Monday, March 17, 2008

Great Choices for Read-Alouds

As I'm gearing up for our first "official" homeschooling year in the fall, I've been doing some research. It's the kind of research I love best: reading!

Emily Anne has gotten where she likes to have a chapter (or two . . . or three . . .) read before bed instead of just picture books. I love being able to read to chapter books to her! We have read The Wizard of Oz, Raggedy Ann and the Golden Rings, Little House in the Big Woods, and are currently reading Pippi Longstocking (who I remember fondly from my childhood, but am realizing is not the greatest role model for children!). As I anticipate more read-alouds, I realized I wanted to be a little more intentional about what books I introduced, so I have been checking out a lot of books from the juvenile section of the library and compiling them into an annotated bibliography. I've particularly been looking for charming old-fashioned stories. I've included possible themes in case I want to incorporate them into a thematic unit and possible extensions. Since I like to do read-alouds from picture books during the day so that Will can join us, too, I've included some of those as well. Here are my results so far.


Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey. 1948, Puffin Books. This simple story of Sal and her mother picking blueberries for next winter starts off a little slow. However, the story picks up as the reader realizes that Sal & her mother’s harvesting is paralleled by that of Little Bear and his mother.
o Themes: blueberries, bears, hibernation, canning
o Extensions: onomatopoeia, story modeling

Rabbit Hill, Robert Lawson. 1944, Puffin Books. This short novel tells the story of Georgie, a rabbit, his family, and all the other animals on the Hill. The plot centers around the arrival of “New Folks” in the Big House. All the animals have distinct personalities, and add humor to the story. The main theme of the story is the interaction of human beings with the animals in their habitat.
o Themes: rabbits, woodland animals, Connecticut, St. Francis of Assissi, gardening
o Extensions: comparison/contrast of this novel & Peter Rabbit (Peter & Georgie; Mr. McGregor & the Folks)

The Tough Winter, Robert Lawson. 1954, Puffin Books. This sequel to Rabbit Hill shows how difficult it is to survive a tough Connecticut winter. The departure of the Folks for bluegrass country and the arrival of the caretaker and his wife underscores the relationship between human beings and animals. Uncle Analdas, who makes an appearance in Rabbit Hill, plays a larger part in this novel.
o Themes: hibernation, Kentucky, woodland animals, winter, Groundhog Day

Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry. 1947, Rand McNally & Co. This novel is a must-read for anyone who loves horses. It takes place on the barrier islands of Virginia and chronicles the story of Paul & Maureen Beebe, who capture a horse and love and care for her and her foal. The novel opens with a flashback to a shipwreck during colonial times to explain how the horses arrived on the island. Younger readers may find this beginning slow, but the action picks up with the introduction of the brother and sister.
o Themes: breaking horses, barrier islands
o Extensions: dialect

King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian, Marguerite Henry. 1948: Rand McNally & Co. This novel tells the story of Agba, a mute Moroccan stable boy and his horse, Sham. Agba and Sham travel from the sultan’s stables to the royal stables of Versailles to a Parisian carter’s stable to an English Quaker’s home, to an innkeeper, to an aristocratic manor to the wild fens of England and back to the manor. The story’s theme shows how human beings can affect their horses, for good or ill. Sham winds up founding a new line of thoroughbreds, including Man o’ War and Seabiscuit in his lineage.
o Themes: Morocco, Arabian horses, horse racing, muteness

Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfeild. 1937: Random House. Don’t let the new illustrations on the cover fool you; this is an old-fashioned book. It is the story of Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil, three adopted sisters. When money becomes tight for their guardian, they enroll in a school for the stage, with the goal of earning money for their family. Each of the girls has a distinct personality to match their distinct hair color. The novel deals with sacrifice, the meaning of family and lessons of pride and sets these lessons amidst toe shoes, foot lights, and engines (yes, engines).
o Themes: family, ballet, theater, Shakespeare, child labor, engine and auto repair
o Extensions: Read & act out a children’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; prepare for an audition like the girls do (recite a speech, prepare a song and dance)

I hope you've found a few new (old) books to try out. So, what are your favorite books for read-alouds?


Van said...

Speaking of reading and books - you won my book on DVD! If you send me your address, I will put it in the mail for you! I miss the reading times - what precious memories you just brought to mind!! Oh -How I am fighting the envy bug after reading your blog this morning! BUT I will respond in joy rather in jealousy because we have been commanded to fill our hearts with good thoughts.I will rejoice this AM that mommies are reading to their little ones!

Earthmommy said...

This was a great list. Reading it I thought of the movie "You've Got Mail" where they mention the book "Ballet Shoes". I have to admit I never realized it was a real book, lol.

Aspen (now 3) is just getting to love reading and I find even with picture books the oldies seem to be the goodies.

Rachel said...

It is funny -- I, too, remembered the Ballet Shoes from You've Got Mail. I assumed it was a real book but never thought more about it than that.... I will definitely check this series out!!

Great post, thanks!

Donna(mom24boyz) said...

If you like read alouds, you should check into Sonlight curriculum--might be a fit for you on your homeschooling adventure!

My favorite movie is You've Got mail!---loved it, loved it, loved it!