Thursday, December 24, 2015

Arise, Shine, for thy Light is come!

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,
get thee up into the high mountain:
O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up thy voice with strength:
lift it up, be not afraid:
Say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God.
Arise, shine, for thy Light is come,
and the glory of the Lord
is risen upon thee.

Handel's Messiah
based on Isaiah 40:9, 60:1

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Castaway Christmas ~ A Review

We have discovered a new book to add to our Christmas favorites.  As I was scouring my shelves to find a new treasure that 12-year-old boys would enjoy (without too much sap...) I came across this book by an author with whom I was unfamiliar.  Just the title was intriguing so I took a chance that they would love it...and they do.  It's one of those books that makes them beg for more at the end of each chapter.

Castaway Christmas by Margaret Baker is the story of siblings Pinks, Miranda and Lincoln Ridley who are meeting their parents at a rented cottage for Christmas.  The rains become floods and a joyous holiday vacation turns into danger as the children are stranded at the cottage alone.  They must make their own way, relying on fortitude, courage and cooperation.  As they work together through many hardships, their bonds are strengthened and they experience a Christmas they will never forget.

A quote from the book...

"Miranda stirred the logs and they drew nearer to the dying fire.  The wind battered against the stone walls of the house.  The first Christmas wasn't safe or comfortable either, Miranda thought.  In his palace King Herod had plotted to take the Baby's life.  The Child had come to a country occupied by a powerful foreign power and full of danger.  In the stable overhung by the star, hay in the  manger had warmed him and the love of Mary and Joseph had shielded him from harm.  The Wise Men, when they came to worship did so in secret, and because of Herod's treachery, went home by another way.  Now King Herod was no more than a half-forgotten tyrant and the Kingdom of the Holy Baby whose life he had sought to take still flourished and endured."

Add this title to your Christmas reading list for an action-packed, heart-warming tale.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Series ~ The Arts

As we continue our series on series, I want to focus on books that broaden our studies of the arts, including music, art, handicrafts and recreation. 

Composer biographies by Opal Wheeler - Wheeler's biographies are beloved in the homeschool community.  Written for elementary to middle school-age children, they help students build lasting relationships with  composers.  Happily many of these have been reprinted.  Wheeler also wrote two artist biographies of Giotto and Millet!

Composer biographies by Reba Paeff Mirsky - Mirsky also wrote a series  of composer bio, written at a slightly higher level.  I was a music major in college and I would have loved to have known about these.

Music books by Anna Harwell Celenza - These newer picture books are unique in that they not only focus on a composer, but a famous piece of music as well, such as Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.  Included is a CD of the music.

The Art of ____ by Shirley Glubok - This series focuses on the art of various civilizations throughout history.  Written for middle school and up.

Katie art series by James Mayhew - This picture book series is loved in my library.  Katie learns about many artists by entering their artwork as she visits a museum.  Sweet.

Art for Children by Ernest Raboff - Each of Raboff's titles focuses on a particular artist and his techniques.

Artist series by Elizabeth Ripley - Ripley's biographies include many black and white reprints of the artist's work.  Suitable for middle grades and up.

Early Craft Books - This wonderful series takes children step by step through various handicrafts. 

First books by C.B.Colby - Boys (and girls) really enjoy Colby's books which give instructions on topics such as fishing, hunting, shooting, archery, etc.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Thanksgiving Greeting

It never mattered to Maggie or her grandmother
 that the red carpet was worn and mended 
or that the silver spoons didn't match.
Friendship and sharing were important.
But everyone knew that.

Cranberry Thanksgiving
by Wende and Harry Devlin

Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Streak ~ One Year Later!

It was Thanksgiving one year ago that we began a life-enriching habit.  We vowed to read aloud every single day for as long as we could.  This habit was inspired by The Reading Promise:  My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma.  I wrote about our reading streak here and here

Throughout this year we have enjoyed many books together.  I thought I'd share what a few minutes reading aloud each day can accomplish.  This list does not include all of the various books we read aloud for school subjects (although I did stick in a few favorite history reads.)  It also doesn't include books we all read independently. 

We look forward to another year building and strengthening our family relationships around books.  Gather your children or grandchildren and share a book today.

Various books of the Bible
A Christmas Carol - Dickens
I Saw Three Ships - Goudge
A Tree for Peter - Seredy
The Christmas Stove - Seymour
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus - Houghton
The Snow Queen - Anderson
By Right of Conquest  - Henty
On the Far Side of the Mountain - George
The Wizard of Oz - Baum
Frightful's Mountain - George
Beyond the Desert Gate- Ray
Greek Slave  Boy - Carroll
Wind in the Willows - Grahame
The Green Ember - Smith
The Magician's Nephew - Lewis
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Lewis
Trumpet of the Swan - White
The Horse and His Boy - Lewis
The White Stag - Seredy
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Lewis
The Silver Chair - Lewis
The Last Battle - Lewis
Gorilla Hunter - Ballentine
Indian in the Cupboard - Banks
Sign of the Beaver - Speare
Call It Courage - Sperry
The Black Star of Kingston - Smith
The Dragon and the Raven - Henty
Rascal - North
The Young Carthaginian - Henty
Around the World in 80 Days - Verne
Son of Charlemagne - Willard
A Midsummer Nights Dream -  Shakespeare
Penrod - Tarkington
The Little Duke - Yonge
Mr. Popper's Penguins - Atwater

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Series - Science and Math

Science series are a good way to introduce children to a variety of topics. There are so many covering many topics for all ages. Please note that there may be mention of evolution in many of these titles. Remember that nothing can deprive God of His glory.

