Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Once Upon a Time...

You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother who read to me.
--from "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan


Reading to my children is one of my favorite things to do as a parent. My mother gave her nine children this gift, and it has been so valuable in my life both as a child and as a parent. Over the years we've read hundreds of stories together, and read-aloud has always been a part of our homeschooling day, even as the children have entered junior high. We've had many great experiences, interesting conversation, a few disagreements, but always a connection with each other.


I bring this up because today we finished a charming little book called The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, the author of Because of Winn-Dixie. This sweet story was the winner of the Newbury Medal in 2004. If you're a veteran read-aloud mom (or dad) you must read this story to your children. If you've never tried to read a book aloud before, this is the perfect one to start with. It is quite clever, touching, and meaningful, and all of my children from 2nd grade through 8th grade couldn't get enough of it.


Despereaux is a tiny mouse, much smaller than a mouse should be, and his head is in the clouds...or rather in the books, reading them instead of eating them as proper mice should do. He breaks all the cardinal mouse rules, and this puts him in the company of the Princess Pea, with whom he falls in love. But a mouse cannot penetrate the human world without punishment, so Despereaux is thrown in the dungeon where his adventures with an old jailer, several conniving rats, and a homely little serving girl who longs to be a princess begin. Everyone is connected in some way, and the author's simple narrative voice, that never condescends, is so delightful. We loved it. I pass the recommendation along to you and yours.

11 comments:

Don said...

I agree - Despereaux was a fun book. My girls both really enjoyed it, and the characters are so well written, it's easy to come up with different voices for each of them.

Luisa Perkins said...

Tess loves that book. Sometimes she'll just chant, "Despereaux, Despereaux."

Michael said...

They are making a movie of this story, will be released around Christmas time next year. I think Matthew Broderick is the voice of Despereaux.

Holly said...

I haven't seen that one. Thanks for the recommendation!

Holly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anjmae said...

Hi Jenna! I like your blog! It is fun to read your posts and sort of "catch up" with you. Thanks for being so honest in your writing.
I think we will read Desereaux for our story this month for homeschool...great idea!

anjmae said...

haha I mean Despereaux--can't type...

Annette Lyon said...

I've been reading to my kids for ages, too. We have to alternate girly and boyish books. We're finishing up Anne of Green Gables right now, and then we'll do something really boy-like for my son. But this book is going onto the list.

Julie Wright said...

i am definitely getting this book for our next read-aloud time. Right now we're on Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians. The kids are laughing their heads off with it.

Kimberly said...

Sounds lovely! And I think you know I'm disposed to take any recommendation you offer up to the world. =)

dawn said...

I am going to have to read this one. We do own a copy, and we read "Because of Winn-Dixie". We have done tremendous amounts of family reading, but the last couple of years with kids in high school and working some days it is difficult to get us all here at the same time. I am thinking at this moment, I could read to a couple when the others are away, just a different book than I am reading to everyone. I love reading aloud to the kids.