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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Our Favorite Read Alouds of 2017

Top 10 favorite read alouds from a #homeschooling family of 7

Read aloud time holds a permanent place in our day. It's written in pen and happens no matter what. The official time is just-after-lunch-but-not-before-the-table-is-cleared-and-the-dishes-are-put-in-the-dishwasher. At least that's the time my clock always shows when we start.

Sometimes it happens with handwork, and sometimes it happens without. It usually depends upon how squirrely my boys are feeling and/or how much silence I want whilst I read.


No matter how harried our day gets, I never budge on read aloud time because sharing a story always has a way of re-calibrating our attitudes. You can't help but lean in close to one another while you're reading. It helps me, especially, to homeschool from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. On really rare days when I just don't get around to it, I feel like an emotional asthmatic, desperate for a live-giving breath.

This year, we read some great ones. We got to travel to a secret cave to meet a giant, strike it rich in the Gold Rush, and weather a tornado with a new friend on a deserted island. As always, it was difficult to pick only ten favorites. But after much group deliberation, here's what we came up with.

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Top 10 favorite read alouds from a #homeschooling family of 7

Honorable Mention- Freddy the Detective

by Walter R. Brooks

After reading a Sherlock Holmes novel, Freddy, an eccentric pig on Mr. Bean's farm, decides to open a detective agency. Freddy, along with his small band of animal sidekicks, not only inadvertently foils a team of burglars, but also finds a way to stop Simon and his gang of rats from taking over the barn. The story is a series of vignettes. Each chapter is a mini-mystery that all eventually climax with the trial of Freddy's dearest friend, Jinx the Cat, who stands accused of murdering a crow.

*This one was a bit too babyish for my oldest daughter's liking. She was 13 when we read it last spring. But my boys enjoyed the humor and innocent intrigue.


10- Stormy

by Jim Kjelgaard

After his father is arrested for a bitter feud with a neighboring family, Allan must run the hunting shack all by himself. One day he comes upon Stormy, an outlaw retriever. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances and with the dog's help, Allan clears his father's name and brings peace to the Beaver Flowage and the fighting families.

*If memory serves, this book, like many of Kjelgaard's fictions, contains three to four instances of mild language that I filtered out as I read aloud. Words like "heck," "hell," and even "da*n."


9- Ramona & Her Mother

by Beverly Cleary

In this fifth installment of the Ramona series, Ramona is at a difficult age. She's not-quite-eight, trapped between little and big. She's desperate to secure a place in her mother's affections similar to the one that her older sister Beezus seems to have. Much to her frustration, she continues to find herself the ring leader of one mishap after another. 


8- The Rise & Fall of Mount Majestic

by Jennifer Trafton

Unlike most fantasies which lean towards depressing dystopia, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic is light-hearted and almost comical in spots. Young Persimmony Smudge sets out on the adventure of her life to not only find her missing father, but also to discover what makes the mountain rise and fall. Turns out, the answer to both riddles lies with a sleeping giant that lives underneath the island. Persimmony must convince the king of her discoveries, which proves to be her biggest challenge of all.

*I did not care for this book. As a 38-year-old woman, I found it to be too slap-sticky and slightly overworked for my taste. But my kids all loved it. So there you go. 


7- The Little Town on the Prairie

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

In the seventh installment of the Little House series, Laura is 15 years old and living in the town of De Smet, South Dakota with her family. After enduring a long, hard winter (book 6) together, they heartily embrace the warmer weather of spring. Laura earns her teaching certificate and begins teaching in a neighboring town in order to help send Mary to college. While away from home, Laura develops a fondness for Almanzo Wilder who volunteers to drive her to De Smet and back every weekend.

*Up until this book, my kids and I had been reading one Little House title per year. When we finally landed on this one last spring, we wanted to immediately read the next two books in the series. We did not enjoy those nearly as much.


6- Red Sails to Capri

by Ann Weil

When three enigmatic characters arrive at his parent's inn on the Mediterranean island of Capri, fourteen-year-old Michele prepares for two things: an adventure and the public banishment of his entire family. The three visitors wish to explore a mysterious cove that is said to be cursed. Michele and his father, along with a few friends, agree to take them there despite the long-held superstitions of death and destruction.

*This book gets off to a bit of a slow start. But it's worth the effort to keep reading. Should you make it all the way to the end, be sure to do a Google image search of the cove to see the real-life nautical mystery that the brave adventurers fictionally discover.  


