The Aesop for Children with illustrations by Milo Winter is a perennial favorite for us. Ever since I found a copy at a used bookstore when Hannah was 3 (look for the version illustrated by Milo Winter), we have read an Aesop fable every school day. I have no idea how many times we have cycled through this book, but suffice it to say that the children know it so well that whenever we come across another story with elements from Aesop (and they are myriad) the kids will point it out. Aesop is foundational literature–most people know the more famous tales, but even the less famous ones are often used in other literature, both for children and adults. The tales have maxims at the end of each, which you may or may not agree with, but they make for good discussions.
I highly recommendThe Aesop for Children even if you don’t do reading for school. The short tales are great for bedtime stories, and interest even very small listeners. And, with something like 150 stories, it’s a long-lasting investment and well worth it to own! The day after we finish reading this one, we just start over again at the beginning.
I remember adoring From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a child–it’s probably always resonant with first-born daughters!–so I was delighted to pass it along to Hannah last year. After reading Deconstructing Penguins, which has a chapter on discussing the book, I was eager to re-read the book and have a book club with Hannah. More about that later this week. But suffice it to say, I think this book is a great choice for kids who are in the 8-12 age range, or who are figuring out how to deal with siblings or how to achieve significance.
One of the best books we read this term was A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home. I found it by accident while searching for books about John James Audubon, our artist of the term. The book is a novel with short chapters (good for reading aloud even for squirmy young listeners), beautifully illustrated around the text with pencil drawings, which makes it fun to look at while reading. The story follows a mouse who happens to befriend Audubon’s assistant while they are traveling in Louisiana. In the course of the story, you learn a lot about Audubon’s techniques, about the birds and wildlife he painted, and about ideas and themes like art, friendship, and home. We loved this book, and the kids always begged for more chapters. Highly recommended, even if you aren’t studying Audubon.
I picked up By the Great Horn Spoon! because it’s set during the California Gold Rush, but we read it as an evening read-aloud for fun. It’s a little bit helpful from a historical perspective, but mostly it’s an adventure story. We liked it, but I wouldn’t say it became anyone’s favorite. It does offer a lot of opportunity if you like to do different voices. We did have fun with the snooty butler voice, the Wild West voice, the villain voice, etc. I can’t put my finger on any particular problem with the book, so we’d give it a solid 3 out of 5.
Imprisoned in the Golden City was assigned reading when we were learning about Adoniram and Ann Judson’s missionary work in Burma. The story is told through the eyes of the two Burmese girls who lived with the Judson’s as foster children for a time. The book does a good job of showing the hardships the Judson’s suffered, while not going into too much sad detail (the Judson’s lost all of their children, and Ann died shortly after the time period covered by the book concludes, Adoniram later lost two other wives, etc). I also appreciated how the story conveyed the Judsons’ faith in the midst of injustice and hardship, and showed their kindness and selflessness helping the Burmese people around them even at risk to themselves. If you’re into missionary biographies, this is a pretty good one, and more read-aloud-able than many.
What was your family’s favorite read-aloud for November? We’re always looking for recommendations!
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