I love it when somebody else concludes what I have already discovered. I want to share with you an article that confirms that reading is good for you!
I love reading and have wonderful memories of walking the library by myself ( in the days when kids could be outside unsupervised for more than 5 minutes.)
I remember how it felt to have the entire children’s section at my fingertips. I would browse the shelves collecting everything that looked interesting at the moment. The only thing that kept me from checking them all out was the fact that I had to carry them for three-quarters of a mile back home. In the summer I made at least two trips per week since it only took me a few days to read all I could carry.
When my boys were young I took them to the library on a regular basis. We went several times a week while we were homeschooling. I finally had them stop signing out books on their own cards because it was too hard to keep track of all of them. Thankfully, our library didn’t have a limit on how many books you could sign out. I remember our record of books on my card at one time was a whopping 176. I wondered if I should take out some sort of rider on my homeowner’s insurance to cover library books in the event of a disaster. Fortunately, we never had a disaster. Once or twice we lost a book and once we had to pay for damage to a book. The damage occurred when one of the boys took the Calvin and Hobbs book into the bathroom with him!
I’m sure by now you get the idea that I am an avid reader. My husband is too. He wasn’t when we got married, I think I converted him. My boys always had books and we read aloud daily.
But then technology began to encroach. The boys spent more time on their gadgets than with a book. I even got a Kindle for myself. I have thousands of books on my Kindle. I could read for years and never get them all read.
But guess what? I still go to the library on a regular basis and usually have about 25 books checked out at any given time. I can’t help it. I love to hold a book in my hands, to flip back and forth in the pages. I love to mark places with post-it notes to find again later.
This article gives some reasons that researchers have discovered to encourage us to read more real books. They are good reasons, but then I didn’t really need another reason anyway! My favorite saying in regards to reading has always been,
In our highly technical age, we are all aware that the love of books and reading takes more effort to build in our children than it used to. There are so many other things that compete for their time that reading gets pushed aside. Renaissance Learning published a great resource listing ways you can encourage your kids to love reading:
You can also take every opportunity to involve your kids in library programs. It’s a step beyond just taking them to get books. Most libraries have regularly scheduled storytimes as well as special events throughout the year. Many libraries also offer reading programs in the summer and some even during the school year. Check with the children’s librarian at your local library to find out what is available to you.
Motivation to read is the result of the interaction of three conditions:
(1) a student’s interests and experiences,
(2) a book or article that matches those needs and interests, and
(3) a student’s success in reading.
The goal is to bring those three conditions together. It is not an easy task to accomplish but it is not only possible, it is accomplished by successful teachers all the time as the reading lists in this report suggest.
A great thing I’ve found, if you have more than one child, is to get the older ones to share their favorite books with the younger ones. One way to remember what books were especially enjoyable is to keep a log of what has been read along with a brief — and I do mean brief — comment about what the reader liked or didn’t like. I’m not talking about book reports here. Those definitely do not motivate a child to read. Most of us have memories of the dreaded book report. Better to allow book recommendations to come in a more natural way since most of the time, having to analyze a book makes it much less enjoyable.
The goal here is to connect the three points listed above. One way to explore interests is to spend time at the library browsing the shelves. Sometimes we’ve come home with stacks of books in all different subjects just by finding things that sparked our interest at the moment. Once kids have books that interest them, they will be more motivated to pick them up. The more they read, the better readers they will become and the more they will want to read. If you can get this cycle moving it can build momentum all by itself.
I think most homeschoolers look for bargains when it comes to buying curriculum. That’s why the market for used curriculum material is so hot.
I ran across this post this morning for free educational books you can download for your Kindle. You don’t own a Kindle? No worries…you can download Kindle apps for your browser, smartphone, or tablet here. This means you can download and use these books even if you don’t own a Kindle. All you need is an Amazon account.
If I had to pick one book on homeschooling to recommend it would be You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick. In my twenty-two years of homeschooling, I have never read a more useful book for grades 4-8. Actually, the concepts Ruth discusses in this book will be useful for your entire homeschool journey.
