As a parent I'm no different than any other; I have a list of things that I can't wait to do with my kids. The hardest part is waiting for them to be old enough to play catch, take hiking, or go to the theater. Reading chapter books aloud to them was at the top of my list. We do read alouds during our school year every day, but those selections have a specific purpose, and they aren't always designed with my youngest in mind.
Their first personal read-alouds usually begin around the time they are five and they have some connection with my own childhood. J's first read aloud was The Boxcar Children, a book I loved so much that I convinced my best friend to check it out from the library on my card. She promptly lost it and I paid the fine on her behalf secretly hoping she was really just keeping it because she loved it as much as I did. B's first read-aloud selections were a little different because he shared a room with his older brother so bedtime stories were for both of them. But I chose The Phantom Tollbooth with my math-minded, artistic B in mind, remembering when a teacher read it aloud to our class while we made thickly colored wax crayon drawings of the story.
Now it is summer. And as I snuggle in with five-year-old S before bed we get to read something together that's just for pure fun. The first one I picked for the two of us was Stuart Little by E. B. White. I remember getting the set of books by E. B. White when I was a child and reading them all at least twice. (My oldest absconded with my set and did the same thing. Only the tattered, coverless pages are left.) We both enjoyed Stuart Little though I wonder what he thought about the ending since the story never really concludes. But then again, maybe it's good for him to know that sometimes our hardest searches will come up empty and what we learn to live with is hope.
The second choice is Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson. We are only one chapter in, having broken it into two sittings, and the vocabulary is beyond him. Sadly, I take on the role of dictionary during much of our reading, but most of the time I just let the words hover over his head and see if he shows an interest in knowing them. I know it's ideal to read above their level, but this one might be just a bit too high.
If we can move through this one quickly enough, I'd like to introduce him to Thornton Burgess' animal stories. I found an old edition at a library sale years ago and those stories are delightful. And after that I want him to hear...