The kids have been listening to "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O'Dell. It's a book meant for older readers but I thought I'd give it a whirl. The events in the story are very sad; father dies, everyone leaves the island, her brother dies, her dog dies. Each event is written to hold significance to the story but without being overly dramatic or gruesome and the real message of self-reliance is still predominate - well at least from my adult point of view. The main character learns to hunt, build a shelter, make friends with the animals on her island, make a canoe - all on her own. Certainly, knowing your own kids will determine if its meant to be read aloud. One play take-away has been the catching of the Giant Devil Fish. A devil fish is an octopus....won't reveal more than that but off our balcony yesterday C & B set a line with a bucket at the end to catch the Devil fish and some squid. The Devil fish was a fierce fighter with tentacles flailing and beak snapping but they reeled it in and dried it in the sun.