When Narration Inspires: a ghostly retelling

Part of my New Year’s Day was spent on the floor of my basement while seven-year-old G scrunched down behind the sofa manipulating his stuffed animals to perform Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This season we have all been exposed to heavy doses of the redemptive ghost story. My family and I have watched three or four versions, including our favorite, the 2009 Disney one with Jim Carrey. We visited our local theater downtown with some friends and enjoyed a live performance. And probably most memorably we pulled out colored pencils and drawing paper while Patrick Stewart dramatically read to us the story on Audible. Thank you, Mr. Stewart! Do you remember when we were right behind you in the Starbucks line this summer in New York? At the one in Park Slope?

We began our immersion into Scrooge’s Christmas transformation in late November or early December, but it wasn’t until New Year’s Day when G invited me to our basement for his impromptu theater that I realized how much he had been internalizing the language, the story, and the message.

I attribute his burst of creativity to the steady practice of narration.

Narration is simply a retelling. Charlotte Mason, the British educator from the late 1800s to early 1900s, utilized narration in the earliest forms. Children as young as four or five were taught to retell a story, fable, or science lesson. We have practiced this a good bit in our home.

Although not in a strict Charlotte Mason manner, G has grown accustomed to hearing a story, then relating it back to me. This youngest and most verbose child of mine was not only an early reader but an eager listener. I now see the benefits coming to fruition. Even when I lack the patience to hear another story – and, believe me from this guy it happens daily – he reminds me with the words of Susan Wise Bauer, the author of our writing book, “But wait, Mom. I’m just getting to the ‘skeleton of the plot.'”

Narration does not just aid the eventual writing process, but it is writing at its rawest form. Unedited, unrevised in most cases, it allows the teller to recognize and create and verbalize his own thoughts. Never underestimate a child who realizes her ability to communicate.

And so, once it had been decided who of G’s stuffed friends would play Scrooge, and who would be ol’ Fezziwig,  I followed him downstairs as he adjusted the basement lighting and, surprisingly, managed a spotlight on “Mr. Monkey” as a lamplighter (never mind the fact that the light was imaginary and the “lighter” was a knitting needle). Thus, began his version of the familiar tale. I admit I was shocked at how well he remembered the story, how easily he moved the plot along. He had memorized large chunks of the dialog. “Bah. Humbug” was there, but so also were more obscure lines like, “Spirit, are they yours?…They are man’s…Beware them both.”

Although he left out chunks of the book and created a couple of extra scenes, they all seemed in the spirit of the novella. My favorite sections were when the stuffed tiger appeared as Jacob Marley sporting several glow stick necklaces as his “ponderous chain.” G’s Scrooge scoffs and amusingly adds to the famous line,

There’s more custard than cuss,

more gravy than grave about you.

Later, as the Ghost of Christmas Present bids a Teddy Bear version of Scrooge from his chambers, the miser looks around and asks, “What is all of this feast?” The Ghost answers, “It is the fruit of generosity. Something you have never shared.” This is a paraphrased line from Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

I applaud. I know this voluntary form of narration will tie the message even closer to his heart.

 

Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim. “Julius” was chosen as Tiny Tim for his size and because he had recently sustained a serious arm injury by the teeth of our six month old puppy. Dad saved the day by stitching him back up, but there remains an obvious scar. G explained, “Just like Tiny Tim has to walk with a crutch, it doesn’t matter if his arm looks different.” God bless us, everyone!

In the event that my narration of this puppet performance seems too impressive for a seven year old, rest assured, there was plenty of flipping back and forth off the couch, dead pauses while he changed characters, and some hand motions that I only assume were unclear due to the actors’ lack of thumbs. And yet, the meaning was there. He narrated what he remembered and what had stood out to him.

I learned a great deal about his memory that day, but even more about his heart.

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When He was ready…

Christ came not when we were ready, but when he was.

This has been a difficult year for us. It has been a particularly difficult year for my husband who lost his father just at the end of September after long, strenuous health issues. He has shouldered a good bit of stress at work, and we have been stretched to our parenting limits this year. Can you relate? Christmas may have come this year with us feeling weary and unprepared. There is, somehow, good news in this.

