Friday, March 12, 2010

Honey for the Heart

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,And all the sweet serenity of books.~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You may have tangible wealth untold;Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.Richer than I you can never be -I had a mother who read to me.~Strickland Gillilan

As Noah and I worked through those early months of our 2009/2010 schoolyear, I became convinced that although Noah was doing really well in school with his workbooks and my "traditional" teaching methods we still were missing something. I set out to read much more about teaching styles/learning styles and then bought a notebook to begin to record what I liked, what I didn't like, and what my goals were for my childrens' education.

By October, I was firmly convinced that I wanted to "light a fire" in my children giving them their own passion to learn, as opposed to just "filling up their buckets" with all of the things they needed to know. And, I had decided, that for us, using only textbooks and workbooks wasn't going to develop that real passion for learning. And so, I laid aside our science, Bible, and history workbooks, and began a new plan.

Our new plan: lots of really good books!

While the children are young, we are focusing on a really strong foundation in Math, Reading, and Writing. And everything else we do from real "living" books. For the younger ones, lots of entertaining books to create a love of books and reading, and for Noah, adding in lots of books based on American history. We've covered the founding of America, the Revolutionary War, and right now, he is reading books about the westward expansion.

For next year, I have found a curriculum that uses literature as its' basis, and we are really excited about starting it. But for the rest of this year, I am creating my own. Part of the books I choose are those recommended in Honey For A Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. The rest of them are books that interest us. Every couple of weeks, we sit down together and talk about what we'd like to learn about, then we take a trip to the library and check out as many books as we can on the subject. We're having so much fun (and, learning so much, too)! Our list of books we have read this year is now almost 200 books long. Some short, some long (we've just finished the entire Little House on the Library collection), some funny, some sad, and all of them a great adventure.

Reading is such a great family activity, and the whole family can enjoy learning and laughing together, whether you homeschool or not. So, I thought that I'd like to occasionally share a really good book that we've read that you might enjoy with your children or grandchildren.

Here are our current favorites:

Honey For A Child's Heart (Gladys Hunt)-I love this one. The book lists at the end have led us to some great books that we would never have looked for otherwise.

Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne) -Noah, Gareth, and I all love the Bear of Very Little Brain. The books are very little like the Disney cartoons-we think they're much better! We bought the 60th anniversary edition, so the original illustrations make it extra special.

Officer Buckle and Gloria (Peggy Rathmann)-Nathan fell in love with Officer Buckle and Gloria. We borrowed this book from the library and renewed it twice. It about broke his heart when he finally had to return it. Noah and Nathan still giggle about the illustrations and Officer Buckle's safety tips. It was reading Officer Buckle that convinced Nathan that he wanted to be able to read for himself. Hopefully, we'll be able to buy this one eventually.

Emma Bean (Jean Van Leeuwen)-about a stuffed bunny and her girl. We just borrowed this one from the library yesterday. I read it to Noah and A Bunny this morning. By the last page, I could hardly read for the tears in my eyes. This is definitely one of the sweetest childrens' books ever and a must-read for anyone whose little one has ever had a best friend made of cloth.

A Hat for Minerva Louise (Janet Morgan Stoeke)-Minerva Louise is a chicken. Her take on the world is hilarious. Very simple, not too long, funny illustrations, and just right for children without long attention spans. Rosie loves Minerva Louise, and we can't wait for Grandma's new batch of spring chicks to hatch so that we can name one of them Minerva Louise.

A Pocketful of Cricket (Rebecca Caudill)-Set in Appalachia, this is a very warmly written story, very simple, but the author has a beautiful way with words. Having read it, it obviously deserved the Caldecott Honor bestowed on it. Noah loves this one, and Nathan did, too. Now, they are excited for summer so that we can visit Grandpa's farm to hear what cicadas sound like.

My Great-Aunt Arizona (Gloria Houston)-A biography written by the subjects' great-niece. This book honors a lady who overcame the hardships of growing up in the Appalachian mountains to become a school teacher and then returned to the mountains, where she taught and inspired children for 57 years. The boys liked this one, but I think that I enjoyed it more than anyone else. The illustrations are beautifully done.

Welcome With Love (Jenni Overend)-Nathan has been asking about what it was like when he was born, so I borrowed this book from the library. Last night after his birthday supper was done, I sat down and read it to him. This is a great book that describes a homebirth through a young boys' eyes. Be forewarned, this book does show a birth in full (but still tasteful) detail. Noah, Nathan, and Rosie were in awe. Gareth was a little pale-obviously his memories of our homebirth are centered around the harder, messier aspects! For those who have experienced the beauty of a homebirth, this book is a must-read. And, it was a gentle introduction to "where babies come from and how they get here", which is a current topic of interest for Noah.

Goodnight, Gorilla (Peggy Rathmann)-This is a picture book. Not very many words, but hilarious illustrations. Nathan and Rosie love it.

Hope that this will inspire you with some great new stories to share with your munchkins (or just enjoy yourself).

By the way, for those longer books, I am LOVING books on CD. Noah is currently listening to Johnny Tremain and Hank the Cowdog, Nathan and Rosie are listening to Frog and Toad Are Friends, Gareth is listening to the Chronicles of Narnia series, and I am currently re-listening to Les Miserables. They're a life-saver for the days when I can't sit down or stop to read, and getting in the van to go somewhere is always a great excuse for a new book.

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