Thursday, May 24, 2012

Books, Books, Books

We have two weeks left of (home) school and then our summer begins.  It's not as much of a clear-cut break as one might imagine.  Over the past few weeks, we've been dropping subjects.  Not as in, "We don't want to do science anymore, so we quit," but as in, we've finished the book or run out of lessons.  So our school days have gotten shorter, allowing for more time outside and free play all around.

Despite the tapering, we won't stop completely.  Oh, I might allow for a week of no school as a celebration of a year completed, but we'll solider on with summer school.  Our summer school is super light (maybe an hour a day) and doesn't get done every day.  It's flexible, laid back and enjoyable but keeps the kids from losing everything they've learned from one year to the next.

Summer school also adds just a touch of structure which can go a long way for kids who are used to being at home and having a plan for the day.

Sam, who will be in 5th grade next year, will work through an Evan-Moor workbook (Daily Summer Activities, Moving from Fourth to Fifth Grade), keeping his math and language skills fresh.  Sadie, who will be in 1st grade next year has a similar workbook that she'll begin once her math lessons are complete (we won't make it entirely through during our school year) and she'll continue with The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (I LOVE this book- it's taught both Sam and Sadie to read).

Together, we'll read Exploring Creation With Astronomy (Young Explorers), the only Apologia elementary science topic that won't fit into Sam's science schedule.  We're also going to read through Who Is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) -- Biblical Worldview of God and Truth (What We Believe, Volume 1), Apologia's first year in a series on worldview.  I opted not to order the workbook for Sam, but did order the coloring book for Sadie (and will copy a few pages from it for Miriam).

I have my list of books to order for next fall and am making myself wait to order them until our school year is done.  In case you're curious, I'll tell you...we will continue to use Sonlight as we can't imagine using anything else at this point.  Sam will be studying the Eastern Hemisphere (Core F) and Sadie will be doing Introduction to World History Part I (Core B).  We'll continue using Saxon Home School Math, First Language Lessons, Exploring Creation Series' year of Botany (Soon, they'll release their junior notebook, so Sadie will get her own notebook, too), Sequential Spelling 2 (Sam) and Spelling Workout: Level A, Student Edition(Sadie), and A Reason For Handwriting: Cursive E (Based on Scripture Verse) (for Sam, "A" for Sadie)...and whatever else I'm forgetting.

We'll also do some read alouds with Heidi at the top of our list.  I know how popular fantasy books are right now and many of the books below will seem heavy, but the real world is heavy.  I want my kids equipped with stories of real life people who showed bravery and cleverness and were willing to stand up for what's right to be their source of inspiration when they head out on their own.  Some of the books we've really enjoyed reading this spring are below.  Maybe you'll want to add them to your summer reading.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, is a book I read aloud to Sam.  Sadie listened in off and on, but this is a book for kids 3rd to 4th grade and up, in my opinion.  It deals with racism in the south and doesn't hold back.  There is some violence as well as disrespectful language.  It's a book I would normally shy away from, but it did paint an excellent picture of sharecropper life and the fine line that blacks had (have) to walk in the south.  Sam was mortified at the treatment of human beings portrayed in this book.  And rightly so.

"History informs us of past mistakes from which we can learn without repeating them. It also inspires us and gives confidence and hope bred of victories already won." William H. Hastie, Speech given in Atlanta, GA (1971)

Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop was exceptional.  "During the German occupation of France, twenty children were brought to a refuge in the mountains.  One day a young man came to their school with a request: Could they take in, and hide, ten Jewish refugee children?  Sister Gabriel spoke up.  "The Nazis are looking for those children.  If we take them we must never let on that they are here.  Do you understand?"  Of course the children understood- but how would they hide them if the Nazis came?" (taken from the back cover).  While this sounds incredibly heavy, the book was actually delightful and almost whimsical, often making us chuckle.  Toward the close, excitement ensues but all ends well.  Another wonderful book giving us a glimpse into the past in a way we won't forget.

A Grain of Rice by Helena Clare Pittman is brief and a breeze to read.  It's an enjoyable tale of a common peasant who uses his cleverness to outsmart the Emperor and win his heart's desire.

Helen Keller by Margaret Davidson is an excellent, simple story of the life of Helen Keller.  It was amongst Sam's books, but Sadie (age 6) held on at every word.  What a wonderful story of courage and determination by both Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Hero Over Here: A Story of World War I by Kathleen V. Kudlinski, was another book that transported us back in time to a place fraught with tragedy mixed with hope and perseverance.   "Theodore's father and brother are off fighting in the First World War.  Theo is proud to be the man of the house- it's his chance to be a hero.  But when his mother and sister become victims of the deadly flu epidemic of 1918, and he has to take care of them alone, he learns what being a hero is all about,"(from back cover).  Sam and Sadie both enjoyed this book as well.

