Our August Reads

Our_August_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! August’s list has several finds from our local library. Everything on this month’s list was completely new to us, which is always fun.

  1. My Side of the Mountain – Trilogy (Jean Craighead George) – This coming-of-age story about a boy and his falcon went on to win a Newbery Honor, and for the past forty years has enthralled and entertained generations of would-be Sam Gribleys. The two books that followed–On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful’s Mountain–were equally extraordinary.
    This was an assigned read for my son. He fought me at first, but quickly began to enjoy the story. I’m sure many of you have already read this charming story. It’s a classic for a reason.
  2. 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names (Diana Wells) – Learn the mythical stories of the gods and goddess associated with bird names. Explore the avian emblems used by our greatest writers–from Coleridge’s albatross in “The Ancient Mariner” to Poe’s raven.
    Part of our nature study focus for the month of August, this book took us by surprise. Where we expected to find dry facts, we discovered lovely detail and fun facts.
  3. The Periodic Kingdom (PW Atkins) – Just how does the periodic table help us make sense of the world around us? Using vivid imagery, ingenious analogies, and liberal doses of humor P. W. Atkins answers this question. He shows us that the Periodic Kingdom is a systematic place. Detailing the geography, history and governing institutions of this imaginary landscape, he demonstrates how physical similarities can point to deeper affinities, and how the location of an element can be used to predict its properties. Here’s an opportunity to discover a rich kingdom of the imagination kingdom of which our own world is a manifestation.
    In my attempt to make chemistry more appealing – as exploding experiments are not as easy to come by as my children would like – we were led to this book. The author does a fine job of fully explaining the periodic table, making it a land of possibility and a joy to discover.
  4. Bees: A Honeyed History (Piotr Socha) – How does bees communicate?… What does a beekeeper actually do? Who survived being stung by 2,443 bees? This encyclopedic book answers all those questions and many more with a light, humorous touch.
    Well-illustrated books are a draw for us. Even if that was the only pull, this book would be worth a second look. However, we’re blessed to announce the educational pages within are just as wonderful as the illustrations. (It should be noted the author is not writing from a young-earth perspective. Expect to see the phrase “millions of years ago” and the like. Just to you know.)
  5. Atlas of Adventures (Rachel Williams) – Set your spirit of adventure free with this lavishly illustrated trip around the world. Whether you’re visiting the penguins of Antarctica, joining the Carnival in Brazil, or a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, this book brings together more than 100 activities and challenges to inspire armchair adventurers of any age.
    I think I might have developed a thing for maps. And globes. Which I suppose is technically about the same thing. Atlas books are high on my list right now and I appreciate each and every one. This one is especially charming; filled with unexpected, fun details about each region of the planet.
  6. Atlas of Animal Adventures (Rachel Williams) – From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures. Head off on a journey of discovery, with this book that collects together nature’s most unmissable events from between the two poles, including epic migrations, extraordinary behaviours, and Herculean habits. Find hundreds of things to spot and learn new facts about every animal.Yet another spectacular atlas from Ms. Williams. I’ll be holding onto this read until the library demands it be returned. Or I’ve bought my own. Whichever comes first. 

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, and several of these have been added to our personal book wish list. Great reads are worth revisiting!  We were so excited to find another 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 focus for nature study? We’d love to hear all about it.

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Our July Reads, or The Series is The Thing

Our_July_Reads_2017

While this monthly post generally shares the list of books we’ve read during the current month, we’ve just noticed we haven’t yet returned the list of learning books we checked out last month. In fact, these same books have been gracing our shelves for several months and I have no intention of returning them until they force me. It might be time to break down and just buy them. Maybe. Instead, the family has chosen to spend this month focusing on various series we enjoy. Perhaps some of them have found their way into your home?

  1. Fablehaven (Brandon Mull) – For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.
    This is a fun series my girls enjoyed. Every magical creature you could imagine is found within its pages. Very imaginative. 
  2. The Ranger’s Apprentice (John Flanagan) – They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied….
    My little lady didn’t know what to expect with this series and had misgivings at first. She quickly gained an appreciation of both characters and storyline. This series is long, but worth every page. 
  3. The School for Good & Evil (Soman Chainani) – This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
    I read this series before my children came across these books. I was drawn to the storyline and the idea of roles being chosen simply by looks. Upon further reading, we are forced to acknowledge external appearances do not always indicate the person within, and true love is friendship. The girls loved the series, and it gave us plenty to discuss.
  4. The Cat Who... (Lilian Jackson Braun) – A series of twenty-nine mystery novels and three related collections by Lilian Jackson Braun, featuring a reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats, Kao K’o-Kung (Koko for short) and Yum Yum.
    Not the most action packed of series, I do enjoy the mystery of each story and the silly antics attributed to Koko and YumYum. The books are clean and easy reading.

As we launch into a new month, it might be time to make decisions regarding new purchases and look for upcoming reads. Until then, we’re enjoying these great series and keeping our eyes peeled for books to enjoy. There’s no doubt we’ll find what we’re looking for, the question is how we’ll fit them all into our book box!

Your Turn!: Which series would you recommend; either juvenile or adult?

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