Monday, February 13, 2006

Beyond Roses and Rings -- Read-alouds for February

February -- the month of valentines and presidents. There is so much more to the month and here are some exceptional read-alouds for your family to fully enjoy during these long winter nights.

The Catholic Church celebrates St. Brigid of Ireland’s feast day on February 1st. A great story to read-aloud is Brigid's Cloak by Bryce Milligan (illustrated by Helen Cann). This glorious book tells the legendary story of Brigid's special cloak that changed from no more than an old, moth-eaten wool rag to a star-studded cloak through the kindness of the young woman known as Brigid. An interesting side-note is that a Church in Belgium claims to have the actual cloak of St. Brigid.

For a great, fact-based story of St. Valentine your family will love Robert Sabuda's book, Saint Valentine. Sabuda, using mosaics to set the scene, explains in beautiful prose that Valentine was a Roman Christian who doctored and loved all those around him. Executed during the persecutions under Emperor Claudius II (270 A.D.), Valentine personified love and care for all those he served throughout his long life.

For some longer chapter read-alouds on these blustery mid-Winter evenings, try some JRR Tolkein; but go beyond the rings and the shire and read his fairy tales. These are stories he wrote for his young sons when they were sick or just needed a story from Dad. One we have enjoyed reading is Farmer Giles of Ham. This has all the parts that make fairy tales wonderful: giants, dragons, village attacks and with a twist of mistaken identity and pompous heroes. It will have you all giggling to the antics of the characters. We also enjoy Roverandom -- where a real dog gets turned into a toy dog by a wizard, causes all kinds of mishaps and catastrophes for those around him, and then tries to get turned back into a real dog. Both of these reads are full of Tolkein humor, great story-telling and wonderful imagery.

So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George shows that anyone can be president, especially if their name is James (six of our presidents had that first name), or if they’re young or old, short or tall, fat or slim. This book is packed with fun facts, trivia and great drawings by Caldecott Honor-winning artist, David Small. For a specific biography of Washington or Lincoln you can’t go wrong with reading the books written by the husband and wife team, Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. Ignore the banality of the titles (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln); these are wonderful books – filled with highly readable and memorable texts about the lives of these two great presidents. The illustrations, some colored and some black and white lithographs, highlight the humanity of the lives of the first and sixteenth presidents of the United States.

Some saints, some fairy tales and some presidents – all wonderful books to share with your family this February.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Thank you for the goldmine of recommendations--especially the Tolkien books! Those will appeal to my crew.