24 Jan 2015

The book bag

We're just about to change a couple of books in the book bag, and so I thought it might be a good time for a post, only to discover that  haven't posted about what's in our bag for almost two years.  That's bad.

For the benefit of those of you that have joined us in that time, I am a self confessed read-aloud tragic, and since the number of opportunities to read Jemimah's school books to her has diminished as her reading ability has increased, the value of my precious book bag has grown. In it are five books that I've carefully selected to read aloud to my family during our regular 7 hour round trip commute every weekend.  You can get through a lot of pages in 7 hours, and together our family has a lovely set of group memories from the long list of books that we've read together.

Generally I select the five books from 5 different genres: must-read literature, Christian literature, popular science, fantasy, and Australian literature. Our books right now don't quite reflect that, since we're finishing up with one Christian book, and just starting a new one, just in time to coincide with its history period in AO, but that's the aim.

If you would like to hear about what we're reading, here they are.

From the bottom:

David Copperfield by Dickens needs no introduction, I'm sure.  It's a carry over from AO7, where it is a free read. We're currently a little over a third of the way through, and we're enjoying it more now that David's life isn't quite so dismal.  Those first few chapters are so lovely and tranquil with their reflections on early life, but the next bit is just so hopeless, and filled with despair. We were so happy when he met up with Betsey Trotwood and life became at least a little more tolerable.  Ours is a lovely Folio edition, which makes it a pleasure to read, with its thick creamy and lovely formatting.

The Betrayal is an historical fiction biography of John Calvin by Douglas Bond.  This book is sort of an additional AO8 History book for us, since we want to concentrate more on the Reformation than the curriculum allows, but since it is in the book bag, I don't think Jemimah has noticed that it is a school book. Heh heh heh.  We have only just started, so I can't tell you how we like it, but we read the John Knox book in the same series last year and enjoyed it, so we have high hopes.

Both my husband and I adored The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner as children, and so we really needed to introduce Jemimah to it as well.  It's a rule.  It's a book filled with wizards, goblins and other creatures, and if the weirdstone, which hangs on the bracelet that young Susan wears around her wrist, should fall into the hands of the morthbrood, the world will be powerless against Nastrong, the Great Spirit of Darkness. It's a thrilling fantasy adventure.  If you haven't read it, you really, really should.  Weirdstone is first in a trilogy.  The third book was written only a few years ago; Weirdstone itself was written in 1960.

Why Aren't We Dead Yet by Aussie author, Idan Ben-Barak, is a witty introduction to our immune system and how we fight off infections.  It is absolutely fascinating, and is highly recommended to everybody except the anti-vax brigade, who probably won't like it at all.  This is what science books are supposed to be like.

Finally,  How Sleep the Brave by James Hunter. My favourite. It's a wonderful tale of action, adventure and romance, as well as good Reformed Presbyterian teaching, and tells the story of the suffering and perseverance of the Covenanters during the Killing Times in 17th Century Scotland. Those of you AO Forum gals who are reading Josephine Tey's The Story of Time might enjoy to read this one to get the opposite side of the story to that presented in Chapter 10 of Tey's book.You will learn what suffering for one's faith is all about.  This is real heroism. I love this book and can't recommend it highly enough.

So, here endeth the book bag for today.  Our bedtime Newbery read is Holes by Louis Sachar; Jemimah is reading Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster.  Both are great.

What are you reading aloud right now with your kidlets? Do you love it as much as I do? Do tell.


  1. I'm reading Little House on the Prairie to the littler two (although my big girl often joins us too despite the fact that she's read and re-read and re-read all the Little House books), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to all at bedtime, and a biography of Eric Liddell on Sunday evenings, and assorted picture books to my littlest one who won't be little for too much longer. And the Bible and all of our school books too, of course. I was talking to a friend the other day and realized just how much reading aloud we do in our family between school and other family read-alouds and just how unusual that is! It's just what we do so I'd never really thought about it....

  2. Currently reading, to the family, A Light In The Window by Jan Karon (whose fictitious village is inspired by a village less than an hour from us), Little House In The Big Woods for bedtime to my littlest boys, and Padraic Colums The Children's Homer a few mornings a week. And too many school books to mention ;)

  3. I love that you're reading How Sleep the Brave! I don't think I've ever heard anyone else talk about it, but it was my favorite book in sixth grade and started my love of all things Scottish. I'm looking forward to sharing it with my girls when they're old enough. I was also trying to decide how to comment on that section in Tey's book on the forum.

    Right now our reading is more on the level of Babar!

  4. I read on Sunday's and Wednesdays too, but ours it's a four hour commute on Sunday, and an hour commute on Wednesday. Regardless, we get to many books too. I read some school books, one for my y2 and one for my y4, and a family read. I too pick a religious or character book (ours now it's The Book of Golden Deeds, and we have lit and history as well).

  5. Sounds like a good pile. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen sounds intriguing to me. I love fantasy! :) I recently finished The Dark Sea is Rising Series by Collins. Have you read it? My dd is starting it now. :) I must say, I chuckled what you had that diabolical "heh heh heh" in there. ;)

  6. What a magnificent selection, Jeanne. I am definitely intrigued by How Sleep the Brave, having just finished Daughter of Time. I will investigate acquiring it soon....I find it curious that the name Oliphants (printer?) is found on the bottom of the binding. Was that not the name of an historian Grant reads in the book after Carradine discovers him??

    Yes, I love reading aloud to my children. I wish we did it even more than the hour or so daily we carve for it outside of school time for my oldest. Currently we are reading Farmer Boy and Tanglewood Tales. A shorter read that we just discovered is an amazing one entitled Snow Goose by by Paul Gallico due to my son's latest obsession with WWII. Nature study plays a prominent role with incredible themes of love and friendship and many other morals on the horizon. This find is an absolute gem.

  7. All of Gallico's books are great, Dawn!

  8. Oooo, thank you! I have not previously heard of this author but I now see that there are several we should add to our reading list. Very exciting!!

  9. How Sleep the Brave sounds very interesting.

  10. I remember loving Daddy Long Legs, also The Girl of the Limberlost books. But currently I'm reading The Gift by Alison Croggon, a fantasy that I don't "think" you would describe as twaddle. And LOTS of children's picture books!

  11. The Princess and Curdie--and loving it! Also, I've read aloud some parts of Idylls of the King that I just couldn't keep to myself.

  12. I have a lovely Daddy Long-Legs illustrated by Edward Ardizzone -- one of my favorite illustrators since childhood. We're reading Ribsy to the 5YO, Paddington to the 7YO, and the 9YO is reading more twaddle than I'd like under the covers!


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...