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Read Aloud Thursday::The Helen Keller Edition


We finished our last chapter book read-aloud and I picked up our next read-aloud without so much as a cursory preview.  (To tell the truth, I was trying to find an alternative to what I knew my girls would clamor for:  more LIW, despite the 3,127 audio sessions our household has had in the past year.)  I figured that at the very least, a Scholastic paperback copyrighted in 1958 could not contain anything offensive, even if the writing were bland or mediocre.  Instead, what we found in The Story of Helen Keller by Lorena A. Hickok is the touching story of  “the most famous child in the world,” stricken both deaf and blind as a baby, and her beloved Teacher.   This 150 page biography was perfectly accessible to my girls, even if I did have to occasionally give them a little bit of background information to fill them in on some aspect of historical life with which they were unfamiliar. 

I really should provide a little context for this, too:  my girls are already familiar with Helen’s story because of our proximity to Ivy Green, her birthplace.  (Steady Eddie and I actually went on our first date there–to see William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker, which is performed outdoor there, on the grounds, for about six mosquito-ridden, hot, emotion-inducing weeks each summer.  But that’s a story for another time.)  Although they have yet to see The Miracle Worker (it is rather intense, if you’ve never seen it), they are aware of her story.  Couple this with the fact that they very readily identify Helen with Mary Ingalls in her blindness, and we had the makings for a real winner here.

Although this story is a little didactic at times, I did not find it overly so.  Instead, it is just a broad overview of Helen’s life, but it really focuses on Helen’s relationship with Teacher, Annie Sullivan.  I am by no means an expert on Helen Keller (despite the fact that my grandmother lived her entire 90 years in the town of her and Helen’s birth and I haven’t strayed too far from there myself), but reading this old gem to my girls has whetted my appetite to learn more about this remarkable woman (not to mention her perhaps even more remarkable Teacher) myself.  I’m not much of a reader of biography, but I think I might have to read Helen’s autobiography to satisfy my own curiosity.

You know that this week’s lesson plans must include a field trip to Ivy Green, right?  I promise I’ll share pictures some time in the near future, Lord willing.

Reading The Story of Helen Keller has birthed a revival in nonfiction reading here at the House of Hope!  Of course, we’ve been reading non-fiction all along, but never with as much gusto as now.  Lulu’s favorite, and the one she actually requested that we check out again from the library, and the one she chose as her car-seat book on the way home from the library, and the one that she and Louise proceeded to argue over on the way home is A Picture Book of Louise Braille by David A. Adler.  This books simply details Louis Braille’s growth from a three year old boy, blinded in an accident in his father’s workshop, to an extraordinarily intelligentand  gifted man who developed an alphabet which made the written word accessible to the blind, including Helen Keller.  (Aren’t these rabbit trails/connections fabulous?  That’s education at its finest, folks!)  This book even includes the Braille alphabet on the last page, and that, coupled with the manual alphabet which is printed in The Story of Helen Keller, provides plenty of opportunity for educational activity, if you’re so inclined.  John & Alexandra Wallner‘s watercolor illustrations provide simple historical detail that really helps the youngest children understand the story better.  Really, David A. Adler’s picture biographies are the perfect introduction to the genre!

Just reading this couple of biographies has opened up a world of possibilities here.  I knew that since the girls were so receptive to the longer biography, they would enjoy some juvenile biographies containing actual photographs of Helen Keller.  We have read a couple of these already, and honestly, I just checked them out for the pictures.  😉  The girls insisted, so I complied.  🙂

Whew!  This is one long Read Aloud Thursday post!  I promise, they aren’t usually this long or this thematic.  They’re usually very random.  😉  If you’re still reading, congratulations and thank you!

I’m going to go ahead and post a MckLinky again this week.  I like having the links in a nice list and clickable.  Just be sure to click on the link below to see the list and add your post to it!  Of course, I like having conversations in the comments, too.  🙂  {For any newcomers to Read Aloud Thursday, simply link up your blog post in which you list or discuss your family’s read alouds of the past week, or simply leave a comment and share if you don’t blog.  If you do blog, be sure to grab the button.}

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Click here to enter your link and view the entire list of entered links…

Happy Read Aloud Thursday, my friends!


12 Responses

  1. Once again, our interests run parallel. What fun we could have if we lived near each other. I envision a mother-daughter book club. Kind of hard over the internet though. (Sigh.)

    Not long ago, we read an early-readers bio of Helen Keller that I still have from my own childhood. (It’s by Margaret Davidson.) The girls were captivated, as I remember being as a child, and Mary from the Little House was a point of reference for us too. It was around that time that we read the ‘Black Book of Color,’ — such a neat book.

    • Yes, I’ve tried to get my hands on ‘Black Book of Color,’ but to no avail (yet!).

      Oh, I’d love it if we lived close, Janet!!! (Steady Eddie has actually suggested before that we should just talk on the phone!–You come up in conversation around here frequently. 🙂 )

  2. I linked up this week!

  3. YOU WROTE A THEME POST! ;D hahaha (pardon my amusement)

    And I even know who David Adler is now!

    As always, this is fun and I appreciate you hosting it.

  4. Thanks for running this meme.

    Reading is one of my favorite parts of the day, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s posts to find out about more books.

    Annie Kate

  5. […] reviews of a couple of books we have read as of late. Amy @ Hope Is the Word presents Read Aloud Thursday::The Helen Keller Edition posted at Hope Is the […]

  6. […] name we recognize in the […]

  7. […] Story of Helen Keller was an unexpected treat for my girls.  This sort of links back (like many, many things here at the House of Hope) to the […]

  8. Hi Thanks for visiting my blog and sending me your way. I’ve seen this HK book at thrift shops but not read it. As you know we’ve just finished studying Helen Keller as well and just finished it off Friday afternoon by watching the original “The Miracle Worker” movie. Very emotional!

    I didn’t know about your Read Aloud Thursdays. I’ll be sure to join in from now on!

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