This is the time of year when we like to choose something spooky for our family read-aloud.Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love a good ghost story or something similar to get me in the mood for it.
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury is the perfect chapter book to read with kids because it’s spooky while still being mostly kid-friendly and it contains a pretty accurate history of the holiday. Accurate enough to spark some cool history lessons, anyway. I’ve not yet seen the animated film based on it, but it would be fun to read the book and then watch the movie.
This book, y’all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a little hair-raising for kids. But it’s such a cool look at the history of Halloween and the way humans have always feared death and the dark. There are so many ways you could turn a read-aloud into a history lesson, a geography lesson, a sociology lesson…
You get me. I mean, Bradbury was a genius, after all, and if you don’t appreciate this book simply for his skill with the language, then something is seriously wrong.
No, really, the descriptions in this book reach down deep into your heart and pull out everything you love about autumn and Halloween until you feel all choked up and nostalgic.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off the autumn season.
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books I’ve probably read 10 times. I love everything about the story, from Scout’s childhood to the trial to Atticus as a father and a lawyer to the mystery of Boo Radley. I love the message inherent in the story. I love the history in its words. I love that my boys enjoyed reading it as much as I do. And as I read back through it to create these activities for your kiddos, I cried more times than I can tell you–for the sweetness of childhood, good parenting, and basic human rights.
You really can’t ask more from a single book.
There’s a lot to digest in roughly 280 pages, though, and some grownup stuff that your kids might need help understanding or dealing with. Scout and Jem’s childhood antics, their fascination with the local recluse, Boo Radley, and the trial that shakes their small southern town (defended by their own father), can be pretty heavy stuff. But there is such an incredible array of very real characters in the novel, so many opportunities to laugh, and maybe even more opportunities to study ourselves and human nature, that this one is a can’t-miss.
So, assign To Kill a Mockingbird for personal reading if you want to, but if you read it aloud together, you get to relive the story, too. Or (and what is wrong with you?!) for the first time.
I’m kidding. There’s nothing wrong with you. You just seriously need to read this book.
You want your kids to glean as much from this story as possible. There’s a lot of history, sociology, and human wickedness and kindness in the novel. So let’s get your kiddos reading To Kill a Mockingbird like pros. Because we want them to get it.
Little House on the Prairie and its companion books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are, perhaps, some of the greatest fiction you can ever read in your homeschool. With a firsthand account of U.S. pioneer days and descriptions of so many foods and activities to explore, you could literally plan an entire school year around just these books.
Besides all that, it’s a great story and maybe even greater introductory chapter book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Whether you’re reading it aloud or assigning it for personal reading, Little House is easy to read and understand with plenty of adventure to keep your kids engaged. Just a few extra learning tools will have your children learning more about pioneer days than they could anywhere else.
The Giver is the perfect book with which to introduce your kids to Dystopia and begin to have conversations about what can happen when government gets too involved in daily life.
Jonas’s world seems perfect–perfectly matched couple raise 2 perfect kids who grow up to work at perfect job assignments. The elderly live in group homes until the day of their ‘release.’ Babies are released if they aren’t developing correctly. There is no pain. Adolescent sexual impulses are quashed by drugs.
So there’s basically nothing to worry about. But when Jonas is assigned the job of Receiver, he has to learn about society’s collective memories, including the flawed world that existed before. As he learns more about the hypocrisy on which his society is based, he will have to choose whether to accept the status quo or fight the system.