The grace of the embodiment of God on earth is partially wrapped in the fact that we were still a mess upon his arrival. We were far from ready. We had forgotten to be expectant, and had instead grown hurried, harried, and lacking in purpose. Christmas arrived before all the cookies were baked and frosted, it arrived before packages were wrapped and bows tied. We were caught in the middle of some major mishaps. Our lives were ugly and twisted. We had forgotten to hope.

The shepherds were leaning on their staffs, cleaning the excrement from their sandals when the heavens were ripped open and angels burst in chorus above their heads. And even Anna, (Luke 2:36-38) who was waiting in the house of the Lord, may have risen from a despondent corner of the temple, doubting anything hopeful would ever happen to her again.

We were distracted and agitated and frazzled. But then, before Mary had time to prepare a nursery, he was born. Before we tied up the loose ends, and resolved the mess our lives had become, he came. While we were embarrassed, stressed, anxious, and lonely, he arrived, donning tendons and truth. Or we were proud, arrogant, and crass, yet he wouldn’t wait for us to clean our lives up. He would not. We couldn’t.

As his infantile arms flailed erratically, he waved them about and cried, “Behold, I am new! Look, I will live next door. I make everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).

As he breathed on Mary’s cheek, so he had once breathed in us the breath of life. As his divinity seemed to take on a weaker nature, he poured into us his spirit of hope (Romans 5:5).

He came when he was ready, not when I was.

As I vacuum the house in preparation for Christmas guests, I feel the frustration of an imperfect house. It will not all get done. Let’s face it, with three boys, and trying to squeeze in time for a math lesson, is the house ever clean? There will most assuredly be dusty surfaces and blankets piled in a corner. It is an imperfect house full of imperfect people. If I am not ready with the house cleaning, how much more unprepared am I with my spiritual life? My soul needs dusting and there are certainly things I need to purge from my character. If I can welcome family into an imperfect home, then I can welcome this Savior into my imperfect world. He is here! Joy to the world!

His uncoordinated knees knock together as he now kicks, but his movements proclaim, “Come to me. My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30). And Mary, not having prepared perfectly for his arrival, picks up her burden, snuggles him deeply, and discovers, it is indeed light.

Merry Christmas.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Are you ready?

A frequent greeting which falls from our lips this time of year is “Are you ready for Christmas?” And by this we mean, have you finished your Christmas shopping, do you have the meals shopped for and planned out, do you know where all the relatives will sleep, or how you will get to both sides of the family on Christmas Eve. We might rethink our intentions with this inquiry.

Are you ready?

Are you eagerly awaiting what has been long promised you? Are you resting in exuberant hopefulness? Is the Advent of the Son foremost in your thoughts? Are you ready to celebrate his once-upon-a-time birth and his most assured return?

May we be open to receiving the divine in our life. May we be open to recognizing the blessings and the light, just as the wise men recognized the bright, auspicious star. May we make room for him as we make room for the others before us who need a place to stay, a warm meal, or a sympathetic ear. Are we ready to welcome him as we welcome others in our lives? As we wait this advent, may we grow into a reflection of the holy Infant’s abiding love.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

Luke 1:45

Homeschooling with Homer

With no real plan in place, other than the fact that we had reached Greek civilization and the Trojan War in history, S and I have been slowly reading Homer’s Iliad. It is my very first time, and as has happened so many other times over these last several years, I find I learn at least just as much alongside him.

We found this fantastic version for children and young adults retold by Alfred J. Church. Originally published in 1907, it retains the epic style without being cumbersome to a modern middle schooler.

Here is an example, which must be read aloud for the full effect.

But Poseidon came to the camp of the Greeks…First he spoke to either Ajax, saying, “Hold fast, men of might, that you may save the people. For the rest of the wall I fear not, but only for the place that Hector rages. Now may some god inspire you to stand fast and drive him back.” And as he spoke he struck each with his staff, and filled them with courage and gave strength to hands and feet. Then he passed from them even as a hawk that rises from a cliff, chasing a bird.

