Christmas Read-Aloud

I like to read chapter books to the kids in addition to picture books because I think it helps their concentration to pay attention to a longer story, and because they seem to enjoy the added detail and drama of a more in-depth tale.  I generally read one chapter per day although sometimes I can be persuaded to read more.  One of the books we read this month was Natalie Savage Carson’s Newberry Honor Award winning book The Family Under the Bridge.

The book tells the story of a homeless man in Paris who accidentally becomes attached to a homeless family of three children when they all find themselves sleeping under the same bridge.  I know, you’re thinking, “whoa, you’re reading to your preschoolers about homeless kids????” but the story is very upbeat and is all about the hope and ingenuity of this unlikely group as they learn that what is really important around Christmas time is family and friendship.

We enjoyed this book and the great illustrations by Garth Williams (who also illustrated the Little House books and others).  If you’re looking for something to read to your kids these last few days before Christmas, I’d recommend The Family Under the Bridge!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

4 thoughts on “Christmas Read-Aloud

  1. Our 5 1/2 year old (who is an advanced reader) was working on reading this herself this fall – some aloud with me and some on her own. We finally stopped reading it because the vocab was too hard for her when I wasn’t there to help – both with the sounding out of words and the understand of difficult vocab words.

    I know you have young kids and you read a ton to them… how to do you handle difficult vocab when you read aloud? Do you stop and define or explain words? Some words? All words that might be new? Summarize paragraphs in familiar vocab at the end after reading them? Or do nothing? Any one particular approach you do alot?? I do a mix of all of these, but just wondering how another mom handles this.

    Second, how do you handle the difficult and sensitive issues that a book like this raises? For example, the grandfather character calls the children “starlings” numerous times. Did you explain the derrogotory nature of that comment to your kids? Did they get it? Or what about the begging scene, when the grandfather uses the children’s singing to get money for all of them? He is totally using these orphan children for his own selfish ends… How do you explain these things to your kids…. or do you just let them get what they get and don’t discuss it?

    All that said, the book seemed great, and even though we did not finish it, I think I’d like to re-read (or have the girls read it) later, maybe when they are a little older. Perhaps it was also because we’d just finished reading “The Boxcar Children” together that I felt a little sensitive about issues relating to orphans in reading.

    On a totally different note, our girls heard so many fairy tales when they were little that their first mean name-calling name for each other was “peddler woman”! Instead of a nasty “You big dummy!” type comment, they would say in the same harsh tone to each other, “You’re a peddler woman!” I about died the day I figured out what was going on…. 🙂 🙂

    1. Hi Anna,

      I tend to define words if the kids ask or seem confused, but otherwise I let it go. I think kids can pick up a lot of vocabulary just by hearing words in proper context, which is one of the reasons I read to the kids a lot. I don’t require narrations at this point since Hannah is not yet 5 and I’ve read that it’s best not to push it. She and Jack will sometimes narrate if they feel like it, I’d say about 25% of the time. I also don’t stop to explain every concept or potentially problematic issue or phrase, because I think that makes too big a deal out of it, and often when I make a big deal of something it tempts the kids to try it anyway! If I hear them use a phrase or word or idea in an inappropriate or unkind way, I will talk about it at that point. It’s not a perfect system, but it works for us right now.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I think I remember this book from my childhood. I am going to have to take a look at it and perhaps read it aloud to my class this year…after we finish Little House.

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