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    She Disappeareth

    March 29, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Consider this a warning. Like Paul Revere, my heart is yelling inside of myself, The in-laws are coming! The in-laws are coming! You see, we spend time with Si’s relatives only infrequently, as most of them live in another world called Outside California {did you know that you can drive for 20 hours and never leave this state?}. So, when they come, I begin to worry and fret. When you see folks once a year, that first year of marriage {the year in which you worry about the impression you make upon your in-laws} lasts approximately a decade.


    So, at some point, I may freak out and turn off my computer forever.

    Until they leave, at least.

    With that said, I spent my weekend prereading books for my son. It is so discouraging to feel as if he is racing me. I read a book and leave it outside his door during the night, and by the time I wake up in the morning {because that child rises with the roosters–not that we have roosters, but if we did…} he is half-finished.

    I am trying to convince him of the merit of slow reading.

    For those of you who are, like me, desperate for book suggestions, I have three which I now heartily recommend. They are well-written children’s books that are a sort of rearranged biography of a geographical area {as in, the individual stories are true, but the author took liberties with the order of events}. I like books in which I see character developing, children working hard and contributing to their family, adults in a family loving the children, little to no technology, lots of nature or at least simplicity, children thinking and solving problems on their own, etcetera. Plus I enjoyed them.

    So here they are. There are more in the series, but this is all I have read so far:

    Misty of Chincoteague

    Sea Star:
    Orphan of Chincoteague

    Stormy, Misty’s Foal

    Did I mention these books have all the fun details little boys love: rodeos, round-ups, horse-breaking, adventure, storms, and so on?

    If you are looking for a tale that is also a wonderful hero story, in which courage and determination triumph over misfortune and weakness, where the education of a child is human in every sense of the word, where a child becomes beautifully humble, and yet all of these things are the background to a beautiful story, not evidence of a didactic imperialism, might I suggest this:

    The Door in the Wall

    We just finished reading this aloud as a family and I, for one, adored it. Plus it was short, which is nice sometimes.

    Have you any new suggestions for children’s books?

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  • Reply dawn March 31, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Billy and Blaze? Of course, they’re not full length novels, rather longer picture books.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts March 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Mystie, Roverandum? You know, I saw that book once and meant to check and it out but never did. I’ll put it on the list. He has loved some of the other short stories from Tolkein (such as Farmer Giles of Ham). We have a handful of Boxcar Children and Nate the Great, but I hadn’t looked into Encyclopedia Brown. And I haven’t checked out A Little Princess yet either. So many options! Hooray! Now I can stop feeling desperate and frantic.

    The nice part about having a firstborn like this is that I’ll be prepared for all the others, no? Of course, next up is a girl and I’m sure she’ll foil me by wanting really girly books.

    I’m actually trying to slow him down and keep him involved in picture books. I know they are simple for him, but I keep thinking that he is still a child and has his whole life ahead of him. I want him to get to be a child, you know?

    Wendi, We haven’t listened to any of the Jonathan Park series. Are they that good? Maybe I’ll look into them when we next take a trip requiring a long drive! Getting over the short chapter book hurdle came sort of naturally to this particular child, but I know with some of my reading students it seemed to help if I read them a book aloud first and then gave them the book to read. Since they already knew the book and liked it, it wasn’t so intimidating anymore.

    There is a “retired” missionary family (they were short-term missionaries in eastern Europe for three or four years) living in our neighborhood now and they have let E. borrow books from their very complete set of missionary biographies. I was thrilled!

    KM, My son wasn’t into horses until he read the Little Britches series. Now, all of my children are begging to learn to ride!

    I hadn’t heard of the “Lexile Framework” before but that is a handy tool for when I don’t know where to start looking for new ideas. Thank you for passing that along–I will bookmark it for sure.

    Rahime, I wish I had read these as a child. I think I would have liked them. I don’t know why I didn’t as I remember seeing them in our school library. Probably the cover. I definitely judged books by them! πŸ™‚

    Karyn! Everytime my kids talk about riding horses I think of that day when we rode yours into town and then they were too tired to make it back…and your mom was SO mad at us! I still feel embarrassed about that, but I also remember how much fun that was!

