This summer I went to an estate sale with two of my best friends in town. It was one of those great, spur of the moment adventures. At the sale, I bought a small white bookcase. There was nothing special about this bookcase, except that it was small (which means perfectly sized for this old farmhouse of ours) and painted white (I am a sucker for anything painted white). I didn’t have an immediate plan for this bookcase, but for $2.50 I wasn’t too worried. After I brought it home, this little shelf become a fixture in our living room. Stocked with a dozen or so books, it became an anchor to our afternoons and enables all three of us to have a quiet respite during the day. Daily storytime – something I had wanted to do for a long time – had finally become a reality.
There are a few parameters around story time. Mostly I just want both boys to cultivate the (lost) art of listening. There is no summarizing, no reviewing, no critiquing, no questioning. It is just a time to simply get carried away by a good story. I curate the books on the shelves, and the boys alternate choosing what we read each week. Stocking the shelves has been great fun. I frequently consult The Waldorf Student Reading List (the best $9 you can spend if you are homeschooling with Waldorf-inspired methods, imho) and also the Newberry and Caldecott lists of winners. All of this information is in my head as I scour yard sales, library sales and used book stores. I honestly don’t know if there has ever been a new book on that shelf. Between what I paid for the shelf and how much I pay for the books (typically not more than I paid for the shelf!), this may be the most economical part of our homeschooling journey.
So around 3 o’clock every afternoon, I make a cup of tea, set out a snack tray and light a candle. The three of us (and sometimes the dog) sit on the couch and enjoy a good story. I usually read for about 45 minutes. People – including my husband – are sometimes surprised at what two rambunctious boys have enjoyed: Anne of Green Gables, Winnie the Pooh, Ramona. (Heidi however has languished on the shelf unread since last summer. I keep thinking she is like the poor girl who never gets picked for kickball.) We just finished Little Eddie by Carolyn Haywood today. It was written in the 1940s and the opening scene involves workmen replacing a telegraph pole. Great stuff. Tomorrow we begin Jude’s pick, B is for Betsy, again by Carolyn Haywood. This one was written in 1939 and tells about Betsy’s year in first grade. We are all looking forward to it.
PS Here is a link to what we have read so far this year.