Saturday Reading Corner

Usually on Saturdays I post a weekly update, but we are winding down here for the year. The kids are doing less and less academic work, so I find it hard to write an academic update when there is not much going on academically.

Although academics are done for the school year that does not mean that no learning is going on. It just means that the kids are learning and doing what they please, and we are all enjoying the change. I am enjoying it so much that I am debating whether or not the kids should unschool next year, but alas that is a discussion for another post.

In this post I want to talk about reading and books, two of my favorite subjects. This week I have been reading aloud to the kids from four different books, and my book-loving kids have been in heaven.

One of the books we are reading is The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt. This book is part of the Johnny Dixon series which I have mentioned before on the blog. The boys love this series, and I think the draw is that they are spooky and a little scary (especially if you are on the younger side). The books were written in the eighties, but they take place in the fifties, and it seems a perfect combination. The eighties were a time when kids weren’t coddled so much, hence the horror element and occasional swearing, and the fifties were a time when people were a little rough around the edges, hence the smoking, gruff professor who is a main character of the books. This is a great series for any young mystery/horror fans, and we are all having so much fun with it.

Another book that we are reading this week is the final installment in The Sisters Grimm series, The Council of Mirrors. The twins, especially Autry, have loved this series from the very beginning. It was the first series of books that Autry ever collected, and it went a long way towards making here the book lover that she is today.

Honestly I don’t love this series. I find the writing average, the constant pop culture references annoying, and the plot confusing at times. I do love the characters though, and I think that is part of the draw for the kids. One character in particular, Puck, is very funny and his hijinks are the highlight of the books for the kids. They love Puck, and the rest of the characters, and we can’t wait to see how this series in. We are about fifty pages away, and I know all the kids, especially Autry, will be a little sad when we finish that last page.

Another series I have mentioned here before is the Akimbo series. Decca reluctantly began the first book we had, Akimbo and the Crocodile Man, and soon was under the spell of these sweet, short, first-chapter books. We are on our third book from the series, Akimbo and the Baboons, and he is still loving them. The books all have the same set-up. Akimbo lives on a nature preserve in Africa with his parents, and some scientist or naturalist visits their home to study an animal. Akimbo gets to go along with the person to study the animals, and something dangerous happens. Akimbo uses his smarts and knowledge of animals to get out of the situation and then the book ends with everyone safe. Akimbo is a great series for any kid that loves animals and is just starting to read independently. Honestly they are below Decca’s reading level, but he loves animals hence his high interest.

Finally Tru and I continued our study of Shakespeare this week (something he is enjoying so much!), and he and I both recommend the No Fear series. The translations are side-by-side with the text, and that helps so much when you are reading it. Next up for us is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I am going to have Autry read that with us. She will be out of school soon, and I am looking forward to spending a good deal of the summer enjoying many great books with here. I can’t wait!

Summer Reading

I have been trying to put together a list of books I want to read with the kids this summer. We have always read books together, but this year I have not been able to read as many books as I would like to. As my kids get older it seems I have less and less free time to spend how I want. Instead of reading to my kids for hours a day, I am in the car taking them to or from various activities. Because of all this running around, our read-aloud time has been severely shorten. I am lucky if I have time to read them a chapter or two a night.

And I miss all the reading we used to do. Even though my kids are getting older, they all still love to sit in front of the fireplace or cuddle on the couch and listen to a good book. This summer I want to go through as many books as we can to make up for our lack-luster year.

So far I have chosen a mix of new books published within the last year and older classics. I have also tried to pick out books that all three kids will be interested in, which can sometimes be a challenge considering the kids are four years apart.

Here is what I got so far:

  May B.Wonder

The Case of the Deadly Desperados

The Lions of Little Rock

Treasure of Green Knowe

Five Children and It

Swallows and Amazons

This is the list I have so far. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know. I am always looking for a good book, whether it be a classic or something modern. I love to discover wonderful books to share with my children.

