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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What We're Reading in February 2018

Book choices for a homeschooling family of 7 in February

I've tried my hardest to avoid it. I've sanitized, washed, and re-washed until my hands have grown chapped. But alas, germs have found us. A few of us are down for the count and are nursing the sore throats and head colds that have taken our tiny little Mayberry by storm.


(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

Looking back in my 5-year journal, I can see that the first few weeks of February have never been very kind to us in that regard. Head colds, stomach bugs, and sinus infections seem to be our late-winter standard.

The good news: While sick, we'll all have lots of time to linger in bed and read in the next few days.
The bad news: Because of my own sore throat, our read aloud time has come to an abrupt halt until further notice.

Here's what we'll be reading while we convalesce.

What We're Reading in February 2018

Read Aloud- everybody

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street- I was super excited to come upon this title on so many trusted book lists recently. Some have even compared it to the Penderwicks, a series that has landed in the top 3 spots on our most favorite books list for the past few years. Sadly, comparing it to the Penderwicks is a gross overreach. Other than the fact that the characters are all siblings and that the story is set in modern times, I don't see the parallels. At all. The characters are underdeveloped, the plot is shallow, and the chapters rarely end in compelling cliff-hangers. To make matters worse, the dialogue portions have demanded that I do quite a bit of on-the-fly editing as I've read aloud. Words like dang, freaking, fudge (as a replacement for the "f" word), and that blows have appeared repeatedly throughout the text.

While it's not the worst book we've ever read together, it definitely does not live up to all the hype it's received. I've been told that the resolution/ending is the best part of this book. And since we're only three-fourths of the way through with it, I'm holding out hope that the story will redeem itself.

Update: The very last chapters did bring about a lovely conversation about kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. The story tied up with a nice little bow at the end. While I think it could be read aloud and edited on-the-fly, I'm not sure that I would recommend The Vanderbeekers as a read alone because of the crass, off-colored language that the characters use.


Jamie- that's me!

America's First Daughter- The Early American enthusiast in me can not recommend this book enough. Based on the real daily correspondence of Thomas Jefferson and his close family and friends, this colonial drama follows the life of Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph, the eldest daughter of the third president of the United States. Admittedly, many parts of the story are a bit scandalous and often read like a clean soap opera (Is that even possible?). But, I've done quite a bit of fact checking and have concluded that the authors/historians of this historical fiction have done history justice. Even the most unbelievable parts can be proven by court records, historical evidence, and Jefferson's own letters.

Please note that this book contains some mild language. In addition, while the authors have used discretion in not including any illicit sex scenes, they have chosen to mention the adultery, abortion, incest, and spousal abuse that are sad but provable elements to Jefferson's family timeline.



The Gift of Twins- This is the third book in the Little Falls Legacy series I started last spring. Written by a family friend, the books are all loosely based on the childhood hometown of her and my husband. It's been exciting to read names and places that I recognize and have visited over the years.



Better Together- This soon-to-be-released book from my friend and fellow homeschool blogger, Pam Barnhill of the Your Morning Basket podcast, promises to be a great primer for a successful Morning Time routine. I received an advanced copy and can't wait to crack it open. Morning time has been a staple in our homeschool for the last 10 years. I have no doubt this will be a great shot in the arm for me.



Sweetie Pea- 9th grade

Just Do Something- This one landed at the #10 spot of my Most Favorite Books from 2017. While I greatly enjoyed Pastor Kevin DeYoung's no-nonsense, practical look at "finding one's self," I knew I was not necessarily the target market for his words. It's much more suited for teens and young adults who are looking to find the answers to three of life's biggest questions:

Whom, if anyone, should I marry?
What career path should I choose?
What's God's will for my life?

This past summer, I added it to my daughter's MUST READS list.


Daring to Hope- After reading Katie Davis' breakthrough book Kisses from Katie last November, my daughter couldn't wait to read this followup title. While I've not yet read it, I've heard that it does paint some very bleak pictures and shows the very real tragedies that are faced by so many missionaries serving in third world countries. But it also shows God's redemption and the hope found only in Christ.  


Super Boy- 6th grade

The Bronze Bow- (Mom assigned book) This book is not only on my son's literary list for the year, it's also on my Top 10 list of Books to Inspire Compassion in Homeschooled Tweens. Set during the life of Christ and with themes of forgiveness, it will make a great story for my son to read leading up to the Easter season. 


10 True Tales: World War II Heroes- (Just for fun book) 


Blonde Warrior- 5th grade

Trumpet of the Swan- (Mom assigned book) Like his older brother, my second son will also be starting a new-to-him book on his literary list. (We actually read it as a family several years ago. But because he was so young at the time, my son doesn't remember it.) The book is a coming of age story staring Louis, a Trumpeter Swan who was born mute. His father, the cob, seeks to rectify the "deficiency" by providing Louis with a real trumpet with which to woo his love, Serena.

