If Morning Time is the place in which we are sure to infuse truth, goodness, and beauty into our school day, then it is no wonder that read alouds play an important role in that time. Well chosen books that help to develop the moral imagination, give thoughtful examples of living the faith, as well as ignite the desire to live a life of heroic virtue all lead us to the goal of living our life grounded in Christ.
For our Morning Time, we have found that short books work best. We reserve our longer chapter book read alouds for the evenings when dad is home and can hop in and be involved in the reading and discussing of literature. I keep a running list of books that I want to include in our Morning Time and each Fall, I map out which ones we will place into our Morning Time that particular year. Truly, the list is longer than we will probably ever be able to tackle during this slot of our day. I am OK with that because I’ve taken the view that Morning Time is my opportunity to ensure that the desire to read beautiful literature is ignited and stays lit. We can’t do all the things all the time, right?
Instead, Morning Time provides the opportunity to open the pages of a beautiful series or a particular genre of literature. We read enough to get the kids interested and desiring to pursue it on their own. I encourage their independence by beautifully displaying our books on shelves that are accessible to them or by strategically placing baskets full of books throughout the house. The kids naturally find their way to these books. I promise, it works every time. I’ve found that the more we ground our children in piety, the more they want to engage in activities that allow it to grow. God is pretty awesome that way.
Fairy Tales and Fables
Andrew Lang’s series is one of our favorite collections of fairy tales. OK, ok, if I’m being honest, they are not my favorite. Some of the stories are trippy—but, my kids—they just love them. They certainly meet the criteria of helping to form the moral imagination of children.
Grimm’s Fairy tales are also fantastic. We have a number of these on Audible, as well as in paperback. Not having been exposed to these as a child, I found it so interesting to read the original version of Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty among others. The original stories could not be farther from the Disney versions that so many children are familiar with today. These stories can be dark and often the ending is not the “happily ever after” that we are accustomed to hearing in modern fairy tales.
We adore many of the stories by Hans Christian Andersen. The Princess and the Pea, as well as The Emperor’s New Clothes are two of our favorites. Back when I was teaching second grade in public schools, we read the original stories by Andersen and then compared modern twists of the story. I still own many of the newer versions and my kids enjoy reading these beloved stories told in a more modern light, as well.
Kipling’s Just So Stories are some of my favorites to read aloud. The stories are so fantastical that you can’t help but smile when you read How the Camel Got his Hump. The illustrations that my kids came up with for these stories as I read them were so creative. They are perfect stories for developing imagination in your kiddos.
No Morning Time would be complete without time spent reading some of the Aesop Fables. These fables are short and sweet and always contain an obvious moral to the story. They are the perfect collection when we are short on time to read aloud because they pack a good punch in a short amount of time.
There are so many wonderful picture books to choose from—in reality, more than we could ever read during Morning Time. Earlier this year, we read through the suggestions from Rea Berg at Beautiful Feet Books, specifically focusing in on the texts for the primary grades in her Character series. While the stories were a bit young for my nine year old, the 5 and 7 year old loved them dearly, and I often found them revisiting the selections on their own. Rea also has suggestions for Character study for the intermediate ages that we will visit in a few years.
We’ve also enjoyed many of the suggestions from classicalreader.com, Honey for a Child’s Heart, and John Senior’s list of 1000 Good Books. As I mentioned previously, when we cannot get to reading all the picture books that I would like to, I resort to placing baskets of books throughout the house. I rotate these books out every month or so, as this seems like enough time to let them re-visit the books a number of times while keeping the selections fresh.
Nursery Rhymes often find their way into our 5 year old’s Memory Work binder, as he prefers to memorize these to long poems. Mother Goose is his go-to and I have to admit, I never tire of reading these sweet selections with him. They are even more sweet when a five year old recites them.
We are huge fans of the My Book House collection, which contains so many of the stories from the collections and books listed above. Pam has a great post about this literary treasure. There are not enough words to describe how much I love this series and vast and varied stories that can be found in it. I often find my kiddos thumbing through this collection when they have free time.
A few years back, we read through Everyday Graces. This particular year we were in need of learning better manners, and this book contains many stories that focus on just that. The kids still reference some of the stories and poetry from that collection when correcting his or her sibling and their poor manners (we are a work in progress in the manners department—who is with me?).
In the Fall, we read William Bennett’s The Children’s Book of Virtues, which contained many lovely stories that, again, have an obvious lesson to be learned. The selections range in length from a short paragraph to stories a few pages long. They were all short enough to fit perfectly into our Morning Time Read Aloud slot.
We loop in saint stories throughout the different liturgical seasons, as well as feast days. We have so many saint books, but our favorite for Morning Time is the Once Upon a Time Saints series, as the stories are told in fairy tale format and are packed with stories about lesser known saints who lived virtuous lives worthy of our imitation.
We also enjoy the Draw and Tell Saints book, as the kids enjoy drawing an image associated with the saint while a short story is told about them.
The Little Catechism on the Eucharist has become a beloved treasure this year as our 7 year old is preparing to receive his First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. There is a section that includes Eucharistic miracles and the kids have been captivated by these stories. I think this is a little known gem that more Catholic homes would benefit from reading. Truly, a lovely little catechism.
So how about you? What are some of your favorite read alouds that have worked their way into your Morning Time?