So Many Books, But No Time to Read – Part Two

In filling my children’s reading baskets each term, I use the following guidelines.

I keep a list of the various genre I want them to read from.  I also pick and choose some from one of the many book lists I use.  I also have a mental list of what I want them to read before they leave our home.  The following is a list of the categories that I use when filling my children’s baskets every term.

  • Bible, religion, doctrine, Christian living, 1 or 2 selections (This is totally age appropriate, which means that the 7 year old is reading stuff like the Tales of the Kingdom series and well written Bible stories, while the 12 year old is working his way toward meatier stuff.  I hope to have them both reading substantial works in high school.)Literature, 2 or 3 selections, age/grade appropriate
  • Shakespeare, 1 selection.  I introduce Shakespeare around 4th grade, but use well written re-tellings until high school.  We use Lamb’s Shakespeare Stories for children, as well as the two Shakespeare Stories volumes by Leon Garfield. Poetry, several selected poems or a small anthology.  I choose one poet each term with the boys individual ages in mind (A.A. Milne and Christina Rosetti for the younger, for example, while my older son just finished studying William Wordsworth.)  If I can find good biographies on the poet we’re studying,  I’ll put one of these in as well.
  • Biography, two selections – one easy to read, one more challenging.
  • Plutarch – As with Shakespeare, I use a children’s version from 4th grade up (not sure we’ll ever do one of the authentic translations).  I usually download and print up a selection from Rosalie Kaufman’s Our Children’s Plutarch.
  • History – we have a disproportionate number of books in the basket in this category every term.  The 12 year old is reading through Picturesque Tale of Progress, two volumes per term.  I also include at least two American history books, and at least one world history (heavy on the “at least” part).  I use both historical fiction and non-fiction books in this category.  In addition, beginning in 4th grade, the boys keep a running time line of the people and events he reads about.
  • Geography/Political Science (not much in the PoliSci area yet).  I choose one foreign country and one region of the U.S. per term.  Depending on what is available, there may be just a few or a TON of books in this category.  I use mostly non-fiction in this category, but will throw in a work of fiction if it gives a nice flavor for the country or region being studied.  The 7 year old usually gets at least two picture books for this category, along with the non-fiction.  For example, he read Madeline during our study of France.  I also try to buy a CD of traditional music from whatever country we are studying.  We do just a bit of map work for geography as well.
  • Science – at least two titles, all non-fiction
  • Nature Study – One or two selections, usually non-fiction, and one issue of Nature Friend magazine
  • Fine Arts – I choose one artist and one composer per term.  The selections may include a biography, one or more picture books, historical fiction, etc.  Sometimes I can find an abundance of appropriate books on a particular artist or composer, and sometimes it’s slim pickin’s.  Sometimes we use the Music Masters CD series for the composer biography and they listen instead of read.  We always include a CD of the composer’s works, and I try to pull out several examples of each artist’s work which we will all sit down and look at together.  I don’t spend a LOT of time on this, and it is nothing like a Charlotte Mason “picture study”.  We just look at the piece of art, mention what we like or don’t like, and decide if we care for this artist’s work, that sort of thing.  I’m always open to more discussion, but if they aren’t forthcoming with it, I don’t push it.
  • Fun to Read.  There may be as many as six books in this category.  I’ll include a humorous book here, or something that they have specifically asked for that doesn’t fit anywhere else.  I sometimes have works of fiction that I put in for this category that really aren’t great works of literature, but are books I want them to read for different reasons.   I’m also working on buying as many of the classic translations of old fairy tales as I can, and include two or three of those each term as well.
    The only other non-reading thing we do is some arts and crafts.  The boys, generally, do one drawing lesson every other Tuesday afternoon, and one craft-type activity on the alternate Tuesday afternoon.  This fall we are going to start Latin as well.  All in all, though, we spend the majority of our school day reading – just reading. 

    The benefits have been amazing!!!  My boys now come to me, brimming with excitement, to tell me some wonderful thing they’ve just read about.  I might be told with great drama the unfolding of a scientific expedition under the sea!  One of the boys may spend an entire drive  recounting an historical event!  The 12 year old, just yesterday, was sharing with me a humorous story from the life of William Jennings Bryant.  And because they are doing this, I know two things.

    First, they are comprehending and retaining what they are reading in a way they never were able to with textbooks.  Second, and far more important and delightful to me, they are ENJOYING learning!!

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3 comments to So Many Books, But No Time to Read – Part Two

  • Woohoo! Now why is it you didn’t think of this sooner?

  • And from your grandsons…

    F: Gwamma has a muffin in da gwass!!! (your prairie muffin logo)

    C: Who’s the muffin for?

    F: It’s in the gwass!

    C: Is the muffin for me? Who’s it for? Is it for me? I wike muffins! Is it for me?

  • Poor Corin, you were (and still are!!) my practice child!  I love you!!  Kiss my grandsons for me, and tell them I will make them some muffins next time they come to see me!  Kiss my granddaughter, too.