Chapter 16, p. 156

In the course of our readings together, we have learned mundane facts such as Ilium is the Greek name for Troy. Thus, the Iliad is ” the ballad of Ilium,” or the song about Troy. We have shared our disappointment in Achilles’ whining. We have laughed at Ajax’s grandiose and lengthy speeches in the heat of battle, while wielding both a battle axe and sword. “Just finish them off!” S jokes. “Focus, Ajax! Focus!”

We prided ourselves on our independent discovery of the epic simile. Although considering their preposterous length and preciseness, it is hard to overlook them. When a figure of speech extends six or seven lines into a paragraph it is impossible to be blind to it. Here is our favorite example.

As when two torrents swollen with the rains of winter join their waters in a hollow ravine at the meeting of the glens, and the shepherds hear the crash far off among the hills, even so, with a mighty noise and great confusion, did the two armies meet.

Chapter 6, p. 46

S and I have discussed and debated Greek virtues, and we have contrasted them with what is lauded today. We have questioned why (spoiler alert) Patroclus’ death was so grievous to Achilles, and whether or not that was more a reflection on the one rather than the other. We discussed the nature of the gods, and their limited powers against man. Overall, this has been a worthwhile read for us. I feel we have both received a solid introduction into the blind bard who purportedly founded Western literature. The Odyssey awaits.

On a Sunday

Sitting in the worship service, looking around at others, I may only see ordinary people, but if I look closer, with eyes of gratitude, I may catch a glimpse of a higher truth. I am part of something truer than what my tired eyes are taking in. God has transformed his people into impressive examples of love and grace. I am not naive; I still acknowledge the pain and brokenness among us. We are far from exemplary on our own merits. There a few struggling with addictions among us. Some have been abused; some have abused others. Many endure profound grief. We stand and sing, however, grateful together.


Sometimes I may not sing. Most of the times I am not able to carry a tune, much less contribute to the four-part harmony our tribe practices. Sometimes I dislike the song. Yes, sometimes I am distracted by the unnecessary apostrophe floating on the screen, or the wrong homonym renders the lyrics confusing.

That’s ok, because I see she has made it to church today. She is up and down chasing crayons from under the pew, escorting wriggling legs down the aisle, and back up again, solo, but smiling. I wonder if she hears the sermon…if it is discouraging that she expends this much energy when she could have stayed home, slept in.

He gets up to say a prayer. He seems so austere at times, almost cheerless. We rarely see eye to eye on extemporaneous doctrinal issues. I have found him annoyingly conservative. But there he stands, wording a prayer of contrition so beautifully I am ashamed to remember a time his gentle words comforted me in a difficult moment last year.

We sing.

We pray.

We hear the words of God together.

It all adds up to greater substance than it would initially appear. Some of us are lonely. Some of us depressed. Some of us are struggling with sins we have dragged about as on “ponderous chains” for years. Some of us are just thankful, hopeful, eagerly leaning in to God’s promises. We live and sing and pray as if they are already true. And they are.

God transforms the ugly into something weak and fragile, distinctly vulnerable, but beautiful.

She bothers me sometimes with her abrupt manner of speaking, as if she has no time for being polite, for choosing grace over expediency. I don’t know it, but I annoy him with my stubbornness, forever asserting myself when I could have just let it go. All of these are examples of what the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins meant by “dappled things.” Somewhere among the archaic language, the newly-hyphenated words, and melodic alliterations, we understand his message. We are a mess. We are freckled and plain, mundane, tedious, distorted and ineffective. We are hopelessly hopefully ordinary.

Pied Beauty

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things –

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow and plough;

And all trades their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who, knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers -forth whose beauty is past change.

Praise him.

We are, indeed, “all things counter, original, spare, strange.”

And not unlike Elisha and his servants seeing the LORD’s angel armies for the first time encircling Israel upon battle, we gather on a Sunday in pews nominally comfortable, with people who only appear ordinary, with “landscape plotted and pieced,” and we catch a glory-glimpse. And we praise him.

We gather each Sunday, for “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16).

Praise him.

