• Living Books for Composer Study: Antonio Vivaldi
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  music,  picture books

    Composer Study with Living Books: Antonio Vivaldi

    I’ve learned over the past few years the benefit of  reading living books and I am making a real effort this year to add as many living books into our days as possible.

    Composer study and artist study are not something that are generally taught in the regular school system but hang around homeschoolers for a little while and chances are you will hear about them soon enough!

    Composer and artist study could be really overwhelming for kids but teaching them with living books makes it so easy, both to teach and for the kids to understand. Who doesn’t love listening to stories about the lives of people in the past?

    Lately we’ve been studying Antonio Vivaldi for our composer. Obviously we don’t just read books, we are also listening to his music, but we’ve really enjoyed the books and learning about him that way instead of from a dry textbook.

    Today I wanted to share some of our favorite living books we read about Vivaldi.

    Living Books for Composer Study: Antonio Vivaldi

    COMPOSER STUDY WITH LIVING BOOKS:
    ANTONIO VIVALDI

    Lives of the Musicians:
    Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought)

    It’s no secret that Beethoven went deaf, that Mozart had constant money problems, and that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote musicals. But what were these people–and other famous musicians–really like? What did they eat? What did they wear? How did they spend their time? And–possibly most interesting of all–what did their neighbors think?
    Discover the fascinating and often humorous stories of twenty famous musicians–people of all shapes, sizes, temperaments, and lifestyles, from various countries and historical periods. Beginning with Vivaldi and ending with Woodie Guthrie, Lives of the Musicians brings musical history to life!

    Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery

    Vivaldi, Venice and violins: all three are celebrated in Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, a compelling mystery story about an orphan girl in the early 1700s who is in search of her roots. A central clue to the mystery is a missing Stradivarius violin that the Duke of Cremona has brought to Vivaldi’s school of the Pieta in the hopes of finding his long lost grandchild. You’ll have to watch the story unfold to learn its conclusion! This is the book that goes along with the audio CD, we listened to the CD and then read the book, the CD is excellent because of the addition of all of Vivaldi’s music!

    I, Vivaldi

    In this dynamic picture-book biography, told as if by Vivaldi himself, the famous musician’s energetic personality and steadfast dedication to music come alive.

    Despite his mother’s vow for him to become a priest, young Vivaldi is only interested in music. He soon grows from a feisty boy who wants to play the violin into a stubborn young man who puts his musical training ahead of his studies for priesthood.

    Beautiful, ornate artwork portrays the spirit and splendor of Vivaldi’s hometown, Venice. A historical note, musical score, and glossary will help readers more fully appreciate Vivaldi’s life and musical genius.

    The Orphan Singer

    The Dolcis are poor and cannot afford to train their daughter’s beautiful voice, so they give her to the”ospedalo,” where she is raised as an orphan and trained for the opera.

     

    Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

    In eighteenth-century Venice, Italy, the finest musical performances are heard at an orphanage called the Ospedale della Pieta. Hidden from the audience is an orchestra of young orphan girls, some with physical disabilities and illnesses.

    Padre Antonio Vivaldi, their music teacher, is inspired by the talented and determined young girls. When Vivaldi and his students are separated, Vivaldi is inspired to compose a set of concertos that mark the passing of time–the great baroque masterpiece entitled The Four Seasons.

    Back matter includes an author’s note with further historical and biographical information, as well as the text of the sonnets that accompany the music.

    The Story of Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day

    Discover what it would be like to travel through the four seasons in one day, following a little girl called Isabelle and her dog, Pickle, as they take on the adventure of a lifetime. As a sign of the changing seasons, Isabelle carries a little apple tree with her, and we see it bud, blossom and lose its leaves. Each spread features a musical note to press and a 10 second sound clip from the original score of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Illustrated by artist Jessica Courtney-Tickle, the book also features a biography of Vivaldi at the back along with a guide to the music.

    Want to go deeper with your Antonio Vivaldi composer study?
    Here’s a complete study for you!

