Thursday, April 28, 2016

What We're Reading :: April

I planned to get a couple posts up this week, but I came down with a nasty head cold on Monday and haven't yet recovered. But! I had this post sitting in my drafts folder just ready for a little finishing up. So I guess we'll chat about books today!

Me (that's my nightstand up there!)
Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle (just finished for our local book club)
Berry's Jayber Crow (still working on it six months later! ;))
Robinson's Gilead (had to return it to the library, but I have it back now)
Doerr's Four Seasons in Rome (just started it and can already tell it's going to get gobbled -- ha!)
Mother Mary Loyola's With the Church (pre-reading for my kids)
Anne White's Minds More Awake (skimmed this last fall but now I've started a slow read)

And not pictured, but hasn't left my desk: John Muir Laws' The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling.  I know I have been mentioning this book all over the place, but I'm entranced! I'm working on writing up a set of related "challenges" to do alongside my kids this summer.

As a Family
Enright's Gone-Away Lake (a Year 4 free read)
The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook (for my littles)
Spyri's Heidi (on audio)

And I'm going to share the books I piled under each child's Easter basket this year, since that's most of what they have have been reading lately!  As a reminder: I grab these from a box I keep of all the random used books I buy over the course of a year, so they always are gifted a bit of a mish-mash! :)

For Vincent, age 9

Leiper's By Hook and Ladder
Windeatt's St. Dominic and St. Benedict
Rops' Golden Legend of Young Saints
Kielgaard's Two Dogs and a Horse

For Gianna, age 9

Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories and More Rootabaga Stories (these have a reputation for being rather odd -- but she's going to try them and I'll let you know how it goes! :))
Windeatt's St. Margaret Mary and St. Rose of Lima
Fr. Lasance's Emmanuel

For Cate, age 7

Brown's The Golden Bunny
Edwards' My Naughty Little Sister Storybook
Barklem's Sea Story (part of the Brambly Hedge series)
Lovasik's St. Joseph Catholic Children's Bible

For Xavier, age 5

De Brunhoff's Babar the King
and a few unabridged mini-books from the Winnie-the-Pooh collection (these look the same as mine)

For Bridget, age 4

Brown's Home for a Bunny
a darling box set of Real Mother Goose board books

For Clara, age 3

Richard Scarry's Bunnies
The Zoo Book
Suess' Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? (oversized board book -- a duplicate for us but this one is "hers")
I am a Little Giraffe (my littles loooove miniature books, and this one is tiny)
Screech Owl at Midnight Hollow (another miniature version of one we already own)

For the Baby Boys

a set of Byron Barton board books: Trucks, Planes, and Boats

In the Mail

Donald Silver's One Small Square: Woods
Prelutsky and Lobel's The Terrible Tiger
Knowlton's Geography From A to Z
Stories from The Old Testament
Celenza's The Farewell Symphony
Willard's The Voyage of the Ludgate Hill
Gaskell's Cranford, Everyman Library edition
Henry's King of the Wind
Lawson's The Tough Winter
The Swiss Family Robinson
Fabre's Book of Insects
And a few books for Year 5: Oliver Twist and a lovely hardback of Kim

So that's a lot to keep us busy! I actually had another box arrive today and Xavier got a stack of books for his birthday, but those I'll save for next month. :)

(Links above are affiliate links.  I left unlinked the books that are recommended by AmblesideOnline because I'd prefer if you bought through their affiliate links. ;)  As always, thanks for your support!)


  1. Wow! Lovely piles! :D I just checked out some board book by the same author as the I am a Giraffe title from our library. My 4yo and 1 yo really loved it! Thank you for sharing. :)

  2. I would love it if you could give a brief review/summary of Gilead. I have been looking at it for my almost 7th grade graduates for them to read this summer. Also would love it if you could talk about the John Muir book some more and how you use it. God Bless!

    1. Gilead is a dying man's meditation on his life: his father, his grandfather, the world, the spiritual life, parenthood, marriage. It's a lovely and meditative book, with a quiet, thoughtful narrator. So far there hasn't been any content that wouldn't be appropriate for a high schooler, but I'm not sure it would appeal to a middle schooler. I think it's a book that needs a reader with some measure of life experience. But maybe a contemplative, mature teen? I don't know--I don't have kids that age yet. :) I'm only halfway through, but I'll share my later reflections when I've finished it--just remind me. It might be a while though. ;) (I did share a few brief lines from it in this post: )

      I will definitely be sharing more about the JML book. It's fantastic! Like I said, I'm writing up some "challenges" to make sure we're actually taking advantage of the many practical suggestions in this book, and when I'm done, I'll share them on the blog. My kids have already been inspired by what I have shown them of it. :)

  3. As I've read more and more about Gilead I keep getting drawn in to read it. I think we'll wait a few years for my kids to read to I think I will read it this summer instead :)

    1. Sounds like a plan! I'd love to know what you think of it if you do end up reading! :)

  4. Could you tell me more about the unabridged Winnie the Pooh mini books and where to locate them? Thanks.

    1. Hi Mandy! This series is called The Original Pooh Treasury, published in 1990 in this smaller format, each featuring a "complete chapter" from the original Pooh stories with original illustrations. I found a couple links to used sets online that look just like mine: (this one has eight books) (this one has six)
      Mine is not a complete set, so I'm not sure which is it exactly, but they look identical to each other anyway, so maybe it just matters how many books you want? :)

      Hope that helps!

  5. Minds More Awake would be a great book for our next group read! Also, whatever you come up with for the John Muir Laws book, please share with me, ok? :) I want to do something like that with my kids as well. Better yet, we'll just come over and be your students. That would be the best ever! ;-p I haven't had a lot of time to sit and look at it yet. Sooooo many books...too little time!!

  6. I have heard I Capture the Castle recommended. I'd love to know what you thought of the book?

  7. I just checked out John Muir Laws books based on seeing him all over your blog! Can you share some of your challenge ideas gleaned from the book? Do you read aloud from his book as part of the challenge? Thank you!

    1. Hi Rachel! The second half of JML's book is drawing tutorials and tips for a variety of natural objects, but the first half of his book goes into why we nature journal and then gives a bunch of different ways of recording observations and how they might look on the page. We're using that first half for the challenges (although you could use the how-to-draw sections too for a weekly drawing "challenge" of sorts!). So, for example, last week our challenge was "Record a nature event." He has a two-page spread talking about the kinds of events that one might journal about and different ways of representing that on the page: doing a storyboard with time stamps, drawing one hawk body and then showing a variety of different head motions, using words, using sketches... I don't read the whole thing aloud, but I read it myself, and then we look at the spread and talk about the options. It gives us new ideas of representing information, and I chose this one because it goes outside my comofort zone, which is a good thing. :) A couple other ones we have done: a side-by-side comparison (he talks about choosing a subject to do a comparison on and the kind of thing you might look for) and "zoom in, zoom out" (looking close up at a sample, and then looking at the overall landscape it is found in to see how the two interact). There are many, many ideas of activities you can do together to sharpen observation skills and get better at transferring those observations to the page. I hope that helps!