Our May Reads

our_may_reads

How can it possibly be the end of May? Didn’t this month just begin! No matter how often I tell myself things will slow down near the end of the school year, we never seem to make it. In fact, it always seems more busy than ever. This has been a fun month of reading, learning, exploring, and increasing in wisdom. May’s list has a few new books to hit the market, picture books, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Picture Books:

  • A Year Full of Stories (Angela McAllister) ⭐⭐⭐ – This treasury of 52 stories collects together a rich resource of myths, fairy tales and legends from around the curious_crittersworld, with a story for every week of the year.
  • Hippos Can’t Swim and Other Fun Facts (Laura Lyn DiSiena & Hannah Eliot) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This hilarious book is full of fun facts about all sorts of animals, from sleepy ants to jellyfish that glow!
  • Curious Critters (David FitzSimmons) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Enjoy amazing close-up images of twenty-one common yet often overlooked North American animals. Whimsical but educational narratives accompanying each animal highlight fascinating natural history information.

Learning Resources:

  • Quick Answers to Tough Questions (Bryan Osborne & Bodie Hodge) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Leading readers through six main areas of discussion, apologists Bryan and Bodie have dedicated themselves to teaching the Word of God and presenting the gospel message.
  • Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities (Amy Stewart) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.
  • The Big, Bad Book of Botany (Michael Largo) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Organized alphabetically, The Big, Bad Book of Botany combines the latest in biological wicked_plantsinformation with bizarre facts about the plant kingdom’s oddest members, including a species that is more poisonous than a cobra and a prehistoric plant that actually “walked.”
  • Wild Animals of the South (Dieter Braun) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Famous German illustrator Dieter Braun offers his readers an accurate representation of animals from the southern hemisphere in this gorgeously illustrated volume.
  • Wild Animals of the North (Dieter Braun)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – From the polar bears of the Arctic to the North American pumas and pandas in Asia, North takes children on an exciting journey of discovery. The stunning and accurate drawings show these animals in all their natural majesty and the witty and charming descriptions will teach children all about their new favorite animals!
  • Smart About Sharks (Owen Davey)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Owen Davey returns to nonfiction to explain the mysteries of those denizens of the deep. Some deadly, some not-so-deadly, and almost all just generally misunderstood.
  • Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature (Amanda Wood & Mike Jolley) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Natural World explores and explains why living things look and behave the way they do in a series of visually compelling information charts.
  • Under Water/Under Earth (Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Dive below the surface and find out what happens under earth and under sea—from early submarines and deep-sea life to burrowing animals and man-made tunnels.
  • 50 Cities of the U.S.A. (Gabrielle Balkan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Explore skyscraper streets, museum miles, local food trucks and city parks of the United States of America and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, culture, and diversity that have helped make America what it is today.

Books for Fun:

  • Remnant Trilogy (Tim Chaffey & K. Marie Adams) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A three-book series surrounding the life of Noah. We are given a thoughtful look at this incredible man of God and taken on a journey in Biblical truths.

Book Club Reads:

  • Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – For Guy Montag, a career fireman fantastic_voyagefor whom kerosene is perfume, this is not just an official slogan. It is a mantra, a duty, a way of life in a tightly monitored world where thinking is dangerous and books are forbidden.
  • Fantastic Voyage (Isaac Asimov) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Four men and a woman are reduced to a microscopic fraction of their original size, sent in a miniaturized atomic sub through a dying man’s carotid artery to destroy a blood clot in his brain. If they fail, the entire world will be doomed.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… All of these books were fantastic; there wasn’t a single one we disliked or regretted picking up.
We are absolutely in love with just about everything coming out of Flying Eye BooksWild About Sharks, Wild Animals… The illustrations are absolutely fabulous, and the pages within hold a wealth of information.
The Big, Bad Book of Botany is a fantastic resource to have on hand, along with another in the series we’ve recommended, The Big, Bad Book of BeastsOwning both is definitely one of my goals for this coming year. For now, I’ve kidnapped a copy from the local library.
And, finally, Master Books – Quick Answers… and Remnant Trilogy. Visit their website, peruse their resources, and download samples of their incredible curriculum. I wish I had discovered this company years ago. There are not enough adjectives to describe this fantastic Bible-based company or their resources.

