For several reasons, we have been inconsistent with our library visits. Back in January, we bought a lot of books because our house got damaged by wind and water the night of the Gatlinburg wildfire and we lost 40 books from our collection. So I took them to Barnes and Noble and let them choose lots of new books.
In retrospect, I wish I had been more careful with our choices, but that’s another story and hindsight is 20/20. I must focus on the fact that they are reading, learning new vocabulary and seeing how stories are put together. All this to say, we have been busy reading books we own, too busy to go borrow books from the local library.
The other reason is that we found more of the books from the list I wanted them to read at the Pigeon Forge Library. And, get this, if they did not have them, they bought them for us. Since January, we have listened to unabridged classics like The Trumpet of the Swan, Charlotte’s Web, Heidi, and Little House on the Prairie series (all seven volumes of it) – from the Pigeon Forge Library.
So yes, we have neglected Story Time at the Gatlinburg Library. It is more for preschool age anyway, I thought. We are transitioning toward chapter books and away from picture books and it is a weird little dance we are doing between longer books we read over a week or picture books we finish in two minutes.
This summer, I have come to the conclusion that one of my goals for the upcoming school year is that the kids read one book a day. My son is capable of reading a 150-page book on his own in one day. It takes him 4-6 hours but he loves it and he is learning a lot. For instance, he read The Terrestria Chronicles in a week. I have yet to read that series for myself. It came recommended by a mom I know and trust (and who is more Conservative than I am when it comes to reading standards) and so I purchased it for him.
I like the Charlotte Mason approach, but I am not a purist. Ms. Mason spoke against books that she called “twaddle.” Several people have tried to explain what that means. I bought the Boxcar Children series only to find out afterwards that Charlotte Mason devotees do not approve of it. Oh well.
Come to think of it, my own children got tired of it in volume 2. We set it aside. I plan to dust it off and pull it back out soon. They are older and maybe can handle the stories better, who knows? Or maybe it is not worth it, after all. You never know until you try it. If they reject it again, then maybe there is something wrong with these stories, although I love the values espoused by the children in this series.
My thing is, let the kids read what they like. Sure, they need guidance and there should be a standard in place as to the subject matter and how appropriate it is for a Christian child. But as long as a child is reading and you are praying for him to learn and grow and get wisdom from the books he reads, I have to count my blessings and move on in confidence that we are doing a good thing.
I still follow suggestions from Susan Wise Bauer’s classic “Well Trained Mind” as well as Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook. I have a couple other books with book lists by ages, stages, and topics. Sometimes I Google “book lists for children” and find interesting ideas.
Back to my reading goals for the next school year: one book a day – picture book or small chapter book. If it is a longer chapter book, even a week is fine. But they need to read at least 20 pages per day in it. I usually end up reading to them these longer books because, frankly, I have not read them, and I want to know what is in them for my own benefit. But I don’t have time for all the chapter books they read. Only for the ones that end up on “classics for children” lists.
In order for us to be more consistent with this goal of “one book a day,” I have decided we shall attend Library Story Time every week. It is called “preschool and early elementary.” The librarian makes an effort to choose a longer book besides a shorter book which is “young” in its theme. There is a craft, but she does not mind if my children do not want to do it. Usually, they do not.
They sit in these great armchairs and read to themselves. Sometimes my daughter asks me to read to her. So we end up spending a great hour at the library, picking out books and reading to ourselves. Story Time is just an excuse to make it there weekly. Besides, everybody likes a story read to them.
I pick books for them, too. I gravitate towards nonfiction and make sure I choose from several categories: history, biographies, animals, space, math, science, geography etc. This will broaden their horizons beyond their normal realm of interests. So while they read, I walk around the shelves and pick things that catch my eye. I also have several lists I pick from, as I mentioned above. Looking forward to a year of great reading!