Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

“The 21 Balloons” By William Pene du Bois March 6, 2015

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:16 pm

newbery-through-the-decadesWe’re already off and running with our Newbery Through the Decades challenge for this month — the 1940’s.  We started The 21 Balloons by William Pene Du Bois, the 1948 medal winner, at the tail end of February.  It was a quick read, and we had it finished earlier this week.

The 21 Balloons is a “fantastic” tale (in the sense of “imaginative” or “fanciful”).  It takes place in 1883, and professor William Waterman Sherman has been found in the Atlantic ocean surrounded by 20 large balloons attached to a platform.  This is quite a surprise, because he took off in one balloon from San Francisco only just a little over a month earlier.   After insisting that he must return to the Western American Explorers Club to tell his tale, he is eventually whisked by train across the country to recount his journey.

Professor Sherman crossed the Pacific quite quickly in his balloon, in which he had hoped to spend a year floating around the world.   Misfortune struck, in the form of aggressive seagulls, and he unfortunately crash lands on a tropical island.  This tropical island turns out to be Krakatoa, which, in this story, turns out to not only be inhabited, but inhabited by a fabulously wealthy group of 20 American families, who have carved out for themselves a most unique society on the island.

If you are at all familiar with history, you might guess as to why Professor Sherman’s stay on the island did not last.  Just as in real life, the fictional volcano on the Island of Krakatoa also erupts,  causing the islands inhabitants to flee, and the professor to end up in the state which he is found at the beginning of the book.

While I found the book somewhat entertaining, it’s not one I would eagerly re-read or list among my favorites for the year.  Miss M enjoyed it more than I did.  She liked the humor of some of the situations on the island, and was more easily able to suspend her disbelief at the circumstances that led to the group of Americans living on the island.  I found the set-up to be a bit preposterous, and that diminished my enjoyment of the book to some extent.  I’ve only read one of the 1948 honor books (Misty of Chincoteague), and I have to say I enjoyed that one more in comparison.



“The White Stag” by Kate Seredy February 24, 2015

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 4:00 pm

newbery-through-the-decadesEven though we already finished one 1930s Newbery Award winner for the Newbery Through the Decades challenge in February, I decided we could sneak in one more before the end of the month.   Thimble Summer was a quick read, and I hadn’t planned ahead for the next bedtime read-aloud for Miss M and I.   The White Stag by Kate Seredy has been on my shelves for quite a while, though I was thinking of saving it for a few months from now to match up with our history studies.   But, I’m glad I decided to grab this 1938 Newbery winner to enjoy right now.

Over the past year or so I’ve become a huge fan of Kate Seredy’s work.  We read The Good Master, The Singing Tree and The Chestry Oak last year as historical fiction to match up with our history studies (We were focusing on American history, but read these European-focused works when we were at the corresponding time periods in our studies).   As I impatiently await my very own copy of The Chestry Oak (It has been out of print for many years — we had to get it from ILL, and now it is soon to be reprinted!), I was getting antsy to read another book by Seredy.

As we read The White Stag, I didn’t feel so bad about not waiting until we reach the time of Atila the Hun in our history studies to read this mostly-fictional saga of Attila, his ancestors, and their sojurn across Europe and central Asia.  In this work inspired by traditional Hungarian folk tales and mythology, Seredy weaves a surprisingly beautiful story of people migrating and conquering their way to a land promised to them by their god.

What really stood out to me in this story was Seredy’s amazing writing.  I am not usually one to stop and marvel at an author’s word choice, but I found myself doing that several times while reading this book aloud:

“Soon came the coldest cruelest winter the Huns and Magyars had ever known.  Snow lay thick on the ground for months and the icy northerly winds howled like malignant demons.  When spring finally came, the thawing snow swelled the rivers into raging torrents impossible to cross. Unwonted idleness began to chafe the restless spirit of the warriors.” (p. 56)

“The wild mountains of Altain-Ula were but a legend to the Huns, the years by the misty blue lake only a fading memory. The past lived in songs, the present in their flashing swords, and the future in their hearts. The future was ‘a land between two great rivers, surrounded by mountains.'” (p. 80)

I’m not sure if these quotes quite convey it when separated from the rest of the text, but Seredy’s descriptive, beautiful language make this story feel like a sweeping epic even though it is told in only 93 pages (including pages taken up with Seredy’s equally beautiful and detailed illustrations).  This book is definitely more than worth the short amount of time it takes to read.