This book is not a curriculum that you can pick up and use directly for instruction. What you will find is page after page of sensible, practical suggestions on how to teach the subjects you need to be teaching your children. The author gives you dozens of examples of ways to teach using books you already have or books from the library. You can still choose to purchase a standard curriculum like Abeka or Sonlight and use the ideas in this book. But you can also use this book as a guide to help you create your own personalized curriculum that meets your student’s unique learning style.
The book’s approach is simple, natural learning. It focuses on taking what is available to you and making it a tool for learning. The author doesn’t give you lesson plans and information to teach. Instead, she helps you find ways to gain confidence in yourself and your student and helps you relax in your homeschool journey. That makes it less stressful and much more enjoyable. Learning becomes a natural part of everyday life and not something artificial and irrelevant.
Ruth’s methods are easy to understand and easy to implement. You will find that you refer to this book over and over. My copy is falling apart!
At our house, it has become a tradition to spend the cold days of our Iowa winters listening to books on CD. We are often finished with our schoolwork shortly after lunch which leaves the long afternoons to work together on a jigsaw puzzle while we listen to a book on CD. We have listened to some wonderful books over the years and I wanted to share our list of favorites with you.
As my children have grown we have chosen more challenging stories but while they were younger we listened to books like these:
You would think with the busyness of the holidays I wouldn’t have time to read. Wrong! I always have time to read. It is definitely my sanity safety net. This month I have been reading a variety of things. Sometimes whole books, sometimes just portions of a book. Either way, I have found some interesting reading lately.
One book I have been enjoying is Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe. This is a fascinating culinary tour of the world that highlights a vast collection of foods and places. From the cherries of northern Michigan to vanilla from Madagascar, to the mushrooms of central France, you are treated to delicacies that will intrigue you. And the book is published by National Geographic so the photos are amazing. This book reminds me of the Peter Menzel books. We’ve enjoyed two of his books.
Books like these allow you to experience the world from the comfort of your home. I know it isn’t quite like being there, but for large families like ours, on one income, the opportunity to actually travel the world is not really an option. This is one way to bring some of the worlds diversity to your family in a very satisfying way.
Another book I’ve been reading is called Homeschool Your Child For Free by LauraMaery Gold and Joan M. Zielinski. This book contains more than 1,400 resources that you can take advantage of for free. The book is divided into subject areas and then further grouped in smaller subtopics. Every entry has a brief summary of what is available and then the web address. Most are totally free. Some do have subscription options that give you access to more of the website’s resources should you choose to pay the fee. I have found some great websites that I will be using with my boys.
Finally, a book that has given me much to think about is Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah. This book is sort of a follow-up to a previous book he wrote called What in the World is Going On? Last winter we listened to a series of Dr. Jeremiah’s messages (on the prophecies from the book of Revelation) that became the book What in the World is Going On? We were fascinated by the information he shared. Now I am reading this latest book and find that his suggestions about how we are to live, in light of the end times message, are very helpful. His focus is on what we can do that is positive in an increasingly negative world. It has really helped me to redirect my energy to something more productive than living in fear of the future. I highly recommend any of Dr. Jeremiah’s books. He seems to have a very realistic view of how we can face the future with anticipation instead of apprehension.
Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll have a new list in a couple of weeks when I finish these books and start on the pile I have waiting for me!
This year marked the 100th birthday of Charles Darwin. With that fact drawing attention again to his work, there has been a renewed interest in the age-old conflict – Evolution vs. Creationism. My older boys have shown an interest in this topic and have read several books about the subject. We have had an opportunity to discuss what a Christian worldview is and how it is in conflict with the other popular worldviews of the current era.
We have found several resources that have been particularly helpful in our studies of Creation and of the ongoing controversy surrounding it. I have listed some of the best that we have examined so far. We are certainly not finished with this subject and will probably find many more reference materials being published in the near future. Therefore, consider this a list in progress, subject to change as more information becomes available.
