Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Few Good Books

In the past few years the boys and I have discovered a wonderful way to pass a few hours. We grab a new book and sit down for a good ol' family read aloud event. Sometimes we pop popcorn, sometimes we sit around the living room or family room, and sometimes we climb on our bed, formally known as 'The People Magnet'. But we always do it together and we always enjoy it.

One of the great difficulties I used to have was picking a good book. After reading through most of the Narnia series a few years ago, it seemed there was little to match the sense of adventure and the depth of storytelling we found in them. But I was wrong. Good books that lend themselves to reading aloud are found in almost any genre. Mysteries, diaries, historical fiction, fact based books, comedies, and real life history stories are some of our favorites. We've read some that aren't necessarily in any 'best books to read' lists but cracked us up anyway. And some mysteries that I got out for myself have been such a fun read that I ended up reading them again out loud to the boys.

I find books for us to read in a variety of places. Thrift stores are one of my favorite haunts. Here I can find great books in excellent condition as well as old favorites that I'd like the boys, or Laura eventually, to read and I can get them for next to nothing. I also like the library's book sale shelves, garage sales, scholastic books warehouse sales and those passed on through friends and freecycle work, too. And I'm known to browse the children's section of chapter books in our library with as much interest as I browse the adult sections I love to spend hours in. Our bookshelves here are overflowing and I know we'll always have something to read. But that hasn't stopped me from looking for more!

Some helpful folk, as they discover what I'm looking for, encourage us to read the Harry Potter series. Most of the time I smile and let it go without responding. But sometimes the need to share that we don't feel those books have a place in our home begins an interesting conversation regarding whatever their perspective is on witchcraft, Satan's ability to make evil things look good, obedience to authority, and how it is that they think we're wrong about our decision. I think most chalk it up to our more traditional family values which are serving us quite well, or even our desire to school our children at home, but I figure it is their problem, not mine. Others want to encourage us to read series like the 'Little House' books, but the boys just aren't that interested. *sigh* Perhaps I can enjoy them again with Laura! Meanwhile, we are always on the look out for good books.

One series I've had my eye out for have been the books for boys written by Max Elliot Anderson. I've looked for them everywhere hoping to snag some that were within my budget. After all, books written for boys in that critical 8 - 12 or 13 age range are hard to come by. I'd heard about them from the author himself and have read a few reviews so they were on the top of my list. I even looked for them at the library and, while they said they would be ordered, didn't ever find them available. So I asked the library to order them. Several times. Finally, last week, we got a few with more to come soon. I love our library!

In our very unbiased opinion, these books are fun! Just plain good ol' fun reads. The boys in these books are real 12 year olds and they have a good time together. And they choose to do what is right, not what is easiest. My boys can't get enough. And they can't listen quietly either. If we decide to read them after Laura has gone to bed, we must either read in the living room or the basement - as far away from her room as we can get. The rolling laughter that comes during each read, and the discussions about what happened and how it might have come out differently if Tom, Jimmy, Eddy, Scott, Amanda, Todd and Matt had chosen to not do the right thing bring up lots of opportunity for them to repeat over and over again their favorite lines. (Note: No longer can you ask in our house 'what is it about?' when referring to a book without getting an smart aleck answer quoting the page length instead of the content. LOL) We can't wait to get the rest and meet more fun tweeners. I'm sure they'll be just as fun as the first few.

So, we're always on the lookout for good books for older boys. If you know of any, please feel free to suggest them. I'll periodically let you know what we've been reading and how we like them. Meanwhile, I think I'll read ahead a few pages to see what happens next in "The Newspaper Caper". Shhhhhhhh! Don't tell the boys!!!

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