Chronicling the books we read to our children (and perhaps the books they read themselves). Can we read 500 before they turn 12? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Still reading, but not as much...

...and obviously not posting very much either.

Kristen has started reading Anne of Green Gables to the girls. We've been pretty busy in the evenings it seems, so she hasn't made much headway. Kristen never read it as a young girl, so she is enjoying reading it.

I re-read Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones last week and gave it to Jaymie, who read it in a couple of days. I haven't had a chance to talk with her about it. I'm curious to see how much of it she understood. It's a fairly complex piece of storytelling. Jaymie says it's much different than the movie (I saw the first half-hour or so of the Miyazaki film).

Julia is finally reading on her own. We've been having her read very simple books that she can finish quickly in order to build her confidence, which she seems to lack for some reason. But she is definitely getting more excited about her newfound skill.

Stanley loves to be read to these days. Among his favorites is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Day. We realized this week that he's been going around saying "I hate X" a lot probably because of this book. A mixed blessing, I suppose.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Still here...

I'm still here. We're still reading to our kids.

I've been busy setting up a new website for homeschoolers:


Right now it's primarily a forum


I'm adding blogging functionality this week, and I will be moving this blog over there sometime in the near future.

As for reading, Stanley is really enjoying being read to lately. He asks for the same books over and over. Last week it was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Jamberry is another favorite.

Kristen finished reading The Secret Garden to Jaymie and Julia which they enjoyed very much. I've started reading Babe: The Gallant Pig to them, which we should finish in a couple of days. Kristen is planning on reading Anne of Green Gables to them after that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm still here

Yes, we're reading to our kids. But I'm working on a major upgrade to this blog, so I don't have too much time to talk right now....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas books

Well, we've been reading Christmas books all month. This has been an exceptionally busy December. Jaymie turned eight and was baptized at the beginning of the month, and had a birthday party on top of that. Stanley turned three, and Julia turned five and had her birthday party as well. On top of all that, I finally finished my dissertation and defended it.

Somehow, we managed to find time to wrap all of the Christmas books and have managed to read two or three of them most nights. In addition, Kristen finished reading A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett to the girls. I found a $1.00 DVD of the same starring Shirley Temple which the girls will open on Christmas.

Kristen's sister Heidi gave her a copy of Under the Chinaberry Tree, which has tons of great recommendations for children's books. Just thumbing through it, I can tell I'll like it -- we own about half of the titles they recommend, it seems, so I get the sense that the authors' tastes run to ours.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Christmas Book Tradition

Lately, Times and Seasons has been on the subject of children's books, which reminded me of a post I've been meaning to write for a while about one of our family Christmas traditions involving Christmas books. Actually, I'm lazy, so I'll just paste the text that my wife wrote last year on the subject:

One of our very favorite family holiday traditions is reading Christmas books throughout the month of December. Here’s how it works:
Sometime before December, I wrap up all of our favorite Christmas books. On December 1st, I put the wrapped books in big basket under the Christmas tree. Each night the children are allowed to choose a book to open and read together. Besides being a great family activity that we all look forward to each night, we have felt that it really brings the Christmas spirit into our home. Children of all ages can enjoy this tradition. There are so many really good Christmas books that focus on the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas. There are also a lot of really fun and whimsical Christmas books that have good messages and teach the values and characteristics that we would like to impart to our children. There are also many great books about how Christmas is celebrated in other cultures and countries around the world.

It has amazed me how excited the kids are about this time spent together every evening. They never tire of it or the stories, even though they have heard many of the stories before. I think it also relieves some of the angst of waiting for Christmas as they have something to open each night. And it is a good way to count the days until Christmas; as the number of books dwindle, so do the days until Christmas.

If you don’t have enough Christmas books to do the entire month, you could do the week or 12 days before Christmas. The library has many great holiday books that can supplement your collection.

We started doing this a few years ago, with about 10 books that we had. Since then, we've added many, many more, to the point where instead of buying new books, we are trying to figure out which ones to get rid of (We have enough books for each of our three oldest children to open one a night for every night in December before Christmas). Of course, there are still a few gems that we would like to add to our collection.

I asked Kristen for a list of her favorites. She gave me a stack of about twenty books. When I told her that was too many, she cut it down to the following:

Kristen's favorites:

  • Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pearl S. Buck

  • Christmas Tapestry, by Patricia Polacco

  • Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect, by Richard H. Schneider

  • Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski

  • Christmas in the Manger, by Nola Buck

My favorites:

  • Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pearl S. Buck

  • Christmas Tapestry, by Patricia Polacco

  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski

  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

  • Danny and the Kings, by Susan Cooper

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

  • On Christmas Eve, by Margaret Wise Brown

And since you asked, here's a list of all of our Christmas books. There are about 30 of these that I haven't read yet -- we purchased them since last Christmas. (Scroll down the page -- for some reason, Blogger inserts a lot of blank lines before the table).

Any other suggestions?

