Companion Read Pairings: Part One

 This past December I knew I would be reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe so I saved a book I had been look forward to for my companion read, Becoming Mrs. Lewis.  This wasn't the first time I have enjoyed reading a book on my own that paired well with the family read aloud book, but it may have been the first time I planned it out.  In the past it has been a more serendipitous occurrence, sometimes just expanding on a theme found only marginally in one book or relating to each other in time period or location.  Reading Becoming Mrs. Lewis at the same time as our family read aloud an awesomely enriched literary experience for me.  I felt like I really understood "Jack" (As C.S. Lewis was called) much more as a person and a writer, which gifted me new eyes on this re-read.

I thought I would share a few pairings of a great family read with an equally great adult companion read.  Some of these actually happened in our home, and some I just wished had happened simultaneously but made me think of the mate even if it had been years since I read it. As an added bonus, if you are a homeschooler, all of these family reads have an Arrow guide from Brave Writer to enchance your language arts learning in a fun and natural way.

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”

― C.S. Lewis


One of our favorite family read alouds ever is Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. I paired this with a book I really enjoyed, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.   In Wonder, Auggie Pullman is just like any middle school boy except that he has severe facial anomalies.  Ava Lavender is just like any teenage girl except that she was born with wings.  It's hard to imagine a book more inspiring or heartfelt than Wonder, so I went with one that is quite different in Ava Lavender, which is a little more fantastical and lyrical.  Both children struggle as an outcast, both rely heavily on their strong family bonds for support and both will capture your heart.


I read both of these this month, completely unplanned, but they went so well together!  In The Wild Robot, Roz has to learn everything she can about the animals on the island she washed up on in order to survive.  The Inner Life of Animals, is a delightful book about animal behavior and feelings told through anecdotes collected from Wohllebens' life among animals. His gift lies in being able to explain scientific research and theories through entertaining stories.  The Wild Robot has really surprised me; it's so different from anything I've read and completely fascinating.


I could happily read The Birchbark House on my own, but of course it is a wonderful experience to read it aloud and share it with my children.  We read this around Thanksgiving two years ago and it really was everything you hope for in a family read: beautiful language, engrossing story and all the feels.  I paired this with another book that I have thought about many, many times since I read it, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.  In this look at modern Native life on the Reservation, Junior, a bright but bullied teenager, leaves the Reservation each day to attend the better school in the next town.  As he says, the only other Indian there is the school mascot.  It's heartbreaking but hopefully and clearly shows the sad treatment of the first people of this country. I had been planning on pairing these two together until I got an email on new releases from Goodreads today and saw that Louise Erdrich's new book, The Night Watchman, is based on her Grandfather's fight against Native dispossession. I haven't read it yet, but it seems like an ideal match.

I'll be back soon with a few more, but in the meantime I'd love to hear it if you have any to share!


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