Just before Bob and I were married, my mother told me about her early days of marriage. She said that they didn’t have much money, and TV was not widely available, but what they did in the evenings was read books aloud to one another. It sounded strange to me, but a year or so later, Bob and I didn’t have much money, and there was nothing good to watch on TV, so I suggested that we read a book aloud to one another. What fun it was! We found that some books are better suited for reading aloud than others. Agatha Christie and Nero Wolfe mysteries were easy to read. War and Peace, on the other hand, just seemed to bog us down with the details.
When our first daughter was entering kindergarten, I attended the “Get to Know the Principal” session. The principal said that one of the most important things to do with your children is to read aloud to them. We had, of course, been reading books to them, but had sort of thought that this would end at some point. The principal said, “Read aloud every day until they graduate.” Thus began a very pleasant time in our lives. We generally read one book as an entire family at night before our daughters went to bed, and I read them a different book each morning while they ate breakfast, after Bob left for work.
When overnight guests came, we all piled into one bedroom and read whatever book we were currently working on. I remember one time when we were reading a ghost story in the mornings at breakfast, and my parents were visiting. Each morning they got down to the kitchen just as I was opening the book. These grandparents found them-selves stools to sit on, and they listened. They had planned to stay through a Monday, but at the end of breakfast on Monday they announced that they were staying another day. “Fine,” I said, “But why?” “Because you will finish that book tomorrow morning, and we want to know how it turns out.”
We found that, as our daughters grew, the complexity of the books that we read increased. We also had them read to us some nights.
As our oldest daughter was preparing for her wedding, I decided to pass on the advice that my mother had given me. About a month later, she reported that her new husband was reading Ayn Rand to her in the evenings, and she was enjoying it (to her surprise).
Here are some of the books that we liked the best:
For small children:
- Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
- Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne
- Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
- The Peter Rabbit Series, by Beatrix Potter
These children’s books have been recreated by others, so be sure to find the original versions, which we think are the best. The original Pooh books were “decorated” by Ernest H. Shepard. The original Rudyard Kipling books were illustrated with black and white line drawings by the author. The 23 original Peter Rabbit books were a tiny size (approximately 6 inches by 6 inches), also illustrated by the author.
For grade-school-age children:
- The Little House Books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Anne of Green Gables books, by L.M. Montgomery
- The Bunnicula books, by James Howe
For junior high and high school-age children:
- The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Jubliee Trail, by Gwen Bristow
- The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
About the author: Ruth Haag helps managers and employees understand the dynamics of the work environment, and how to function smoothly within it. She is the President/CEO of Haag Environmental Company. She has written a four-book business series: “Taming Your Inner Supervisor”, “Day-to-Day Supervising”, “Hiring and Firing”, and “Why Projects Fail.” Her enjoyable, easy-to-read books provide a look at life the way it is, rather than the way that you might think it should be.