TitleAuthor Illustrator
The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza Shannon, David Shannon, David
Auntie Claus Primavera, Elise Primavera, Elise
Auntie Claus and the Key to Christmas Primavera, Elise Primavera, Elise
Bear Stays Up for Christmas Wilson, Karma Chapman, Jane
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Robinson, Barbara
A Child Is Born Winthrop, Elizabeth Mikolaycak, Charles
Christmas Bruna, Dick Bruna, Dick
Pienkowski, Jan
A Christmas Carol Dickens, Charles
Christmas Day in the Morning Buck, Pearl S. Buehner, Mark
Christmas in the Manger Buck, Nola Bond, Felicia
Christmas Is A Time of Giving Anglund, Joan Walsh Anglund, Joan Walsh
Christmas Magic Garland, Michael Garland, Michael
Christmas Mice Scarry, Richard Scarry, Richard
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey Wojciechowski, Susan Lynch, P.J.
Christmas Oranges Bethers, Linda Sowards, Ben
Christmas Tapestry Polacco, Patricia Polacco, Patricia
Corduroy's Christmas Hennessy, B.G. McCue, Lisa
Countdown to Christmas Peet, Bill Peet, Bill
Country Angel Christmas dePaola, Tomie dePaola, Tomie
The Crippled Lamb Lucado, Max Bonham, Liz
Danny and the Kings Cooper, Susan Smith, Jos. A.
An Early American Christmas dePaola, Tomie dePaola, Tomie
Eloise at Christmastime Thompson, Kay Knight, Hilary
The Friendly Beasts: an old English Christmas Carol
dePaola, Tomie
A Gift From Saint Nicholas Kismaric, Carole Mikolaycak, Charles
Hark! A Christmas Sampler Yolen, Jane dePaola, Tomie
Here Comes Santa Claus Autry, Gene and Haldeman, Oakley Whatley, Bruce
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Seuss, Dr. Seuss, Dr.
It's Christmas Prelutsky, Jack Hafner, Marylin
Jingle the Christmas Clown dePaola, Tomie dePaola, Tomie
The Jolly Christmas Postman Ahlberg, Janet and Ahlberg, Allan Ahlberg, Janet and Ahlberg, Allan
The Legend of the Poinsettia dePaola, Tomie dePaola, Tomie
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus Baum, L. Frank
The Little Crooked Christmas Tree Cutting, Michael Broda, Ron
Merry Christmas, Strega Nona dePaola, Tomie dePaola, Tomie
Miracle on 34th Street Davies, Valentine dePaola, Tomie
The Mouse Before Christmas Garland, Michael Garland, Michael
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree Barry, Robert Barry, Robert
The Nativity from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke
Sanderson, Ruth
A Newbery Christmas Greenberg, Martin H. and Waugh, Charles G.
The Night Before Christmas Moore, Clement Brett, Jan
The Night Before Christmas Moore, Clement Clarke Tudor, Tasha
Nutcracker Hoffmann, E.T.A. Gustafson, Scott
On Christmas Eve Brown, Margaret Wise Calder, Nancy Edwards
One Winter's Night Herman, John Dillon, Leo and Dillon, Diane
Peter Spier's Christmas
Spier, Peter
The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas Korman, Justine Chandler, Jean
The Polar Express Van Allsburg, Chris Van Allsburg, Chris
Pooh Christmas Songs
Baker, Darrell and Moore, Sparky and Wakeman, Diana
Rocking Horse Christmas Osborne, Mary Pope Bittinger, Ned
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale Waddell, Martin Cockcroft, Jason
Rudolph Shines Again May, Robert L. Papp, Lisa
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Hazen, Barbara Shook Scarry, Richard
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer May, Robert L. Wenzel, David
Santa Calls Joyce, William Joyce, William
Santa Kid Patterson, James Garland, Michael
Santa Mouse Brown, Michael De Witt, Elfrieda
Santa's Favorite Story Aoki, Hisako Gantschev, Ivan
Santa's New Suit Rader, Laura Rader, Laura
Silent Night, Holy Night: The Story of the Christmas Truce Cronkite, Walter Barrett, Robert T.
Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Rylant, Cynthia Soentpiet, Chris K.
Spirit Child: A Story of the Nativity Bierhorst, John Cooney, Barbara
The Story of Holly and Ivy Godden, Rumer Cooney, Barbara
The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet Hautzig, Deborah Goode, Diane
The Sweet Smell of Christmas Scarry, Patricia Miller, J.P.
Take Joy! Tudor, Tasha Tudor, Tasha
This is the Season, Beloved of the Year
Dewey, Simon
The Trees of the Dancing Goats Polacco, Patricia Polacco, Patricia
Truffle's Christmas Currey, Anna Currey, Anna
'Twas the Night Before Christmas and Other Seasonal Favorites The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Duax, Anne
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Sabuda, Robert
The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas L'Engle, Madeline DeVelasco, Joe
A Very Mary Christmas Englebreit, Mary Englebreit, Mary
We Wish You A Merry Christmas: Songs of the Season for Young People Fox, Dan
Welcome Comfort Polacco, Patricia Polacca, Patricia
What Could Be Keeping Santa? Janovitz, Marilyn Janovitz, Marilyn
Where Is Christmas, Jesse Bear? Carlstrom, Nancy White Degen, Bruce
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect Schneider, Richard H. Miles, Elizabeth J.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree Houston, Gloria Cooney, Barbara

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

We've finished the Chronicles of Narnia

I finally finished reading The Last Battle to Jaymie a couple of weeks ago. I was a little worried that the ending would be sad for her, but I'm not sure she understood fully what was going on. At any rate, she enjoyed all of the books a great deal. We're kind of in an in-between point in her read-alouds. Any suggestions?

