Anita Dualeh and Her Reading Team
December 2019

Rais­ing Star Read­ers is delight­ed to intro­duce a new Read­ing Team, one that high­lights how reward­ing it can be to con­tin­ue a prac­tice of read­ing aloud with chil­dren as they grow older.

Ani­ta Dualeh’s Team includes her sons Adam, age 12, and Caleb, age 9. As Ani­ta explains, “While I encour­age inde­pen­dent read­ing, I believe read­ing aloud is equal­ly impor­tant, and for every age. I’ve been read­ing to my sons since they were infants, but we’ve had to adjust our rou­tine as their read­ing skills have devel­oped. They’re both avid read­ers and read above their grade lev­els but tend to stick with what they know and like. When left to choose their own books, that’s graph­ic nov­els. Still, they’ll also pick up a ran­dom pic­ture book I have lying around and read it — and some­times humor me when I want to read one aloud to them. I’ve also been able to lure them to some chap­ter books by read­ing the first book in a series aloud and let­ting them pick it up from there.

Caleb, age 9, and Adam, age 12

I look for clas­sics or books with endur­ing themes for our read-alouds. We usu­al­ly keep a book going at all times but devote more time to shared read­ing dur­ing hol­i­days and breaks from school. With a snow day added, we had a five-day week­end dur­ing Thanks­giv­ing and we made good use of it, fin­ish­ing Richard Peck’s nov­el A Sea­son of Gifts. It’s the third book in the series that begins with A Long Way from Chica­go, a New­bery Hon­or book. I’d dis­cov­ered the author by scan­ning the shelves near where my third-grad­er was look­ing for his cur­rent favorites, the ‘Big Nate’ nov­els by Lin­coln Peirce.

We had read the first book in Richard Peck’s series togeth­er in Octo­ber and had grown fond of Grand­ma Dowdel, a no-non­sense matri­arch who is as handy with a gun as she is with a rolling pin. We imme­di­ate­ly request­ed book two in the series, A Year Down Yon­der, which my boys thought was even bet­ter than the first one. It left us eager to read more, so we checked A Sea­son of Gifts out of the library. This third book takes place some years after the first two, but many of the same char­ac­ters remain a part of the sto­ry, as well as the chil­dren of char­ac­ters we’d met in ear­li­er books.

Richard Peck trilogy

This series con­tains sto­ries with just the right bal­ance of humor and poignan­cy to be sat­is­fy­ing to kids and grown-ups alike. Even bet­ter, they address themes that have led to some rich con­ver­sa­tions among the three of us, both while read­ing and days lat­er. They’re cer­tain­ly enter­tain­ing — the scene about 12-year-old Bob learn­ing to dri­ve with Mrs. Dowdel proved to be hard to read aloud because I was laugh­ing so much. We had a marathon read­ing ses­sion the day after Thanks­giv­ing to fin­ish the last book and get it back to the library by the due date.

The only prob­lem is that the next book we’ve start­ed read­ing has been a bit dis­ap­point­ing by com­par­i­son. (I’m ask­ing them to hang on, though, as I know the plot improves.)”


Bookol­o­gy is always look­ing for new Read­ing Teams to help us cel­e­brate the joys of read­ing aloud togeth­er. Con­tact Lisa Bullard for fur­ther infor­ma­tion if you’re inter­est­ed in participating.

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Brenda Sederberg
Brenda Sederberg
4 years ago

I love the Richard Peck nov­els, but hadn’t read the third one. I will be sure to do so! I read the first two aloud when teach­ing fifth grade…many laughs.

Reply to  Brenda Sederberg
4 years ago

Yes, more laughs to come in “A Sea­son of Gifts.” Enjoy.