This book is set in 1918-1919, right after WWI. It has 217 pages and 30 chapters. Not difficult to read and honestly does not seem long enough when you get involved in it. This book is not slow-moving and overall excellent.
When Annie's father, a doctor, returns home from the war, he decides to work at the hospital. Annie's mother tells her to stay away from the hospital, but Annie disobeys while her mother is on vacation and goes anyway. While there, she becomes acquainted with a burn patient named Andrew who has become bitter and withdrawn. When her mother returns, she gives Annie permission to continue to visit the hospital. Annie helps Andrew realize that he can still find joy in a new life. I would not recommend this book for children under 9.
I think this book is very good because it is filled with so much love, joy, and laughter that it fills my heart with warmth to read it. Hannah's Fancy Notions is about a young girl (age 10) named Hannah who starts making band-boxes (a type of suitcase) for the working girls of Industrial New England. She enlists the help of her family as the simple matter of making a band-box for her working sister's birthday ends up being a full-time operation making band-boxes for everyone she knows and doesn't know! (The band-boxes were originally made to substitute for poor looking bags that the working girls tried not to have people see.) Let the warmth spill into your heart as you read this lovely, well-written book.
Note: This book is part of the Once Upon America series.
Every place has a story. The photograph above is part of the story of my place. These are my momma's people. The man in the center is my great-grandfather McGee. To the left is my great-grandfather Scalf. Reclining on the log is my grandfather Scalf. The woman standing in the door is my great-grandmother Scalf and the girl inside the cabin is my Aunt Nadine who is now nearly 90. My people are Appalachian Mountain people, born and raised in the mountains of upper East Tennessee. They were poor, hard-working folks like all those in the hills and hollers. They were uneducated by our culture's current standards but had a grit and determination (as well as common sense) rarely seen today.
My place is known as "Over Home." Even though my parents moved to the other side of the mountain after they married, our roots still run deep there. I still live in the little town on the other side of the mountain and "Over Home" is just a short distance away.
In honor of my place, I thought I'd share some titles that tell its story, or at least the story of area locations whose story is similar. These are favorites from my own shelves but if you are interested in learning more about these people you can check out this incredible list. I see many here I will be adding to my collection.
Daniel's Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla is an early reader about a boy growing up in rural Tennessee during pioneer times. My parents and grandparents grew up much like this and I spent many 'a night in my grandparent's cabin around the pot-bellied stove, sleeping my my granny's feather bed, even until the 1970's. This is a Five in a Row title.
Journey Cake, Ho by Ruth Sawyer is a fun tale. Hard times and a great chase brings Johnny home again.
Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs is a rollicking tall tale of Appalachian life.
Down Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle is yet another Five in a Row title relating life for folks living in the Appalachian mountains.
My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston is the delightful true story of this beloved teacher in one-room schoolhouse in the mountains.
Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston - another Five in a Row gem. Amber wants to learn to read. Finally she gets a friend and her heart's desire.
Dolly Parton is a world-renowned country music star whose humble childhood in these hills is chronicled in her music. Her song, Coat of Many Colors, which tells of her mother sewing a coat for her of fabric scraps, was beautifully illustrated in this tender volume.
I have fond memories of Christmases past spent with family Over Home. In order to provide her children with a Christmas, my granny would gather walnuts, crack them and sell them to get enough money for a stick of candy, maybe an orange and a small gift. A few precious books relate these hard yet joyful holidays.
William O. Steele was a prolific Tennessee author and many of his titles relate the history of this area.
Christy by Catherine Marshall is a beloved story of a woman who leaves her home to teach in the Smoky Mountains.
The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman is a lesser known but equally excellent book telling of the harshness of Appalachian life post War Between the States for older readers.
Daughter of the Legend by Jesse Stuart - My best Over Home friend, Deb, introduced me to Stuart's writings. This book tells of the mysterious people known as the Melungeons. This book takes place in my daddy's home county. Because it is presented as a romance, I recommend it for older readers.
Many of the people of this area, including myself, are descended from the Scottish Covenanters who endured tremendous religious persecution in their native land. Many of them fled to America and settled in this area. A few titles that tell their story are:
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains is home to more species of salamanders than anywhere else on earth? You can learn more about them in The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball by Lisa Horstman.
The Tennessee mountains is also home to many black bears. The Moon of the Bears by Jean Craighead George tells their story.
Counting on the Woods by George Ella Lyon is a unique counting book which reveals the flora and fauna of Appalachia.
A Water Snake's Year by Doris Gove - Water snakes are native to the Smoky Mountains so if snakes are your thing, you might enjoy this.
