We are finally at a point where I seem to be able to do a one-size-fits-all read-aloud for the boys. The five year age difference becomes a factor less than one would think, but one of those times has been bedtime stories. They share a room, which I hope encourages character development (or, at the very least, survival skills and an ability to live with very little privacy).
As a result, our read aloud times are done together. This rules out certain books, which might be construed as scary or too mature. And luckily, my ten-year-old has retained a more than fair amount of innocence and openness, and is usually as attentive to the picture books I read for his brother as he is to the book “geared” toward him. This was obvious tonight as I looked up at the top bunk to find a head poked over to better see the illustrations in The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett.
My younger son floated in and out of the Swallows and Amazons series with us last year, enjoying it some, but not being bothered if he missed a chapter or two or three. He grasped just enough to properly play Swallows and Amazons with Playmobil.
That said, a wonderful transformation has occurred lately. The five-year-old is listening attentively to the chapter read-aloud as well. Obviously they are “getting it” at different levels, and I assume that we will revisit these books when my younger son is older. But for now, sharing an ongoing story with both of them is a wonderful new treat. The last couple of weeks we read Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. While my older son appreciated, at least to some extent, the themes of loss and redemption and acceptance, the younger one at the very least enjoyed the humor and good natured antics that occur. Being home-schooled, I think they could also both appreciate the positive friendships that can happen between children and adults.
This week we’re on to Bambi by Felix Saltens. I actually had no idea there was a book, having grown up with only the good old Disney film version. We’ve only read a couple of chapters, but we all seem pretty hooked. I just hope to continue finding books we can share, that are well written enough to satisfy me, challenging and engaging enough for my older son, and still sweet and innocent enough that I don’t worry about the younger ears in the room.