Saturday, January 04, 2014

Classical Conversations Booklist--Cycle Two, Middle Ages

This fall I decided to try making a photo record of the books we've read for homeschooling. I am always asking Chicklet11 and B8 to keep a list of books they read, which they never do, and I haven't been much better myself. This is the first year since we started homeschooling that I am not keeping detailed records of everything we do each day, since I consider the Classical Conversations (CC) program and curriculum comprehensive enough, with our added math program; what I've done at home is flesh out the CC memorized concepts. So if I had to show someone what we've covered, it's all there in the CC manuals. I have to say that it's given me a new freedom to follow our nose on whatever threads we are most interested in, and since we're not doing daily workbooks, the kids think it's a treat when I have an appointment and I leave them a list of workbook pages to do!

But I did want something to remind me of all we've enjoyed together, and I was inspired to take a photo before I returned a bunch of library books. Then I tried to remember what we had read previously and gather those books together too. I haven't photographed any of the kids' free reading choices, but these are most of the books we've read together.

These are all books we're reading on an ongoing basis. My absolute favorite of these is A Child's History of the World, by Hillyer. (So much more enjoyable to read aloud than The Story of the World, in my opinion. I would lose the kids' attention when I read SOW, but they don't want me to stop reading CHW!)

The Usborne Book of World History is a great pictoral, summarizing resource that we've used on and off for years. I am really impressed with A Child's Introduction to Poetry, which came with Chicklet's virtual school curriculum last year. It has a two- or three-page spread on each major poet or poetry type, with sample poems, explanations of vocabulary and images, whimsical illustrations and includes a CD. I especially like how it delves into what a sonnet is or what a limerick is, giving lots of examples.

Tales of the Not Forgotten is a favorite with my little mission-minded girl. The tales are pretty long so we break them up, but I tend to take breaks in between each one. I'm not sure I really like The Everyday Bible. I heard it recommended as a good Bible for younger kids to read aloud because it's written at a 6th grade reading level and the vocabulary is aimed at brand-new Christians, but you definitely lose beauty and familiarity of language. We've been reading Mark aloud, taking turns reading, but we're going to switch to one of Paul's letters after the semester break, to see if I like it any better.
This photo documents a departure from the Middle Ages, back when we were doing the musical Hercules, and they just HAD to read some other Greek myths too! They read all of these to themselves, so I can't really comment as to quality, but they enjoyed them all. They also browsed D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, a perpetual favorite here.

They read all of these to themselves too. They especially liked the Sir Gawain stories. These were a follow up to the Arthurian stories below.

I read all of these aloud to the kids, except for the red Martin Luther biography which I made both of them read to themselves (since we had it on our shelves, it was short, and it fit our time period). All the rest I can highly recommend. If you've never read any of the D'Aulaire's fine books, you must hie thee to a library forthwith! The Robert D. San Souci books about Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin were wonderful too--really well-written with beautiful illustrations. 

I reviewed Spy for the Night Riders, exciting historical fiction with Martin Luther as a main character, here.We really enjoyed it, and we started another of the Trailblazer books right away! Starry Messenger is science in a Caldecott-winning disguise--elaborate illustrations with tiny text of Galileo's own words; it's all about Copernicus' theories and Galileo's discoveries. Michelangelo is by Diane Stanley, my favorite author of illustrated children's biographies. Michelangelo's story was great, but I see I forgot to photograph my absolute favorite bio by her, Joan of Arc. B8 was so transfixed by her story that he stopped coloring to come sit next to me, hanging on every word. I didn't realize that transcripts of her trial still exist, so this biography was fully fleshed out with her own words. Riveting!

Here are a few of our science books for the semester, since we started studying space. The Reasons for Seasons and The Moon Book are both by Gail Gibbons. The Childcraft volumes have been fun too. How We Get Things tells how things are produced or how they were invented. Look Again is more of an art book; just realized, we haven't actually read it yet! They read other Easy Reader science books to themselves too; I just didn't round them all up.

And before we move off of science, I must proudly record the fact that we dissected owl pellets this semester. They were sent to us by Chicklet's virtual school last year, but we pulled out before we got to that unit. Though she kept begging to dissect them, I kept putting it off. This year we decided it would make a perfect family presentation for CC--and it was!

Last group. Peter the Great is another excellent Diane Stanley biography. Gutenberg was a library book with nice illustrations, but as a biography it just didn't have that magic that I look for in a good one. The Golden Treasury of Poetry is one of many poetry anthologies we own, but this one includes seasonal poems, so I pulled it out to read all the Christmas poetry. (I posted one on Christmas Day!)

B8 loved Days of the Knights, an Eyewitness Reader with lots of sidebar information and detailed drawings. Medieval World is another Usborne Book; I like to flip through it and point out things we've memorized for CC and help them see how it all ties together. (It's a nice pictoral supplement to A Child's History of the World.)

But my favorite resource in this photo is Tales from Shakespeare. Written in 1807 by Charles and Mary Lamb, they retain the Shakespearean vocabulary and turns of phrase while abridging and explaining the story for children (and fortunate adults--this is such a great way to enjoy Shakespeare!). The sentence structure is so complex that they can be challenging to read aloud--but I enjoy them more for that.

I would encourage anyone who is homeschooling (or "afterschooling") to supplement curriculum with these types of picture books, even if your kids are reading chapter books. First of all, they are a nice length to snuggle up with and read aloud for a short period, even if it takes a couple sittings for some of the longer ones. Even older kids enjoy the pictures, and the images help them remember facts. Also, there is no better way to introduce or review complex history or science, I think, than in a kids' book that highlights the main points so you easily recognize them as such. I love the Usborne and Eyewitness books for that reason.

We are eager for second semester to begin! I have a basket of books for us to choose from.


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