What I’m reading

So I’m on day three of my attempt to post every day this month. It’s a big challenge that @scotters tossed out and I sheepishly accepted.

I don’t think I’ve posted this topic—ever. I noticed there’s no fiction on this list. Hmmmm…So what I’m reading (all but one on Kindle), in no particular order:

1. One Thousand Gifts is the hands-down best book I have read in a long time. Her writing is like, well, poetry. I cried every single time I picked it up. I was sorry when I finished it. If it was ice cream I would have licked the spoon. and the bowl. and the carton.

2. The 100 Things Challenge had me at “Challenge.” It deals with American consumerism and living with less. I like it so far. It’s the latest in a series of minimalist books I’ve been reading.

3. The Productive Writer is pretty self-explanatory. Good book filled with all sorts of real world writing advice and how-to’s. I really like Sage Cohen a lot and I’ve taken one of her poetry classes online. Very helpful book!

4. George Washington’s Sacred Fire covers the faith of Washington. In a word, inspiring.

5. Answers to Prayer from George Muller has delighted me to no end. His prayer life has intimidated amazed me for years and it is nice to find another of his works. I highly recommend his autobiography.

Have you read any of these? Recommend anything you are reading?

Sheltering and books

LIT’ERATURE, n. [L. literatura.] Learning; acquaintance with letters or books. Literature comprehends a knowledge of the ancient languages, denominated classical, history, grammar, rhetoric, logic, geography, &c. as well as of the sciences. A knowledge of the world and good breeding give luster to literature.

Webster’s 1828

There seem to be two camps concerning literature:  those who think you should shelter your children and those who think that difficult books are a tool for discussion. Of course older children can handle things that younger children cannot. And difficult discussions on slavery, racial slurs, abuse, etc. do need to happen. I think for me it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

I have heard both sides of the argument and they both have merit.  I think I come down on the side of caution. My children count on me to keep them safe. The mind is the most. I do not ever want to allow them to put something there that they are not ready for. I believe literature (true literature) is a terrific way to introduce difficult topics in their natural settings. Books can open casual doors for conversations that might seem contrived otherwise. Then Biblical Principles can be introduced/applied where they fit.

And then there are some books that I do not believe qualify as literature, are salacious or are otherwise twaddle. Those don’t make the cut. But important works are worth reading and discussing together. Because we are “living” with the books and their characters, I want to make sure we are “acquainting” ourselves for a specific reason and not just to have something to read or because it was recommended by someone else.

Where do you fall in the book sheltering debate?

Find of the Week 6/22

Okay this book is another gem I found at my local used homeschool bookstore:

Watchwords of Liberty: A Pageant of American Quotations was I think $4 bucks or so. It’s a fabulous library copy with the pocket still in the front cover. The binding and cover are still in excellent shape so it will stand up to many happy years of reading.

The point of the book is to tell the stories behind  famous American phrases, such as, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” and, “Cotton is king,” and, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” Over 100 pages of terrific stories and tales of how these sayings came to be. It’s a wonderful addition to our history studies.

Find of the week

Actually I found this book a few months ago. I’m trying our a new category where every week I share a resource that is meaningful to me, and hopefully to you and BPA as well.

The Life of Olaudah Equiano (Lakeside Classics)

A few months ago I finally got around to watching the movie Amazing Grace. I love period movies and this one did not disappoint. The music elevates and the subject convicts. I was particularly interested in the abolitionists who were working so diligently, doing little works for God with great love and conviction. There was a mention of Olaudah Equiano‘s self-published biography. I was amazed that he was able to sell over 1,900 copies of his book in Ireland alone.

The book intrigued me. I was impressed at how many books he was able to sell at a time when there were none of the modern marketing tools available. Not long after that I was in one of my favorite haunts, my local Goodwill. (They have so many terrific books there!) While scanning the shelves my eyes fell upon a little hardcover with  greenish bookcloth. Imagine my delight when I checked the title and discovered it was a wonderful copy of Equiano’s biography! For a mere $7.50 I was able to take my treasure home.

It has maps and engravings sprinkled throughout. It is an amazing story of his life. I am not done yet, but I am fascinated and horrified at his experience. It is magnified when I think that his story is not unusual. This is not a post on slavery, but I must state here that slavery violates God’s law (love your neighbor as yourself, among many others) and all 7 principles of America’s Christian history. But his book is not only of slavery, but one of God’s Providence and His redemptive power that is available to all men.

I was so glad to add this tome to my collection of beloved classics. I love stumbling across little jewels like this.

