Thursday, June 14, 2012

Patriotic Reading in July

I like to read "theme" books around holidays . . . I  read Jesus the Christ by James Talmage from Christmas to Easter, and I read The Meanest Mother in the World by Kate Klise and Sarah Klise and Tough Chicks by Cece Meng every Mother's Day. And I always look forward to Christmas picture books. . . it's an addiction of sorts.
Around Independence Day, I like to read some sort of patriotic book. I've read 1776 and John Adams by David McCullough and America' s Women by Gail Collins. Also things like The Real George Washington and The Real Thomas Jefferson. (They haven't always been "lofty" however .  . . I have read Sally Hemings!)
Anyway, at the bookstore yesterday I stumbled across The American Spirit and read the first few pages, then came home and ordered it on Amazon. (With my homeschool discount paperbacks are about the same price as Amazon at the bookstore, but I get my picture books and hardbound books online. Cheating? Maybe. If Barnes and Noble would send good coupons, I'd buy from them!) 
I think it will give me patriotic stories to tell at dinnertime, and things to read aloud during our family devotionals in July (our July family value is almost always something patriotic: freedom, liberty, patriotism or something like that.) I haven't started reading it yet, but I'll let you know how it goes in July. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Book Worm Babies

Someone commented . . .(yeah! I love comments!) that I should introduce my children.
I have five children ages six to sixteen.

The Boy is 16, and is my only boy. He enjoys fencing, history, and writing. He plays the bass, but just to make his mother happy. (What a good boy.) His favorite books are fantasy genre, included the such books as Wheel of Time series, Fablehaven,  Eragon, Lord of the Rings.

Dancegirl is 14. She loves dancing . . . ballet, jazz, hip hop, Irish, ballroom, even tap. She plays piano and cello. Some of her favorite books include The Wednesday Wars, Inkheart and Savvy. When she was eight considered Roald Dahl and Shakespeare the two best writers in the English language.

Cupcake just turned 12. She loves to bake, dance, do logic puzzles and play violin. Some of her favorite books are the Fablehaven series, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the Wednesday Wars.

Coconut is eight. She enjoys reading, writing, drawing and working on her blog. She also plays cello and does dance once each week, but longs to add gymnastics to her schedule. Her favorite books are the Fablehaven Series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Girl Who Could Fly, and the Anne of Green Gables series.

Lala is six. She enjoys playing violin and tolerates ballet (but her mom is the teacher and doesn't want to pay a sitter, so she has to go at least once per week!)  She likes to change her nickname. Today she would like to be called Cobra or Spider. Sometimes she likes to be called Pickle. Her favorite books include Hapenny Magic, The Little House series, Ramona Quimby books, and Roald Dahl books, and the 20th Century children's picture book treasury.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What I've Been Reading This Week: June 8, 2012

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson
Fascinating book. My TJed book group is reading this for July. It works well with our June book, Legendary Learning: A Famous Homeschooler's Guide to Self-Directed Excellence. I like the ideas, there are great examples of successful people who weren't successful in school, but found a passion which made all the difference in their lives. 

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
This is one of my favorite books. I've read it three or four (or maybe five?) times . . . and I'm not much of a repeat reader. I read it to The Boy through a long cold winter when he was sleeping out in his tent and I had to truck out to his tent to read him out of bed in the mornings. I read it on the beach in Hawaii (twice). I read it to prepare a leadership workshop many years ago. I'm in charge of a Scholar Literature class in our co op. I was thinking of doing Macbeth for June and July, but now I'm leaning toward Ender's Game. I have to decide quickly!

The Diamond Throne
I'm listening to this through  I'm halfway through. It's something I think The Boy will love, so I'm listening to it so we can talk about it.  It's good, not fabulous, but mostly because I'm not so much into fantasy right now. I wish I could skim to the end. I put the narration speed up to 2.0 so I should get through it pretty quick. I am interested to see how they cure Queen Ehlana's disease, how many Pandion knights it takes (they are losing one each moon for 12 moons unless she is cured), and if Sparhawk ever has time to develop a love interest. I also like the sub plot of the Styricum girl, Flute . . . why doesn't she talk? will she ever talk? Do we find out more about her in later books? (I had to look up how to spell everything . . . I'm listening and these are strange words!) 
Deeper Reading
 Just a little "light" reading. I've been perusing this for ideas for my Scholar Lit class . . . it's good, but it's not what I need right now, so I'm putting it on the shelf for another day. 

Free Range Homeschooling

I despise the title of this book, but I'm really liking it. Partly because it gives EVIDENCE for better late than early learning. (There was a study done in the 1930s . . . a school district allowed a couple of classes to put off studying formal math until halfway through the sixth grade. The children focused on reading, discussion, and reasoning. At the end of the sixth grade tests . . . the non-formal math children scored just as well as the other children in math and outscored them in the Language Arts section. It took them half a school year to catch up. Amazing. . . and their attitudes toward math were positive!) 