Discover Nature in ___________ - This is an excellent series for older elementary and up which includes activities and experiments in various habitats and seasons.

Junior Science Book of __________ - Another series for older elementary and up, this living science series by various authors covers many topics. These are out of print but not expensive.

The All About series contains many titles covering topics ranging from the weather, undersea exploration, rivers of the world and many more. Also out of print, these are often obtained very cheaply. For upper elementary.

Wild Folk at the ______ - These are a wonderful living look at life in various habitats. Children in my library love this series. Out of print but worth the search for elementary students.

One Day in the _______ - Jean Craighead George has authored so many children's science books. This series, which is happily in print, takes a look at habitats.

The Thirteen Moons series - Another fabulous series by Jean Craighead George, each investigating the life of an animal.

One Small Square - I really enjoy this series. Each title encourages children to look at life in a small area of a different habitat.

Seasons books by Edwin Teale - This series, one for each season, records the authors travels around the country. Excellent for older students and parents.

Among the __________ People - This older series for younger students was written by Clara Dillingham Pierson and looks at wildlife in various habitats. Children are fascinated by animals and their surroundings so, thanksfully, there are many series on these topics to fuel their interests.

Books for Young Explorers - This series is published by National Geographic and includes many titles. These are excellent for young children with simple text and vivid photographs.

Books by Seymour Simon - Speaking of photography, you don't get any better than Simon's books. Children love pouring over them.

Books by Thornton Burgess - Thornton Burgess is a long-time favorite in our house. He makes science fun and lively. He has written so many wonderful titles from his more factual Bird, Animal, and Seashore books to his Adventures of series. Try one with your children and they will forever remember the lessons learned.

Books by Robert McClung - McClung is one of my favorite science authors for young children. His writing engages the imagination of children and helps them build relationships with the animals of which he writes.

______ Do the Strangest Things - From the Step-Up series, these titles are favorites for early readers. Look for Animals, Reptiles, Fish and more.

Let's-Read-and-Find-Out series - This is another favorite series for younger grades. So many titles to choose from covering many topics.

Living Forest Series by Sam Campbell - Young patrons in my library have fallen in love with these books. Sam takes children on many rollicking adventures starring his animal friends.

Here Come the ______ series by Alice Goudey - This is also a favorite series for young ones. Children can learn about many animals such as deer, bears, bees, dolphins and more.

Nature books by Alice Crew Gall and Fleming Crew - This brother/sister team wrote six titles each describing the live of an animal in its habitat. Look for titles on ants, chipmunk, beaver, raccoon, tadpole and muskrat.

Nature books by Margaret Waring Buck - Beautiful illustrations and engaging informative text make these books treasures to share with children on various habitats.

Science and nature books by Glenn Blough - Blough's books are sure to delight any child as they seek to learn more about the natural world. Illustrated by popular science author, Jeanne Bendick.

Science books by Wilred Bronson - Another excellent science/nature author you won't want to miss.

Young Math Series - It's such a shame that this series is out of print. This is by far my favorite math series. It covers dozens of topics to make math come alive for students. If you'd like to search them out, Valerie has a list on her website.

MathStart series - This newer (and in print) series covers math concepts from the most basic through more challenging concepts.

Sir Cumference series - Children in my library check out this popular series just for fun without realizing they are gaining important math skills.

I'm sure I'm leaving out many wonderful treasures. Some of these may not be technically classified as a series, but they are so dear I couldn't leave them out. If you have a favorite science or math series, leave a comment below, and enjoy a delightful living book to illuminate your science adventures.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Series - Geography

So many books line my shelves that are part of a series.  Some are written by one author who continues a story throughout many volumes.  Others are contained in a series which presents many topics within a particular subject.  There are series of fiction, series of history, of science and many others. 

I thought we'd start our look at series with the subject of geography.  Many of these are out of print, written in a living way which will help our children build relationships with those around the world.

This is __________ by Miroslav Sasek - This is a series of vibrantly illustrated tour of places around the world.  Many have been reprinted. 

The Twins series by Lucy Fitch Perkins - This antique series places a set of twins in various cultures.  Some of these titles have been reprinted or are available for free in the public domain.

Children of All Lands by Madeline Brandeis - In the 1930's Brandeis traveled around the world with her young daughter and her camera.  She took photographs of the people and landmarks and wove stories around these photos.  They are out of print but not extremely hard to find.

Count Your Way Through ______ - A fun series that teaches the reader to count in the language as well as lots of cultural information. 

