Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 2014 Favourite Read-Aloud Roundup

It has been a while since I've posted about the books we're enjoying together. We borrowed Building Our House from the library at the beginning of the summer, and it was so wonderful that I still feel the need to mention it now. It is based on the author's own family, who took several years to build their own home. I won't spoil it for you by describing too much (the cover actually says it all anyway), but if your library has this gem, get it now! It has even made its way onto my "to buy someday" list, and that doesn't happen very often with random library books (you know, with all the school books that must be bought!).

We have been enjoying Driftwood Dragons and other Seaside Poems at our poetry teatimes lately. This is a collection of poetry by local Maritime author Tyne Brown (from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia). I love reading my children classic poetry by R.L. Stevenson and A.A. Milne, but there is really something special about reading poetry from closer to home as well. My children understand and relate to this poetry in a special way because it speaks to their experience growing up here, not too far from the ocean. It lights them up when the beach fleas or the jellyfish or the tides in the poems are things they have seen and experienced for themselves.
I also like the fact that there is a very good possibility that they may have a chance to meet the author some day (who knows...a bookstore, a library reading?), and I think it's good for them to know that authors are real people too.
I recommend this for reading aloud to children aged three and up... way up!

I love Michael Hague's illustrations! The Rainbow Fairy Book appears to be out of print, but we came across it at our library. The stories are all selected from Andrew Lang's fairy books (The Blue Fairy Book, The Red Fairy Book, etc.). It is well written and contains a good variety of fairy tales from several different cultures. It does have a fairly complex vocabulary, though, so I think it is probably best for children aged six and up (if you're reading aloud...older yet if children are reading on their own.).

I am so excited to have discovered Bruce Coville's retellings of Shakespeare's plays! I am ashamed to say I have never understood Shakespeare's appeal. (No need to chide. I am aware that this is a defect in my education and will do what I can to remedy it.) Now that the time has come to begin to introduce my little children to his works, I have been somewhat lost. Following Ambleside Online, I used Edith Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare to introduce SA to "A Midsummer Night's Dream." While it was fairly short and simple, he did not narrate well, and I feel it was because it was too stripped down and simplified. I think Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare will be better, but the vocabulary is still too advanced for my six-year-old. Coville's retelling is less advanced than Lamb's while still retaining some of the flavour of Shakespeare's detail and language, and includes excellent illustrations by Dennis Nolan. I look forward to checking out more from this series.

We are using Ambleside Online year one with SA. For some reason, one of the suggested books, the Burgess Bird Book for Children does not appeal to me anymore, though I did like it as a child. Perhaps it is because while SA normally narrates well, he struggles with the Burgess's conversational style and so our lessons from that particular book have not been very joyful and pleasant so far. If only there were more books around like Lynne Cherry's Flute's Journey! I would substitute in a heartbeat. It tells the story of a wood thrush from its emergence from a tiny egg to its migration to its return home to mate and build its own nest. The style is straightforward (no talking birds or other anthropomorphism) but still interesting with challenges faced by the wood thrush. The illustrations are gorgeous as well.

And that's all for this month! I'm linking up (very late!) with Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Hey, at least it's still September...