Thursday, February 19, 2015

Great Chapter Books I've Read Aloud to My Kids

Today, I thought I'd share a bit differently than a single book review. I've wanted to make a compiled list for our (homeschool) read-alouds for quite a while and this seems like a great opportunity. I often use classics I've collected over the years from garage sales and thrift stores, books from my own past that I've saved,  Sonlight Curriculum's wonderful book lists for inspiration, and Sarah Mackenzie's website to lead me down more literary rabbit holes. So many of our books have been really fun to read aloud, and the kids have fully enjoyed them. I can only think of a handful that either I or one of my two didn't particularly like. Here I'll share a short snippet of what the story is about and whether or not it was a great fit for us. These books are from late summer 2014 until now.  Enjoy and happy reading!

*The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo The kids absolutely loved this book, and it was a truly a great read-aloud. The kids were laughing at the right times, the voices of the hilarious characters were enhanced, and the story had quite a bit of action-perfect for young children. I did another longer review here.

*Good Masters, Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz I should have waited a year or so for this book because 5 & 7 were just too young. This is a great book by a librarian, on the history of the Middle Ages, written from different community members and all in poetry. It's like a triple-whammy history lesson, and listening to it was better than reading it, but the book is necessary for the pictures of each voice and place in society. Eight would be the youngest I'd read this book to.

*Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo Possibly my very favorite elementary read-aloud, saved from my own childhood. I loved it even more as an adult. You can read an extended review here, but this story is so good, and it's even better read aloud.

*Freckle Juice by Judy Blume  This is the first introduction Judy Blume and it certainly won't be the last. This is a quick read and and a laugh-out-loud listen for the kids.

*Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald Lukka LOVED this book. I might try the second on audio, because each chapter was very long and draining. Piggle-Wiggle is quite a character and helps all the neighborhood families think of great consequences for their children's bratty or disobedient behavior. The punishment will fit the crime! It was really funny, clever, and entertaining.

*Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner This was a book I had saved since 3rd grade, when I remember my teacher needing to get another teacher in her room to help her finish the book because she was so overcome by emotion. It's a tear-jerker at the end, but a sweet book about determination of a young boy, and his loyal dog.

*Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar This is another book I saved from my childhood, that I remember loving myself. The kids were slightly confused by it, perhaps not having a traditional school experience cuts the humor a bit, but a funny book to read to kids.

*10 Girls Who Made a Difference by Irene Howatt This book, along with the one below it are a part of a 5-part series each (5 books about girls, 5 about boys) that I love for historical and inspirational purposes. Lukka loved listening to these short essays on historical Christian women, but Ani was too young for the material and the comprehension.

*10 Boys Who Made a Difference by Irene Howatt Same rate for this one, Lukka loved it, Ani was bored. I'd say if you are interested, wait until your youngest is 7 years old. Five was way too young.

*Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Perhaps my second favorite read aloud ever, only after Because of Winn-Dixie. This book is everything a childhood novel should be: sweet, a strong plot and excellent writing, humor, tenderness, and nostalgia (at least from my own childhood). Some books are good to just absorb individually, but this is one of the best to read aloud. Both kids loved it.

*The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson A book I remember but did not own, I quickly made this our Christmas break book, and it did not disappoint. One of my favorite quotes from a childhood book comes at the very end of the last chapter--it's a perfect look at the gospel coming from a child's mouth. Guess you'll have to read it to find it! Both kids loved this and the 80s movie (find it on youtube here) that goes along with it.

*Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren I loved Pippi as a child, but I was not familiar with the books, only the movie. I found all three Pippi books at a thrift store and thought my kids might enjoy it. Both kids loved this book and the movie I grew up on. It's hilarious, as anyone who knows much about this quirky red-head will tell you. A childhood classic, in my opinion.

*Pippi Goes on Board by Astrid Lindgren  My advice is stick with the first one and don't bother with the series. The second book was not good at all. I felt like the plot and adventures were very disorganized and confusing, and although the movie blends both of these books' stories together, you really don't need this one. The kids loved it, but I am now dreading reading aloud the third, and need some space before I pick it up (per their request, otherwise I'd just leave it on the shelf).

*Usborne's Illustrated Adventure Stories (anthology) Lukka got this  for his Christmas book  this year and I think we read it fully in two or three days during Christmas break. The chapters of these 5 included classics are very short, and there is a picture on every page. I'd spare a child less than 5 or 6, as some of the content is a little heavy for little ones. He enjoyed it, Ani went elsewhere while we were reading it.

*7 X 9 = Trouble! by Claudia Mills I have to admit, the only reason I read this is because it had to do with multiplication, something Lukka was finding trying at the time. This book inspired me to (duh!) find something that motivated him to learn some of the times tables (we're only doing 2 & 3 this year). Aside from that, it wasn't a great read-aloud and was quite predictable; cute but nothing earth-shattering.

*The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon This is our current read aloud we just started today and so far so good. It's a Newberry Honor book so I have high hopes!

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