Thursday, October 17, 2013

What We've Been Reading this Week: October 12, 2013

So many books! So little time! I wish I had time to read an hour a day to each of my children, then read books silently on my own (and have my children do the same) and talk about them together and then a couple of hours to read my own things. I often joke that if I could choose a super-power I would have reading equal sleep, so I could read all night, and feel well rested the next day.

The Boy: We are reading the novel he is currently writing.  It's a new book, so he he is super excited about it. He doesn't have a title about it, but it is a fantasy novel based around Richard, called the King in the North. He has a ton of back story that he has created, and it is becoming a really well developed story. His time to read is after the other children are in bed, so sometimes I can only get through a couple of pages before my eyes are drooping, but we keep plugging away. It helps a ton for him to hear it read aloud, listen to my questions about what is going on, and learn where he needs to clarify or expand.

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
 It's kind of a romance book, but I really enjoy the writing style. I had to make a deal, because Dancegirl was leaning toward ending our reading tradition. (Sob! She just turned 16, so she is feeling a bit independent.) The deal is: I read books that are fun (in comparison to "good for her") and I get to read on the days she doesn't have early morning seminary, and I will drive her to early morning seminary. She just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I read it again recently for a book club (my pick!) and just LOVED it again. I wanted to read it to her, but she asked if she could read it on her own. She stopped partly through, but I promised her that if she kept at it, she would love it. After that rough spot, she read to the end in a couple of days, and bawled through it, and loved it. I hesitated to have her read it at first, as there are some mature themes, but she was ready and it made for a GREAT discussion. 

Cupcake and I are reading The Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levine. I read it over the summer and loved it, and just had to share it with my children!

I blogged about it in an earlier post. We are having a great discussions about friendship, about discrimination, about family relationships, and about being human. LOVE IT! 

Coconut and I just finished The Dark Is Rising, a Newbery award winner by Susan Cooper. I got the entire series in one book. I'm hoping (and I think it will work) that she will continue reading the book on her own, now that we have finished and enjoyed the first book.
 We are on the final chapter of The Hero Schilemann by Laura Amy Schlitz. Coco adores this author, and has read many of her other books, including the Newbery winner, Splendors and Glooms, and Coco's personal favorite, A Drowned Maiden's Hair.  We probably wouldn't normally choose a book on archeology, but it's been interesting. Schliemann is not an honest man, and the author is doing a good job of painting a realistic picture of a man with a passion but with flaws as well. There have been lots of opportunities to talk about his choices. 

Lala and I are reading Rufus M. by Eleanor Estes.
 I absolutely ADORE Eleanor Estes, so we have been reading a lot of her books. I love the way the children interact and work together as a family. I love the realistic look into life in earlier times (WWI time period), and I adore the sweetness of the stories. I  love the manners it teaches. I love the way the children work through realistic problems, and I love laughing aloud with Lala and talking about what we would do if we were neighbors with the Moffat family. I think we will likely read Ginger Pye (another of her books) next. We also finished Hank the Cowdog recently. Which was a very fun, quick read, but had a surprising amount of discussion material about friendship and leadership qualities. 
On my own I've been reading: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green to prepare for a book club discussion (5/5 stars), the Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle for another book club (3/5 stars) . . . I like her ideas on honoring your child's individuality and seeing the strengths in their personalities (energy type), and there are several things that I will use from this book, so I am taking away some good "tools" to put in my parenting tool belt, but there are other books that have helped me quite a bit more to understand and relate to my children and improve my parenting. (The Power of Positive Parenting by Glenn Latham)  and Arming Your Children With the Gospel by R. Wayne and Leslee Boss. 

I'm also reading How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig (and it is ALL that! 5/5 stars) I will probably post a review by itself when I'm finished and have implemented some of the ideas he advocates. I've also been reading The Freedom Factor by Gerald Lund, and so far its only 2/5. I'm trying to read the books for Cupcake's Key of Liberty class, and this is on the list. I'm plugging through, but it is definitely not my favorite book. 

Mr. Book Diva recently finished reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. The Boy and I  had been encouraging him for some time to read it. Both of us consider it a favorite book of all time. I think my husband considers it a favorite as well.  I ran into the author twice last month at local bookstores in Utah Valley and in Salt Lake, and told him my husband and son were fans, but didn't mention that it was one of my favorite books. I was a star struck dork!) We are eagerly anticipating the release of the second in the series in early March. I takes quite a bit for me to read the second book in the series, but we are hoping for a midnight release party at BYU (it has happened in the past for other books by this author so maybe . . .) I think I'm going to read it again before March, so I can get ready for the second book.

