This Week in Books

The first week back to school after vacation is always a bit slow. Added to that normal slowness was one sick kid and super cold weather that kept us inside and canceled activities. In many ways that was a good thing, it gave me time to work on one of my resolutions for the New Year: reading more.

Over the past year I’ve realized that the amount that we read aloud has decreased a lot. It’s not on purpose, it’s just hard to balance the needs of three kids in different grades and stages and our lives have gotten busier and schedules have gotten more complicated.  But of all the things we do for school, I think reading is the most important. That includes reading independently, reading discussions and reading aloud. So for 2018 one of my schoolish resolutions is to return to the basics and read more with the kids. I also pretty much always resolve to read more myself. It’s good to have one resolution that you know you can keep and that is fun to do.

Lunch time reading this week included Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. This was a re-read for us, although the first time was five years ago so only the boys remembered it and only vaguely. Ruth is now begging for us to make an ice-skating rink in our backyard. I told her that this week that might work but it would be a short-lived dream here in Virginia. Continuing with the ice theme we also enjoyed Ice Boy by David Ezra Stein. This was a mostly silly picture book about an ice cube who wants to have adventures beyond the freezer, but it did also provide an unplanned intro for a planned discussion of the water cycle and the different phases of matter and for some simple ice-themed science experiments.

For history, Ruth and I are reading through the American Girl historical books from the Twentieth Century. We are currently reading the second book of Kit stories. She (Ruth) has hated history in previous years but this method has proved to be a good gentle way to convince her it doesn’t have to be boring. At the same time, David and I are reading through A History of US by Joy Hakim. This week was the Depression in the volume War, Peace and All That Jazz. And all four of us (John included) spent a lovely lunch hour on the couch looking through Life: Our Century in Pictures for Young People as a review of the history we had studied the first half of the school year.

As our nighttime reading, we are re-reading A Wrinkle in Time in preparation for the movie coming out this spring. And in the car we are listening to The Salamander Spell by E. D. Baker. That’s it for reading aloud, I think.

There was also “tandem reading”. Ruth and I also read Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth together. She requested that we have a “mother-daughter book club” and I had her pick the first book. We each read it on our own and then met for tea and discussion on Friday. John and I both read two short stories as part of a Great Courses lecture he is doing for English this year. We both also started on The Diary of Anne Frank which we will discuss together in upcoming weeks.

And there was independent reading. I finished Tom Hanks’ collection of short stories, Uncommon Type. (Very good) Ruth is reading several books but the one she seems to be enjoying the most is a new to us series: Zoey and Sassafrass. David was the sick kid this week so didn’t read as much (and he’s not as much of a reader as the others). He is working on Detectives in Togas for a co-op class he is in. John read a lot but I have no idea what. He has about 50 books out of the library now and basically reads all the time. (Like me, his New Year resolution is to read more. And sleep more. If he could figure out how to do them at the same time he’d be golden.)

All in all, a good start to 2018.

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