Tonight I asked Tobi to select a book for me to read to all of them. I gave him three choices:
* A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (children's version retold by Anne de Graaf)
* The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
* Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Well, he chose none of them. He got out three other Dickens books and said, "How about Oliver Twist or David Copperfield or Nicholas Nickleby...how come all of these books are so sad?"
Ok, so I made an executive decision. "Let's read, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." (See sidebar.)
Well, they didn't think they'd like it, but they were rolling off the couch and emitting deep belly laughs by the time I had finished the first chapter. In a nutshell, the story is about six straggly rag-a-muffin siblings who bully their whole school. They start coming to church because they heard about all the refreshments there. Then they bully their way into getting the six main parts in the annual Christmas pageant. They end up bringing a fresh perspective to the 'greatest story ever told' as they hear about it for the first time.
We read for so long that we got hungry. So we got out a snack, and I resumed reading, but that didn't go so well. We just about had a couple of choking attacks and milk-through-the-nose episodes. We stopped eating and returned to the living room. During one paragraph where I couldn't even get the words out because of laughter, Bayo came out of his office (where he was working diligently on his end-of-term paper) and said, "You people are making too much noise!"
I rejoined, "Sit down and enjoy the story with us." And he did.
An hour past bedtime, I closed the book and said, "We'll finish the last two chapters tomorrow. The kids disappointedly shuffled off to bed. I read this book to them about 3 years ago, but I think they were too young to appreciate it. This time my 6 & 9 year-olds really got the humor. And my 4 year-old would chime in with belly laughs half a second after the older two.
I have a feeling they'll ask me to finish the last two chapters at breakfast, but that could be dangerous.
It looks like this book will become standard December reading in our household.