Our local summer reading program begins this coming week – which always means a ton of good reads – and we’ll be gearing up for another year of homeschool adventures in just a short month. Join us again during the month of June as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

Your Turn!: Are you currently part of a book club?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!

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Our April Reads

The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical ExplorersApril flew by before we could blink. As we’re beginning to wind down our learning year in the next few weeks, we’re looking forward to a little downtime which we will gladly fill with a hefty stack of reading material. This has been a fun month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. April’s list has a few new books to hit the market, picture books, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Picture Books:

  • Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 (B.C.R.Fegan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- The magical donteverlookHotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.
  • Unplugged (Steve Antony) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Meet Blip. Blip loves being plugged into her computer. When a blackout occurs, Blip trips over her wire and tumbles outside.
    Suddenly, Blip’s gray world is filled with color and excitement. She plays with her new friends and has adventures all day long. When Blip finally returns home, she realizes that the world can be even brighter once you unplug.

Learning Resources:

  • Thrifty Guide to Time Travel… (Jonathan Stokes) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- The only guidebook you need for your next time travel vacation! The Thrifty Guides are a snappy, informative travel guide containing information vital to the sensible time traveler.
  • Nature Anatomy (Julia Rothman) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman celebrates the diverse curiosities and beauty of the natural world in this exciting new volume. With whimsically hip illustrations, every page is an extraordinary look at all kinds of subjects, from mineral formation and the inside of a volcano to what makes sunsets, monarch butterfly migration, the ecosystem of a rotting log, the parts of a bird, the anatomy of a jellyfish, and much, much more.
  • The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape (M.J. Thomas) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- In The Great Escape, Peter, Mary, and Hank journey to the pyramid-studded desert of ancient Egypt. When the trio become friends with Pharaoh’s daughter, they greatescapewitness first-hand as Moses petitions Pharaoh for the Israelites’ freedom. Plagues wreak havoc as the group races to decode the scroll, gets chased by a panther, and battles Pharaoh’s cunning advisor, the Great Magician. Young readers will anxiously follow along as Peter and Mary’s thrilling adventures bring the biblical story of Exodus to life.
  • Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason (Jason Lisle) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A popular list of 439 alleged Bible contradictions has been circulating on the Internet for years. Many critics refer to this list as the definitive proof that the Bible is flawed. But apparently none of them bothered to actually check. Interestingly, not one of these 439 claims is a genuine contradiction. This shows that critics generally do not perform careful scholarship.

Books for Fun:

  • Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) ⭐⭐- In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 is everything charming! Parents should be advised there are a lot of fantastical creatures in this book – which we LOVE – but we understand not all parents wish to explore fantasy or fairy tales with their children. We absolutely adore this new read and share it with every little person who comes over to visit.
Several of our learning resources have been read previously, but they are so good we revisit them on a continual basis. Clicking their titles will take you directly to reviews. Each is a title our family owns and highly recommends.
Ready Player One… I’ll be honest. I truly enjoyed this book and didn’t think I would. However it does have language in it which means passing it off to my kids won’t be happening any time soon; which saddens me as everything else about this book is classic. I’m an eighties kid and this book spoke to my childhood. Unfortunately, as is generally the case, the movie is hideous in comparison. What a shame.

As we wind down our year, we’re noticing learning resource books have lessened. That seems a shame. Be assured this will not remain true for long! Our local summer reading program is just around the corner – which always means a ton of good reads – and we’ll be gearing up for another year of homeschool adventures in just a short month. Join us again during the month of May as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

Your Turn!: Are fairy tales/fantasy reads allowed in your home; why or why not?

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Our March Reads

our_march_reads

It has been a fun month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. March’s list had a few book club reads, picture books, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Picture Books:

  • The Word Collector (Peter Reynolds) ⭐⭐⭐ – Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower.

Books as Learning Resources:

  • Curious Kid’s Nature Guide (Fiona Cohen) ⭐⭐⭐ – Filled with fun facts and 100 full-color, beautiful, and scientifically accurate illustrations, this nature guide will inspire kids to go outdoors and discover the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Brick Bible: The Old Testament (Brendan Powell Smith) ⭐⭐⭐ – Brendan Powell Smith has spent the last decade creating nearly 5,000 scenes from the Bible—with Legos
  • The Brick Bible: The New Testament (Brendan Powell Smith) ⭐⭐⭐- Over 1,000 “brick” photographs depicting the narrative story of the New Testament.

