Getting the Most From Our Reads

getting_the_most_our_readsSurprisingly, I read as much young adult fiction as my children do. I enjoy the genre and especially appreciate being able to share these books with my kiddos. Our family also delights in classic literature. We laugh, cry, and share some wonderful memories centered on great books. Together we’re getting the most from our reads.

In our family, reading books extends beyond the page. We soak up the words and make them come to life. Through conversation, play, and more, we use these steps to help us:

Read – No matter how we choose to read, sharing a book with our child can be fun. We pick one of the following methods and go to town:

  • Together – We snuggle on the couch, gather round the table, or cuddle in bed at night. No matter when or how, we enjoy the read as a family.
  • Alone – Some of our books make the rounds. Mom reads it first – making sure it’s a clean read – then it goes through the crowd, usually from the fastest reader down.

Story Coaster – After we finish our book, we hit the plot points. Were my younger children able to follow along? I use this time to ensure they understood who the main characters were and the focus of the story; reviewing vocabulary and literary terminology I wish for them to learn. Only a short amount of time is given to this, but it is well worth the few moments and our children have learned much in this practice.

Reenact – Depending on our chosen book, acting out portions of the story is included. While reading Little House on the Prairie, we might build a cabin with Lincoln Logs or do a little baking. Most stories inspire some form of hands-on activity to partake in.

Discuss – While the reading, in-and-of itself, is always a treat, I rarely leave a book without taking a moment to check in with my kids. I want to hear their thoughts on the read and cover important ground which the Lord has prompted me to share. This takes our book to a new level, moving past what’s on the page and encourages our children to correspond the story to reality.
A key-note: We launch conversations with open-ended questions. The goal is to get our children to talk, not merely answer “Yes” or “No”. We ask what our children liked/disliked about the book; what they learned; their favorite character/portion of the story; and their take on the book in general. As our children mature, we discuss world views which might be present. (One series which comes to mind is Hunger Games. These books launched many wonderful conversations about government and reform. The writing was not at its best, but the benefits from our talks was well worth the poor literature.)

Watch – If there’s a movie, we’re more than likely going to watch it. This launches entirely new discussions on difference between the two, which they liked better, and more. Plus, who doesn’t like a good movie?

Play – Did you know many popular books, authors, and publishers have websites filled with games and activities? For added fun, we enjoy hopping on to one of these sites and playing games which relate to our read. Our favorites are the The Chronicles of Narnia, Mysterious Benedict Society, and Harry Potter websites.

For those with littler children, or are unsure of where to start in their literary adventure, we highly recommend Five in a Row. With FIAR all the work is done for you! Each week, you follow a suggested read and enjoy the multitude of activities available. Included are questions to discuss with your children and additional resources. Once you’ve grown comfortable with the format, branch out and choose your own books.

We love great literature. By discussing these books and bringing them to life, we are creating wonderful memories and life-long lessons for our children to remember forever. Our books jump off the page and we get the most from our reads.

Now we’re curious… What is your favorite part of reading a book?

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Our June Reads

 

our_june_reads_2018It’s summer time! Instead of things slowing down, they’ve amped up higher than ever with a ton of fun activities and even more incredible reads. Summer reading programs have begun, and this year we’re participating in two separate libraries; reaping the rewards of great literature. June’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:

  • Photicular Books (Workman Publishing Company) ⭐⭐⭐ – Photicular technology. Each full-color image is like a 3-D movie on the page, delivering a rich, fluid, immersive visual experience. The result is breathtaking. The cheetah bounds. The gazelle leaps. The African elephant snaps its ears. The gorilla munches the ocean_puzzlesleaves off a branch. It’s mesmerizing, as visually immediate as a National Geographic or Animal Planet special.
  • Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor (Robert Burleigh) ⭐⭐ – Filled with gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón, this illustrated biography shares the story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor.
  • Ocean Puzzles (Dr. Gareth Moore) ⭐⭐⭐ – Ahoy! You’re an accidental pilot aboard a submarine that’s sinking fast! Solve the puzzles to take control and navigate safely back to land. Devised by an expert on brain training, these mental gymnastics—and a friendly dolphin—will see you through your ocean adventure! You can’t skip a puzzle, but there are hints to help and full answers to get you on your way.
  • The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea (Helaine Becker) ⭐⭐ – The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea shows how the ocean works and why this immense ecosystem needs our protection. Experiments using everyday materials help explain scientific concepts, such as why the ocean is salty, how temperature affects water density and why fish don’t get waterlogged.atlas_obscura

Learning Resources:

Books for Mum:

  • The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (Casia Lisa) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – guernsey_literaryJanuary 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb.