“Thimble Summer” by Elizabeth Enright February 23, 2015

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:42 pm

newbery-through-the-decadesI had Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright on our “to read” list for last spring as we finished up with our second year of American History studies, but somehow we never got around to reading it.   So, this was an easy choice for a 1930’s award winner for the Newbery Through the Decades Challenge in February.

Thimble Summer was a book I could have easily handed over to Miss M for a quick read, but it was also an enjoyable book to read together.   Like other of Enright’s books we’ve read (The Saturdays, Gone Away Lake), the story is gentle and focuses on episodic adventures of children who seem like “ordinary kids” in many ways. Thimble Summer takes place in the 1930s and relates the incidents in one girl’s life over the course of the summer after she finds what she believes to be a lucky thimble.

A friend recently told me how she just doesn’t understand what I (and other friends) see in books like this.  “They’re pretty boring,” was essentially what she told me.   If you are looking for edge-of-your-seat excitement, this definitely won’t be your cup of tea.  But, Miss M and I both find very enjoyable to read about what life might have been like for a nine year old girl in a different era — when no security system would immediately betray the presence of two girls locked into the library after hours, and a trip alone to big town down the road (via bus and hitchhiking) would not result in a call to the police.

Thimble Summer would make a great addition to a historical fiction reading list for 20th century American History, or just an enjoyable read for anyone who likes sweet, true-to-life stories.


“Downright Dencey” by Caroline Snedeker February 22, 2015

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:20 pm

newbery-through-the-decadesMy big inspiration to get back to blogging was Amy’s “Newbery Through the Decades Challenge” @ Hope is the Word.  I love reading Newbery award winners and I hope to someday be able to say that I have read every Newbery award winner.   Given that I had been having a hard time deciding on books for Miss M and I to read together, the idea of reading one or more Newbery books each month this year sounded like a great idea. Both honor books and award winners are eligible for each month’s challenge.

The first book we read for the challenge (back in January…better late than never to blog about it, right?) was Downright Dencey by Caroline Snedeker, a 1928 honor book.   While I am aiming to read mostly award winners for the challenge, none of the winners from the 1920s struck me as books I wanted to read with my daughter right now.  A couple sounded like they might be of interest to the boys, we’ve already read Gay-Neck, Story of a Pigeon, and I’m saving Trumpeter of Krakow for when we reach the appropriate time in our history studies.  That left the honor books to look through, and I chose this one because M often likes books featuring girls about her age.

Downright Dencey is set in the Nantuckt island Quaker community soon after the War of 1812.  Dionis, or Dencey as she is often called, is a fairly spirited girl who, in a moment of rash anger, throws a stone at a boy who is calling her offensive names.   She feels she must seek this boy’s forgiveness, and in her attempt to do so, she gives away a precious books and promises to teach this outcast boy to read.   Dencey must be secretive to fufill her promise since her mother would never permit her to spend time with this boy, and she finds herself facing a battle within as she struggles between keeping her promise to the boy and feeling guilt at the lying and deceitful behavior she has to undertake to keep the promise.

While I felt like this book was a bit of a slow starter, the action picks up as the story progresses.  Dencey faces a number of minor hardships and adventures, and gets in trouble for impulsive behavior and bad choices in a way that reminds me just a bit of Anne in Anne of Green Gables.  Quaker religious beliefs figure prominently into the story.   I found it interesting to see how the beliefs of Dencey and her family share some similarities to beliefs I hold, while other beliefs are unique and almost puzzling.

Miss M gives this book a “thumbs up” as well.  Even when I almost thought about giving up on it a couple chapters in, she assured me she wasn’t bored and enjoyed the book all the way through.


Book Discoveries this Week: Exclamation Mark and other picture books July 27, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 5:27 pm

Once every two or three months, I like to jot down a few notes on picture books we’ve recently enjoyed.  My last picture book post was back in April, so it’s time to do that againexclamation mark.

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal was probably my favorite of the past couple months.  We’ve enjoyed some of Rosenthal’s other picture books in the past (especially This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations).   The exclamation mark in Rosenthal’s book just wants to be like all the other little periods around him.  But no matter how hard he tries to bend and contort, he just isn’t like them.  Then he meets another funny looking punctuation mark who asks a lot of questions, and helps the exclamation mark learn how he is truly unique and useful. All the kids enjoyed this book and thought it was really cute!

