Each month I have intentions of writing and sharing scintillating reviews of the books I’ve read that month, the embarrassing truth though is, the sheer amount of books I devour is daunting so I abandon my post midway and return to reading. Perhaps I should adopt Modern Mrs Darcy’s approach and share, “three books I love, one I hate.”
‘Diving in’ by sharing some of the books I’ve been reading aloud with our children, certain we’ve read more but my record keeping has been patchy. We have a number of books being simultaneously read from our two/three reading baskets due to our children’s wide age spread, whilst there is much ‘cross over’ of listening with the two younger groups, nobody is ‘allowed’ to listen to the teens reading time as they (one in particular) declare it “their time with Mum.” Some of these books we’ve absolutely loved and some we’ve abandoned.
Youngest: 5-7 Years
Catholic Treasure Box Set
This collection, written by the Maryknoll Sisters are full of sweet, innocent stories designed to teach the Catholic Faith and inspire and nurture a love of God in small children. We meet Saint Therese as a small child, ‘Wupsy’ the Guardian Angel and others.
Reading our way through this collection in ‘fits and starts’ with Bass(5) who is enthralled and Jem (7) who enjoys them though they are more aimed at Bass’ age. Think this is our fourth time around over the years reading these.
Little Pete Stories – Leila Berg
Little Pete is quite young and enjoys simple everyday pleasures; drawing with sticks, observing roadworks. Written for young children the premisis of these stories has potential, Bass loves them but Jem(7) finds it boring as do I. The book is written in an earlier era, noticeable when Pete plans to go for a car ride with a stranger and wanders the neighbourhood alone, which rather concerns our seven year old. Too Pete is extremely rude and demanding to adults which rather shocks us. Despite Bass’ enjoyment, Jem and I made the decision to abandon this book as we couldn’t stand it and actually tossed it out.
Middles: 9-11 Years
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas – Albert Nevins
St Francis was a member of the aristocracy in Navarre, whose home was razed in a rebellion between Navarre and Spain when a boy. As a young man he studied in Paris but spent much of his time partying. After meeting St Ignatius Loyola he eventually wanted to win the world for God and was sent as a missionary to India. He spent the rest of his life in the Orient spreading the Word of God. A Vision Book.
Our children were quite interested in St Francis’ story as he is the patron saint of two of their brothers. Our third time around over the years reading this book.
The Miraculous Medal – Mary Fabyan Windeatt
The story of what happens when Our Blessed Mother appears to Sr Catherine Laboure. St Catherine spends the next several decades spreading devotion to the Miraculous Medal encouraging people to ‘ask for the graces’ awaiting them.
Our middle children were rather inspired by this book and it kindled within them a devotion to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Generally I find the Vision books easier reads than Windeatt’s books but this is one of her better ones.
Roald Amundsen – Cateau Deleeuw
Roald Amundsen’s passion from a young age was to explore the Antarctica, as a young boy he began preparing physically for his explorations. Overcoming family and financial adversities he set out to be the first to the South Pole. One of the World Explorer series, these are informative, interesting short chapter books.
My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George
Sam Gribely, only 13, runs away from New York City to live in the Catskill Mountains, he takes only a penknife, a ball of cord, flint and steel and forty dollars. An amazing story of wilderness survival and how Sam thrived in his year alone.
Our children were totally engrossed and begged for “more, more” each day, resulting in us devouring this book within the week. An absolute favourite!! and I enjoyed sharing in their enthusiasm which was every bit as strong as their older siblings who also loved this book. Although disappointed when the book ended the children were happy to discover it was the first of a trilogy.
After reading the book the children discovered the movie and eagerly watched it to only be bitterly disappointed as movie makers had made some major and unnecessary changes. They highly recommend the book but not the movie.
Youngest & Middles:
The Enchanted Wood – Enid Blyton
Jo, Bessie and Fanny move to the country next door to an Enchanted Wood, a Wood populated with brownies, pixies and the magical Faraway Tree grows. They make friends with the folk who live in the tree and have many incredible adventures in the lands at the top of the Tree.
An absolute favourite, the children begged for more each day and were excited to realise it was the first of a trilogy.
The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton
Jo, Bessie and Fanny’s cousin Rick comes to stay and they continue their adventures up the Magic Faraway Tree – the oldest, most magical tree in the world. They introduce him to their friends; Moon-Face, Silky the Fairy, the Angry Pixie and Saucepan Man.
This trilogy is a favourite from my own childhood and our middles and youngers have enthusiastically loved them as much as did their older siblings.
The Railway Children – E Nesbitt – Libriovox, read by Karen Savage
Three children and their mother move to “Three Chimneys”, a house near the railway, after the father, who works at the Foreign office, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying. The children befriend an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train near their home; he is eventually able to help prove their father’s innocence, and the family is reunited.
The middles listened to this audio for hours at a time, they then watched the movie and were extremely disappointed and mad that the movie makers had made major changes from the book. Not happy.
Teens: 14-16 Years
Set All Afire – Louis de Wohl
The story of the life of Saint Francis Xavier, a favourite saint of ours. Exceptionally well written like all Louis de Wohl’s novels but… as the reader I found the chapters rather long and daunting and I ended up abandoning the novel as a read aloud, instead encouraging our teens to complete on their own. Whilst I absolutely love all Louis de Wohl’s books I declare them to be difficult read alouds.
We’re On A Mission From God – Mary Beth Bonacci
Written in a ‘hip’ language for Generation Xers the author’s intent is to appeal to the young Catholics of today(or rather a few years ago), to present a clear understanding of the Church and their role in it. However as I’ve never ‘dumbed down’ our Faith when reading to our children they found this presentation completely irritating and refused to listen to more.
Children of the New Forest – Captain Maryatt
Set in the English Civil War we follow the fortunes of the four children of Colonel Beverley. Colonel Beverley was killed fighting for King Charles, so his property was seized by Cromwell and the four children escaped to live in a forester’s cottage for several years where they learn many husbandry skills. Written in ‘old English,’ a favourite from my own childhood which I revisit periodically, I enjoyed sharing this novel with our teens.
Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft – Thor Heyerdahl
The record of an astonishing adventure of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean, from Peru to Polynesia on a balsa log raft. Touted as a classic we began this book only to abandon it early on, finding it wordy and boring. Perhaps if we’d persisted but as I didn’t have the teens attention I chose to ‘abandon ship’ 😉
The Silver Sword – Ian Serraillier
Set in Poland during World War 2, this novel tells the story of a family torn apart during the war and how the three young children and the boy they ‘adopt’ survive on their own in a war torn city. After the War ends the four children begin a dangerous journey across the battlefields of Europe to find their parents whom they believe may be in Switzerland. I’ve read this novel a several times over the years, to myself as well as our older children. The target audience is younger than our teens but as they hadn’t read this book I wanted to share it with them, they loved it.