Boy, I’m just full of new ideas lately, aren’t I? It’s because I don’t have anything else to do (cue maniacal laughter).
I’ve been thinking for a while that I would love to keep up with the good read alouds we do each week, but I’ve never gotten around to posting most of them. My girls and I visit the library weekly, and it never fails that each week we make a few serendipitous choices that are read and re-read until they are exchanged for another title the next week. I know that there are lots of other reading mommies (and daddies, too) who might like to share their own weekly read alouds, so I decided to create this fun little weekly blog carnival. I’ve never done anything like this, and I really have no idea if I have a readership (!) that will support it, but I decided to give it a go anyway.
Here’s how it will work:
On Thursdays, I will host Read Aloud Thursday. Link to your blog page where you have written about the book(s) that you have read aloud that week. The books can be picture books, nonfiction, chapter books, or whatever you read aloud to your children. While my children are preschool age, you may certainly include read alouds that you enjoy with your family, no matter the age of your children (or lack thereof, ‘though the focus here is on children’s literature).
Since we’re a scant two weeks away from Christmas, last week I tried to pick out as many random Christmas books as I could find. While this is not necessarily the preferred method for finding the highest of quality literature, it usually works well enough for us. I did hit up on a few great Christmas titles this week that I’d like to add here:
This is a gorgeous illustrated version of the classic Christmas carol “We Three Kings.” The book is illustrated by Gennady Spirin. The illustrations look like the ornate artwork that one might see in a beautiful cathedral. My girls were amused by the Magi’s choices of transportation: a majestic steed, an elaborately bedecked elephant, and a regal camel. “We Three Kings” has always been one of my favorite carols, but I would challenge anyone to read this book without singing the song!
Coming Through the Blizzard by Eileen Spinelli (illustrated by Jenny Tylden-Wright) is a fun story about a Christmas Eve church service that is almost ruined because of a blizzard. The question posed by the minister who waits at the church is “Who would come to the Christmas Eve service?” This is a story with lots of repetition, so it is perfect for toddler and preschoolers. Spinelli is a master at choosing just the right word to paint a picture for the reader. Witness this:
blown from a pipe in the organ
on a burst of song,
a wordless Hallelujah.
This story is page after page of such poetry. Beautiful!
The Donkey’s Christmas Song by Nancy Tafuri is the sweet, sweet story of the little donkey who, timid because of his loud bray, brings joy and warmth to the Baby Jesus. With only a few short sentences per page, simple illustrations, and lots of animal sounds, this is the perfect Christmas story for toddlers.
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson (illustrated by Jane Chapman) follows a delightfully predictable pattern for those familiar with the other Bear books. Written in rhyme, this is the story of Bear who uncharacteristically stays awake for Christmas Eve, but he is so busy with his preparations that he misses a very important visitor: Santa!
Of course, we didn’t only read Christmas stories this week. Here are a few other noteworthy read-alouds:
The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt (illustrated by Yaroslava) is, of course, another retelling of a Ukranian folk tale made famous in the world of children’s book lovers by Jan Brett. While I would certainly never want to detract from Jan Brett’s gorgeous version of this story, we enjoyed this more simple version. The illustrations in this story are warm and the tone of this version is very reminiscent, since the narrator is recounting a story told him by his grandfather.
Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel (illustrated by Janet Stevens) is a “spinoff” of the classic Little Red Hen story. Big Brown Rooster, great-grandson of the famous Little Red Hen, makes a strawberry shortcake with some unlikely helpers: Pig, Iguana, and Turtle. With humorous illustrations and comedic suspense, this makes a great read-aloud for preschoolers or gradeschoolers. Older children might enjoy reading the sidebars which include information and illustrations about baking.
Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra (illustrated by Will Hillenbrand) is the entertaining story of a monkey who lives on an island in the middle of the Sillabobble Sea. The monkey, whose only source of food is a lemon tree, spies a banana tree on an island across the sea. The clever monkey tricks the crocodiles who live in the Sillabobble Sea into helping her get her bananas. This rhyming story is pure fun for the preschool set.
Basket Moon by Mary Lyn Ray (illustrated by Barbara Cooney) is the interesting story of a little boy who lives with his Ma and Pa in the backwoods of Columbia County, New York, in what is presumably the 1800s. His father makes baskets for a living, going into the town of Hudson to sell his wares only when there is a Basket Moon (i.e. full moon). The little boy longs for the day when his father will take him to town, too, but when that day comes, he learns that venturing into society brings with it some pain and disappointment. His parents and community help him cope with his disappointment by giving him the gift of a calling: to be basketmaker, too. I suppose you could say this is a bildungsroman, picture book style. According to the author’s note at the end of this book, this story is based on an actual community of basketmakers who lived in that same region of New York. This would be a great story to use as a part of a history or social studies lesson. I was surprised that my girls, ages four (“and a half,” Lulu would quickly add) and two, enjoyed this, but out of all the books we read, this one was the most requested. Maybe it’s their penchant for pioneer stories.
Join me, please, in sharing your read aloud picks for the week!