Isn’t it funny how kids just love some picture books that we as adults see as just “okay”?  My 4 and 6 year old boys are really enamored with The Chickens Build A Wall by Jean-Francois Dumont.  It’s one they picked out themselves at the library.    In this story the barnyard chickens are afraid of a small, strange pointy animal (a hedgehog) that appears near them one day.    So they build a tower of sorts (with no door) to protect themselves…only to find the hedgehog ended up in the walled fortification with them, and he really isn’t so bad after all.  I thought this book was kind of silly (how were they getting food and water all this time if their fortress had no door?), but for some reason the boys asked me to read this one many, many times.  🙂



Here are some quick takes on other picture books that some or all of us enjoyed recently:



The Cow that Laid an Egg: A bunch of chickens help an insecure cow to think she has a special talent — laying an egg.  I like the subtle message about love and family in this book — even if the “baby” that hatches from the egg is somewhat un-cow-like,  Marjorie the Cow will love her little one anyway.

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School: A fun take on the classic Gingerbread Man story.  This Gingerbread Man is running to look for a group of kids he really hopes to catch, instead of running away from various pursuers.

Zero Zilch Nada: Counting to None: This is one enjoyed by Mr. K — but not so much by me.  A cute bunny is hired for a job at the balloon factory.  He needs to blow up a certain number of balloons, but isn’t very good at counting or keeping track…so he pops the balloons to count them (leaving him with “zilch” at the end, of course).  The bunny’s actions are a bit silly, but the thing that really bugged me is that the balloons floated up (like helium balloons) when the bunny was blowing them up with air.  I’m not quite sure what was going through the illustrator’s mind here.  After Mr. K requested a 2nd reading, I just couldn’t handle it any more, and this one quick;y went back to the library.  😉

13 Words: This picture book by Lemony Snicket (author of A Series of Unfortunate Events), is bizzare, funny and a vocabulary lesson all in one.  The 13 words range from simple (cake) to quite complicated (haberdashery and mezzo-soprano), and form the basis for a rather odd story about a depressed bird.  Worth checking out, even for your own amusement.

A is for Musk Ox:  A is for Musk ox. B is for Musk Ox.  So is C, D, E…and so on.  This book is very, very funny.  The musk ox will tell you all the ways he is awesome, cool and more.  Forget those apples and clowns…musk oxen are where it’s at! 😉 There’s a sequel (Musk Ox Counts) coming out this fall, and we will definitely be looking for that one at the library when it is published!

Clink: A sweet story about a robot who is more than a bit out of date, but would still love to make some child happy.    He almost gives up hope, until the perfect boy comes into the store.

The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy:  We’ve had this book a few times from the library, but I don’t think I have featured it in a picture book post before.  A spinoff of the “Ladybug Girl” books by the same author, Bumblebee Boy is a typical boy who wants to save the world…without his little brother playing along.  But Owen wants to be a “Soup Hero Too?”  I love how Owen and Bumblebee Boy work through their differences and find a way to fight the bad guys together.   My boys really relate to and enjoy this book…I probably should just buy them a copy since they have checked it out so many times!



I’m joining in with the monthly link-up for Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!


Book Discoveries this Week: Henry Huggins and Tanglewoods Secret July 18, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:08 pm

We’ve finished a couple more read-alouds this week — One for the boys, and one for Miss M. Mr. E spent a good portion of last week with Grandma Karen (my mom).  I sent the book Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary for them to start together.  Mr. E loved it and was eager to continue it once he got home.  Mr. K listened quite often as well, as did Miss M (who caught up reading on her own all the parts she missed).

Henry Huggins was not an entirely new character to us, as Miss M and I read the Ramona books aloud when she was a 2nd grader, and she has re-read them many times since.   Henry appears as a minor character in the Ramona books,  and Ramona and Beezus appear in the Henry books as well.   Henry Huggins covers one eventful year in Henry’s life when he first gets Ribsy, his beloved dog, and has all kinds of other funny adventures as well.  Fans of the Ramona books or other “episodic life adventure” sort of books will probably like the Henry series as well.

