Reading aloud is one of our favorite things to do. I'm pretty sure that someday, when my kids are grown and gone, one of the scenes I will miss the most is this one: Me, on the couch, with my feet tucked up beneath me and a book in hand, the kids sprawled out beside me or across the living room, coloring or playing quietly while I read.
We've done a good deal of reading-aloud this year, and here are my three favorites:
Treasures of the Snow | Patricia St. John
I remember reading Patricia St. John books as a girl, and this was one of my favorites. As I pondered our read-alouds for the year, God kept putting this one on my heart. I kept scrambling past that thought, because we already read this one aloud, years ago, but God kept nudging me toward this one, and I felt like He might want to use this story in one of my younger girls' hearts, so we began our year with this read-aloud.
It's a story centering around three children: Annette, her younger brother Dani, and a boy in their village named Lucien. Lucien and Annette aren't particularly fond of each other, and one day Lucien's actions cause an accident that deeply affects Annette, and she feels hatred and bitterness in her heart toward him. Her grandmother in particular encourages her to forgive Lucien, and Annette is faced with a choice of obeying God, in the act of forgiving Lucien, or holding onto the hatred.
I think what I love so much about this book is how Patricia St. John visually describes this choice. She writes of how Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, and when we let Him in, light floods in and there's no room for the darkness. But we have to let Him in. I have referred back to this story and the characters within it several times with one of my girls as a way to enter into a discussion about her own heart: "Do you remember Annette? And how much anger was in her heart? What did her grandma say to her? What happened to Annette when she...?" I highly recommend this book, and all my kids loved it.
I'd been hearing about this book for years, and Ella had already read it on her own, but what won me over to finally reading it aloud was not the book itself, but actually a quote I read by the author.
I am paraphrasing, here, but Jeanne Birdsall decided to write The Penderwicks because as a young girl she loved to read, and after reading all of her favorite books, she longed for more of those types of stories, but couldn't find them. So she grew up and wrote the kind of story she would have loved as a girl.
That won me over to her as an author, because I remember being that girl, too. Once I had read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, then the Anne series and everything else written by L.M. Montgomery, then several Louisa May Alcott titles, with a few treasures sprinkled in there by other authors, I ran out of the kinds of stories that I so loved. Ella has felt the same way.
So one day I opened up The Penderwicks and began to read, and it was a delightful story of everyday children and their summer adventures. We really enjoyed it. I have yet to read any of the other titles, so if any of you have read the rest of the series, I'd love to hear it!
This was our most recent read-aloud, and it was so wonderful to have no school this past month, because I was able to spend a good deal of time each day reading this, and my kids were constantly pleading for more (which, as you well know, is always the sign of a well-chosen read-aloud!)
We just really liked this story. It was well-written and the plot and characters well developed. The book is about a small number of rabbits who leave their warren due to impending destruction of their home. They head off to find a new home for themselves, encountering dangers and learning lessons along the way. The rabbits Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and Pipkin, and the gull Kehaar became dear to all of us as we read this book. The rabbits speak to one another and have their own language and mythology.
Note: My least-favorite part of the book were the sections where one of the rabbits told a story about one of their ancestors (because, boring. Get back to the plot, already.) But those sections were actually my boys' favorite parts of the book, so go figure. ;)
We are currently reading Little Women, which all of us girls love so far. And my boys are being champs about. (I told them that they just got to read of battles, suspense and adventures with rabbits, so they can handle some women for awhile. ;))
What are you currently reading aloud in your home?