We started off the school year with The Trumpet of the Swan, to compliment our science studies. Bookworm1 (age 9 this month, y'all!!) was particularly excited about this read due to the fact that several months back he had spent the night at a friend's house and they read a chapter of the story at bedtime. He'd be curious to know the entire story and was pleased with my choice. (It's always nice when everyone is pleased with mommy's choice!)
We read The Trumpet of the Swan over the course of about two weeks. In case you are unfamiliar with this story by E.B. White, I'll fill you in on the details via Amazon (I know, I know....I'm cheating!):
Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him.
Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection-- he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
My kids loved this story about Louis. It was fun to hear of his adventures and misadventures, from going to school and learning how to read, working at a camp to earn money to pay for the trumpet his father stole, to his time in the Philadelphia Zoo. The chuckled over more than one passage and told me at the conclusion of each chapter that they were "really liking" the story. My daughter (age 4) said, "Ooooh, I wish we could read it again!!!" upon conclusion. It was nice to hear her say so because up to this point I didn't think she was paying very much attention to stories we read aloud. She's physically present but I haven't been sure exactly how much she has taken in. This was the first time that I can recall where she told me her favorite passages in great detail after we were done reading. (For all who are curious, she liked the part of the story where Louis father was taking all of the money Louis had earned to the music store to pay for the stolen trumpet. I shall avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that I was a bit surprised to hear that this was the part my daughter loved the most. Well, well.)
Bookworm1 is delighted to now be in the know, Bookworm2 and 3 would like to read it again. Bookworm4 is in the "physically present" stage, but that's ok. I consider it a good thing to have even the youngest among us sitting quietly nearby learning how to listen. First, they are realizing that they are part of a family and that we do things together. Secondly, they are getting used to the sound and pattern of story. Third, they are learning to sit still and be quiet even if that's not what they'd prefer to be doing. (I think it a good skill to have.) Fourth, they learn to love stories for themselves. All of these things are great reasons to keep reading aloud to my kids. So we'll just keep at it, looking for more fun and interesting stories to revel in together.