Once upon a time, there was a Dad who was working full-time and going to school full-time. His wife was a stay-at-home mom who had four young children, a house to keep, a garden to tend, and a fuse that was getting shorter and shorter.
One day after a long day at work and class, Dad came home to find Mom trying to bury herself in the nine loads of unfolded laundry. The remains of the evening meal were still on the table; the paper piles were taking over the computer table, the coffee table, and every other flat surface in the living room; and the children were slowly preparing themselves for bed.
“How do I help? Where do I start?”, asked the bewildered and worried father.
“Can you take over story time this evening? I’ll work in the kitchen while you read.” was the reply.
Thus began a family tradition that lasted for a number of years…and definitely helped with living happily ever after.
Over the years, Richard (Becca’s husband) read dozens of books with the children. The rule was: everyone had to be in dressed for bed, prayers were said, and the children had to stay in bed. He would position himself with a large pillow in the hall where everyone could hear him read and he would read from a chapter book for about 15-30 minutes-always stopping just before some exciting moment in the story. When the boys were small (2 and 4 years old) he would read a picture book to them and then ensconce himself in the hallway to read to the older girls. While he read, Becca would clean the kitchen, do laundry, tidy up, take a bubble bath or play Solitaire on the computer…whatever she needed to do so that she could take over again while he did homework and life asserted itself again.
This list is what we read for fun! These are not the books we read for literature (or any other) study during our academic day. We worked to avoid “twaddle” and choose moral takes or books that would simply expand their horizons.
In no particular order, what follows is a list of most of the books he read. (The list is as complete as we could get it working from memory.) Some books he read more than once. Others (not listed) were started but never finished. (If both the parents and children were bored beyond the third chapter, we moved on to something else!) No one was allowed to sneak a preview or read ahead in the current book. They could, however, reread books that had been finished! It might also be interesting to note that many of the titles on this list were requested by my children for their personal libraries!
Nightly stories with Dad continued until our 16 year-olds got jobs, and it was too hard to keep everyone up to speed in the current book.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Rudolf Wyss
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Indian Captive by Lois Lenski
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (All but the last. He wanted them to read that one privately. Good move.)
The Arabian Nights Reader’s Digest Edition
The Prydian Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (All but the last.)
The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Sherlock Holmes Mysteries series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Cricket in Times Square series by George Seldon
The Great Brain Series
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
The Hobbit by J. R.R. Tolkien
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
TheWestmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander
Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgren
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander
The Fighting Prince of Donegal by Robert T. Reilly
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens