Friday, December 14, 2007

"A Family Christmas"

Despite having a lengthy list of books that I'm already reading, and have yet to read, I couldn't help purchasing "A Family Christmas" by Caroline Kennedy. Both my son and I enjoy her book, "A Family of Poems," so I thought there was no way I could go wrong with this one. I was right.

I was drawn in to the book by her introduction:

"Christmas is a holiday of hope. As children, we wait all year for the chance to wish for whatever we want most. Frequently, these wishes take the form of toys, but often we ask for more profound gifts, such as a reunited family or a world at peace. Children possess a spiritual curiosity that is sometimes underestimated or overlooked in the hustle and bustle. Yet children ponder the mysteries of life and of faith that Christmas makes real. Later on, as parents, we reconnect with our own childhood sense of hope, reaffirm our faith, and recognize the power of love and family."

She continues by touching on some of the traditions her family had while growing up, and then writes a brief history of various popular Christmas traditions.

The contents of the book is also something I was looking for. I already had several picture book versions of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," as well as various books containing Christmas poetry and lyrics to popular songs. This book gathers all those favorites of mine (as well as stories and poems I've never heard of before) in to one anthology. It also includes scripture passages relevant to the Christmas story.

In addition to having everything in one book, the prose, poetry, lyrics and scripture passages she has selected are short enough so each can be read and enjoyed in one sitting. I've already read "Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus" (an excerpt from Little House on the Prairie) as a bedtime story to my son. And yes, we plan to read "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to him on Christmas Eve. Kennedy also includes more serious prose for older children and adults, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "A Christmas Sermon of Peace," that I look forward to reading and reflecting upon this season.

I'll conclude with another excerpt from Kennedy's introduction:

"...the powerful emotions of the holidays are not always easy to manage. Yet the liturgy and literature teaches us that Christmas encompasses the miraculous and the tragic, the profound and the ridiculous, and always represents the connection to something larger than ourselves. If we are open to the gifts of understanding, hope, and faith in others and in God, the spirit of Christmas can help make real the way we want to live our lives."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

This Is Me?

Thanks Dawnelle.

You're Anne of Green Gables!

by L.M. Montgomery

Bright, chipper, vivid, but with the emotional fortitude of cottage
cheese, you make quite an impression on everyone you meet. You're impulsive, rash,
honest, and probably don't have a great relationship with your parents. People hurt
your feelings constantly, but your brazen honestly doesn't exactly treat others with
kid gloves. Ultimately, though, you win the hearts and minds of everyone that matters.
You spell your name with an E and you want everyone to know about it.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reading Challenge

Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting a reading challenge called Fall Into Reading 2007. I decided to participate because I have a lot of books I need to finish reading, and I'm hoping this will motivate me to finally get them checked off of my "To Read" list.

Without further ado, here are the books I hope to finish reading during this challenge. I'm keeping my list short, simply because I'm still adjusting to life as a first-year home educator.

-- The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. Fellow blogger Leigh Ann mailed me a copy of this book, so I guess I better read it, right Leigh Ann? ;-D
-- September, by Rosamunde Pilcher.

There are many books in this category that I need to finish or want to start. The two I'm determined to finish during this challenge are:
-- Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, and
-- A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning, by Karen Andreola.

So there's the list -- so far. I am so addicted to buying books that I'll probably end up adding to the list as I go along.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Loving These Books

As a newbie to the homeschooling scene, I rely a lot on the recommendations made by veteran homeschooling moms. So far, their recommendations have been spot-on.

My son already had quite a collection of books, so I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't have to buy too many other books. Here is a list of our favorites. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Also, these books are fantastic even if you don't homeschool.

* Catholic Heritage Curricula.
I'm still searching for the right writing/phonics program.

* "The Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature," Stan & Jan Berenstain.

* Any picture book illustrated by Jan Brett. I found a bunch at bargain prices at a used-book shop. My son's favorites are "Berlioz The Bear" and "Gingerbread Baby."
* "A Child's Garden of Verses," Robert Louis Stevenson.
* "Owl Moon," Jane Yolen.
* "Ox-Cart Man," Donald Hall.

Mom Resources:
* "What Your Kindergartner Should Know: Preparing Your Child For A Lifetime of Learning," Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., and John Holdren.
* "Teaching Montessori In The Home: The Pre-School Years," Elizabeth G. Hainstock."
* "Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler," Kathy Pierce and Lori Rowland.
* "Honey For A Child's Heart," Gladys Hunt.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Honey For A Child's Heart

As a lover of books -- especially quality picture books and children's literature -- I'm always seeking out recommended reading lists. So when a friend told me about Gladys Hunt's "Honey For A Child's Heart," I just had to purchase a copy for myself.