Books for Fun:

  • A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine ‘L Engle) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Meg’s father had been experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him.
  • The Book of Joy (Douglas Carlton Abrams) ⭐ – Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity.
  • A Thousand White Women (Jim Fergus) ⭐ – The story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… The Brick Bibles were fun; it was great seeing the creativity which went into each panel. A Wrinkle in Time was a book club read and always a treat. It’s one of my favorite childhood series. The Book of Joy was another book club read of mine, and rather a disappointment. It was an interesting concept and I enjoyed hearing the exchange between the two gentlemen; however, I found the book itself to be lacking. Several references to scientific studies failed to have citation and no strong foundation was laid for the overall concept. I had hoped for more. A Thousand White Women was yet another mom book club read for the month. The historical fiction was brilliant, and wonderfully written. But, please note, this book is not meant for children. There are several references to intimacy and some language used; which is a shame as the story itself could have stood on its own two feet.

You may have noticed a few changes to our review format. It’s a work in progress, but one we hope will work better for you readers and us. Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. Aren’t books so much fun?!

Your Turn!: Some words sound appealing to the ear. Do you have any favorite words?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!

Our February Reads

our_february_reads

It has been a love-ly month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. February’s list has a new read we highly recommend for homeschoolers, a few which developed personal skill, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Books for Homeschooling Encouragement:

  • Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask (Israel Wayne)answers_for_homeschooling ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – You’ve made the decision to homeschool. Suddenly, you find that some of those who were once in your corner supporting you are now questioning your competency as a parent and maybe even your sanity. This book equips you to answer the critic in your life with resolve and confidence.

Books Personal Skill Development:

  • Cool Crocheting for Kids (Alex Kuskowski) ⭐⭐⭐- Learn about the basics of fiber arts while creating cool stuff. The Cool Crocheting for Kids title teaches the first steps of how to crochet. Activities will help kids use what they learned to make a beaded bracelet, a fun hat, a cute clutch and more.extraordinary_hand_lettering
  • Extraordinary Hand Letter: Creative Lettering Ideas for Celebrations, Events, Decor & More (Doris Wai) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Extraordinary Hand Lettering opens your eyes to the endless possibilities in the world of creative lettering, showing you how to work with types of surfaces, such as wood, glass and acrylic, chalk, and even mirrors.
  • The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering: Create & Develop Your Own Style (Valerie McKeehan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Valerie McKeehan, an Etsy standout whose work has been featured in magazines and websites from Good Housekeeping to RealSimple.com, teaches us everything we need to know to create gorgeous hand-drawn chalk designs. The book is also a practice space, with three foldout “chalkboards”—the inside cover and foldout back cover are lined with blackboard paper.

Books as Learning Resources:

  • Atlas of Miniature Adventures (Emily Hawkins) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Discover the world’s smallest adventures with this beautifully illustrated journey around the world from the award-winning team behind Atlas of Adventures.bees_whatonearth
  • Bees (What on Earth?) (Andrea Quigley & Pau Morgan) ⭐⭐⭐ – With links to culture, history, arts and crafts, as well as the science behind the topic, this book will help both parents and teachers to encourage children to engage with the natural world through exploration, creativity, and investigation.
  • Lonely Planet How Animals Build (Moira Butterfield & Tim Hutchinson) ⭐⭐⭐ – “From birds, to mice, and even underwater creatures, this book covers a vast array of examples from the animal kingdom and is sure to hold a surprise or two.”

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… (1) If you’ll remember from earlier this month, we did a review of Answers for Homeschooling in detail. We honestly can’t say enough good things about this book. Get it; it’s fantastic! (2) I have no artistic ability, whatsoever, but I do appreciate typography in a big way. Thus, I’m attempting to learn and these resources are huge help. Now, to get a chalkboard large enough to have some fun… (3) The Atlas series is visually fun; one of the main reasons we keep coming back to it. It being a great way to learn doesn’t hurt either. (4) How Animals Build seemed like a great title, and we weren’t disappointed. It is a lift-the-flap picture book, but don’t discount it’s content; there is much to gain from this thin read. (5) And, while I am crazy scared of bees having been bitten in my mouth before, I can’t seem to stop picking up books on these amazing, little creatures. Bees (What on Earth?) is a wonderful resource for learning.

