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My kids are 2, 5 and 7. They will not sit for read alouds longer than 30 minutes. The only stories they like are Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh and a few German books (basically 5 minute stories, reread ten times a day). Is it my kids? How do your children sit for an hour and listen to read alouds?

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10 minutes ago, Kiara.I said:

It really depends on the child, and at 2 none of them would have managed that long at all!

Are they playing or colouring while listening?

They play with blocks or cars (the older ones are boys), but they start getting loud and distracted by 20 minutes. 😞 I read posts of families with 8 or more children listening to chapter books for an hour and I’m wondering what I’m missing!

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6 minutes ago, GracieJane said:

They play with blocks or cars (the older ones are boys), but they start getting loud and distracted by 20 minutes. 😞 I read posts of families with 8 or more children listening to chapter books for an hour and I’m wondering what I’m missing!

Older kids can sit and listen for an hour, but younger kids are not going to sit still and quietly listen. "Listening to chapter books" for very young children probably looks more like Mom reads a book while the littles play and color, or lay down to rest.  

Your kids sound normal. Please don't fret. Read to them whatever books they like, however many times they like. If all they want is 5 minutes here and there, then fine. Read for 5 minutes, then move on if that's what they can sit for.  If they can sit for 20, they are doing well!  That is developmentally appropriate!  

They'll develop positive associations with reading if the time is not forced. And reading stories over and over does a lot of good things for kids.  Here's a random article I found discussing the positives of re-reading books: Read It Again, Please! The Benefits of Repeated Read Alouds. - Children's Literacy Initiative (cli.org)

Edited by MissLemon
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My children didn't sit for an hour.  NOPE.  And I'm going to tell you straight up that my kids love to hear me read.  Love it.  I took storytelling lessons for 8 years, competed in storytelling for another few, and do all the voices, sound effects and set the mood.

I have rules when it comes to reading aloud:

1. Use captive audience time.  We all like something to do while I read.  If it's not directly connected (like a simple activity associated with the book), it's lunchtime, outside time, or another time where a kid must be mostly inactive.

2. I find beautifully illustrated chapter books.  If I don't want to look at it, neither does my child.  We slowly move into less illustrated, but I think only Redwall may have been all text (around age 10)

3. I use my environment.  I read Treasure Island on a hill overlooking a harbor.  I read Linnea In Monet's Garden at our water lily ponds.  I read Winnie The Pooh with stuffed animals I made my son.  I read The Secret Garden while laying in our hammock together during the spring, when we were heavy into yard work.


Even so, a good amount of time will be around 20 minutes.  One chapter, or one part, and done.

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Your kids are pretty young. I have one that could sit still for hours at a young age, another that even now can't sit still for more than 15-20 minutes (even now as a rising middle schooler).  You could always break the reading up into several shorter chunks, like 2 thirty minute sessions or 3 twenty minute sessions. And letting then play with something or draw while they listen helps. 

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1 minute ago, HomeAgain said:

 

1. Use captive audience time.  We all like something to do while I read.  If it's not directly connected (like a simple activity associated with the book), it's lunchtime, outside time, or another time where a kid must be mostly inactive.

Yes to this! we read over meals. This means I have to eat before or after the kids, but it enables us to have readaloud time.

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I can't speak for 7 year old. According to my pediatrician you can't expect a 5 year old to engage in a lecture for more than 5 minutes and a 2 year old 2 minutes. My children do not sit for an hour listening to any story. Honestly my 3 year old can't watch TV for longer than 15 minutes. She isn't going to sit and listen to my amateur reading for longer than that. I've known a parent lay claim to have trained their toddler to sit and "listen" for an hour and to me it boiled down to they trained their kid to zone out.   

Your kids sound like bright kids who want to learn and explore the world and not waste precious time in the day. When they get loud and distracted at that 20 minute mark they are letting you know they've stopped being able to engage with the story and they feel they will get a lot more learning done doing something else.

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My 9 year old only listens to around 20 to 30 minutes. We do read aloud a several times a day. So it adds up to most days being an hour or and hour and a half. 

When he was preschool ages he wanted to hear the same stories over and over again. It was the best thing we ever did. That is how his vocabulary grew. He heard the same words used in the same stories so often that those words became his. We only owned 120 books from the ages of 3 to 6. And we rotated through them daily. (We lived overseas then and that was all we brought with us. We still live overseas, now in a different country, but have brought more and different books with us here). Rereading is a necessary step in development. 

