I've mentioned that I have tried in the past to read aloud to my kids. This was way easier when they were little. As they grew older, though, it became harder partly because they got busier and partly because, cool as it is, how many times can you sit through Madeline? I tried more "mature" books, like Rifles for Watie and The Hobbit, but usually after a few chapters something would happen to interrupt us, and somehow we'd never get back to it. Every 10 months or so, I'd give it another try with another book. At one point, I started reading Ivanhoe to Shannon and Ian. I think we got up to chapter six before Shannon pretended she had to go on vacation.
There were a few successes, however. One of them was a hit with both the kids and me. I am speaking, of course, of The Tale of Despereaux.
As I read it to my kids, I kept thinking what a clever book it was, and how I wish I'd had it to read when I was a child. It's one of those perfect combinations of adventure, wit, suspense, and life lessons that make reading one of my favorite things to do. Of course it won a well-deserved Newbery medal. And of course they've made a movie out of it. But from what I've seen of the previews, it's probably going to be one of those cases where the film doesn't measure up. But we shall see.
To share the joy, I've decided to give away a gently read copy of the book. If you'd like a chance at getting it, leave a comment (or send an e-mail) about a book you read in your youth that helped shape your character in some way or influenced your world view. Then I'll randomly select a winner. Have fun!