Mother’s Day cinquain

For my mom’s Mother’s Day gift this year I went the handmade route. I made her a cute little hanging plaque with a poem I wrote just for her. Unfortunately I forgot to scan it before I gave it (sorry!). In case you don’t know, a cinquain is a 5 line poem that goes like this:

  • one word (noun)
  • two adjectives about the noun
  • three verbs about the noun
  • a four-word phrase about the noun
  • another word for the noun

Mine went like this:


artistic, kind

listening, accepting, loving

always there for me


I love cinquains because you can easily write a wonderful poem by following this simple “recipe.”

Hope you bless a mom in your life with something happily handmade.

My favorite soil softeners

A few years ago I purged all the “twaddle” on our bookshelves. I have been diligent since that time to fill our shelves with literature that would qualify as soil softeners.

Ms. Rosalie Slater referred to certain literature as “soil softeners,” or material that softens the soil of the heart for instruction in righteousness and planting seeds of Biblical principles. Here are just a few of the many soil softeners we enjoy in our home.

Garden Planting

Mary Jones and Her Bible is a beautiful story of a girl who worked and saved for years and walked 20 miles to buy it. It is such an inspiring story. The story teaches character such as diligence and parental respect and a love for God’s Word.

My Kingdom by L. M. Alcott is a 4-stanza poem about self-government that children can memorize. It softens the heart and opens the door to discussion about Christian self-government. By the way, she wrote it when she was 13 years old.

Little Pillows and Morning Bells by F.R. Havergal are one of my all-time favorites. I adore her and these simple children’s books are precious and full of ideas about God that children can understand. They are to be read before bed and upon waking. Plant the seeds of placing God first and last in your day.

One Morning in Maine by Robert McClosky is a lovely story about God’s creation and the power of nature. It will encourage stories of childhood summers and weather. You can see the majesty of God’s creation, His creativity and the power of childhood memories.

Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder shows the character of the pioneers and the strength of a godly family. It will insipre boys and girls alike to obey their parents, appreciate nature and enjoy the blessings they have.

The Autobiography of George Mueller is wonderfully inspiring. His character and conduct is something we should all aspire to.

Music by Isaac Watts. His Divine and Moral Songs for Children will teach your children about godly character in  a way kids love, set to music.

Summer reading challenge

I’m extending a challenge for the summer. I don’t know about you, but I find myself reading only things r/t home education. I would like to read for my own enjoyment once in a while.  Here’s the challenge:

Books must be new to you (that is, you haven’t read them before)

1) 3 non-fiction books on a subject you are interested in that are NOT r/t school

2) 1 fiction work that is not on your list for next year

3) 1 book from your bookshelf you haven’t read yet (fiction or non-fiction)

Please comment here with your book list. And you will have two months to read your list. Let’s have fun reading up this summer!

 My list

1) The Federalist Papers, How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books, Biblical Womanhood

2) Mother Carey’s Chickens

3) The Screwtape Letters

Teaching writers

I am reading this terrific book about children and writing. I literally stumbled across it at a used bookstore and instantly fell in love. One thing jumped out at me right off the bat. I am not teaching writing, I am teaching writers. That little semantic shift made all the difference to me. The Lord has been dealing with me about adding more writing to our home education. Well this book will show you how to spark a passion for writing in any child. We all long to be understood, and good writing will satisfy that need.

My English goals for this year are to start a writing portfolio and to write something every day. And not only my children, but me. We are going to play with words every day–definitions, poetry, essays, read-alouds, word games, lots of good literature and more. They must not only learn to reason, but to articulate their position intelligently. And I want them to enjoy the process. I think my renewed excitement for language will do just that.

Shakespeare: bard of the Bible

I have found some great sites to help in your studies of Shakespeare. These links are good for elementary through high school.

Surfing with the Bard
Mr. William Shakespeare and the internet
The seven stages of Shakespeare’s life
Shakespeare Resource Center
Shakespeare Illustrated has many works of art using his writing as the subject.
In Search of Shakespeare is the PBS special. They have stuff for elementary ages.
Internet Public Library has all of his works available online.
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has interesting photos of the museum.
Shakespeare Online
Shakespeare Virtual Field Trip is interesting for the peek into Elizabethan life.
All ages can appreciate Shakespeare’s works. The younger ones can listen to selections from Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare. (The kids won’t know they “can’t do Shakespeare yet” if you don’t tell them!) His many references to scripture and his sayings that have found their way into our modern vocabulary make for interesting study.

The older ones can delve into the nuances of his work. He is worth much study over time. We will touch on his life and work many times over the remaining years.