Lois Lenski's regional stories - Lenski was a prolific author for children, and is best known for her regional stories giving us a lively look at life in various regions of America.

Picture Book of _________ by Bernadine Bailey and illustrated by Kurt Wiese - A series of books of the states of the US.

Rivers of the World series published by Garrard - This series looks at famous rivers from all over the globe written in an engaging way.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Series of Series

I remember when I was a young reader getting my reading legs under me, my 4th grade teacher gave me a book for an award.  It was called Trixie Belden and the Mystery Off Glen Road.  I still have this very book 40 years later and fond memories of the path it set me on.  I read many more Trixie books over the next year or so as well as other favorite series, getting to know the characters intimately as we spent hours together solving mysteries and having adventures.

Series are very important in the reading life of children.  Young readers build confidence and fluency by reading thousands of pages.  They are excited to learn what happens next in the lives of those they know so well. This sets them solidly on a path of reading for a lifetime.  It's funny...when parents come into my library for the first time, they ask wistfully if I have a particular series they remember as a child.  They wish to introduce their children to their friends from long ago.  It's a special bridge between the generations. 

The golden age of children's literature is replete with many series in many subject areas.  Over the next few weeks, I plan to list many of these.  Maybe you will find a forgotten favorite to share with your children or a new series of treasures to discover.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Librarian

Often when the conversation of operating a library in my home arises, I get variations of the following comments...

"You have a your house??"

"You mean people come to your house to check out books?"

"What do you DO with 18,000 books?!?"

Occasionally I'm conversing with someone who wishes to do this crazy thing called "operating a private library" in her home and are trying to wrap her brain around the logistics of such an undertaking.

I thought I'd take a little time and share what our lives look like as we go about the business of sharing our treasures with 30+ families in our community.

My library hours are always posted in the right hand column of this blog. Patrons check their due dates with my schedule and plan their visit. On library days, we get up and milk cows and other farm chores. My boys begin asking almost immediately, "Who's coming to the library today?" They begin making plans based on my answer (getting ball equipment together, for example.)  We have breakfast and I go over their schoolwork based on how busy I expect to be. Patrons are asked to let me know if they're coming. If the day will be light, we might be able to get in a semi-regular school day. If the day will be insane, I leave a list on the fridge to be completed independently. I also leave a self-serve lunch with instructions to bring me a few crackers or something around mid-day.

Before the library opens, I make sure I have paper in the printer for check-out sheets, swipe over the bathroom and check essentials like soap and toilet paper (those practical things...), maybe run the vacuum.  I pull the check-out sheets of those whom I'm expecting as well as any books that have been requested.

Families come and go during the day with lots of chatter, laughter, encouragement, sometimes a few tears as burdens are confided.  The children enjoy telling me about their favorite reads during the past month.  They make their rounds among the shelves starting piles of volumes that may become treasured friends.  Moms ask for my picks of books of various topics and time periods.  Books are checked in and checked out, packed in totes and sent out the door.

After the library closes for the day, the fun begins.  Reshelving the hundreds of books that are returned in an average library day can take hours a week.  If my week is particularly crazy, I may not get it done at all, in which case piles of books accumulate on the book cases and the floor.  Families don't seem to mind as they sift through the piles to see what has been returned that they might enjoy themselves.

So you may it worth it?

My answer is definitely...yes!

Yes, it can be stressful.  Yes, it's often back-breaking work.  Yes, I have no money to spare because I'm always buying books.  But seeing lives enriched, relationships formed, and the excitement of children and families who are being touched by story is worth all the sacrifice.

If you're on the fence about starting a library of your own, don't hesitate.  Your life won't be the same.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In Awe of Dirt

This past Saturday I was privileged to attend a seminar by my friend, Nicole, of Sabbath Mood Homeschool blog.  Nicole is becoming well known in the Charlotte Mason community for her encouragement to study science using Charlotte's methods.  Even though I have been homeschooling for nearly 20 years with Charlotte's philosophy and have a son who is finishing up an engineering degree, I was inspired and encouraged to expand my vision for the sciences for my younger boys.  I have not been as diligent with these two in seriously studying the world around us in an intentional way. 

One of the things that convicted me was this quote by Charlotte...

"Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire it has perhaps no educative value." 

Was our science teaching us to wonder and admire?

Then I remembered this quote by Charlotte...

"Children should be brought up, too, to perceive that a miracle is not less a miracle because it occurs so constantly and regularly that we call it a law; that sap rises in a tree, that a boy is born with his uncle's eyes, that an answer that we can perceive comes to our serious prayers; these things are not less miracles because they happen frequently or invariably, and because we have ceased to wonder about them."

Have we ceased to wonder about those things that happen frequently?  The sun rises each morning.  We see the stars at night.  We breathe and our hearts beat.  Do we consider these as the miracles they are?

I decided to choose for our special study this term a humble topic, something that we take utterly for granted.  As I was browsing Nicole's site for ideas, I came upon this recent post.  That was it!  DIRT!  We'll add to that her rocks and minerals suggestions as well.  The miracle of the ground beneath our feet should fill us with awe of our Creator who has supplied us with many of the componenents necessary to sustain life in the soil.  We are looking forward to our study.

