Saturday, March 2, 2013

Recent Beginner Books

I do these posts for our own benefit as much as other people's benefit - these are some of our favorite books and I may check them out again.  We still get 20-30 books per week from the library.  We literally read them all - several times! 

Most of them are picture books and we read 5-6 in a sitting and tend to do two sittings per day.  Catherine is starting to read them by herself, and Sabrina will look at the pictures by herself.  With such a large volume of books, I need variety.  Plus, I would love for the kids to learn something from the books.  I get a lot of my book ideas from other blogs, so here goes some ones we have read recently.

Here's a cute little book about two girls who like pink by Maryann MacDonald:
The girls loved this book ... especially because they pretend to dye a dog completely pink and make a special, glittery wand.  There are some behavioral issues which are raised in this book ... such as jealousy, coveting, and friendship. 

I have also borrowed a bunch of books about space recently because Sabrina is taking a class about planets.  This one (by Franklin Branley) was interesting and raised some good discussions about life without gravity:
This one, also by Branley, focused on the heat of the Sun and its distance from the Earth:
Another one of Branley's books was a favorite of the girls and did a great job of describing why we have day and night:
This book described what a trip to Mars may be like:
I read a blog about encouraging children to write about simple topics, about "small moments."  The author of that blog was a teacher and trying to encourage her students to choose simple writing topics.  As an example, she suggested this book:
Jane Chelsea Aragon has written a fabulous book about a girl who pours salt in her hands and feeds it to a deer in her backyard one night.  I know that plot seems amazingly simple, but the girls loved this book.  About once a day I ask the girls to "grab two books each from the library book basket and bring them to the couch."  This was a frequently chosen book!

Another favorite book with a very simple topic was this one by Marla Frazee:
It is literally the story of a bunch of people getting on, riding, and then getting off a roller coaster.  I read books like this and think "Why didn't I write this book and sell it?"  This was not only a frequently chosen book, the girls asked me to re-read it even within one sitting.

With our homeschool co-op group (Classical Conversations), the girls are learning a timeline of world history.  One of the "events" is Rome Founded by Romulus and Remus.  The timeline is great, but I also want the kids to actually know what they are learning.  So, I try to get books or watch documentaries about the different events.  So, I found this book by Anne Rockwell:
This is beyond a picture book and actually had several chapters.  Catherine was able to read it by herself, but it is about 50 pages and is longer than the other books in the post.  The girls enjoyed it and it drove home the story of Romulus and Remus: that they were nursed and raised by a wolf and Romulus ended up founding Rome.

Like all historical fiction, the author has added a bunch of extra facts to make the story interesting.  Because this is a myth anyway, the question of whether the added "facts" are accurate or not is probably moot.  But, historical fiction always makes me a bit uncomfortable.  I always fear that the kids will assume all of this information is true, even if it is not. 

Perhaps I have this fear because of my legal career - as an attorney, we always take what everyone says with a huge grain of salt.  One of the first and best pieces of advice I was ever given was: The question is never "is my client lying?"  The question is "what is my client lying about?"  That same distrust can be carried over to all of life.  So, I am a bit uncomfortable reading a book to the girls and saying "part of this is true, part is not ... well actually none of this is true, it is just a myth.  But, you need to learn it anyway." 

That being said, the girls loved this book.  We had a great discussion about mammals nursing their young.  I thought they did not know what nursing was and explained it to them - how mammals produce milk and babies suckle their mothers.  Catherine said "I know what nursing is, Mommy."  I asked her how she knew.  She shocked me when she said "I watched it one time."  Intrigued, I asked where.  She said "With Mrs. Casey and Hannah, at their old house."  They are friends of ours and I assume Mrs. Casey must have nursed Hannah in front of Catherine while babysitting my girls.  Catherine did explain to me that she had never seen a baby human nursing from a wolf, like Romulus and Remus did.  Thank God she had never seen that while one of my friend's babysat her!

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