Friday, May 06, 2005

Book choices & reading aloud

Son1 wanted me to buy a bunch of books at his school's book fair this week. He wrote down all of the names and prices, and was sure the (school) library didn't have them. I think he even asked the school librarian.

My rules are (1) up to $4.99 (book fair 2x/year) or 2.99 (every other book club order); (2) don't buy what we can borrow from the library; (3) I don't buy books that fast reader Son1 will finish before dinner that day; (4) unless it's a classic; (5) unless the child really, really wants it, in which case I might suspend the other rules, but probably Rule 1 still holds.

For Son2, I bought Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, which we already knew we loved. It is hilarious and we've now read aloud numerous times with the whole family saying, "No!" to the pigeon. So funny how the pigeon says, "No fair!" just like Son2 is no longer allowed to. Slightly against my better judgment, for Son1 I agreed to buy The Supernaturalists based on the back cover notes. He loved it (finished it by dinner the next day), and I did a little research on his wish list.

The Artemis Fowl books are available at the public library, so I reserved the first one and will pre-read it before putting it in his book stack. He can buy the latest Bionicle novel on his own dime anytime. I will NOT spend $16.99 on a slipcased 4-pack of Bionicle novels, and especially when he already owns two of them! For that price I could have bought a new set of the Narnia books, also in a slipcase, through the Scholastic book club! Another of the wish-list books (Children of the Lamp) has mixed reviews at Amazon, and the books that are recommended as a better alternative (the Bartimaeus Trilogy) appear to bring in issues and themes I'd like to wait on.

Next, I started reading The Supernaturalists. Eh. Okay book, a bit dark, not well written but not gag-me awful, but I definitely want to ground him again in some great classic and new fiction. I reserved Black Ships Before Troy and Chasing Vermeer at the library, and picked them up today along with Artemis Fowl. I'm also waiting on a Lloyd Alexander book -- not from the Prydain Chronicles 'cause I want to wait on that until he really gets into reading non-Redwall, non-Harry Potter books. If A.F. meets my pre-read test, he'll have several good and different books. Of course, in July the Harry Potter vortex will suck him in and he'll reread all of his Harry Potter books yet again because of the debut of the newest book.

Ultimately, I see no reason to buy any book we can borrow from the library, unless it's a classic or... well, see my book fair/book club rules above!

In my research I found an interesting list of recommended family read-alouds, though the Waldorf aspects of the rest of the site are not my thing at all. I had been thinking that I want to start reading aloud to the boys again. I think some of the books Son1 dismisses are books he AND Son2 might really enjoy hearing -- and I think we need reading aloud back in our family life. A good plan for recentering in the lulls in our end-of-school busy weeks, and then into summer.

UPDATE: My Artemis Fowl impressions are in a comment.


Philothea Rose said...

I recently read an article about the amazing benefits to the brain that reading aloud has on children of all ages, as well as adults. Thatnks for your reviews and the link.

Barbara said...

You're welcome! And I did read Artemis Fowl the next day. It was a quick, fun read. It's an interesting story full of action. The namesake 12-year-old villain makes arch comments -- you can imagine him raising an eyebrow as he says them -- but that didn't particularly bother me. He is said to be a villain, but I didn't see anything evil in his behavior -- dastardly and self-centered but not evil or sociopathic. There are description and plot holes, but not big enough to bother me too much. There's an interesting subtext of certain relationships being deeper than they appear, in good ways. Son1 got permission to read it, he finished it yesterday, and we borrowed the second book from the library this afternoon.