Our library book sale was a couple of weeks ago. I bought about 20 books for Jaymie and Julia. Titles in another post.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Catching up

Well, after several weeks of travel in August and September in which we hardly read at all, we're finally back to a schedule of sorts. Reading to the kids has become much more difficult lately, as Trevor (4 months) is taking a lot of our time, and we have to juggle reading to Jaymie, Julia, and Stanley separately. I've started reading The Last Battle to Jaymie. I was dismayed to find that all of the books now have a "Author of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, A Major Motion Picture Holiday 2005" label on them. Blech. The story is quite a bit darker than the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia, and I'm a bit worried that Jaymie might not do so well with it (we had to abandon The Wizard of Oz because it was giving her nightmares).

Kristen got a number of books from the library for Stanley, and he has been enjoying them. They include Nancy White Carlstrom's Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear, Marjorie Flack's Ask Mr. Bear, and Candice Ransom's The Big Green Pocketbook.

I got some other books for Julia, including Stranger in the Mirror by Allen Say (kind of a weird story about a boy who comes to understand what it's like to get old when he wakes up looking like his grandfather), and If I Ran The Zoo and Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss.

Jaymie has been reading like crazy since school has started, in contrast to her summer when she read very little. At the beginning of the school year Kristen and I picked fifteen books out of the pile of books I bought at various library and school sales this summer, with the idea that she would read one a week until the end of the year. So far, she's plowed through

  1. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield

  2. Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield

  3. Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

  4. Winter Camp by Kirkpatrick Hill

  5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

  6. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

I'll try to post at least weekly now that school has started back up.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vacation, and books for boys

Well, we've been on the road all month, so we haven't been reading much to the kids. Allison from Don't Let's Start asked over at Kulturblog for some recommendations for books for boys ages 5-10. Here's my reply:

You're in luck -- three years ago, while visiting relatives in Alaska, I made a list of books for my 11-year old nephew. I'm in Alaska now, and wondered out loud whether that list still existed -- Kristen's sister said, "Yes, it's taped to the refrigerator," and went next door and retrieved it. The list was specifically fantasy/sci-fi for 11-year old boys. Here it is (many of these titles have already been recommended)

Susan Cooper -- The Dark is Rising series
CS Lewis -- The Chronicles of Narnia
Isaac Asimov -- Foundation Trilogy (which has more than three books now)
+ short stories
Anne McCaffrey: Harper Hall Trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums)
Ray Bradbury: The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451
Lloyd Alexander: The Prydain Chronicles (The Book of Three,The Black Cauldron,The Castle of Llyr,Taran Wanderer,The High King
also The Westmark Trilogy (Westmark, The Kestrel, The Beggar Queen
Madeline L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Time series
Ursula K. LeGuin: The Earthsea Trilogy (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore)
John Christopher: The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, The Pool of Fire, plus the prequel When the Tripods Came
JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Richard Adams: Watership Down
Ellen Rankin: The Westing Game
Norton Juster: The Phantom Tollbooth

Since you asked for ages 5-10, here are some further recommendations for books starring boy detectives/inventors/scientists:

the Danny Dunn series
the Alvin Fernald books by Clifford Hicks
the McGurk Detective Agency series by E. W. Hildick
the Matthew Looney books by Jerome Beatty Jr.
the Mushroom Planet books by Eleanor Cameron
the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series
Emil and the Detectives, by Erich Kastner
The Furious Flycycle by Jan Wahl

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A book-related meme

Allison over at Don't Lets Start tagged me with this book meme last month, and I keep putting it off, so here it is,

1. How many books do you own?
Hmm.... I used to be a compulsive book buyer. I would buy at least 40 or 50 at any library book sale or bookstore clearance sale I saw, and I never had enough shelf space for them all. Then I got married. The sight of all of my books piled up all over the floor made Kristen physically ill, and I figured if I had to choose between my books and my wife, I'd pick my wife. So the books went into boxes, out of sight, but still in my possession.

A couple of years ago I realized that I've been cured (mostly) of my book buying habit. I use the library to get my reading material, for the most part. Since that realization, I've been weeding out my personal book collection, so my total has gone down somewhat. I would guess I probably own 800-1000 books at present, and I'll probably get rid of a couple of hundred more this year (if anyone is looking for a nice hardbound copy of The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan or The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie, drop me an email).

On the other hand, I've been buying children's books like crazy over the past year and a half. I think we're up to about 700-800 children's books, and I imagine I'll add to that total in the fall.

Kristen has been going nuts over Christmas books. I think her collection is up to over 75 titles.

