Great books: an ingredient for boy-building

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 kids' books tied into popular cartoons or shows, I used to fear that my kids (particularly-my boy) were missing out on enjoying and learning from classic books. great books for boys @ Home is where...

We are a book-loving family, but to my dismay, my boy preferred to watch cartoons or read only comics. I know as a homeschool mom, I can get bogged down with trying to tie everything together, to plan the perfect unit study.  I realized, however, that often my boy was best served by just sitting down and reading a good book together.  Simple. No frills.

Sit down, read, enjoy and discuss.  Books on audio from the library count, too!

There are so many great children’s books that highlight character, choosing right from wrong and growing into manliness.  A few classics a boy-heart might enjoy include;

  • Peter Pan- “All children, except one, grow up.” Who can resist such an opening line?  There is something for mom here, too.. “Look at her in her chair, where she has fallen asleep…Her hand moves restlessly on her breast as if she had a pain there. Some like Peter best and some like Wendy best, but I like her [mother] best.” Peter Pan, chapter 16
  • Old Yeller.  The Disney Movie was well done, but there are deeper man-truths in the book, and also, a sequel.
  • The Summer of the Monkeys and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  Yes, mom will cry-and your boy might too.  Real men have real feelings, work hard for what they want, and realize that love is more important than things; a good lesson.
  • Encyclopedia Brown.  Maybe not classic, yet…but good, clean fun and good role modeling of being honest, fair and helping others.
  • The Secret Garden.  Not automatically a ‘girl’ book, there are some boy a bit spoiled -to not be like, and one strong, intelligent hard working boy to emulate.
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The book in the Little House series your boy will like the best. Lots of getting up early, hard work and lessons about gaining wisdom.

I know, from experience, that a lecture is the most sure way to shut my boy down.  A lecture seems to bounce off some invisible wall between me and him.  The subtle lesson shown, through a story, instead of lectured about, is more effective in reaching the heart.  I will chose a book, after much prayer and thought- with a theme or situation that I hope my son will absorb, make applicable to his own situation, and learn from.

I have a teen-aged son now, a few character-building books for his age include;

  • In His Steps
  • Sentinel by L. Bilbrey
  • Ender's Game
  • Swiss Family Robinson (the original version)
  • How to Eat Fried Worms

Lately, I've shared a few Grace Livingston Hill novels with my two youngest.  Most of them are pretty formula-driven christian romance, (which I have to admit that I dearly love and I re-read her books all the time) but there are a few gems that celebrate the boy. Written in the early 1900's , the books offer rich history of daily life, too.  The few I felt worth sharing with my boy are:

  • A new name
  • The obsession of Victoria Gracen
  • Found Treasure
  • Big Blue Soldier
  • The Witness (a re-telling of Saul)

Well, this concludes my thoughts on how to teach character by stealth to your children, particularly, to your sometimes resistant boys.

Any to add to the list?


*this post is based on a post I originally wrote for The Mothers of Boys Society on August 27, 2010

{good} stuff

good stuff I've found recently around the web, all with the twang of New Year, New Starts....

Good Stuff on the web -blog

{Plum Paper Designs} << clickable link

love those fancy, designer planners but just can't justify spending $50 + on them? This Etsy shop has  nice, semi-custom planners with add-ons, stickers and personalized covers ~with less sticker shock

{Only Passionate Curiosity}

Printable homeschool planners.  >>prettier than the plain ones I make up in Word, with big O's for checkboxes.....

{Elisa Pulliam}

PDF-books: How to Start the Year Equipped and Thriving. These look very good and she was having a BOGO sale...though Jenny-the-late has missed the ending day

{7 Ways to Conquer your morning routine

for those non-morning people among us. New Year, New Start!  Er...or something...

{Daily Page Notepad}

Thyme is Honey Etsy shop....simple but eye-pleasing daily checklist. Because, I will forever be an optimist that I can get my act together, and I will keep buying stuff to somehow, magically attain this, I love paper....

{What Comes Next}

A Study in Brown blog. She writes about seeking simplicity and experimenting with living with no internet in the house.  I don't think I would like this, I don't think I could do it, and yet, the thought intrigues me with the possibilities....


