Honey for a Child’s Heart

It has been a hard day. My toddler dumped out an entire container of baking powder with a whole bag of coffee grounds and created his own special “$8 art project” on my kitchen counter. While I was cleaning up this mess and mourning the loss of half a pound of good Columbian coffee, he had already pushed up a chair to the girls desk in our homeschool room, opened up his sister’s cubby and poured out a special container of colored sand she had made at a friend’s birthday party.

This is how my life is right now. I feel like I am moving from one problem to another –  cleaning up messes, breaking up squabbles. You know, being a mom.

But things have been especially crazy lately, probably because we are more of an “outdoor” kind of people and due to the extremely cold temperatures recently, we had to adjust to being more of an “indoor” kind of people, at least temporarily.

When you are all up in each other’s business for several days without a lot of personal space (we have six people in our family) we can really get on each other’s nerves and cabin fever sets in. But even then, there are oasis-like moments in the madness. Enter read-aloud time.

My Favorite Time of Day

Read-aloud time has become my favorite part of the day, hands down. I love reading by myself, but sitting down with my kids all snuggled up under a blanket and reading a really great book to them is just honey to my heart. I have seen from the way they cheer and jump up on the couch that it is honey to theirs as well!

I’ve been reading to the kids since they were very little, but when my oldest was about five years old, I began to read some longer chapter books to her. Now our routine looks something like this: after tucking their baby brother in bed, the girls and I get some peppermint tea (or a snack) and snuggle under a warm blanket on the couch or in my bed to read. Sometimes we do our read-aloud time during their brother’s nap, in which cases we always have hot chocolate. With marshmallows, of course.

What do we read? I’ll share our favorites so far, but first I’d love to give you a little inspiration from Gladys Hunt’s book, “Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life“:

What kind of books? Stories that make for wonder. Stories that make for laughter. Stories that stir one within with and understanding of the true natures of courage, of love, of beauty. Stories that make one tingle with high adventure, with daring, with grim determination, with the capacity of seeing danger through to the end. Stories that bring our minds to kneel in reverence; stories that show the tenderness of true mercy, the strength of loyalty, the unmawkish respect for what is good.

How long we read honestly depends on several factors: How much time we have before their bedtime, how absorbed in the book we are at that particular moment (I have been known to read “just one more chapter” until several chapters have passed because – who am I kidding – I want to know what happens just as badly as they do!), and yes, how tired I am.

But whether we read one chapter or five, read-aloud time always has a way of calming us down, centering our hearts on a good story, and bringing us all (literally) together, therefore leaving us encouraged before heading to bed. It’s a win-win-win.

Our Read-Aloud Recommendations

Here’s a list of some of the books we have read out loud so far (and LOVED!):

The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder(There are nine books in all and they are all wonderful!)

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Again, there are seven books in this series and they are all excellent!)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I’m just an ordinary mom who loves to read out loud to her kids, but if you are looking for an expert on reading aloud, may I recommend Sarah MacKenzie and her site “Read Aloud Revival”? She has many great resources and lists for reading aloud.

For those of you who are just beginning with reading chapter books aloud, I hope our little list will give you some ideas on where to start. Do you love to read aloud to your kids? I would love to hear your favorites!

  • Pat
    Posted at 16:00h, 14 January Reply

    Good activity for a school classroom too, and popular even for older kids. I’ve had the pleasure both as a listener and as a reader. Also beneficial in strengthening listening skills. Our literate society is losing important abilities that come naturally to oral societies. It’s time to reclaim them!

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