Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Classics I've Read with My Daughter

I have been reading to Abby for almost 11 years now -- and she still likes it! (She reads on her own, too, but still enjoys sharing a book with me -- I will keep this going as long as possible!) Once we graduated from picture books, we moved on to simple and more complex chapter books, including some classics. Today I want to highlight a few of those.

A quick note: All of these book have central characters that are strong females. They teach about courage in the face of adversity, hard work, and hope. They are great mother-daughter reads.

Another quick note: Often, while I'm reading to Abby, she is doodling or making something with her hands. But she is absorbing the story and often stops to ask questions. If your child won't sit still or would likely space off during reading, let them doodle or craft during reading time and see what happens!

1. The Chronicles of Narnia series

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) was the first chapter book I read to Abby, and I believe she was 5 years old. I worried that the heightened, more formal language would be over her head, and figured we would abandon the book until later, if needed. However, the characters and story were so compelling to her, that she just loved it!

Abby's 6th birthday Narnia cake

The magical story of four siblings who enter another world via an old wardrobe captivated Abby's imagination. Talking animals and beasts, castles, the battle of good vs. evil, a gentle lion king... she ate it up and I would often find her outside playing Lucy Pevensie. :)

We went on to read the next two books in the series, but then took a break to read some other adventures. We will need to resume the story some day. #somanybookssolittletime

2. The Little House on the Prairie series

I mean, how could we not, right? The books detailing the pioneering adventures of the Ingalls family were written for children. The language is easy to understand and read, and the stories of the family's day-to-day life in a time long ago are fascinating. Laura Ingalls is taught hard work and perseverance and longs to end each day snuggled on Pa's knee, hearing about his hunting adventures or music from his fiddle.

And if you live in Missouri like we do, or want to travel this way, you can take a trip to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield. It is where Laura and Almanzo moved their family, built a life for themselves, and where she wrote these treasured books.

Look -- Pa's fiddle!
3. Anne of Green Gables

The Anne books by Lucy Maud Montgomery are so wonderful. Anne is an orphan who is (mistakenly) taken-in by a couple in Avonlea. She talks a mile a minute, often lost in some daydreamy reverie. Matthew immediately loves her delightful ways, but Marilla thinks she can be silly and impractical. Anne gets into all sorts of scrapes, but as she grows and matures, she becomes a trusted and solid -- and still daydreamy -- star of her community.

Yet again, I wondered if Abby wouldn't be engaged with the heightened language -- but Anne is just so lovable! She is smart, determined, head-strong, kind, and, above all, exceedingly imaginative. What a great role model for a young girl.

4. The Little Princess

This is what Abby and I are currently reading (first time for me!), and we are about halfway through. The central character is Sara Crewe, whose wealthy father brings her to a boarding school in New York. Though Sara has been spoiled and is used to a lavish lifestyle, she is a kind and generous soul. Miss Minchin, the headmistress, is jealous and disapproving of Sara and her wealth, but keeps the peace in order to maintain friendly relations with (the deep pockets of) her father. When it is learned that Captain Crewe has died, Sara is stripped of her belongings and is forced to live in the attic and become a servant. She is abused and mocked. However, Sara still maintains her kindness, generosity, imagination, and spirit to show that it is what's in the heart that makes one a "little princess."

5. The Harry Potter series

The greatest story ever told! :)

I cannot say enough wonderful things about these books. The magic and wizardry are captivating for kids and adults, alike. But it is the themes of courage, friendship, determination, good, loyalty, and understanding that put these over the top. I hope all of my kids read and treasure these books as much as my husband and I have.

Have you read any of these classics with your kids, or do you have any to add to our "must-read" list?

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