Read Across America Day - March 2
In honor of Read Across America Day – coming March 2nd – I would like to share with you a short list of books, or series of books, that I have enjoyed reading and discussing with my own children as they grew up. Some of these are well-known literary masterpieces, but most are simply books that we read that brought us closer together as a family or gave us interesting things to talk about. I will break this up into three posts, books important to my middle school through high school kids, books we enjoyed when they were in elementary school, and books for preschoolers.
Here are just three of the books that were meaningful to our family when my kids were in middle and high school. Great literature is all around us and there are too many to list in one blog post.
- To Kill a Mockingbird
On February 19, 2016, we received the news that Harper Lee, author of the iconic classic To Kill a Mockingbird, passed away in Monroeville, Alabama, her hometown. Lee’s book was an honest exploration of race relations in the South during the 1930s. Several multifaceted and interesting characters are featured in the story; and reading it with your children gives you the opportunity to discuss how individual beliefs affect actions, the importance of doing the right thing even when it is costly, and the innate value of every human being.
Some favorite quotes from the book:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”
“The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.”
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
- The Hobbit
Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, this book was our children’s introduction to fantasy novels. Set in the fictitious “Middle Earth,” it tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a gentle, home-loving hobbit who is convinced to embark on a dangerous journey. Throughout this journey Bilbo encounters many situations that help him develop courage and confidence, and he learns to appreciate others much different than himself. Eventually he must face Smaug, a terrible dragon, and relies on his wit, courage, and quick-thinking to survive.
Some favorite quotes from the book:
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
“Where there's life there's hope.”
“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
“He [Bilbo] fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”
“But I don't think I ought to leave my friends like this, after all we have gone through together.”
“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings!” said Bilbo, and he turned his back on his adventure.”
- The Poetry of Robert Frost
Sometimes when considering literature for the young adult, it is tempting to overlook the importance of poetry – not only as artistic expression, but also as a way for individuals to relate to their world. One of the most famous poets of the twentieth century, Robert Frost was born in California but, after the death of his father, moved to the Northeast. His poems are beautifully rhythmic and touch on themes such as human relationships, interaction with nature, and the meaning of existence. Besides the most famous poems such as The Road Not Taken, Birches, and Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, we particularly enjoyed Mending Wall for its exploration of human relationships and bonding.
Some favorite quotes from Frost’s poetry:
“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
“Two roads diverge in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
“Good fences make good neighbors.”
“No, from the time when one is sick to death,
One is alone, and he dies more alone.
Friends make pretense of following to the grave,
But before one is in it, their minds are turned
And making the best of their way back to life
And living people, and things they understand.”
“When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.”
In the next post, we will explore some of the books that taught my kids to love reading during elementary school.
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