2. Last book I bought:

The last book I bought for myself was a copy of Benet's Reader's Guide to American Literature (only $2.00 at the library book sale). Every serious reader (and quiz bowl player) should have a copy of the Benet's Reader's Encyclopedias.

The last non-reference book I bought for myself? I honestly can't remember.

The last book I bought? I picked up 30 or so children's books at the same library book sale I got the Benet's at.

3. Last book I read:

Hmm. Toilet Training in Less than a Day. Before that it was The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp. Both are highly recommended if you fit the target audience.

Actually, I've had a little reading time over the past couple of weeks. I've also made it through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (thumbs way up), Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard (ok), Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey (guilty pleasure), and Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible (highly recommended, even if I still can't get up and down from the sand).

4. Books that have meant a lot to me:

Well, from my high school years up until the past few years, I read the following books about once per year (not including time in Japan on a mission):

Book of Mormon (natch)
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

5. Tag five people:

I'll get back to you on this one. I'm not a meme kind of guy, and I'm philosophically opposed to chain letters.

We're back!

Well, I've neglected this blog long enough. What with a new baby in the house and summer swim league, I haven't been reading to the kids on a regular basis for a while. Swimming is over now, and Trevor is sleeping more of less through the night, so we were able to read almost every night last week.

Before Trevor was born, Kristen and I would find time to read to all of the kids individually. This is no longer an option if we want to read, so I've been trying to find books that will appeal to both Jaymie (7) and Julia (4), which is more difficult than it might seem. For all of Julia's verbal sophistication, she doesn't have a tremendously long attention span yet, so keeping her engaged is a bit of work. This week we read Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, which has held up surprisingly well after all of these years. I rented the movie version for the girls to watch yesterday, and they liked it. Jaymie spent a bit of time figuring out where the movie differed from the book.

I'm not sure what I'm going to read to them next. I'd really like to read The Last Battle and finish off the Narnia books with Jaymie, but that won't work for Julia. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Summer reading at the library

I took the kids to the library to sign up for the summer reading program and to get a book from the RIF distribution. Jaymie picked Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; Julia chose Froggy's Halloween, Stanley grabbed Arthur Babysits, and I got The Very Hungry Caterpillar for Trevor, as our copy has been read to pieces.

The reading program is nothing too exciting -- read (or be read to) for 15 minutes each day. After 10 days you get a sticker and a ticket to the Durham Bulls (Triple A baseball team). 20 days nets a bookmark and a Golden Corral meal coupon, and 30 days earns you a badge and a pass to the skating rink. We'll get one of the Barnes and Noble reading program flyers for Jaymie as well.

We haven't read so much lately -- Kristen and I are dealing with sleep deprivation issues. After reading a couple of chapters of The Wizard of Oz to Jaymie and Julia last night, I fell asleep on the floor, using the book as a pillow. Hopefully, the library program will keep us honest.

I got The Day the Babies Crawled Away at Allison's suggestion. Stanley likes it a lot. Stanley has also been enjoying The Best Nest.

Jaymie is reading The Secret of the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks.

Julia has been picking books at random off of the shelf lately.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Movies from books

I'm still reading to Jaymie and Julia together. For our next book, I decided to get a couple of books that have been made into movies: L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz and Walter Farley's The Black Stallion. The vote was for The Wizard of Oz, so that's what we are reading.

I have never read the book before -- it's a great read-aloud, with short chapters, but a long sustained narrative. The girls have never seen the movie, so they don't have any preconceived notions of how the characters look or sound. I'm not sure if I'll let them see the movie after we're finished -- the girls are awfully sensitive to scary scenes in movies, and The Wizard of Oz is famously terrifying.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Following Jen's suggestion, I read Ruth Stiles Gannett's trilogy of dragon books to Jaymie and Julia this week. Jaymie had previously read them on her own and heard them on tape, but Julia was unfamiliar with the books. We own My Father's Dragon and Elmer and the Dragon and we borrowed The Dragons of Blueland from the library. These books are just about the right length for Julia. They are about about 80 pages each, but there are many illustrations, and the print is large, so that reading an entire book takes only about 40 minutes. We read the second book, Elmer and the Dragon in one night. By contrast, the edition of the Narnia books that we own (the new Harper Collins paperbacks with color illustrations by Pauline Bynes -- highly recommended) take me about a page a minute, so I generally read one or two chapters per night (15-30 pages).

The first book is clearly the best, in my opinion. Julia lost interest tonight for the last half of The Dragons of Blueland, the last book in the trilogy. Jaymie enjoyed the books again.

Kristen's mother is in town this week to help with the baby. I think I'm going to start The Last Battle with Jaymie and have Grandma read to Julia.

In other family reading news, Julia read an easy reader to Kristen this morning. She's still not super excited about reading by herself, but every once in a while she gets interested. Jaymie read The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe (a part of the Bunnicula series) this week. I find that I'm having a hard time keeping track of what Jaymie reads on her own these days. I should probably have her keep track herself. Stanley has been asking for various Mother Goose books lately.

Of course, with the new baby, the kids have been doing a lot more movie watching than reading lately. Mulan -- not bad. Mulan II -- blech. Spirited Away -- a classic.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A new read-aloudee

Our fourth child, Trevor was born this morning.