I've begun pulling the books I have on these topics and ordering more.  These include, among others:

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty

Life in a Bucket Soil by Alvin Silverstein

The Soil that Feeds Us by Eleanor Heady

Rocks and How We Use Them by Tillie Pine

Rocks and Minerals by Illa Podendorf

These, in addition to a field guide and experiement suggestions, will help us marvel at the miracle of dirt.  I hope, as the new school year gets underway, you will choose a topic to teach your children to wonder and admire.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Extraordinary People

Ordinary people
have big TV's.
Extraordinary people
have big libraries. 

Robin Sharma

Monday, June 1, 2015

20 Years and Counting

Today began a blessed milestone in my life.  Today I began my 20th year of homeschooling.  It's so hard to believe that little boy who sat on my lap for stories so long ago is grown and gone.  My two boys at home are growing up before my eyes before I can grab the years and toss them to the wind. But that's the way of life.

We have shared so many memories over the years.  Trips we've taken, sights we've beheld...books we've read...  They've all woven themselves into the fabric of our lives to form us into individuals and bind us into family.

God has been so good to give us this opportunity to educate at home.  We are thankful and give Him the glory for everything we have learned for His Spirit is our teacher, after all.  Lord willing I will have seven more years of homeschooling.  I'm excited to see how much more we can learn.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

To See with Other Eyes

We want to see with other eyes,
to imagine with other imaginations,
to feel with other hearts,
as well as our own... 
We demand windows. 
Literature as logos is a series of windows,
even of doors. 
One of the things we feel after reading a great work is
 "I have got out."

An Experiment in Criticism
~C.S. Lewis~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Raising Dragon Slayers

Fairy tales are more than true;
not because they tell us that dragons exist,
but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

G.K. Chesterton

There is much being discussed and written about the moral imagination.  So much so that I'm wondering why I'm entering the conversation, but I believe understanding the importance of this aspect of our children's upbringing can redefine culture in a profound way.  I certainly don't have anything new to add. I have read books and blog posts, listened to podcasts and seminar sessions, and so everything I have to say is a conglomeration of all my study.  But I'd like to use this space to narrate what I've been learning and hashing out what this might look like in my own home.

First of all, what is this moral imagination that seems to be the buzz word of late?  I like Sarah Mackenzie's definition:

"The Moral Imagination is the ordering of the soul rightly toward Truth. It rests entirely on the understanding that humans are reflections of the Divine Image- our value does not rest on our usefulness or utility, but on our very natures. It is, basically, the intrinsic knowing of God’s Truth in our souls."

Notice the capital T in truth.  The concept of "truth" is very subjective in today's culture.  The person with moral imagination is able to rightly discern Truth...God's absolute, unchangeable Truth.  Another way to look at it is virtue vs. society's quest for values.  Vigen Guroian, in his not-to-be-missed book, Tending the Heart of Virtue:  How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination says:

"There are real and very important differences between what we now call values and the virtues as they had traditionally been understood.  Let me put it in this way.  A value is like a smoke ring.  Its shape is initially determined by the smoker, but once it is released there is no telling what shapes it will take.  One thing is certain, however.  Once a smoke ring has left the smoker's lips it has already begun to evaporate into thin air.  Volition and volatility are characteristics of both smoke rings and values.  By contrast, a virtue might be compared to a stone whose nature is permanence.  We might throw a stone into a pond where it will lie at the bottom with other stones.  But if, at some later date, we should want to retrieve that stone from the bottom of the pond, we can be sure that the shape of the stone has not changed and that we will be able to distinguish it from the rest of the stones."

It is comforting to know that Truth is unchanging, that virtues are a constant rock.  But how do we equip our children with a rightly ordered moral imagination in today's relativistic world?


Specifically...fairy tales and fantasy stories.

We were made for story. Our lives are connected to the great Story of the universe which begins with, "Once upon a time, a great and benevolent King created a Kingdom full of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.  But a wicked dragon, intent upon the destruction of the Kingdom, its people and the very King Himself, purposed in his villainous heart to crush the Kingdom forever.  However, the King, because of His great love for His people, sent His Son to slay the dragon by His own death and defeat of death, releasing the King's grateful servants from their bondage...and they lived happily ever after."

This is our story.  And it has been told in countless ways through fairy tales.

How are our moral imaginations fed through these stories of old?

First, fairy tales confirm in a child's imagination that Truth is not relative.  Black is black and white is white.  The bad guy is obvious and he will be defeated.  This is a powerful notion for a child.  The enemy will not only BE defeated, he IS defeated.  The dragon has been slain, even while we must still fight.

Secondly, enchantment is reality.  We live in an enchanted world.  The God of the universe spoke the world into existence, parted a sea, made a donkey talk, was born of a virgin, rose from the dead.  In our cynical world, where we are bombarded with scoffers who reject any spiritual aspect of our existence, we must instill in our children the fact of enchantment.

