Monthly Reading Report: October and November 2016

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What I read:

I try to keep a book going on my Kindle so I have something to read when I dry my hair or for that odd moment when I have a few moments to read and all I have is my iphone and Kindle app.  I mostly purchase nonfiction books for my Kindle when they’re free or cheap, and The More of Less by Joshua Becker is one such title from a few months back.  While I’m not ready to embark on a true minimalist journey, I am inspired by Becker and others to really consider the time investment that owning too much stuff requires.  I’m still mulling this one over.  I think it could be life-changing under the right circumstances.  Highly Recommended.  (Check out Joshua Becker’s blog to see if his book might be of interest to you.)

I read quite a few fiction titles, all juvenile or young adult:

Readalouds:

I really hoped to have a few loooooong-standing read-alouds finished before I wrote our bimonthly report, but we’re still a few chapters shy of the end of a couple.  Even without them, though, we’ve read a lot over the past few months.

The girls:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a book I’ve read twice this year–three times if you count skimming it in order to lead our bookclub at co-op.  Yes, really.  I first read this year it for my Newbery Through the Decades Challenge.  Then I read it aloud to my girls as a part of our lessons (complete with copywork and dictation) and in preparation for the bookclub.  This is how we spent much of our October.  I’m pretty sure that this one will make their top picks list for 2016, and it inspired Louise to go on to read the entire series.
Is it possible to read A Wrinkle in Time without following it up with When You Reach Me?  Yes–people did it for around five decades.  However, now that we have this fabulous “inspired by” novel, why would you?  My girls and I read this one immediately on the heels of Wrinkle and LOVED it.  This was the second time I’d read it this year, and the third time altogether. Because it’s such a rollercoaster of a ride, it only gets better with anticipation and a wee bit of insight.  Read it.  You won’t regret it.

This year is our inaugural year of studying Shakespeare together.  I’m mostly following Mystie’s plan for studying Shakespeare with upper-elementary and middle school students, with a little bit of Ken Ludwig thrown in for inspiration.  I chose The Comedy of Errors because we had the chance to see a musical adaptation of it in Nashville in September, and it was a good choice.  We actually used an Archangel audio of it for the first several acts, but the used CDs I purchased were scratched and wouldn’t work toward the end.  Thus, we ended up just reading it aloud (Shakespeare with a southern accent, y’all).  Both girls really enjoyed it, and I don’t think it will be hard to jump back into a new play in January.  That’s a read-aloud win!

We also read Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery.  I shared my thoughts about that here.

The boys:

I can’t say much about these read-alouds because Steady Eddie did most of the reading.  I’d read an odd chapter here or there when he was out of town, etc., but I mostly turned it over to him.  All of these were big hits with the boys.



They also re-read School for Cats by Esther Averill.

What have you been reading lately?  Any winners?  I’d love to hear about it!

Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

 

yearofanneMy girls and I finished the sixth book in our Year of Anne, Anne’s House of Dreams, a few weeks ago, amidst tears (mine) and laughter and smiles (the girls’). Anne’s House of Dreams might be my favorite Anne book.  Might be.  (Wait. That’s sort of like picking a favorite child.  Impossible!  It’s definitely among my top two or three, though.)  I could wax rhapsodic about this book–the pathos!  The romance!  The humor!  (Oh, the humor!)  Instead, I’m going to make a list, bullet-style, of what I love most about this book.

