For those of you who have ever looked at a “pre-packaged” curriculum for homeschooling, there is usually a package of read-alouds that correspond to the grade level your child is in. Waldorf homeschooling automatically has many stories built into the curriculum, but doesn’t always have an automatic stack of read-alouds to accompany each grade. There are some books that have suggestions for books though! One wonderful book is entitled, “Waldorf Student Reading List” by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L Rivers. Donna Simmons also has suggestions for read-alouds within her “Living Language” book, available through her website at www.christopherushomeschool.org.
From a Waldorf perspective, the most important thing to remember when choosing books and stories for the child under 9 is that the child is still one with the world and all things in it. Therefore, most appropriate are not the books and stories where one empathetically identifies with the protagonist, but ones where the archetypal images still prevail.
Therefore, fairy tales are a wonderful basis for read-alouds. Here is a list of read-alouds we have enjoyed so far this school year or are planning on reading this year:
Grimms’ Fairy Tales
Russian Fairy Tales – we used a copy from Dover Books
Japanese Fairy Tales – we used a copy from Dover Books
All of the books by Virginia Haviland “Favorite Fairy Tales Told in (Poland, Russia, Norway, etc)” There are quite a few of them and you can find them quite cheaply used on Amazon or possibly at your local library.
Andrew Lang’s “The Red Fairy Book” – most of the tales seem about right, some of the books in these series are best left until your child is much older!
The Junior Classics Volume One “Fairy Tales and Fables”, published in 1938 – we have read the fairy tales and are saving the fables for next year. This volume really has especially wonderful tales from Czechoslovakia that we adore.
Isabel Wyatt’s The Seven Year Old Wonder Book – always nice to read leading up to your child’s seventh birthday, a Waldorf tradition
The Tiptoes Lightly series by Reg Down
Any and all Elsa Beskow books (picture books)
Any and all Jack Prelutsky books (poetry)
The Book of Fairy Poetry by Michael Hague (poetry)
Here are some that don’t especially fit the fairy tale mode but your child may enjoy, depending on their attention span:
Any and all of Edward Ardizzone’s Little Tim series – picture books, rather droll, where Tim goes out to sea on many adventures and everything works out well in the end. Pre-read for sensitive readers because there are bad guys, shipwrecks, etc. Boys especially may like these, but my girls like them as well.
Twig and Big Susan, both by Elizabeth Orton Jones
The Racketty Packetty House
And all Thornton Burgess books, although some parents leave these till second grade.
The Paddington Series of books by Michael Bond
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by R. and F. Atwater
Winnie the Pooh and other works by AA Milne
Okay, and three where you will identify with the protagonist, so not the Waldorf ideal per se, but still lovable –
B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood, published in 1940. Betsy goes to the first grade – innocent, sweet and for the adults, totally points out what is wrong with First Grade today (uh, did that political commentary slip out??!!)
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – save the other ones in the series till later.
and somehow my eldest found the hardback classic Heidi amongst my things so we read it last year in early December and we will read it this year as well. Not really appropriate for a first grader, but it really speaks to my little girl. Heidi does show an ideal rhythm though, doesn’t it? Fresh air, goat-herding, delayed academics …..heeheeheehee. :)
There are other favorites I could go on about from Kindergarten, but those are probably best saved till another post. :)
Two last thoughts: Please tell stories before bedtime, don’t read! We started with reading and I have found it so difficult to get my kids to accept storytelling in place of reading. Start early with your storytelling, it will serve you and your children well. Many families do reading after lunch before quiet time and tell stories before bedtime. The best stories you tell are the ones you make up yourself!!
The second thought is this: for voracious readers, like my eldest, do not feel you have to get them new reading material all the time. We re-read, and re-read and re-read. First grade (and Kindergarten) should still be about being in the body. Reading books and having to have a new book all the time can be a form of stimulation just like wanting constant entertainment, so if your little one wants to sit and read or thumb through books for hours on end, consider your rhythm and what times of the day reading is okay.
I feel another post coming on…..
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.