Thursday, May 08, 2014

Read-Alouds - 2013-14

While we have read to Tessa from birth, it's pretty much always been picture books...lot and lots of picture books. Not that that's bad. Because it's not. It's just that ever since I read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, I've been thinking about adding longer, more literary read-alouds to our repertoire. I think I have finally adequately motivated myself to do it. It's not that I have a problem reading longer selections. Heck, I do it all of time during school. And, it's not that Tessa won't sit and listen. The issue is time. Between schooling, planning school, keeping our blog up to date, creating curriculum helps to sell on Currclick and ensuring that the house doesn't fall in around us, I simply don't have a lot of any time left. That's means extra reading gets pushed off to bedtime. Since I'm a read-to-the-end-of-the-chapter kind of girl, I know that if I don't stay motivated, I won't be able to muster up the energy required to read an entire chapter from a longer book so late at night. That's why I'm posting our read-alouds keep me going.

My goal is to read through one major read-aloud a month. Since we are studying Medieval Times this year, most will probably revolve around that theme. However, I'm going to try to squeeze in some shorter, non-related read-alouds here and there.

April 2014

Tessa adored The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Having never read the original myself before, I was surprised (and delighted) by the vast differences between it and the movie (which, I hate). The book is so good! The superb Kindle version linked below includes original color illustrations by W. W. Denslow, which are simply charming. I highly recommend it. It's cheap too!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum

March 2014

The style and unfamiliar Polynesian vocabulary made this book a bit challenging to read aloud, but Tessa and I both enjoyed it. Tessa's a sucker for animal sidekicks, so she particularly enjoyed the pictures with Uri in them. It was a bit like a game of Eye Spy for her. Be sure to select a copy that features Sperry's original art.

Call It Courage - Armstrong Sperry

February 2014

Another book I was just so-so about. Actually, I didn't really care for it at all. There never seemed to be much going on. Luckily, it was a short and easy read...aside from having my tongue twist up saying the names of the three cats every other sentence. Of course, Tessa liked the book and begged me to read it on the nights I wanted to skip out. She enjoyed the fair number of pictures too. Although this book is set in 1420 Spain, I think the educational value is on the limited side.

By the way, this title is out-of-print, so I had to track down a used copy.

Three Swords for Granada - Walter Dean Myers

Three Swords for Granada - Walter Dean Myers

January 2014

I'm learning that Tessa loves the classics. Another winner in her book!

Robin Hood - Paul Creswick

Robin Hood - Paul Creswick

December 2013

Meh, we didn't love it (or maybe it was just me who didn't). Tessa liked it enough that she wanted me to read it even when I didn't feel like it. At least she's been exposed to the story.

Ivanhoe - Marianna Mayer

Ivanhoe - Marianna Mayer

November 2013

Loved, loved, loved Odd and the Frost Giants!! Highly recommend.

Odd and the Frost Giants - Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants - Neil Gaiman

October 2013

As far as read-alouds go, The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God is quite short. It took us only three nights to get through. Traditionally, I would have read something like this during school time, but we just didn't have time. The stories and illustrations are wonderful. Tessa adored it. I highly recommend it!

The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God - Lise Lunge-Larsen

Viking Adventure is another book that's hard to come by on the cheap. (I'm not a fan of paying $8+ for a paperback copy of what is essentially a chapter book.) Luckily, I churned up a 1950-60's edition at PaperbackSwap. Viking Adventure is written at about a second grade level, I would say, so it's a quick-and-easy read. It's a good little introduction to the Viking world. I like that it aligns nicely with information from our history spine. Tessa is enjoying it.

Viking Adventure - Clyde Robert Bulla

Viking Adventure - Clyde Robert Bulla

Castle Diary is nearly impossible to find new, particularly if you want it in a timely manner. Amazon currently has a 1-2 month estimate for the ship date. It was out-of-stock everywhere else I checked. I finally found a place to order it, then received an order cancellation notice due to insufficient stock. Oh sure, you can buy a "good" used copy for about the cost of a new one, but who wants to do that? After well over a month on our library's wait list, our turn finally popped up. I would have rather read it at a more appropriate point in our study of Medieval Times, but I didn't want to chance turning it down. Moral of my story? Start looking early, if you want this book. And, if you come across it used for cheap, grab it!

I decided to read only the story part of the book to Tessa (the end is a mini encyclopedia of the main character's time), which was only about 60 pages long. It's written with a Medieval lilt, so it was a little tongue-twisting at times. I wasn't sure Tessa was catching it all, but she seemed to really enjoy it. The numerous quirky pictures spread throughout the version we read were a fun touch.

A quick heads-up...there was an instance of light profanity in the book. I have no idea why the author included it, but be ready to swap out the h-e-double-hockey-sticks word for something more palatable. I think there is also a not-so-politically-correct reference to a donkey as well, if memory serves.

Castle Diary - Richard Platt

Castle Diary - Richard Platt

September 2013

The Minstrel in the Tower was recommended to me by several people. Tessa enjoyed it, but I thought it was just eh. It moved quickly, lacked a detailed plot and didn't feel wholly authentic. Then again, I can't be too hard on's technically an early reader, and age-appropriate books set in the Middle Ages are hard to come by. Overall, it was a quick read and a decent first introduction to the time.

The Minstrel in the Tower - Gloria Skurzynski

The Minstrel in the Tower - Gloria Skurzynski

August 2013

I decided to start with a sure winner. Plus, we already had it on our bookshelf. I had previously read the entire My First Little House Books picture book series (or, at least as many as our library had at the time) to Tessa, which she absolutely loved. She never tires of hearing about Laura. We started Little House in the Big Woods earlier this month and have about a third of it to go. I plan to finish it up this week.

Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ongoing Read-Aloud

This one will take us a good while to get through, so I've listed it as an ongoing read-aloud. Tessa adores Bible stories, so I try to read through a different, quality Bible storybook ever so often. Each story only takes a few short minutes to read. Tessa and I both love all of the wonderful, detailed pictures. Most Bible storybooks suffer from stagnant, unimaginative graphics, but not this one!

The Action Bible - Doug Mauss

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