Sunday, October 2, 2011

October reading plans

I am a hero worshiper. My hero is Alfred the Great whose feast day is the 26th of this month. Every October for several years now we have read G.K. Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse during October, and it has become my favorite work of poetry.

I’m going to save Chesterton for later in the month when Eldest Daughter will be back home, but this week I’ll be starting a book about my hero and his times that we’ve never read before—The Marsh King, recommended by Mystie Cindy in her "Literature of Honor for Boys" list.

Chapter 1
“The Witnesses”

Athelstan Redbeard the Dane, King of East Anglia, died suddenly, sitting upright upon his horse, when I was two years old. He was my godfather, so my mother told me; but I have heard that he considered it his right to be godfather to all the children born at his court, so this was a distinction I shared with many. Once every year, on the anniversary of his own baptism, he held a great christening feast in his hall. There my grandfather, Olaf the Skald, would sing the long story of the King’s deeds and battles, as he himself had known them, having stood beside him both as pagan and Christian through most of them.

The three oldest and I will be finishing King Lear when Eldest Daughter returns, and I hadn’t planned what to do after that, but then I remembered that the 25th of the this month is the feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, and you know what that means—Henry V. This time I’m taking a cue from Cindy and going to show Kenneth Branagh’s version of the play first, then read it, then show Laurence Olivier’s version. We’ve watched both of those and we’ve read the play before, but I’ve never done them back-to-back like that.

I’ve been reading E. Nesbit’s and Charles and Mary Lamb’s retellings (Amazon has free Kindle editions of both of those books!) to the younger four children but I don’t remember ever reading them The Real Thing. I think we’ll do that this term with Henry V. When we read Shakespeare, we take parts. #1 Son likes doing accents, but the girls and I don’t much. We each sometimes have to read more than one character per scene so I usually do voices—you know, altering my pitch and pace and so forth to fit the character. I’m going to ask my twelve year old daughter if she wants a part—she’s a good reader.

Cumberland Books sells six of Shakespeare’s plays (scroll all the way down) in very inexpensive volumes—75¢ to $1.50—so you can buy enough copies for all your readers. You can probably find the plays online and print them off yourself, but I’ve never looked for them.

For the rest, I’m still reading through Ambleside Online’s Year Three with the younger ones, and the older ones are continuing their own studies, so I won’t have any more planning to do till November.


  1. Wow, I wish I'd recommended that, but I've never read it! I'll have to remedy that soon. I love early medieval England. :)

  2. Well, I wonder who it was, then? I had a note next to it in my Amazon wish list, but when I bought it, it was deleted from my list. Hmm...

    Brandy or Carol, maybe?

  3. We love "The Marsh King". It is a favorite book at our house. We're reading Henry V this term, too, and I plan to watch the Branaugh movie with the boys once ds #1 gets back in town. I've not been successful getting my boys to read parts though. We usually listen to the audio version and follow along.

  4. That sounds like a good idea, too. I love audio books. I finally broke down and asked one of the grandmothers to get Pilgrim's Progress in audio for the kids for Christmas because I could not read it aloud myself. My kids love it -- they've listened to it several times, which would never have happened if they'd been relying on me.


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