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1 hour ago, GracieJane said:

How do your children sit for an hour and listen to read alouds?

You do it in bite size pieces, not all at once. Some kids love to cuddle on the couch and listen to stories. Others just don't. My youngest (8.5yo) is not a story cuddler. He likes to listen to audiobooks at bedtime which accounts for maybe 30 minutes a day. The rest we do in bite size pieces throughout the day.

When my older kids were little, we read over meals, we listened to audiobooks in the car, I read to them in the bathtub when I had a captive audience. Only one of my six kids would have sat and listened to stories for an hour at a time in early elementary school but she had been listening to chapter books since she was a nursing infant. Every time she nursed, I did a read aloud with the other kids. 

You are doing nothing wrong. Keep reading picture books throughout the day. They will only let you read picture books aloud to them for a short time in their lives. They have the rest of their lives for chapter book and other books. 

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On 7/19/2021 at 7:16 PM, GracieJane said:

My kids are 2, 5 and 7. They will not sit for read alouds longer than 30 minutes. The only stories they like are Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh and a few German books (basically 5 minute stories, reread ten times a day). Is it my kids? How do your children sit for an hour and listen to read alouds?

Beatrix Potter & Winnie the Pooh are reasonably long stories.  If your kids will listen to a whole one, they are going for a long time! I read a lot of Beatrix Potter to my oldest.  What German books does your family like?  Have you tried Mullewapp stories?  Snöfried is also fun, but probably more for the 7 year old.  
 

I do a separate story time with my oldest so that I can read more complex stories with her than my younger two would enjoy.  They are 13, 9 and 7 now, but we’ve always done read aloud and your 3 are doing great!

Edited by Eilonwy
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38 minutes ago, Eilonwy said:

Beatrix Potter & Winnie the Pooh are reasonably long stories.  If your kids will listen to a whole one, they are going for a long time! I read a lot of Beatrix Potter to my oldest.  What German books does your family like?  Have you tried Mullewapp stories?  Snöfried is also fun, but probably more for the 7 year old.  
 

I just timed myself reading chapter 2 of Winnie The Pooh out loud.  It was 16 minutes.

However, @GracieJane, if you are looking to branch out and stay the same, we have loved the Thorton Burgess books.  There is still a Peter Rabbit in them, and illustrations are minimal black and white, but we started with animals we could see in our backyard (a bird one first and then a squirrel book). 

Also well loved here:
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Aesop's Fables
The Mouse And The Motorcycle
 

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@GracieJane, my kids are 12 and 10, both of them great independent readers, and they still ask for Winnie the Pooh for bedtime story!  

 

3 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

I took storytelling lessons for 8 years, competed in storytelling for another few, and do all the voices, sound effects and set the mood.

@HomeAgainI want to come to your house and listen to your read-alouds!  😊

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1 hour ago, Eilonwy said:

Beatrix Potter & Winnie the Pooh are reasonably long stories.  If your kids will listen to a whole one, they are going for a long time! I read a lot of Beatrix Potter to my oldest.  What German books does your family like?  Have you tried Mullewapp stories?  Snöfried is also fun, but probably more for the 7 year old.  
 

I do a separate story time with my oldest so that I can read more complex stories with her than my younger two would enjoy.  They are 13, 9 and 7 now, but we’ve always done read aloud as and your 3 are doing great!

I like Beatrix Potter and A.A. Milne, but I can only read „[…] and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter“ so many times before I go batty. 😉 I‘ve tried introducing Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, even Andrew Lang‘s fairy tales, but they just don’t have the attention span. 
 

I haven’t read Mullewapp stories yet, but I’ll check them out. My kids love Ravensburger Kindergeschichten and Gutenachtbücher für kleinen Träumer, so I guess chapter books may have to wait. 😞

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We spread our read aloud time out through our day. I usually do one for 10-15 minutes during our morning time and DS 7 and 3 play and wander. We do another at lunch for 20 minutes and they all sit and listen since they’re eating. And then separate ones at bedtime. I get each then for another 10-20 minutes.

my older ones can listen for longer times at a sitting but they get irritated with the younger ones interrupting so the split schedule works for us. As the younger ones learn to listen longer well make the times longer too. 

