Category Archives: Read Aloud Thursday

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.  Did you know that?  I love poetry, and my kids love our weekly (ish) poetry tea times.    Poetry tea time provides a great opportunity for making something kids sometimes look askance at (what–surely not just my kids do this?!?) a little more appealing.  My goal this year is to make poetry tea time a priority each Fun Friday in April.  We’ll see how this goes! I might even get industrious and post what we read each Friday.  We’ll see how that goes.

To get this month of poetry love started, I’m sharing a list of poetry related links from my archives.  Enjoy!

Bonus:  Here’s a great post on 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month.  Enjoy!

What’s your favorite poetry resource?  Do you read poetry in your home or school (or homeschool)?

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Newbery Through the Decades: 1940s/March link-up

newbery through the decadesIt seems to me that this challenge just gets better and better!   This month I managed three books:  two Moffat books, The Middle Moffat and Rufus M., and Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.  I did review The Middle Moffatbut I haven’t had a chance to review Rufus M. or Johnny Tremain.  I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I want to share my thoughts individually about each of the two March books I haven’t reviewed, but I’ve decided to just share them here in this post.

Rufus M. by Eleanor Estes is the third book of four about the Moffats.  In many ways it’s just a continuation of the story, only obviously this one focuses on the youngest Moffat, Rufus.  I didn’t love this one quite as much as I did The Middle Moffat, but I think this is because I don’t identify quite as much with seven year old Rufus as I do middle child Jane.  (For the record, I’m not a middle child–I’m the older of two daughters–but having four children myself I could easily imagine Jane’s thought processes.)  Still, though, Rufus M. is entertaining, funny, and endearing as only a book about an innocent seven year old boy can be.  Something about this story, set during World War I, is particularly poignant to me:  the ever-present war, their lack because of the war, and Rufus’ childish understanding of things.  These stories are big on heart, especially if you love stories about closeknit families that don’t have any of the angst that seems to characterize many modern stories.  Another thing I loved about this story is the sheer innocence in which Rufus lives:  he learns to read during this story; he learns to write during this story; yet he rides all over town by himself.  Something about all that is so very appealing to me in our day and age of early academics and ultra-sheltered children.   I love my modern conveniences, but sometimes I’d like to live in a bygone era for these reasons alone.  I really could go on and on about the Moffats:  their invidual personalities; how hard Mama works; the interesting historical commentary; etc.  The best thing I can say is this:  read them.  They don’t quite come up to the Melendys for me, but they’re close. Rufus M. won a 1944 Newbery honor, while The Middle Moffat won an honor the year before.  We’ll see tomorrow that Eleanor Estes finally gets her well-deserved Newbery Medal in 1952 with Ginger Pye.  Obviously, Eleanor Estes is a not-to-be-missed author!  I don’t see how I can’t read The Moffat Museum to finish off the quartet.

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, the 1944 Newbery Medal winner, was our read-aloud for the month.  It took us much longer to read it than I expected, mostly because I spent part of the month sick and recuperating.  I’m not sure if it’s because we had a difficult and sort of topsy-turvy month or what, but I didn’t personally enjoy this one quite as much as I thought I would.  It is a very interesting story, yes, and it’s even suspenseful, despite the fact that we know how the big story ends.  I learned a lot about the setting, both the time (American Revolution) and place (Boston).  It made me think through some details about the revolution I hadn’t previously stopped to consider before, like the fact that some of the British soldiers actually sided with the Americans, and the fact that the war was actually a slow burn.  I just didn’t find Johnny Tremain himself very likable, but I’m not sure I was supposed to.  Esther Forbes was a talented author, and the medal is well deserved.  I’m glad to have read this one, even if it isn’t my favorite.

How did you fare with the challenge this month?  Did you love what you read, or were you indifferent?  I’d LOVE to hear about it!  Please link to your blog post or share your thoughts in the comments.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to find out what’s on tap for the 1950s!

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Read Aloud Thursday–March 2015

read-aloud211If you’ve been keeping up with the saga here at the House of Hope, you’ll already know that I spent a week, more or less, sick, and then a week, more or less, recuperating.  This, my friends, was as formidable a hindrance to reading aloud as we’ve faced yet.  That means that today I have nothing in the way of chapter books to report.  We are very close to finishing our lunchtime history read-turned-bedtime book, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.  I hope to share my thoughts on it in the next few days, at least before the month’s Newbery Through the Decades post goes up on March 31.  We got almost half way through The Hobbit before I succumbed to The Sickness, and since then we’ve been reading Johnny Tremain at night in hopes of finishing it sooner rather than later.  We will definitely get back to The Hobbit; it was a great enjoyment to us all, with the exception of one girl who occasionally goes to sleep before we finish the L-O-N-G chapters when I push through and try to read one in one sitting.

As for what we pick up next, well, obviously The Hobbit is first on the list.  I’m also considering Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham for our history read-aloud, mostly because I’ve read such glowing reviews of it but have never actually read it myself.  It is also a Newbery winner from the 1950s, so it will fit nicely with the Newbery Through the Decades challenge for next month.  :-)

What I do want to mention today is a fun picture book that the DLM has really enjoyed.  I purchased this one at Goodwill when Steady Eddie and I trekked up to Nashville just before Christmas.  I just gave it to the DLM, though, this month because I’m organized like that.  :-)

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is a mostly wordless picture book, a genre which I used to not appreciate at all.  I’ve come to appreciate these books more as I’ve read hundreds thousands of picture books over the past decade.  The DLM seems to enjoy them more than the girls every did, so there is that, too.  Like Rathmann’s Office Buckle and Gloria, this book requires a certain level of sophisticated observation that the DLM is dancing right along the edge of.  (I say that because I read Officer Buckle and Gloria aloud to his preschool class at co-op, and most of the kids in that class didn’t really get it.)  In both books something is going on unbeknownst to the human main character; an animal is outsmarting him.  It makes for high hilarity if the listening kid gets it; if not, it makes for puzzled boredom.  Of the two, Good Night, Gorilla is the easier one to “get.”  The DLM gives it a Highly Recommended.  (Putnam, 1995)

Things haven’t exactly been exciting around here, but I am hopeful that things are looking up. Stay tuned. :-)

By way of offering you something, might I suggest that you check out my list of book review links to the chapter books I’ve read aloud?  At fifty-five books, it’s nowhere near complete, and neither is it well organized, but I like to think it’s a great resource anyway.

