Early on in our COVID-19 quarantine time my daughters discovered the Boxcar Children audiobooks. My girls have always loved audiobooks and our public library seemed to have an un-ending amount of digital audiobooks in this series. We dove in. We needed something for them to do while we were working and they could somehow spend hours listening and re-listening to these stories.
Guess what. The library's collection is NOT unlimited. We've heard them all. Many, many times. We've bought them the actual CD's. We downloaded them from audible. We had drama over them using my audible credits to buy $3.00 books. (Turns out there is no reason for mommy to panic - audible will let you return a mistakenly bought book).
We may as well have had the Alden children move in with us in March. Benny, Violet, Jessie and Henry have become a part of our lives in the last six months. So much a part of our lives that when we got caught in a rainstorm at the Natural Bridge park my youngest said under her breath "Grandfather Alden would have known it was going to rain." This was not a one-time occurrence. She often told us how Grandfather Alden would have handled a situation better than we have.
I don't know if you are familiar with this series or not. ORiginally written in 1924, it begins with four children who are on their own and end up living in a boxcar. By the end of the book their kind (and father wealthy) grandfather finds them and takes them to live with him. For the 16 more books the children and grandfather have adventures and solve mysteries.
17 books isn't too bad, you must be thinking.
17 is the original amount of books from the original author. Now there are over 100 books. The children have gone from seeing horse and buggies going down the road to talking on cell phones. My girls haven't questioned this. Their disbelief is suspended despite the fact that sometimes the oldest boy is 18 and in college, and sometimes he is 14. His age literally goes backwards. Doesn't matter. My kids love these books.
The one aspect we do get held up on is that these four kids never fight. Ever. 100+ books and we have let to hear one argument. They discuss, disagree, and investigate, but there are no "I hate you and wish you weren't my sister" moments. No one gets upset or frustrated with each other. Perhaps this is why these four children have been such great quarantine companions.
So, since we have memorized most of these stories, I've used these books to my advantage for homeschooling. We've printed out both maps of the US and maps of the world so that we can track their adventures. My girls will now forever remember states, climates, and landmarks based on what was happening to the Boxcar Children. I imagine one of my girls in her 20s visiting a new state and thinking, "Why do I already feel like I've been here... my friend... no wait, not a friend, just a book character was here before."
In addition to our new found map skills, my children's vocabulary has also exploded from these listening to these books. The other night my youngest made a statement about elephants and I thought she was making up words. I literally cannot remember the word she used, but it turns out it was a real word and she used it appropriately. She also, at this moment, is typing that a character "howled". I've taught first grade for a long time,
Oh how the Boxcar Children changed my daughter's life!
(My favorite find-- a little notebook on the floor in her bedroom with a list-- "how to change my ways to be more like the Alden children.")
This is the series that made her a reader and her boxcar book collection is one of her most cherished possessions.
So two summers ago we made a family pilgrimage to the boxcar museuem in CT. We went in the boxcar that houses Gertrude Chandler Warner artifacts and met the dear elderly women who volunteer at the museum who were actually Gertrude's first grade students back in the day. These women told us all about what it was like to sit on their teacher's lap and hear her read her own stories about Benny and Watch and Henry and Jessie and Violet! And they clearly loved her in the way that the best of first grade teachers are loved. Some day post-Covid, you and your girls need to follow that map to CT. So worth it!
I just recently saw that there was a museum, and immediately started planning a trip but it turns out it is under renovation - SO yes, as soon as it is over and COVID is safe we'll be there!
I love that your daughter wrote a list of how to be more like the Alden Children. I see that type of influence too.
Since I started my career as a first grade teacher and it is my favorite grade and age range, I find it perfect that she was a first grade teacher. Thank you for sharing!
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