Friday, April 13, 2007

Speaking of Books...

Have you read any good ones with your kids lately? At our house we always have at least one read aloud going if not more. Usually we have one that is either a unit study or a go along with a unit study. We have one that is just for fun and sometimes Dan will decide he wants to read a particular title to the kids. Since November or so we've also been part of a book club with some FIAR families. Each month we receive a new book from a family and we send ours on to the next family. There are 13 books in all so we won't see the book we chose to send for over a year! We get to learn a little about each family and what the kids before us thought of each book. We have certainly been blessed by the FIAR community. It affords us many opportunities through the forums and we have gotten to know a lot of other homeschooling families this way.

Whenever I have the opportunity to share our experiences with a group of moms, I never miss the chance to make the suggestion to read aloud to their kids. Just read Jim Trelease's The Read Aloud Handbook and you will see just how important it is. We have worked hard to create a culture of literacy in our home and I think it is pretty evident. If you were to come to our house you would see the dominance of books in nearly every room. They seem to come from everywhere! We certainly have no shortage of the printed word here. And yet, unless you take the time to enjoy a good book with your children, there is an opportunity lost.

Currently, we are reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Our kids thoroughly enjoyed the story of Almanzo Wilder in his boyhood when we read it last spring. Now we are reading it as our new unit study book. One thing we continually laugh about when we read it is how much food Almanzo ate! Even our kids pick up on it and laugh about how he could eat and eat. I'm always struck by how much food his mom and his sisters had to prepare each day at each meal for all those farm kids! I'll be sure to give an update on how our study is progressing, but we've already done a political map of NY state. Conveniently, Farmer Boy takes place in upstate NY and we are taking the time to study NY state and its history at the same time. Our state requires it at some point and now is as good a time as any.

In addition to Farmer Boy, we are reading two others right now. Dan has been reading through the Narnia series with the kids though our 4yo is not impressed yet. They are up to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and I suspect they'll be finished with that one very soon. We tried Junie B. Jones but had it on good authority that Junie is a brat and a lot of adults cannot stand her attitude or her grammar! I recently learned that the publisher of our favorite curriculum will call his 27 year old daughter and her cousin whenever a new Junie B book comes out and reads it aloud to them on the phone! If it is that good, I figured I needed to give her a try. Well, I must say Junie B does have some authority issues and ultimately our kids decided she was not a nice girl. So much for that!

However, I did strike gold as I picked up a Hank the Cowdog book this week. Have you met Hank yet? If you have not, please take the time to get to know him. John Erickson is the author of this series with at least thirty books. Originally written for adults, this series is such a fun one for kids. Hank is a cowdog who is "head of ranch security" and gets into all sorts of trouble. This week we are reading The Case of the Haystack Kitties. You know you have a hit when the kids all shout to you to keep reading- even the 4yo. Everyone is having such a good time that the toddler takes some extra lap time. Literally, I've had the kids rolling with laughter at Hank's antics. We'll pick up next time where we last left off...he's stuck in his pick up which is unmanned and headed for a creek!

Our reading extends well beyond the house. Sometimes it happens outside under a tree, when the weather is nice, which it is not. I always have one in the car. You never know when you'll hit a traffic snag even here. We read it when we wait for Dan at the bus stop. The other day we read it while were in the doctor's exam room waiting for her to arrive. Doctors like to hear about it too. "Whatcha reading today?" They'll ask. The kids are always eager to share their latest adventure. Next time, I'll have to make sure we're reading Hank. He's quite a character and fun to read. I'm pretty sure whoever hears it will want to stay and listen for a bit!

What reading adventures have you been on recently? If you have a good one, tell me about it. Maybe we'd like to join you!

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