Every month I’ll look back at what we’ve been reading together and separately. For reference, my boys are 5, 3.93, and 2 years old.
This month I was able to empty out one of the existing bookshelves, unpack most of our children’s books, and make a sort of reading corner for the boys (and grownups, too.) With the novelty of having all of our books once again shelved and available to everyone, we didn’t do very much repeated reading this month–it seemed like they were always bringing new books to be read. Which is great, but how I mentally write these posts is by taking note of the books they’re asking to read over and over. As a consequence, I’ve felt kind of lost for this month’s post, since I can’t exactly list every single thing that’s been read! Instead I’m sticking to the books we got from the library (the good ones), the chapter books we read, and what I’m (trying) to read.
For the boys
I got three titles by this author from the library: Iron Horses, Homespun Sarah, and Whatever Happened to the Pony Express? These are great books! They’re historical, but written in a very simple verse that’s quick and easy (and enjoyable) to read. The illustrations tell half of the story, filling in the gaps that the verses leave, and the author gives even more historical background in the author’s notes at the beginning of each book. They’re the sort of books that you can’t just read once and put away; they’re meant for questions, for poring over pictures, for looking at again and again and talking about even once the books are put away. My boys are young and I’m sure they didn’t quite catch half of what each book portrayed; they would be even more excellent for older kids.
Homespun Sarah was my personal favorite, and I read it a few times on my own. I loved that the author included bits of colonial life like tying the toddler to apron strings so she can’t dart away, or the very real danger of wearing long skirts while working so close to open fires. And of course the long, long process that one must go through just to get a new dress! Oh my, I loved this book. The boys likes the train one (Iron Horses) the best.
the neverending story (michael ende)
I wrote last month that I had found and read this book a couple of years before we even had children, and it seemed like it would be the perfect book to read aloud. I actually lent it to a family member who was working with students who were struggling with reading–I thought it would make a great read-aloud. The chapters are fairly short and the plot moves forward very quickly, although it is a pretty long book. The 1980’s film that most are familiar with (and terrified of, if you saw it as a very young child, like I did) only partly covers the first half of the book.
Some of the language is advanced–I did occasionally swap words mid-read if I knew it was a word the boys didn’t know, but I didn’t do it too much, since encountering words you don’t know is how you learn new words, anyway.
I have tried to write it in more prose-y language, but I have to say it simply: I really love this book. One night I finished reading that day’s chapter with the boys, and we were only three chapters from the end. After they were in bed I went to my room and finished the book because I couldn’t stand stopping at that point! When we finished the book, there was that contemplative silence between Ephraim and I that, if you’ve ever finished a book that you have almost lived in, you must know what feeling and thought embodied that quiet. Most are familiar with the first half of the book (because of the film) but in the second half, Bastian goes into Fantastica himself. There he embarks on a journey that sees him first elevated, celebrated and worshiped, then through his own proud self-deceit utterly brought low and humbled. Pride and humility, friendship and betrayal, forgiveness and redemption and grace. This is a book I want to read again and again to my boys.
This is a book that is enjoyable as a read-aloud, but is probably even better if you can read it on your own and understand the different colored ink used for what happens in Fantastica and what happens in our world. It took us almost five weeks to read through, and that’s with reading almost every night.
“Born of the Word”–I loved that.
runaway ralph (beverly cleary)
We read The Mouse and the Motorcycle in May, so this month I got Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse for us to read. We got to the former but not the latter, but thankfully our library automatically renews titles for you and so we’ll read that one next. (Or, maybe they saw me come in with four kiddos and thought that I would need that automatic renewal perk. Ha!)
I didn’t like this one as much as the first. This is probably why I don’t remember ever reading it as a kid. It is such a fast read, though, and the boys liked it.
as for me
It did occur to me this month that I shouldn’t be too worried about not having very much on my personal reading list. I am reading things, but I do wish it were more–however, everything the boys read I read, and if you haven’t been able to tell yet, I am usually
very bad about very good at picking books that I really like and would probably read on my own anyway. I did manage to read a little bit on my own, though, although it was usually at around 10 pm and I often dozed off while reading as a result!
father brown mysteries (g. k. chesterton)
I wish I had more time during the day to pay attention to these stories, because I am really enjoying them. When I first started reading, I had no idea what to expect (I had gotten them for my kindle on a recommendation) and at first I thought I was reading a novel and not a collection of short stories. Boy was I confused! Once I figured that out, then I had to acclimate myself to Chesterton’s writing style, which is rich in description and shrewd in its assessment of human nature. In each story, it seemed that he spent a very long time setting the scene (and doing a fabulous job) and then the mystery itself seemed very short in comparison. It seems silly how long it took me to get into these stories–it probably would have been easier if I wasn’t trying to read them so late at night–but I am really enjoying them now. And I wish I set a scene like Chesterton, and I wish I were as sharp as Father Brown.
the whole christ (sinclair ferguson)
I just started this one, which deals with the conflict and controversy between the theological camps of legalism and antinomianism and how each lacks understanding of the Gospel. I’m not far into it yet, but here is a rundown of it if you’re interested in checking it out.