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 photicular books were amazing to view. Learning how these books are made was even more fascinating.
  • One of our libraries is focusing on an ocean theme this summer, thus the increase in literature on this topic. Ocean Puzzles is an incredible picture book; one in a series. The included puzzles will challenge your children to think hard.
  • I never thought I would be a collector of anything. However, I’ve discovered I love maps/globes and encyclopedia of information. Atlas Obscura is amazing! I borrowed our copy from the local library. But, it’s on my growing list of “need to own”.
  • We’re studying Botany this coming learning year, which is why we purchased The Botany Coloring Book, but, frankly, it’s amazing! If you’ve yet to see it, check it out! It’s incredible.
  • The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society was a suggestion from my oldest girl. It seems a movie is coming out in a couple of months and, being a period piece, she was drawn into the story. It was a great read, but probably not one for the kids. There is a little – a very little – bit of language, and the subject matter being post-WWII the read was a sobering one. I am very much looking forward to the movie, which I can ClearPlay to ensure anything inappropriate be removed; allowing for our family’s enjoyment.

Coming soon… Comic Con, a day trip, heading back to daily book lessons, and so much more. Homeschooling keeps us busy exploring and learning through life experiences. Join us again during the month of July 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!: Is your family signed up for a summer reading program?

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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?

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Review: The Great Escape by M.J.Thomas

https://thehomeschoolmomblog.wordpress.comIt’s here. It’s finally here! You’ll forgive us if we’re jumping for joy and ridiculously excited to share with you The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (Book #3): The Great Escape, the newest release in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series from M.J. Thomas and Worthy Kids/Ideals. Our copy arrived a few days ago and we can’t put it down.

Worthy Publishing Group is an established book company whose mission is, “To help people experience the heart of God.” Of their five distinct imprints and vast selection of titles, Worthy Kids/Ideals creates vibrant children’s literature including The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. The series began with THESE two amazing stories, and is followed by The Great Escape.

“Join Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank as they discover ancient scrolls and travel back in time to stories in the Bible. They find a world filled with wonder, adventure, and danger. They must search for clues to solve the secret of the scrolls … or they will be stuck there forever… Perfect for emerging readers ages 6 – 9, homeschooling families, and lovers of adventure, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls brings beloved Bible stories to adventurous life.”
~ Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

In our newest story, The Great Escape, Peter, Mary and Hank find themselves transported to the deserts of Ancient Egypt where they meet the Pharaoh’s daughter and experience firsthand the ten plagues God brought upon the land in order to free His people. Along the way they meet an old enemy hiding behind a new identity; one who will stop at nothing to prevent the children from completing their mission and returning home. Together the children discover, “GOD IS POWERFUL AND WILL SET YOU FREE”! Hidden Scrolls

I’ll be honest. One of the main reasons this mama is so excited for the release of Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape is that now my eleven-year-old son can stop asking me – every. five. minutes. – when his book will finally be here. While the official release date was the first week of April, an advanced copy was kindly sent our way just a tad early. Thus the minute the calendar said March, the mailman’s deliveries were met with anticipation. The moment it arrived he pounced on it and barely let it go long enough for his mum to read it herself. What a fantastic problem, don’t you agree? I love watching my children enjoy good, Bible based literature and Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is everything lovely.

Specifically targeted for 6-9 year olds, homeschoolers, and those who love adventure, our family has found Secret of the Hidden Scrolls to be a perfect fit. Our son was able to finish his first read-through in approximately one hour. (I say his first because, since, he’s read through it several more times. Which goes to show just how much we love this series!)  We were especially blessed to find we received a signed copy of the The Great Escape, which meant the world to my son. As with the first two books in the series, we appreciated the inclusion at the back of the book complete with specific references to Scripture covered and notes on the story itself.

Hidden+Scroll+Activity+Sheet_ScrollStealerIn addition to enjoying this fantastic read, we made sure to visit The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls‘ website. There we were able to sign up to be part of the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Club. We just know it’s going to be fun! We were also able to enjoy the Activities page and read the Story Behind the Story. (For those just discovering this series, Secret of the Hidden Scrolls website is also the perfect place to preview each story or order a set for the family!)

We are absolutely excited about this book, and the entire Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series. Now, just like Mr. Thomas’ son, Peter, we’re anxiously awaiting another one! We’re not sure when it’s coming, but we feel certain another read is on its way. Until then, it looks like we’ll just have to re-read and be patient.