Read-alouds may suffer temporarily if Kristen and I are sleep deprived. Or I may have more time than usual, since I'll take some time off. Who knows?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Reading, May 5, 2005

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we did nothing in particular.

I did finish reading The Silver Chair to Jaymie. She was very excited to read this book -- every night she would pester me to read to her. Since she's not swimming early in the morning for the next few weeks, I let her stay up a little later than usual so we could get our reading in. Jaymie has enjoyed all of the Narnia books so far.

I read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back to Julia tonight at her request. She has been enjoying hearing poems from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends as well. Last night we read Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman. It's one of my favorite picture books as well.

Stanley continues to love Bright House, Night House.

Kristen hasn't been feeling well, so I've been reading to both of the girls, meaning that they get less reading time individually than when we split up so Kristen reads to one of them and I read to the other. I'm going to try to find something they can both listen to together, since things aren't going to improve much once the baby comes. Jen at Time for Reading suggested My Father's Dragon. Jaymie has heard and read this several times, but I'm sure she would enjoy it again. Julia has heard this book on tape before, so maybe this might work.

I picked up Hank the Cowdog on tape and in book form at a used book sale recently. The girls have both enjoyed hearing this book during their quiet time. They've started quoting from it. I've never read it, so I don't have much else to say about it. I noticed that there are many books in the series, so we may get some more of these.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Read-alouds vs. Movies

I'm almost done reading The Silver Chair to Jaymie. She is prone to bad dreams when she sees scary, violent, or intense movies, and I was worried when we started that the book would be too disturbing for her. However, we finished reading the worst parts on Friday (when Prince Rilian kills the Lady of the Green Kirtle in the form of a giant green serpent), and although she was concerned that she might have bad dreams, she slept just fine that night.

Even though read-alouds and movies are similar in that they are both experienced somewhat passively, there is a difference between the two. Read-alouds engage the imagination more than movies. With a read-aloud, what the mind's eye sees is entirely up to the listener. Perhaps this is why Jaymie seems to handle scary read-alouds better than scary movies -- it could be that it is more difficult to imagine the action in a book subconsciously than it is to recall the images presented on a movie or TV screen.

In other read-aloud news, we didn't have lots of reading time this weekend due to various activities. As an alternative to our usual reading, I've started reading poems to the girls at night when we don't have much time to read. We're starting with selections from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

New read-aloud blog

I've linked to Jill's readaloud blog, Jill's Favorite books, in the sidebar. Check it out!

Karen over at Just One More Chapter? is taking a break. Hopefully she'll be back posting soon.

If you've got a readaloud blog you want linked, let me know. Part of my goal in creating this blog was to find/create a community of parents who read to their kids.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Newbery Award winners

I'm about halfway through The Silver Chair with Jaymie. She's very anxious to finish it -- she asks every day if we're going to have time to read. Unfortunately, we were very busy today, and didn't have a chance to read tonight.

On Sunday I started a little project. The family of one of my college roommates had a big chart hanging in their kitchen listing all of the Newbery award winners, and who in the family had read which of the books. I decided to try this for myself. Unfortunately, it turns out that there aren't any convenient tabular lists of Newbery award and honor books to be found using Google, so I spent an hour and made one myself. If you're interested in a copy, let me know how to contact you in a comment or an email, and I'll send it to you. I've got it in an Access database, but I can send an Excel spreadsheet, a tab-delimited text file, a .csv file, or any other format you can imagine.

I've read surprisingly few of the Newbery award winners. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that award-winning children's books are not necessarily the most fun books for kids to read. They may be great literature, but they may not be great reading. I think I'll try using the Newberys as a source for read-alouds. One thing I notice in looking at the list is that most of the books deal with themes and issues that are worth talking about with my children, and reading these books with them will create opportunities to have discussions about them.

I read Robert Lawson's The Great Wheel (1958 Newbery Honor book) last week, and I may try it as a read-aloud. It tells the story of the first Ferris wheel, which was also the largest ever built (I believe this is still the case). The story focuses on an Irish immigrant who comes to America to pursue his dream -- along with the detailed descriptions of the building of the Ferris wheel, which was an engineering marvel, there is much discussion of immigrant life, the American dream, and class mobility. I think the subject matter is just about right for Jaymie, but the level at which the story is told is probably too difficult for her to handle on her own, so reading this book aloud seems to make sense.

I gave Jaymie The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (1950 medal winner) to read this morning. We'll see if she makes it through. I remember starting this book several times as a kid and never making it to the end.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My Sonlight quest, and another used book sale

Durham Academy had a used book sale last week -- I stopped by three times, and bought probably close to 80 books. The last day books were going for $1.00 per grocery bag -- I got two bags full. Probably the best find was Art Fraud Detective. It's an interactive book -- 30+ paintings from the National Gallery in London have been replaced with forgeries, and your job is to compare the paintings with the images from the museum catalog to determine which ones have been changed and how. Jaymie has been working on it every waking moment for the past three or four days.