    Antonio Vivaldi Composer Unit Study

  • Children' Books About Egypt - teach your children about Egypt and it's ancient history!
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  picture books

    Children’s Books About Egypt

    As part of the Explore the World From Your Home digital resource guide that I’ve created I’ve got book lists for the countries included in the guide thus far. Today I thought I’d share some of the books from the Egypt section with you!

    The Explore the World digital resource guide is more than just book lists, included in the guide are virtual field trips, a variety of video clips, online treks to explore and discover and more! Plus at the beginning of the guide I’ve shared our absolute favorite resources for exploring the world from our home. Each month 1-2 countries are added to the guide so once you purchase it you will have lifetime access to what is currently available plus each of the new countries as they are added.

    Children's Books About Egypt

    CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT EGYPT

    Egypt ABC’s

    An alphabetical exploration of the people, geography, animals, plants, history, and culture of Egypt.

    Who Was King Tut?

    Ever since Howard Carter uncovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, the young pharaoh has become a symbol of the wealth and mystery of ancient Egypt. Now, a two-and-a-half-year-long museum exhibit of Tut’s treasures is touring major cities in the U.S., drawing record crowds. This Who Was . . . ? is complete with 100 black-and white illustrations and explains the life and times of this ancient Egyptian ruler, covering the story of the tomb’s discovery, as well as myths and so-called mummy curses.

    National Geographic Kids Everything Ancient Egypt: Dig Into a Treasure Trove of Facts, Photos, and Fun

    The ancient Egyptians thought big and built bigger, leaving behind monuments and messages that have endured for five millennia despite tomb robbers and the ravages of time. Pyramids and mummies tell us about their deaths, but new technologies are peeling the wraps off their mysterious lives. In Everything Ancient Egypt kids will discover all they want to know about the mysteries of ancient Egypt and learn new weird, wacky, and fascinating facts as well. Sections in the book include Rise of the Pharaohs, Death and the Afterlife, Life in Ancient Egypt, and Fun With Ancient Egypt (a section that provides readers with exciting hands-on learning!).

    You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy!: Disgusting Things You’d Rather Not Know

    For a wealthy ancient Egyptian, death is not the end: your body must be prepared for the afterlife. But it’s a fairly disgusting business, and you can’t be sure that you will always be treated with respect.

    You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder!: A Hazardous Job You’d Rather Not Have

    The ancient Egyptian pyramids are one of the wonders of the world but what was it like to work on one? Experience for yourself the lives of laborers, scribes, artists, and embalmers as they prepare the Pharaohs final resting place. This new extended edition includes a map and a timeline of ancient Egypt, and a selection of fascinating facts.

    The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.

    Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.

    You Wouldn’t Want to Be Cleopatra!: An Egyptian Ruler You’d Rather Not Be

    Get ready . . . you’re a princess born into the Egyptian royal family. But its not easy living in the palace. From family betrayals to Roman generals, you will discover its not easy being Cleopatra! Find out all about the eventful life, great loves, and tragic fate of the most famous of all Egyptian queens.

    How the Sphinx Got to the Museum

    Acclaimed author and illustrator, Jessie Hartland, beautifully presents this informative and fascinating history of the Hatshepsut sphinx: from its carving in ancient Egypt to its arrival in the hallowed halls of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is essential reading for junior Egyptologists!

    Puzzle Pyramid

    This puzzle book involves an intriguing Egyptian mystery to solve. Detailed illustrations with many things to spot aim to ensure that children enjoy reading the story again and again.

    The Egyptian Cinderella

    This Egyptian spin on the classic Cinderella tale was initially recorded in the first century by a Roman historian and is retold here by folklorist Shirley Climo.

    Poor Rhodopis! She has nothing—no mother or father, and no friends. She is a slave, from the far-off country of Greece. Only the beautiful rose-red slippers her master gives her can make Rhodopis smile.

    So when a falcon swoops down and snatches one of the slippers away, Rhodopis is heartbroken. For how is she to know that the slipper will land in the lap of the great Pharaoh himself? And who would ever guess that the Pharaoh has promised to find the slipper’s owner and make her queen of all Egypt?

    The Awesome Egyptians

    Step back to an awesomely ancient time with the Awesome Egyptians. Discover which king had the worst blackheads, why some kings had to wear false beards and why the peasants were revolting. History with the nasty bits left in!