Mountain people were known for their stories told on front porch swings and under shade trees. I remember the stories my granny would tell me on cold winter nights or while breaking beans of haints and goblins, legends, and of times long past. Here are some literary choices.
Reference The Foxfire Books series is a marvelous chronicle of life in the Appalachian mountains. These books are almost always checked out in my library, especially by those who wish to resurrect these long lost skills.
These books and many others tell the story of my place, the people who lived here, the hardships they endured and braved, and the laughter they shared. I hope you will discover the story of your own place. The diversity of the cultures of the world, past and present, makes for a plethora of great literature. In this transient culture when people are moving from location to location, we all need somewhere to put down roots. Somewhere to call our own. Our own "Over Home."
I am joining the rest of the world in wishing Beverly Cleary a happy 100th birthday!
I remember as a young girl receiving my copy of Ramona the Pest from the Scholastic flyers that went around our classroom each month. Ramona Quimby was a girl much like myself. I read that book so many times it became worn and tattered. I still have that well-read book on a special shelf reserved for such treasures, my name childishly scrawled inside the cover. I recall being so disappointed that my name didn't have a Q so that I could draw kitty cats from it!
As my boys have grown, they have all enjoyed many of her titles. I think Mrs. Cleary must have remembered what it was to be a child because her books have been enjoyed by children for many decades.
Thank you, Beverly Cleary, for enriching our lives with fun, humor and adventure.
When we moved into our current home several years ago, I was very unhappy. It was a nice house on a lovely piece of property with a one-acre pond and 12 acres of lush grass. However the home we left was built by us. I chose the house plans, made changes in the floor plan to suit our family, chose paint, flooring (oh, how I miss my Brazilian cherry floors.) This new house did not feel like home to me. It was someone else's idea of what a home should be. It wasn't until I brought in those unique touches that were meaningful to our lives that I could really say I belonged there. Now I am part of this place. I have taken up residence.
It is the same with the books we read. These books were written by another person, probably living in another time or place. We may have nothing in common with them except for their words. But when we bring to the book our own unique touches, the experiences of our lives that set us apart, the ideas take up residence in us and become part of us.
Ideas are powerful things. They are not, in and of themselves, tangible. They are not something we can see, smell or taste. But they can change lives and change the world far more than those tangible things we put so much stock in can do. The volatile thing about ideas is that they are unique to each person. Each time I read a book, I bring to the table my own life, experiences, presuppositions. Those ideas mix and mesh with those of the book and become my own in a way unlike those of anyone else who has ever read that book...my own personal culture.
The same is true for books shared with family. My family has shared so many books together. We each make our own connections in the reading because we are all distinct individuals. But in living with the book together it becomes part of our family's identity. It becomes casual discussions around the dinner table, knowing eye contact across the room, shared reminisces even years later...a family culture.
Ideas are so influential, however, that we don't even have to share the same book to be changed by them. Often when my oldest son comes home to visit, we inevitably get into an informal discussion, usually spawned by world events or something much less lofty, about something he has read but we haven't. As we discuss the ideas in a book that the other hasn't read we are stretched beyond our own personal experience. That, again, becomes part of our personal and family culture and ripples its way into the culture at large.
There is so much to be gained by reading. The ideas that take up residence in our hearts are the most life-changing reasons to pick up a book.
Recently I had an inquiry regarding library membership. This is the season when many families start making plans for the upcoming year so this is not unusual. This particular inquiry took me off guard, however, and distressed me a little. The mom wanted to know if she would be welcome in my library because, she said, "I don't DO Charlotte Mason. I heard you have to DO Charlotte Mason to belong to these libraries."
No, no, a thousand times, NO! I have been a Charlotte Mason homeschooler for 20 years now in some form or fashion. In the early years when I was learning and homeschooling was not quite the phenomenon it is now, I did Charlotte Mason-y things...reading living books, narration, nature study, etc., without really understanding her philosophy. I'm still learning after all this time.
And yet, I'd be willing to venture that the families in my library who DO Charlotte Mason have homeschools that look very different from mine. Some are in a fabulous CM co-op. We are not. Some align their schedules to match as closely as possible Charlotte's own schedules while my planning philosophy is simply...turn the page. Some meet together for a nature study club. Often we are lucky to just take in what we can on our farm (which, I admit, is a lot.) Some have daughters who quietly and thoroughly give their narrations. My youngest son, who is my champion narrator, has been known to LEAP out of his chair and give a resounding (i.e. noisy) rendition of the exciting passage he just heard.
And it's all OK.