I have, so far, been generally choosing books to read aloud to Mr. E that feature boys as main characters, since he is just getting his feet wet with chapter book listening and I am trying to hold his interest as much as possible.  It fascinated me, however, that he requested I read Betsy-Tacy next after finishing Henry Huggins.    We’re about seven chapters in to that book (1st in my all-time favorite children’s book series!), and he and Mr. K love it.  I think I am one lucky mom to have boys who like Betsy-Tacy too.  🙂

With Miss M, I decided to take a departure from our fairy tale and fantasy read-alouds for something of a bit more serious nature.  I picked up Tanglewoods Secret by Patricia St. John at a book sale this year.   It’s actually the second book by St. John that I acquired…but the first one (received in a box of random books given to me by a friend who was “cleaning out”) had such an odd cover and no description on the back that I didn’t even give it a second look.

I was clued in to what I missed out on when I read this post by Amy about another St. John book, Star of Light.  So, this time, when I found another book by the same author, I didn’t pass it up.

In Tanglewoods Secret, Ruth and Philip are living with their aunt and uncle while their tanglewoods secretparents are serving overseas.  Ruth is fairly hot-tempered, and this gets her into trouble pretty frequently.   One night in a fit of rage, Ruth runs away rather than face her Aunt (who threatened to send her to boarding school), after sleeping the night in a church, Ruth meets a clergyman who tells her about the Good Shepherd who can find his lost sheep, no matter where they are or how far they have run away.  This starts Ruth down a path of “belonging to the Good Shepherd”, which influences her entire family and helps a friend and his family through a time of grave crisis.

I’ve never been big on “Christian Fiction” per se, but this was done pretty tastefully.  The story of the Good Shepherd and the theological ideas presented fit pretty naturally into the storyline — though the explanations were a bit muddled at times, and sometimes required just a bit of theological/Biblical explanation on my part to make sure Miss M was left with the right idea.    Miss M shares a few things in common with Ruth in terms of having a fiery temper, so I am hoping maybe a few of the ideas in the book sink in beyond it just being a good story.  🙂  Miss M enjoyed it and asked if I could find more books by the same author.  I was bummed that our library doesn’t have any of St. John’s children’s books, so I will be investigating used book stores (and patiently requesting via Inter Library Loan).

I’ll be linking up to the now-monthly Read-Aloud Thursday at the end of the month!


A Visit to the Wanda Gag House July 8, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:30 pm

This past weekend we took a three day camping trip to New Ulm, Minnesota.  It’s about a two hour drive from our home in Minneapolis, and is a town I lived in for about four and a half years as a child (from about age 5.5 to age 10).  Besides a fun and relaxing time spent camping, we also did a bit of sight seeing.

Miss M and I both were very excited to visit the Wanda Gag House.  Gag is well known as the author of Millions of Cats, and we have enjoyed several of her other picture books as well.  Gag lived in New Ulm her entire childhood in this house that is now a museum. I thought perhaps the boys would not be very keen on seeing the house — but they were excited to see it too!  So, we all went in to view the house.

Wanda Gag House

This was my first visit to the Gag house as well — The house was not purchased for restoration and preservation until the year after I moved away from New Ulm. The Gag home has been restored in a number of ways to the look it would have had when Wanda and her six siblings lived there.  After many, many layers of paint and wall paper were removed, decorative painting and scrollwork done done by Wanda’s father Anton Gag were visible on the walls!

A number of works of Wanda’s art are displayed on the main floor of the house, while works of art by younger sister Flavia (who was also an author and illustrator of children’s books!), and her father Anton are on display on the 2nd floor and in the attic space.  We learned many interesting facts about Wanda and her family.  One little tidbit I found interesting — the hand lettering featured in Millions of Cats and some of Gag’s other works was not done by Wanda but by one of her younger brothers.  What a talented family!

We bought our very own copy of Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw to take home with us.  We greatly enjoyed this picture book biography on at least two occasions from the library.

Linking up with Fantastic Foto Field Trips @ HSBA Post!

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Book Discoveries this Week: A potpourri of chapter books July 2, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 2:14 pm

Despite how busy we’ve been in the past couple weeks, it feels like we’ve actually done quite a bit of reading.   Afternoon nap time for the toddler is a perfect time to read aloud to the rest of the crew (and it is nice “down time” for them between all our outside activities).  And summer evenings seem to lend themselves well to reading a bit later than usual with Miss M.

I usually try and stick to one chapter book per post…but I’m afraid if I don’t condense some of them into one post, I’ll start to forget what we’ve read.  😉

With Mr. E (age 6) as my primary audience, we finished The Mouse and the Motorcyle by Beverly Cleary and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  We’re working on Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator right now, so I’ll save Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for a future post about both books.

