Sunday, August 14, 2011

Children's Book Monday {Family Read-Aloud}

So, we have a Psammead at our lunch table nearly every day. What's that you say? You don't know what a Psammead is? You don't even know how to say it? It's like this- Sammyadd.

Are you intrigued?

I wasn't.

E. Nesbit's Five Children and It has sat on our bookshelves for years now, and I've reached for it every single time we've needed a new read-aloud, but something always made me second guess the choice.

I'm so glad I didn't this time.

We are flying through this excellent chapter book, a story of five siblings, Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane, and their baby brother, The Lamb. Their discovery of an alien-like creature, centuries old, in a sand-pit is strange, but as they begin to receive the granting of their wishes from the Psammead, they make new friends and discover that, after all, things are just perfectly wonderful the way they really are.

If I sit down to a meal and don't immediately draw this book from the dining room table, at least one of the children will say, disappointedly, Oh, I thought you were going to read? And even Gideon is absolutely captivated- he has the hardest time finishing his meal because he sits listening, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, rather than eating. (Perhaps it's the British accent I use for the characters. I'm quite good, if I do say so myself.)

We laugh out loud at the excellent dialogue, we gasp in unison when a wish is accidentally spoken, we nod understandingly when the children discover old happiness, and I think Corban said it best when, after I said, Goodness, these wishes just aren't working out well, are they?, he said, Well, Mama, that's because this is a story with a moral.

Edith Nesbit's work has long been beloved by children. She had a marvelously instinctive way of capturing the world through a child's eyes, cleverly bringing their vocabulary up to a higher level while telling an exciting story, and losing no one in the process. (Hence Gideon, at two, on the edge of his seat.) The Railway Children is another of her most famous stories, and well-loved in our home as well. We fully intend to add some of her other works to our family read-aloud list.

What are some of your favorite family read-alouds? And do you read as a family, or just you and the children? Or you and your spouse? Please share!

Happy Reading!

5 fellow travelers shared:

Stacy said...

Same here! I've picked it up several times and have *almost* chosen it, but I always pass it by. Because it's sort of strange, that Psammead. ;)

You've intrigued me enough to pick it up again, though. ;)

The Railway Children is in my stack of read-alouds for this coming school year. Maybe I'll add this one, too!

Anonymous said...

We've passing this one for over a decade now! But recently we read "The House of Arden" and everyone from the 5yo to the 16yo enjoyed it immensely. Now we are looking for other Nesbit treasures, but I was still wary of this one. You've convinced me to at least put it on my bedside stack!
~Rachael in NZ

Anna said...

It's so funny how we moms are all alike in some ways, isn't it? :)

I couldn't bring myself to read this book to my children for so long, because I didn't really want to spend weeks discussing a fairy. However, when we finally decided to try it, I found that the story really isn't much about the fairy at all!

My children and I enjoyed this book very much. It is one of the few that they still talk about with vivid memories a year after reading it. I second your recommendation!

I shared about how we do read-alouds in a blog post a while back, if you'd like to pop over and see a few of our favorites:

Have a blessed week!


Kathi said...

I admit...I've never even wanted/attempted to read it. ...but my girls have both checked it out from the library...and returned it unread more than a few times.

I think our most favorite Read Aloud has been Witch of Blackbird Pond. We all (even my small-ish boys) hung on every word, chapter...and the end was sooo good!!!

We also enjoyed Madeleine Takes Command. I wrote a post on it after we finished that I may just link up with today.

Oh but wait...there's Understood Betsy. That's probably our favorite! Bronze Bow is wonderful, wonderful...a FANTASTIC 'boy book' that my girls loved too! The Year of Miss Agnes! The Door in The Wall! Star of Light, and Treasures of The Snow!

We heart Read Aloud <3

Happy Reading!

Anonymous said...

We enjoyed "Five Children and It" this past year as a read aloud! I love it when they realize that they don't want anyone to take the "lamb" away.

Good ideas above!

"Farmer Boy" is such a favorite and now it is the car CD. We are enjoying "Heidi" all together now. There are some that I just want us *all* to enjoy together. This coming year, for AO year 3, I am dedicated to reading MacDonalds' "The Princess and the Goblin" and "Children of the North Wind" all together.
Mary Brooke
PS I was so inspired by your "Farmer Boy" post last year that I have in mind to have a boys' book group meeting to talk about that one with some yummy treats at our table.

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