What have you been reading aloud this month? Please, share links to your blog posts in the comments, or feel free just to comment with what you’ve been reading. I’d love to hear about it!


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Ben and Me by Robert Lawson

Ben and Me:  An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos by Robert Lawson was our bedtime read-aloud for the latter part of February.  This short little book is a delightful addition to any U.S. History study, or for anyone who just enjoys books about anthropomorphized animals, fictionalized accounts of historic figures, or both.  :-)   Amos is the very intelligent mouse who lives in Ben Franklin’s fur cap and helps him solve many of his problems, which range from the scientific to the political to the diplomatic.  The chapters are short in this book, which is always a plus as for as I am concerned for bedtime reads.   (I tend to read with the room very dimly lit, which I wouldn’t recommend for this title as Lawson’s illustrations are copious, interesting, and humorous.  This is more of a read-together-on-the-sofa kind of book.)  Of particular enjoyment is the illustration which accompanies this description:

I had seen many elaborate hair arrangements at the Court, but this far exceeded anything I had ever beheld.  The powdered curls, rising to a height of four feet above her head, were arranged to represent the waves of the Ocean.  Surmounting these was a full-rigged ship with an American flag at the masthead.  Long red, white and blue ribbons, inscribed LIBERTY AND JUSTICE, flew from the bowsprit.  Just below the ship was a colored wax medallion of Ben, upheld by pink cupids and decorated with some silly sentiment.  (93)

Louise had already read this one, but she enjoyed it just as much as Lulu.  I’m not sure I’d chose it again as a read-aloud just because of the illustrations, but otherwise I”m very glad we read it and give it a Highly Recommended.  (Little, Brown, 1939)

I went searching on Youtube to see if there were any adaptations of this story, and lo and behold, there is, and a Disney one at that.   None other that Bill Peet wrote this particular adaptation, which is fairly faithful to part of the original story.  My kids really enjoyed watching it.  Fun!

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Read Aloud Thursday–February 2015


Welcome to the February edition of Read Aloud Thursday!  We’ve had a couple of weeks of unpredictable winter weather, which one would think would lend itself to lots of reading aloud.  However, along with the unpredictability of the weather has come the unpredictability of the schedule, so some days are better than others for reading aloud.  Still, we press on, and we’ve enjoyed quite a few good books this month.  I’ve already reviewed both of our read-aloud chapter books of month:

Both of these were winners and were enjoyed by both girls and their mama, and the DLM was also mostly happily along for the ride.  (I may or may not gush about Amos Fortune in my review.  ;-) I loved this one in particular.)

Our current read-aloud is Ben and Me by Robert Lawson.  This quick read (which Louise has already read independently) is a lot of fun!  We’ll also be adding Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes to the read-aloud stack in the next day or two.  (The clincher for me in reading this one now is the fact that it’s a selection for March’s Newbery Through the Decades Challenge, so it’s a two-fer. :-) )  I’m not sure what we’ll tackle when we finish Ben and Me.  I’m feeling the urge to read something a little more challenging.  I’m just not sure what.  I know I don’t want another piece of historical fiction, at least not one set during the time of the American Revolution.  I’ve considered tackling The Hobbit as our bedtime read, but I’m a little bit intimidated by reading it aloud.  I read it for the first time myself a few years ago and loved it,  but somehow I almost don’t feel up to the task of reading it aloud.  (Now that I’ve gone back and re-read my own review, though, I think it might be just the thing.)

One of the perks of bad weather--more snuggle time with dad!

One of the perks of bad weather–more snuggle time with dad!

Last month I shared some of the ready-for-chapters books that the DLM has enjoyed.  This month he met Elephant and Piggie for the first time, and boy, did he fall hard for them!  I’ll admit that neither my girls nor I really “got” Mo Willems’ humor in these books (perhaps because I read them wrong), but it has definitely caught on with the DLM.  
These three books are the three Elephant and Piggies that we have home from the library right now, and they’re all huge hits.  Since he has enjoyed these so much, I also brought home That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems, and he loved it just as much.  He definitely “gets” the humor.

He lies in bed and “reads” them to himself while I read to the girls.  The sparse text and cartoonish illustrations are just the thing for him right now.  Winners, all!

I’ve felt for a while that the DLM is really ready for his own consistent chapter book read alouds, but after reading My Father’s Dragon to him last year, I let it slide.  On a whim this month I picked up A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond and have been reading him at least part of a chapter most nights.  I honestly am not sure it was the best choice for him (the British-isms and references make it a tough go sometimes), but he usually asks for it, even if he doesn’t want a whole chapter.  We’re up to chapter five (and the chapters aren’t short, either), so I think we’ll probably finish it.

That’s where we currently stand with read-alouds.  Reading aloud to my children is one of my greatest pleasures and delights, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity!

What have you read aloud this month, or what do you plan to read aloud next month?  Please share in the comments below or link up your own post!

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