Happy New Year, bloggy friends!




our winter season has been about abiding. falling real short here on overcoming, championing, shining, excelling, celebrating, funning.....

sometimes, it's all you can do to hide in *Him

 photo chalkboardsign-abide-homeisblog_zps01a237ad.jpg

 photo oliver12-14-homeisblog_zpsb5c6cbb9.jpg

We've had a really nice, restful Winter break.  Lots of family-time, we hosted friends over for our church's winter Bible conference.  We had 7 extra guests for a week-end, which dwindled down to 5 quests for the week. (plus our expanded family of 8!)

 photo labradoodle-christmas-homeisblog_zps1fe0d759.jpg

I dared to buy Emma-the-wonder-labradoodle a bright red winter coat...because it was not really clothes, more of a I technically did not break Sky's "no dressing the dog" edict.  If genetics rule, then I am in the running for crazy cat-lady and eccentric-old-lady-who-puts-her-dog-in-dresses (no joke)

She looks fabulous!!

 photo selfportrait-homeisblog15_zpsd57f12a6.jpg

Amie and Demi-Sky have been very busy drawing, painting and writing creative stories.  I love to see them busy.  I love to see them busy on things not dictated by me. The above is a self-portrait in works by Amie, it is pencil and not quite finished.

The only schooling during the break has been our current read-aloud, which is this book by Grace Livingston Hill.  She is one of my favorite authors, and I collect her books in hardback, early edition.  She wrote during the 1930's and her work are faith-filled.  I started this one with the kids, not sure if they would like it, but they are really in to it. Very cool homeschool-mom-moment when at the beginning we ran into the word "fobish" which happened to be a vocabulary word from Sky's study of "The Scarlett Pimpernel" it was ultra-cool to read that word in this novel, kind of like spotting animals in the wild....

 photo gracelivingstonhillbook-homeisblog_zpsa64d6634.jpg

So, this has been our winter season, one of hiding and abiding.

I hope the coming year will be full of the fruit and joy that come with abiding in God, for you all, as well as us here at {Home}

Medieval horse-inspired giveaway!

Okay, I smell a giveaway!!!

It's been too long since I've done a giveaway and the mood is upon me.

**Name the title of a favorite horse book and leave the title in the comments for a chance to win the book mentioned  in my Medieval Times review post earlier [and] also the book Guinevere's Gift, which is a great King Arthur tale with horses.


This giveaway is closed, congratulations to Ali, who is the winner!

 photo e6b360be-582b-496b-aa17-3ae70b08c413_zpscd7f012b.jpg

This is a fun book, here is the write up at Sonlight's Curriculum site:

"Award-winning author tells the story of a young boy and his rigorous apprenticeship and training at Vienna's Spanish Court Riding school, home of the famous Lipizzan stallions."

and a review from one of their customers: "Loved this story of a boys perseverance in pursuit of his dream. And my son loved watching YouTube videos of Lippizaners once we finished the book."


 photo d36d1620-15c5-44aa-b1e3-562ae9dfa55e_zpscd591a4a.jpg

from Random House:

"On the night of Guinevere’s birth, there was a prophecy that foretold she would one day be highest lady in the land and wed to a great king. But 13 years have passed, and the prophecy couldn’t be further off. Guinevere is now an orphan and a ward of her aunt and uncle, the king and queen of Gwynedd. Tomboyish and awkward, Gwen is no great beauty, and nobody takes the prophecy seriously–especially not Gwen. But then one day Gwen meets a strange young man in the woods who claims to be part of an ancient tribe whose mission is to guard and protect her. Then she stumbles across a sinister plot brewing within the castle walls–one she alone might be able to prevent. Guinevere is beginning to realize her destiny is more complex than it seems–and this is only the beginning."

***this giveaway is an independent giveaway, totally of my own dreaming up. Open only to the contiguous U.S. addresses only. Sorry. Void where prohibited.