I've started to keep track of how many of the books in the Sonlight catalog we can collect by going to library sales and other used book sales. We have about 115 of roughly 670 books in the catalog -- about 30 of them were bought at the Durham Academy sale.

I started reading The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis to Jaymie tonight. Stanley is surprisingly interested in The Magic Schoolbus books (Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen) -- he will sit through an entire reading of one, and then ask for it again. I tried reading Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith to Julia, thinking that she might be ready for some longer format books, but she wasn't really interested.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Some books

Well, I've neglected this blog long enough. We haven't been very good about reading to the kids over the past few weeks -- lots of sickness and busyness.

Kristen started reading The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley to Jaymie, but they decided that it was "too old" for her, so they ended up reading The Cat Who Went To Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth instead (both are Newbery Award winners, if that means anything.). Jaymie really liked it a lot. It has cats and artists -- what's not to like?

Jaymie has been reading Dick King-Smith lately (The Mouse Butcher and Jenius, the Amazing Guinea Pig), as well as lots of Boxcar Children, and another Amber Brown book. I went to the library book fair last week and came home with a bunch of new books for her to read -- she's been plowing through them.

Julia and I have been reading whatever she pulls off the shelves at night. The last few nights she's asked for Animalogies, a book of analogies about animals written by kids, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, and McBroom's Zoo by Sid Fleischman. Other reads include Arthur books by Marc Brown.

Stanley has grown attached to Night House, Bright House a picture rhyming book. It's a fun book, but can be tedious to read over and over again. He also recently discovered Whose Mouse are You?. He really likes Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as well.

Kristen scored big at the library book sale -- there were three boxes full of Christmas books, and I brought home about ten of them, including a couple on her wish list. I'll put up a list of our Christmas books later.

I think I'm going to read The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis with Jaymie next. I keep thinking that Julia's getting ready for longer books, but I haven't tried one yet. She enjoys listening to books on tape.

I tried reading A Visit to William Blake's Inn to Jaymie and Julia tonight, but Julia lost interest -- it may be too much for her. The book is a series of poems about an inn run by William Blake. There is a very loose narrative structure that runs throughout the book, but not enough to engage Julia, apparently. I may try again in a couple of weeks, since I really like the book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A book sale, and my cataloging project

We've had sick kids, so we haven't read a whole lot this week.

Kristen started reading The Wind in the Willows to Jaymie tonight. Amazingly, neither Kristen nor I have read it yet.

Last Thursday I went to a book sale at a local private school, and came away with about 40 books for $4.00. We were very excited. There were a bunch of Magic Schoolbus books (some from the original series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, some based on the TV series). All of the kids love these right now, including Stanley, surprisingly enough. Another find was King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood.

When I got home, I became curious about the number of children's books we had in the house. I borrowed a bar code reader from work, downloaded a copy of Readerware, and set to work cataloging our collection. We have about 500 children's books that we own, plus about 30-40 at any time from the library, which surprised me -- I would have put the number at about half of that figure.

The long-term project is to have a searchable database of our family library available online. For now, maybe I'll highlight a few books each week from our collection that we really like, especially since Julia keeps picking dreck like The Lion King Little Golden Books that we have.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

read to Jaymie and Julia, March 15, 2005

Wow, I haven't posted in a while. I finally finished reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to Jaymie. This was a more challenging read-aloud for her -- lots of nautical terminology and courtly language. She spaced out more than once during the reading. Still, she liked it, and was disappointed on the nights that we didn't read.

I liked reading it to her. The episodic structure of the plot lends itself nicely to reading aloud over a number of nights. Plus I got to read the word "poop" a lot (It took Jaymie a while to realize I wasn't joking).

Rather than try to catch up, I'll just start again with what we read tonight. Kristen wasn't feeling well, so I read to both Jaymie and Julia.

Grandpa's Teeth by Rod Clement. Someone has stolen Grandpa's teeth from the glass by his bed, and the whole town is under suspicion. To avoid appearing guilty, everyone must walk around smiling all the time, with disastrous consequences. A fun read-aloud if you like to do silly voices, as Grandpa gums all of his words. From the Library

The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss, illustrated by Kathryn Brown The adventures of a little matryoshka doll who is separated from her older sisters. A nice story for girls, especially. We bought this book for the girls along with matryoshkas for their very own a couple of Christmases ago.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Reading from the past week

I haven't been very good about updating this past week, in part because I'm reading The Voyage fo the Dawn Treader to Jaymie now in the evenings, while Kristen reads to Julia, so I don't have much new to report on a nightly basis, and I don't know exactly what's being read to Julia. Here's a list of some of the library books she's heard over the past few days:

Heckedy Peg by Don and Audrey Wood. I've listed this before, but this is a great favorite of Julia's.
The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock and Cock-A-Doodle-Dudley by Bill Peet. Also listed before, and often requested by Julia.
Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss. I loved this book as a kid, so I got it for Julia. I think she liked it.
And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss. I've been getting a lot of Dr. Seuss for Julia. I realized a while ago that our kids have never heard a lot of these stories.
John Philip Duck by Patricia Polacco. Patricia Polacco is a favorite around our house. I haven't read this one myself yet.
Ira Says Goodbye by Bernard Waber. I haven't read this one either, but it's the same Ira from Ira Sleeps Over, which we like around here.