Both Mr. E and Mr. K (age 4) listened to The Mouse and the Motorcycle, though Mr. E  the mouse and the motorcycleenjoyed it a bit more.  Miss M read it all in one afternoon after we finished.  🙂  The Mouse and the Motorcycle is a great story for young boys in particular.  They can all relate to a boy who loves to play with his toy cars and beloved motorcycle.     Keith befriends Ralph the mouse while staying at an old motel that is home to Ralph and his family.  He even allows Ralph to take joy rides on his beloved toy motorcycle…which can really move if one make pb-pb-pb-bbbb  sounds, of course.  This leads to all kinds of adventures and trouble for Ralph, who learns a big lesson in responsibility.  We’ll be reading the sequels about Ralph the mouse sometime soon.

With Miss M, I’ve finished a couple complete books as read-alouds, plus we’ve done a few shared readings where I started the book and she finished it.  This is new for us, and it seems to be working out quite well to help her discover new books she was a bit more apprehensive to dive into on her own.

wonderful ONot being quite sure what I wanted to read after The Little White Horse (linked to my review), we started a shorter book, The Wonderful “O” by James Thurber.  This is a funny little story about two pirates who, unable to find any treasure on an island they visit, decide to forcibly outlaw the letter “O”.   Not only do they outlaw speaking the words themselves that contain the dreaded “O”…but the objects themselves.  Everything from pools to floors to clocks to chocolate to dough is outlawed.   There’s a lot of wordplay going on as words are spoken without their “o”s and o-less synonymns are found for objects with O-filled names.  Eventually the pirates are cleverly kicked off the island for the residents to get their beloved “O”s back.   This short book only took us two evenings to read.  It’s definitely funny and a bit strange as well.   I think it’s one I could have “passed” on (and let Miss M read on her own), but since it only took two nights to read it wasn’t really such a bad use of time.

The other full read aloud we’ve finished is The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley.  I checked this out for Miss M to read a few months back based on Amy’s recommendation, but she prairie thiefnever got around to reading it before it had to go back to the library.  Since we are on a roll with more fairy-tale type read alouds this summer, it came to mind as one we could read together.

This is a bit of  “Little House”-meets-fairy-tales sort of a story.  Louisa Brody is a young girl living on the prairie in 1882.  Her Pa is accused by their neighbors of stealing household items, and then is carted off to jail.  With no one else to take her in, Louisa has to stay with those same neighbors who accused her Pa of being a thief.    Louisa knows that her Pa is not the stealing type, but she can’t quite figure out how the Smirch’s things got into their old dugout — until she meets a tiny little fellow who lives in a home under the hazel grove.

Both Miss M and I really enjoyed this one.  It’s an exciting story, with some interesting twists and turns (and a happy ending, of course).

Miss M and I have also had some “shared reading”.   I read the first “section” of Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken out loud, and Miss M finished the rest of the book fairly quickly.  This book is really hilarious and ridiculous (in a good way).  Arabel’s father brings home a raven that was hit by a car.    Just when it seems the raven might be a goner, it eats everything in the refrigerator.  Then it eats the stairs (it really likes eating stairs).   It also answers the phone and says “Nevermore!” on a regular basis.  It can even occasionally be helpful in the process of catching a thief.

We also started The Bad Beginning, the first book in the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” series, outloud together.  After just a couple chapters, I knew that I didn’t care to read the rest of it.  As the author so politely warns, if you like stories with happy endings, you probably don’t want to read this book.    I know it is supposed to be “funny” how many bad, bad things happen to the poor Baudelaire children, but I just had a hard time enjoying the humor of it I guess.   Miss M thought otherwise and quickly finished both the first and second books in this series before taking a break to read the third Mysterious Benedict Society book.

We’re currently reading/shared-reading.  Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand.  This book may become Miss M’s read.  We’ll be discussing it tonight.  She seems to love this story of a magical nanny with some very naughty children.  I’m not such a big fan — I don’t think it is nearly as good as Mrs. Piggle Wiggle or Mary Poppins (though I am judging based on the movie of Mary Poppins, not the book — I’ve never read the book).  Nurse Matilda strikes me as being a mean version of Mary Poppins.  😉

Whew, that’s a lot of books!  I’m linking up with Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!


