Toward the end of summer the kids and I really were settling into a good routine of doing read-alouds. Classics I'd found in a list on Pinterest. And then school resumed, and while we can't do our reading in the afternoon, I've started putting Carter to bed 1/2 hr early, and then Eli and Hannah stay up an extra 30-40 minutes as I read to them. And then they're in bed almost by 8pm still.
Our first non-Tree House book we read was The Trumpet of the Swan. Really simple read, easy language. And here and there throughout the book we'd find demonstrations online, such as a sound clip of a trumpet swan, or the tune of Taps. We'd look up the map of the places we read about and so on.
It was a good book, filled with the adventures of a swan named Louis who is mute and cannot trumpet on his own. His father goes to the trouble to get an actual brass trumpet for him to use instead, but it's stolen and Louis knows it, so he takes it upon himself to earn the money to pay the store for it and make things right. He learns to write and read, gets job after job, and becomes well known across the cities until he can return home at last to his family. I definitely recommend. Great example of integrity and being determined to do the right thing.