The name – of it – is ‘Autumn’-

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The name- of it – is ‘Autumn’-

The hue – of it – is Blood –

An Artery – upon the Hill –

A Vein – along the Road –

 

Great Globules – in the Alleys –

And Oh, the Shower of Stain –

When Winds – upset the Basin –

And spill the Scarlet Rain –

 

It sprinkles Bonnets – far below –

It gathers ruddy Pools –

Then eddies like a Rose – away –

Upon Vermilion Wheels –

 

by Emily Dickinson

 

He made himself nothing

I have been reflecting on what Christ renounced to live here on earth.

 “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In his book Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge, Dallas Willard states that we are to live as Christ would have lived our specific life.

“As Jesus’ disciple… You are learning from Jesus how to lead your life as he would lead your life if he were you. Yes, the very life you have…there isn’t a person on this earth Jesus couldn’t have been. .. he relinquished supreme power. He learned to live  in the kingdom of God as an ordinary human being…He could live in your circumstances now.” P. 54

He could have been any one of us. Instead he was a carpenter’s son, living on the wrong side of the Pax Romana. How would he have lived your life in particular? Perhaps that is part of what he gave up- the ability to live all lives, to be omnipresent and to see humanity from every perspective. Jesus was only able to live the one life here on earth, just as we are limited. We can only see with the single pair of eyes that God created for us. How would Jesus have used my blue eyes in America in the 21st century?

Our prayer might be to catch glimpses of his omniscient vision as Creator and Savior. As C. S. Lewis encourages us,

But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

In this way, may he teach us as the all-knowing God of the universe, and may his pattern as a man speak to us of his compassion and wisdom as he also was limited in his humanity.

Cultures and Christians: Book Recommendations

Throughout the approximately twenty centuries since Christ, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth have lived in a variety of cultural climates, both apathetic to their cause and enraged by it. Regardless of the century, language, and environment, the levels of freedom and comfort, Christians have always existed. There has never been a time when they have died out. Christianity’s success cannot be predicted by the right moral culture, nor the most conducive political climate. The Christian confession of Christ as Lord spread like wildfire during the Roman occupation and persecution of the first century. Yet, Christianity was also arguably strengthened during the American Restoration movement as it seemed to enjoy a burst of freedom. So, whether or not our cultural environment approves of us does not seem to indicate a tell-tale sign of how well we will flourish in it.

In recent months I have been reading and reflecting a great deal on culture and the proper response to it as a Christian. My natural instinct, honestly, is to shrink back from the excessive amounts of pop culture and trends. However, much of the books, articles, and podcasts I have been reading and listening to have urged me to think more broadly about our responsibilities and opportunities to engage the people around us. I am feeling challenged more than ever to spread truth and beauty and goodness in His name.

I would love to recommend the following books to those of you considering how to live successfully in this post-Christian culture ( in whichever culture you find yourself) as followers of Jesus, while still making genuine connections with people. We do not need to despair, for we know the end of the story. We do not need to be silent, biding our time.

For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7 GNB

We need not fight and rage against the machine, for his light of peace is within us. Instead, we have the opportunity to create a culture which best reflects his beautiful face.

Although some of these books have a more specialized focus than others, there is a striking similarity and continuity of thought among them. I encourage you to read these in communion with others and discuss how you can build a culture that is faithful to Christ and open to loving all people.

The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher is a Roman Catholic turned Eastern Orthodox writer and editor. His book, The Benedict Option, received mixed response as some felt it to be too pessimistic and fear-inducing. I found it both challenging and poignant, and a catalyst to aid me in refocusing my purpose. Dreher makes use of both the symbols of Noah’s ark and Ezekiel’s streams of water “issuing from the altar.” In his mind the Church is both the ark and a wellspring.

“The church, then, is both Ark and Wellspring- and Christians must live in both realities. God gave us the Ark of the church to keep us from drowning in the raging flood. But He also gave us the church as a place to drown our old selves symbolically in the water of baptism, and to grow in new life, nourished by the never-ending torrent of His grace.”

p. 238

Dreher uses the Rule of St. Benedict to make application as to how we should order our lives today. He warns against a consumerist society, promotes a certain amount of asceticism, and believes in prayer as work and worship. He advocates for groups of Christians working together for the stability and flourishing of their local communities. Religious liberty, according to Dreher, is of vital importance if our cultures are to thrive. He reminds us of examples in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and China under the era of Communism. As Christians in America today, we have a choice.

