Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recommended Read-Alouds

I thought I'd share some homeschooling resources that we are loving. But wait--you don't have to be a homeschooler to enjoy these books with your children!!

We've been starting out the mornings with The Child's Story Bible, by Catherine Vos. I bought this story Bible years ago, having heard glowing recommendations, but I found that my young non-auditory learners were not ready for it yet. (It only has about six illustrations.) I waited too long to bring it out again, for my two oldest, anyway, but it is perfect for middle school/junior high boys, and Bantam10 is keeping up fine with it too.

This child's Bible doesn't skip from tale to tale, but tells the chronological story of the Bible, including historical background when helpful. We just finished the Old Testament, and I don't know when I've had a clearer grasp of when and where what prophet spoke to whom. The boys loved it because of all the battles and murders and wicked kings, and especially the wonderful godly kings that would come along and steer the whole nation back on the right path (they actually cheered hissed a yesssssss a few times!). The author has a wonderful sense of the overall picture and story of the whole Bible. We are LOVING this book every day!

Next, I read aloud from some fiction book. We just read Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle, consecutively. Lots of food for thought and growth there. I interrupted freely to share deeper meanings as I saw them--it had been so many years since I read these, it all seemed so fresh!--and the boys enjoyed some of those tangents as much as they did these stories. So much truth and goodness in the Narnia books. Lewis is my hero.

Currently, our fiction book is one that the boys thumbed their noses at initially: White Stallion of Lipizza, by Marguerite Henry. Growing up, I read and re-read every book this author wrote, because I was a horse-crazy girl, but also because they were so well-written. This one quickly grabbed their attention and held it, and taught some real character lessons as well. There is one scene where the apprentice rider is asked whether he blames the horse for his fall, or the boy in the stands who waved his hat at the riding pair, and he says he blames only himself--which is the answer that allows him to continue at the Viennese riding school. There is a Lipizzan horse farm not far from here, and now I think I won't be the only one interested in visiting it this summer!

Another winner, which we started reading concurrently with our other fiction book, has been Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb. These retellings are much more understandable than trying to read the original plays, but the language is stretching the boys, and challenging to me as a reader, too, to read well, and to know when to stop and summarize or explain vocabulary.

Here is an example:

It was by desire of the king that the queen sent for Hamlet, that she might signify to her son how much his late behaviour had displeased them both; and the king, wishing to know all that passed at that conference, and thinking that the too partial report of a mother might let slip some part of Hamlet's words, which it might import the king to know, Polonius, the old counsellor of state, was ordered to plant himself behind the hangings in the queen's closet, where he might unseen hear all that passed.

See what I mean? Not difficult to understand--if read correctly! (And kind of a fun challenge, if you enjoy reading aloud.) But well worth the effort, to expose them to Shakespeare's excellent tales. We read "Much Ado About Nothing" first, since they were familiar with the movie, and then I chose "Romeo and Juliet," since it had come up as an issue of cultural literacy a few weeks ago. They loved it: duels, poisonings, stabbings, suicide...and people always think it is a gushy romance! I told them that Shakespeare had several other tragedies that ended with everyone dead on the stage, so we read "Hamlet" next. Madness and ghosts--even better. We've been reading each one in about three sittings.

And upon Googling, I just found that the complete Tales are online, here! But I love my beautiful hardback Children's Classics version (pictured above).

Time to wrap up. I just re-read for typos and found a good one:

Happy read alouding!


Heather said...

I've been wondering about the children's Bible! I too had heard good things about the book and I wondered if it was appropriate for BB. I don't like our current Bible at all. Is there a children's Bible that you like for non-readers?

At A Hen's Pace said...

Yes, and I will post about it soon. But I'll give the recommendation here, too--My Very First Bible: Old (/New) Testament Stories for Young Children by Sattgast, il. by Flint. All my kids have LOVED these.

Islandsparrow said...

I read the Catherine Vos story Bible all by myself as a child - no prompting as I didn't come from a Christian family. It just happened to be in our book collection. I can still remember the illustration of Elijah raising the widow's son - my favourite story.

truevyne said...

Three great picks! I'll have to dust off my copies of the last two, but we are a Vos family.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Thanks for a great post and a recommendation for that children's Bible. I ALMOST got one of these at our library's used bookstore, but through mix-up, it ended up being sold before I could purchase it. : (

I host a weekly carnival called Read Aloud Thursday on my blog. I'd love to have you participate!!

Here's a link to all the previous Read Aloud Thursdays-->http://hopeistheword.wordpress.com/category/read-aloud-thursday/