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11 hours ago, GracieJane said:

I like Beatrix Potter and A.A. Milne, but I can only read „[…] and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter“ so many times before I go batty. 😉 I‘ve tried introducing Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, even Andrew Lang‘s fairy tales, but they just don’t have the attention span. 
 

I haven’t read Mullewapp stories yet, but I’ll check them out. My kids love Ravensburger Kindergeschichten and Gutenachtbücher für kleinen Träumer, so I guess chapter books may have to wait. 😞

I wouldn't give up before trying some different choices for read aloud.  Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book and Peter Pan actually both rate fairly high for reading level (7th-8th grade).  I know you're the one reading it, but that might even be too high of a "listening level" to really enjoy and follow it!  Wind in the Willows is a book that has a lower reading level text wise but is often suggested for an older age as its "interest level".  And I think it's a book that people have strong feelings about -- In book groups I'm in that frequently discuss children's lit, a lot of adults say they really dislike it (I number among them).  So, it's one that many kids may dislike as well. 

Your 2 year old is unlikely to have the attention span to listen to many books that the 5 and 7 year olds may be able to handle.  When I had toddlers/babies we often read longer books during nap time, or one parent did the bedtime routine for the littles while the other parent read longer books to those old enough to listen.

If I were in your shoes, I would try some different genres and books that are a bit easier in terms of the reading/listening level - maybe a mystery story like the Boxcar Children; something funny like Pippi Longstocking, the Ramona books, or Mr. Popper's Penguins;  maybe a book like Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace that's a sweet friendship story (even my boys enjoyed that).  My boys really liked "My Father's Dragon" at that age.  We also did Little House in the Big Woods at that age (though that has a few problematic aspects in how Native Americans are portrayed that we needed to discuss).   We also did Charlotte's Web and Trumpet of the Swan at K-1st age. 

And it's ok if it takes longer for your kids to work their way up to an hour at a time of listening.  My DD loved to sit quietly and listen for an hour or two when she was five, but my boys took a lot longer to grow into it.  It's really ok to start with 15-20 minutes or one chapter, do something else, and come back to more reading later!

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On 7/19/2021 at 6:16 PM, GracieJane said:

sit

The operative word.

23 hours ago, GracieJane said:

they just don’t have the attention span. 

How about if they are running around the yard? That's what my dd did for years. I only had her for reference so I figured it was normal. We did finally get the ADHD diagnosed and get some meds. :biggrin:

On 7/19/2021 at 6:32 PM, GracieJane said:

They play with blocks or cars (the older ones are boys), but they start getting loud and distracted by 20 minutes. 😞 I read posts of families with 8 or more children listening to chapter books for an hour and I’m wondering what I’m missing!

You're merging multiple issues, including attention span, language development, and just plain normal differences. If you use a *picture* book what happens? Picture books are typically shorter (though not always) and have more supports for comprehension. My first thought would be to get some time each day where you *do* have their attention, even if it's as brief as a 10 minute picture book. I think that's a pretty reasonable thing developmentally to expect quiet play through one picture book. 

If there are any indications of language issues or language comprehension or hearing problems, then of course address those. My ds has language issues as part of his ASD, and I can tell you it DEFINITELY affects his ability to engage with a video, an audiobook, whatever. When he was younger he would sit through audiobooks he didn't understand and just memorize them. (for real) Now he's very finicky about it, which I think most more typically developing kids would be.

This means you could see at what point they're engaged (what lexile of book for instance) and at what point (what lexile) you begin to lose them. It might be something to try.

Fwiw, I super love the Lang's Fairy but would be remiss not to point out that they are like a 9th grade reading level, a huge stretch. I wouldn't read anything into them not engaging with them. I would grab lower lexile read alouds like the Little House series (totally appropriate for 1st graders) and picture books. I use the Hub lexile finder to find picture books btw. You can narrow by lexile, topic, etc. to find all kinds of great options. Then just request through your library and have piles appear. 

https://www.weareteachers.com/15-must-have-picture-books-for-teaching-social-emotional-skills/  My ds engaged with the books on this list when we read them a couple years ago, so maybe they'd be a fit for your boys too. They're picture books but rich, with lots to discuss. 

