Not as many completed read-alouds this month–we’re in the middle of several longer selections and I’m two books behind in the stack of books Hannah sets aside for our “book club” conversations. But we did finish a couple of things in April:
We are still reading heavily in the kids-captured-by-indians-during-the-French-and-Indian-War genre. There really are a ton of good historical fiction accounts based on true stories, because this happened to hundreds of people. I find it fascinating that so many settlers wound up staying with their new Indian families, that so many had forgotten how to speak English once they were released, and the similarities between their experiences. These books have been great vehicles for discussion about how we tend to judge people who are different than we are (but that there are good and bad people in every culture) and for talking about why some captives stayed and others went home (Hannah observed that children with strong faith usually went home, but children who had lost their entire families to massacre and/or who didn’t personally believe in their faith tended to stay). At any rate, Alone Yet Not Alone is another good example of a book in this vein. It shares a lot of similar settings to Indian Captive (to the point where I wondered if the author had drawn from Mary Jemison’s memoirs as a source document) but a different outcome. This book is more explicitly faith-based, and was apparently made into a Christian film, although our library didn’t have the movie so I haven’t seen it.
Similar to Ben and Me, Mr. Revere and I: Being an Account of certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere,Esq. as Revealed by his Horse is another historical novel by Robert Lawson told in the voice of an animal–this time Paul Revere’s horse. Hannah and I decided we preferred this book to Ben and Me, because the horse was more interesting as a character. The book is a good read-aloud for early elementary kids and does give good context and information for the Revolutionary War time period.
With Marguerite Henry’s Justin Morgan Had a Horse we moved ahead a bit into the later 1700s through the War of 1812 in Vermont. The book is a sweet story of a young Vermont boy who takes a liking to a small colt and helps the horse become a fast, hard working, famous beginning of a new American breed of horses. The boy is indentured and the horse changes hands several times, but both the boy and the horse keep a good attitude and strong work ethic that serves them well. This is a story that appeals equally to boys and girls, at least in our family.
The second book in the Melendy family quartet is The Four-Story Mistakeand it is (believe it!) even better than the first one. We really, really enjoy this series. I love how the four kids have great adventures together and work out their arguments well, loving each other and supporting each other in a very realistic, not fake, way. In this book, the kids move into a house with odd architecture and lots of intriguing secrets, get an alligator, and have lots of fun. Highly, highly recommended as a read-aloud for various and sundry ages.
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