Probably THE best source of information concerning the study of Creation comes from Creation Ministries International. They have the most up to date information and the greatest presentation that I have seen so far. You could spend days on their website and still not see everything.
Another great resource is Answers In Genesis. Founded by Ken Ham, this organization has spent 30 years sharing information on topics such as the age of the earth, the flood and the significance of archaeological discoveries. There are many answers to the questions that people have been asking for decades.
It is officially fall as of September 22. I love this season. Actually, I love all the seasons! I am always ready for the next one just about the time it starts to arrive. In the spring I can’t wait for the warm weather of summer. The time when I can finally open my windows and leave them open for the next several months. Then at the end of summer, I am ready for cooler temperatures, crunchy leaves and I get in the mood to do some baking…pumpkin muffins…apple pie. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, I am excited about seeing the first snowflake. And of course, by the end of winter, I am really ready for spring. The seasons change and I have learned to just anticipate the good things about each one.
With cooler temperatures just around the corner, I have already had my cookbooks out looking for some new recipes. I found a really interesting book about the Amish that has recipes that follow a seasonal theme. The book is simply called The Amish Cook at Home and is written by Lovina Eicher, an Amish woman with 8 children, so her recipes are just right for my family. The book is divided into seasons and she talks about the family’s traditions for each time of year. She shares about gardening in the spring and summer and about harvesting and canning in the fall. She also talks about how they celebrate each holiday with special activities and recipes. In between the recipes, she tells about the everyday life of her family and includes historical information about the Amish life.
Another good book for fall baking is The Pillsbury Healthy Baking Book. It contains some great recipes for making muffins, quick breads and yeast breads. I like this cookbook because the recipes are designed to be lower in fat than the traditional ones. The book contains more than 200 recipes and each one has nutritional information included. The first section is cookie recipes and when I was looking at it yesterday, my youngest son came and looked over my shoulder. His first words were “Ohhh, cookies!” So I guess we will be trying some of those recipes soon!
Since our homeschool method is pretty relaxed, I usually use mostly library books for history. No dry textbooks for us. We’d rather find a story, be it fiction or biography, that helps us imagine what it was really like to live in a particular time period. So I am always looking for interesting titles that I can read aloud to my younger boys or recommend as independent reading to the older ones. I try not to assign them specific books but rather allow them the freedom to choose titles that they find interesting.
There are many resources available that help you choose a variety of books to interest your children. Since I have all boys, I have found a book called Great Books for Boys by Kathleen Odean particularly helpful. The author has organized her recommendations first by reading level and then by genre. She gives short summaries of each book and the age group recommended.
Another general title is What to Read When by Pam Allyn. This resource begins with a section of ideas to get your child motivated to read and then she gives a list of books recommended by age group. Finally, she lists suggestions of books that relate to 50 different topics that she has chosen to address. Some of the topics she deals with include adoption, death, divorce, siblings and loneliness. All the topics are things many children are going to face in their lives and the author has given several books in each category to help kids grow through the challenges they face.
I have also found a couple of more specific resources helpful. As I said, I often rely on historical fiction when I am talking about history with my children. A couple of resources have been designed to make this easier. One is Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher. This book goes through the eras of history with recommendations for books that are sorted by setting. The author has noted the reading age and type of book as well as a comment to help you in your search. There are hundreds of titles that you might not ever run across on your own. This book has been a valuable resource for us for many years. It is out of print now and available used at a pretty high price. The best way to get your hands on this book might be through inter-library loan. Check with your local library.
Another similar title, Turning Back the Pages of Time by Kathy Keller is also out of print but still available used. This is just a small, 35-page booklet but it is packed with great reading suggestions sorted by era and then by reading ability. It is worth finding if you are using fiction to teach history.
That’s all I have for now. If you have come across other resources of a similar nature I would love to hear about them. Feel free to add a comment to this post with your recommendations.