Sometimes a book we read aloud together really strikes a chord with the children. We’re studying the Middle Ages right now, working our way through the TruthQuest History guide to the Middle Ages. One historical fiction suggestion was Palio, by Marguerite Henry. This book isn’t set in the Middle Ages, but it describes a race that has been happening twice every year for over 700 years, following the same rituals as at its beginning in the Middle Ages. I happen to love Marguerite Henry’s books, so it was a great excuse to reread one of them!
All of us thoroughly enjoyed reading Palio. By the time we reached the last half dozen chapters, I was getting questions about whether the Palio is still being run, so I promised that we would look it up online after finishing the book. We did, and sure enough, it is still being held every July and August. In fact, we finished reading the book on August 14, and the next running of the Palio was only two days away! Esther found us a video online that showed the event through the eyes of a Sienese native, and then we watched one about the horse lottery that happened that week. The day the race was run, we searched for another about the day’s race, and got to watch that. It was a lot of fun to be able to see the continuation of a tradition we had just read an engrossing story about. Having read the book, we were somewhat familiar with the various neighborhoods of Siena and were able to recognize them even though the broadcasts were in Italian.
Reading aloud is so much fun! It is definitely the favorite part of the school day for both the children and their teacher. I read to them for 30-45 minutes every morning while the breakfast dishes are being done before we start our school day, another 40-45 minutes in the afternoon while lunch dishes are being washed, and also to each of the little girls separately, for 15-20 minutes each, some time during the day. Winter is great for being able to do that! Summer is more challenging; I still read during dishwashing time, but it’s harder to fit in the little girls’ reading (although by now Miss Joy makes sure I don’t forget her–if she realizes in the evening that I haven’t yet, she announces, with great drama as if it is a catastrophe, “You haven’t read to me yet!”).