I could tell you all about how important it is to read aloud to the children you know. I could link you to all sorts of fancy checklists meant to ascertain your literacy friendliness including asking you to count up all the picture books in your house – as if picture books are the measure of things.
I’m not going to, mostly because I think that’s dreadfully boring. Boring. As much as I love checklists and geeky rubrics, I have to admit none of it seems all that helpful, important, and worthwhile. In all honesty, while I think reading aloud to children is important – very important – we do so simply because it’s fun.
It took awhile to get the kids interested in listening to me read to them from books without pictures. Then it took awhile to help them train their ears and minds to follow the thread of a story, pick up on foreshadowing (and we’re still working on this one a bit), and trust that they can do so while playing with Legos on the floor, but by golly it’s worth it.
This has been the year of discovery and we have plowed through more books than I can remember without going back through the list in my homeschool software. So I did. Go back through the list, that is and this year we’ve read:
- “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
- “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” by Roald Dahl
- “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl
- “Matilda” by Roald Dahl
- “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” by Betty MacDonald
- “Half Magic” by Edward Eager
- “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by JK Rowling
- “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by JK Rowling
- “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by JK Rowling
- “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry
- “Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary
- “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by JK Rowling
- “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by JK Rowling
- “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” by JK Rowling
- “The Red Pyramid” by Rick Riordan
- “The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread” by Kate DiCamillo
- “Miranda the Great” by Eleanor Estes (read this one in a day)
- “Understood Betsy” by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (they’ve abridged this one for reasons I can’t understand, so watch your versions and get the unabridged one)
- “The Throne of Fire” by Rick Riordan
- “The Chocolate Touch” by Patrick Skene Catling
- “Ribsy” by Beverly Cleary
- “Socks” by Beverly Cleary
- “The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me” by Roald Dahl
- “Tuesdays at the Castle” by Jessica Day George (we started this, but then “The Serpent’s Shadow” arrived so we will finish it this summer)
- “The Serpent’s Shadow” by Rick Riordan (this one will carry over into the summer which for us school-year-rounders is considered the beginning of second grade, but it’s the last read aloud to round out the 2011-2012 school year)
We started out slowly with one chapter at a time and maybe missed a day or two every week, but by the time we hit Harry Potter, the kids had fallen in love and this winter I read multiple chapters a day.
I’ve been reading multiple chapters every day (and only missing a day or two a month) ever since. If it weren’t for the Harry Potter books our list would have easily been double the length. So many of the books on the “suggested reading list” for kids are in the order of 180 pages at most, usually with larger print and a few pictures scattered throughout. We love the books, but both the kids and I like to be able to sink into a story and live there with the characters for a good long while.
I’m always on the hunt for more books to read and aim to have a dozen or more waiting in the wings. It wouldn’t do to come up empty-handed come reading time. I’ve asked around for suggestions from other homeschoolers, but get the feeling that not everyone necessarily enjoys it as much as we do. They found my insistence that the books be around 300 pages or more to be…odd. Most people didn’t think their voices would hold out that long.
Maybe we’re just odd folk. I love to read out loud, love descriptive language, and love the cadence of words as they slip over your tongue. Maybe that’s what I should have made my career.
Until the magic read aloud people come by I’ll keep doing it for free. Everyday, in the car, at the dinner table, sitting on the couch surrounded by piles of Legos. Sometimes I forget just how special it really is.