Books & Acorns


A Homeschooling Journey (Formerly Pics & Papers)

by Stacey Carpenter

Books & Acorns

Tag: living books (page 1 of 5)

Favorite Board Books

Favorite Board Books for Babies and ToddlersWhile my daughter is past the board book stage now, I had already written a list of our favorite board books and taken pictures for this post long ago, so I figured I’d go ahead and post it! All of these are books that we were able to read over and over without getting too bored as parents. We had several other excellent books we bought in board book form that turned out to be too long or otherwise ill-suited for a baby or young toddler’s attention. Harold and the Purple Crayon, it turns out, looks basically the same on every page for a baby. And The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton is too long as a board book. We wish we’d gotten those as picture books for later!

We highly recommend all of the following board books!

Brett, Jan 

  • The Hat: Lovely little story of a hedgehog who gets a mitten stuck on his head. Jan Brett’s books include sidebar illustrations that show things that are going on elsewhere at the same time. As a parent, you will notice something new every time!

Brown, Margaret Wise — Margaret Wise Brown has written tons of books with a variety of illustrators. Personally, I don’t enjoy her writing all that much. The books that I do love by her are mainly loved for their illustrations. Goodnight, Moon is probably her most popular book, but frankly, all the red and green decor drives me nuts (we do own a copy and I try to avoid being asked to read it)! This post about alternate titles for children’s books suggests that Goodnight, Moon would be more accurately titled When the Colorblind Decorate. My thoughts, exactly!

  • Big Red Barn: This book is a charming introduction to all the animals on a farm. At the end of the book, they all go back inside and fall asleep.
  • Home for a Bunny: The illustrations in this book are beautiful! Our daughter loves pointing at all the animals in this one. There are butterflies, robins, frogs, groundhogs, etc.

Carl, Eric 

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar: A caterpillar eats everything he can find, including junk food, until he finally eats a green leaf and feels better. He goes into his chrysalis and comes out as a beautiful butterfly.

Church, Caroline Jayne — Caroline Church is the illustrator for several similar books that have sweet “I love you” messages for little ones and opportunities to learn to identify body parts. We only own one of her books so far, but have checked some others out from the library.  We love all of these!

  • I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rosetti-Shustack
  • Goodnight, I Love You by Caroline Jayne Church
  • Ten Tiny Toes by Caroline Jayne Church
  • How Do I Love You by Marion Dane Bauer

Fujikawa, Gyo — Fujikawa’s books have such sweet little illustrations. Her babies are adorable.

  • Babies by Gyo Fujikawa

Scarry, Richard — We love, love, love I Am a Bunny! All about a cute little bunny who lives in a tree and the wonderful things he observes and does in each of the four seasons.

  • I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom (illustrated by Richard Scarry)

Seuss — Our daughter loves all of the small Dr. Seuss board books. They are different from the originals. Some, like There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, mostly leave out pages, but others, like Go, Dogs, Go, change the story entirely. I think our daughter loves them so much because the illustrations are colorful and they are short enough for her current attention span. Mr. Brown is probably her favorite because she loves it when we make all the noises. Normally I would be opposed to abridged stuff, but these are an exception for me. :)

  • Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
  • There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!
  • Go, Dogs, Go!
  • Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
  • And more…

Srinivasan, Divya

  • Little Owl’s Night: Little Owl visits all of his forest friends at night, returns to his branch, and falls asleep while his mama tells him how the day begins. So sweet.
  • Little Owl’s Day: Little Owl wakes up early and discovers what the forest is like during the day.

Stoop, Naoko 

  • All Creatures Great and Small: This book contains the text of the hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” I love the text most of all, but the illustrations are sweet as well.

Tudor, Tasha — Anything by Tasha Tudor is guaranteed to be beautiful. There are other board books by her as well, but this is the only one we have. It makes a lovely first birthday present or baby shower gift.

  • 1 is One: Of all the the board books on this list, this is the one I most highly recommend! The illustrations are so sweet and as a parent you will never tire of reading it. This book counts up to twenty, “12 is twelve baby birds, learning how to sing…”

31 Days of Teaching History: Discussing Books and Ideas

I’m back! We had family visiting and we spent a little time in the mountains this weekend. I had planned to keep up on the series, but in the end, I decided to take a break and enjoy spending time with people I love instead of hastily writing blog posts. If I had continued writing, the post quality would have suffered. The series will be finishing in early November instead of October 31, but we will still have 31 posts, as originally planned. Thank you all for your patience!

Day 24: Discussing Books and Ideas

As you have seen so far in the series, your students will be doing a great deal of reading, from a variety of books. It can be tempting to assign a page count for the day and leave your child to check off the assignment.

But page counts are not the important thing.

Your student could read 10 books in one week and not pause for a moment to think about what he has read. He could have covered a great deal of material, but very little of it will stick with him if he does not think and reflect upon it afterwards, either through narration or discussion.

It is of much more value to read a small amount and spend a good deal of time reflecting upon it than it is to read a ton of material with the goal of crossing it off the list.

