Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

YouTube Thursday: Books I Love

Some of Julie Bogart's favorite books

Whenever you read a good book,
somewhere in the world
a door opens
to allow in more light.

–Vera Nazarian

Here are books I love! The criteria I used for choosing the titles: Did the book fit a critical moment in my life? Did it suit me for some unique reason?

In the scope below I share the books and the unique reasons. Enjoy!

Books Shared

A big thank you to Angela of Nurtured Roots for jotting these down!

[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer.]

Shadow of the Moon by M. M. Kaye
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards
I Hate Mathematics by Marilyn Burns
Nitty Gritty Grammar by Edith Fine and Judith Josephson
More Nitty Gritty Grammar by Edith Fine and Judith Josephson
The Tea Party Book by Lucille Recht Penner
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield
Clues to Acting Shakespeare by Wesley Vari Tassel
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Writing with Power by Peter Elbow
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Home Education by Charlotte Mason
Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore
Close Range by Annie Proulx (short stories)
Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber
Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson (good to read with teenagers)
Poems New and Collected by Wislawa Szymborska
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

The Homeschool Alliance

What are Brave Writer parents reading to their kids?

33 Read-Alouds for Kids

One of the moms on BraveScopes asked: “What’s in your current read aloud stack?”

Here are some of the replies:

Mr. Poppers Penguins
Adam of the Road
How to Train Your Dragon
The Bard of Avon
Medicine in the Medieval Ages
My Side of The Mountain
The Cricket in Times Square
The Penderwicks
Ginger Pye
Ella Enchanted
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Oliver Twist
Boom Town
Spirit of the Cedar People
The Adventures of Jayne, the Cat Who Was a Dog
The Way of Gnome
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
The School Mouse (Dick King Smith)
The Lightening Thief
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Railway Children
Love that Dog
Detectives in Togas
The Pushcart War
Anne of Green Gables
The Great Turkey Walk
The Story of Dr. Dolittle
The Cricket in Times Square
The Wheel in the School
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics
Minn of the Mississippi
Paddle to the Sea

So the next time you’re searching for a good read aloud you can refer to this list!

Reading the Classics

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)

Keep reading

Keep readingImage by Ally Mauro (cc tinted, text added)

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.

Image of woman reading by Spirit-Fire

When Kids have Trouble Reading

When Kids have Trouble Reading

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.


Some kids just can’t get there as easily as others. My youngest was nearly 10 before reading clicked for her.

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.

When Kids have Trouble Reading

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). Reading aloud to him is important as well.

You might also try The Wand (you can download a sample so you can take a look and see if it would work for him). Sometimes the kinesthetic approach works well with boys.


Image of boy reading by Brave Writer mom, Marsha