You may have noticed a few changes to our review format. It’s a work in progress, but one we hope will work better for you readers and us. Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. Aren’t books so much fun?!

Your Turn!: I have zero creativity in my bones, unless you count organization as an art. What creative skill are you working on developing right now?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!

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Our January Reads

our_january_readsThe new year is underway and it’s been a while since we’ve shared what’s recently hit our reading shelf. It has been a wonderful few months of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. Our list has a few reads which were recommended for personal development, and others which added to our learning fun. All were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Books for Adults

  • Of Mess and Moxie (Jen Hatmaker) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Jen Hatmaker, beloved author,mess_and_moxie Big Sister Emeritus, and Chief BFF, offers another round of hilarious tales, frank honesty, and hope for the woman who has forgotten her moxie.
  • People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks) ⭐⭐⭐ – From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor E. Frankl) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.

Learning Books for the Family

  • Welcome to New Zealand: A Nature Journal (Sandra Morris) ⭐⭐⭐ – A gorgeous guide to creating a nature journal that will inspire kids around the world to chronicle what they see in their own backyards.
  • Stupendous Science: 70 Super Cool Experiments You Can Do At Home (Rob Beattie & Sam Peet) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Learn to make ice cream with salt, a book_of_bonessmartphone projector, a lava lamp and more with this brilliant book of simple home experiments!
  • Seek and Find: National Parks ⭐⭐ – Travel through twelve of the most-visited national parks in North America.
  • Storyworlds: Nature (Thomas Hegbrook) ⭐⭐- Explore the beauty and wonder of nature in this wordless picture book-and let your imagination bring everything to life!
  • In Focus, 360 Degrees (Libby Walden) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Ten illustrators take a complete look at the world around us, traveling the globe to find a fresh perspective.
  • Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures (Emily Hawkins) ⭐⭐⭐- From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures comes this prehistoric journey of discovery.
  • Maps (Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Much more than an ordinary atlas, this book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis.
  • The Book of Bones: 10 Record Breaking Animals(Gabrielle Balkan)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- It’s a book of world records… of bones! Guess whose bones are the longest, shortest, heaviest, spikiest, and more. With touchable skeletons!

Storybooks

  • The Wonderling (Mira Bartok) ⭐⭐- Mira Bartok tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.
  • Brave Red, Smart Frog (Emily Jenkins) ⭐⭐⭐- Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor. language_of_thorns
  • The Book of Dragons (E. Nesbit) ⭐⭐- Dragons — of all sorts — make for marvelous fun, and this collection of madcap tales is filled with them.
  • The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine (Mark Twain & Philip Stead) ⭐- A never-before-published, previously unfinished Mark Twain children’s story is brought to life by Caldecott Medal winners Philip Stead and Erin Stead.
  • The Language of Thorns (Leigh Bardugo) ⭐⭐⭐- Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
  • The Magic of Misfits (Neil Patrick Harris) ⭐⭐- From beloved award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
  • The Glass Town Game (Catherynne M. Valente) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Charlotte and Emily Brontë must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel.
  • Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) – Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was interesting. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… Generally I enjoy Neil Gaiman books, but this one is especially dark and odd. The Magic of Misfits was a well-told story. I enjoyed it. Please note there is a character with two dads; it is not essential to the story but there none the less. The Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures was beautiful, but one should expect, “…millions of years ago…”. People of the Book was incredible! However, it did have a little language and, while no great detail is given, an affair is touched upon. Of Mess and Moxie is a riot, but not one for your teenage daughters. And, finally, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. It said Mark Twain. It also said previously unpublished. Maybe unpublished for a reason?

You may have noticed a few changes to our review format. It’s a work in progress, but one we hope will work better for you readers and us! Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading!

Your Turn!: What’s sitting on your bookshelf, waiting to be read this coming month?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter& Pinterest!