I have families who are active in Classical Conversations. Others do unit studies. I even have a few who rely solely on textbooks for school and use the library for wonderful literature or supplemental biographies.
And it's all OK.
We all need living ideas. While my library is a ministry for Christian homeschool families, I would love to see each and every classroom in each and every public school spend a few minutes a day reading living ideas from living books.
So if you are hesitant to approach a living books library in your area because you do not DO Charlotte Mason (or ______________), please don't be afraid to contact them. I'm sure they would say, like I do, "Welcome!! Great adventures await you on your chosen path!"
Giving my children a living education through living books and ideas is so important to me. I'm constantly scouring my shelves for the best of the best on any topic to ignite my sons' imaginations and fill their minds with wonder. I'm pretty comfortable in most subject areas making engaging choices. But as my boys get older, I feel the stress and pressure of the looming high school years in the sciences. I see this same anxiety in the moms who come into my library. If we ourselves are not strong in the sciences, how can we possibly prepare our children for college science classes, especially in this STEM-driven world? Must we give up living ideas in favor of dry textbooks in order to adequately equip them for university?
I am so excited and pleased to let you know about an incredibly well done living science curriculum! My friend, Nicole Williams of Sabbath Mood Homeschool, has produced Living Science Study Guides: A Charlotte Mason Resource for Exploring Science, a Vast and Joyous Realm. Her first guide deals with Biology for middle school. She also plans to release guides for the elementary and high school years.
Nicole has such a wealth of knowledge in the field of science and the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. She has combined her passions to create a science guide which utilizes Charlotte's assertion that "where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire it has perhaps no educative value." The guide includes readings from the fascinating spine, Men, Microscopes and Living Things, by Katharine Shippen as well as other living books, activities and experiments and exam questions.
In case you have doubts that students can be properly equipped for college, especially in science, with this type of education, I encourage you to listen to this Read Aloud Revival podcast. This Harvard PhD attributes her success in college to her liberal arts education. It is very encouraging and enlightening!
I hope you will head over to Nicole's blog and get this excellent resource. While you're there, explore her site and find many treasures to help you in creating this wonder and admiration in science with your children. Also take time to listen to the podcast, A Delectable Education, especially the last few episodes where Nicole, Liz and Emily have focused on science in Charlotte Mason's schools.
Thank you, Nicole, for your contributions to the Charlotte Mason community!
Now for the last genre of series books I will cover...but not the last list. After browsing my shelves for fiction series, I realized that it would be a ridiculously long list. So I've decided to sub-divide it into categories. The first I will tackle will be mysteries. These books are probably the most sought after in my library. Everyone loves a good "whodunit." Here are some your children (or you) might enjoy.
We will start with the most obvious. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew have thrilled young readers for decades with their mystery escapades. I've been told that newer versions have been revised with less desirable character qualities so you might want to search out older editions
I still have the exact volume of Trixie Belden that my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Elkins, gave me as an award for perfect attendance in 1972. This book set me on a path of reading voraciously. Many in my library have rediscovered Trixie and her friends as they have adventures and solve mysteries.
A few years ago, a new family came into my library. Young 9 year old Cara asked if I had a series of books called The Happy Hollisters. Her father had devoured them as a boy and he wanted to share them with his children. She was thrilled to find I had several and she and many others have enjoyed them again and again.
Another popular series for children is The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Four orphans siblings living in a boxcar, solve fun mysteries. It's important to note that there are dozens of Boxcar Children titles but only the first 19 were written by Warner.
The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope is another wholesome vintage series featuring child mystery solvers. This link takes you to 15 titles for Kindle for only 99 cents.
Cherry Ames by Helen Wells is yet another older mystery series. Follow along with Nurse Ames on her mysterious adventures.
Encyclopedia Brown is a boy detective who has been thrilling young readers for many years. These are great for reluctant-reader boys.
Nate the Great is a favorite boy detective series for beginning readers. When my oldest son, now 25, was learning to read, he devoured these fun titles.
What would a list of mysteries be without the legendary Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion, Dr. Watson?
Dorothy Sayers is best known in the homeschooling world as friend to C.S. Lewis and Tolkien as well as her thoughts on the classical Trivium. However she is also famous for her excellent mystery writing. Lord Peter Wimsey is featured in both novels and short stories.
It seems some of the greatest minds contributed the most intriguing mystery stories. G.K Chesterton's endearing Father Brown mysteries are filled with both wit and literary power.
If you love history and mystery, you shouldn't miss the Brother Cadfael titles by Ellis Peters. Set in medieval England and Wales, this exciting series is addicting. There are many titles in this series and should be read in order.