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Not having taught those ages together, I will suggest that it's ok to have a read aloud for the youngest (something like an art board book, a wordless book, etc.) that will also appeal to the olders and then have something aimed more directly at the 5 and 7. You could do two picture books, one longer, one shorter. Then put on an audiobook of a chapter book for quiet hour. 

You are doing quiet hour, right? :biggrin:

 

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I found that it took a while to get my kids trained (for lack of a better term) to listen to read alouds.  Start with highly engaging material with lots of pictures and work your way up slowly to longer and more complex works and then to reading from multiple books in one sitting.

That said, I can't imagine expecting a 2yo to sit still for anything more than a quick picture book.  

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Some shorter picture heavy chapter books to bridge the gap between picture books and chapter books:

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo (who doesn't love a story about a horse that likes spaghetti?)

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo (not my favorite but many kids love it)

Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel or anything by Arnold Lobel really

Heartwood Hotel by Kallie George

Ivy series by Katherine Coville

Edited by sweet2ndchance
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On 7/19/2021 at 11:53 PM, GracieJane said:

I like Beatrix Potter and A.A. Milne, but I can only read „[…] and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter“ so many times before I go batty. 😉 I‘ve tried introducing Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, even Andrew Lang‘s fairy tales, but they just don’t have the attention span. 
 

I haven’t read Mullewapp stories yet, but I’ll check them out. My kids love Ravensburger Kindergeschichten and Gutenachtbücher für kleinen Träumer, so I guess chapter books may have to wait. 😞

I know what you mean about “Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail…” My oldest loved The Rolly-Polly Pudding and Pigling Bland, so we read those a lot.  In the same general style is Jill Barkley’s beautifully illustrated Brambly Hedge stories about mice, which you all might enjoy. 
 

Someone noted that Wind in the Willows is easier than Peter Pan but I found it harder in terms of style and vocabulary, and I think both are books for older children.  Pippi might appeal to all your kids.  

Helme Heine’s Mullewapp stories that I mentioned above are also about animals and are fairly short and nicely illustrated (German). 

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6 hours ago, sweet2ndchance said:

Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel or anything by Arnold Lobel really

Second the recommendation for anything by Arnold Lobel! 
Tomie de Paola has some nice books too, for that age range.

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OP, you're right in the thick of things right now, with that range of ages. It will all be so much easier in just a few years! 

There's a beautiful ideal running around in homeschool circles that the sweet gaggle of children all listen together. IMO, for that to work, the material must be pitched young, to be appropriate for the smaller kids, and the older ones get something slightly deeper out of the materials.

The older kids do need something more on their own level, though, at another time of day. 

In our case right now,  my 9yo is on his first pass through the Harry Potter series via audio books. My 13yo is listening in and loving it. She's hearing more historical parallels,  because she's had more exposure. However, she still has to read her own literature. I wouldn't let her just listen to HP again and call that 8th grade lit. 

I read My Father's Dragon to Dd, a chapter or two at a time, when she was in the bathtub at age 3. It was her first novel. So fun! 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, sweet2ndchance said:

Too funny! My youngest's favorite Beatrix Potter was The Rolly-Polly Pudding lol. Our days of reading picture books aloud are almost over here. 😞 I'm going to miss them when they are gone.

She absolutely loved Tom Kitten, too. For a long time she always wanted me to tell her my own Tom Kitten stories.  He got an extra brother (Skarloey from Thomas the Tank Engine original set, which is also a good read aloud if you can find it), a best friend, and all sorts of random adventures. 

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On 7/19/2021 at 5:16 PM, GracieJane said:

My kids are 2, 5 and 7. They will not sit for read alouds longer than 30 minutes. The only stories they like are Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh and a few German books (basically 5 minute stories, reread ten times a day). Is it my kids? How do your children sit for an hour and listen to read alouds?

I never expected mine to sit for an hour. o_0 I read a chapter a day, or or a short book, right after lunch, and then we all went on with our own business.

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On 7/19/2021 at 7:53 PM, GracieJane said:

I‘ve tried introducing Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan,...

These are both heavy going.  The language is complex and unfamiliar in that both works were written by British authors at the turn of the twentieth century.  I would wait a few years and try again (with the oldest child).

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Miles Kelley makes lap book sized illustrated classics. I bought ours at Ollie’s, but they occasionally pop up on Book Outlet .com too. 
 