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Our November Reads

Our_November_Reads

November is over and we still can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner. Where has this year gone? It has been a fantastic adventure of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. Before we finish dusting off the ornaments and immerse ourselves in holiday cheer, we’re taking a few moments to share our list of reads during this past month. November’s list has a few reads which were recommended for personal development, and others which added to our learning fun.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie) – Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
    It would seem generations of people grew up reading this book. I was not one of them. In fact, I had never heard of it. That said, I found the book enjoyable if a simple read. Most of the tips included seem common knowledge, but perhaps at one point in time they were revolutionary?
  2. The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg) – Award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.
    This was another interesting read I was referred to from an online “friend”. I found it fascinating to read, and enjoyed it tremendously. 
  3. What Is… (Series by Penguin Random House) – Covering everything from revolutionary battles to natural disasters, social movements to witch trials, Penguin’s What Was? series dives into our world’s most important historical events.
    A favorite series in our home and learning. As we’re currently studying the American Revolution, this was our current focus. This series makes learning fun for the younger of our children and yet gives them plenty to think on.
  4. Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words: How to Work Smart, Play Well, and Make Real Friends (KM Kistyal) – This book presents 50 of Benjamin Franklin’s famous “wise words” from Poor Richard’s Almanack, his personal letters, and other writings, with sage advice on everything… Sayings are paired with hilarious illustrations and witty translations for modern audiences.
    I’ll be honest, yet again it was the illustrations which caught my eye. However the pages within are gems. I see us returning to it repeatedly.
  5. Brave Red, Smart Frog (Emily Jenkins) – Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor.
    Our family is a fan of fairy tales; we can’t get enough of them. This book was charming; filled with lovely illustrations and quaint stories. I might have to purchase this one.
  6. The Book of Dragons (E. Nesbit) – Dragons — of all sorts — make for marvelous fun, and this collection of madcap tales is filled with them. Some of the legendary monsters are funny and mischievous, others are downright frightening, and a number of them are wild and unpredictable.
    More fairy tales! This book is a classic, and entirely fun.
  7. The Earth Book (Jonathan Litton) – Explore the incredible place we call home! Marvel at the physical planet, learn how the weather works, meet some of the most influential people from the past and present, and much more.
    In this circumstance I will again confess the illustrations caught me. And while I still stand by the beauty of the visuals within, I will admit the worldview dimmed the loveliness of the book. Skip over the nonsense, if you would – detailing man’s evolving from monkies, and more – and partake in the fabulous other lessons included. 

While we gather our books from the local library, the bulk of our month’s list came from readers like you and acquaintances from online forums. We’ve enjoyed hearing and seeing new books being discovered; encouraging us to do a little searching of our own.

We’ll be taking a break from our regularly scheduled book list during the month of December in order to fully enjoy the Christmas holiday, and to share a special new series the Lord has placed on our hearts! Be sure to join us, and then check back here again in January as we share another round of fabulous, and sometimes not so fabulous, reads.

Your Turn!: How do you feel about self-help books?

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Our October Reads

Our_October_Reads

October isn’t quite over, but we can’t wait to share this month’s short list of incredible reads with you. It never ceases to amaze us how many books we finish in a month. The lists we share here are merely books we’ve used in a homeschooling/parenting capacity; there are many more which we read on our own! October’s list has a few reads which are making a major impact on our learning routine, and others which are helping us glean the most from our nature studies. Everything on this month’s list was absolutely fantastic!