I admit that these days it's easy to log on to a computer and to G**ggle search to find a recommended reading list online. But "Honey For A Child's Heart" is more than just a list. The author gives suggestions on how to use books to enrich your family life. And with Proverbs 16:24 as her inspiration -- "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones" -- how could I not buy a copy for myself.

Her book is divided in to two parts. The first part,"Using Books to Help Children Grow," covers topics such as what makes a good book, and making decisions about books. In the second part ("Best-Loved Books for Children") Hunt dedicates a chapter each to recommend books for children 0-3, 4-8, 9-12 and 12-14. She also includes sections on books for beginning readers, stories for animal lovers, historical novels, fantasy novels, young adult novels, poetry, nourishing a child's spiritual life and a book list for special occasions.

She encourages parents to go to the original source of current favorite books. For example, says Hunt, read the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by A.A. Milne rather than books based on the W*lt D*sney character. Similarly, she urges reading the original Mary Poppins series by P.L. Travers.

The best part about having this book? For me it's the fact that I'm discovering a whole new world of children's literature.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Of Pies and A.A. Milne

Cottleston Pie is one of my absolute favorite poems for children. I have the pleasure of coming across it each time I read Chapter 6 of A.A Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh to my son. I wanted to include the poem on this blog just because. Enjoy.

Cottleston Pie
By A.A. Milne

Cottleslon, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie."

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fish can't whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie."

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken, I don't know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie."

Monday, July 16, 2007

What Took Me So Long?

Have you ever come across a book that you enjoyed so much that you can't believe it took you years to actually get around to reading it? For me the book is Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

I was first introduced to the novel's existence during my senior year in high school, thanks to a bookish classmate. For a period of about two weeks, I would often see Carolyn* with her nose in a well-worn paperback book. She would read that book on her way to class, devour it along with her cafeteria-issued lunch and simply immerse herself in whatever world the author had created. When I finally got a look at what she was reading, I was immediately turned off.

"'Jane Eyre'," I thought to myself. "Why is she wasting her time reading a romance novel."

Being the kind of gal who would much rather read a good Agatha Christie mystery -- Oh, OK. I'll admit it. I also used to read teen staples like Seventeen magazine -- I was repulsed by the idea of actually reading a romance novel. I didn't care if it was on the recommended reading list my English teacher once distributed in class.

Fast forward to a month ago.

On a trip to a used-book store, in search of various children's books, I came across a copy of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. I smiled as I remembered how much I enjoyed that book as a young girl, and how much time I used to spend at the library. That got me thinking about my English teacher, his recommended reading list (Charlotte's Web was on it) and, of course, Jane Eyre.

I walked over to the literature section and found one remaining copy of the classic. I picked it up and gazed at the cover art depicting a young woman in mid-1800s garb, looking over her shoulder as if she was searching for someone -- or maybe even trying to make sure she wasn't being followed. I wish I could say it was only that recommended reading list that prompted me to actually buy the book. No. It was also that illustration (and the fact that the book was only $2) that motivated me to take it to the checkout counter.

I was drawn to Jane Eyre, the character, from the very first chapter. The book that I had always assumed was purely a romance novel turned out to be something even more. Yes romance is a part of it, but so is mystery, suspense and the theme of perseverance amid hardship. I actually found myself unwilling to put the book down when I was called away because I cared about Jane.

By the time I finished the book I was hungering for more works by Charlotte Bronte. I thought about what a fool I had been for avoiding this "romance novel" for so long. You would think I would have learned from my original misguided perception of Jane Austen's work. I once avoided Austen's books because I thought they too were purely romance novels.

I'm glad I finally read Bronte's classic, even though I read it more than 20 years after I first learned of its existence. Reading it was one of the best book decisions I've made. Hmm ... I wonder if I still have a copy of my English teacher's list of recommended reading.

*Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Trip To The Library With Mr. Bean

I couldn't stop laughing when I first saw this YouTube creation of a Mr. Bean episode. I just had to share it. Gotta love that Rowan Atkinson -- and British comedy.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What's The Motivation?

Many weekends during my youth were spent in the public library. Whether it was a book about spices, a children's classic like Charlotte's Web or a book about how to study better, I never left the H___ K____ Public Library without something to read.

As I recently finished reading the last pages of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, I couldn't help but reflect on the books I've read in my lifetime and the many I have yet to read. This blog was created mostly as a way for me to catalog the novels, children's literature, short stories and non-fiction works that have inspired me in some way. I also hope to prove, to myself at least, that there are still many book lovers out there.

I welcome your comments.