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Each day at lunch time the four kiddos and I gather around the table to enjoy our midday meal. After a short blessing on the food, the kiddos begin to eat and I read aloud. Originally, this tradition was initiated because I was utterly exhausted listening to the kiddos fight and argue during lunch everyday. As time went on, I became very aware of some amazing things happening.
For the first time ever, Bulldozer was listening to a story. These weren't just any stories. I was reading chapter books! Not only was he listening, but he was absorbing the story, and able to answer questions about characters, setting, content, etc. when I asked. This was a HUGE deal! I'd tried for years to sit down with him on the couch and read to him. He couldn't stay seated or interested. It was only through the experience of reading aloud at the table that we learned Bulldozer needs to be doing something else when read to. Since then, not only has he enjoyed stories at lunch time, but also at bedtime with his brother and father. He may be playing with LEGOS the whole time, but the next morning, he'll tell you almost word for word what happened in latest chapter of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Dinomite and Princess love our read aloud time so much, that they request chapters to be read at dinner too, depending on the book. They get so involved with the stories and the characters. Depending on what we were reading, they become extremely excited or very frustrated and sad. I love watching them make these connections with the characters and stories.
Sunshine is three. When we started, she was only two years old. Meal time is one of her worst times during the day. It can be quite devastating. Strangely, as we started reading together, she calmed down. Sunshine was quiet for once, and eating well. I wasn't sure she was understanding anything we read, but the behavior change was so welcome, I knew it was benefiting her in some way. Sunshine rarely struggles during lunch while we're reading now.
And when it comes to Sunshine understanding what we're reading... I can't resist sharing these stories!
We were reading Matilda by Roald Dahl. It was quite intense. Everyone's eyes were big all through lunch time as we read chapter after chapter about how Miss Trunchbull treated the school children. After lunch one afternoon, when Sunshine was particularly upset with me, after not getting her own way, she screams out,
"You're the Trunchbull!"
Resisting the urge to burst out laughing was hard, but I managed to keep my emotions under control. At that moment I knew she was not only listening to the stories I was reading, but understanding them.
Later during the year we read Beezus & Ramona by Beverly Cleary. It was very clear to everyone at the lunch table that Ramona was very good at making bad choices. One day, just after reading, it was mentioned by a sibling that Sunshine's middle name is Ramona. Sunshine immediately lashed out,
"I AM NOT RAMONA!" To this day, if anyone ever wants to get Sunshine going, all they have to do is mention her full name, putting emphasis on Ramona. LOL.
The day we finished reading Beezus & Ramona, we didn't have time for discussion afterwards. I was sure the older kiddos understood the lesson in the story, but I had no clue what Sunshine had picked up from it, other than that Romana makes bad choices. It was in the evening. Sunshine approached me, wanting to cuddle. As I embraced her, she looks up at me, with serious eyes and says,
"Mommy, I love you just sometimes."
It's amazing what a child takes away from a chapter book being read aloud in the perfect setting and environment. To this day, Sunshine is always the first to remind me about our book at lunch time.
Last year I included our list of chapter books in our syllabus. We read almost all of them. Those we didn't get to, I'm keeping on hand for this year, in case I have extra time. This year I couldn't resist sharing our reading plans in a separate post. Choosing chapter books for the year is a very long and difficult task. I thought if I shared our plans, it might help others when choosing their books. Plus, I wanted to be sure to record the memories from this past year, so I wouldn't ever forget them.
Here is our Lower Elementary Reading List for the 2015-2016 School Year!
Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian
To Space and Back by Sallie Ride
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
African Critters by Robert B. Hass
Ola by Ingri d'Aulaire
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
*I have not read this personally. If I find it is too scary for the kiddos, we will read the 2nd book in the Harry Potter Series instead.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard
Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide
Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide
Who Was Louis Braille? by Margaret Frith & Robert Squier
Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark by Johanna Hurwitz
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Patrick Skene Catling
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
Little House on the Prairie (Book 2) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
What are you reading with your kiddos right now? I always love new ideas!