Choosing Read-Alouds for Interest Led Learning

Our latest interest led tangent unit has been all about horses.   My daughter is taking a horse class at our co-op that has sparked a new love in her.   She also has a sweet friend who has her own horse, and she has been going to the barn with her to groom and sometimes be led on the horse.   It never ceases to amaze me how God allows all of these wonderful opportunities to converge at once for the perfect learning experience! 

The backbone of any interest led study in our home is always read-aloud selections. 

Once I knew horses were an obsession that was here to stay, I pulled the Marguerite Henry books from our personal library.  We have two, Brighty of the Grand Canyon and King of the Wind.  Marguerite Henry has written many books about horses, and we intend to read a few more over the next couple months.  

King of the Wind is our current read-aloud, and it is definitely capturing both children's attention.   The little boy in the story, Agba, is a slight stable boy who is also a mute. He is the only one who can ride Sham, a very special horse from the Sultan's stables.   The relationship between Agba and Sham is touching.  

Something about Agba's character is so strong, yet so weak, and I am watching my children sympathize with him.  I think this is one of the things I love most about good literature - the relationship you can develop with the characters. 

The story is a fictionalized biography of the Godolphin Arabian horse (an ancestor or our modern Thoroughbred).  It takes place in Morocco and then moves to France and England.  We have kept our map with us as we read, and have learned quite a bit about the different cultures  as they travel from Africa to Europe. You can learn SO MUCH from one book.   Have I mentioned I love reading aloud??  

After selecting the read-alouds, I searched for some type of project to go with our learning. 

I knew my daughter was completing a horse notebook in her class at co-op, so I thought making a lapbook that covered different things (I checked with the co-op teacher before we began) would be fun.   

My daughter is also working on a lovely horse lapbook  (thank you, Old Schoolhouse, for the free gift this month for subscribers - Teacher's Toolbox !) , so I wanted to get her something else for her studies.   Marguerite Henry  wrote a beautiful Album of Horses, which highlights many breeds and has beautiful illustrations of the horses.  We have been reading this aloud, too.   

I also try to incorporate something for the other child in our family... in this case it is my six year old.  I love how being a family we all adopt each other's interests and cheer each other on.  This is another benefit of home education!  

My son listens to these read alouds and is enjoying them as much as my ten year old, but I wanted something geared just for him, so at the library we found  Horses! by Gail Gibbons.  I love all of Gail Gibbons' books - they are simple and engaging and very informative.   My ten year old learned quite a bit from this one, actually, too!  If you are looking for nonfiction read-alouds for your younger children, anything by Gail Gibbons is a great place to start.  

It came as no surprise to me today when the children were riding bikes after lunch, and they tied jump ropes to the handle bars and called them "horses".   Interesting, also, how my daughter's horse was Sham (from King of the Wind). The "horses" are actually "stabled" right now in my garage, drinking water and eating oats.   Oh, how I love home education!  

What are you reading aloud this week?   Do you pick your read-alouds based on a current interest of your children?  Or, do they coincide with your history studies?   Or, are they just at random?   I'd love to know, and remember -- I'm adding to my "want to read" list!

As always, happy to be linking with Amy for Read Aloud Thursday!