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You know when you sometimes look at a homeschooling mom and want to be a fly on the wall and take a peek at ‘how she does it’? Seriously, what laundry system does she use? Does she combine all the kids for history? Do they ALL play an instrument? Does she pull an apron over her head when she needs a quiet moment to pray amidst the chaos? Well, you might not get an inside peek at Laurie Bluedorn’s filing cabinet, but you get to pull up a chair by the fire and discover what kinds of books she read to her kids. Perhaps this is faulty reasoning (ah! I’m referring to the family who wrote The Fallacy Detective) but I’m certainly putting some clout into what mom read to the Bluedorn children, especially since they’ve turned out to be such terrific thinkers and authors themselves!
Nathaniel Bluedorn, oldest son of Laurie and Harvey Bluedorn, has compiled his favorite classics for children in this little gem of a book called Hand that Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classic Books for Children. In the intro, Bluedorn succinctly lays out the “why, how, and what” of reading aloud. He argues for classics that have endured the test of time (and some modern goodies) rather than light or abridged books. The books reflect their family’s conservative tastes and Christian values, but adventure is certainly not lacking!
Recommendations are organized by author with icons that describe the time the story takes place, geographic setting, and publication date. A simple reading level system helps parents select that perfect age-appropriate bedtime story. Its size makes it portable and reminds me of a grocery list that you can check off. Great for the history-loving family, there are many excellent suggestions that will transport your children to another time and place!
Hand that Rocks the Cradle includes many familiar authors and titles that seem to make it in other must-read lists, however there are quite a few books that I’ve not seen elsewhere. Classics such as Treasure Island, Jane Eyre, and Sherlock Holmes are present, but the lesser-known or modern titles such as Penrod by Tarkington or Lemony Snicket’s Unfortunate Events series have surprising appeal. He also mentions which ones were his mother’s favorites, and which ones she refused to read but he put in anyway!
The synopses are just enough to get you hooked without giving too much away. Hand that Rocks the Cradle has an index that is helpfully organized by interesting categories (Backwoods, Maturing Character); however, there are no page references, which gets your alphabetizing skills working. I would have liked to see the books organized by titles as well. All in all, it’s very nice of Nathaniel Bluedorn to let me have the pleasure of this easy-to-use read-aloud list. Now to stoke the fire, grab my hot chocolate, and get my kids gathered around for a good tale.