  1. The Fallacy Detective (Nathaniel Bluedorn) – Thirty-eight lessons on how to recognize bad reasoning. Learn to spot errors in others’ logic, and your own. Learn to identify red herrings, circular reasoning, statistical fallacies, and propaganda. Each lesson presents several examples of poor reasoning often illustrated by cartoons and then provides an exercise set in which you identify the fallacies. This book features a Christian view of logic and was written by homeschoolers for homeschoolers.
    Several homeschool families suggested this book. Going on faith we purchased a copy and started it near the end of this month. The book is very simple, but it is a good starting off point for young learners or those new to logic.We should also note this book deals with informal fallacies, not formal logic. That said, we cannot begin to express how much we are enjoying the lessons and how much we’re learning. It’s fantastic!
  2. The Thinking Toolbox (Nathaniel Bluedorn) – Just as you use the wrench in a regular tool box to fix the sink, so you can use the tools we give you in this book to solve thinking problems. The Thinking Toolbox follows the same style as The Fallacy Detective with lessons, exercises and an answer key in the back.
    We purchased this book as well, hoping it would be a good companion to The Fallacy Detective and were not disappointed. The lessons are short, of benefit, and offer great discussion points. I’m so glad we invested in both of these. 
  3. Audubon Guides (National Audubon Society) – The full-color identification photographs show creatures as they appear in natural habitats.
    While we’re sure most of you have come across these books before, we noted we’ve never mentioned them being used in our learning and wished to add them to our list. Lately they’ve been making a strong appearance in our nature studies. We love the multitude of photos and information to be found within. If we had the room and finances, I’d love to own more. 
  4. This Beautiful Day (Richard Jackson) – Why spend a rainy day inside? As three children embrace a grey day, they seems to beckon the bright as they jump, splash, and dance outside, chasing the rain away. The day’s palette shifts from greys to a hint of blue, then more blue. Then green! Then yellow! Until the day is a Technicolor extravaganza that would make Mary Poppins proud. A joyous homage to the power of a positive attitude.
    An online recommendation we found at our local library! We loved the artistic appeal of this picture book, and the gentle reminder to be creative with our free time. A great library find. 
  5. The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright (KL Going) – A little boy who loves to find shapes in nature grows up to be one of America’s greatest architects in this inspiring biography of Frank Lloyd Wright.
    I’m a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. I have been for years. So when an online book forum suggested this read, I quickly found it at our local library. We loved learning of Wright’s childhood, and how his love of nature influenced his future work. The artwork in the book is a little wanting, but the concept is lovely; as is the short story itself. 
  6. The Beetle Book (Steve Jenkins) – Beetles squeak and beetles glow.
    Beetles stink, beetles sprint, beetles walk on water. With legs, antennae, horns, beautiful shells, knobs, and other oddities—what’s not to like about beetles?
    Nature books are a weakness for us. We found this gem while scouring the local library for nature study and couldn’t be happier. The illustrations are lovely, and the pages are overflowing with facts to amaze learners. 

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, but most of these were suggestions from other homeschooling friends and online acquaintances. Who knew Instagram would be a source of book inspiration?

Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading!

Your Turn!: How many Audubon guides do you own?

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Our April Reads

Our_April_Reads_2017

It never ceases to amaze us how many books we finish in a month. The lists we share here are merely books we’ve used in a homeschooling/parenting capacity; there are many more which we read on our own! April’s list has a few incredible finds from our local library. Everything on this month’s list was completely new to us, which is always fun.

  1. Lindbergh: The Tale of the Flying Mouse (Torben Kuhlmann) – A story of toil and triumph—inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight! These are dark times . . . for a small mouse. A new invention—the mechanical mousetrap—has caused all of the mice but one to flee to America, the land of the free. But with cats guarding the steamships, trans-Atlantic crossings are no longer safe. In the bleakest of places . . . the one remaining mouse has a brilliant idea. He must learn to fly!
    The illustrations are what sell us on Torben Kuhlmann’s books. They are simply amazing. But you’ll love this adorable story about a little mouse with big aspirations. The kids thought this was a perfect read. 
  2. Beautiful Birds (Jean Roussen) – In this stunningly illustrated introduction to the world’s most beautiful birds, Jean Roussen and Emmanuelle Walker pay homage to an alphabet of birds in all their feathery fancies.
    A nature study read for the month, the colorful illustrations were wonderful and definitely helped us explore the world of exotic birds. 
  3. Before After (Anne_Margot Ramstein) – Just as day turns into night and back again, a many-tiered cake is both created and eaten down to a single piece. Each spread or sequence of spreads explores a before and after.
    A wordless book I wanted to explore with the kids, this book is perfect for littles or the art of storytelling. 
  4. The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts (Maja Safstrom) – Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can’t walk backward? These and many more fascinating and surprising facts about the animal kingdom are illustrated with whimsical detail in this charming collection.
    I’ll be honest, I picked up this book because of the cover itself. It’s adorable! However, I was pleased to find the pages within just as charming. We recently discovered there’s a sequel! This was a great book for nature study. 
  5. Three Swords for Granada (Walter Dean Myers) – In the year 1420, the cats from the kingdom of Spain attacked their foes: dogs led by the cruel Fidorean Guards. Full of bravery and ready to give their lives for their country, the cats begin a swashbuckling journey of swordplay and derring-do.
    As we are studying the Renaissance, this seemed a perfect read for the younger kiddos. Three Swords is a cute book and a fun read. 
  6. None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (Jen Wilkin) – Jen Wilkin leads us on a journey to discover ten ways God is different from us – and why that’s a good thing. In the process, she highlights the joy of seeing our limited selves in relation to a limitless God, and how such a realization frees us from striving to be more than we were created to be.
    One of my parenting/mommy books of the month, I discovered this read through an Instagram account I follow. Each chapter was a blessing and an encouragement. Grab it, you won’t be sorry.
  7. Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish) – With humor and understanding, Faber and Mazlish explain how and when to intervene in fights, provide suggestions on how to help children channel their hostility into creative outlets, and demonstrate how to treat children unequally and still be fair.
    Parenting can be tough sometimes, so this book suggestion piqued our interest. While the overall principles were sound, we were saddened to find the concepts within were not grounded on a moral foundation. While this is not mandatory in writing a parenting book – by any means – we, personally, prefer it. Without Christ, we are nothing. 