{{ make sure you click the +1 button on the rafflecopter box that says 'leave a comment' so you can enter the giveaway, follow the directions it gives you, you will then leave a comment and go back and click the "I did it" button }}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday- the view from here

 photo e37fe92b-998c-44a0-89d6-b42911533dfa_zpsdf7e42e1.jpgThis morning was kind of full, Meg had a dentist appointment and then we went to lunch at the home of some old, dear friends.  (we had a sweet time, this very large family has daughters who used to babysit for us) After lunch, we went home and sat around the table to dive into our school work.  (Except Josie, who has been sick. She worked on her Biola Star homework, but I let her off the hook for other work)

Amie and Demi did Math - because every day is Math day :D  then handwriting and then worked in their spelling notebooks- writing half of their list words in complete sentences, and then a page in the spelling workbook.  We did a grammar worksheet and then I read aloud two chapters from Don Quixote.  (I have renewed it the maximum times from the library and was hoping to finish it, but not gonna happen...sigh)  We discussed the story, I pointed out some literary facts about this classic.  After, I read aloud from A History of US Vol. 2, about Jamestown and John Smith.  Demi then used the book to complete a worksheet I made from the reading. -Amie did the worksheet a few days ago, I don't know why Demi didn't do it... ( I am forever a worksheet girl, I have realized it is just quicker to make my own...)

Meg worked on her Biola Star homework (British Lit, Chemistry and Economics) and then worked a bit on her week's work list I made up for her.  She also practiced her violin.


Sky came home from work and did some woodworking in the garage, Amie and Demi worked on their creative writing stories, Josie read and slept.  Meg studied.  I parked myself in front of the fireplace and wasted time on the internet.  We are having a cold-spell here in So. Ca, it was in the 50's today, which I cannot handle. (I know, I am a wimp)  I whined to Sky about how cold I was and then sat in front of the fireplace till it was time to make dinner. (Demi-Sky did not have lacrosse practice today due to rain)

On the menu for dinner?  Left-overs. Score!

 photo healthychochipoatmealcookies-homeisblog.jpg

After dinner, I made up a batch of my grown-up oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  {they are grown-up cookies because they have more oats, less sugar and double the cinnamon and nutmeg}  Here is my recipe:  Grownup Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

We then watched Groundhog day with the kids - we rented it.  This was the first time the kids have watched it.

The kids went to bed and now I am sitting in front of the fire again, playing on the computer.  Not a bad day in homeschool land...

homeschool winter days


We are finally getting back into a routine since the upheaval of Christmas vacation.  So far this week, homeschool has consisted of:

  • shopping for a new full-sized violin for Meg.  She grew out of her 3/4th size and has been playing on my old, cheap violin while we saved up for a new one.  Monday she and I went to the music shop and tried out several.  We took one home on trial, to let her teacher approve of...and she didn't like it!  I guess Meg and I flunked "tone" class...!
  •  Getting the kids used to working harder on our studies.  I've let them all slip into a routine of easy/lite work. Things are a changing here now.
  •  Meg and Josie resumed classes at Biola Star.


  • I started test-prep with Amie and Demi-Sky.  I've used Spectrum test prep workbooks before and for some reason I turned up my nose at the Buckle Down workbooks.  I can't remember what I didn't like about them now...except maybe that it has no answer key (I think you have to go online or something for it) but- we started using them and I kind of like them.  I am really liking the conversational tone and all the test taking hints/strategies they are pointing out/teaching.
  •  We are doing "Farmer Boy" as a read aloud
  • Demi is still busy with lacrosse.  They actually didn't take much time off during the holidays.
  •  Josie is neck-deep in graphic-arts work right now.  She wants to- kind of suddenly- apply to the local performing arts charter school.  She has to submit a small portfolio for round one of consideration.  It is really rather wonderful to have her so immersed in something she is passionate about.  It is kind of wonderful to have her totally "own" it all herself, nothing for me to do but encourage her and offer supplies.
  •  It's also a little terrifying for me.  I worry about how she will feel if she doesn't get in.  I worry about her getting in and not being here homeschooling.  I really, really worry I will screw something up and not get the right paperwork in or miss a deadline.  I'm on the verge of little mini-panic-attacks a few times a day over this...on the verge, not real ones. Yet.   Sometimes being Bridgit Jones is a hard burden... kidding. not.