I think read aloud tolerance just depends on the kid. My six year old loves audiobooks. I was shocked when I checked the Amazon Kids dashboard and saw the hours he’d spent listening while playing in his room. When we do school time read aloud he makes it about 20 minutes, and that’s with a snack and handicraft. 

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You all may enjoy the Greetings from Somewhere series. It is about two homeschooled twins traveling the world with their parents and solving everyday “mysteries”, like a finding a lost coin or cat. The chapters are short and nearly every page spread has a black and white illustration. 

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On 7/19/2021 at 6:16 PM, GracieJane said:

My kids are 2, 5 and 7. They will not sit for read alouds longer than 30 minutes. The only stories they like are Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh and a few German books (basically 5 minute stories, reread ten times a day). Is it my kids? How do your children sit for an hour and listen to read alouds?

To answer your question: Yes, it would seem that you are doing Read Alouds wrong.

While I think it's a good idea to teach kids the essential skill of "Sit Up and Shut Up" (for lack of a nicer sounding term) I think you're just expecting them to be able to SU&SU, without teaching them and that's never a fair dynamic.

And I am with the idea of teaching 3+ year old children to sit attentively and calmly in spurts.

To my mind it's an important part of Self Awareness and Body Control. Yes, many children crave movement and high-energy activity, but they also need to begin developing self awareness and self control. There is a time and place for various levels of activity or a range of volumes and if you don't teach children how to be still and attentive and control their volume then when it's time for them to be still, quiet and attentive, then of course they're going to fail.

In general, you're doing Read Aloud wrong if:
1) you have chosen "essential books" to read aloud. By that I mean if the 7yo's missing anything by not paying attention to every page of that book, then it probably shouldn't be a Read Aloud.

2) you expect kids that young to sit for an hour straight and listen to you read.

3) you are relying on Read Aloud's to do anything besides be exposure for the 5yo and 7yo.
--if you feel stressed that they missed out on something contained in those books. You're choosing the wrong books.

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13 hours ago, EKS said:

These are both heavy going.  The language is complex and unfamiliar in that both works were written by British authors at the turn of the twentieth century.  I would wait a few years and try again (with the oldest child).

Ditto that.  But Kipling's Just So Stories is amazing for this age, as well as Rikki Tikki Tavi. 

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If you are all hating it you are doing it wrong.  I had to read to my kids separately when the were 3 and 5 as the 5 year old wanted Famous Five which made the 3 year old cry because they were so wordy.  My kids were able to listen to a lot quite young but I don't think I ever read for an hour at that age.  At 12 and 14 I sometimes start reading at 8 PM and find it is after 9 before I know it though.

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At those ages, I’d do a stack of picture books. There are so many great pictures books with solid writing, not just nice illustrations. Honey for a Child’s Heart is an annotated bibliography that has a nice list of great books.  

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On 7/19/2021 at 5:16 PM, GracieJane said:

My kids are 2, 5 and 7. They will not sit for read alouds longer than 30 minutes. The only stories they like are Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh and a few German books (basically 5 minute stories, reread ten times a day). Is it my kids? How do your children sit for an hour and listen to read alouds?

I think your kids are doing amazing. Most kids at that age won’t sit that long.

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Are you doing it wrong? Not necessarilyMy go . But if you and the kids aren't enjoying it, then something needs to change. With those ages, I'd be reading aloud a ton of picture books. And after reading 2, I'd give them a task like "hop on one foot 5 times" before reading another, most likely. 

My go-to rec for first chapter book is the My Father's Dragon trilogy. With its short chapters and highly engaging story, it's gone over well for our almost 11 yo, 9 yo, almost 8 yo, and 4 yo as the first chapter book I want them to sit and listen to. It is the automatic next chapter book read aloud around here once a kid turns 4. Other early favorites are The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Stuart Little. 

Sitting still for read aloud is definitely a skill. Some kids do better doing something quiet. Most of ours prefer to just sit and listen. they know that if I am reading aloud, they can play (with pretty much anything), as long as they aren't preventing anyone from hearing me. If a kid gets too loud, I simply stop reading. The ones who want to listen/are listening quickly shush the loud kid up. Interrupting RA makes you very unpopular around here, but that's something I've been training into them since the almost 11 yo was young. 

And still, years into it, I rarely read for more than half an hour at a time, and that's with picture books and chapter books mixed, plus some quick movement breaks!