    Will you ever have a horse for your own children to ride? Is that in the plans?

    I totally know what you mean about the propaganda in the children’s books these days. It really is sad. Actually, I am working on a post about that. I am going to interview a retired teacher in our neighborhood about how they are teaching students to read in our local school–it is HORRIFIC! I couldn’t believe it when she talked with Si about it.

    Any other good horse books out there?

  • Reply Karyn March 31, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I remember reading the Misty book and others in the series when I was a young girl with horses of my own. Remember that, B? Those days on the farm seem so long ago now.

    I think it’s so commendable and responsible that you pre-read your childrens’ books. We haven’t gotten to that point yet (obviously) but it’s good to know that I can call on you to share book recommendations once Hayden is able to read by herself. There is so much literary garbage/propaganda out there, especially for kids now. So, kudos for once again bringing to my consciousness something I have to look forward to as my little one matures. I can’t fathom her reading anything more advanced than “Green Eggs and Ham” now, but I know the day will be here before I know it! At 10 months, she is just starting to love books and I’m so encouraged by it.
    And by the way, you are delightful and I’m sure your inlaws will enjoy their visit. PRAY, RELAX and BREATHE….. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Kansas Mom March 31, 2010 at 1:22 am

    I recently found this site helpful:

    I don’t know much about the Lexile scale and certainly didn’t test First Son. I checked the level for some of the books he’d read recently and then started playing with the search features. I particularly like how you can choose an age range separate from the difficulty. So many books he can read, he really shouldn’t (at least I think he shouldn’t). There’s also a fairly long list of “interests” you can select to narrow the search farther.

  • Reply Rahime March 30, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I loved the Misty/Stormy, etc. books when I was growing up, though it’s definitely been quite a long time since I’ve read them though.

    Have a great time with Si’s family!

  • Reply Kansas Mom March 29, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Our newest “challenging” books are the Dinosaur Cove series. First Son is not quite ready to read them on his own. I haven’t actually read them yet, but Kansas Dad read the first two and deemed them appropriate. They might not be challenging enough for E, though.

    I absolutely love the all the M. Henry books, and the Black Stallion books, when I was growing up, but First Son so far doesn’t show much interest in horses. We may try them next year anyway.

  • Reply Wendi March 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    My ds8 has been stuck in shorter chapter books for a while, he flies through Nate the Great and Encyclopedia Brown ~ but is trying really hard not to move up into longer chapter books (Charlotte’s Web, Little House). I’m trying to get him over this hump by using a rewards system ~ kind of…I’ve posted a list of books that I want him to read on the fridge, when he has read ten of them he gets to choose a “reward” from my little box (it contains more books) ~ and the final reward is a Jonathan Park CD set (his favorite).

    As for book ideas, I recently rediscovered some Patricia St. John books that I obtained a while back, I’ve really enjoyed pre-reading these :). I have also been collecting books by Elizabeth Yates and Gloria Repp (mostly missionary adventures)through my favorite book source, PBSwap.

  • Reply Mystie March 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Enjoy your time with your in-laws, and we here in computer-land will wait for your return. πŸ™‚

    Oh my, I hear you. Hans blasts through books. He reads a Little-House-sized book in about 5-6 hours, and he reads about 3 hours a day. I am trying to impress upon him the merits of re-reading books. πŸ™‚

    Hans enjoyed “A Little Princess.” Have you already read that one? I was going to get A Secret Garden next. Hans just finished A Cricket in Times Square, and there are apparently several other books in the series. Matt read lots of Encyclopedia Brown when he was little, and I read Boxcar Children. We’re going to the library today and I was planning on getting some Boxcar Children and Nate the Great. Nate the Great only take 15-20 minutes to read, but there are lots of them, and Hans does reread them and read them to Jaeger. Hans also hasn’t outgrown picture books and he’ll read through 10 or so of those from our boxes instead of a long book.

    Oh, have you read Roverandom by Tolkien? It’s a smallish story of a boy’s dog who bites a wizard and gets turned into a toy and has an adventure. πŸ™‚ Matt has also read aloud Farmer Giles of Ham, but E. could read it himself, too. It’s a good Faerie story.

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