Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Reading the classics

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

A year of classic books

by Brave Writer summer intern Amy Hughes

I’ve always been a goal and projects kind of gal, so it was hardly surprising that the year I turned fifteen I decided to read my way through the classics. After taking some Boomerang classes the year before, I decided that I would ‘educate’ myself through reading through as many classical books as I could, and keeping a list of the titles. Some books I read for homeschooling, and others I dipped into myself.

It was a great experience, and I read a lot. I read my way through nearly the entire works of Jane Austen, after discovering I was a Jane Austen fan, and educated myself on as many movie adaptions as I could lay my hands on. I read newer classics: The Great Gatsby, Murder on the Orient Express, but also older books such as the Aeneid and the Odyssey.

I discovered heroines that I admired – Jane from Jane Eyre, Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice, and heroes that I fell in love with – Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. I read through books I loved, and I made myself read books I truly hated. Yet this was very valuable. Often, if I read on my own, I edit the books I read. I find myself selecting the books that I love, and not finishing the books I didn’t enjoy as much.

However, this is not very helpful. There is achievement and learning in finishing a book that I didn’t enjoy (cough, cough, the Aeneid, cough, cough). There is knowledge that I’ve learned something new and stretched my brainpower. Even in the books I really didn’t enjoy, I had motivation to finish because I was reading them for my list. I couldn’t add a half-finished book to my list: did I really want to get half-way through the book and have all my time reading it wasted?

While shameless egotism in being able to boast about my list isn’t a great motive, my year of reading classics was still valuable in broadening my mind and my reading scope. I’m really glad I spent a year reading the books I loved and the books I loathed. It opened my eyes to beyond what I’d normally read, and led me to new experiences. Some were not so good, but some were fantastic. And for those fantastic experiences alone, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a year of reading the classics to anybody.

Image by Leyram Odacrem (cc cropped, tinted, text added)

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Keep reading

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

ReadingImage by Tammy Wahl

In all our connectivity, we sometimes think we’ve read all day long, when in fact, we’ve absorbed bites of information as our eyes scroll over screens.

Read aloud time is one way to ensure that you get a dose of literature in your day. It nourishes you and your kids. It may take some work to find a way to fit it in (for me, I started the day with read aloud time—right after breakfast). But it’s worth it. If you have wiggly toddlers or fussy babies, try to read to the older ones while they are napping or at the breast (if the baby tolerates it – some do, some hate it).

In addition to reading to the kids, though, I hope you will read for pleasure yourself. Consider it a part of your “teacher-training.” You are a much better commentator on literature and movies when you, yourself, are reading adult fare. You are also a better human being when you connect to characters and their struggles/hurdles and discover new resources for how to meet your own challenges. You are a happier person when you are taken away from below zero weather, a computer in the shop, and an empty refrigerator to the tropics and a love story.

Reading for pleasure may seem like a chore initially. Who has time for that?

Here are a few ways I found the time when I was either pregnant, nursing, or both, and managing small children.

woman-reading 2

I read while I laid down to nurse a baby. This was my favorite way to read for years. I felt like I was being given the gift of a rest each time I did it. It didn’t work with nursing toddlers, but during the first year it did.

I listened to books on tape while making dinner. I put the TV on—usually Arthur—for the kids. Then I’d go to the kitchen and turn my tape recorder on low and listen while I prepared dinner. Totally changed how I felt about that task and time of day. I listened to so many books that way (I used to have a list).

Long car rides—I’d listen to a book on tape or CD. I had a few of these for conferences and instead of music, I would tackle Hemingway or Hugo or some other difficult to read book. The narration of the book helped me press through some of the difficult passages.

I used to read books aloud to my husband. We’d read a chapter before bed each night. We read some really long ones, including the entire Asia series by James Clavell (Shogun, Noble House, etc.).

I kept a book in my purse. All those visits to the doctor or dentist, sitting in a parked car during soccer or lacrosse practice, waiting for a performance to start for band or ballet—these moments are often crowded by cell phone scrolling now. But if you keep a book on your phone or if you tuck a paperback into your purse, you can use them for reading instead.