    Who Built the Pyramids?

    “Why were pyramids pyramid shaped?” “How were they built?” “Who were the ancient Egyptians?” “Why did they write on walls?” These are just a few of the questions likely to be asked about ancient Egypt by an inquisitive child. Designed to stimulate further questioning and discovery, this title is one of a history series for children of six and upwards. Packed with pictures, concise text and reader activities, the book brings ancient Egypt to life. It also looks at how we know about life along the Nile over 5,000 years ago.

    Hieroglyphs

    Ancient Egypt is a subject of never-ending fascination for primary grade kids. Here they learn all about hieroglyphs, the beautiful pictogram writing that appears on mummy cases, papyrus scrolls, tomb walls, etc. What do the different symbols mean? How did we learn to decipher hieroglyphs? What was school and learning to read and write like for children of ancient Egypt? The information is accessible and fascinating, plus kids have the fun of creating hieroglyph messages and “works of art” using the accompanying stencil.

    Pyramids!: 50 Hands-On Activities to Experience Ancient Egypt

    Today’s kids actively experience the wonders of ancient Egypt. Games, food, clothing and creative activities involve children in the exploration of life in a ancient society.

    Mummies in the Morning

    Jack and Annie don’t need another mummy. But that’s what they get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to ancient Egypt. There they meet a long-dead queen who needs their help. Will Jack and Annie be able to solve the puzzle, or will they end up as mummies themselves?

    Mummies and Pyramids

    When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #3: Mummies in the Morning, they had lots of questions. Why did people make mummies? What was the mysterious writing on mummy cases? How did most ancient Egyptians spend their days? How were the pyramids built? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts.

    Filled with up-to-date information, photos, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discovered in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures. And teachers can use Fact Trackers alongside their Magic Tree House fiction companions to meet common core text pairing needs.

    Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile, Egypt, 57 B.C.

    Established Dear America author Kristiana Gregory kicks off the Royal Diaries with the captivating story of young Cleopatra’s tumultuous life. Daughter of King Ptolemy Autletes, Pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra lives a life filled with opulence and mystery.

     

    Take a look at the Explore the World Resource Guide.

    Explore the World - A resource guide for learning about different countries around the world without having to leave your home!

  • The 40 Best Classic Read Alouds for Kids
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades

    The 40 Best Classic Read Alouds for Kids

    I really value a lot of the classics. We definitely don’t just read classics (which you’ll realize right away when you look at our book lists), but there is a reason these books have stood the test of time.

    While I was an avid reader as a child I hardly read any classics, something I wish I could go back and change. But, classics weren’t the books that were prominent in my childhood so I stuck to The Baby-Sitter’s Club series and all the Nancy Drew I could get my hands on. This is not something I want my children to say about their childhoods so we are making sure to do a good job reading lots of classics.

    It’s been a surprise to me how much we’ve all enjoyed them!

     

    The Best Classic Novels for Kids

     

    While this book list was made for up to grade four or so, I happen to know most adults enjoy them as well. 🙂

     

    OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

     

    The 40 Best Classic Read Alouds for Kids

    THE 40 BEST CLASSIC
    READ ALOUDS FOR KIDS

     

    Peter Pan

    A mischievous boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang, the Lost Boys, interacting with mermaids, Native Americans, fairies, pirates, and occasionally ordinary children from the world outside of Neverland.

     

     

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

    Dorothy, her little dog Toto, the Tin Woodman, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion will charm boys and girls of today as much as they delighted children nearly a century ago as they set out on an exciting quest for the elusive Wizard of Oz. Along the way, they’ll encounter the Wicked Witch of the West, the fantastic Winged Monkeys, the Queen of the Field Mice, the kind-hearted Munchkins, and other fanciful creatures.

     

     

    The Complete Book of Flower Fairies

    Perfect for fans of all ages, this wonderful collection includes all the original Flower Fairy poems and illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker from the classic books.

    Since the publication of Cicely Mary Barker’s first book in 1923, the Flower Fairies have been ethereal companions to generations of readers around the world. Her charming poetry and delicate illustrations have sparked the imaginations of children for over ninety years and continue to inspire a life-long love for fairies and all things magical.