So, what are your reading and summer school plans (if any)?

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  1. Working on my list and purchases for next fall too. Found a nice book at a thrift book store called, "How Does God Do That?" a complete books of earth science. Ages 8-12 I'm really impressed with activities, reading sections. It's exactly what I was looking for, found thrifting, no less. :) a blessing right there. As much as I love Apologia series, we're just not there. We just don't use it as I'd hoped so I'm going to wait on it for the next round of Earth science.
    I'm pacing myself tho! Hoping I'll be able to wait... love to see the books coming!!
    Have a slow, happy, abundant summer!

  2. wow ,you have excellent taste ,I have read a couple of those and I think I will read "Twenty and Ten"to my grandchildren. its sounds in the order of the movie "The Boy In The Stripped Pajamas"

  3. The first 2 books (Roll of Thunder; Twenty and Ten) sound like ones my boys would enjoy. Did you get them from the library? I require my boys to do at least 1/2 hour of reading each day in the summer, so they will be looking for good books. Thanks for the reviews.

    1. They were part of our homeschool curriculum, but I would expect libraries have them.

  4. Even though I'm not homeschooling, there are some book suggestions here that really caught my eye! The Exploring Creation & the Who Is God ones especially jump out at me as some good books to have on hand for my boys! Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Thanks for posting about these books. I have not heard of any of them, so I'll look at our library and see if they have them. I have a friend with a boy who is a voracious reader and she has asked me for book recommendations for his summer reading. I'll have to look into these and pass on the information to her.

    You said... "It's a book I would normally shy away from, but it did paint an excellent picture of sharecropper life and the fine line that blacks had (have) to walk in the south."

    I just wanted to note that while the South has had many problems in the past with racism, contrary to what most people outside the South believe, today people of all races work, live, and worship together with rare instances of problems that are racially related. For example in my neighborhood about every other house is lived in by black families. My neighbors on both sides are black and we get along very well. I don't think you really meant anything derogatory about the South by your comment, but I wanted your readers to know that while there will always be racial issues in America (the South included), the South has changed a lot in the last 50 or 60 years. Educating our children with books such as you recommended is a great way to help the next generation to be even more aware that racism is not God's way and should have no place in our society. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comment. The point I was trying to make with that "(have)" is that I think it's easy for many of us, especially those of us who live north a bit, to assume everyone is always treated with respect. Each community could do better to treat all it's neighbors with love and respect (across all race and religious lines). I'm so glad to hear yours is already doing so:-).

  6. Yippee for great ideas and sharing resource ideas with others...thank you for doing so Jane! :)

    May the LORD give you daily HIS grace and joy as you venture into the Summer months with gusto. And yaay for a whole week *off* from school!

    Our Emma is going into grade five as well. Interesting that your first and my last are at the same stage. :)

    Blessings to you!

  7. This schoolyear finished up this week but we'll beginning the next in a week or two. My children are 11 (entering 6th grade), 8 (3rd), 5 (1st), 4 (pre-K), and 2. We'll be doing a "light" schedule of M-W-F school for the summer, getting in math (Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra and 3rd grade), spelling and grammar through dictation, character via the Miller family books and accompanying workbooks, Truth in Science, and Notgrass American History. My pre-K student will be using the Explode the Code books and I'll use Phonics Pathways with him as well.

  8. We are pretty much unschoolers - so we will continue with the paths we always take, following the promptings of the kids interests. I do make them read daily and do a math lesson daily. Math is the one area I'm NOT unschoolish.

    Enjoy summer!

  9. What do you base your comment[blacks have to walk] on?

    1. In the book, the main character's family and friends often had to suppress their (rightful) instincts to exercise equal rights for themselves because it would cause trouble for them (those equal rights didn't exist). During the time I was reading this book to our kids I listened to a discussion (on NPR, I believe) on racial profiling- how some black parents are coaching their children how to behave and what to say if they are questioned/stopped by police. Instead of having the freedom to be themselves, they give scripted answers in an attempt to avoid potential trouble and unwarranted arrests that can lead to jail time that is inconsistent with the alleged offense. This is what I was referring to above. I apologize if this phrase in my post seems obscure. The current day example reminded me of what the characters in the book were experiencing. The purpose for the program on NPR was to shed light on an issue many people believe no longer occurs, but does. I hope I've answered your question.


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