Family Read-aloud: Who was….

Have you heard of the Who was…. series for kids? Maybe it’ll help if you see a cover. I think of them as the bobble head books because all of the cover illustrations show a person with a head way to big for their body. I have a thing for bobble heads, so this is endearing to me. I think it’s a good representation of the books too. They are all biographies. While they appear to be serious about the facts, they don’t take the themselves too serious. Each book is written by a different author, but the light hearted tone has been the same in each of the ones I’ve read. We have found them to be good, approachable history. You know, the important people: Martin Luther King, Jr., Neil Armstrong, George Washington. When we decided to give them a shot as a family read-aloud, we wanted one that we knew would hold everyone in the family’s interest. A person that would be relevant and interesting to all of us. Our first read-aloud was:

beatles We’re pretty high brow right? We start most mornings with a CD from my Beatles collection. It’s hard to get off to a bad start with the Beatles. I found this to be true in our literature selection too. Who Were The Beatles by Geoff Edgers was a great start for us in this series. The book literally starts at the beginning. Each band member’s childhood is described as are the early years. Their beginnings in music and the industry are certainly given their due. Band members who didn’t make it into the Fab Four aren’t over looked either! To offer a fair representation of the group, pitfalls of fame and the inter-personal relationships are included too. I guess it’s important to point out at this point that while these books are often light-hearted and not too serious. They are true biographies. They cover the good, the bad, and the ugly. John Lennon’s assassination is described in age appropriate detail, for example. George Harrison being stabbed in his home and his battle with cancer are both also included.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is their inclusion of side bars. The snippits included are often cultural or time period information to give the reader a better understanding of the context of the topic. These side bars were great conversation starters for us as we either shared additional information that we might be aware of or gained better perspective ourselves. We had quite the spirited debate about whether or not ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was truly a song full of drug references or inspired by John’s son, Julian’s art work.

We will continue to read through this series for both the children and parents’ education and entertainment. Now to celebrate this finished book with a little British culture. At least for me, one of the first British foods that comes to mind is Bangers & Mash. Here’s my version:

bangers mashMine is shown with green beans. Your sides might vary.

Ingredients:

Mash

6 or 7 medium potatoes

1 stick butter

8 oz sour cream

Salt to taste

Bangers

Olive oil

5 italian sausages

1 onion, sliced

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

Garlic clove (or 3), minced

4 cups beef broth

Salt & pepper to taste

Peel and cube potatoes. Cover with water. Boil until fork tender. During that time start your bangers.

Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in onions, mushrooms and garlic. Once they brown a bit, include the Italian sausages in the pan. Cook 5 minutes on one side, then flip and cook 5 more minutes. Pour in beef broth, salt & pepper, partially-cover, and simmer for about 12 minutes or cooked through.

While the bangers simmer, drain potatoes. Add a stick of butter, sour cream & salt. Mash the heck out of them.

Enjoy. My family raved. I hope yours does too.

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