27 Jan 2012

Current read-alouds

As usual, there are a few.

For school this term

The Story of John G. Paton or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals, by his brother, James Paton. The story of our very own Reformed Presbyterian missionary to the new Hebrides (Vanuatu). Three chapters a week. It's a whopper of a book - we'll be at it all year. Lucky we like it.

Howard Pyle's The Story of King Arthur and his Knights. Oh how we love Pyle's style of writing. I would not be surprised if this book were the pinnacle of my read-aloud career.
After several years of contemplation and of thought upon the matter herein contained, it has at last come about, by the Grace of God, that I have been able to write this work with such pleasure of spirit that, if it gives to you but a part of the joy that it hath afforded me, I shall be very well content with what I have done.

For when, in pursuing this history, I have come to consider the high nobility of spirit that moved these excellent men to act as they did, I have felt that they have afforded such a perfect example of courage and humility that anyone might do exceedingly well to follow after their manner of behavior in such measure as he is able to do.
At night

Jemimah and I are participating in the Newbery Challenge, reading our way through the medal winners. We've just finished William Pène du Bois' The Twenty-One Balloons, winner of the 1948 Newbery. This story about a retired maths teacher and his amazing trip to Krakatoa by balloon just in time for its eruption and destruction is sure to be one of our family's all time favourite books. We will always look at hot air balloons with a certain nostalgic affection after getting to know Professor Sherman and the alphabetical citizens of Krakatoa.

Our current Newbery is the 1956 medal recipient, Carry On, Mr Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. This biography is also one of AO's free reads for Year 5, so we're killing two birds with one stone here. We're enjoying it.

I'm going to list our Newberys in the side bar as we finish them. Is anybody interested in joining us in this 'stress free' challenge? Listen to Mr Schu explain the challenge in this video.

The Book Bag

The Book Bag travels in the car with us, and contains four or five books. We read a chapter or two or three of each of these on our way to and fro Melbourne/Geelong most weekends. It is a six hour trip, so we get lots of books read this way. I know many people chose to listen to audio books, but I'm a read-aloud girl at heart.

Anne of Green Gables. Who can but adore Anne Shirley? We're only up to Chapter Six, and we've already seen the movies, but it is really hard to resist L M Montgomery's wonderful prose. I love introducing Jemimah to kindred spirits of mine, but when a novel is loved also by her grandmother and great aunts as this book is, that makes it extra special.

February Dragon by Colin Thiele. I do not understand why Colin Thiele is out of fashion. His writing is just a delight to read aloud, and this book of three children who face the February Dragon - a huge bushfire unleashed by the foolishness of man - is as wonderful as the others that we've read. The three Pine children - Turps, Resin and Columbine - live in a small country town half way between Melbourne and Adelaide - not too far from us, in fact. They do all the normal things that kids living in the country like to do...until the Dragon rears his head...

Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge, an AO free read, is a delightful story, full of information on life in Holland. I read the book as a child, but all I can remember is the tale within a tale of the little boy plugging the hole in the dyke with his thumb. I'm enjoying the re-reading, and Jemimah and her Daddy are amused listening to my poor Dutch pronunciation (even if there are pronunciation guides).
Leer! leer! jou lvigaart, of dit endje touw zal je le ren!
Our final Book Bag book is one we've been reading for a while, Paul Glynn's A Song for Nagasaki, the biography of Doctor Takashi Nagai, an extraordinary man converted from Shintoism to Catholicism predominantly through reading Pascal's Pensées. Nagai, a pioneer of radiology research at Nagasaki University, is in Nagasaki on the dreadful day that the atom bomb explodes over his city. The book is written for adults, and I've had to judiciously edit a bit, but the story that is told in this book is just incredible. We all hang off every word.

And that, she says, is that. So many wonderful read-alouds. So many delicious stories. So much wonderful time with my family.

I wouldn't miss it for all the tea in China.

What are you reading to your family at the moment? Please share. One can never have too many books on the to-be-read list.

Oh, and if you decide to join me in the Newbery Challenge, drop we a note. I'd love some company. We're not reading chronologically. We'll just read the books as we come across them. If we don't like one we'll stop. And if we don't approve of one, or more, we'll probably leave them out. Stress-Free, remember?

Here they all are:


  1. We finished "Caddie Woodlawn" recently. It is very "American" so it would be interesting if you gave your opinion on it as a non-American. The part I am thinking of is what the family decide together to do.

    We are now doing "Nim's Island" which is more modern than I had expected.

  2. What a wonderful selection of books. You are fortunate to be able to read in the car, I would be feeling sick in less than a minute.

  3. Well, I think I'll stick to Ambleside's reading challenge! xxx


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...