5- Ember Falls

by S.D. Smith

The sequel to the Green Ember (a book that made it to our #3 spot in 2015) finds Heather and Picket, the two young rabbit heroes of The Mended Wood, defending the rightful heir of Jupiter against the false claims of another. Epic battles ensue which mortally wound some much-loved characters. In the midst of so much sadness, Heather and Picket discover a long-lost family member. These rabbits-with-swords won't give up without giving it all they've got. 


4- By the Great Horn Spoon!

by Sid Fleischman

Desperate to save his aunt from impending poverty, 12-year-old city slicker Jack and his butler, Praiseworthy, head to California to strike it rich in the Gold Rush. Using only their wits and charm, they manage to stow away aboard a passenger ship, win a few street brawls, and earn plenty of gold--one haircut at a time.

*I had this book on our TO READ shelf on GoodReads for quite a few years, but just never felt all too compelled to crack it open. The joke's on me, though, as this turned out to be a delightfully charming book that we all enjoyed.


3- Echo

by Pam Munoz Ryan

Written in four very different parts, this was by far the most complex book my kids and I have ever enjoyed together. It opens as a fairy tale, but ends as a historical fiction set before, during, and after the great World Wars. The author has masterfully woven the lives of four children with the common themes of hope and harmonicas.

*This is a dauntingly long book. And to be honest, after listening to the audiobook on a family road trip, I don't know that I would ever recommend it as a read aloud. The audio version not only includes exceptional narration by a team of story tellers, but also the much-needed backdrop of music. The entire book is driven by a harmonica. So, I'm not sure how it would translate in pure text form. In other words, skip the hardcopy and go for the audio. Spoiler alert: each section of the book comes to a rather abrupt stop, leaving one in emotional turmoil. Don't let that keep you from listening. Soldier on all the way until the end. Trust me. 


2- The Penderwicks of Point Mouette

by Jeanne Birdsall

This is the third book in a four-part collection of stories about the misadventures of four sisters and their friend Jeffery. While vacationing with their aunt in Point Mouette, the girls discover a surprising secret about Jeffery's past, help him come to terms with the weight of this life-changing revelation, and learn to appreciate their birth order a wee bit more.

*While we all enjoyed the quirky humor of this book, myself included, we agreed that it was a bit darker than the previous two books, which landed at our #1 spots two years in a row. I had to do quite a bit of on-the-fly censoring in a few chapters because of mildly mature content that just doesn't interest my boys, like kissing and infatuation. 


1- The Cay

by Theodore Taylor

Phillip, the only son of an American couple from Virginia now stationed on the German-controlled island of Curacao during WWII, finds himself shipwrecked somewhere in the Atlantic with an old West Indian man named Timothy. The boating accident left Philip blind requiring him to trust this "man of color." Despite all odds, the motley crew of two weathers both physical and emotional storms and build an unlikely friendship that eventually saves Philip's life.

*The first half of the book seems quite grim and paints a very stark picture of racial prejudice, but there is much redemption in the end. It does, however, contain one use of the word da*n and a few vain uses of God's name. 



We're only a few days into a new year and we've already zipped through a title that is sure to land in one of our top spots for 2018. Can't wait to tell you about it! Stay tuned...

More of our favorites

5 comments:

  1. I look forward to your favorites lists, thank you for sharing! We just learned about the Freddy books, I'm enjoying reading Freddy and the Perilous Adventure to the kiddos. I'm curious and intrigued by Echo... what is the youngest age you'd say is appropriate listening age?

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    1. I think it depends on your child's exposure to the perils of war. Because my oldest son is a walking army/WWII encyclopedia, my younger boys have seen/heard PG rated versions of war time tragedies. My 5-year-old didn't really follow the story line much and slept most of the trip. But my 7-year-old really enjoyed it. It's got some heavy themes of prejudice, Nazi injustice, and even the pain of losing a child.

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    2. I'll probably have to wait a bit. My youngest is just turning 5 in Feb and my oldest, who is just about 8, can sometimes be sensitive. Thank you for explaining more!

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  2. My favorite book was The Bronze Bow. I personally didnt like the way Jesus was portrayed in the story(not that it was bad) but i loved the character development of the main character.

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    1. My daughter read that one a few years ago and my oldest son will be reading it in a couple months! It's a good one.

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