Stanley's been requesting If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff several times a day. He also has asked for our copy of The Magic Schoolbus: Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen. Surprisingly, he sits through the whole book, which is quite a bit longer than his usual fare. I'm not sure what he likes about it. He is familiar with the TV program based on the books, since we have borrowed some of them from the library, so perhaps that is what is keeping his attention.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Read on Feb. 22, 2005

Kristen read to Julia tonight:

Heckedy Peg, The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock, and And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

I read another chapter of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to Jaymie.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Read to Julia, February 21, 2005

We went to the library today and got some new books:

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood. A mean witch turns a family of children into food, but their mother rescues them by figuring out who is who. A creepy story, well told and beautifully illustrated. This is a family favorite. Borrowed from the library.

First Tomato by Rosemary Wells. I thought this was a Max and Ruby story, but it isn't. Kristen said it's kind of weird. Borrowed from the library.

Doctor DeSoto by William Steig. Another favorite. Doctor DeSoto is a dentist with a fox for a client. He's worried that the fox is planning on eating him at the next visit, but Doctor DeSoto has some tricks up his sleeve. Classic William Steig. A Newbery Honor book. Borrowed from the library.

I read another chapter of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to Jaymie.

Julia begged for Horton Hatches the Egg but we couldn't find it.

I read I Can Fly and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to Stanley.

Jaymie read a story about a pirate lassoing the moon to some girl while we were at the library. She wants to borrow it when it is available next. The dance teacher at the library recommended it to them.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Read on Feb 20, 2005

To Jaymie and Julia:

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss. In bed this morning. We read Bartholomew and the Oobleck last week. Borrowed from the library.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. We haven't read this for a long time. I don't think Julia knew the story, so it was fun. We own this.

Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel. I really like Lobel's books. Simple, easy-to-read stories, but interesting and with heart. We own this.

To Julia:

That lame Barbie book about self-esteem (her pick).
That lame Dino-fours book (her pick) -- slightly less lame than Barbie.
Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells. Her Max and Ruby books are favorites in our home. Stanley has started requesting these as well.

I started reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis with Jaymie tonight -- we read the first two chapters.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Read to Jaymie and Julia, Feb. 17, 2005

I ended up reading to both Jaymie and Julia together.

Julia picked The Shiny Skates by Elizabeth Koda-Callan. It's another of those Magic Locket/Silver Slippers stories that comes with a little necklace and a story about the importance of believing in yourself. It's a cheap merchandising trick, but better executed than most. I actually don't mind reading these. This was a Christmas present.

I picked Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. I've noticed that Julia hasn't heard many of the Dr. Seuss books, so I picked up a few at the library this week. I loved this book as a kid, and it retains its charm even now for me.

Jaymie finished reading Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Some books for Stanley

Stanley generally gets whatever books are in his room at bedtime from me (along with others from Kristen during the day -- she'll have to post those). Lately the rotation has been pretty regular:

Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
The Farm Book by Jan Pfloog
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
My First Real Mother Goose
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Ed Martin, Jr.

Stanley's taken to reading these himself, which is pretty cute, but a bit frustrating, as he won't let me read them to him anymore.

Fortunately, today he asked for some new read-alouds:
Toes are to Tickle by Shen Roddie
Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells

We read these several times tonight.

Read to Jaymie and Julia, Feb. 16, 2005

Kristen got a long-distance phone call from her aunt, so I read to both the girls:

The Little Mermaid, a Little Golden Book version of the Disney movie. Julia picked this, despite my attempts to suggest something else. Jaymie hates all of the talk of kissing. We own this book.

Pete's a Pizza by William Steig. It's raining, and Pete can't play outside with his friends, so his dad makes him into a pizza. A really fun, short book about a dad playing with his son. Bought at a Scholastic warehouse sale.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Read to Julia, February 15, 2005

More Bill Peet tonight:

Cock-A-Doodle Dudley by Bill Peet. Dudley the rooster is well-liked by all of the farmyard animals except for Gunther Goose, who is jealous of all the attention that Dudley gets for waking the sun in the morning. Gunther chases Dudley away from the farm, but when Dudley fails to crow in the morning, the sun refuses to come up. Another enjoyable book from one of Julia's favorite authors. Borrowed from the library.

Kristen finished reading Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton to Jaymie tonight. I'll have Jaymie report on it sometime this week. Next up: I get to read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Read to Julia, February 14, 2005

We went to the library today for creative movement class and picked up a few books.

The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet. Julia picked this out herself. I actually tried to put it back, because it looked like it might be scary, but Julia insisted. I'm glad she did. Classic Bill Peet. Prewitt is a peacock with a small, unimpressive tail with only two eyes. His tail grows into an image of a monstrous face, causing him to be ostracized from his flock. They're chasing him away when they come face to face with a tiger, who is scared off by Prewitt's monster-faced tail. Completely predictable, and completely enjoyable. Borrowed from library.

