I don’t know about you, but our new school schedule is seriously challenging my resolve to read aloud! (This is something I never thought I’d say. Sniff, sniff.) Couple the fact that we’re out of the house three mornings a week (!!!) with the fact that our history curriculum this year prescribes our read-alouds, and I’m really struggling to make it work. I’d love to get into the routine of reading a fun read aloud (which means one I pick ) at night before bed, but so far our bedtime routine isn’t conducive to that. Maybe we can work to that end.
I’m also still struggling to fit in as many read-alouds as I’d like with the boys. I am happy to report that since I started leaving some board books on the table by my bedroom rocking chair that I have read more to Benny than I had been. My reward has been that Benny’s vocabulary has exploded, and one of his new words is me-me, answered in response to the question “What does the cat say?” I’m pretty sure he learned that from Big Red Barn, which is still his favorite book. (I know his vocabulary would’ve likely exploded anyway, but I like to think my reading to him encouraged it just a little bit. )
Jim Aylesworth‘s retelling of Aunt Pitty Patty’s Piggy is one of those books you either love or hate, and which sentiment you choose is likely related to how many times you’ve been asked to read it. ;-) According to Aylesworth’s website, this book is an adaptation of the “Old Woman and the Pig” folktale. It’s something of a “Jack and the Beanstalk” type tale with lots of repetition, which is, of course, what the kids like. The challenge is saying Aunt Pitty Patty’s Piggy over and over (and over!) again without getting your tongue over your eye tooth so that you can’t see what you’re saying. Barbara McClintock‘s illustrations are gorgeous, as always. The DLM gives this one a Highly Recommended, and so do I, though mine’s a little less enthusiastic. (Scholastic, 1999)
I picked It’s an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall out of the new picture books bin because his style of illustration is unmistakable; we enjoyed his My Heart Is Like a Zoo several years back and even made an art project to go along with it. It’s an Orange Aardvark is the story of a bunch of ants that live in the stump of a tree. One of these conversant, hardhat wearing ants decides to drill a hole in their stump to give them a window on the world. This adventuresome ant has at least one naysayer–What if there’s an aardvark outside? Each hole the ants drill reveals another color, dividing the ants into two camps–one expecting an aardvark (a “pajama-wearing, ketchup-carrying, gecko-guiding, dozer-driving, orange aardvark pouring purple grape juice,” no less), the other believing it’s something better. The ending is humorous, unless you’re a fan of ants. The DLM was really taken with this story, and I really wanted to be. Something about the die-cut, paper piecing style of illustration is appealing to me, though die-cut pages (each hole the ants cut in the stump is a real hole in the page) can be a no-no with small children. I think our library copy has a defect from the printer because there seems to be duplicates of a couple of pages, and I can’t read the story without being really confused by that. Still, if you can get your hands on a whole copy, I think this one is a fun one for the preschool and early elementary crowd. (Greenwillow, 2014)
I must have a thing for the song “Over in the ________.” I can think of several picture-book renditions of this song I’ve read to my children over the years, including another one by Marianne Berkes. Over in the River: Flowing Out to the Sea is a stellar addition to the group. In addition to being a counting book, with one more animal added to each page, this book also teaches a bit about geography! On each two page spread, there’s a U.S. map highlighting the river on which the pertinent animals live. When you get to the end of the book, you also learn that there are animals hidden throughout the story, one per page. This means you get to read it all over again, this time studying Jill Dubin‘s lovely cut-paper collage illustrations more closely. The backmatter in this one is more than adequate and includes information about the rivers and the animals, book extension suggestions, drawing hints from the illustrator, and a musical score for the song. Highly Recommended. (Dawn Publications, 2013)
As for chapter books, we’ve spent the entire month reading Summer of the Monkeys, but we finally finished it on Monday of this week. What a fun story! Yesterday we got started on the next Melendy book, Then There Were Five. Today I hope to also start reading Secret of the Andes, and according to our Sonlight schedule, we’re supposed to start reading Lawn Boy, too. (It’s short! Hallelujah!) That’s a lot of reading aloud. We’ll see how it goes. :-)
I want to share a few links before I end this month’s RAT post. First, did you know Jim Trelease has a website? I didn’t! It looks like it will be a good resource for read-alouds. I read his Read Aloud Handbook years ago, before I had any children, and I think it definitely had a long-lasting impact on how I view reading aloud.
Second, if you’re looking for something good to read aloud next, why not consider reading George McDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin along with the Reading to Know Bookclub? It’s the September pick. I was all geared up to read it until my girls informed me that we already have read it. :-)
What’s in your read-aloud basket this month?