Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Read-at-Home Kids Report: December 2019

In December, we started our third set of seasonal reading logs. I've been enjoying writing down all the books the girls read themselves or have read aloud to them, and the older two enjoy giving me star ratings for each of the titles. Since we started our summer reading logs on June 3 last year, I've just been changing the season every three months on the third, and so far that has worked great. It's also going to make it really easy to show our homeschool reviewer that our six-year-old has been reading.

Here are some of our reading highlights from December.

Family Read-Alouds

I selected four Christmas chapter books to read aloud to Miss Muffet (6) and Bo Peep (4) at lunch each day of December. (Jumping Joan, 2, was also present, but generally did not listen.) We started with The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, which Miss Muffet liked more than her sister at first , but by the end, they were both invested in the fate of the old man and the children. (I do wish I had looked up the pronunciation for all the French words ahead of time, however. I had to ask my husband how to say the names of many people and places.)

Next, we read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, which I had read before, but not since having kids. I have never seen these two girls laugh so hard.  They absolutely loved the Herdmans, and memorized entire passages of their dialogue, which they recited at random throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons. I strongly suspect this will become a yearly read-aloud for us.

We followed that up with Starlight in Tourrone by Suzanne Butler, the writing in which I did find not especially conducive to reading aloud. The girls didn't like it much either, and often didn't understand what was happening. It was new to our collection this year, and may be one to revisit when they're a bit older, as I think the content is good, but I think it will make a better independent read the next time it comes out.

In the final days leading up to Christmas, we read The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden, with illustrations by Adrienne Adams. Both girls love The Doll People series, so I knew this would be a hit, and I was right. Bo Peep might be a little young to grasp exactly what was going on, but she loved the story anyway.

During Advent, my husband also read aloud The Good Shepherd by Gunnar Gunnarsson at the dinner table. This wasn't explicitly a children's novel, but the two older girls seemed to enjoy it.

We also read some picture books as a family over the month. We read Tomie dePaola's The Lady of Guadalupe on Open Library on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then read Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Peterson (Wiley) for St Lucy's Day.  We also read The Year Without a Santa Claus by Phyllis McGinley for the first time, and revisited old favorites: The Huron Carol, Christmas in Noisy Village, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree.

We finished the month by starting Amahl and the Night Visitors by Frances Frost and Roger Duvoisin, which is another traditional yearly read-aloud, always in anticipation of Epiphany. This was Bo Peep's first year really being old enough to understand the story, and she really enjoyed it.

Little Miss Muffet (6 years, 1 month)

At the start of December, Miss Muffet was finishing up Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean. (She first got interested in Gilgamesh during our study of Ancient Mesopotamia, and stuck with him even as our history lessons moved on.) Her other assigned reading during the month included The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins, The Cave Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins, When Molly Was Six by Eliza Orne White (all from Open Library), and Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne. She also read through a bunch of Christmas books, most notably Santa Claus Forever by Carolyn Haywood, A Certain Small Shepherd by Rebecca Caudill, and Little Robin's Christmas by Jan Fearnley, which she read aloud repeatedly to her youngest sister.

On Christmas Day, there were two books under the tree sent to us by a fellow children's books enthusiast my husband met on Goodreads: Dorrie and the Play and Dorrie and the Dream Monster, both by Patricia Coombs. Miss Muffet read through those eagerly, enjoying the adventures of the young witch who is the star of the series.

Little Bo Peep (4 years, 3 months)

Bo Peep's audiobook obsession continues, and she spent most of December listening and re-listening to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, read by C.J. Critt. She calls the book simply "The Herdmans" and she truly could not enough of their outrageously naughty behavior or of the way they make the pageant come alive in the end. On days that she didn't listen to "The Herdmans," Bo Peep opted for Rufus M., read by Christina Moore.

Her independent reading also took off in a big way during December. She nearly finished her entire stack of Hooked on Phonics readers and progressed through her lessons in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by leaps and bounds. She keeps telling us, "I'm a reader" and using that as an argument for how much older she is now than she was when she was three.

Other books Bo Peep loved during this month were Alfie's Christmas by Shirley Hughes, which she received for Christmas from my mom, and the Golden books collection called Sleepytime Tales, which I bought at a book sale months ago and wrapped up for her for Christmas as well.

Little Jumping Joan (2 years, 2 months)

For Jumping Joan, December was all about Santa Claus and Baby Jesus. She pored over Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, enjoying the page depicting her favorite animal, the peacock, and the one showing the newborn baby Jesus. She also loved all of our Santa board books, and took to carrying around Christmas, the cloth book she received on St. Nicholas Day last year when she was one. She refers to it as "Baby Boo," as that is the character's name, and kept reminding me all month that she wants to share the book with the twins on their first Christmas next year.

Jumping Joan's non-holiday favorites were Stanley's Train, which she received from me for Christmas, and which we have read countless times already since Christmas Day and Snuggle the Baby by Sara Gillingham, a second copy of which my mom gave her for Christmas because our original copy had been through a bit too much "big sister practice."

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