28 December 2014

Our Read-Aloud Favorites of 2014

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things: of shoes, of ships, of sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.  Or something like that.  My young listeners and I have read through 56 books together over this Year of Our Lord 2014, including a number of multi-book series, and now we have voted on our favorites, tallied the results, and compiled a list for the edification of the masses.

My esteemed listeners are Monica, Ariksander, Oly'anna, Justinian, Frederick, and, as of this year, Gerhardt.  They range in age from 18 to 8 years old.  Their personalities, interests, and activities vary, as anyone should expect, but the books that we share together over the course of the year are one of the things that we hold in common and hold dear.  For many, many years now, reading aloud to my children has been one of my favorite pastimes and a daily priority.

In considering our favorites each year, we count each series as a single entry.  But new installments in a series we began in a previous year are taken on their own merits in the current tally.  This year, each of my listeners, and I as the reader, voted for our twelve favorites in order of our preference.  So each book or series could potentially receive seven votes.  First position received 12 points, second position received 11 points, and so on and so forth, down to 1 point for twelfth position.  Therefore, the maximum number of points possible for any one book or series would have been 84 points.  The number one entry, when all was tallied, said, and done, received 78 points; so it was a strong favorite.

Noteworthy among the books that we read this year were entries by my brother-in-law, Robert Polk, and by a fellow pastor here in the Indiana District, the Reverend Thomas Sabel.  Both of them did well in our year-end tally, as the results below will demonstrate.

We enjoy the experience of reading and listening together.  The books enable to go on grand adventures from the comfort and safety of our living room, where we are normally gathered for this shared activity.  We often become quite attached to the characters in the stories, and emotionally involved in their hopes and hurts, their trials and tribulations, their relationships and developments.  Aside from building vocabulary and exercising imagination, the books we discover together invite a thoughtful consideration of life "in the real world," which also gives us worthwhile topics to discuss.  Even the books that didn't wind up as "favorites" have been our "friends" for a little while, and for that we give thanks to our Lord, the Giver of all good gifts.

And for all our other friends, we offer the following list of favorites with our recommendation that you and yours might also find enjoyment, perhaps even edification, in some of them:

Top Fifteen Read-Aloud Favorites of 2014

1. Rangers Apprentice (series of 12 books) - John A. Flanagan

2. The Great Brain (series of 8 books) - John Fitzgerald

3. Operation Tree Roper - Robert A. Polk

4. Adventurers Wanted (series of 4 books so far) - M. L. Forman

5. Michael Vey 4: Hunt for Jade Dragon - Richard Paul Evans

6. Legends of Luternia - Thomas Sabel

7. Iron Hearted Violet - Kelly Barnhill

8. Twice Upon a Time (series of 3 books) - Wendy Mass

9. The Mysterious Benedict Society (series of 4 books) - Trenton Lee Stewart

10. Grey Griffins // Clockwork Chronicles (two trilogies) - Derek Benz & J. S. Lewis

11. The Key to Rondo; and The Wizard of Rondo - Emily Rodda

12. The Hamlet Chronicles (series of 7 books) - Gregory Maguire

13. The Limit - Kristen Landon

14. Risked - Margaret Paterson Haddix (Book Six in the Missing Series)

15. The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton’s Lair - S. S. Taylor

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