     

     

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

     

    Heidi

    At the age of five, little orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Everyone in the village is afraid of him, but Heidi is fascinated by his long beard and bushy grey eyebrows. She loves her life in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can’t bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?

     

    Charlotte’s Web

    Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

     

     

    All-of-a-Kind Family

    Meet the All-of-a-Kind  Family — Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie — who live with their parents in New York City at the turn of the century.

    Together they share adventures that find them searching for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor and visiting with the peddlers in Papa’s shop on rainy days. The girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises.

    But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!

     

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

    Meet Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! She lives in an upside-down house with a kitchen that is always full of freshly baked cookies. She was even married to a pirate once! Best of all, she knows everything there is to know about children.

    When Mary turns into an Answer-Backer or Dick becomes Selfish or Allen decides to be a Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the perfect cure. And her solutions always work, with plenty of laughs along the way. This is the book that started it all!

     

     

    In Grandma’s Attic

    A young girl delights in her grandmother’s stories of days gone by, sparked by keepsakes and simple questions, Grandma shares marvelous stories of mischief , discovery, and laughter, such as the time she accidentally lost the family buggy.

     

     

    The Mouse and the Motorcycle

    A young mouse named Ralph is thrown into a world of excitement when a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check in to the Mountain View Inn. This timeless classic now features a foreword written by New York Timesbestselling author Kate DiCamillo, as well as an exclusive interview with Beverly Cleary herself.

    When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith’s red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles. Whether dodging a rowdy terrier or keeping his nosy cousins away from his new wheels, Ralph has a lot going on! And with a pal like Keith always looking out for him, there’s nothing this little mouse can’t handle.

     

     

    Mr. Popper’s Penguins

    A classic of American humor, the adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations.

     

     

    The Hundred Dresses

    At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.”

     

     

    The Boxcar Children

    The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.

     

     

    Raggedy Ann Stories

    All the original stories are here, as Raggedy Ann comes to Marcella’s nursery and quickly becomes the leader of the dolls. After learning a lesson from a naughty raid on the pantry, Raggedy Ann’s adventures show her striving to be good — and succeeding. She and the other dolls rescue Fido, the family dog, from the dogcatcher. When, in one adventure, Raggedy Ann has to have her stuffing replaced, she gets her famous “I LOVE YOU” candy heart. Raggedy Ann also goes up in a kite, teaches two new dolls to be tolerant, and shares the excitement of a baby brother for Marcella, among several other tales.

     

     

    A Little Princess

    Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she’ll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and generosity are all the riches she truly needs?

     

     

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

     

     

    Prince Caspian

    The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.

     

     

    Old Yeller

    The stray dog was ugly, and a thieving rascal, too. But he sure was clever, and a smart dog could be a big help on the wild Texas frontier, especially with Papa away on a long cattle drive up to Abilene.

    Strong and courageous, Old Yeller proved that he could protect Travis’s family from any sort of danger. But can Travis do the same for Old Yeller?

     

     

    Caddie Woodlawn

    Caddie Woodlawn is a real adventurer. She’d rather hunt than sew and plow than bake, and tries to beat her brother’s dares every chance she gets. Caddie is friends with Indians, who scare most of the neighbors — neighbors who, like her mother and sisters, don’t understand her at all.

     

     

    Little House in the Big Woods

    Told from four-year-old Laura’s point of view, this story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack.

     

     

    Little House on the Prairie

    Laura Ingalls and her family are heading to Kansas! Leaving behind their home in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, they travel by covered wagon until they find the perfect spot to build a little house on the prairie. Laura and her sister Mary love exploring the rolling hills around their new home, but the family must soon get to work, farming and hunting and gathering food for themselves and for their livestock. Just when the Ingalls family starts to settle into their new home, they find themselves caught in the middle of a conflict. Will they have to move again?

     

     

    The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

    Doctor Dolittle heads for the high seas in perhaps the most amazing adventure ever experienced by man or animal.

     

     

    Shiloh

    When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it’s love at first sight—and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much and has a gun—and abuses his dogs. So when Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty’s secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd’s anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his?

