If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I love books. I own far too many of them, and always want more... though I am getting a little better about letting go of the ones we don't need.

The Boy loves books, and The Girl is starting to love books as well. It makes me happy, gives me a quiet little thrill, to see them dive headlong into a world contained in pages.

And so we read a lot as part of homeschooling, and I thought I would share a little about what we've got going at the moment! Many of the following titles are part of our Afternoon Basket, so we only read a chapter or two per week. Others are read on a daily basis.

First up, a book I read aloud from nearly every day...

This is a charming little book! It has been heralded as inspiration for the Hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien's books, and indeed, it is a book he himself recommended. It is about the adventures of two (rather naughty) children in a land that lies outside the borders of our own world, but still within it. They travel with a Snerg, who is a short, very Hobbit-like personage, through all kinds of adventures. I like too that the chapters are quite short, so I can do a "quick" reading of just one or two when we're short on time, though I more often read through several of the chapters at a time.

Also on a daily basis, The Boy is reading this...

He says "this is one of the most exciting books I have ever read!" Yesterday, I think he read for about three hours, unable to tear himself away. I love it when I suggest a book and it works out so well for him! It fits within the dystopian literature genre that so enthralls him. He says it reminds him of The Hunger Games, which still ranks as one of his favorite series ever. It is the story of a boy who wakes up in an enclosed world inhabited by about 60 other boys, lost endlessly in a maze, at least until until their world begins to shift.

The Girl is reading a [junior edition of a] classic book at the moment...

She is really enjoying that the story is told from the horse's point of view. So far this year, since she started really reading, she's definitely found her niche in the world of animal-related literature! This story is about Black Beauty, as he grows from foal to stallion, and everything that happens to him along the way.

Then, there are the rotational (Afternoon Basket) books we picked back up this week...

For history, we are thoroughly enjoying this title...

This hilarious book gives a very different overview of history, from ancient times right on through today. So far, we have read up through the Middle Ages, and the kids now have a decent understanding of the spread of disease, plumbing ups and downs, odd bathroom habits (like the Roman bathrooms, where you could sit and chat with the person next to you while... well, you know). The books also highlights unpleasant occupations, which we have found intriguing.

Next on the list is geography. While we are continuing with our geographical studies (finishing up Africa), we also are continuing to read from this one...

Richard Halliburton was a restless explorer in the early part of the 20th century. He swam the Panama Canal, traveled to Machu Picchu, climbed the Alps, and much, much more. His writing brings the reader right along with him as he blends history and first-hand experience the world over. One reviewer on Amazon put it best: "I picked up my father's first printing of this when I was just starting to read as a little boy. It was the book which captivated him at the same age and made him determined to travel the world and see all its wonders. A tall order for a poor kid in the middle of the depression. But my father has traveled to every corner of this earth, and has been to all the locations in the Book of Marvels. I got caught in the same net, and I'm still traveling far and wide, thanks to this one book. The power of literature ... Oh, I still have that first edition, now dog-eared and timeworn from the eager fingers of little boys."

I can't review our current science reading choice quite yet, as we haven't started it, though we will be later today!

So all I can tell you at the moment is that it explores scientists as people rather than just their accomplishments. I'll provide a brief review once we check it out!

And then there is mathematical reading. We're hoping to actually finish this delightful little book on this go round...
The tone is warm and friendly, and it gets both my kids thinking about math in different ways. We always work out the math at the end of each chapter, to make sure we're getting it, and that it really works, which so far it always has! It also is a great exposure to basic logic, as many of the puzzles given can be solved through simple logic. It is the story of Beremiz Samir, a man of mathematical talents, and his travels through ancient Arabia. Each story/chapter is pretty short, so we generally read a couple each time.

We're not reading any Shakespeare at the moment, but we are  finding entertainment in Edward Lear's poetry. We started with Poetry for Young People: Edward Lear, but are moving to another book as his poetry is so much fun!
I do like that the first book gave an overview of Lear's life, but we are looking forward to seeing his own illustrations in relation to his own words!

And there you have it... the plethora of books we are relishing at the moment!

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