“Part of the change we have to make is accepting that in the years to come, faithful Christians may have to choose between being a good American and being a good Christian.”

p. 89

“Secede culturally from the mainstream. Turn off the television. Put the smartphones away. Read books. Play games. Make music. Feast with your neighbors. It is not enough to avoid what is bad; you must also embrace what is good…ceasing to believe that the fate of the American Empire is in our hands frees us to put them to work for the Kingdom of God in our own little shires.”

pp. 98-99

Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life by Makoto Fujimura

In 2009 Japanese-American artist Makoto Fujimura was commissioned by Crossways to create an illuminated manuscript, The Four Holy Gospels, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. It was published in 2011 as part of the English Standard Version. The artist is the founder of the Fujimura Institute and the International Arts Movement, which “creates a new paradigm by lovingly tending to cultural soil and caring for artists as pollinators of the good, true and beautiful.” In his book Culture Care, Fujimura encourages all artists, regardless of media, to produce high quality fiction, film, paintings, sculpture, poetry, etc. in order to cultivate a Creator-honoring culture.

“The God revealed in the Bible has endowed creation with overflowing beauty. There God is not characterized by utility but by abundant love. God desires his creatures-especially those who in Christ are adopted as his children-also to be creative and generative.”

pp. 96-97

As God is the Creator, we are likewise creators, as we bear his image. Fujimura challenges modern-day Christians to move about their spheres in ways they have perhaps not done before. He asks us to look at the entire story of the Bible and to find our place in it today.

“…churches often present the middle two elements (fall and redemption) but rarely connect the whole story of the Bible-that begins in creation and ends in new creation-with the stories of our present lives and communities. We often issue this great book, reducing it to a book of rules, a checklist for earning our way into heaven, or a guidebook for material prosperity or personal well-being. Many churches replace God as Artist with God as CEO of the universe…

Christian communities are thus often busy with programs, but rarely seen as a creative force to be reckoned with, let alone as a power of good that affects whole cities and gives everyone a song to sing.”

pp. 95-96

Fujimura believes in truth telling, but also believes that the Christian has more to tell than just the darkness and grimness of reality. There is more to the real world than brokenness and despair.

“In The face of the undeniable and often unbearable human suffering all around us, we must still affirm beauty and work to make our culture reflect it. This is why a culture care approach will encourage truth telling about alienation, suffering and oppression alongside truth telling about justice, hope, and restoration.”

p. 56

Fujimura invites all artists- and here his definition of an artist or creator is wide and encompassing- to participate in culture care, in creating and restoring.

The third book recommendation, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping our Kids Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle, was just published this year. The authors make a point early in the book of defining culture as morally neutral. There is nothing inherently negative about living within a local culture. On the contrary, some cultures may be extremely moral and beneficial. As creatures, we were created to make something of the world. That is, our culture, not the created elements, the trees, the lakes, the birds, but the art, the cuisines, the sports, the entertainment and myriad of expressions that converge to comprise any one culture. Stonestreet and Kunkle writes particularly to parents, church leaders, youth leaders, and anyone who has spiritual contact with teens. They articulate words of warning and encouragement to both teens and their adults to aid in teaching and training young people to build their faith. They frequently describe us as “image-bearers” in this broken world. Like Fujimura, the authors of A Practical Guide to Culture do not see culture as something to be shunned, but something to take advantage of – a beautiful opportunity on which to construct something beautiful and healing.

“Cultivating is exactly the sort of behavior the Scriptures would have us expect from God’s image bearers… God made humans with the capacity to do something with His world, and that’s exactly what we do. Culture was an integral part of God’s plan for us and His world from the very beginning.”

Celebrating contemporary artists and leaders, the authors give nods to several people involved in various fields who are creating beautiful culture. Educator and Founder and President of Celebrate Kids, Inc., Dr. Kathy Koch, the aforementioned artist Makoto Fujimura, and S.D. Smith, author of the middle grade novel series The Green Ember, and others are all lauded as having accepted the call to be faithful in their sphere, “celebrating, creating, confronting, co-opting, and correcting” in the world.

