I’m a little torn about what to post for today’s Read Aloud Thursday. Due to my bout of laryngitis last week, we’re a little behind on our current chapter book, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill. The Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge ends this weekend, so ideally I would post my review of our latest Betsy-Tacy read here today. We are LOVING the story, but I really want to finish it before I give my opinion (which will definitely be positive, but I want to know whereof I gush 😉 ). I might have to break my self-imposed no-blogging-on-the-weekend rule just this once after we finish Big Hill. Stay tuned.
Of course, there’s no shortage of great books to share–that’s almost never the problem. In fact, I often have a hard time blogging the books I want to blog before I have to return them to the library. I think today I’ll reach waaaaaaay back for some vintage Caldecotts that we enjoyed a few weeks ago. How’s that?
They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson is a book that helps me realize that we all have stories and no matter how mundane we think they are, someone will probably think they’re interesting. My girls are forever wanting me or Steady Eddie to tell them a story, and the ones they like best are the ones from our childhoods. I am very guilty of claiming that I don’t have any stories–after all, I’ve lived a pretty ho-hum existence. Well, according to Robert Lawson, simply being strong and good is enough. 🙂 This story, published in 1940 and winner of the next year’s Caldecott Medal, is simply the story of his parents and grandparents. In the foreward he writes:
Most of it I heard as a little boy, so there may be many mistakes; perhaps I have forgotten or mixed up some of the events and people. But that does not really matter, for this is not alone the story of my parents and grandparents, it is the story of the parents and grandparents of most of us who call ourselves Americans.
My girls and I enjoyed this one, and of course, the illustrations are one of the reasons it’s special. Lawson‘s pen and ink drawings are detailed and very expressive. Lawson was both a prolific illustrator and author, and he was the first person to win both the Caldecott and Newbery Medals. (His Newbery was for Rabbit Hill.) He was definitely a talented fellow and one whose works I want to explore further with my children.
The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles by Maud and Miska Petersham is a title I’d love to add to our home library. Mother Goose collections we have aplenty–collections of American rhymes, though, are nonexistent. It was fun to me to read some of these poems and jingles to the girls and remember them as something that my daddy or my granny used to say. Granny was a veritible storehouse of poetic knowledge–memorizing “pieces” was something she had to do a lot of in her nine years of formal education, so it was never surprising to hear her spouting off a rhyme. However, my daddy isn’t the literary type at all, so it was fun for me to read rhymes that I’ve heard him recite. Not to be too serious and high-minded, but it made me realize the importance of the oral tradition. (“How Much Wood Does a Woodchuck Chuck?” comes to mind immediately, lest you think I’m getting up on my high horse. 🙂 ) The girls got a big kick out of this book–especially this rhyme:
Way down yonder on the Piankatank,
The bull frog jumped from bank to bank
And skinned his leg from shank to shank
Way down yonder on the Piankatank.
The Rooster Crows was published in 1945 and won the Caldecott Medal in 1946. Maud and Miska Petersham were prolific illustrators and several of their books are worth quite a bit of money. Hopefully the fact that The Rooster Crows won the Caldecott will keep it in print for a long while!
Reading these two older award-winning books has made me ponder the nature of awards. Both of these books are very basic and simple by today’s standards, and I don’t necessarily just mean in terms of the style of illustrations. It seems to me that oftentimes today picture books are gimmicky–that there has to be a “catch” to the book for it to be considered good. I don’t know. I’m still thinking this through. Readers, what do you think? Has our standard of what’s good been altered somehow? Are we always looking for the next, new thing? (Maybe these books were the next, new thing in their day, hmm?) Or is this just the nature of declaring something the best?
Oh, goodness. I’m sorry to wax so philosophical this Read Aloud Thursday. I feel like I need to apologize for that and for not doing a better job of getting around to everyone’s blogs and commenting on your Read Aloud Thursday posts. Lately I have been doing most of my blog reading via my iPod Touch, and I find it VERY tedious to try to comment on it. We have quite a few new bloggers participating in Read Aloud Thursday, and I want you all to feel welcome! I’ll try to get around to your blogs as soon as possible, I promise!
So, what has your family been reading together lately? Leave a link to your blog post (please put the title of your blog in your link!) or a comment below!