Summer Reading List

I love to read to the kids, and I haven’t had much opportunity this past year because of being in school full-time. This summer I plan to make up for all our loss time by reading as many books as possible. I am creating a list now for us, and I have come up with some good picks. I am trying to have a nice mix of classics ( which Tru seems to love) and more modern books. This is what I have come up with so far:

Pinocchio – We have been meaning to read this for so long, and I don’t know why, but we never seem to get to it. Right now we are reading the latest Sisters Grimm book, and the character of Pinocchio is one of the main characters. In the book the sisters visit the book of Pinocchio. Hearing it described made the kids and I want to read this story (the boys especially want to read it after hearing about all the horrible things that happens to Pinocchio), so this will be our first pick. I am hoping that it will be as good as I expect it to be.

Next on our list is a series that I started to read to the kids a few months ago, but I could never get into it, so I stopped. The kids keep asking me about it though, and they really want to finish it, so I am going to give it a go again. The series is the Green Knowe series, and I am not sure why I didn’t like them, but I didn’t. I think I didn’t like reading it out loud. The names were so hard for me to read. Toseland, Tolly, Mother Knowe, etc., and after reading a few pages I was always done, much to the annoyance of the kids. I will try again and see how it goes. We will start with The Children of Green Knowe then move onto Treasure of Green Knowe and end with The River at Green Knowe. There are three more books in the series, but I haven’t bought them yet, and I honestly don’t know if I will. I need to see if I can make it through these three books first.

After the Green Knowe books I think we will read Andrew Henry’s Meadow. I don’t know much about this book yet, but it gets great reviews at Amazon. The book was published over forty years ago and apparently it has amazing illustrations, which the kids and I always enjoy. The book is about a secret hideout, another thing we love, and it is only 48 pages. A short book with great pictures is always a nice change of pace, and something that Decca really needs after so many long chapter books.

Next I think I will read The Lightning Thief to the kids. I have never been interested in the series (or the movie which looked absolutely horrible), but a friend recommended it to me, and I think the twins will really like it. Hopefully Decca and I will enjoy it too.

We will end the summer with two books by one of my favorite authors, Edward Eager. I have read Half Magic, Magic by the Lake, and Seven-Day Magic to the kids, and they all loved them. This summer I will read Knight’s Castle and The Time Garden to them. I think this will be a perfect way to end the summer.

I love reading books to the kids, and I can’t wait to get started on our summer reading list. How about you? If you have any great books to recommend to us let me know. I am always looking for something great to read!

Our School Room

Not Back to School Blog Hop

I love looking at other people’s school rooms to get ideas.  Today I reorganized our area, and I thought I would post some pics. It isn’t ideal; there is very little wall space, but we make it work.

Looking into the room from the dining room. This is Decca's keyboard. It is not my favorite thing, but he loves it!

And looking into it from the kitchen.

I have desks on two sides of the walls. This is the desk on the smaller wall.

And this is the long desk on the other wall.

Then I have three bookcases set against the third wall. They are packed!

The second bookcase...

And the third. The globe lights up. It is very cool at night.

This is another area where the kids can work. They also like to sit there all day and "order" food from the "diner".

I also have this bookcase behind the dining room table.

A close-up. This shelf is holding some books from Animals and Their Worlds.

My son found this old scale at an antique store. We have it out and use it often.


United Tweets of America: 50 State BirdsTheir Stories, Their Glories

I love childrens books, and I am always on the lookout for that next great find. The kids and I picked up this great book while at the library, and it was an immediate hit. All three kids have spent time reading it, and their state knowledge has improved. What’s best is that they think it is funny. I highly recommend it.

Another book that we have recently discovered (actually rediscovered as we have had it for a while, but have not read it much until now) is Phineas Gage. What a great book and an interesting story. It is gruesome (an iron rod went through his skull), but fascinating. This book is another big hit at my house.

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

I have recently discovered some great blogs dedicated just to children’s literature and after reading them over I have decided on two books that I have to have immediately. One is The Magician’s Elephant and the other is The Man Who Lost His Head. I am looking forward to reading them and sharing them with the kids.

The Magician’s Elephant

The Man Who Lost His Head

Have you had any great finds lately? If so share your knowledge, I am always looking for a great book!