If there is one thing that draws me every day to the blog Amongst Lovely Things, I would have to say that it is Sarah's heart for building a family culture around books. I often consult her lists -- numerous and impressive lists -- of books that she and her children have read independently and together as a family. I am especially thrilled about her newest project -- the Read Aloud Revival Podcast -- in which she rallies the inspiration and tools we need to stay motivated to read aloud to our children in massive quantities! I will be tuning in to her first episode on Monday, April 28!
I asked Sarah to join us here today and name a few "Must Have" picture books. As a bonus, she is also giving us a few tips on reading aloud with our children.
This is what Sarah has to say ...
I believe in reading aloud so much that I'm willing to shuttle other things off the schedule entirely if that's what it takes to read aloud to my kids. I have every intention of raising children who grow up to say, "My mom wasn't perfect, she made tons of mistakes, but she got one thing absolutely right -- she read to us constantly." I like to read aloud from all kinds of books, but as my older three have grown (they are now 12, 10, and 8), I've noticed there are a few picture books that have remained favorites.
Five "Must Have" Picture Books that Grow With Your Child
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Children's Book of Heroes by William Bennett, illustrated by Michael Hague -- The selections in this book are top notch, and Michael Hague's illustrations can't be beat!
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen -- There's no two ways about it -- this one is laugh-out-loud family fun for everyone!
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola -- She's everybody's favorite, isn't she? There is everything to love about Strega Nona. We enjoy all of the books in the series, but this first one is our favorite.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney -- There is no way to read this book without getting inspired to leave a beautiful mark on the world. I have loved it since the first time I read it aloud to my kids a decade ago, and it's still a favorite.
Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric Kimmel -- We're Anansi fans, and Eric Kimmel does these classic African fables best! The whole series is great -- this one is our very favorite.
What does it mean to build a family culture around books?It means gathering -- literally coming together -- and entering a story together. Like joining hands and hopping into the chalk art Mary Poppins-style, we jump into the story and meet new people, contemplate big ideas, and wrestle with hard issues. We experience the great drama of life -- life's greatest tragedies and most overwhelming joys -- through story. Over time, those stories form a carefully woven tapestry that folds our family up and makes it whole.
We feel it keenly when the Ingalls family dog is feared to be drowned. We laugh hysterically when Titania falls in love with Nick Bottom shroud in his donkey head. We meet a family that lives under a bridge, a boy who conquers fear and learns what it means to be a man, and a fifth grader who outwits his teacher and discovers what an invaluable role that teacher really plays. We are saddened, overjoyed, and everything in between. But the beauty of all of that isn't just that it happens. It's that it happens all together. Sharing stories knits together a family in powerful ways -- ways that are not easily forgotten.
Those shared experiences build up a family culture that will, I pray, always call my children home.
1. Don't always choose books from the great or good books list. Sometimes (especially when you are just getting in the habit!), just choose something fun!
2. Make reading aloud a habit. Families who regularly eat together... regularly eat together. :) It becomes the default mode. Set a time and stick to it for a month and see what a difference it makes in how much read-aloud time you manage to fit in.
3. Keep a list. It's surprising how many books you can read in a year once a good read aloud habit has begun. You won't remember them all, but it will be fun to look back over a list and see what's there.
4. Make it fun. Popcorn. Cocoa. Make Your own Sundaes. Family project. The possibilities are endless! Make reading aloud a cornerstone in your family life and build other traditions and memories around it.
5. Rally Dad. There is nothing better than listening to Dad read aloud. You've got to convince him of this, of course, because he might not believe you! Getting Dad on board goes a long way toward making read-aloud a central part of family life.
The Read-Aloud Revival Podcast
As my children grow, I have come to realize that reading aloud to them after they are capable of reading to themselves is just as important as reading to a small child. Those late elementary years are a beautiful opportunity to bust open the seams on your child's vocabulary storehouse -- filling their minds with beautiful lyrical prose and their hearts with heroic and noble stories.
Please join me in the first episode of this series on April 28. The podcast features a conversation I had with Andrew Pudewa about the importance of reading aloud to older kids. I can't wait to share it with you!
Upcoming guests include Jim Weiss, Tsh Oxenreider, and others. You can find out all about these free podcasts at Read-Aloud Revival.
Sarah Mackenzie is a smitten wife, a homeschooling mama of six (including twins!), and now she's a podcaster too! :) She writes about books, babies, and heaps of grace at her blog, Amongst Lovely Things.
You are most welcome to share your thoughts with Sarah in the comment box.
Thanks for stopping by!