A Literary Education

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It’s a New Year!

And that means setting reading goals.

For myself I have decided to try and read 150 books this year and also buy at least one book a month from a local, independent bookstore.

In reading aloud to my children lately I’ve realized a huge difference in the books we are enjoying.  They are ready for only YA or adult books now.  When we try to read a middle grade reader most of the time it’s just way below our reading and interest level.  Of course, that’s not always true.  A very well-written book will be enjoyed by all ages.  Unfortunately we haven’t been as lucky lately finding those well-written books.  I have a list of books I want to read to my high schoolers and here are a few I hope to get to in 2016.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I’ve put this one off for WAY too long.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

How I Live Now by Meg Roseoff

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I think it’s a doable and enjoyable list of books.  These won’t be our only books though because we will also have books we read for school.

We are also currently rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and we may continue on with the series to refresh our memory.  They are such enjoyable books to read aloud.

I told my kids that 2016 was The Year of the Book.  They rolled their eyes and said that I say that every year, but I’m pretty sure I have never said that.  Although to be fair, my memory is horrible.  Happy Reading all and if you read an amazing book please let me know in the comments.  Either to yourself or your older kids.  Happy New Year too!


Read Aloud List for High School

This list is definitely a work in progress since we are in the high school years right now.  Some of these books I haven’t read yet, but most I have.  There’s a good mix of classics and modern books.  If you have any suggestions, let me know!  I’ll be adding as I come across other great stories.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera and Bill Cleaver
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Parallel Journeys by Eleanor H. Ayer
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Read Aloud Book List for Ages 12 and up

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Sounder by William H. Armstrong
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Holes by Louis Sachar
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherin Patterson
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (series)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (read A Wrinkle in Time first)
Re-read the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (series)
Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (series)
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (series)
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (series)
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman
A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher
Bull Run by Paul Fleischman
Stowaway by Karen Hesse
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Read Aloud Book List for Ages 7 – 12

This is my favorite age group.  Some are for the younger side and some for the older.  There are so many of our favorites listed below.  If you and your child aren’t enjoying a book, set it aside.  Maybe you’ll come back to it later and maybe not.  Not every book will be loved by all.

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes and the sequel Pinky Pye is a must read too
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Homer Price and the sequel Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (trilogy, all are wonderful)
Indian Captive by Lois Lenski
Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady
Caddie Woodlawn by Carole Ryrie Brink
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Narnia series by C. S Lewis
Pippi Longstocking and sequels by Astrid Lindgren
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and sequels by Judy Blume (laugh out loud funny)
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (read all the Dahl books for children)
Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (series)
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Frindle by Andrew Clements
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Swallows and Amazons and sequels by Arthur Ransome
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
George Washington’s Socks by Elvira Woodruff
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths
Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Nicholas and sequels by Rene Goscinny
The Good Master by Kate Seredy
Lassie by Eric Knight
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (series)
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene DuBois
Half Magic by Edward Eager
The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Konisburg
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Door in the Wall by Marquerite de Angeli
All D’Aulaire picture books: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Buffalo Bill, Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, Pocahontas
Calico Bush by Rachel Field
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (read after The Jungle Book and compare)
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth
All the Holling C. Holling books: Pagoo, Paddl- to-the-Sea, Minn of the Mississippi, Seabird
Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James
Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz
Bunnicula by James Howe and sequels
The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and sequels
Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards
Mr. Revere and I by Robert Lawson
Ben and Me by Robert Lawson
Castle Diary by Richard Platt
The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald

Read Aloud Book List for Ages 5 – 8

I’ve decided to make book lists broken into age categories. These are the books my children and I enjoyed. There are a few we haven’t read that I added because I have seen them recommended in several different places. I’m sure I’ve missed some great ones and of course not all books will be enjoyed by everyone. The ages are just guidelines. Look up the books (Amazon.com is my favorite place to read reviews, a synopsis and even a sample of the book in many cases) and that will help you decide when to read a particular book. It also depends on your child. My children were not sensitive, but some topics or writing styles I think are better saved for older ages. Winnie-the-Pooh is one book that many read at a very young age, but I personally think it is better enjoyed at an older age. There is just so much wit there. Another option would be to read it twice, with a few years in between readings.
I made this list with reading aloud in mind; therefore there are quite a few books and series that my children enjoyed on their own that I didn’t add because I don’t think them good for reading aloud. I may make another list of those at a later time. There are a few books that many people love that we personally didn’t enjoy, so they didn’t make my lists. I hope these will be a help to some of you.

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary  Read all the Ramona books. This is the one where Ramona is the youngest so it’s the one I start with.
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary -Also read all the Henry Huggins series, especially good for boys if they’re not enjoying Ramona because they want a male main character.
Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B White
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald and the others in the series
The Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (books can be purchased separately if you want smaller, lighter books)
The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (series)
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond (series)
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (series)
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (series) These are very simple stories and my children loved them when they were young. I read the first few aloud and then they read some to themselves before moving on to more challenging stories.
The Cricket in Times Square by George Sheldon
Capyboppy by Bill Peet
Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat
Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers (series)
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Socks by Beverly Cleary
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
Along Came a Dog by Meindert DeJong
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Abel’s Island by William Steig
The Chalkbox Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla. Bulla has written many wonderful books for early elementary that my kids all loved. The Sword in the Tree, Riding the Pony Express, Viking Adventure, Pocahontas and the Strangers…and others. I recommend all of his books.
The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron (series)
Here We All Are by Tomie dePaola (series)
The Doll People by Ann M. Martin (series)
McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm by Sid Fleischman
A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (poetry)
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (tear jerker…mostly just moms)
No Flying in the House by Betty Brock
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes and others in the series
The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz
The Apple and the Arrow by Conrad Bluff
The Random House Book of Poetry by Jack Prelutsky
Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore
Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill (series)
The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables by Don Daily
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (poetry)
A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer (world history in narrative form)

Sea turtle release and a beach walk

Friday we went to our local beach to see 3 Green Sea Turtles released back into the ocean.

seaturtlesThey were so cute! Afterwards we took a beach walk.  The tide was out and the weather was a little overcast.  We didn’t find any good shells but on the way back I looked down and spotted this Great White (pretty sure) shark tooth.  Unfortunately it was broken perfectly in half longwise.  So disappointed, but still a pretty cool find.  After, we went downtown and visited the library and then had the first frozen yogurt of the year.  This week of school has been so relaxed and fun.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands

We finally were able to vacation down in Sanibel and Captiva Islands.  It was so beautiful.  I didn’t want to leave and wish we could go back already.  We found so many seashells we have never found before, the water was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, the people were friendly.  It is definitely the place to go if you’re a nature lover. We did a lot of fun stuff while we were there:

Visited the Shell Museum

Kayaked in Tarpon Bay

rented bikes and biked around Sanibel

visited the Lighthouse park

went to the Nature Preserve and Trail

watched the sun set on Captiva

visited the Sanibel historical museum and village

visited the historic Captiva cemetery and Chapel by the Sea

and much more.

We have spent the last week recording all the nature we saw in our nature journals.  The kids also read a short history of Sanibel Island. I can’t even say we took a week off of school because we learned so much.

vacationcollage“Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.”  ~William Wordsworth

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