we like books about real girls” thing.  They found Clementine to be funny and engaging, and who wouldn’t?  That was one story that always left them begging for more.  (You can read my review here.)

Overall, it has been a great year of reading at the Hope house.  I’m looking forward to lots of new reading adventures in 2009.

Because my children are still so young, I don’t have a real hard-and-fast yearly TBR list for them yet.  Instead, I tend to just pick up the books that I think of or read about on others’ blogs or on message boards.  We have been reading The House at Pooh Corner and enjoying it very much (I hope to blog about my own delightful discovery of Milne later), so I would like to complete the A. A. Milne oeuvre, or at least the part of it that would be enjoyed by me and my preschoolers.  We will, of course, continue with our serendipitous library finds, most of which are read-in-one-sitting picture books.  We might try a little Ramona or a little more Clementine.  We will read Elmer and the Dragon because although I was disappointed by its absence from our public library’s collection, I did find it at a children’s toy consignment sale, so now it is in our own family library!

I’m looking forward to a year of growth and discovery in our reading lives.  I think this might be the year that Lulu learns to read.  She has a very long attention span when it comes to listening to stories, and I am eager for her to begin to discover the joy of reading on her own.  We shall see!

What was the best thing that you read as a family in 2008?  What are you looking forward to reading together in 2009?  Leave a comment a tell me about it, or leave a link to your Read Aloud Thursday blog entry.  Happy New Year!

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5 Responses

  1. Hey we’ll read aloud with you. Today we’ll be reading Ginger Pye.

  2. Our favorite read-aloud from 2008 was Kenny and the Dragon, by Tony DiTerlizzi, the author of the Spiderwick books. It’s a retelling of Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon starring Kenny, a rabbit, and Grahame, the dragon. The kids were excited to find that, at the end of the story, Kenny decides to read The Reluctant Dragon to Grahame. They were even more excited to find that the author of TRD was the inspiration for the names of the characters in KatD. We listened to a Librivox recording of TRD, and the kids told me they liked it every bit as much as KatD.

    On our plate for this year are, among other things, The Moffats, The Saturdays, The Book of Dragons, Magic by the Lake, and the one I am looking forward to most of all, which will be our summer project, The Hobbit.

  3. Hi! Saw your post on WTM, so I thought I’d join in–maybe blogging about our RA’s will get me back into blogging in general!
    We are going to read some of the Scheheredzad (spelling?) stories, particularly Sinbad and Ali Baba, and continue with our trek thru English Fairy Tales!
    There’s a great thread on WTM about reading aloud, and some great choices!
    Chris in VA

  4. TaraTheLiberator–Thank you so much for commenting! I haven’t looked at The Moffats since I was a girl, so I don’t remember–is it something I could read to my preschoolers? I’m always on the lookout for something they could sit through.

    Oh, the joy of reading one of your favorite books to your children! I can’t wait ’til mine are old enough to sit through some of my personal favorites.

    Jen and Chris in Va–I left comments on your blogs!

    I’m so glad you ladies commented!

  5. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I’ll definitely check back here on Thursdays. I’m also interested in Classical Homeschooling and the Well-Trained Mind.

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