If you’d like to learn more about The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by M.J. Thomas or WorthyKids/Ideals please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: In The Great Escape, Peter and Mary discover firsthand what it must have been like enduring each of the ten Egyptian plagues. Given the last plague as the worst, which of the other nine plagues would have affected you most?

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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?

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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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Review: The Thrifty Time Travelers Series

TTT_BlogTour_18

“What follows is the guidebook, exactly as it was discovered on a sidewalk outside Frank’s Pizza in Manhattan in AD 2018.”
~ The Thrifty Guide to  Ancient Rome (Uncorrected Text)

I love books. I love history. I love hearing my kids laugh. So when I have an opportunity to combine all three into a fun afternoon of reading, you know I’m going to be all over it. This month we had the opportunity to review The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers by Penguin Random House and Jonathan W. Stokes and we can’t wait to share this funny, educational book series with you. We’re still cracking up laughing and enjoying the multitude of lessons to be found within their pages!

Set in the distant future, The Thrifty Guides are a humorous look at what happens when we travel back in time to discover the history of the world. Both are written from the perspective of Time Corp, presenting a complete vacation package for tourists. Each book seeks to help you make the most of your trip offering locations you might wish to visit, events you could participate in, and people to have lunch with. Currently three Thrifty Guides are available: The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome, and The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece.

We received an advanced reader edition of both The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, along with a clever “Passport for Time Travelers” which included passport stickers for both our travels and an additional passport sticker for The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece. Suggested as early reader novels, our ten-year-old son was given these books to be used during his reading time after Mom had ensured the books were both clean and met family standards.

 

Ancient RomeThe Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:

  • Where can I find a decent hotel room in ancient Rome for under five sesterces a day? Is horse parking included?
  • What do I do if I’m attacked by barbarians?
  • What are my legal options if I’m fed to the lions at the Colosseum?
Designed as a parody of Fodor’s, complete with humorous maps, reviews of top attractions (Julius Caesar’s assassination is a must-see!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Hannibal, assuming he doesn’t kill you). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.
Chapters include Roman Entertainment, Julius Caesar, The Roman Civil War, Quality Time with Cleopatra, and more! Our favorite portions of this book are “Important Warning Before Time Traveling”, “Top Five Ways to Die in Rome”, “How to Pilot a Horse”, and “Cleopatra’s Perfectly Normal Family Tree”. “People to Have Lunch With:…” is especially funny, and “Friendly Message from Your Corporate Overlord at Time Corp” is sure to have you rolling.

American RevolutionThe Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:

  • Where can I find a decent hotel room in colonial New England? Are credit cards accepted?
  • How can I join the Boston Tea Party without winding up in a British prison?
  • What do I do if I’m being shot at by a cannon?
Designed as a parody of Fodor’s, complete with humorous maps, reviews of places to stay and top attractions (Don’t miss Paul Revere’s midnight ride!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Alexander Hamilton, naturally). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.

Chapters include The Boston Tea Party, The Battles of Lexington and Concord, The Siege of Boston, The Declaration of Independence, The Battle of Cowpens, and more! Fun  features we enjoyed are “Your Odds of Being Hit by a Musket Ball” and “Your Odds of Being Hit by a Rifle”, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting… to Be Shot by a Cannon”, “A Message From the Good People at the Time Patrol”, and “Letters From Time Corp’s Complaint Department”. Thrifty_Guides

Written by former teacher and rising Hollywood screenwriter, Jonathan Stokes, The Thrifty Guides were very funny, simple to read, and educational. There were a ton of fun facts, silly illustrations, and interesting notions on the concept of time travel. We enjoyed them tremendously and couldn’t wait to tell you all about these wonderful books. If you’re a fan of history, or happen to be studying any of these areas in your learning adventures, you’ll definitely want to give these books a try.

On sale now, you’ll find The Thrifty Guides to be a wonderful addition to your learning bookshelf. We had a great deal of fun reading both The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, and look forward to searching out The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece soon!

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Your Turn!: If you could travel back in time to any era, which would it be?

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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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Review: Paul the Apostle from Beartruth Collective

Paul_the_ApostleBeing obsessive compulsive I am seriously bothered by not walking up and down each and every aisle at any given event. From garage sales to street markets, I want to see all
possible booths before I decide I am officially done for the day. Sometimes I go home having only gained much-needed exercise, and other times I find a gem tucked amidst the crowd. At one such recent conference I had the pleasure of discovering Paul the Apostle from Beartruth Collective, and it made my day!