  • We started reading Don Quixote before the holidays.  It is a wonderful illustrated version recommended by Susan Wise Bauer in Story of the World- which is one of the resources we are using in MFW this year.  Funny, I studied this book in A.P. English in High School but we didn't actually read it.  I am finding it hilarious!  Meg and Josie read parts of it at Biola Star in their text book, but they got caught up in it when I was reading it out loud the other day.
  • Today, (Wednesday) I took the show on the road and we did Math and read-aloud time at a local bagel shop for lunch.  I forgot how much fun, and how re-energizing doing homeschool out and about is...I will for sure have to set aside more time for outings that include study time.
  • Art class and piano classes, and violin class have all resumed.
  • homeschool winter days are full days.  How about you, are you getting back to a routine?

a homeschooling week that was, Sept. 25th

We are deep into the back- to -homeschool-craziness here!  All of our outside activities and classes have started up again.  Lots of drive-time for mom!  Here's a run-down on what we've been up to here at home :) Sky gave up on the garden.  He has been very busy with his woodworking, so the garden just went sort of wild.  We decided to go ahead and open it up to the hens.  This is the equivalent of Hen Nirvana.

We are enjoying our studies, and enjoying some great read-alouds.  We finished the first Artemis fowl on audio book, and have started the second book, Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident.  We are listening to these in the car.  I'm suddenly very popular, I have lots of company on errands :)

Demi-Sky is reading The Mysterious Benedict Society with me, Amie is starting A Little Princess (& yes, it has to be the Tasha Tudor illustrated edition!).  I'm a bit at a loss for a reading book for Teddy right now, I'm trying to think of one that will capture his interest but not be too difficult for him.  Josie is reading The Return of Sherlock Holmes on Meg's Kindle, Meg is reading Mere Christianity and just finished Finnigin of the Rock.  Sky is reading the last Artemis Fowl.  I just finished The Power of Six.

Homeschool is moving along.  We just started Switched on Schoolhouse English with the 3 youngest.  I went through the 1st 2 lessons with each child to see how it works and what the work is like.  I found the 1st day tedious.  I think that goes along with trying to learn a new program and reading each lesson through three times in a row.  Usually, I try to do things only once...  The second lesson was pretty interesting.  I am planning on having the three work independently on this...hopefully.  In addition to the SOS English, I am also doing MCT Language Arts with the kids.  It is beautifully and imaginatively written.  I have to admit I am very enamored of this program.  In way only a grammar-geek/homeschool mom could be <3

We took a beach day this week.  It was lovely, cool and not crowded.  A So. Cal beach on a Summer day is the definition of crowded.  Once school is in session, it is lovely and uncrowded.  We could hear seals barking at the end of the jetty, but couldn't see them.  The kids played, I read. Bliss.

We've started back to the skate-park as p.e. for the 3 younger students.  We skip this during the Summer- too crowded. We arrived late morning and they had it pretty much to themselves till lunch-time.  Art class has resumed for the 3 youngers plus Josie- they are all happy to be back. I am happy they are all in the same class, I get to drop them off and head to the bagel store :)  Meg has returned to Irish Dance, Josie is back to fencing.  Demi, Amie & Josie are back to piano, Meg is continuing with violin.  All in all, we are a busy crew!


how was your week?


Romona Book love, {her turn}

I was close to Amie's age when my love of reading took off.  Amie seems to have turned a corner, and is now devouring chapter books.  She started the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary and is now busy racing through the next ones.
I love, love, love seeing my children enjoy some of my own childhood friends.  

Every time I turn around, I find her curled up somewhere different, nose buried deep into a Ramona book.


Are you wondering about the sequence for the Ramona Quimby books?

*[brief appearances first in the Henry Higgins books]

Henry Higgins, Henry and Ribsy, Henry and the paper route,  Henry and the clubhouse

The Ramona Quimby Books
  • Beezus and Ramona
  • Ramona the Pest
  • Ramona the Brave
  • Ramona and her Father
  • Ramona and her Mother
  • Ramona Quimby age 8
  • Ramona Forever
  • Ramona's World

**Amie is 9, what books do your 8/9 year old girls love?  Any must reads?