It's not actually a book, but I am listening to a lecture series available on called Turning Points in American History by Professor Edward T. Odonnell. I enjoy the lectures so much, I'm listening for a second time. (I put them on twice the speed and listen to them on my morning run, so I'm not paying super close attention, but I am still getting something out of them.) Each lecture starts with a interest-grabbing story, then the professor outlines the 3-5 main objectives of the lecture, and specifies WHY the event is being presented as a major turning point in American History. Almost every lecture has at least one primary source that is quoted (albeit briefly). I think this would be an excellent introduction to American History for middle grade and high school children. I keep bringing it up and talking about things I'm learning (or at least remembering from my own days of studying American History). Excellent series. 5/5 stars. I'm also listening to Civil Liberties and the Bill of Rights by the Great Courses (when I'm driving or in the shower) and it is fascinating, but the professor isn't as engaging. Great material, though. I feel like I"m learning so much. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What We've Been Reading the Past Little While . . . May 2013

I found this in my drafts and realized I hadn't posted it. Better late than never . . .

Whew. The month of May has been CRAZY.  Shakespeare Performances, end of school year testing, preparing to teach co op, getting workshops ready for various homeschool conferences, teaching music group classes, orchestra performances, chamber performances . . . my busy-ness (okay my EXTRA-busy-ness) ends in mid-June... I've just gotta hold on until then!

But, reading keeps me sane. Here is what we've been reading this month:

With The Boy:
He is such a prolific writer, I can't keep up with his novels. But, he comes into talk to me about ideas for his books while I'm cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry or he brings up ideas while we are driving to his college classes.  I amazed that he is keeping up with his 12 credit hours in 9 weeks plus continuing to write.

With Dancegirl:

We are reading the Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, one of my very favorite books, but it is difficult to read aloud. Plus Dancegirl has had an erratic schedule with dance performances for her performing arts school, dance rehearsals for Academy of Ballet, plus Shakespeare . . .we haven't been super consistent, only getting in one or two mornings per week, and last week, we didn't get any sessions in. I may have to change the book to something she craves in the morning, hmmmm . . .something to think about.

With Cupcake:

Cupcake has never read Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. I couldn't believe it. She said she started it a couple of years ago, but it didn't seem too interesting, so she put it down. We are halfway through it this time around and she is enjoying it. It's been nice to have a sweet story to look forward to reading over her breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios each  morning. We've talked about Miri's feelings of inadequacy, and how learning is helping her overcome those feelings, and also how we could notice when people are dealing with those feelings and help them along.

With Coconut:

I enjoy Richard Peck. His Grandma Dowdle stories are among my favorite family read alouds. Fair Weather is a Richard Peck novel that I haven't heard much about. It has some really funny parts, and Coconut and I are quite enjoying it together. It's about a "country" family heading into the city at the invitation of a rich aunt to see the once in a lifetime spectacle of the World's Fair: Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893.

With Lala:

We are currently experiencing Moffat family mania. We read The Moffats last month and are now onto the Middle Moffat. Eleanor Estes is superb! I also adore the new covers by a favorite illustrator, Tricia Tusa. (I loved her illustrations in The Magic Hat by Mem Fox)

Writing in Math Class

 I have never loved math, I always joked that I went to law school because I wouldn't have to do it! I took the required math courses in high school, but never felt like I was good at it. I just memorized and plugged away and kept trying.  I did have a professor in college who inspired me and made me feel like I was good at math. She even encouraged me to major in finite mathematics! (I actually thought about it for a half of a second . . . ) So this relationship with math has definitely affected how I approach math in my homeschool. (It's not a very good attitude. I basically treat it as a necessary evil.)

Some of my children are good at math. Others are umm . . . less inclined to apply themselves! Coconut discovered through the Life of Fred series and decided she likes math, just not arithmetic. (Whew!) I came across this book through and ordered it. I read it in two days. I'm so excited to incorporate Marilyn Burn's ideas in my homeschool. All of my children enjoy writing, so I'm hoping the ideas in the book will help them feel proficient.

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