ETA: Your might want to try stories by Shirley Hughes. She's also been popular with ours when little.

Edited by barnwife
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Regarding The Wind in the Willows:

We have a love affair with this book, so I encourage you to try again with your kids sometime, OP!  We introduced it when my kids were around 5 and 7, and have reread it almost every year since.  It can hold kids' attention!  I distinctly remember the first time we went through it, when we got to the scene at the end when the friends were preparing for the battle, my son (the five-year-old) jumped out of seat and danced around the living room as the only way he could vent his excitement.  (Obviously, I don't expect my kids to stay seated during read-alouds.) And as with many "children's" books, this book is also for adults, too.  I could write an essay on how beautiful I think this book is.

Regarding Just So Stories:

We introduced this around the same time, and we all love those stories.  Our favorite is "The Beginning of Armadillos".  If you'd like an audiobook recommendation just to mix things up for your kids, we can heartily recommend the  Jim Weiss' collection.

But @GracieJane, here's something really important for you to think about when you consider pre-World War I children's books:  Your kids have a definite advantage in reading nineteenth-century English.  How can I be so confident to say that?  Because your kids know German!  If your kids have no problem with "wohin", "woher", and "darauf" in their German books, they will have no problem with "whither", "whence", and "thereupon" being sprinkled through an English book.  English sentences with lots of dependent clauses and non-modern word order will just sound "German" to them.  I hope that you will take advantage of this! 

Good luck!  Read-alouds are so much fun.  Find your stride and your kids' stride, don't worry about matching up with some other family's experience, and you'll be able to look back on these times as some of the best moments of motherhood!

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On 7/29/2021 at 3:58 PM, Quarter Note said:

Regarding The Wind in the Willows:

We have a love affair with this book, so I encourage you to try again with your kids sometime, OP!  We introduced it when my kids were around 5 and 7, and have reread it almost every year since.  It can hold kids' attention!  I distinctly remember the first time we went through it, when we got to the scene at the end when the friends were preparing for the battle, my son (the five-year-old) jumped out of seat and danced around the living room as the only way he could vent his excitement.  (Obviously, I don't expect my kids to stay seated during read-alouds.) And as with many "children's" books, this book is also for adults, too.  I could write an essay on how beautiful I think this book is.

Regarding Just So Stories:

We introduced this around the same time, and we all love those stories.  Our favorite is "The Beginning of Armadillos".  If you'd like an audiobook recommendation just to mix things up for your kids, we can heartily recommend the  Jim Weiss' collection.

But @GracieJane, here's something really important for you to think about when you consider pre-World War I children's books:  Your kids have a definite advantage in reading nineteenth-century English.  How can I be so confident to say that?  Because your kids know German!  If your kids have no problem with "wohin", "woher", and "darauf" in their German books, they will have no problem with "whither", "whence", and "thereupon" being sprinkled through an English book.  English sentences with lots of dependent clauses and non-modern word order will just sound "German" to them.  I hope that you will take advantage of this! 

Good luck!  Read-alouds are so much fun.  Find your stride and your kids' stride, don't worry about matching up with some other family's experience, and you'll be able to look back on these times as some of the best moments of motherhood!

Thank you! I love The Wind in the Willows which is why I keep trying to read it to them. 😄 I tried Rudyard Kipling and I could not get my reading „stride“ somehow with his manner of writing. They loved The Pied Piper of Hamelin, but again, we read it three times a day for months and I unwillingly memorized „gowns lined with ermine for dolts that can’t or won’t determine“, because they get stuck on these short stories. Oh well! It seems age might cure their lack of attention span.

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On 7/29/2021 at 8:47 PM, GracieJane said:

Thank you! I love The Wind in the Willows which is why I keep trying to read it to them. 😄 I tried Rudyard Kipling and I could get my reading „stride“ somehow with his manner of writing. They loved The Pied Piper of Hamelin, but again, we read it three times a day for months and I unwillingly memorized „gowns lined with ermine for dolts that can’t or won’t determine“, because they get stuck on these short stories. Oh well! It seems age might cure their lack of attention span.

