Literature Time

Reading is so important. Especially reading aloud. Even if your listeners cannot read themselves, they are learning so much by hearing language and visualizing the story in their heads. When the children were younger, we would have read aloud nights as a family, where my Sweetie would read to us as we all snuggled on the sofa.

Reading aloud is an important part of our homeschooling; so much so that I thought I would share how I do literature in our school setting.

I try to carve out a time a few afternoons a week to read to my brood. That has happened less often than I have liked, which is why I am so happy that literature is a part of our little co-op. And this last semester, I was in charge of the literature hour for the younger children. There were 6 of them, ranging in age from 6 to 10. They would gather around the school table to listen while I read; usually for at least a half hour, some days for almost an hour.

The book I chose was this:

William Pene du Bois' The Twenty-One Balloons.

Reading from the back:

"When Professor William Waterman Sherman leaves San Francisco in a hot air balloon, he intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. Instead, through a twist of fate, he lands on Krakatoa, a legendary island of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and fantastic balloon inventions. Once Professor Sherman learns the secrets of Krakatoa, he must remain there forever - unless he can find a means of escape."

Each week I would read a chapter to the children. I allowed them to color on blank paper with crayons while I was reading, but my rule was that they had to be drawing something from the story.

I also came up with a fun idea to keep them listening: Each day before we started I would write 5 or 6 vocabulary words on my chalkboard.

They were to listen for these words as I read and when they heard me read that word, do something silly - like put their hand on their head, or plug their nose. (When I gave them the words I would decide what silly action they would do that day.) When I read the word, we would stop and talk about the meaning of the word and how it was used.

After we finished our reading I asked them some questions to help them narrate the story back to me.

I also had come up with some thought questions; questions that were more open ended and encouraged discussion.

We had some great conversations about inventions, food and what they might have done differently if they were the professor. They loved it, and so did I.

Last month we finished up The Twenty-One Balloons, and now my co-teacher is going to teach the rest of the year reading The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.

Reading is so important, and so much fun.

And because I always love to hear about the good books others have read, I'll share some of our family favorites.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe 
    Penrod by Booth Tarkington
         The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
             Mary Poppins by PL Travers
                  The Borrowers by Mary Norton
                      Huguenot Garden by DouglasJones
                          Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
                              Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
                                  The Tanglewoods' Secret by Patricia St. John
                                       Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
                                           Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
                                                Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
                                                      The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
                                                           Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter
                                                               Ginger Pyle by Eleanor Estes
                                                                     The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
                                                                          The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

What are your favorite books to read?


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