10 Audiobooks for 4 +

If I were the Principal, boy, things would change.
Our school would be fun, if a little bit strange.
We’d keep kangaroos in the classrooms as pets.
We’d travel to Tonga and learn to fly jets.

We’d get to make movies, and all become stars.
For field trips we’d blast off on rockets to Mars.
We’d learn to raise monsters and build time machines.
We’d surf on tsunamis in sleek submarines.

We’d learn to make robots with nuclear brains,
and dig up a dinosaur’s fossil remains.
We’d battle with pirates and plunder their gold.
We’d duel with dragons for treasures untold.

We’d practice some potions and magical spells
to stink up the schoolyard with sickening smells,
to make us invisible, eighty feet tall,
or turn into liquid or walk through a wall.

Yes, if I were Principal, that’s what we’d do.
We’d lock evil scientists up in the zoo,
while vanquishing villains and capturing crooks.
In other words, we would read many more books.

 — Kenn Nesbitt

I hope you read the last line of this poem, and chuckled. I certainly did earlier this week when my boy (9) said he was going to learn this for a class poetry competition. He is an avid reader so this poem struck a deep cord with him.  One day he’s exploring mountains with the Hobbit, the next he’ll be travelling with Long John Silver in search of gold.  And what a gift this adventuring is particularly in these Covid times, when many of us across the world are learning to appreciate our local environs for months at a time.

One way of bringing stories into the home is listening to audiobooks, whether for the whole family together or  individually.  At the moment, my 6 year old is listening to one most days and so I’ve popped a list of 10 that she has listened to recently. Some of these she has listened to over and over, others have sequels.  Hopefully you’ll find something below that might take your child to Tonga or Mars.

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Those who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true.  And perhaps, also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and necessary heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return.

— Katherine Rundell, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise

Rundell’s words are ringing in my ears. Continue reading

Christmas is Coming

…the most startling thing about this wonderful tree was that hundreds of tapers glittered like stars in its dark branches, and the tree itself, shining with an inner light, invited the children to pick its blossoms and fruits.

The Nutcracker, E.T.A. Hoffman

In the midst of the chaos of 2020 and all that it has brought us, Christmas is still coming. There is true light in the darkness. What joy! So let’s get preparing….

Continue reading

Introducing South Africa

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.

— Nelson Mandela

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South Africa is a country dear to our hearts. My husband and I lived in Cape Town for the first three years of our marriage and so I have always been keen to introduce something of the place and people to our children. (A visit one day hopefully.) Continue reading

Read Alouds for 5 year olds

“…the voice that tells us a story aloud is always more than a carrier wave bringing us the meaning; it’s a companion through the events of the story, ensuring that the feelings it stirs in us are held within the circle of attachment connecting the adult reading, and the child listening. To hear a story is a social act.” — Francis Spufford, The Child that Books Built

I love Francis Spufford’s reminder that “to hear a story is a social act.” Continue reading

Children’s Fiction 8+

The children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times—a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story-books”

— Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1, p. 153)

So it looks like holidays are off the cards this summer for most of us but in Charlotte Mason’s words we can still “have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times…”  So at a time when we can’t travel and see people so easily, books are a magical way of doing just that both for us adults and our children. So let’s help our children travel this summer and choose books to take them places.  They may even make some friends along the way. Continue reading

Oxford Stories

Excerpt from “Oxford” by Tom Lovatt-Williams

I see the coloured lilacs flame
In many an ancient Oxford lane
And bright laburnum holds its bloom
Suspended golden in the noon,
The placid lawns I often tread
Are stained and carpeted with red…

These lines from Lovatt-Williams’ poem ‘Oxford’ capture perfectly the beauty of this city over the last few weeks.  Lockdown has definitely made me far more appreciative of the  way nature is changing around us here in Oxford as we take our ‘daily exercise’. Continue reading

Getting to Know Wild Flowers

Open Your Eyes!

To shop, and school, to work and play,
The busy people pass all day;
They hurry, hurry, to and fro,
And hardly notice as they go
The wayside flowers, known so well,
Whose names so few of them can tell.

They never think of fairy-folk
Who may be hiding for a joke!

O, if these people understood
What’s to be found by field and wood;
What fairy secrets are made plain
By any footpath, road, or lane—
They’d go with open eyes, and look,
(As you will, when you’ve read this book)
And then at least they’d learn to see
How pretty common things can be!

— Cicely Mary Barker

 

With hardly a shop or school to go to, one of the silver linings for us during lockdown has been time to walk or run most days.  Without the rush of normal life, we have had time to appreciate the wild flowers growing along nearby pavements, paths and in meadows and woodlands. Continue reading

Audiobooks are the Answer

We’re in ‘Week 2 of Unexpected Homeschooling’ as I write this. Lunch is cleared away and I’m sitting in the quiet on the sofa.  This is my sanity hour and I highly recommend it! Continue reading