And thirdly, imagination is necessary for faith.  "For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  (Heb. 11:1). While we have access to so many wonderful books of "real things," we often neglect works of imagination, believing them to be somehow less worthy because we are not learning something "real."  Teaching children that the things we hope for, the things we do not see are produced through imagination and grows in us faith, wonder and awe of our great King...what more incredible gift can we offer them?

I can understand a parent's concern of what they perceive as possible dangers of fairy tales and fantasy.  We must always be discerning.  Many modern renditions and current authors twist the archetypes we've always held as good and evil.  Sometimes the clear water is muddied and we can't even tell whom we are to cheer for.  I suggest starting with the tried and true. Find a good old version of fairy tales, such as Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book and slay a dragon with a child.


In addition to the resources above I recommend this outstanding sermon which was presented as part of a conference at my former church.  Also Sarah Mackenzie hosts the Read-Aloud  Revival podcast which also has a membership site.  Inside the membership site, there is an excellent video workshop given by Andrew Pudewa entitled How Fairy Tales Shape the Moral Imagination. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Salute to Private Librarians

In 2001, thanks to a fire lit by Michelle Miller, author of TruthQuest History and owner of an incredible private lending library, I began preparations for opening a library of my own in my small town in East Tennessee.  For several years I collected books, prayed, prepared, prayed, researched the Dewey Decimal System, prayed...  Finally I opened my doors officially in June 2008.  At that time, to my knowledge, there were four other such libraries in the country. 

Three years ago, my friends and owners of Living Books Library in Virginia, hosted the first ever homeschool librarians conference.  I was priviliged to attend and give the keynote address.  Since that time many libraries have been springing up around the country and more are in the works.  It is so exciting and rewarding to see so many families stepping into the role of Keeper of the Stories and sharing their collections of living books in their communities. 

If you have ever wondered whether there is a library in your area, please check my updated page entitled Libraries Near You

If there is no library in your vicinity, I implore you to consider starting one of your own.  The need is great.  So many families are desiring to give their children the gift of living ideas through living books but many of the best books are out of print and difficult to come by.  You don't need a large collection to make a difference.  500 treasures are worth more than 5000 volumes of mediocrity.  If this is something you would like to consider, I recommend the recording of the conference mentioned above.  There is also a yahoo group dedicated to these libraries.  Here we discuss all aspect of book collecting, lending, organization, challenges, etc.  I invite you to join us.  Search for Homeschool Library Builders in yahoo groups.

I pray more will join us on this journey, whether as members of these libraries or fellow librarians. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Frugal Chariot

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul.
Emily Dickinson
I am rich.  Oh, I don't mean in the monetary sense.  My family, like many families around the country, has been hit very hard with current economic unrest.  Our lifestyle has changed a great deal in the last couple of years.  We've never lived extravagently but we have always been able to afford the necessities of life and many of our wants.  Now our lives are...well...simpler.  We used to be able to travel a good deal.  We can no longer afford to do that...
Or can we?
Come to think of it, I have over 17,000 tickets to take our family nearly anywhere we want to go.  Just by opening the pages of a book, we have been able to sit on the four thrones of Cair Paravel in Narnia, flee the Nazis with Prince Michael of Hungary, go 20,000 leagues under the sea and to the center of the earth, and defend the abbey at Redwall.  We have traveled to the past and into the future.  We've met Benjamin Franklin, Julius Caesar, Millet and John Muir.  We've flown south with Honker the Canada goose and to Mars with Freddy the Pig.  We've stopped by woods on a snowy evening and gone down the road less traveled.
Most importantly we have been comforted by the words in The Living Book by our Lord who said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," and by Paul when he encouraged us to, "Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
So many families I know are feeling the stress of hard times, whether economic, family troubles,  or health issues.  And while books cannot take away the reality of the situation, they can offer relief from the stress of the day, comfort in the loss, company in the sick room and a frugal chariot to other lands.
This frugal chariot is available to anyone with a bookshelf or a library card.  Little or no money is necessary.  Are you ready?  Let's go...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why Try Audible This Week

As you know, I am a big fan of reading.  Reading silently and reading aloud make up a good part of our day.  Sometimes it's just hard, though, to get in as much reading time as we'd like especially this time of year when things are really gearing up on the farm.  We also spend much time a couple of days a week in the van.  Audio books have been a great solution for these times when we are yearning for a story but just can sit down to read one.

I have come to love my Audible membership.  So much so that I wanted to share it with you.  Audible offers a trial membership (click the link in the right column.)  During that time you have all the benefits of membership.  They offer a Daily Deal of an audio book at a very low price.  You can also rack up many audio books very inexpensively or even free as in wonderfully-done classics at Amazon.  This post tells how to get the most from your membership.

April is listener rewards month at Audible meaning you get $10 back if you buy 4 audio books with a regular price of $14.95...even if you get the audio books for free or almost.  In addition to that, this week (through 4/20/15) all titles are half price.  I'm adding some incredible titles to our audio library this month.