  • The setting.   This introduction to Glen St. Mary and New Winds Harbor feels like the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  I mean, I love and adore Avonlea, but I think Montgomery does a wonderful job of settling the Blythes into their new domain and helping us readers feel at home there, too.
  • Leslie Moore.  Need I say more?  The Leslie/Owen romance (and the tragic life that predates her meeting Owen) is just the thing to grab the heartstrings of a tweenage girl (or her middle-aged mama).  I can’t think of a single story in all of the L.M. Montgomery books quite as memorable as this one to me.
  • Miss Cornelia.  Oh, my–how I LOVE Miss Cornelia!  Who doesn’t?  I had the most fun reading her “just like a man” pronouncements aloud.  My girls got a real kick out of her.  She is the epitome of the “man hater,” but in true L.M. Montgomery fashion, even she must capitulate to the power of love.
  • Susan Baker.  She takes the cake!  She is the perfect foil for Miss Cornelia.  Her humility, her love for the Blythes (and especially Mrs. Dr. Dear), and her innocent wisdom.  Who wouldn’t love to have a Susan Baker “at the helm” of her home?  She’s right up there with Alice from The Brady Bunch.  I’d let her run my kitchen in a heartbeat!
  • And last but certainly never least, Captain Jim. I’d have named my firstborn son after him, too.

I’m always interested in the variety of book cover that has been designed for the Anne books over the years.  This is the version I have, from my original set which I received for Christmas about thirty years ago:

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I never loved this one because in it Gilbert appears to have red hair coverwhich is simply a travesty.

This cover is nice, though I’ve never seen one like it in real life:

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Most of the other covers, even the vintage ones, do not depict Gilbert.  I kind of like him to be on this one.

Anne’s House of Dreams is as satisfying a read as they come.  We’ve taken a little break from our Anne readings for the holidays, but we’ll be back at it soon to finish up the series!

Christmas book giveaway: five of our favorite titles!

5-of-our-%e2%80%a8favorite%e2%80%a8christmas-books%e2%80%a8Scouring used book stores, thrift stores, and library book sales for gems is one of my favorite things to do.  It is not uncommon for us to scout out the best place for used books when we visit a new city.  This Christmas I have FIVE titles that I’ve purchased or somehow acquired that are duplicate titles from our Christmas book basket, and I’d love to pass them on to you, one of my dear readers.  Our Christmas book basket is one of our most beloved Christmas traditions, and it would make this book-loving mama’s heart happy to know I helped someone else add interest and variety to her family’s own book basket or, even better, start her family’s own Christmas book basket tradition.

The titles I have to give away are some of our favorites!

  • The Peterkins’ Christmas — a picture book adaptation of Lucretia Hale’s stories by Elizabeth Spurr.  Truly hilarious!  Wendy Anderson Halperin’s illustrations are the icing on the cake.
  • Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant — A package delivered by a man on a train helps make a little boy’s dreams come true.
  • The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado–I consider this one a modern classic.
  • If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff–Who doesn’t love the mouse?  Kids sure do.
  • Christmas in the Big Woods (My First Little House Books), adapted from the book.

(The first three books are hardbacks; the last two are paperbacks.)

 

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If you’d like to win this nice little book package (and who doesn’t love a package of books this time of year? 🙂 ), just leave me a comment telling me something about your Christmas:  favorite book, favorite movie, something.

This giveaway will close on Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m.

Go!

Christmas Around the World: Books, Crafts, and Recipes

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One upon a time there was a mama with two little girls and a baby boy.  Being a homeschooling mama, she was idealistic and energetic, and, above all, enthusiastic.  Christmas was coming, and she wanted to do something fun and educational with girls–something that really captures the excitement of the season, but because she was a lifelong learner herself at heart, something that she could look back on and say, “Yes!  We learned AND we had fun!”  So she did what she does best:  she started with books.  She added a few crafty projects, no more than a couple per country studied, and occasionally a recipe instead (when she wasn’t feeling very crafty).  What was born from this was a sort of play-by-play series of blog posts detailing what we did starting half a decade ago when the girls were primary-aged and full of wide-eyed wonder.

Fast-forward another half decade or so, and the girls are mature tweenagers and the boys–a pair of them–are similar in age to the girls when we started this journey around the world at Christmas all those years ago.  I decided it’s time to dig these posts out of the archives, dust them off, and share them again.  And it’s time for me to do it again with my boys, so I’m taking my own advice.  🙂  If I do anything different and noteworthy this year, I’ll blog about it and link it here.

Those are the countries we’ve studied over the years.  Have you studied any others country’s Christmas traditions?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!