Rather than large novels hundreds of pages long, this month, we read shorter kids’ books that were 80 to 150 pages long, so we finished many more. I wasn’t planning this, but it just worked out based on our Sonlight reading and the books that the girls picked out. Here are the family read alouds for ages 8 to 12 that we read in September, 2019:
Books We Read
We were reading so many books at the same time this month, but we managed to finish several:
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
I’m not going to lie, The Slave Dancer was a hard book to read! Thirteen year old Jessie Bollier is kidnapped from the streets of New Orleans and taken aboard a ship, which he soon discovers is a slave ship. He makes the long journey to Africa where the hold of the ship is soon filled with Africans. Jessie learns that his job is to play his fife every night so that the soon-to-be slaves can “dance” and hopefully maintain their health before auction.
This book is an important one, and it offers a very graphic view of conditions on a slave ship. I’m glad we read this book, but emotionally, it wasn’t an easy one.
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Jemmy in The Whipping Boy is a poor boy from the streets who used to catch rats to sell them. Now, he lives in the castle as the “whipping boy.” Whenever the prince is naughty, Jemmy gets whipped. The prince thinks this is all delightful fun, much to Jemmy’s dismay. However, when the prince wants to run away, he enlists Jemmy’s help. When they run into bandits who kidnap them, Jemmy must use his smarts to save himself and the prince. His strategy involves the prince becoming the whipping boy, which leads to a change of heart from the prince.
The Minstrel in the Tower by Gloria Skurzynski
In The Minstrel in the Tower, young Roger and Alice’s father should have been home from the Crusades three years ago, but he’s not. Their mother is sick, so she sends them with a lute to find their uncle who can come help the family. Along the way, the children run into danger and find their uncle in the most unexpected way.
The Children of the Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
Cuddle Bug absolutely loved The Children of the Noisy Village! Written by the same author who wrote Pippi Longstocking, this stories is about six children who live in a group of three farms in a Swedish village. Reading this book, I realized how different life is for kids now, and I wished more kids could experience life like these young Swedish kids did.
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla by Susan Helen Wallace, FSP
As part of our religious curriculum, we’re learning about various saints. We started the year off by reading Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. We already knew that Saint Gianna had a tumor when she was pregnant for her fourth child and opted to have the tumor removed but have no other treatment until the baby was born to preserve the life of the child in her womb. I also knew that she died because of this choice.
But it was interesting to learn of her childhood, growing up in Italy during WWII, and her many brothers and sisters who became priests or doctors. Unfortunately, many of them also died very young. I also didn’t know what miracles St. Gianna had performed, so we learned that in this book, too.
The Shepherd’s Stone by M. J. Thomas
The Lion’s Roar by M. J. Thomas
Reviews for both of the above listed books will be on the blog in mid-October as part of a Crew Review.
Audio Stories We Listened To
We got in several good, long audio stories in September:
Unbound by Ann E. Burg
In Unbound, Grace is nine years old and lives with her mother, Uncle Jim, and two small brothers. They are slaves, and thanks to her light skin, Grace is sent to work in the big house, where she has the hateful mistress of the house always looking over her shoulder, criticizing her work, and threatening to send her to the smoke house to get whipped.
When Grace overhears that her mother and brothers will be sent to the auction block the next day, she knows something must be done, and within hours, the family is on the run.
This book highlights a little known place in history, a hidden community, The Great Dismal Swamp, where many slaves hid and lived free instead of fleeing to the North.
This audio is approximately 3.5 hours long.
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko
Moose and his family live on Alcatraz because his father works as a guard. His older sister, Natalie, has a disability (autism, but of course, they didn’t have a name for it back in the 1930s where Al Capone Shines My Shoes is set), and really needs to go to a special school in San Francisco, but she’s applied and been rejected twice.
Knowing Al Capone does the laundry for everyone on the island, Moose puts a brief message in his laundry asking if Capone can help get Natalie into the school. Shortly thereafter, she is accepted. While Moose is excited for Natalie, he soon realizes that favors from Capone don’t come without consequences.
This audio is approximately 8 hours long.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
We actually watched the movie version of A Little Princess first before listening to this audio, but it was every bit as delightful as if we hadn’t already seen the movie. Sarah has a wealthy father, and together they live in India. When she’s about seven or eight, he sends her to a British boarding school. Sarah is treated as the star pupil thanks to her wealth, but when he father suddenly dies, Sarah is told she’s penniless, and the headmistress sends Sarah to the attic to live and gives her a menial job. However, Sarah perseveres and maintains her positive attitude, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Then, one day her fortune suddenly changes.
This audio is approximately 8 hours long.
Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
In Midnight for Charlie Bone, the first in an eight book series, Charlie discovers that he can hear people in pictures, so his aunts decide that he must go to a school for those who have magical powers. At the school, Charlie meets people who have many different magical talents, and discovers that he and many of the other students are descendants of the Red King and have inherited his magical gifts. Charlie sets about to find a missing girl, and in the process, finds his father whom he thought was dead.
We just couldn’t get into this, and often we felt it was much too reminiscent of Harry Potter.
This audio is approximately 7 hours long.
A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales by Chris Colfer
We plan to listen to the entire series of The Land of Stories, of which A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales is a part. This audio recounts famous fairy tales. We knew many of them and skipped those stories, but there were many fairy tales that we listened to again because we couldn’t remember the whole story.
This audio is approximately 4.5 hours long.
Books read in 2019: 25
Audios listened to in 2019: 50
Total books read or listened to in 2019: 75