If you would like to try Audible, now's the time.  The link to the right (which is an affiliate link...all commissions support the library) will take you there.  If you decide to try Audible, let me know what you're "reading."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reading Then and Now

I am directing your attention to this post by Andrew Kern.  I call this a don't even think about missing it article if you would like to reclaim a culture of reading.

By the way, the My Book House set he refers to is fabulous.  I have a complete 1970's set in the library and two complete sets of the original version set aside for future grandchildren.  This is a good investment, especially if you are short on space but want a collection of some of the best of children's literature.  Sets can often be found fairly inexpensively or you can piece one together.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Quote #31

It is a good rule after reading a new book, 
never to allow yourself another new one 
till you have read an old one in between.

C.S. Lewis 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Quote #30

I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.

C.S. Lewis 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Quote #29

For the word of God is living and active, 
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Quote #28

Children are made readers
on the laps of their parents.
Emilie Buchwald

Friday, March 27, 2015

Quote #27

To learn to read is to light a fire.
Every syllable that is
spelled out is a spark.
~Victor Hugo~

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Quote #26

A little library, growing larger every year, is an honourable part of a man's history.  It is a man's duty to have books.  A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life.
                                           -Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Heavens Declare

I love living in the country.  The natural world is a constant companion, the view from every window a delight to the eyes.  I rejoice when I see our animals frisking in the pasture as spring comes in with its gentle breezes and sunshine.  But one of my favorite times to be out is on a clear night.  Praise wells up inside me as I look up and see the heavens declaring the glory of God.  Tears came to my eyes last night as I was walking by the pond to lock up the chickens.  I noticed the reflection of a sliver of moon in the water.  Looking up, I was awed by a spectacular display of the stars. 

There is nothing that can compare with time spent outdoors reveling in the creative power of  God.  Sometimes we want to dig deeper and study more about these heavenly bodies we are observing.  Here is a list for all ages.

Janice VanCleave's Astronomy for Every Kid is a good resource for experiments for middle school students.

H.A. Rey, known for the classic Curious George stories, has given us two gems to teach us about the heavenlies, The Stars and Find the Constellations

One of my favorite science series for younger children is the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out series.  These are excellent in explaining concepts in a way that children understand without dumbing down.  There are several titles to teach about the heavens.  All of these titles are authored by Franklyn Branley.  Many have been reprinted or can be found inexpensively.

The Sun:  Our Nearest Star
The Planets in Our Solor System
The Big Dipper
Shooting Stars
Journey Into a Black Hole
What the Moon Is Like
The Moon Seems to Change
A Book of the Milky Way Galaxy for You

Seymour Simon is known for his stunning photography and has several books which give us a glimpse into outer space. 

The Christmas Sky by Frankly Branley is an interesting look at what might have been happening in the heavens to create the Star of Bethlehem. 

The trusted Landmark series offers these titles to help us experience what it was like to go into space.

Walk in Space by Gene Gurney
Americans Into Orbit also by Gene Gurney

Author Dava Sobol has gained a great deal of respect for her science titles for older students. The Planets and A More Perfect Heaven are two titles that have been highly esteemed. 

A study of astronomy would not be complete without including biographies of great men and women who brought their knowledge to the forefront.  People like Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Halley and others offer great knowledge and inspiration.

A word about evolution...  Often Christian parents are hesitant to delve deeply into books which may come to different conclusions as to the origin of the universe.  There are organizations such as Answers in Genesis which have given us a wonderful gift of a Biblical perspective.  I love what Jan Bloom says when reviewing science authors who may not view these topics through a creationist's lens.  No one, absolutely no one can rob God of His glory.  He is our All in All.  Read with discernment.  The heavens do indeed declare the glory of God. 

Look up.

Quote #25

Never trust anyone
who has not brought
a book with them.
-Lemony Snicket

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Quote #24

No two persons
ever read the same book.
Edmund Wilson

Monday, March 23, 2015

Quote #23

If I am honest,
I have to tell you I still
read fairy tales
and I like them
best of all.
Audrey Hepburn

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quote #22

Employ your time
in improving yourself
by other men's writings,
so that you shall gain easily
what others
have labored hard for.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Quote #21

A book is like a garden,
carried in the pocket.
Chinese proverb

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quote #20

When you are writing for children,
do not assume a style for the occasion.
Think your best and write your best.
Let the whole thing live;
let there be plenty of breadth
and power.
~Anatole France~

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Quote #19

We give him little text-books, mere compendiums of facts, which he is to learn off and say and produce at an examination; or we give him various knowledge in the form of warm diluents, prepared by his teacher with perhaps some grains of living thought to the gallon.  And all the time we have books, books teaming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children.
                                                                        -Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Quote #18

When I get a little money
I buy books;
and if any is left
I buy food and clothes.

Desiderius Erasmus

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Quote #17

I'm not addicted to reading.
I can quit as soon as I read
one more chapter.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Books for Sale updated

I have just posted an enormous list of books for sale.  Click on the "Books for Sale" tab above or here.

Thanks for looking and supporting Children's Legacy Library!