Addressing contemporary topics like LGBTQ issues, screens and technology, and the media, Stonestreet and Kunkle discuss how Christians should biblically view them. By far the strongest sections of this book are their treatment of racism and Part Four: Christian Worldview Essentials, a final section on teaching our children a Christian worldview. Stonestreet and Kunkle remind us that tolerating racial or ethnic barriers is a sin.

“Do we find our identity in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Have we cultivated a posture of forgiveness and reconciliation or of hostility and bitterness? Do we simply dismiss all concerns about racism without listening carefully to others?

Followers of Jesus don’t have the option of tolerating racial or ethnic barriers. It’s sin. We take our cues from Scripture,not from culture.”

The heart of the book lies in the final section. It could easily be read by an adult to help a teen, or by the teen herself. Stonestreet and Kunkle present the Christian worldview in describing why we believe the Bible to be historically true and accurate, but also why we consider it to be the very words of God. They also help teens navigate other world views, and show them how honest people might disagree with them.

“Classical tolerance actually entails disagreement about important matters, but we ‘tolerate’ those who hold differing opinions, treating one another with respect even while disagreeing.”

In a world that purports tolerance, we see pitifully few discussions which seem to epitomize a tolerant or understanding spirit. How much richer and more beautiful would our cultural soil be if we were able to engage our neighbors with truth, beauty and goodness, all while listening?

Considering Dubai

A cardboard box, some packing tape, and a long green line of yarn. A stub of a carrot and an orange crayon. This is all that is needed, apparently, for a six and seven year old to catch a rabbit. A light hand on a shoulder, leaning in for a whisper, the two look as if they have known each other for a couple of years. Not two days.

Our new neighbors have a smiling toddler with a constant grin and a full head of thick, jet black hair. This family is originally from Pakistan, and I marvel how this robust, stocky young man could belong to the slight young woman. Her brother and his family are visiting from Dubai. For the last two days, G and their six year old son, who enthusiastically sings the lyrics to “Eye of the Tiger,” have quickly become acquainted. They have plotted to trap rabbits darting about the yard at early dusk, created itemized lists of supplies for various projects, caught grasshoppers,engaged in squirt gun battles, and examined fireflies in the dark. Their visit is coming to an end later this week, and we may or may not see them again, but I believe this has been a happy event in G’s summer.

He has enjoyed having a conveniently located playmate. He understands how happy his new friend is to discover a temporary friend right next door to fill in for more permanent ones back in Dubai. G is proud to be a part of this little boy’s first United States experience.

After their first playtime together, G and I searched a map of the Middle East so he could discover Dubai nestled on the coast of the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia.

And, friends, this is how a child might best learn geography, cultures, compassion, openness, and an eagerness for the greater world. Even right next door. The world is probably closer than you think.

IMG_9071

Looking at the map, G said, “Well, I never really thought about going to Dubai before.” He shrugged. “But I guess we could go.”

For our records: First grade

In ten years I suspect I will look back on G’s first grade year, and primarily remember us reading together. I might remember him lugging his math manipulatives up and down the stairs, or driving him to his art co-op class, but what I will likely remember most is all the books we read when he was six…together, cuddled up on my bed in the middle of the day, or out on the patio swing in the back yard.

Our daily read alouds were such an integral part of our day. They provided tremendous opportunities for discussion. I believe if we had ever skipped reading on any one day,  I would not have felt we had “done school”, even if we had successfully covered math, writing and art.

In order to collect ideas and grow our book list,  I enjoy seeing what other people are reading with their kids. For our records, and in case you are interested, here is what G and I read for first grade.

G’s READING LIST 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEARIMG_7565

  Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

 The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

  Leif the Lucky,

Columbus,

Pocahontas,

George Washington,

Benjamin Franklin,

Abraham Lincoln,  and

Buffalo Bill by Ingrid and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

Ember Falls by S.D. Smith

In theYear of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne

George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer

Half-Magic by Edward Eager

The Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager

Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager

The Time Garden by Edward Eager

Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

img_6828

G looks at his reading list.

Me: What was your favorite book this year?

G: Probably Winnie the Pooh and the Half-Magic books. Oh, and The Green Ember.

Me: Why those?

G: They were just so magical and fun.