Beartruth Collective believes in the power of the Gospel and teaching children the true Word of God. Using the medium of comic books, their mission is to share Jesus Christ with the world. The Beginning, Noah, Moses, and, my recent find, Paul the Apostle are only a few of the titles currently available.

“…Our intention has always been one of ministry and education. We’re using a science fiction visual language to illuminate the story of Paul the Apostle and ultimately, the life-transforming message of Christ Jesus…”
~ Beartruth Collective

Paul the Apostle is a science fiction adaptation of the Biblical, historical story of Paul from the book of Acts. Its beautifully illustrated pages take us through Paul’s conversion, his ministry for God’s kingdom, and ultimately his arrest. Throughout Paul the Apostle, helpful Scriptural references are found as footnotes leading readers to the Bible, encouraging them to read God’s truth for themselves. Suggested for children ages 7-15, Paul the Apostle is a hardcover graphic novel with full-color illustrations. Told using cleverly imagined creature characters and set in a futuristic world, Paul the Apostle will draw in children while teaching about this amazing Bible hero.

In addition to fulfilling my quota of steps for the day, this summer’s homeschool conference provided us the opportunity to meet Mr. Mario DeMatteo, publisher of Paul the Apostle, and our first glimpse of this fantastic graphic novel. Several weeks later Mr. DeMatteo kindly offered us a copy of Paul the Apostle, and we haven’t put it down since. Paul the Apostle arrived fairly quickly, and while I had intentions of sitting down with my new read later that same day, my adventurer tackled the graphic novel before I had the opportunity. I finally found a quite moment to read it myself; after which I began reading through it once more with my son.

I’ll be honest and admit it was the imaginative, colorful illustrations which initially caught my eye when seeing Paul the Apostle. However, after taking just a few moments to look within its pages, I was drawn into the story. It is Beartruth Collective’s heart for the gospel which has us sharing this incredible graphic novel with all our friends. Never have we seen the story of Paul told in such a unique manner.

Paul the Apostle is set in a futuristic world, and we found this to be incredibly fun; as were the creature characters! As both parent and educator, my favorite aspect of the graphic novel was the multitude of Scriptural references found as footnotes throughout. Practically every page leads readers to the Word of God and His truth. What a fantastic tool in teaching our children to search the Scriptures for themselves!

My obsessive desire to look at everything has once again paid off, and in a big way. We are so excited about Paul the Apostle and the ministry happening at Beartruth Collective. We know God is going to do amazing things using this ministry, and we’re looking forward to following their journey; reading the many other valuable comics they continue to create.

If you’d like to learn more about Paul the Apostle or Beartruth Collective please visit them at their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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Your Turn!: Did you have a favorite graphic novel growing up?

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Reading Books Before Watching Movies

Reading_Books_Before_Watching_MoviesWith the coming release of Murder on the Orient Express, a household policy is being resurrected. Before we can watch the movie, we need to read the book. Thus, as a family, we will be hunting down a copy from the local library and indulging in this ageless story.

While the kids will occasionally groan and complain about our movie/book policy, I believe they understand its importance. If they were to watch the movie first, it is highly doubtful the book would ever be read. Now that they “know the story”, why should they bother with spending hours reading it? If they read the books first, they will have a better understanding of the story and often appreciate the movie even more. There are no details that have been cut or unnecessary additions, it is enjoyed as the author intended.

While on occasion our children have liked the movie just as much as the book, I have yet to hear that they enjoy a movie more. They have always appreciated the books much more than the films.

In the past, one fun way we have helped encourage our children to read through their books is to reward them with a “special viewing” of the corresponding film. Once the book has been finished, the movie is rented and they are allowed to stay up later than the other kids and watch the film with mom and dad. Each child, in turn, is allowed the same privilege once a book has been completed. We have done this with the Narnia series, Bridge to Tarabithia, City of Ember, The Hunger Games, and several others!

Our children not only breeze through these books, but we then have the opportunity to critically think about each selection. How did the movie compare to the book? Which similarities or differences were noticed? Was there a lesson to be learned? While reading the books has been an essential part of our lives, watching the movies has definitely added something to our learning.

While I am sure we have neglected a few books along the way, we have been very faithful to our book policy. When we come across a new movie for our amusement, the question always arises, “Do we read the book before watching the film?” But, yes, of course!

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes”
~Psalm 101:3

Your Turn!: What is your family’s favorite rendition of a film based off a book?

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