     

     

    Mary Poppins

    From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed.
    It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life!

     

     

    Betsy-Tacy

    There are lots of children on Hill Street, but no little girls Betsy’s age. So when a new family moves into the house across the street, Betsy hopes they will have a little girl she can play with. Sure enough, they do—a little girl named Tacy. And from the moment they meet at Betsy’s fifth birthday party, Betsy and Tacy become such good friends that everyone starts to think of them as one person—Betsy-Tacy.

     

     

    The Secret Garden

    This is the poignant tale of a lonely little girl, orphaned and sent to a Yorkshire mansion at the edge of a vast lonely moor. At first, she is frightened by this gloomy place, but with the help of the local boy Dickon, who earns the trust of the moor’s wild animals with his honesty and love, the invalid Colin, a spoiled, unhappy boy terrified of life, and a mysterious, abandoned garden, Mary is eventually overcome by the mystery of life itself—its birth and renewal, its love and joy.

     

     

    Black Beauty

    Black Beauty is the suspenseful and deeply moving account of a horse’s experiences at the hands of many owners — some, sensitive riders who treated him gently; others, cruel drivers who thoughtlessly inflicted lasting damage.

     

     

    Pollyanna

    The orphan girl Pollyanna moves in with her strict aunt in New England. Despite a difficult start, Pollyanna’s exuberance and positivity affect everyone who meets her, and she spreads joy and love wherever she goes. But when tragedy strikes, Pollyanna finds her optimistic attitude tested, and she must learn to find happiness again.

     

     

    The Railway Children

    When Father is taken away unexpectedly, Roberta, Peter, Phyllis and their mother have to leave their comfortable life in London to go and live in a small cottage in the country. The children seek solace in the nearby railway station, and make friends with Perks the Porter and the Station Master himself. Each day, Roberta, Peter and Phyllis run down the field to the railway track and wave at the passing London train, sending their love to Father. Little do they know that the kindly old gentleman passenger who waves back holds the key to their father’s disappearance.

     

     

    Lassie Come Home

    Lassie is Joe’s prize collie and constant companion. But when Joe’s father loses his job, Lassie must be sold. Three times she escapes from her new owner, and three times she returns home to Joe, until finally she is taken to the remotest part of Scotland―too far a journey for any dog to make alone . . . But Lassie is not just any dog.

     

     

    Harriet the Spy

    Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?

     

     

    Pippi Longstocking

    Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

     

     

    When We Were Very Young

    Verses full of bubbling nonsense and rhythm, written for the author’s son, Christopher Robin. It is for “very small children (and for their elders who get a surreptitious joy from what is meant for their little ones).”

     

     

    Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

    This complete and unabridged collection contains all 23 of Beatrix Potter’s Tales in one deluxe volume with all their original illustrations. The stories are arranged in the order in which they were first published so they may be read in their proper sequence. A special section at the end of this volume contains four additional works by Beatrix Potter that were not published during her lifetime. Beautifully reissued with a newly designed slipcase and jacket—a truly stunning gift.

     

     

    Matilda

    Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!

     

     

    The Bridge to Terabithia

    Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.

     

     

    The Water-Horse

    When eight-year-old Kirstie finds a strange egg near her home, she has no idea what will come out. Part horse, part toad, part turtle, and part crocodile? Only Kirstie’s grandfather knows what it is: a water horse! While it is certainly the oddest-looking creature Kirstie has ever seen, it is also the gentlest. But soon, the unusual pet gets bigger. And bigger. And BIGGER. Will Kirstie and her family be able to keep their new pet or will he have to make a splash in someone else’s home?

     

     

    Ballet Shoes

    In the tradition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess come Noel Streatfeild’s tales of triumph. In this story, three orphan girls vow to make a name for themselves and find their own special talents. With hard work, fame just may be in the stars!

     

     

    Alice Adventures in Wonderland

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the story of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.

     

    What classics would you add to this list?

  • Eight Great Middle Grade Novels Even Adults Will Enjoy
    book lists,  middle grades

    Eight Middle Grade Novels Even Adults Will Love

    I have developed a love for mid-grade novels in the last few years.

