Anyway, back to the books. Another reason I think our read-alouds this fall have gone so well is the selections that we have made. We just finished up the first twelve weeks of Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations. This cycle started in the medieval period and meanders slowly up through a few (fairly) current events. It’s made it much easier to tie our books into our history as opposed to last year where we spent the majority in ancient civilizations. I will also admit, some of that was my own choosing – I’m leaving the bulk of ancient readings until we come back around to Cycle 1 again in a couple more years.Here’s the list of what we have tackled this fall:
Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
· So so so good. Such a fun adventure story and I cannot wait to read this again with the boy when we come back through Cycle 2 and he’s old enough to really enjoy it.
· We read the full version of this – no abridgements for us. The old English occasionally offers a word that we needed to define, but the girls (especially my older two) did fabulous with it.
· We followed it up with the Disney version of Robin Hood. Not so much like the book. : )
Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
· Another one we really enjoyed. This was a more modern tale of a little boy who is given an amazing model of a castle by his beloved housekeeper. He finds a small toy knight (or what he thinks is a toy knight) in the castle and ends up releasing the knight from a spell that had him frozen. Through some selfish decisions that the boy makes, and which he later has to recify, he goes on a quest to help the knight return to his normal size and to his home.
· I think the girls were able to follow along a little better with this one due to the more modern setting. I didn’t love it as much as Robin Hood, but still a good read.
The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame
· A short story that we read over two days. A young boy meets a dragon and tries to explain (to the dragon) that the village expects him to show up and battle a knight to the death. The dragon is really not interested in fighting and tries to talk his way out of the battle with the knight so they work out a plan to stage some injuries so neither loses face before the townsfolk.
· I had no idea that this was written by the author of Wind in the Willows, the book I reviewed/hosted for the Reading to Know bookclub this summer. Totally different type of book from WitW … and way shorter. : )
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
· This was a bit heady for my girls, but I’m glad we read it. (And a departure from our books that tied in with history). We went to a play this story at our local children’s theater in September and I wanted them to be somewhat familiar with the story before the play. I’m so glad that we read it! This play (which was excellent) was INTENSE and I know that my little girls would have been very overwhelmed (i.e. freaked out) had they not known the story and that all ends well.
· Of note: reading this, and my realization that I had never read the rest of the Wrinkle in Time series (did you know there was a series?) meant that I had to read the rest of those books on my own this month. : )
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
· This story tied in perfectly with one of our history sentences that we memorized about the One Hundred Year War and the Black Death. The story starts with a young boy who loses the loss of his legs after an illness. When we starts to regain his strength he finds that most of the people in his household have gotten sick from the plague and either left or died. His father is off fighting for the king in the war and his mother is attending the king in London. He’s taken in by a kind monk and lives in a monestary until he is able to rejoin his family and return to the duties that he was to take on as a young squire for a knight.
· A Newberry winner that I’m glad we read. The perfect length for my girls and they were very interested in the fate of this boy.
Leonardo da Vinci, Giants of Science by Kathleen Krull
· This is our only non-fiction in the batch, I believe. (Minus many picture books on other Renaissance figures). This was a great book as far as lots and lots of facts on Leonardo. What a truly fascinating guy.
· That said, I did quite a bit of editing as I read aloud to the girls. His parents were not married, and there is quite a bit of explanation and discussion about his illigitamacy as well as other social issues of the time that I’m not ready to get into with my girls. (At least not my little one, therefore the older one will also benefit from my editing for the time being).
· Still, full of facts. Use parental discretion if you hand it off to them or read it aloud.
Basil, Of Industry and Honesty, Lamplighters Books
· We have subscription to Lamplighter Press and get a book a month in the mail from them. This is one that my husband read aloud to the girls in the evening. The story of a young boy of impoverished parents. He learns that hard work and honesty is the way to make your way in the world and is mentored by several kind neighbors and adults that cross his path. His hard work starts to change the tide of hard times that his family is in and by the end of the story, things are looking much better for the family.
· Heavy on the morals in this book and there is no doubt on the points that they are trying to get across with this story.
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
· Surprised at how funny this book was! The story of a prince and his whipping boy – the boy that took the prince’s punishment when he misbehaved. They are kidnapped and while the whipping boy tries to get them out of the scrape that they are in, the prince keeps messing things up.
· Another (short) Newberry winner that we enjoyed.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Young Reader’s Shakeseare
· Recommended by Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things, I picked this up and we began our first foray into Shakespeare. This was a GREAT abridgement/paraphrase/easily understandable version. I had never read this play before and this was a great intro into the story for me as well. I have a copy of the Young Reader’s version of Romeo and Juliet on my shelf and hope to get to it sometime in the new year.
… and then we have been slooooooowly working our way through Little Women since early November. It has been SO fun reading this with the girls. One of my all-time favorite stories and it’s been some time since I’ve read it. Reading it aloud and sharing it with my girls has been a treat. We've missed several days (and will miss some more in the coming days) with different events and a little travel but I'm hoping we can still get it done before the end of the year.
Whew! I’m glad to have our fall 2013 read-aloud’s recorded. Though we enjoyed some more than others, there really wasn’t a dud in the lot. And now it’s time to start looking at what we are going to read in 2014!
Linking up this long-overdue post with Amy’s monthly Read-Aloud Thursday link-up!