For many years now, from when my Zach & Bean were small fries, one of my favorite pastimes has been reading aloud to my children. Over the years, I've plowed through numerous books, with lots of highlights along the way. My doctoral work slowed down the pace considerably, especially in the final years of dissertation writing. But Harry Potter came to the rescue even then, while also serving as something of a transition within our family: It was really the last series that I read aloud to DoRena and Zachary, and the first significant set of books that I read to Nicholai and Monica. After that, it was a bit hit-and-miss for awhile, because it was frankly difficult to find anything worthy to follow the magic of Ms. Rowling. Last year shook us out of our slump, and this Year of Our Lord 2012 has been a marvelous literary adventure for me and my five middle children listeners: Monica, Ariksander, Oly'anna, Justinian, and Frederick.
Especially as various other projects and pursuits have gone by the wayside for me, whether being finished up or given up, I've been able to read aloud to my children with regular consistency this year. Unless I'm out of town for something or other, which happens on occasion, I generally read at least half an hour each day; and, sometimes, when we're closing in on the end of a good book or series, it might be as much as several hours. Many a family day has been spent largely in the pages of a story, in the company of beloved characters. In my life on earth, there is hardly anything that I treasure more fondly than this time spent with my children.
So far this year, we've shared a total of forty-four books together, my middlings and me. We'll probably devour another couple or three before the year is finally finished; although the observances of Christmas Tide will slow us down, naturally. But the next thing on our list are the Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander — one of my own childhood favorites, among the many that I enjoyed listening to my own Dad read aloud to me — and I'm quite certain that we won't be able to finish that whole series (five books in all) before the New Year.
Anyway, in typical Stuckwisch fashion, the six of us who read and listen together voted on our favorite reads of 2012, and tabulated the results this afternoon. Because we like to share such things, and because others might discover worthy treasures to enjoy within their own family enclaves, I happily publish the following list of our Top Twelve Read-Aloud Favorites. We've grouped sequels and series into single entries, rather than trying to segregate the individual titles; and in some cases, we are breathlessly awaiting subsequent volumes, yet to be published. Meanwhile, there are plenty of books in the world to occupy us. It should be noted that most of the following books were not published in 2012, but were among those that I was privileged to read aloud in the course of the year. I've exercised paternal privilege in unilaterally resolving the numerous ties that occurred, but each of the following received at least two votes (out of six possible).
Top Twelve Read-Aloud Favorites of 2012
1 - the Jimmy Coates series (six books and counting), by Joe Craig
2 - the Michael Vey series (two books so far), by Richard Paul Evans
3 - The Candy Shop War; and, Arcade Catastrophe, by Brandon Mull
4 - the Gregor series (five books), by Suzanne Collins
5 - the Percy Jackson series (five books), by Rick Riordan
6 - the Beyonders trilogy (two books so far), by Brandon Mull
7 - Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, by Jonathan Auxier
8 - the Fablehaven series (five books), by Brandon Mull
9 - The King in the Window; and its sequel of sorts, The Steps Across the Water, by Adam Gopnik
10 - Savvy; and its sequel, Scumble, by Ingrid Law
11 - the Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
12 - the Ghosthunters series (four books), by Cornelia Funke
Astute readers will notice that our favorite authors of the year were Brandon Mull (nine books, three series) and Suzanne Collins (eight books, two series). Bring 'em on, Brandon and Suzanne; we're hungry for more.
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