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, but I know a few of these have been added to our book wish list. Great picture books are worth revisiting!  We were so excited to find an incredible selection this month! A few of them were excellent aids in nature study. Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading.

Your Turn!: Do you have a favorite “wordless” picture book?

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Our March Reads

Our March Reads (2017)

This was a lucky month in the book department. We found so many reads, we almost didn’t have time to finish them all! In March, we explored a world of literature and did some learning along the way. Join us as we share our picks of the month. I wish I could tell you all of them rocked, but…

  1. Tangle Journey ( Beckah Krahula) – Gain deeper insights into how tangles can be combined to create more complex and realistic forms, how to use contour and shading, how to work with mid toned papers by adding highlights and shadows, how to use introduce color-based media, how to integrate mixed-media techniques, and how to work on various surfaces.
    This was a homeschool pick for the month. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what it meant to ‘Tangle’ before picking up this book. In fact, that might just be one of the reasons I picked up this read. However, we quickly discovered a fantastic art form easily learned by artists of any age. This was a great book for beginners and veterans. 
  2. Crafting With Nature (Amy Renea) – Fuse your love for crafting and the outdoors with this incredible compilation of DIY crafts, recipes and gifts made with natural materials you can grow or gather yourself.
    Another homeschool pick for the month. This was a fantastic read, and one to add to the shelf if you’re a wild and free learner. Included were a multitude of artistic projects to explore as a family, homeschooler, and nature lover. 
  3. The Total Money Make Over (Dave Ramsey) – Instead of promising the normal dose of quick fixes, Ramsey offers a bold, no-nonsense approach to money matters, providing not only the how-to but also a grounded and uplifting hope for getting out of debt and achieving total financial health.
    This book was a personal read for Mom. I had great hopes for this book, having heard much of Mr. Ramsey’s program. Unfortunately his wit does not transfer well onto the written page, and comes across as rather flippant and rude. The advice given is sound, but honestly nothing new. I was expecting something grand and novel; instead it was the basics. Good, but the basics.
  4. Color Lab For Mixed-Media Artists (Deborah Forman) – In Color Lab for Mixed Media Artists, color is explored through multiple lenses-nature, history, psychology, expression-as you work through 52 exciting and approachable projects that explore the infinite potential of the chromatic experience.
    Yet another homeschool pick for the month. Being married to an artist, and having children who appreciate creativity, Color Lab was a fun exploration of color. If you’ve never had the opportunity to venture into this study, this would be a good book to try.
  5. The Bad -Ass Librarians of Timbuktu (Joshua Hammer) – To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.
    Let me state the obvious from the get-go. I did not title this book. So please be gracious. On to our thoughts… This was a good book! I wasn’t sure what to expect of this read, but found it enjoyable and full of historical detail which I had yet to explore. Because of the title, this book was initially chosen for myself, but found it to be clean and something I might possibly pass off to my high school students in the future.
  6. The Book of the People: How to Read the Bible (A.N. Wilson) – In The Book of the People, A. N. Wilson explores how readers and thinkers have approached the Bible, and how it might be read today.
    Another read for Mom, this was an incredibly disappointing book. Mr. Wilson attempts to explain his ideas on how people read the Bible – mainly as a book of good ideas and not truths – and fails to see the redeeming power of Christ. He shares his beliefs on how Jesus cannot be known from the Bible, in fact history itself cannot even give us an accurate picture of Him! Altogether a frustrating read, which will teach me to pick up a book based on its title alone.
  7. The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t (Carmine Gallo) – Keynote speaker, bestselling author, and communication expert, Carmine Gallo, reveals the keys to telling powerful stories that inspire, motivate, educate, build brands, launch movements, and change lives.
    It had the word TED in it, so I picked it up. This read was okay, but just okay. The bulk of the story relied on, well, story telling and less on how to BE a good story-teller. There are a few good tips mixed in, but you could probably read the table of contents and save yourself the time of reading the entire book. 
  8. Thank You For Being Late (Thomas L. Friedman) – In his most ambitious work to date, Thomas L. Friedman shows that we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration–and explains how to live in it.
    Yet another ‘Mom’ read, Thank You for Being Late was incredibly long-winded and dull. In fact, I had a hard time staying focused on why Mr. Friedman even chose this title. The point gets lost amongst the multitude of details regarding microchips and the modern science of milking cows. 
  9. Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World (Michele Borba) – Bestselling author Michele Borba offers a 9-step program to help parents cultivate empathy in children, from birth to young adulthood—and explains why developing a healthy sense of empathy is a key predictor of which kids will thrive and succeed in the future.
    Unselfie was an interesting ‘Mom’ read. While I agreed with the majority of ideas presented by Ms. Borba, I found it interesting she did not establish a foundation for WHY children should be empathetic. As a Christian, I found we’re already building this into our children. Faith and obedience to Christ will naturally lead to the loving of His people. 
  10. Present Over Perfect (Shauna Niequist) – Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be.
    A great read for any parent! The Lord isn’t asking us to be perfect, but willing to follow Him wherever He leads.  This was an encouraging and edifying book. 
  11. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain (John Boyne) – When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house.
    For those who read The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, you might anticipate this book will have a twist. I will not give away the surprise, but you won’t be disappointed. For those who have not read previous works by Mr. Boyne, you might wish to read this yourself before passing it on to children. While the story was surprisingly clean, the nature of its content will be disturbing. Death, violence, and attempted rape are mentioned. This was an emotional book, but well told. A good read. 