Your kids asked for Robert Browning's poetry three times a day for months?  Oh, @GracieJane, not only are you not doing anything wrong, I think you must be doing everything right!  😀

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On 7/29/2021 at 7:58 PM, Quarter Note said:

But @GracieJane, here's something really important for you to think about when you consider pre-World War I children's books:  Your kids have a definite advantage in reading nineteenth-century English.  How can I be so confident to say that?  Because your kids know German!  If your kids have no problem with "wohin", "woher", and "darauf" in their German books, they will have no problem with "whither", "whence", and "thereupon" being sprinkled through an English book.  English sentences with lots of dependent clauses and non-modern word order will just sound "German" to them.  I hope that you will take advantage of this! 

They might have an advantage in terms of patience with words they are unfamiliar with, or some vocabulary, depending on how well they know German,  but I don’t really think they will find the sentence structure is similar, because German has its own rhythm. My partner was telling me that it takes a really good translator to make German writing work in English translation because they are so different structurally.  In any case, though, they are getting lots of good exposure, and that is bound to make it easier for them.

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On 7/31/2021 at 7:04 PM, Eilonwy said:

They might have an advantage in terms of patience with words they are unfamiliar with, or some vocabulary, depending on how well they know German,  but I don’t really think they will find the sentence structure is similar, because German has its own rhythm. My partner was telling me that it takes a really good translator to make German writing work in English translation because they are so different structurally.  In any case, though, they are getting lots of good exposure, and that is bound to make it easier for them.

(Please excuse the digression, everyone!)

Hi @Eilonwy - thanks for jumping in, though I'm sorry I made myself unclear. I hope that it didn't sound like I thought the structure of German was similar to 19th century English.  For example, I can not think of one example of transposed word order in an English subordinate clause!  I won't further derail this thread with details (unless you want them), but when I started learning German, I had a lightbulb moment that if I read modern German in my own mind the way I read 19th century English, my comprehension speed went up dramatically.  It was a suggestion based on my own experience to encourage GracieJane's kids - though I see from her last that she certainly doesn't need my help encouraging her kids to read old books!  

Please assure your partner that, coincidentally, I spent ten years in the localization industry.  I am very aware of translation issues.

Thanks for clarifying what I muddled.  Back to the topic of read-alouds now!

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1 hour ago, Quarter Note said:

when I started learning German, I had a lightbulb moment that if I read modern German in my own mind the way I read 19th century English, my comprehension speed went up dramatically.  It was a suggestion based on my own experience to encourage GracieJane's kids - though I see from her last that she certainly doesn't need my help encouraging her kids to read old books!  

Thanks for explaining more about this, I see what you mean much better now.  I don’t think you muddled it, I just understood you a different way. I think my kids, as German learners, do benefit from hearing and figuring out meaning from German sentences that they don’t understand every single word of, and this may be related to how you read 19th century English and modern German. 

I’m interested in your kids’ experience with Wind in the Willows.  I read this with my then 10 year old for the first time a few years ago, but maybe my younger kids would enjoy this now too (currently 7 and 10). Thanks for the idea!

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47 minutes ago, Eilonwy said:

I’m interested in your kids’ experience with Wind in the Willows.  I read this with my then 10 year old for the first time a few years ago, but maybe my younger kids would enjoy this now too (currently 7 and 10). Thanks for the idea!

You just have to make sure that you laugh with Grahame's humor, for example, when Toad is being led to "gaol" and Grahame pulls out cliché after cliché of medieval dungeons, including when the sergeant breaks out into Shakespearian language.  We crack up every time.  

(The chapter "Dolce Donum" moves me to tears every time we read it - but that's for me as an adult who knows the feeling of longing for a beloved home I can never really return to, not for my kids who have never experienced it.)

Have fun! 

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On 7/19/2021 at 5:16 PM, GracieJane said:

My kids are 2, 5 and 7. They will not sit for read alouds longer than 30 minutes. The only stories they like are Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh and a few German books (basically 5 minute stories, reread ten times a day). Is it my kids? How do your children sit for an hour and listen to read alouds?

That's pretty young for extended read alouds.  Also, I finally discovered they absorb the story better when their hands are busy with magnatiles or legos.

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On 8/2/2021 at 3:55 PM, Quarter Note said:

You just have to make sure that you laugh with Grahame's humor, for example, when Toad is being led to "gaol" and Grahame pulls out cliché after cliché of medieval dungeons, including when the sergeant breaks out into Shakespearian language.  We crack up every time.  

It sounds like you are coaching them how to enjoy it, I like that idea.  Thanks!

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