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Deliberate Literature

August 28, 2008

or So many books, so little time

Random thoughts on reading. . .

I’m a list maker.  I have a post on what A read last year, but it’s a real hodge-podge list of books, essentially categorized by fiction and non.  There wasn’t really any rhyme or reason to it at all, although maybe it’s useful to all those people searching for 1st grade reading lists who find their way to my blog.  I am never quite sure what books to get for A.  He flies through some books in an evening, and others (that I thought were just right for him) take weeks.  And I’m still not sure if that is due to the difficulty of the book or his interest level in what he’s reading.  I’m trying to let him know that it’s ok to not finish something if you really don’t like it, but he’s not a quitter by any means.

Anyway, I’m trying to be more deliberate about what we read around here.  There are so many good books out there (as well as many not so good) and all of us love to read, so this year I want to make sure we’re making time for the really good ones.  Speaking of which, I’ve tried assigning daily reading time for A the past few weeks, and he really doesn’t like it and seems to be reading less.  I guess it crimps his style, so I’ll just let him read whenever and know that, just like last year, some weeks we will read tons, some we don’t.  It all evens out in the end.  But I am going to be more deliberate about choosing good literature as a part of our school curriculum.

I wish I had a 2nd grade reading list all typed out ready to go.  And yes, I know there are curriculums out there that do that for you (Sonlight and Ambleside Online come to mind) but I have a hard time following someone else’s lists.  It’s probably the same reason I can’t teach Suzuki music lessons.  (The thought of teaching the same songs, in the same books, in the same order to every single student forevermore just. . . I can’t do it.)  It’s also the schedules.  I like schedules, I love plans, but I just can’t seem to follow someone else’s plan.  Maybe we don’t want to read those books that week in that amount of time.  I can’t even follow my own 888 reading list, do you know how many times I’ve rearranged it? 

So I’m coming up with my own reading list for the boys.  Hopefully by next spring, I’ll have a nicely completed list for the year.  I’m not sure it will be of value to anybody else as I don’t even know what reading level my 2nd grader is actually on.  (I know it’s not a 2nd grade level.)  I’m not even sure it will be of value to me.  Probably when C really starts reading, he’ll follow a completely different path than A did.  But I am separating our literature books from our history, science, and other subject related books and maybe it will be a good reference list for somebody somewhere eventually.  I like lists.  🙂

Resources for books:

  • The Well-Trained Mind–Fantastic list of literature books coordinated with our 4-year history rotation
  • Story of the World Activity Guide–Just a plug for my favorite history curriculum!  The AG contains even more suggestions for history reading and corresponding literature.
  • Five in a Row reading lists–We’ve loved all the books we’ve ever read with FIAR.  I especially want to use these for C and D as they want me to read aloud the same stories again and again and again. . .
  • Sonlight–I hear everyone rave about their readers, so I’m looking into which ones would be good for A this year. 
  • Ambleside Online–I can’t follow the whole program, but look over their book lists frequently.
  • Teaching Character Through Literature guide from Beautiful Feet books–I’m working through the Primary list this year with the boys and using their favorite authors list for A’s independent reading.
  • The Read-Aloud Handbook–I love this book by Jim Trelease about the value of reading aloud to your children, and I use the included lists for finding audio books we can listen to in the car.

And if I still need ideas, I can go here:

Now if I can just find a good “Books for Boys” list, I’ll be set.  I have no idea what boys would like to read, I’m not a boy!

What are you reading at your house?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    August 29, 2008 12:19 pm

    I need a good “Books for Boys” list too! We have so many books about girls, not so many about boys. Our boy has enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown, Harry Potter, Tales of a Fourth Grade nothing, the Narnia books, and lots of non-fiction, but I’m interested in finding good classic literature for boys too. So far, his main fiction interest seems to be mystery-type books. He also loves comics, of course–Calvin and Hobbes are a favorite, as well as some of my husband’s old comic book collections. But like you I want some good literature to round things out!

  2. August 29, 2008 2:35 pm

    I recently got “Great Books for Boys” by Kathleen Odean from the library which is pretty good, but not as good as some of the other resources. Another website I get book ideas from is

    But I can’t keep him away from Scooby Doo chapter books!

  3. August 29, 2008 3:26 pm

    I often worry about boy books. I know as my boys get bigger they will want different books than I have read with Sophie and different books than I remember reading as a kid so I have been trying to read at least a few “boyish” young people books so I am ready to give them ideas when the time comes. So far they are happy with picture books and have been alright with some of the read alouds. Even the girly ones. They all loved Peter Pan and the Peter and the Starcatchers books this summer.

    It looks as if you visit a lot of the same places to find good literature as I do. I love the Ambleside book lists and I always look to see what Sonlight has assigned for the year. And we do enjoy the suggestions from WTM and the SOTW activity book. I have also read Honey for the Child’s heart and got some good ideas from that book. She breaks it into age groups and even has a Honey for the teen’s heart and for the woman’s heart. I haven’t read those but one day I will.

  4. August 30, 2008 11:25 am

    I am with you- I can’t find a list that I can follow! And I am not so sure that they need to follow one. I am looking for more creative ways to help them follow their own passions. So does that mean reading more astronaut books versus Little House- I don’t know.

    Hey are you on Facebook? Just another way we can waste our precious time on earth? However, I am pulled by some force to check it daily!

  5. August 30, 2008 2:25 pm

    I am so grateful for your lists! I have also liked Honey for a Child’s Heart as a guide to good children’s lit. Sam actually prefers non-fiction books.
    I try to lure him into reading fiction with historical fiction. This summer he discovered comic books. Yikes! Are those addicting. Especially for boys.
    Yes, it’s best if you can have a list of GOOD books to follow. 🙂

  6. September 3, 2008 3:44 pm

    i have a hard time picking boys’ books, too. and yet i want my own list (like you) rather than just taking it all from someone else. this looks like a good set of resources to get started with. i am trying to have a list of books that i definitely want my boys to read this year, but i’m sure they will read many other books besides. lately i’ve been hiding the fluffy ones that kimball just keeps going back to (superfudge series, ramona books, horrible harry,) since they just seem more like entertainment than literature. horrible harry someone gave us and i hate them–the others might be called modern classics but once is certainly enough for them.
    kimball loves non-fiction, too, and always picks out tons of it when we go to the library.

  7. Michelle permalink
    September 7, 2008 3:42 pm

    Roald Dahl books are fun for boys too! I just remembered that our son has enjoyed several of these, both read aloud and read on his own (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, etc.). Definitely enjoyable for boys (and girls too!).

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