    Generally middle grade novels are geared towards ages 8-12. They are around 30,000-50,000 words and don’t have any profanity, graphic violence or sexuality.

    There are a ton of novels that fit into this category and today I wanted to highlight some that not only your middle graders will enjoy, but I think you will as well.

    Middle Grade Novels Even Adults Will Love

     

    EIGHT MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS
    ADULTS WILL LOVE

    Think Little House on the Prairie in free verse, I just love this one!

    May B.

    I’ve known it since last night: It’s been too long to expect them to return. Something’s happened. May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

    Ann M. Martin was one of my favorite authors growing up (hello, Baby-Sitters Club!), this book is so different in such a good way.

    Rain Reign

    When I finished Rain Reign I turned to my husband and said, “They just didn’t make books that touched on deeper topics when we were younger, pretty much all I read was The Baby-Sitters Club.” Well, imagine my surprise when I realized this book was written by the same author! I never would have guessed, though I enjoyed it even more than I remember enjoying The Baby-Sitters Club growing up.

    Um, I may have gotten teary while reading this one.

    Pax

    From bestselling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the powerful relationship between a boy and his fox. Pax is destined to become a classic, beloved for generations to come. Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox. Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .

    Everyone is raving about Wonder these days and for good reason!

    Wonder

    I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

    My theory is, if a book can make me cry, it’s a pretty spectacular one, and this book falls in that category. This would be a good book to start conversations about foster care with your children.

    The Boy on the Porch

    When a young couple finds a boy asleep on their porch, their lives take a surprising turn. Unable to speak, the boy, Jacob, can’t explain his history. All John and Marta know is that they have been chosen to care for him. And, as their connection and friendship with Jacob grow, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family and begin to see the world in brand-new ways.

    This was my first Gary D. Schmidt novel and I was hooked.

    The Wednesday Wars

    Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

    This is possibly my favorite Gary D. Schmidt novel!

    Okay for Now

    In this companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

    Race the Night

    Without you, there’d be no hope for the world. Because you are the whole world. That’s what Teacher says, and twelve-year-old Eider knows she’s right. The world ended long ago, and the desert ranch is the only thing left. Still, Eider’s thoughts keep wandering Beyond the fence. Beyond the pleated earth and scraggly brush and tedious daily lessons. Eider can’t help wishing for something more-like the stories in the fairytale book she hides in the storage room. Like the secret papers she collects from the world Before. Like her little sister who never really existed. When Teacher announces a new kind of lesson, Eider and the other kids are confused. Teacher says she needs to test their specialness-the reason they were saved from the end of the world. But seeing in the dark? Reading minds? As the kids struggle to complete Teacher’s challenges, they also start to ask questions. Questions about their life on the desert ranch, about Before and Beyond, about everything Teacher has told them. But the thing about questions-they can be dangerous. This moving novel-equal parts hope and heartbreak-traces one girl’s journey for truth and meaning, from the smallest slip of paper to the deepest understanding of family. The world may have ended for the kids of the desert ranch . . . but that’s only the beginning.

  • Poetry Tea Time in our homeschool
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  poetry,  real homeschool stories

    Easy & Enjoyable Poetry Tea Time in Our Homeschool

    Poetry Tea Time is something we’ve been doing for a few months now in our homeschool and I’ve had a few people ask about it.

    I first came across the idea of Poetry Tea Time on Instagram and through my rabbit trail found out that the idea started with Julie from Brave Writer. Of course it did, she’s brilliant.

    At first I didn’t even want to start with poetry tea time, feeling overwhelmed and like everything had to be perfect. And while I do love perfection, I just knew if that’s what it needed to be it wouldn’t happen.

    So, I threw the idea of perfection out of the window.

    I thought I would share how our (imperfect) poetry tea time looks in case you too are feeling overwhelmed with the idea.

     

    Poetry Tea Time in Our Homeschool - it's not perfect but we love it!