Quote #16

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.

                                                                                                       - Confucius

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Quote #15

Show me a family of readers
and I will show you
the people who move the world...


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Quote #14

You don't have to burn books
to destroy a culture.
Just get people
to stop reading them.
-Ray Bradbury-

Friday, March 13, 2015

Quote #13

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
-Mark Twain

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Quote #12

My dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books.  As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still.  But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.  You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it.  I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be

                                        your affectionate Godfather,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Quote #11

The only thing worse
than not reading a book
in the last ninety days
is not reading a book
in the last ninety days
and thinking that
it doesn't matter.
Jim Rohn

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Quote #10

I find television very educating.
Every time somebody
turns on the set,
I go into the other room
and read a book.
-Groucho Marx

Monday, March 9, 2015

Nature Study for the Hungry Soul

Ahhh, Spring.  You can feel it in the air.  Yes, we just got rid of inches of snow and ice and the landscape is brown and yucky.  But my peepers are singing their hearts out and I know it's coming.  I have an almost a desperate longing for Spring this year.  After my recent diagnosis with a life-threatening allergy to the cold in which I had two dangerous episodes, I have spent the last few weeks inside the house.  I'm dying to get out and revel in nature.

Our nature study has been very minimal this winter.  I plan to remedy that in the weeks to come.  Nature study is crucial to, not only our spirit, but to our academics as well.  Charlotte Mason recommended nature study and living books for science in the early years (actually all grades implemented these in addition to more formal study.)  The importance of nature study cannot be overemphasized.  It lays the foundation for all other study.  (Notice I did not say for all other "science" study.  ALL subjects benefit from consistent nature study.)  Living books play an important role in supplementing this important habit.

Below are some tips if you're new to nature study and resources that might help.

1.  Nature study can be planned or spontaneous.  You can have certain things you are looking for when you go out or just be surprised.  Sometimes we are studying a particular topic and we go out to observe that, recording observations in our nature journal, looking things up in living books, field guides or even an app.  But we always have our eyes open for things to see.  Barb at the Handbook of Nature Study site has a plethora of ideas and helps for you.

2. Invite nature to come to you.  Hang a bird feeder, build a bat house, plant a garden, etc.

3.  Keep a nature journal.  This should be a joy, not drudgery.  You should keep one as well as your child, but allow him to do his own work.  You may give suggestions but ultimately the work should be your child's.  Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie gives excellent instruction.  The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady offers inspiration (as long as you don't compare and become discouraged!  It's gorgeous!)

4.  Don't forget things that are "common."  I love what Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason says.  "The dandelions are not new, but the children are new."  Help them to appreciate what they see in their everyday world.

5.  Look up.  There's lots of nature in the sky, day and night, and it often changes every few seconds.

6.  Living books can play various roles.  If you are studying specific topics, seek out books about those topics.  Or if you are out and see something unexpected, find books about that.  Don't let the books drive the study, though, and feel like you have to read about every single thing or record every single thing in a nature notebook unless your child really wants to.  Sometimes a little goes a long way. Some of my favorite science/nature authors and series are Jim Arnosky, Robert McClung, Millicent Selsam, Edwin Way Teale, Margaret Waring Buck, Let's-Read-and-Find-Out series, and Discover Nature series to name a few.

7. Keep a calendar of firsts.  These can be simple or fancy, but the easiest thing to do is get a plain ol' calendar and record all the "firsts" you notice...the first bud on a tree, the first peeper frogs, the first snowfall, the first frost, the first hummingbird, etc.  It may not be the first one, but it's the first one you saw.  Children love this and they are always looking to find things to add to their calendar.  Then the following year, they make another one and can compare from year to year.  They may notice that the hummingbirds came earlier this year than last or the first frost was later.  They begin to look for their favorites with anticipation and it will open their eyes to notice everything around them.

Never before in history have people spent so much time inside detached from nature.  We are paying a hefty price for our neglect.  Spending time outside creates a sense of wonder and awe for our God. Open your eyes and SEE.

Quote #9

Let their books be
the best that can be found
in liberal supply and variety.

~Charlotte Mason~

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Quote #8

You're never too old,
too wacky, too wild,
to pick up a book
and read to a child.
                    -Dr. Seuss 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Quote #7

Don't grudge Anne Cordelia her fancies, Diana.  I'm always sorry for children who don't spend a few years in fairyland.

~Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery~

The Streak ~ 100 Days!

We have arrived at an exciting milestone in our read-aloud journey.  This is day 100 of our Reading Streak!  We began on Thanksgiving Day with the goal of reading aloud every single day until the end of the year.  We continued through the New Year and have arrived at day 100!

As I wrote previously, we already have a family culture of reading aloud almost every single day.  When books are your constant companions, it makes sense that reading aloud would be a priority.  But there has been something about setting a goal such as this that has made us more intentional.  We find ourselves laying aside less important (to us) activities that might crowd out read-aloud time, coming together and sharing a book.  It's a beautiful thing.

