Monday, May 30, 2011

Classics, not Textbooks

My absolute favorite thing about homeschooling this past year has been reading classic books with the children - books that aren't boring, "fluffy," mindnumbing, obscene, silly, or useless (in my opinion.) Real, living books. I realize that the definition of a classic is somewhat subjective; everyone's classics list will be different. I have read that "A 'classic' is a work — be it literature, music, art, etc. — that’s worth returning to over and over because you get more from it each time." I also believe that true classics bring us closer to Christ. They uplift, ennoble, inspire, elevate our minds, teach truth, refine our tastes, and heighten our spiritual senses. "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." That has been the standard by which we have tried to select the books we read.

If you didn't know by now, I am very much a list person. So here is a list of the classic books we read aloud together this year:

The Cricket in Times Square
The Wizard of Oz
Number the Stars
Prince Caspian
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh
Tales of Peter Rabbit and His Friends
The Velveteen Rabbit
The Trumpet of the Swan
Little Britches
Man of the Family
Mary Emma and Company
Walt Disney (Childhood of Famous Americans series)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Sarah, Plain and Tall
The Jungle Book
The Year Money Grew on Trees
Just So Stories
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
Farmer Boy
The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Door in the Wall
The Story of Dr. Dolittle
Stuart Little
The Princess and the Goblin
The Princess and Curdie
Morning Girl
My Father's Dragon
The Secret Garden
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Treasure Island

This does not include the shorter books we read as we studied history, math, science, art and music, which literally number in the hundreds. What an incredible journey it has been to wander through ancient Egypt, split the atom, explore Pascal's triangle, see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, lose ourselves in Mozart's symphonies, and so much more...

"A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counsellor, a multitude of counsellors." ~Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bring on Summer!

Wednesday was our last day of school for the year. I can hardly believe the year flew by so fast. To celebrate, we took a picnic to the park and played all afternoon. We drank chocolate milkshakes and climbed on rocks. The boys pushed each other on the tire swing. Abram went down the slide. Again and again and again. When we finally got home, windblown and sun-tired, we crashed on the couch and read The Secret Garden.

There is nothing like that feeling of the first day of total freedom, with the whole summer stretching in front of you - the anticipation and all of the wonderful possibilities....

So far, this is what summer looks like at our house:

P.S. On Thursday we had breakfast, devotional, and family work as usual. About 10:00, Isaac came to me.

"Mom, can we have school now?"

"Isaac, it's summer. There's no school, remember?"

"Oh man, I forgot! {sigh} ...well, can we have school anyway? Please?"

{See Mom smile.}