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Children’s Books and Series

13 Nov

I just discovered a $0.99 Kindle download of the complete Wizard of Oz series, which I was very excited to find. I have a special love of old children’s books and The Wizard of Oz series is one of my childhood favorites. In my blog titled “Encouraging a Love of Reading,” I mention that getting your child hooked on a series is one way to help them develop a love of reading. For me, it was the Nancy Drew series. I was in the bottom reading group in first grade, but that summer I discovered Nancy Drew and when I went back to school the next year I ended up in the top reading group—all from getting hooked on the Nancy Drew series. From there I went on to The Bobbsey Twins, The Happy Hollisters, and The Hardy Boys.

When I decided to homeschool my son, I decided to do the same thing and introduce him to a children’s series. We started with The Magic Treehouse and went on to The Boxcar Children and the Animal Ark series. I also purchased as many of my old childhood favorites as I could find.

And that brings me to the other topic that I would like to cover–what has been happening through the years in the children’s book industry. Now, I haven’t done a scientific study of this, but from my personal observations it appears that in the past children’s authors made more of a point of writing books that would help develop a child’s character. Books were used as a tool to help teach good morals and habits. The heroes in children’s books were generally well-mannered and honorable.

Nowadays, the heroes of many (not all) children’s books are sarcastic, disrespectful, and not always honorable. And the adults in some of the modern children’s books aren’t much better. It seems to me that the authors of these books are forgetting that their books are providing role models for children and are teaching them how to behave. Writing for children is a sacred trust and I think many authors are forgetting this. Parents can no longer be certain that all the books in the children’s section of a library are necessarily books that they want their children reading. Like television, parents these days need to supervise what their young children are reading. Some might call this censorship. I call it good parenting. As St. Irenaeus said, “The things we learnt in childhood are part of our soul.”

After I wrote this blog, I read an excellent article by Meghan Cox Curdon titled “The Case for Good Taste in Children’s Books” which worried me even more about what is happening in children’s literature. This article is a warning call to all parents. Be aware.


How We Homeschooled the Elementary Years: Reading

30 Jan

Now that my son is in the middle school years, I thought that it might be nice to look back on how we homeschooled during the elementary years to see if our experiences can help folks who are starting out on their homeschooling journey.  My intention was to put it all in one post, but there is so much to say that I’m going to break it down by subject into a series of posts.  As you read these posts, please remember that there are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers, and just because something worked for our family, doesn’t mean that it will work for yours. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling—if something isn’t working for your child, you can always change it. One thing that I highly recommend for any homeschooling family is to join a homeschooling group so that your children can meet other homeschoolers, and so that you can meet other homeschooling parents who might be able to give you ideas for methods or curriculums that you hadn’t even thought of.  In my homeschooling group we have pretty much the full spectrum of homeschoolers—from unschoolers, to kids taking an online curriculum, and everything in between.

In the beginning, as many new homeschoolers do, I purchased a curriculum, (Calvert) in this case a kindergarten one.  Then I proceeded to not use it.  Oh, I did use some of it, especially the reading books that it came with, but I didn’t follow the lesson plans. Instead, I taught my son to read using the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (Which a fellow homeschooler had recommended to me.) This book made teaching reading very simple. However, I didn’t even follow this book exactly.  When I noticed that my son was getting bored and restless during the lessons, I realized that he didn’t need to complete each lesson. He was understanding the lessons so well that we could skip a portion of each lesson and go on to the next. After every lesson, I would have him read something to me from one of the easy reader books that I had collected. I found the Bob Books helpful for this.  I also started going to garage sales and purchasing as many easy reader books as I could find.  Later, we moved on to the Magic Tree House series.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I also made sure that our house was full of books for our son to read on his own. I read to him at bed time and during the day. I would give him reading assignments in books that I thought that he would enjoy, and often he would get involved in the books and continue reading them on his own.  My main goal wasn’t just to teach him to read, but to get him to love to read.  If you can do that for your child, then you have given him or her a gift for a lifetime.

Encouraging a Love of Reading

17 Jul

Hi Everyone!

I have an announcement to make! The second book in my Our America series, The King Philip’s War Adventure is now available! And, the first book in the series The Pilgrim Adventure is now available on Kindle!

The King Philip’s War Adventure takes Finn and Ginny back to colonial times again where they get caught up in one of the least-taught and most dreadful wars in our history. I enjoyed writing this book even more than the first one in the series, and I hope that you folks enjoy it too.

I thought that today I would write about something for those of you with younger children—how to encourage a love of reading in your children.  If you can hook your kids on books, then half of your job as a homeschooler is already done. Not only will teaching spelling and grammar be a lot easier if your kids love to read (in fact I never taught my son spelling; he just picked it up by himself because he read so much),  but they can also teach themselves things by reading that you may not even have thought of.

But how to do this?  Here are some things you can do to encourage your young children to love reading:

1)    Limit TV and electronics time in your home. In fact, it’s a good idea to not even allow very young children to watch TV at all–at least until after they have developed a love of reading.

2)    Have lots of books available for them to read all over the house. Not only library books, but books that you own. I haunted garage sales and library sales for years buying books for my son.

3)    Keep books in the car for your children to read while you are driving.

4)    Read yourself—if your children see that you read for pleasure, it shows them that reading is a fun thing to do.

5)    Read to your children as much as possible. Start as soon as they are born—even babies like to be read to. I used to sit on my back next to my son, holding a book over our heads and read to him while he was a baby.  He’d wiggle his feet and get excited when we came to parts he liked in the books. (He especially liked rhyming books at this age.)

6)    When your children first start to read, look for lots of easy books that they can read themselves to give them something to be proud of. The Bob Books are especially good for this, or you could do a search for “easy reader,” or “beginning reader” on Amazon to see what types of books are out there.

7)    Once your children can read, get them hooked onto a series. If you can find a children’s series that they like, then they will want to read more books in the series, and then they’re hooked.

These are the methods that I used to foster a love of reading in my son.  If any of you have any other suggestions, please feel free to mention them in the comments!