The Road Less Travelled
My life long learning class is reading this in August, but I'm getting a head start. I found it at D.I. . . .yeah! I love finding books that are on my "to buy" list in good condition at D.I.! I remember my mother reading this when I was a child. I think I even saw her write in it, which was huge no-no when I was a child. (Now I can't read a book without a pen in my hand!)  Such good stuff!! HIGHLY recommended. 

Millicent's Gift
The Book Diva brought this to Dancegirl, but she was disappointed (partly because Cupcake got a book -- Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter--the she wanted). She read the first couple of pages and then brought it to me. I thought she would like it, as it sounded like Savvy by Ingrid Law, which Dancegirl loved. Not so. I read it so I could determine if it was "good" or not. It was fine. Not great, not bad . . . and definitely a lot like Savvy! But I can't convince Dancegirl to even try it. (I have an older copy from D.I. and the cover is different, so that may be an influencing factor as well.) There is an interesting juxtaposition of Christianity with occult type images and magic (which might bother some that are sensitive to magic themes) but it has seeds for a great discussion about honesty, openness, personal choice, and families.)

With The Boy:
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
I started reading this to THE BOY. We are mostly reading the novels he has written in the mornings, but every now and then he wishes to stay and bed. I read the first two chapters, and thought they were interesting. Not our normal fare for our reading out of bed time . . .but I thought he'd be interested in "branching out." It wasn't a big hit, so I'm reading it on my own and he and I started the Once and Future King by T.H. White. 

Iron Wolf
(No picture available)
This is one of The Boy's books we are working through. I read a loud and we talk about word choice, grammar, plot, conflict ... etc. It is an amazing book. He is really talented! We only get through a couple of paragraphs each morning, but I'm always impressed with his ideas!

With Dancegirl:
Counte of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Dancegirl lets me read to her in the mornings . . . sometimes. She said she prefers me to read her things she won't read herself, but sometimes she doesn't listen! This one has been going well. The chapters are just the right length . . . I've been doing a bit of outside research on the time period and reading the end notes, so I can throw out interesting tidbits for her, but sometimes, I have to shake her or make her sit up to make sure she is awake, so . . . 

Amaranth Enchantment
 . . . Dancegirl and I started reading this to help her wake up in the mornings. I was reading the Count of Monte Cristo and couldn't get her to respond after the first three  paragraphs. I told her . . . "I'm off to get the big guns!" and brought this book back. After the prologue she was BEGGING for more. We made a deal, I just have to get through the first 75 pages (rather than 100) and then she can take the book and read it on her own. (Oh yeah!) She has been wide awake these past few mornings!  

With Cupcake:
The Robe
My choice for HVH book club (Mom's Night Out), coming up this fall. A lot of the women in my group are really enjoying it. It's good, but it isn't Cupcake's favorite. I asked if she wanted to switch books, but she wants to give it a little more time. It is a bit slow right now . . . the Roman Marcellus just won the robe of Jesus Christ during the crucifixion . . . just after page 100. So many people that I trust have given this a good recommendation, I think she will be glad we have read it. (I'm enjoying it, and wishing we had more time to read together in the mornings!) 

With Coconut:
The Phantom Tollbooth
 I read this as a family read aloud many years ago. The Coconut was young and didn't remember it at all. It has been showing up here and there (in a couple of books about books and on some blogs that I like to peek in on) so we started reading it. This is just her type of book. Clever conversations, double meanings to discover, outrageous occurrences and a moral she can mull over -- plus a lot of alliteration! (We had fun circling the beginning letters in the alliterative passages with discovered). I liked it, but didn't love it, but she calls it one of her favorite books ever.
Up next: (we try to swap between fantasy and more realistic) The Evolution of Calpernia Tate (It's been on my list for years to read it seems . . . I've started twice, but something always bumps it off my currently reading shelf. This will be just the push I need.)

With my youngest, who would like to be known as "Pickle" instead of Lala. 
Little House on the Prairie
We finally finished this book. (We tend to have a couple of books on the fire . . . right now we are also reading The Witches by Roald Dahl and Hapenny Magick by Jennifer Carson). I liked the "Big Woods" better, but still a good story. I like the self-contained chapters, so we can leave it for a couple of days and jump back into a story that we both like with characters we have come to love.  

Hapenny Magick
I don't know how I stumbled onto this book, but it is adorable . . .and only $2.99 for Kindle. That's a great deal! "Pickle" loves that I am reading it to her on my iPad. I have a terrible time retaining things that I have read on the iPad . . . I think it is a function of learning to read actual physical books, but I think "digital reading" is a skill I can learn. So, I'm starting with reading books aloud to practice my digital reading.

The Year of the Dog

"Pickle"is actually reading this to me, and loves to talk about what is going on in the story. The sad thing is, she happens to have this amazing power . . . she starts to read, and in a couple of pages (or maybe just paragraphs) my eyelids are heavy or maybe even closed, and my breathing is even . . . She delights in the magical power she has over me! But, I need to go back and read through it to get to the parts that I have "missed." We loved Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by the same author. Pickle especially loves that Pacy/Grace plays the violin just like she does. She laments that she was born in the Year of the Dog and her true love was born in the Year of the Tiger. She fears they are not very compatible. . . only time will tell. 