Book Discoveries this Week: The Little White Horse June 13, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:17 pm

In our continued foray into books-not-related-to-our-history-studies, I chose The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge as my next bedtime read aloud with Miss M.  I wasn’t really familiar with this title until I read Amy’s post about it a few month ago.  After reading her description of the book I knew I wanted to add it to our list!  I even went ahead and just bought a copy of it, since I suspected it would be a title Miss M would like to have on her bookshelf for future reading.  🙂

At it’s core, The Little White Horse is a fairy tale, complete with an orphaned girl (Maria) little white horseliving with a distant relative, sweet love stories, mysterious circumstances, evil triumphing over good, and just a bit of magic.

Miss M and I weren’t drawn in so much by the beginning of the book — a description of Maria’s journey to her new home at Moonacre Manor — but with each passing chapter things got just a bit more intriguing.  Maria has the opportunity to set things right in a generations-old feud between her family and another family, and she boldly does what needs to be done.   A variety of “coincidences” begin to come together as the story unfolds…and since this is a fairy tale, these happy coincidences result in more than one happily ever after.

The Little White Horse was written in 1946, but the descriptive language could easily have come out of a 19th century novel.  It’s really dense with detailed descriptions of food, clothing, interior decor and scenery.

Here’s an example:  “The pretty room was panelled in oak, and the western window, with its deep window seat, looked out on to the rose-garden.  Perhaps because of this, the person who had furnished the parlour had made it a rose room.  The cream-colored brocade curtains at the window, torn but beautiful, had little flame-coloured rose buds scattered over them, and the winged armchair beside the fireplace was upholstered in the same brocade. The Persian rug upon the floor was patterned all over with full-blown golden roses upon a sea green ground.  The six Sheraton chairs that stood stiffly round the walls had seats worked in petit-point, white roses with golden hearts, upon a background that echoed the sea-green of the carpet.  There were no pink roses anywhere.” (p. 39)

Many of the detailed descriptions do serve a point in the story though (the lack of pink, in this case, is the important part — a clue to the person who decorated the room), and you certainly could not walk away from reading this story without a vivid idea of how the author wants you to envision the setting for the story.

Given the detailed nature of the reading, I think it made a good choice to read-aloud.  I tried a couple times to convince Miss M to read it on her own (while we were working on other read-alouds), but I am glad she said “no” and we had the opportunity to enjoy this one together.   I think she would have been apt to skim over the thick descriptive paragraphs, and miss details important to how the plot works itself out.  Now that she’s familiar with the arc of the story, I won’t be too surprised if I  see her picking it up to read on her own.

I’m linking up with Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!


Book Discoveries this Week: Owls in the Family June 5, 2013

Filed under: Books — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:35 pm

I’ve been meaning all year to step-up the chapter book read-alouds with Mr. E (age 6, rising first grader), but I wasn’t very successful.  He really enjoyed the longer read-alouds he did listen in on, but I had a hard time figuring out where in our schedule literature read-alouds for everyone (or even just for Mr. E) should fall.

I had been thinking that soon Mr. E would “graduate” to joining Miss M and I for longer bedtime read alouds…but Mr. E really like bedtime stories with daddy and his brothers.  He is no where near interested in giving that up (and the attention span of the two younger boys makes chapter books at bedtime a less ideal situation).  Compounding the problem is the fact that Mr. J (the 19-month-old) has this bad habit of crawling all over us every time I try and read-aloud to the boys.  I am trying to teach him not to do that…but without much luck so far.

So last week we decided we were going to make a concerted effort to have reading time during Mr. J’s nap every day…or at least as many days as possible.  And during this block of reading time we’ll read a chapter of the Bible, at least one chapter of a longer read aloud, and probably do some other reading as well.  I’m sure it won’t happen every day…some days we’ll need to work on other projects.  But at least for this summer, nap time will be story time.

I’ve had a stash of more “boy oriented” read-alouds I have been saving for Mr. E.   I decided owls in the familyto kick off our new reading time with Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat.   Much to the chagrin of my kids, we are a non-pet-owning family…but my kids would love to own one.  So this story of a boy and his many pets (including two pet owls) was a big hit with all the kids.

Owls in the Family is a fairly short chapter book (only 91 pages), so it’s a good choice for a little bit younger crowd.   The pet owls in the story are pretty funny, and of course, are the cause of antics with other kids, neighborhood animals, the mail carrier,  a new minister in town, and more.     Besides being a cute, sweet story, Owls in the Family gives a lot of little factual tidbits about owls, the Canadian prairie, and other nature-related topics.   Overall, it’s a great choice for a family read-aloud (especially for animals lovers!).

I’m linking up with Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!