There are so many mystery series, I'm sure I've missed some favorites. Please share in the comments any you have enjoyed. Choose a good mystery and match your wits with some of the best crime solvers.
A quiet growing time is a phrase usually associated with Charlotte Mason's description of the life of a young child. But I found that it beautifully detailed my time last week on our rare vacation. We spent a glorious week at the beach and during that time, I indulged myself in time to grow.
During our week, I spent time by the sea soaking up the sun. (I was desperate, DESPERATE for the sun since we've had four winter storms in three weeks.) In between long walks and games of paddle ball, I read my version of a "chick flick" title, Miss Buncle's Bookby D.E. Stevenson. I had started it months ago and just never clicked with it. I enjoyed it, though, as a leisurely read. This is the first in a series.
I have always picked up a word search puzzle book before every beach trip. They are easy to do on the beach, especially in the midst of constant interruptions by boys. I noted that I searched out any puzzle dealing with books, one on fairy tales, one on Rudyard Kipling, and the third, a list of "banned books", many of which are on my shelves!
Always make time for book shopping on any trip! We chose a cooler day to scour the thrift shops, finding many treasures including a lovely dustjacketd copy of Wind in the Willowsillustrated by Tasha Tudor for $3! Three large bags of books are awaiting my attention to be processed and added to my shelves for children to enjoy including Richard Halliburton, Marchette Chute, C.S. Forester, James Herriot, Winston Churchill, F. N. Monjo and many others.
One title I found for a dollar was a volume I remember seeing featured in a CIRCE podcast. How Dante Can Save Your Lifeby Rod Dreher is something I would probably not have picked up on my own but I was thankful I recognized it. I hid myself away with my knitting to listen to the podcast. Now I'm wanting to tackle The Divine Comedy.
All this quiet growing made me realize how I've let day to day cares deprive me of my own humanity. Busyness interferes with my own personal schole'. Oh sure, I get lots of growth in learning with my children. We read great books, have great conversations and share many adventures. But rarely anymore do I engage in something just for myself. I had the desire while away to attempt to meet with a few moms in a Mother Culture group of sorts. I'm not sure what it would look like but it would be a way to hold one another accountable. I'll have to think about that...
Often when things are going well and past struggles are forgotten, we tend to forget those who were instrumental in lighting a fire and encouraging us along the way. I've told this story before but wanted to have a dedicated place to record it.
In 2001, I was a homeschool mom of an 11 year old boy. When this boy was in kindergarten, I discovered a curriculum called Five in a Row which introduced us to learning with real, living books. In my excitement I began collecting books and accumulated a couple of thousand in a few short years. So in 2001, my family attended a living books event at the "back side of nowhere" in Tennessee. That event changed my life.
One of the guests at this event was a homeschool mom, history curriculum writer, and private library owner. Her name was Michelle Miller. I knew Michelle would be there because I had just bought her wonderful history curriculum, TruthQuest History, which was hot off the press. Michelle emailed me and asked if she could bring the guides to save me shipping! At the event (which is also where I met Jan Bloom for the first time!!!) Michelle and I were talking books. When she discovered that I had a passion to collect books, she sweetly asked if I would be interested in opening a library of my own.
Poor Michelle, I emailed her so many times with questions. She patiently answered my questions, encouraged me, offered advice, prayed for me. I continued to collect thousands more books with my new goal. I was no longer collecting for one boy but for every child who might walk through my doors. Boxes of books piled up around me faster than I could deal with. In 2003 another son was born and we moved later that year. I began to wonder if my dream would ever become a reality. Finally in 2008, with lots of hands-on help of some friends (thank you, Cottrills!) who were once members of Michelle's library and two very special exchange students (merci, Clem et Francois!) who helped me to literally turn my house upside down, my library opened. I am now serving 35 families in my community.
Michelle continues to offer encouragement and wisdom to those of us who are on this path of sharing our collections with our communities. Her knowledge and humility are a blessing. I praise God that He gave her this vision so many years ago and that she has extended that vision to many of us. I've never had the privilege to meet Michelle in person again, but I'm forever thankful for her guidance and willingness to be a vessel for the King. Thank you.
One of the greatest contributions to children's literature in the 20th century has been numerous history series. Biographies, memoirs, historical fiction, original sources, all serve to make history come alive for students of all ages. Could it be that the lack of knowledge and interest in history during our post-modern times stems from the lack of reading gripping tales of heroes and heroines of history? In order to remedy that, add some of these treasures to your family's reading list. This lengthy list demonstrates that past generations understood the importance of knowing from whence we came.
