The main core of our entire education program at this stage in life is reading great books. I am so indebted to a couple of sources in helping me to understand the role of literature in the formation of a child and I'm thankful for the great, great resource books on this topic that offer fantastic booklists for children. I love reading booklists in general; but there are some specifically great ones that I can count on 100% to offer great titles to read to the children. The library or school may have booklists and such but they aren't ALWAYS going to include to best or exclude the worst. That is to say, we read books that reinforce our children's understanding of the moral order of the universe and foster appreciation for what is good, noble and true. There's something so loving about reading a long lovely story with a child cuddled next to you, staring out the window with the wheels in his head turning as he imagines the story unfolding. These reading times do more than serve as a form of 'entertainment'-- they expose the kids to rich vocabulary, they teach them that wonderful adventures take place in books so learning to read is anticipated with greater excitement, and most of all, they build a relationship between us... a bridge of comfort and love that will always be remembered fondly. Reading books will be associated with pleasant thoughts and more than anything, I pray my kids are avid readers and critical thinkers and hungry for truth. If they are booklovers... they can always read their way [back] into the faith. The beauty of our faith is that it relies on knowledge and history and truth. There are no gimmicks. If they can read a book, they can discover for themselves where He who is Truth lives.
Anyway, here is a running list of what we've read... not including the hundreds and hundreds of picture books and regular fairy tales and folk tales. The boys' favorite titles, that have made a lasting impression on them and on their imaginative play, are in bold.
James and the Giant Peach
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Pinocchio (this was much more challenging than I would've suspected!)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
My Father's Dragon
Mr. Popper's Penguins
... and now, we are reading a lovely fascinating story by one of the greatest storytellers of yesteryear: George MacDonald. "The Princess and the Goblin." I hadn't even heard of MacDonald until I read Michael O'Brien's fascinating MUST READ FOR ALL CHRISTIAN PARENTS: "A Landscape with Dragons: the battle for your child's mind." (I'm not 100% in agreement with EVERYTHING O'Brien says here (more like 99%) but it opened my eyes to the way I evaluate books) And now, in reading this book, I can really see deeper into what it is that makes one book merely interesting and delightful for the child, and a book that is truly great and exposes children to noble thoughts and thrilling ideas. G.K. Chesterton called this book one that "made a difference to my whole existence." And so far the kids are enthralled. (Well goblins will do that to any little boy!)
On another note: we just received the most wonderful craft book! I've looked through a dozen different arts/craft books for kids but most were "same ol', same ol' " or just kind of uninspiring. But author Kathy Ross has hit a goldmine with her seasonal crafting books. We have "Crafts to Make in the Fall" and hope to get all of her other season craft books too. I just love the way the book is laid out. I was surprised at first at how thin the book was... only 30 crafts or so. But they are fun, and rather simple and with great illustrations. And they are original too! So this has been a pleasure...