Personally, I don't love this book nearly as much as the other E.B. White classics, but think it's definitely worth reading.


Encyclopedia Brown- (Just-for-fun book) I borrowed dual copies of this book so that my two middle boys could read it in tandem and enjoy talking about it with one another. Books are like that--they build relationships. I read the first two chapters out loud to my sons and handed them each a copy for solo reading.

Each chapter is a stand-alone mystery that the young Encyclopedia Brown, boy detective, must solve. After the facts are read, and the mystery revealed, the reader is asked to guess how/why the detective was able to come to a logical conclusion about that particular mystery. He or she can, then, turn to the last pages of the book to read how Brown solved the case.


Greased Lightning- 3rd grade

Centerburg Tales- My son is finishing up this Homer Price sequel that he started last month. It continues the misadventures of young Homer in the sleepy, little town of Centerburg. I'd highly recommend this book to any Andy Griffith fans as it recounts the simple ideals of rural America in the late 1950s and early 60s.


Encyclopedia Brown- (Just-for-fun book)



The Dude- Kindergarten

Charlotte's Web- In my humble opinion, this classic contains the best first and last lines of any children's book in American literature.

"Where's Pa going with that axe?" has compelled generations of kids to keep reading. That intro is word crafting at its finest. And "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both," is the heart cry of every writer that I know. May we all be good friends AND good writers. It's not surprising that my love for Wilbur and his friends has made Charlotte's Web my GO TO to launch each of my kids into the world of chapter books.

I'll be reading this one aloud to my son--just the two of us. 


Basic Phonics Readers- This is a set of phonics-based readers that corresponds with my son's phonics curriculum. The program schedule plods along slowly through each of these mini books, so I've been weaving in other emergent readers when necessary.

That's what we'll be reading this month. How about you? 


15 comments:

  1. We just got Charlotte's Web for my daughter and looking forward to reading it to her. She spotted the film online and so we are trying to stick to the age-old rule, first the book then the movie.

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    1. That's definitely my GO TO rule with books and movies too. However, when using Charlotte's Web as a first chapter book, I actually like to let my really younger kids watch the movie first (the old 1973 version) because it gives them a frame of reference for the characters and plot points. It makes listening to longer reading portions easier for them. The 1973 version sticks very close to the original book. It even has a lot of the actual dialogue included. I only do this for my really young kids though (3-5 year-olds).

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  2. Some books just really need an audio version. Echo is one of them....and I believe Trumpet of the Swan is one too. The audio version is so great! Try that if you want to fall in love with it.

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    1. I totally agree with you. I can't even imagine reading Echo. The audio version was so great!

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  3. I started America's First Daughter a few weeks ago, and then we began our international move, so I had to put it down. Glad you like it. Thanks for the head's up on certain scenes and language.

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    1. You're welcome. In light of the fact that it is not a Christian fiction, it is still relatively clean.

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  4. So sorry you all aren't feeling well! Hope you enjoy lots of snuggles and reading time as you recover.

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    1. Thank you. I've already finished two books this month because of all the sickness. So that's the perk of being bed ridden.

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  5. Thanks for the head's up about Vanderbeekers. I've actually not heard about that one yet, but I've been burned by booklists before and have become very skeptical.

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  6. I love these monthly posts! My Goodreads list gets a little longer each time!

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    1. These are my most favorite posts to write. Happy reading!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your monthly list again! I keep reading your ravings about The Penderwicks, so I finally went and place my order for a copy from ebay. I can't wait to read it with my kiddos for a read-aloud, but I have two others to finish with them first.

    Here is what we are reading:

    Read aloud with oldest two: The Hobbit. We're about 3/4 through this one. When it is finished, I plan to start How to Eat Fried Worms with my two boys.

    Freshman daughter: She is on the final act of Romeo and Juliet and is also starting Christy by Catherine Marshall(a personal favorite of mine since that is where my name came from). She is reading A Young Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus by Elizabth George for her spiritual formations. (BTW, she just finished the Katie book that your daughter read and loved it!)

    5th grade son: He just finished A Wrinkle in Time and is now starting a biography of Henry Ford.

    Preschooler: We are reading anything and everything right now - but our topics this month are groundhog day, Valentines Day, and the olympics, so we are especially reading books related to those things. :)

    Me: I am just trying to keep up with their reading, but this year I am also doing one chapter a month in The Son of David by Nancy Guthrie with a small group Bible study. It is about seeing Jesus in the OT history books. The first chapter was great!

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    1. We loved the Penderwicks. But just as a head's up. I did have to do some on-the-fly editing at times with that series too. The story, itself, was great. Some words were crass.

      I've not heard of that Elizabeth George title. I've liked her other books, though. So, I'll have to look that one up.

      Thanks for all these great suggestions! Now to fill up my GoodReads shelves!

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    2. Thanks for the heads up with the Penderwicks. It sounds like it's good I am doing it as a read-aloud. :)

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