Classic books: an ingredient for boy-building @M.O.B. Society

Stories are often the best way to capture a boy’s attention, the best way to drive home a moral point, and are also just good fun. With so many kid’s books tied into popular cartoons or shows, I fear our kids are missing out on enjoying and learning from classic books. Our boys would be served and shaped better by spending more time with stories of boys taking on manly responsibilities than by emulating the funny, wise-cracking, sarcastic hero of shows popular right now...

Today,I am writing about sharing classic books with our boys,
over at The Mothers of Boys Society.

click over to read the whole article. *Classic books: an ingredient for boy-building

If you have boys in your life, you will find much encouragement and inspiration over at the M.O.B. Society website! :)

Mothers of Boys

Two Princesses of Bamarre-great YA literature

Book Review: The Two Princesses of Bamarre
by Gail Carson Levine.

This is one of my favorite books, a real treat to give to a young teen reader. The Two Princesses of the kingdom Bamarre, Meryl and Addie are as different in personality as they are different in appearance. Meryl has always, even in childhood, been the brave, adventurous sister. She memorizes and acts out the great epic poem of her country and looks forward to the day she can set out to rid her country of monsters, dragons and illness. Addie is the timid sister, afraid of shadows, afraid of spiders, clinging to Meryl-her protector, fearful of the day her sister will leave her for adventure.

Meryl's favorite childhood game is acting out the Gray Death adventure, a mysterious illness that kills hundreds of people in Bamarre every year. A mystery about how to catch it, and uncurable, their mother died of the illness when they were small. In Meryl's favorite game, her sister Addie is stricken with the illness, and Meryl goes forth on adventure, returning just in time with the unkown cure.

When Addie is 16, the unthinkable happens, Meryl is struck by the Gray Death. Addie hopes her father, a cowardly King- will fulfill the prophecy; "When cowards found courage and rain fell over all Bamarre, the cure would be found"
When the king comes home very quickly from his quest, Addie realizes she must go out and attempt to save her sister.

What follows is a wonderful adventure, filled with peril, love, wickedly intelligent dragons and courage found. She has a bit of help from a sorcerer and some magic gifts her mother left; luck, determination, and deep abiding love for her sister to keep her feet on the adventure thrust upon her.

It is a beautiful story, filled with suspense, and not quite the ending you were expecting.
Not a bad ending, mind you- I would have thrown the book across the room for a bad ending...but it wasn't what I expected..which is good sometimes; formula endings are a bit too-easy, mostly.

For a story hard to put-down, and for a story to inspire your girl to be the hero in her own life, The Two Princesses of Bamarre will truly satisfy.

Good reads for kids -Audio Book review

I wrote in an earlier post about audio books being one of my homeschool secret-weapons.
In this post, I would like to share one of our all-time favorite audio stories, A Coyote's in the House by Elmore Leonard.

Read superbly by Neil Patrick Harris- (really, I could go on and on about what a splendid job he did with this..) this is the story of Antwan, hip & wild Hollywood coyote- living the good life in the Hollywood hills, content to dine on left-overs scrounged outside movie-star homes, watching movies at the drive-in and through windows of homes, enjoying the wild/free life of living coyote.

Antwan is curious about the lives of domesticated dogs, and when he meets Buddy and is invited by Buddy to switch places with him, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he hilariously learns how to be dog. Antwan becomes the new family pet, sharing the house with Buddy and Miss Betty- a showdog. In return for lessons on being a dog, Antwan agrees to teach Buddy how to be wild and to introduce Buddy to Antwan's pack.

This story shines because of the fast and funny dialog between characters. It's wonderful on audio with the entertaining accents done by Neil Patrick Harris. Antwan calls Buddy "homes" and runs with a gang called the "wild diablos"- he exudes coolness. Buddy is the stern ex-dog star, Miss Betty the elegant, stuck-up show dog. The best character reading had to be Lola, the show cat Miss Betty talks Antwan into cat-napping, instead of eating...she is read as a valley-girl-talking aspiring actress, and it is just hilarious.

Antwan is accepted in the family as "our Timmy", Buddy becomes more depressed at being the over-the-hill dog star and Miss Betty comes up with a plan to cheer him up. The plot and adventures get all tangled up in good fun. All my kids, ages 7 up to 14 loved this book, they begged to continue listening everytime we got into the car.
-One warning, the *b word is used twice, in referring to a show dog- it's done in a technical, matter of fact way, not meant to be used as a bad word at all- but it might startle you if you don't know it's coming. My kids don't realize at all that it is used in a bad way, so it did not cause any comment with my bunch. -just a warning.

love this story, give it a 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Homeschool secret weapon #3 -audio books

Everyone loves a good story. Even if they do not know this indisputable truth of life -yet, it still rings true...everyone loves a good story. Your job, homeschool mom- is to reel them in...

My third homeschool secret weapon is...slip them a good, good story
- audio books are a highly effective way to accomplish this.

If you have emergent readers at your home- or even older readers who haven't fallen hard yet for reading...take a peek at the audio books your library has, and prepare to capture your captive audience.

My most successful audio stories to reign in the beginner reader:

The Boxcar Children are a series of easy chapter books written in the 1920's. Clean and innocent, with mystery. My first attempt at 'reeling' in my new readers was a big success.
~Here was my method, first time out of the box...

Step 1-I borrowed The Boxcar Children book #1-audio, listened to it in the car. The kids were a captive audience, became drawn into the story...and begged to listen to more whenever we were in the car.