We spent two weeks in February snowed in so those days were easy read-aloud days in front of a roaring fire.  No busyness to interfere.  We did have one close call, though.  We were finally able to dig ourselves out of snow and ice to do some much needed errands, a birthday celebration that was waylaid and a make-up violin lesson.

That evening the boys were going to spend the night with Grandma but I had assured them that we would read before they went.  Well, in the frenzied pace of the day, we forgot.  After the boys were safely delivered to Grandma's, I remembered in a panic!  I grabbed the phone, explained to my mother what had happened and told her I needed both boys on two different phones!  She was doubtful and said, "They won't want to stop what they're doing just to read.  They're playing."  "GET THE BOYS!!"  I said.  What transpired in the next few seconds cracked me up and warmed my heart.  I heard my mom tell the boys that Momma was on the phone and she wanted them on separate phones so she could read to them.  I heard a flurry of activity as Marcus screamed, "OH NO!  We forgot to read!  Daniel, get the other phone!  WE FORGOT TO READ!!!"  Daniel shuffled around crying, "Where is it?!?  Where is it?!"  Marcus shoved the phone into his hands imploring him to hurry!  Finally we all settled down to a read-aloud time thanks to Alexander Graham Bell.

Keep in mind these boys are 11years old and one of them is two inches taller than I am.  Needless to say I was thrilled...and my mom was shocked.  Books bind us together.  In a culture of individualism, books are part of what make us...US.

We will continue on with our Streak as long as it lasts and I may post about special milestones, but I wanted to share the impact this simple goal had made in our reading and our family.

Here are the books we've shared as read-alouds over the last 100 days.

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
I Saw Three Ships - Elizabeth Goudge
A Tree for Peter - Kate Seredy
The Christmas Stove - Alta Halverson Seymour
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus - Amelia Houghton
The Snow Queen - Hans Christian Anderson
By Right of Conquest - G.A. Henty
On the Far Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George
Wizard of Oz - Frank Baum
Frightful's Mountain - Jean Craighead George
Beyond the Desert Gate - Mary Ray
Greek Slave Boy - Lillian Carroll
Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
The Green Ember - S.D. Smith

Friday, March 6, 2015

Quote #6

To a bibliophile, 
there is but one thing better
than a box of new books,
and that is a box of old ones.

-Will Thomas-

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Quote #5

When you sell a man a book, you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.  Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean.

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Quote #4

Poetry and Hums 
aren't things which you get, 
they're things which get you.
And all you can do is go where
they find you.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

Quote #2

It is what you read 
when you don't have to 
that determines what you will be 
when you can't help it.

~Oscar Wilde~

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March is National Reading Month ~ A Quote a Day

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
  The man who never reads lives only one.

~George R. R. Martin~

Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's Here!

After years of dreaming and months of waiting, I'm finally thrilled to announce that one of the most beautiful books ever written is finally available.  Everyone who comes into my library very soon hears about this treasure.  The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy is the story of Prince Michael of Hungary whose country is being taken over by the Nazis during World War II.

The beauty of this book cannot be adequately expressed.  Many years ago I was searching for a copy of this exquisite gem but prices were high.  I was in need of a new winter coat.  I bought the book instead.  When I finally sat down to read it, I cried so hard because of its beauty I had to lay the book aside for a time.  Finally I mustered up the determination to pick it back up.  I cried again as I experienced the courageous heroism in the great and the small.

If you want to experience a living book as it was meant to be, buy this book.  If you want to share with your children this historical time period played out in poignant beauty, buy this book.  I'm thrilled beyond measure this captivating story is in print again for another generation to experience.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow Day Ramblings

As I sit here, the snow is falling peacefully.  After a relatively mild winter, we have experienced three winter storms of snow and/or ice and expecting another later this week.  I don't go in ice.  On top of that, we've had subzero temperatures.  I have a life-threatening condition which sends me into anaphylactic shock if I'm out in cold weather.  So I have been inside for 13 days now.

God is so good.  He knows when we need slowing down, time to rest and reflect...and get some of those jobs done that have been looming with no time in the frenzied schedule to tackle or finish.  I've been doing lots of both (even sneaking in a nap or two.)   Since I can't be outside in the cold, I was inspired to do some window nature study and marvel at the creative hand of God.  The cardinals, blue jays, juncos, nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers have been grateful for the feast we have provided.  Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner has supplemented our observations.

One of the projects I have been trying to accomplish for a few months and was able to complete is rearranging the library.  It is no small feat to shift over 17,000 books.  I've also catalogued and labeled my Middle Ages and poetry sections and have begun the Renaissance/Reformation section.  Thanks to a sale at Demco and a $50 coupon, I was able to invest in good quality bookends to expand my fiction area to the top of the bookcases.  This gave me the equivalent of two more bookcases of space!

School continues with snowballs, sledding and snowmen doubling as P.E.  Lots of reading by a cozy fire is keeping our imaginations aflame.  Our current poet this term is Emily Dickinson.  I leave you by sharing today's poem.

The Snow

It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain,--
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem,--
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen,--
Then stills it's artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.