     

    OUR (IMPERFECT)
    POETRY TEA TIME

    IT’S WEEKLY

    Julie recommends Tuesday’s for poetry tea time but Tuesday’s are crazy days in our house with too much stuff on our plates already so I decided to do Wednesday. I like to do it after lunch so it’s kind of our dessert after lunch (and it keeps the kids from spoiling their appetites for lunch). The kids look forward to Wednesday just for Poetry Tea Time.

     

    WE USE A MIS-MATCHED TEA SET

    I’ve collect a few tea things from thrift stores over the years and we use our mis-matched cups, saucers and tea pot for each PTT. The kids love using actual tea cups but seriously, don’t let it keep you from doing it.

     

    WE SERVE WHAT WE SCROUNGE UP

    Some weeks we have fresh baking, other weeks the kids get chip crumbs from the bottom of the bag. I’m not above serving chocolate chips and marshmallows. It’s not usually fancy but they don’t care.

     

    WE DON’T (USUALLY) SERVE TEA

    *gasp*! Our poetry tea time does not always involve tea! Raeca has yet to try a tea she likes and I don’t blame her, I myself only found one I like a few months ago and that’s after years of trying a variety of teas. So, sometimes it’s iced tea or hot chocolate, whatever we are in the mood for really.

     

    WE READ FROM A VARIETY OF BOOKS

    We usually do a combination of poetry books and nursery rhymes. We read a couple poems out of one book and then go on to another one. Raeca and I both take turns reading and she picks out the poems she wants to read. I’ve included some of our favorite poetry/nursery rhyme books below.

     

    Great Books for Poetry Tea Time

     

    OUR FAVORITE BOOKS FOR 
    POETRY TEA TIME

     

    Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Fairy Poems

    The beautiful illustrations bring the poetry to life in this beautiful gift book.

    Readers will delight in this never-before published collection of poems from Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of The Little House on the Prairie:

    Day and night, wherever we go, fairies are out dancing, painting, and creating joyous mischief for all who can see them. Laura Ingalls Wilder shares her vision of the fanciful, ethereal, and mischievous world of the “Little People” in this first-ever collection of fairy poems she wrote in 1915. Accompanied by whimsical illustrations, readers young and old will cherish this book for a lifetime.

     

    When We Were Very Young

    Verses full of bubbling nonsense and rhythm, written for the author’s son, Christopher Robin. It is for “very small children (and for their elders who get a surreptitious joy from what is meant for their little ones).”

     

    Poems to Learn By Heart

    There’s a poem to celebrate every moment in life-whether it’s hitting a home run, watching a sunset, or laughing with your best friend. A poem is a gift of the heart that can inspire, reassure, or challenge us. Memorize it-share it-it’s yours forever.

    In this diverse collection, a companion to her New York Times #1 best-seller A Family of Poems, Caroline Kennedy has chosen more than a hundred poems that speak to all of us: the young and young at heart, readers new to poetry and devoted fans. These poems explore deep emotions, as well as ordinary experiences. They cover the range of human experience and imagination. Divided into sections about nature, sports, monsters and fairies, friendship and family, this book is full of surprises. Each section is preceded by Caroline’s thoughtful introduction reflecting her own family’s engagement with and enjoyment of poetry.

     

    A Child’s Garden of Verses

    Here is a delightful look at childhood, written by master poet and storyteller Robert Louis Stevenson. In this collection of sixty-six poems, Stevenson recalls the joys of his childhood, from sailing boats down a river, to waiting for the lamplighter, to sailing off to foreign lands in his imagination. Tasha Tudor’s watercolor paintings evoke a simpler time in the past, and celebrate two of the things she loves most — children and nature. Her talents are the perfect match for these inspiring poems, making this a handsome gift edition that will be cherished by families for generations.

     

    Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young

    First published in 1986 and just as fresh and relevant today, this widely acclaimed, child-friendly poetry anthology is now being reissued with a striking new jacket. In his introduction to this book Jim Trelease, bestselling author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, writes, “No one better recognizes the essence of the child-poetry connection than poet and anthologist Jack Prelutsky. . . . Here are more than 200 little poems to feed little people with little attention spans to help both grow. Marc Brown’s inviting illustrations add a visual dimension to the poems, which further engage young imaginations.” The poems are by 119 of the best-known poets of the 20th century.

