Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Catch Up on What You Never Read as a Kid

"My fiction reading now consists of mostly children's novels that I read to the kids."

Reading to my kids is my favorite way to read the books I never got around to reading when I was young! It's also my way to share with my kids my favorite books growing up and to have an excuse to revisit them myself.

I vividly remember reading my very first chapter book in the summer between kindergarten and first grade.  It was Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary and that's one of the main reasons I decided to read the whole 8-book series of Ramona books to my kids a few summers ago.  Owen has asked to read them again this summer because he loved them so much. 

Another book I loved as a child was Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.  I think I was particularly fond of Pippi because we both have red hair. My kids loved Pippi, too.  Maddie, Owen, and Ben "play" Pippi now and take turns being the various characters from Pippi to Annika to Mr. Nilsson, the monkey! A few weeks after we completed the chapter book, we found a picture book at the library called Do You Know Pippi Longstocking? that appealed to all the kids, right on down to Alaine. 

I haven't had as much success with new material lately.  I thought Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald looked cute and we all did enjoy the first book, but when we moved on to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic, I could barely get through it. 

The first book had short chapters.  Each one presented a child with a problem that needed curing, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle provided the solution.  When one child picked at his food and took too long to eat his dinner, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle told his mother to serve his food on tiny dishes until he got hungry.  When a group of siblings complained of bedtime, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle told their parents to let them stay up all night and have them realize they were too tired to play the next day.  It was witty and clever.  The second book was much longer. The chapters were tedious and contained excessive detail, plus the cures consisted of magic powders and the like.  The magic element was lighthearted and not offensive, but it zapped the cures of their cleverness. 

When we finished, we again found a fun  picture book at the library, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Won't-Pick-Up-Toys Cure.

We're currently reading The Borrowers by Mary Norton, and I'm counting the pages until we finish.  It's not a bad book, but it's leans a little too far into the fantasy genre which is not my style.  I think the only one of us who is enjoying it is Maddie who would happily listen to me read the dictionary if I asked. 

Next up is a beautifully illustrated but unabridged version of  The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum.  I really want to enjoy our read aloud time again and I hope this is the key!  

How do you choose books to read to your kids?  Do you share favorites from your childhood or do you look for new material?


  1. I read both my favorites from childhood as well as new-to-me books. We recently finished Mr. Popper's Penguins, which was one of my favorites when I was little. However, right before that, we all completely fell in love with Tumtum & Nutmeg, which was a new-to-me book.

    I planned 12 chapter books I wanted to read to the kids throughout 2013, but we've already finished most of those and have added in several others as well.

  2. Also, we have the Borrowers on our to-read list. It's a new-to-me (as far as I remember) book. I did enjoy the Littles as a child. How do you think it compares to that series?

  3. I remember liking The Littles as a child, but it's been so long that it could be I've just "outgrown" that genre. I've already been thinking of reading The Littles to the kids and see what they think.

  4. We are doing Sonlight so they have all the read alouds chosen for us. It's a blessing and a curse. I love that someone has pre-read everything and tried to pick really good books. I don't love it in that I don't get to pick what we read! A couple of my recent favorites were "No Children, No Pets" and "The Light at Tern Rock."

  5. I'm pretty particular about what I read to my children. If there is any attitude or action in the characters I don't want emulated by my children, I omit it completely. I also try to omit twaddle (a Charlotte Mason term). These two standards wipe out much of what I read as a child. I've been collecting a variety of books for us to read together in the past few years and am always finding more. I love to read the Lamplighter books as they also carry wonderful character and Bible lessons. There catch line is "Building Character... one story at a time." I love that! We've read a bunch of them, have more waiting on the shelves and more still on my wishlist!

    One I did read as a child that my son just loves is Charlotte's Web. He's not happy that I packed it, but we just got the whole Patricia St. John collection, so I think he'll be busy enough until we find a house and unpack it. :)


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