You've Gotta Have This Book

This book is a TREASURE!!
Our copy is tattered and torn . . . it has been on nearly every family vacation for the last seven years, and it is starting to show it.
This book boasts 44 children's picture books, including four Caldecott winners and eight Caldecott Honor books. Most of the stories are printed in their entirety, but in the interest of space the illustrations are condensed or left out, so I've had to get full size versions of some of my favorites (like Make Way for Duckings, Stellaluna, The Stinky Cheese Man).
Amazon sells this book for under $22 . . . that is nearly 50 cents per story. Such a deal! This is a great way to add tried and true children's classic picture books to your home library.
Ten stars . . . on a five star rating system!

Ramona the Pest Book Club Party: June 2, 2012

Lala (age six) celebrated Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary at her book club party. We didn't have a huge turnout for the party,  but we had a great time!

Ramona the Pest is a middle grade classic. I have enjoyed reading the Ramona books with each of my girls.  But, we have read so much "Ramona" that I couldn't keep straight which adventures happened in this book and which happened in other books. (My girls kept me on the right track, though.)

We talked about Beverly Cleary. Did you know, Ramona, was initially just an "extra" character? While Beverly was writing Henry Huggins, she decided that Beatrice needed a little sister. Just as she was thinking about this little sister, she heard someone in her neighborhood call out "Ramona" and she thought that would make a great name for a little sister. Little did she know that Ramona would become one of the best loved characters in middle grade fiction.

I like reading Ramona with my children (although I think Ramona gets away with a lot more than I would ever let my children get away with . . . ) partly because each chapter reads almost like a stand alone story. The chapters build on each other somewhat, but you can easily "pick up" where you left off. So, we often use Ramona books as back up books if we can't find the book we are currently reading, we have a Ramona book we can read. (Not finding the book seems to be a regular theme at our house . . . with some of my children . . . I don't know if it is the clutter, or the little bookworms who like to re-read or study the pictures and then fail to put the book back on the shelf . . . )

For our craft, we made containers to put any lost teeth in . . . I just used some trial size travel jars from Wal-mart and foam stickers. We also made a little purse from felt (purchased years ago from Oriental Trading) . . . for a fun place to put our tooth jars!

After reading time and craft time, we enjoyed doughnuts and apple juice for our treat.

Connection Books:
Mike Mulligan by Virginia Lee Burton

Of course we read Mike Mulligan (Lala requested that we NOT read it, but I convinced her it would be fun. She ended up liking it.) We did discuss for a bit whether or not Mike Mulligan ever stopped to use the restroom . . .

Note: I like Mike Mulligan, but my favorite Virginia Burton book is The Little House, a Caldecott winner in 1943.

Not Norman by Kelly Bennett

A boy complains about his pet . . . a goldfish he didn't want. He wants almost any other kind of pet . . .but Not Norman. So, he plans to take Norman to show and tell (see the connection?) in hopes of enticing someone else to take Norman home.

Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard

Although homeschooled and not really familiar with the idea of a "substitute" teacher . . . my children LOVE Harry Allard's books about Miss Nelson, and her alter-ego Miss Viola Swamp.
Miss Nelson is a sweet teacher who has a naughty class. One day she doesn't come to school and a warty, frumpy, nearly tyrannical substitute in an ugly black dress takes her place. She give the children lots of homework and makes them be polite . . . and even listen during story hour! They are so relieved when Miss Nelson returns that they behave nicely for her, too.
(Connection: Ramona was concerned about the substitute in her Kindergarten class.)

Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

We adore the mouse world of Kevin Henkes (Sheila Rae the Brave and Chrysanthemum are family classics! We also love Owen, Wemberly Worried, Julius (The Baby of the World), and A Weekend With Wendell, to name a few). Lily loves her teacher, Mr. Slinger, and wants to be a teacher when she grows up. One day, Lily brings a purple plastic purse to school, and is so excited about it, she allows it to become a distraction to the class. Mr. Slinger confiscates the purse until the end of the school day. Lily is mortified, and writes a mean note about Mr. Slinger. She has a change of heart after a nice note from Mr. Slinger and some family time at home.
(Connection: Ramona has some trouble with her teacher, but a note solves the dilemma in the end.)

The Night Before Halloween
(Sallie's choice)

A Halloween version of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. I picked this up for fifty cents at our local "Goodwill" . . . Lala is in LOVE with this book and insisted we read it at her book club party as a connection to Ramona as the "Baddest Witch in the World."

Wanted-A Witch's Cat by Shelagh McGee
(Connection: Ramona tells Howie he can be her cat on Halloween.)

Sometimes by Jack Prelutsky
Someone's Face by John Ciardi
 (Connection: Ramona has temper tantrums and just has to have a good cry, but eventually she rejoins her family.)

A Circle of Sun by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
The No No Bird by Andrew Fusek Peters
Rain by Spike Mulligan
April Rain Song by Langston Hughes
 (Connection: A Circle of Sun is one of my favorite poems of all time. I think Ramona sees herself as a Circle of Sun. The No No Bird connects to Ramona's temper.  The rain poems connect to the red galoshes chapter.)

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