Step 2- Brought home The Boxcar Childrn book #2 in regular old book format...began reading it to the kids nightly, and then- got too busy to finish 2 chapters from the end.

Step 3- left the book lying around in open areas...on the dining table/next to the couch/on the kitchen counter.

Step 4- happened on its own, spotted my readers curled up with book, finishing the story.

I keep my eye out for new/fun reads on audio at the library. We enjoy comedy best, but have enjoyed several classics, too. Have a long road trip coming up? Stock up on audio books, they will encourage an interest in books, and introduce wonderful vocabulary.

Hank the Cowdog is our hands-down favorite on audio- and what a treat, the episode supply is almost endless! Other audio books that tickled our funny bones include;

*The Tale of Despereaux ( a work of art!, not to be missed on audio!)
*Ella Enchanted (much different/richer than the movie) *Boston Jane *A Coyote's in the house
*did I mention Hank the Cowdog?...

others we have enjoyed:

*Winnie the pooh *Socks (read by Neil Patrick Harris, he is amazing- he did Coyote in the house, and did a superb job) *Pollyanna (wonderful, Sky loved this one on a long trip)
*Artemis Fowl *The Secret Garden *Chronicles of Narnia *Our only May Amelia

now, go reel them in, mom!

On our reading shelf

Currently on the home bookshelf

edited 01-24-15*

The Rosie Effect -Graeme Simsion
Looking for Alaska -John Green

The Bible


Divergent Series



Maximum ride series
The Eye of the World-Robert Jordan (read aloud)
The Bronze Bow
The Bible
Woodworking Magazines

Assassin's Game -Ward Larsen

My local bookstore is my homeschool secret-weapon

I aim to keep my homeschool students busy, interested, motivated; and I love to put an occasional smile on their faces. One secret weapon (I happened to stumble upon) for doing all of these things is my local bookstore.

I thought I'd post a little 'this works for me' sort of post...

We are a family of bookstore-junkies. It is usually the end-destination for Sky and I on date-night, and we've made sure to pass along our bookstore affinity to the kids.
Our thought is that you grow young readers by example, in addition to seeing us reading at home, the kids see their parents enjoying an evening at the bookstore.

We started them on "bookstore night with daddy". The youngest looked forward to learning to read so they would be lucky enough to be invited.

I like to mix it up and take them once in a while during the day. Along with the exciting prospect of being out and about during the day, our trips to the bookstore encourage a love for reading in several (happenstance) ways:

1. The enjoyment of a yummy child's hot cocoa with a good read. I started them off with a few board books, then moved on to children's magazines, and then of course...Calvin & Hobbes [icon status in our home...]

2. reading lessons in a new place. Sometimes I would bring our phonics books with us and conduct a lesson while the other children browsed. I would keep it short and sweet and then let the student reader browse, too.

3. Read alouds. Fun way to dip into some new types of books. We might sit on the stage and be a little theatrical.

4. Prizes. I do not give prizes for expected good/responsible behavior, but I have found that prizes for skills not easily learned are a great motivator. In the past, I have given prizes for each 20 lessons completed in our phonics program - the prize was a trip and a book from the bookstore, and all the kids were invited to come along, so the winner spread the happiness. I've given book prizes for multiplication tables memorized, and lately I've given pennies for classical memory work- which can only be spent at the bookstore.

5. Calvin & Hobbes. If you don't know Calvin, look him will love his imagination and expansive vocabulary. My children were greatly motivated to learn to read so they could enjoy Calvin & Hobbes themselves.

Some of our favorite bookstore finds:

Calvin & Hobbes

Graphic Universe books on classic myths and legends


The Warriors graphic novels

and, why- yes, we were at the bookstore today! :)

good books alert

I stumble upon The Awe-Manac a daily dose of wonder by Jill Badonsky at the bookstore, and I had to have it! It's a daily almanac of sorts, but each day it gives you creative quotes, thoughts to inspire you, and ideas to challenge you to act out in some creative way each day. It's got lovely illustrations, too. Love it!

Healthy cooking for your kids is bargained priced over at Barnes & Nobles. It's a hardback and has great photos and some really good sounding recipes.
The Dragon slippers by Jessica Day George -this series is much loved at our house. I've read the first one, it was everything a good fantasy tale for kids should be. Josie is reading book three right now.

An adventurous hen, book review

Picture books about hens catch my eye, I have a soft-spot for that particular genre. This particular book, I took home with me. Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken is by Kate DiCamillo- the author of The tale of Despereux. It's a keeper, you have to take it home. To sum it up, Louise is a hen who longs for adventures and she has several in this book.
Chapter 1-Louise at says it all, really.

Here is an excerpt from the inside flap...

"She longed for adventure. So she left her home and ventured out into the wide world. The pleasures and perils she met proved plentiful:...Yet in the face of such daunting danger, our heroine...She was brave. She was fearless. She was feathered. She was a chicken. A not-so-chicken chicken. Her name? Louise."

Illustrations by Harry Bliss are a combination of comic and scenic..-wonderful.

Here are some of the quotable parts that just tickle me, and I quoth these often as I can work them in...

"Louise stood alone on the deck of the ship and let the wind ruffle her feathers..."


"Her heart beat fast within her feathered breast." -that is my favorite quote, and it is repeated throughout the story, much to my delight...

..."And inside the henhouse, safe and warm, all the chickens slept the deep and dreamless and peaceful sleep of true adventurers."

sigh. Love it.