The bulk of our list this month consisted of reads for me! How did that happen? No matter how many good books I have in my pile, it continues to grow. It’s a never-ending cycle. Next month, we’ll be focusing more on children’s literature and books we’ve been reading as a family. However, we’ve enjoyed this month’s focus on good books which inspire mom to keep reading and keep learning.

Your Turn!: Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction as a relaxing read?

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Our January Reads (2017)

january_reads_2017

Are you as excited as we are? A new year has begun, and this means tons of new literature. Besides the books we’ve already tagged at the local library for upcoming reads, we’re keeping our fingers crossed on a few previews as well. As always, this should be a spectacular year on the reading front.

As we started back with homeschool lessons mid-month, and the month isn’t quite over yet, I’m afraid we don’t have many books to cover. But, rest assured, February’s stack is quite large and we’ll have tons of great books to share.

  1. Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Want Made Women Miserable (Andrea Tanteros) – Fifty years after Betty Friedan unveiled The Feminine Mystique, relations between men and women in America have never been more dysfunctional. If women are more liberated than ever before, why aren’t they happier? In this shocking, funny, and bluntly honest tour of today’s gender discontents, Andrea Tanteros, one of Fox News’ most popular and outspoken stars, exposes how the rightful feminist pursuit of equality went too far, and how the unintended pitfalls of that power trade have made women (and men!) miserable.
    An interesting read, to be sure. I am not a feminist by any means. But the title was intriguing, especially with all the media buzz lately, so I thought it might be worth a shot. I was surprised to find I agreed with most of Ms. Tanteros’ arguments, and spent a great deal of time sharing with my husband, who continually reminded me that men have been making these points for years. 
  2. The Bet (Chekhov) – The Bet is an 1889 short story by Anton Chekhov about a banker and a young lawyer who make a bet with each other about whether the death penalty is better or worse than life in prison.
    This short story was suggested at a recent conference. It can easily be finished in under half an hour, but the context of the story prompts hours of conversation and soul-searching. If you’ve yet to read it, follow the link and be blessed!
  3. Tyranny of the Urgent (Charles Hummel) – Now thoroughly revised and expanded, this classic booklet by Charles E. Hummel offers ideas and illustrations for effective time management.
    While technology has advanced well beyond that which was mentioned in this booklet, the truths remain. In a world which constantly urges us to hurry, it’s time we learn to slow down and hear God. 

Short, but sweet! February is about to dawn and already our stack is growing by leaps and bounds. Join us next month to see what we’ve been reading, and what we recommend.

Your Turn!: Which non-fiction read would you suggest we pick up next?

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