Read Alouds: England (Always)

There’s that old adage: you can never be too rich, too thin, or read too many books about England.

Well, I suppose you could be too thin.

But, England? One never reaches a saturation point.

Here are a few books we read together or that I read for discussion purposes with the kids last semester:

our island storyOur Island Story – Told in short story form, easily read in one sitting, Our Island Story covers many facets of British history at an elementary school level. In many ways, England’s history is also America’s history, so I see this as an extension that also helps us understand our own culture and legal system. The kids love this book.

Good Queen Bess – This is solid historical fiction for kids, although it gives a LOAD of gloss on some of the more tricky parts of Elizabeth I’s reign. If you’re ok with reading something else as historical background, this is a great book, but I wouldn’t make it your only source about the time period.

Children of the New Forest – We enjoyed learning more about the Roundheads and the Restoration–a very interesting time in British history, but not one with which I am deeply familiar. The great thing about this book is how it melds historical information with great adventure, particularly in how a family of orphans learns to be self-sufficient in the New Forest. It has sort of a Swiss Family Robinson feel at times!

Life of Alfred – It’s good to read original sources, but, to be honest, this was not one of our favorites.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – This is an odd book. I suppose it’s good to read, and perhaps my ambivalence is due to the incredibly annoying narrator. I wonder if the novel seemed more ground-breaking at the time of publication. At this stage of history, the structure feels tired.

The White Company – I cannot emphasize enough how insanely dull this book truly is. With the exception of one good part near the end, it was an unremitting slog. I decided not to make Hannah finish it, so as not to kill her love for literature.

The Incorrigible Children of Aston Place Series -I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. These books are so fun and funny. We listened to them on audio when we were in the car, and the reader is terrific. That may have added much to our enjoyment, as I’ve heard from others that the books are not as good for independent binge reading. But if you’re looking for a fun series to keep you busy on car trips, this is your win.

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