At Well Planned Gal, we call the preschool through 1st grade years the Starting Out stage of education and elementary the Getting Excited stage. These are fun years where your child’s love for learning is developed.
In our home, when the kids were starting out, I didn’t know much about reading out loud. With my A-type personality and love of worksheets, we had bookshelves full of textbooks and encyclopedias.
As my oldest began her upper elementary years, I learned of a woman named Charlotte Mason. I studied her philosophy of education, and I began to make trips to the library and introduce the kids to picture books, fun books, and living books.
We had a tradition of reading the Chronicles of Narnia at the beginning of each school year, and then we would choose adventure books for reading out loud the remainder of the year. This was a great compromise when having both girls and boys.
For history and science, we would add biographies and other living books to gain a better understanding of the context of life during the time period.
It was fun to hear the feedback from the kids as they heard the words “outhouse” or “going to the stream to get water.”
It’s an invaluable addition to a child’s education to help them understand that there were no cell phones or internet during the American Revolution. Understanding how day to day life worked and how long it took to accomplish things we take for granted helps build a sense of gratitude as well.
With more than a few years of homeschooling under our belts, the Well Planned Gal team and I – and our kids! – have fallen in love with quite a number of fantastic books. Sometimes it can be hard to narrow our favorites down to just a few titles. But, here are some of my team’s favorite books (and my family shares many of these favorites as well).
Chapter books have always been favorites, even in early years. These are the ones they’ve asked for again and again!
McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm by Sid Fleischman
The Little Riders by Margaretha Shemin
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
The White Stallion of Lipizza by Marguerite Henry
Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfeld
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Any of the Amelia Bedelia books are a big hit, and we enjoy picture books like:
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet books are our guilty pleasure. They are out of print, so you need to find used copies or get the Kindle version. They were published in the 50s, so the science is way off, and they are a bit dated. What a fun science fiction romp, though! (Similar to the old Tom Swift books.)
Some of my favorite more non-traditional read-alouds are:
The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
The boys have enjoyed these for the preschool and elementary stages:
The Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne
The Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer
The BFG by Roald Dahl
George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
George Washington’s World by Joanna & Genevieve Foster
Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill