In honor of Samuel's 19th birthday today, I want to share with you some of our favorite books that we read as a family while the boys were growing up. We loved to read aloud after dinner and believe it did a lot for both boys' vocabulary, exposure to ideas, and love of story, as well as providing a great family time together. Tom and I both remember our dads reading to us and our siblings, and we wanted to do the same with our own kids. Until they were in their early teens we read several times a week.
There were missionary stories and historical fiction that impacted us all, which I'll share another time. Of course we read the Narnia series. And there were the Hardy Boys series, Encyclopedia Brown books and Focus on the Family's Last Chance Detectives series, all about the time that Samuel was, himself, a detective. (For his 9th birthday, my dad printed his treasure hunt clues backwards, so that he had to use a mirror to decipher them.)
I remembered Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwood from my childhood, so we introduced it to the boys. Mr Popper, a painter who dreams of Arctic explorations, finds himself the owner of a peck of penguins. It's a delightful read-aloud for school age kids.
Both boys were in third grade when they began to read the Redwall series. Field mice, foxes, badgers, rats, birds, even a wolverine, populate the world where the Redwall Abbey stands. Very well written, these books held our attention for hours. When the author, Brian Jaques, came to Mt Vernon, we all went to hear him and the boys had him sign copies of their books.
We happened upon The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, a story about pushcarts and trucks in New York City in 1976. It was satire, a new genre for us when the boys were in upper elementary, and we laughed a lot through it.
We also listened to stories. One of our favorites was the original Superman radio programs. I didn't find it on Amazon, but here's the link from our library, as that's where we got it. (One advantage to listening to a book or story is that you can listen while you eat, which you can't really do with reading!)
Happy Birthday Samuel. May you never grow tired of reading!