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Here’s what we’ve been reading this week. Kind of a light one, as we have been wrapping up school for the summer!
- The Experience of God: I picked this one up on Lila’s recommendation and have not been disappointed. I stopped fairly soon in because I want to save it for my husband to read to me. He used to read to me every night, but somehow we lost steam during Bel Canto, neither one of us really wanted to finish it, we both felt so meh about it and that somehow extended into the read-aloud habit. So the habit has languished. This book from contributing editor of First Things is, I think, just the thing to resurrect it. So much to sink our mental teeth into here.
- Switch: How to change things when change is hard: I am currently trying to change some bad habits (my summer project for reals) and so obviously I needed to read a book about changing habits first. This book posits that we are of two minds: the rational and the emotional. The rational mind wants to make the change, the emotional mind still feels the same way it always has. The trick is getting the emotional mind to support the rational one. Here’s hoping.
- Original Mind: I picked this one up last year but got distracted by some other books. This happens more frequently than I would like to admit. I saw it lying about and was suddenly seized by a need to read it properly. The subtitle of this book is “uncovering your natural brilliance,” which must be something the publishers slapped on there to make it sound like a self-help book, but this isn’t a self-help book. In fact, this is a book that is very much in line with the books I list on my homeschool resources page: a book about how people learn and see the world. I may end up including this one on the list. In an alternate reality I am a brain/learning researcher. In my mind.
- The Folded Clock: Okay, are you tired of hearing me talk about this book? As I started reading it, I thought, I want to write like this woman. Then, I think I could write like this! Then, I definitely can not ever write this well. Then, I ordered a journal. Then, I started sending texts of photos of pages from this book to people. Mere quoting was not enough. Last night I stayed up until 2am reading it. Now I have just a few pages left and I had to put it down, as I am getting worried that it will eventually be over. I hate to be the person who has read everything in the Amazon recommends list (frequently bought together: The Folded Clock, H is for Hawk, My Brilliant Friend!) but there it is, and I genuinely loved all three of those books and felt bereft when they were over, so thanks for making me feel predictable and middle aged, Amazon.
The girls mostly share/swap/read each others’ books (and the older girls definitely still read all the picture books), so I split their reads into chapter books and picture books. These are the free reading choices that have gotten the most love this week. The girls are currently aged 11 (Maya), 9 (Cassidy), 7 (Willa), and 5 (Molly). The younger two do not read on their own yet.
- Cast Off: Honestly, I know nothing about this book. My husband found it amongst the new books at the library, brought it home because: girl stowaway on ship in 1663. Maya read it in one night, then passed it on to Cassidy. I kind of love it without knowing much about it simply because the author is an etymological geek.
- Redwall: I think they are actually reading both Redwall and Triss right now. The older girls have read every book in Brian Jacques’ series several times. They’ve inspired countless games, full-fledged characters, stories, maps…truly beloved. Side note: the audio versions are awesome. Also: these books will make you hungry.
- The Magic Porridge Pot: We are great Galdone fans here, but this is a perennial favorite. “Enough, Little Pot, enough!” “No more, Little Pot, no more!” Giggles ensue.
- The Little Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge: This reminds me so much of the beautiful Boats on the River. Originally published in 1942, it has the look and cadence of books by Marjorie Flack, or Margaret Wise Brown. It would be a lovely addition to the library of a little boat lover.
- Frog and Toad all Year: I love Frog and Toad. The girls love Frog and Toad. They are just lovable. I’ve been pulling Frog and Toad back out recently because I think Willa is on the verge of reading, and these are nicely set up for early readers. No particular concession made besides having type that is large and has wide spaces between the lines, allowing eyes to move over the words more easily. In this same vein, I’ve recently pulled out our Little Bear books as well.
- Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker: There are some books that turn fairy tales on their heads in a sarcastic, frankly disrespectful way. And then there are some that play with fairy tales in a fun, lighthearted way, and the Ahlbergs are masters of this. The illustrations, here, are just delightful, with lots for children to look at and a few little wink/nods for grownups, too.
- The Quiet Noisy Book: Margaret Wise Brown was a genius, in my eyes. I consider each of her books to be a little treasure, a prose poem. I can’t even talk about Little Fur Family. I will, one day, probably cry over no longer being able to read that one aloud. I will probably one day start reading it to the cat. Though let’s be honest, I can recite it.
- The Indispensable Calvin & Hobbes: Ah yes, the days have come for the reading of Calvin & Hobbes. Does this not scream summer to you?
Book that doesn’t fit in the above categories:
- Cabinet of Curiosities: I just randomly ran into this on the shelves at the library. SCORE. There is information here about creating, even making your own cabinet, about the classification system, lots of great information about different things you might find and put in your cabinet. I can see this being a great option to spur a whole nature study program. It’s directed at middle-graders, FYI.
- Winter Holiday: We skipped Peter Duck, which is okay, but probably our least favorite of the series. Ransome takes a flight of fancy with Peter Duck and all of what we love about the Swallows and Amazons books (resourceful, independent children doing things that could, if not actually, then in one’s imagination, be accessible to any child) flies out the window. Thankfully he picks the stream back up with Winter Holiday.
- The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: I was against this book from the start, for no real reason. I mean, really, no reason at all. And I still find the series a little galling, as she keeps leaving Important Clues all over the place and there is no resolution to be found anywhere. I mean, wrap it up, woman. There are little sidetrails and random characters and not everything seems to be necessary or to add up. However, now that I have given you reasons not to like it, I will tell you that we have actually learned a lot from this series about poetry, Shakespeare, idioms, all sorts of things. This series made them beg to memorize William Blake’s Tyger and has been the source of so much great play with language. The protagonist is charming, and the weird howling language of the children grows on you. I promise. We are eagerly awaiting the release of the next book (we have listened to the entire series that is currently available). Of note: Katherine Kellgren took some getting used to for me (she is Very Enthusiastic and does All The Voices, I believe this is referred to as being a dynamic reader) but I’ve grown to just love her. And she does make the Incorrigibles quite endearing! I don’t know if I would have liked this book without her reading. She has won awards for her narration, so I think most people love her straight out of the gate.