Landmark history titles - This series is the gold standard for children's history series. Over 200 titles are in this series, written by some of the best authors of children's literature. They focus on people and events that have shaped history. A history professor acquaintance of ours said that if a child read all the Landmark books, he would have an excellent history education. A few of the titles have been reprinted in paperback. More information and titles can be found at Valerie's helpful site. Written for grades 3-8
Signature biographies - Signature biographies are similar in length to the Landmark books. Also written by wonderful authors of the time, they focus on lives of people throughout history. Each title begins with The Story of...
Piper biographies - Another excellent biography series for middle grades focusing mainly on American historical figures.
Garrard Discovery Biographies - This is my favorite biography series for younger readers. Very well written. I've learned so much for them myself. There is also a World Explorers series and an American Indian series.
We Were There series - This series is a favorite in my library. The stories are told through the eyes of fictional children but the stories themselves are accurate. Each title has both an author and a historical consultant for accuracy. Very exciting! I see that some titles have been reprinted.
North Star series - Yet another series written with the purpose of engaging middle readers. Sterling North edited this series of around 40 titles covering mainly American history.
Frontiers of America - This is a favorite series of my boys from a few years ago. Excellent for younger students, they relate exciting times in our country's history. The title, Log Fort Adventures, is especially endearing to me. My youngest son, adopted from China at the age of 6, was learning English, and narration was coming very slowly. This book was so very exciting to him that he gave a very lengthy, detailed and animated narration for the first time!
Childhood of Famous Americans - This popular series of American biographies for young students is still very much in demand after many decades. Children enjoy reading about the upbringing of their favorite historical heroes and heroines. This series has been printed in many different bindings including the current red, white and blue paperback covers.
Winston Adventures - We've really enjoyed the titles we've read from this series. What I appreciate is that these books focus on lesser known events of history in an exciting, narrative way. Written for middle grades.
Step-Up Books - I listed this series in the science post as well, but there are many history titles to be enjoyed. These are excellent for younger readers with large type and nice illustrations. Note that some of these have been reprinted as "Landmark books". They are NOT in the Landmark series, but are reprints of Step-Up Books. Many of these can be found reasonably priced in the nice old hardcovers. I would invest in these rather than the newer, cheaply bound, paperbacks.
American Adventures - This wonderful older series, published mainly in the 50's, is not to be confused with the newer series of the same name. These books are full of adventures for younger to middle readers. Some titles in the is series are pricey and hard to find so snatch them up if you come upon one.
Colonial Americans - This series, by Leonard Everett Fisher, focuses on the trades of the colonies such as printers, tanners, weavers, and more.
Cornerstones of Freedom - This series fills a particular niche in my library. While these slim titles are not always as engaging as many of the other series listed here, they do fill a need for an overview of a particular event or person without spending a great deal of time. The series includes lesser known events as well. In recent years, other titles have been added and printed in paperback. I don't know the slant of these new titles so read with discernment.
How They Lived - This series for younger to middle readers focuses on the lives of the men and women who made our land great.
"I Can Read" History - This is a wonderful series for beginning readers. Young children love to be included in the family history studies with books they can read themselves. This series fits the bill perfectly.
Land of the Free series - This unique series focuses on the contributions of various ethnic groups in America. They are well-researched and engaging. I don't own many of these titles but wanted to bring them to your attention if you come across them.
Messner biographies - This is a massive series for older readers and is valuable, not only because the writing is excellent by some of the best authors of the time, but because it contains biographies of figures not found anywhere else.
Sower series - This series focuses on the Christian beliefs and influences of famous people.
Trailblazer Books - This popular newer series for middle readers focuses on Christian heroes and missionaries.
If You Lived...series - This series for younger students focuses on how life was during various times of American history. Children can see what their lives might have been like if they had been born in another time.
A Picturesque Tale of Progress by Olive Beaupre' Miller is an outstanding set of 9 volumes relating the flow of history. Originally published in 1929, it has been released in various forms and number of volumes. In my opinion, the most stunning set is the one I've linked here, which is the one I own and treasure. You may recognize the name of Mrs. Miller as the editor of the beloved My Book House set (each of my boys has a set of these fine books.) Mrs. Miller was grieved by the fact that she was never taught to love history as a child because of the "dry collection of dates, a jumbled memory of many apparently meaningless wars, and a fragmentary, disconnected knowledge of a very few periods in history." She set about writing this set "to bring history to life for children, to present to them a fascinating historical panorama, to let them travel up the path of time with the men and women who had made history."