Fox in Love by Edward Marshall, pictures by James Marshall. An easy reader -- I'm starting to introduce these as Julia is learning to read so she can look forward to reading books on her own. I like the Fox books. They're not syrupy sweet -- he's a bit irresponsible and foolish, but overall a nice guy.

Read to Julia, February 13, 2005

Everyone is still sick, so another short night. Julia grabbed some junk off the shelves -- some Barbie book, and something else I don't remember. Bleck.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Read to Jaymie and Julia, Feb. 11, 2005

The kids were all sick, and Jaymie had to get up at 6:00 for a swim meet, so only one short book tonight:

The Toy Circus by Jan Wahl, illustrated by Tim Bowers. The toys come out at night and stage a circus. Not awful, but nothing special either. Very short.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Chapter books read by Jaymie at age 6

Here is a (more or less complete) list of chapter books read by Jaymie at age 6 (list does not include picture books)

Dolphin Adventure: by Wayne Grover
The Cricket in Times Square: by George Selden
The Littles and Their Amazing New Friend: by John Peterson
Ralph S. Mouse: by Beverly Cleary
Half Magic by Edward Eager
Poppy: by Avi
Poppy and Rye: by Avi
The Castle in the Attic: by Elizabeth Winthrop
Balto and the great race: by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Stone Fox: by John Reynolds Gardiner
Lady Lollipop: by Dick King Smith
Clever Lollipop: by Dick King Smith
The Furious Flycycle: by Jan Wahl
The Whipping Boy: by Sid Fleischman
Amber Brown is not a Crayon: by Paula Danzinger
A Mouse Called Wolf: by Dick King Smith
Pretty Polly: by Dick King Smith
Tucker’s Countryside: by George Selden
Sarah, Plain and Tall: by Patricia MacLachlan
Ramona and Her Father: by Beverly Cleary
Squanto:Friend of the Pilgrims: by Clyde Robert Bulla
Homer Price: by Robert McCloskey
Ramona Quimby, Age 8: by Beverly Cleary
Socks: by Beverly Cleary
More All-Of-A-Kind Family: by Sydney Taylor
Bunnicula: by Deborah and James Howe
Beezus and Ramona: by Beverly Cleary
Pocahontas and the Strangers: by Clyde Robert Bulla
Forever Amber Brown: by Paula Danziger
The Littles and the Big Storm: by John Peterson
Tom Little’s Great Halloween Scare: by John Peterson
Dolphin Adventure: by Wayne Grover
Dolphin Freedom: by Wayne Grover
The Mouse and the Motorcycle: by Beverly Cleary
Junie B., First Grader (at last!) by Barbara Park
Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones is a Party Animal by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones has a Monster Under Her Bed by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones is (Almost) a Flower Girl by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket by Barbara Park

Chpater books read by Jaymie at age 5

For the record, here's a list (more or less complete) of the chapter books read by Jaymie at age 5 (list does not include picture books).

Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne
The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne
Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne
Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne
Night of the Ninjas by Mary Pope Osborne
Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborne
Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborne
Midnight on the Moon by Mary Pope Osborne
Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne
Ghost Town at Sundown by Mary Pope Osborne
Lions at Lunchtime by Mary Pope Osborne
Polar Bears Past Bedtime by Mary Pope Osborne
Vacation on the Volcano by Mary Pope Osborne
Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne
Viking Ships at Sunrise by Mary Pope Osborne
Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne
Tonight on the Titanic by Mary Pope Osborne
Buffalo Before Breakfast by Mary Pope Osborne
Tigers at Twilight by Mary Pope Osborne
Dingoes at Dinnertime by Mary Pope Osborne
Civil War on Sunday by Mary Pope Osborne
Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne
Twister on Tuesday by Mary Pope Osborne
Earthquake in the Early Morning by Mary Pope Osborne
Stage Fright on a Summer Night by Mary Pope Osborne
Good Morning, Gorillas by Mary Pope Osborne
Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne
High Tide in Hawaii by Mary Pope Osborne
Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne
Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve by Mary Pope Osborne
Summer of the Sea Serpent by Mary Pope Osborne
My Father’s Dragon: By Ruth Stiles Gannett
Elmer and the Dragon: By Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Dragons of Blueland By Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Courage of Sarah Noble By Alice Dalgleish
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones and a little Monkey Business by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones and Her Big Fat Mouth by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones and that Meanie Jim’s Birthday by Barbara Park
Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren by Barbara Park
The Littles and the Big Storm by John Peterson
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Read to Jaymie and Julia, Feb. 10, 2005

Kristen went to Enrichment meeting tonight at the church, so I read to Jaymie and Julia together.

The Silver Slippers by Elizabeth Koda-Callan. A little girl wants to become a prima ballerina, but she's far from the best dancer in her class. Her mother gives her a necklace with silver slippers hanging from it to inspire her as she works long and hard to fulfill her dream. Julia picked this one. It's a companion to Koda-Callan's The Magic Locket.

We also read "Ramona and the Apples" from Beezus and Ramona. Jaymie picked this one. Julia seemed to like it fine. Jaymie has read this book before, so she's familiar with the story.