The themes of the Waldorf third grade answer that uncertainty by focusing first on the Old Testament stories of wandering in the desert followed by the entry into the Promised Land and the ultimate “house building,” that of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then, house building and farming become more concrete and personal within the theme: often, actually houses are built, garden plots tended and books such as Farmer Boy are read.
It is somewhere during or after this second half of the year that a book like Swiss Family Robinson can be a real treat. Here is a family who is shipwrecked and must start from scratch with no one but themselves on a desert island. Their resourcefulness and adventures are just the ticket for any child during this time. I can remember nearly devouring the book when I was about nine – I must have read it three or four times that year. Even the parts that are a bit far-fetched (how did Mother manage to put everything they’d need into that one bag, anyway?) make perfect sense to a child (after all, doesn’t God always provide?), and the characters are all admirable and vigorous.
This is another favorite from my own childhood— I hope your children enjoy it as much.
After days of being tossed and battered by a raging storm, the ship on which the narrator, his wife, and their four sons are passengers smashes against a reef— and the last lifeboat pulls away without them. Next morning, the intrepid, loving little family finds itself cast away on an uninhabited island. Never losing hope, they retrieve what they can from the ship and construct a life for themselves through their own resourcefulness— building a tree house, finding such foods as coconuts, sugarcane, honey, and potatoes, and securing themselves against danger. Adventure follows adventure as they explore the island, encounter wild birds and terrifying animals, plant crops, build sturdier shelters, and settle in for a long stay. Although there are many hardships, the family lives in peace and harmony, and even rescues a girl who was stranded on a nearby island.
Johann David Wyss (1743-1818), a pastor in Bern Switzerland, after observing how enthralled his four sons were by the story of Robinson Crusoe, decided to create his own Robinson— a Swiss one, with a family just like his own— in order to entertain and instruct the boys. Many years later, his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, who had become a librarian and a professor of philosophy, convinced his father to allow him to complete and edit the charming story, which was published for the first time in 1813.
Long a favorite of children and young adults, this thrilling account of a family’s struggle against overwhelming odds retains a lasting appeal for readers who admire the family’s loving spirit and the enterprising manner in which they prevail. Featuring the best English-language adaptation— done by William H. G. Kingston in 1889— this unabridged edition of the immensely popular tale is sure to enthrall a new generation of readers.