My Summer Reading Challenge

Early in June, I shared the Summer Reading Challenge with you all.  I challenged myself, and you, to finally make time to read that book you've been wanting to read.  I also thought it would be a good time to consider what I wanted to read with my children this summer.

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I spent several weeks reading The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins.  In case you don't know, Collins was a friend of Charles Dickens and personally influenced by Dickens.  (I haven't read much of Dickens, but some of it I find difficult to read.  This book, though lengthy, was easy to read and follow.)

Walter Hartright meets the woman in white along the road and helps her on her way.  He soon learns she escaped an asylum.  And so begins the tale of this mysterious woman.  Walter provides art lessons for a rich woman named Laura and her half-sister (and not rich) Marian.  The reader may even forget about the woman in white, but bit-by-bit we learn more about her.  The mysterious woman is the key to understanding a dark and murderous plot.

I delighted in this well-written book.  Published in 1859, some say it was the first mystery or thriller to be written.  Collins masterfully unfolded the story through the narration of the different characters.  This was not confusing and added to the dynamic of the story.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND.  Go and get yourself a copy and settle in for a good night's read...for the next week or month.  I'm eager to read more of Wilkie Collin's work.

I did not make time to read my second book choice for me, 1984, but I did complete two chapter books with my children this summer!

101 Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith was up first.  We were already familiar with the movie.  My sister had
a beloved dalmatian, and so in 2011 when a friend sent me the book I knew I wanted to read it with the children.  I just needed a push to make time for it.  This summer we did.

In the book, Pongo and Missus have fifteen lovely pups. The Dearlys (their pets), adopt Perdita, another dalmatian, to help mother the pups.  Pongo, and Missus are crushed when the pups are stolen.  Creuella de Vil, a woman who loves fur coats, takes them to an old, black mansion (aptly named Hell Hall, but I chose not to call it that when reading aloud) where she keeps many other dalmatian puppies, too.  Pongo and Missus have quite the adventure trying to save the pups.  Perdita is certainly a strange addition to the that I'm not certain Dodie Smith needed to include, but it intrigued my oldest, especially that the numbers didn't add up until the very end of the book.

The children and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  We also watched the cartoon version of the movie.  The children were able to tell me several differences between the book and the movie.

Then the children and I jumped into the land of Narnia.  We had listened to a few of the books on audio, but this time we really discussed it, and no one took naps in the car.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis delighted the children and me all over again.  Brother (age 5.5) didn't really remember the story.  Big Sister (7.5) remembered some key details.  Little
Sister (2.5) enjoyed the time together and illustrations, but did not really follow the story, though she has mentioned Narnia more than once.

Instead of telling you about the story, which I hope you know well, I want to tell you of a fabulous resource we used to discuss Narnia and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.   I'ts called Roar: A Christian Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia.  I've read (and enjoyed) other books about Narnia, but this was perfect to dive deeper into the story WITH my children.  They answered questions, learned a bit more, and every few chapters, they were ecstatic about the quizzes.  The quizzes only had about five questions each.  We always started with the youngest person (skipping Little Sister), and
they each gave their multiple-choice answer.  Sometimes my husband would answer, too.  Though he was not always present for our readings, he's read the series multiple times.

We just finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on Monday-the children's first day of school.  They were both eager for more Narnia and didn't want anything else as a read aloud.  So on to Prince Caspian we go.  Yes, the spine says #4, but we are reading in the order of which C.S. Lewis wrote the books.

If you are looking for more to read with your children, might I suggest A Mouse Called Wolf (with enrichment activities) and to visit Amy at Read Aloud Thursday?

What did you read this summer?  Please leave a link in the comments!

~ Annette
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  1. I finished one of the two books I set out to read. I'm reading the other one now. I finished I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmatians.
    My sister used to have two Dalmatians! :). Their names were Dottie amd Freckles. ;)
    So glad y'all enjoyed your read-alouds! You should share this for RAT!

  2. I listened to The Woman in White last year (via audiobook with occasional looks into the Kindle edition) and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading more from Collins.

  3. I'll have to tell my daughter about the Woman in White. She enjoys Dickens so this might be another author for her. Thanks for sharing about it!

    I have 101 Dalmations on my to read list. If only I would remember to grab it when I'm at the library!

  4. I so totally love Wilkie Collins! I still have The Moonstone sitting on my bookshelf waiting for attention.

    And yay for getting in some fun reads with the kids this summer. :) (Especially as you had a super short summer at that!)


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