The benefits to reading for yourself are enormous. I recommend keeping one book going that is just for you. It’s like giving yourself a big chocolate bar and eating a square of it each day. It’s delicious, and you deserve it. Moreover, it makes you a better home educator and you’ll hardly even realize why.

Cross-posted on facebook.

Image of woman reading by Spirit-Fire

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When kids have trouble reading

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Reading by MarshaImage by Brave Writer mom, Marsha

Abby asks:

Where would my 9 year old start? He really dislikes reading and writing. He also does not like books that are too young for him in content. He can read sort if, but doesn’t like to and seems to have trouble with the phonetics. I have tried the chunking method but I don’t know what I am doing and am met with much resistance by him. I am looking for help and a new direction. I love reading your posts about homeschooling and am intrigued by brave writer, just not sure if it would help. I don’t know what to do to help so mostly have been reading to him and not pressuring him. I’d love advice on what approach you might recommend.

Thanks!
Abby

Some kids just can’t get there as easily as others. My youngest was nearly 10 before it clicked for her. Keep doing what you are doing (reading to him). You might try The Wand (you can download a sample here so you can take a look and see if it would work for him). Sometimes the kinesthetic approach works better with boys.

For Caitrin (my youngest), she got interested in Ancient Greek (I was studying it at the time). We learned the alphabet together. She suddenly saw how each letter had a sound in a way she didn’t grasp with English. Because I was sounding out with her and struggling with her, she started to match the sounds to the letters. Once she made that connection, something “clicked” and she started sounding out more easily for English. She never read readers and went straight to chapter books.

It may be that he is trying to “read” – to just breeze along in English the way all of us do, without realizing how he needs to patiently grasp the phonetics (painstaking, unnatural work). If you have a way to introduce a second alphabet (maybe even making your own code for the sounds – not the alphabet), he might see it as a game and start to see what reading actually is.

My other daughter had a different problem. She was struggling with all the different fonts. To her, an “a” in handwriting was not the same “a” as in typing. She couldn’t generalize and thought she was seeing multiple alphabets! She didn’t read until she was almost nine. When I figured out what was happening, I started having her circle the alphabet letter by letter in a variety of settings (books, articles, handwritten notes). I wanted her to recognize an “a” always sounded like an “a” no matter how it was written. Once she caught on to that, she read.

Keep noticing what’s going on with your son. If he is struggling with the patience to sound out, see if there is some other way he can get there. You might try writing him notes (using simple language) each night at bed time – a single question. Let him read it on his own away from your eyes. If he can decipher it, he can “get” whatever the question offers.

For instance, maybe you write: “Do you want a cookie?”

If he can read it, the next day he gets it.

Maybe: “Do you want to take a walk in the park?”

Then if he can get it, you go for the walk. Maybe you go anyway!

No need to punish him, but you might help him have some space to read alone without your prying eyes and anxiety pressuring him (that’s how we all feel when we are sitting with a late reader).

–Julie

Image (cc)

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Whatcha readin’?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

On the platform, readingImage by Mo Riza

Posted this on facebook today:

I hope you, homeschooling parent, are reading something yummy and wonderful just for you. Find a time during the day to get through a page or two on your Kindle or in your hand (paperback or hardback – doesn’t matter!).

Read for pleasure, read for self care, read for information, read for thought-provocation, read for the sheer expansiveness of the experience.

If you don’t have time to read, set the timer during your youngest children’s naps and spend ten minutes reading. Older kids can read at the same time. Get off the computer so you are reading something *whole*–something complete and lengthy that delves and dives and works its magic. Let yourself become immersed and discover new worlds of vocabulary and insight.

You will be better for it, so will your homeschool.

And now the fun part!

Whatcha readin’? Post it below (or add to the facebook discussion), with author, and a single sentence description so we may be enticed to look it up!

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Read aloud time!

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Read Aloud TimeImage by Tammy Wahl. Used with permission.