     

    Where the Sidewalk Ends

    Where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. There you’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.

  • 7 Books for Learning About Oceans and Sea Creatures
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  picture books,  science

    7 Books For Studying Oceans & Sea Creatures

    I totally blame it on the show Octonauts but we’ve been on a bit of an underwater kick around here lately. Each week Raeca picks a new animal or two to learn about in science and we’ve had a good stretch of sea creatures; pilot fish, jellyfish and the green sea turtle). The kids have quite enjoyed the show and I appreciate the educational aspect while it is still entertaining.

    This new found interest in sea creatures has prompted us to start looking through those sections of the books we already own as well as discovering new-to-us books. The ones on this list have been great resources for our studies.

    Books for Learning about Oceans and Sea Creatures

    7 BOOKS FOR STUDYING
    OCEANS & SEA CREATURES

    1000 Things Under the Sea

    A beautiful book with pictures of exactly 1000 fascinating things that can be found in our seas and oceans. From common seashore sights such as crabs and seagulls to deep sea creatures, enormous blue whales, colorful jellyfish and even undersea machines, every page is full of things for children to discover. Includes an index for easy reference.

    Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World

    See the world in a whole new way! Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman combines art and science in this exciting and educational guide to the structure, function, and personality of the natural world. Explore the anatomy of a jellyfish, the inside of a volcano, monarch butterfly migration, how sunsets work, and much more. Rothman’s whimsical illustrations are paired with interactive activities that encourage curiosity and inspire you to look more closely at the world all around you.

    The Usborne Big Book of Big Sea Creatures

    From the great white shark to the mighty blue whale, children will love discovering the biggest creatures under the sea (and some of the littlest too). Each page is packed with huge, brightly coloured illustrations and fascinating facts. Extra long fold-out pages show some of the biggest, fastest and longest underwater creatures of all.

    20 Ways to Draw a Jellyfish and 44 Other Amazing Sea Creatures

    This inspiring sketchbook, part of the 20 Ways series from Quarry Books, designed to offer artists, designers, and doodlers a fun and sophisticated collection of illustration fun. Each spread features 20 inspiring illustrated examples of 45 themes – jellyfish, seahorses, star fish, clown fish, eels, sea lions, star fish, lobster, and much, much more – over 900 drawings, with blank space for you to draw your take on 20 Ways to Draw a Jellyfish and 44 Other Amazing Sea Creatures. This is not a step-by-step technique book–rather, the stylized sea anemones, dolphin, and squid are simplified, modernized, and reduced to the most basic elements, showing you how simple abstract shapes and forms meld to create the building blocks of any item that you want to draw. Each of the 20 interpretations provides a different, interesting approach to drawing a single item, providing loads of inspiration for your own drawing. Presented in the author’s uniquely creative style, this engaging and motivational practice book provides a new take on the world of sketching, doodling, and designing.

    7 Books for Learning About Oceans and Sea Creatures

    The Wonder Garden: Wander Through 5 Habitats to Discover 80 Amazing Animals

    Open the gates of the Wonder Garden to explore five of Earth’s most extraordinary habitats, each filled with incredible creatures and epic scenery. Trek through the Amazon Rainforest, travel to the Chihuahuan Desert, dive in the Great Barrier Reef, delve deep into the Black Forest and stand on the roof of the world – the Himalayan Mountains – to see nature at its wildest. Breathtaking, engraved illustrations bring to life Earth’s spectacular Wonder Garden.

    Animalium: Welcome to the Museum

    Welcome to the Museum is a series of books set on the “walls” of the printed page, showcasing the world’s finest collections of objects — from natural history to art. Open 365 days a year and unrestricted by the constraints of physical space, each title in this series is organized into galleries that display more than 200 full-color specimens accompanied by lively, informative text. Offering hours of learning, this first title within the series — Animalium — presents the animal kingdom in glorious detail with illustrations from Katie Scott, an unparalleled new talent.

    Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature

    A first introduction to the natural world that looks at the myriad ways in which plants and animals have adapted to give themselves the best chance of survival. Natural World explores and explains why living things look and behave the way they do in a series of visually compelling information charts.