Read Aloud Thursday–The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame

If I have one read-aloud regret, it’s The Wind in the Willows.  Perhaps regret is too strong a word for a book I read aloud to my children, but I’m afraid I read it when they were much too young to really enjoy it.  (This was back in 2008, when Lulu was three-turning-four; Louise was two–yes, TWO!–and they actually listened to the whole thing.  Really.  Gee, I was eager, wasn’t I?  Why didn’t someone stick a copy of Betsy-Tacy or Charlotte’s Web in my hands?)    Actually, when I think about it, none of us enjoyed it much.  Kenneth Grahame‘s diction is oh-so-very British, and I have such a hard time wrapping my tongue (and brain!) around the unfamiliar sentence structures, etc.  The Wind in the Willows is a wonderful, entertaining, adventurous story, and I’m fairly certain I would adore it if I read it silently to myself.  For me, reading it aloud was akin verbally to doing gymnastics on a tightrope, and I fell off a lot. 

But this post isn’t about The Wind in the Willows, is it?  It’s about Kenneth Grahame‘s The Reluctant Dragon.  My girls are older now, six and five, but Grahame‘s diction and sentence structure are not much changed in this, one of his earlier works.  Still, we enjoyed it a little more, I think.  It’s a humorous read that turns the whole idea of what a dragon should be on its ear.  (Janet wrote about this upending a little bit here.)  Then again, St. George also comes off a little less heroically in this story, too, so I guess it comes out even all around.  Michael Hague‘s illustrations are really interesting, although there aren’t too many of them (at least in the traditional picture book sense; there are plenty, and in color, too, if you think about this as it is–a longer work).  I like that the illustrations and language both recall the Medieval period, so this book provides plenty of opportunity for observation, discussion, and vocabulary enrichment.  🙂 

We enjoyed this book, and one day I think we might tackle The Wind in the Willows again.  I just think I’ll give my tongue a little while to recover first. 

Other books about dragons we’ve read, linked to my reviews:

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 Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy

Saint George and the Dragon adapted by Margaret Hodges

Are you doing any lingual gymnastics in your reading aloud?  Tell us about in your own Read Aloud Thursday post and link it here, in the comments. 

Have a fantastic Read Aloud Thursday!

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15 thoughts on “Read Aloud Thursday–The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame”

  1. I was REALLY surprised that Bookworm1 loved this particular book as much as he did (about 6 mo. ago? at 3 1/2?) But he did! Of course, we followed it up by watching the Disney short which I think made it somewhat more entertaining. Sparked a love for dragons which is a nice diversion around these parts.

    And it’s Thursday. oh my. Well, my post will be late today!

  2. Loved getting your thoughts on this. I have a hard time with Kenneth Grahame as a read-aloud too. (We listened to WitW as an audiobook…)

    I have a question: how do you pace your chapter book read-alouds? Do you read a chapter a day, or more?

    We do a chapter a day, but it does tend to stretch out the reading experience a lot. It’s just that I like to read some picture books and other things too, and don’t want to let everything else but the chapter book go.

    Just wondering how other people handle it — looking for ideas!

  3. This is timely. We read The Reluctant Dragon last week. Both boys enjoyed it (7 and 4 yrs old). I’ve read it before with my older son. We’re actually reading The Wind in the Willows now. I can see your point but we’ve had a different experience with it, this is actually our second or third time through. Once we listened to it as an audiobook, which I find is often a way to enjoy a book that might be too much for a read aloud. I’ve also found the trick for me with Wind in the Willows is to get a version with great pictures and to read it in very short amounts. So far it’s keeping both boys interest and they seem to like it.

    My post is about picture books that talk about going to the hospital.

  4. Janet,
    About six months ago we started reading longer books in a new (for us) way, that at first seemed strange. We read one chapter (sometimes two) a week from each long book. We have about twelve books on a weekly rotation. For example, on Tuesday, sometime during the day we read one chapter from TWIG, and in the evening, one chapter from a Thornton Burgess book. Wednesday features two different books. And Thursday, and so on. So that each week we are reading from twelve or so longer books. At first I thought it would be difficult for my five yr old to keep up with so many characters and plots, but she’s had no trouble. And she’s memorized the schedule, so that about Sunday or so, she starts talking about TWIG, wondering what will happen next, and whether or not Grandfather Frog will get out of his current predicament. This way of reading has forced us to slow down and think about what we are reading in a way that wasn’t happening before when we would speed through a great book in a week or two.

  5. We usually only read one chapter book at a time, although we have had a couple going at once a few times. Often when we reach the last few chapters, we’ll just have a long read-aloud session and finish. I sort of like Heather’s idea, though. We might have to give it a try sometime!

    Who does the best narration for Wind in the Willows? 🙂

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