Take the time to read the books you assign to your student. Either read it before you assign it, or read it together with your child. Afterwards, ask him what he thought of it. If you are just beginning to discuss the books you read, you may get some bland answers like, “It was good.” Always try to draw out a little more elaboration until you strike a nerve that gets him talking. “What was the most interesting part?” “Do you think this person made a good choice?” “Do you think it could have turned out differently? Do you think it should have turned out differently?” You can think of many more specific questions related to the individual book and it’s people and events. For a great introduction to discussing books with kids (focusing mainly on fiction books, but with excellent principles), read Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading. The authors run a book club for parents and their kids and they offer numerous examples of how they stimulate discussion and prompt the kids.

Not only should you discuss the content of the book, but you should also discuss the author’s treatment of it. Elsewhere, I’ve suggested that you pick books from a variety of perspectives. Teach your child to notice the author’s viewpoint and how it comes across in the text. Analyze the book in light of your own worldview.

Every parent wants to impart his own worldview to his children. This is perfectly natural. If you truly believe something, of course you want your child to know the truth. If you are of the opinion that you don’t want to influence your child’s beliefs, it’s possible you are either fooling yourself into thinking you are going to be an objective teacher or that you don’t truly believe your own professed worldview. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is absolute Truth and that it is inerrant. The Bible itself says it is the Truth, and it says it is the only Truth. Of course I will be teaching my children this Truth–their very souls are at stake here, and I don’t take that lightly. If I didn’t want to “impose my beliefs on them” for fear of brainwashing them, I would have to question whether I truly believe the Bible and whether I truly believe in Jesus or whether I truly care about my children.

Some parents believe that the only way to share their worldview with their children is to choose only resources they agree with. I would argue that this is unhelpful. If you never expose your child to other worldviews, he will eventually come across them years later and (a) not know how to handle them and (b) wonder why you never told him about them. If, as a child, I had been sheltered from all other perspectives, I might wonder if my parents were afraid mere exposure would sway me to them. I would think such perspectives must have some very strong and persuasive points that my parents were afraid to address. Thankfully, my parents were not afraid of discussing other worldviews with me or sharing their own thoughts on why they choose to believe the Bible instead of other things. Knowing that there are other things I could choose to believe, but also seeing that there are convincing reasons to believe the Bible, helped to ground my faith. “Here are some of the persuasive arguments of atheists. I am aware of these arguments, and yet I choose not to be an atheist. Here are some of the reasons I have chosen to believe in God instead.” Pretending atheism does not exist would be detrimental to the child who is going to encounter such arguments everywhere later in his life.

A good way to address other worldviews is to read books written from such other viewpoints and then discuss them together. This is a perfect opportunity for you to share your own faith with your child and the reasons why you believe what you believe.

On a practical level for the study of history, this can mean studying both the North and the South’s perspectives on the Civil War, both the Christian and Islamic perspectives on the Crusades, or traditional perspectives on historic events such as Columbus’ discovery of the New World and modern revisionist histories. Read them both and discuss them all along the way! You may be surprised at the deep conversations you end up having with your kids.

If you are going to do this, you must discuss the books with your child. Don’t simply throw a variety of books at him without any discussion. He may simply end up agreeing with the author who did a better job of writing, or he may end up confused about the whole thing. In fact, he might not even notice the differences in worldviews. You are only going to reap the benefits if you take the time to read the book yourself and discuss it with your child.


31 Days of Teaching Homeschool History: Discussing Books and Ideas

31 Days of Teaching History: How to Know What to Cover

Day 11: How to Know What to Cover

Yesterday’s post on the importance of chronology was pretty meaty. Today’s post is a little more practical.

So you know you want to avoid textbooks and use living books instead. You also know you need to teach history in chronological order. How will you know what to cover and in what order?

This is where textbooks actually can be helpful. They do have the chronology right and they cover most of the important stuff. As the teacher, you will want to have at least one or two World History and American History textbooks on hand for reference. As you choose living books to assign to your students, you can easily glance through the headings and subheadings in the textbook to guide you.

Look at one chapter at a time. Have a notebook handy while you do this. Write down the main events of that section as well as any key people. Now, when you raid your library or your own bookshelves, try to find books on each of those topics and biographies on any of the key persons.

What about gaps? Even if you do this well, you will often be unable to find a book on an event or person. Sometimes, this is okay and you can simply let it go. Think of how much your child could be missing if standardized tests were taking the place of history studies or if his teacher only taught thematic units. Your child will remember far more from this method of reading real, living books than he would have otherwise.

However, in most cases you should try to cover the gap somehow. You can have your student read that small section out of the textbook, or you can find an interesting article about it online.

Students can definitely make connections between living books on their own. If you read a book about what slavery was like, read a biography of Abraham Lincoln, and read a military history of the Civil War (all the battles and generals and such), your student will put this all together in his understanding of the entire period. In fact, the more books you read, the more connections he will make. (e.g. biographies of Generals Grant and Lee, biographies of former slaves, books about individual battles, etc.)

Sometimes, however, it really is helpful to read one ongoing narrative written by one author to help thread all of your living books together. These books are often referred to as spine books.

Lots of people like to pick a spine text to read and then flesh it out with living books. Some people use textbooks for this, and others try to find living books that cover a much larger chunk of history. Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World (SOTW) is a popular four-volume series used as a spine. The reading is light when spread out over the year. You might begin the week by reading a couple of sections in SOTW and then read living books on those topics for the rest of the week. In a couple days, I’ll post a list of popular history curricula that either have spine books or lists of living books. Stay tuned!

Next post: Multi-Year History Cycles
Day One: Index

31 Days of Teaching Homeschool History: How to Know What to Cover

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