Do you want a great story you and your children will love? A story that is rich in history as well as adventure? Try “Carry On Mr. Bowditch” by Jean Lee Latham. Winner of the 1956 Newberry Medal, this book tells the story of Nathaniel Bowditch, author of the famous “The American Practical Navigator” also known as “The Sailor’s Bible”. “Carry On Mr. Bowditch” is a lively story, beginning when Nathaniel is only 6 years old in 1779. He is fascinated with numbers and does math in his head about all kinds of things that other six year old boys wouldn’t be aware of. Nathaniel, or “Nat” as he is called, grows up with adventures and mishaps, is voracious about his studies, and comes to love ships and sailing.
Whether or not your family knows anything about old time ships or sailing, you will be captivated by this book and Nat’s amazing mathematical mind, new discoveries, and sailing adventures. It’s an entertaining chronicle of old Salem, overcoming odds, friendships, and the history of maritime in the United States. This is one of those books you won’t be able to put down. My family has enjoyed reading it over and over through the years.
As you begin (or continue) your family reading time, here are some tips for making it more relaxed, fun, and effective. These ideas are quoted from author Jim Trelease in his best-selling book, “The Read Aloud Handbook”:
- “The most common mistake in reading aloud—whether the reader is a seven-year-old or a forty-year-old—is reading too fast. Read slowly enough for the child to build mental pictures of what he just heard you read. Slow down enough for the children to see the pictures in the book without feeling hurried. Reading quickly allows no time for the reader to use vocal expression.
- Remember that everyone enjoys a good picture book, even a teenager.
- Allow time for class and home discussion after reading a story. Thoughts, hopes, fears, and discoveries are aroused by a book. Allow them to surface and help the child to deal with them through verbal, written, or artistic expression if the child is so inclined. Do not turn discussions into quizzes or insist upon prying story interpretations from the child.
- Remember that reading aloud comes naturally to very few people. To do it successfully and with ease you must practice.
- Use plenty of expression when reading. If possible, change your tone of voice to fit the dialogue.
- Adjust your pace to fit the story. During a suspenseful part, slow down, and lower your voice. A lowered voice in the right place moves an audience to the edge of its chairs.
- Bring the author to life, as well as his book. Google the author to find a personal Web page, and always read the information on your book’s dust jacket. Either before or during the reading, tell your audience something about the author. This lets them know that books are written by people, not by machines.”
Reading together as a family is a wonderful bonding time, and the stories you read together will always be remembered. Enjoy your family reading!