Friday, May 02, 2008

The Heart of the Matter: Favorite Books

This weeks' Heart of the Matter meme is: favorite books.

Oh my. How can I come up with a list? There are so many! Favorite history books, fiction, science, fun books, grownup books... I asked my girlie and she just stared at me. "That's a really hard question, Mom!"

But then I knew what question to ask next: "What is our favorite readaloud book or series of books?" Before I had the question completely out of my mouth, she called out

Swallows and Amazons!

Yes, if you have read this blog for any length of time you have heard that song and dance before. The Swallows and Amazons books (the first in the series is conveniently titled Swallows and Amazons) is a 12-book series written in the 1930s and set during that time in England's Lake District and other areas. They are beautifully-written (by Arthur Ransome), exciting stories of adventure, independence, self-reliance, fun!

I clearly remember reading the first book. It was almost 2 years ago. We were reading slowly; my girlie was not too into it - there's a lot of technical sailing information at the beginning. But we had taken it on vacation with us, it was the only book we had, so one evening in our hotel room in Fernandina Beach, FL, we picked it up, and - it clicked. Something happened (my girlie says it was the appearance of the fearsome pirate Nancy Blackett) and we were hooked. Over the course of the next year we read the whole series, loving almost* every book.

You can read some of my old blogs posts on the topic here, if you like. You also might want to browse the home page of the Arthur Ransome Society, and this Guide to Swallows and Amazons.

Oh, some details: written for the 9-12 set, I suppose, but they would have been hard for one of my 9 year olds to read, and would probably be interesting to older kids, depending. They are long - 300-400 pages. They have lots of information on sailing but that is not tedious for long, and may not be tedious at all for some kids. A great, great, family readaloud. I cannot recommend them highly enough, and I tell everyone I meet who has any interest in excellent children's literature to read them.

For some reason I could not get the little button for the Heart of the Matter Friday meme, but
you don't really need that anyway. After you go there and read some of the other favorite book posts, go find yourself a copy of Swallows and Amazons! I have a feeling we're going to be rereading it soon ourselves. Probably won't make it through all 12 again as a readaloud, though I hope my kids read them all again someday.

*Missy Lee is not so hot, and contains what, to our modern eyes, are stereotypes of Asians, typical of the time it was written.

I updated my video bar to the right with some short videos of England's Lake District. It's a gorgeous place.


SmallWorld said...

I remember when you started reading that, too! And I DO have Swallows and Amazons on our reading list. This summer!!

Andrea said...

Thanks for the review! Amazons and Swallows is next on our read-aloud list, and I'm really looking forward to it.


Laura said...

We love that series, too! Actually, one of my sons was 14 when he first read those books and he loved them.

Great review! I hope it entices more families to put the series on their "to read" lists!

Heidi @ Southpaugh Homeschool said...

I added the book to my ever growing list!
Thanks for sharing!! : )

蚵仔麵線Jeff said...
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