I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp.
— J.K. Rowling
Rowling talks of bedtime stories, and of course there is something special about children all ready for bed being read aloud a story about a faraway land before they drift off to the Land of Nod. But whether it’s at bedtime or another moment in the day, ‘family read aloud time’ is treasured by us all in this home.
“How do you decide what to read next?” is a question people ask me. I don’t have a clear answer. In reality it’s a mixture of what we have on our shelves – plenty of books from my own childhood mixed in with more recent favourites – or tying a book in with something the children are learning about in school, or preparation for an exhibition or place we are going to visit. I like exposing the children to different authors, a range of ideas, places and cultures. Some choices are seasonal. Some just come highly recommended. I try to find a story that all three children will enjoy and that they probably will not read on their own. Beautiful illustrations are a bonus and help retain my little one’s attention. And, of course, a book I’d like to read myself!
In the archives you will find 20 Family Read Alouds which we’ve enjoyed in the past, but today I’m posting our favourites from 2019 that I read to our children aged 10, 8 and 4 years old.
Other Recommended Posts:
20 Family Read Alouds
Classics for Young Independent Readers
My Boy’s Book Recommendations
Valentine’s Day Reading
Winter Picture Books
Spring Picture Books
There are few stronger family bonds than this habit of devoting an occasional hour to reading aloud, on winter evenings, at any rate. The practice is pleasant at the time, and pleasant in the retrospect, it gives occasion for much bright talk, merry and wise, and quickens family affection by means of intellectual sympathy. Indeed, the wonder is that any family should neglect such a simple means of pure enjoyment, and of moral, as well as intellectual culture.
— Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character
Happy New Year!
With my elder two at school since Easter, it has been very special to have time in the day to read longer chapter books to my four year girl that are pitched just for her. Continue reading
Barcelona, a fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.
— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, 1605
Half term took us to the wonderful Barcelona for a few days, both “unique in its location and beauty” as Don Quixote exclaimed. Of course this was centuries before four great masters of modern art, Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí added their creativity to the city. Continue reading
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
— Robert Frost
Doesn’t Robert Frost capture the beauty of the season beautifully?! The leaves are falling and the skies are grey. Autumn has arrived. Continue reading
Write what should never be forgotten.
— Isabel Allende
Understanding the past is fundamental to who we are in the present and the kind of society we seek to build into the future. Historical fiction is one way we can help our children to inhabit the past, Continue reading
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
I have fond memories of arriving at my grandparent’s in Spain each summer, and my grandmother had thoughtfully chosen books from their bookshelves and put them on my bedside table for me to enjoy during my stay. Continue reading
The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau
With the summer holidays fast approaching, there is plenty of time to develop the world of our imagination. We find audiobooks a great way of immersing ourselves in stories, so here are some we’ve enjoyed this year that you might like for your travels: Continue reading
Last week I had the privilege of attending a conversation between Lucy Mangan and Katherine Rundell at Mostly Books, Abingdon. Both are authors, bookworms and passionate about children’s literature – so it was a stimulating and inspiring evening.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Doesn’t Mary Oliver capture the spirit of summer so well?! Summer is here. What better way to celebrate with your little one than grab a blanket and a pile of books and head outside?! Continue reading