Well, there’s sledding, and snowmen, and drinking cocoa. There are board games and lessons (we already homeschool the younger three) and sitting around snuggling. There’s room cleaning and barn chores and shoveling. There’s music to practice and baking to do and new skills to learn.
And there are books. We’re in a particularly good period of reading chapter books – Asher at four is ready and interested in sustained narratives, which means that all four kids are old enough for lengthy read alouds. And everyone has a chapter book – or often two, one with Mom and one with Dad – going at any given time.
I’m on my fourth rotation through Winnie the Pooh with Asher – and the older boys are finding it funnier than they ever did before, now that they are old enough to get the jokes. Asher just likes going into the Hundred Acre Woods with his animal friends in the story – Simon and Isaiah love the plays on words.
Isaiah is reading Roald Dahl’s _Danny, Champion of the World_ with Eric, and Simon is enjoying a second trip through this one. Meanwhile, I’m reading the Little House Books to Isaiah – I’d tried to catch his interest with them before, but this time he’s into it – and Eli and Simon and Asher all listen along. Eli for the third time, Simon for the second and Asher, who is usually nearly asleep by the time we get to our chapter, murmurs that next time will be for him.
Simon is obsessed with the American Girl series of books, laying to rest, I hope, the calumny that boys won’t read books with female heroes. He’s enjoying reading chapters in various history books about the periods they are living at. We’re also just starting Louise Ehrdich’s _The Birchbark House_ which some people have called the “Native American Little House” – although we talk about the role of Laura Ingalls and her family in displacing Native peoples, I think compelling alternate stories are needed – I don’t want my kids to get the Native American story through a series of boring talks rather than engaging stories.
Eli loves poetry, so we alternate some of his favorites with the Blue and Green Fairy Books, and a collection of Russian Fairy Tales. I admit, I was pretty terrified of Baba Yaga and her child-eating house when I was a kid, so I wait until after Asher falls asleep to read the darker stories.
As much as I love reading stories to my kids for the first time, I also love reading them again. Isaiah, Simon and Eli have already been through _The Hobbit_ but I think a re-reading will be in order shortly. Isaiah who loves adventures stories sat through all of the Howard Pyle Robin Hood, but will get more of it on the next iteration. Asher will soon be ready for _Understood Betsy_ which we completed on a long car journey one year. Friends of our just read James Herriot’s books with their kids, and they go on the list, along with Swallows and Amazons, The Five Little Peppers, and The Three Muskateers.
The grownups have their stacks as well – I’m on a Christopher Buckley kick – I love comic novels that don’t demand too much of me intellectually when I’m trying to finish a book. I’m also auditioning a few for the soon-to-restart post-apocalyptic novel reading club, but they aren’t nearly as funny as _Boomsday_. Eric is neck deep in books about mathematics, but comes up occasionally to read the fifth Diana Gabaldon.
I anticipate a week of intense reading – and as much pleasure to the adults as to the children. We’ll by natural sunlight, by kerosene lamp and by flashlight, snuggled under the covers in the dark. I’m kind of looking forward to it, actually.
What will you be reading for pleasure?