Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Titles

Kids taking a rest while I read aloud to them the current issues of Click and Ladybug magazines

This month was over in a flash! I can't believe how our four weeks of summer have just flown by, but I suppose I should know better by now. We plan tons of days with friends, library and bike time, and just generally have a ball. I was off to a great start with my reading at the beginning of the month, but due to 2 seasons of TV shows that I love becoming available at the library (finally!) the last 10 days or so I've been camped in front of the computer, watching episode after episode. Little time left for reading, but I have a ton of books lined up in the queue for July, that I'm excited to read to the kids, and those to myself during quiet time. Here's June's finished titles:

*The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman -- This book was fabulous, and everything I love in a nonfiction book: easy to read, relevant anecdotes, full of science and statistics, and excellent, practical advice. I've heard of Gottman's work in Seattle, and so when I saw this book (that I'd heard of from a friend recently) at a garage sale for $.50, I picked it up, even though it was covered in highlighter. I then found a brand new copy at the thrift store for $1, so passed on the marked-up one to a friend, and finished the one without the distractions of bright orange and pink. 
I try to read at least one 'marriage' book a year, and although I'd love it if Stefan would join me (!), we don't read them together. I did perk up a lot and tell him, "hey! listen to this..." quite a few times during this reading. There are practical applications and quizzes you can take at the end of each chapter that I skipped, but would at some point like to go through them together. We have a strong marriage (10 years on Thursday!) but thoughtfully reading an expert's opinion can't hurt, either!

*Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin -- I wanted to like this book, but I came to terms with the fact that I'd only give it a 3 out of 5. It was good, not great. I've heard Rubin is a mastermind list writer (and she is) in her nonfiction books, but I found this book boring and a touch too navel-gazing for my likes. This was Rubin's second in the line of the Happiness Project books, where she makes a list of things that will make her happier--you guessed it--at home, and follows through with them over the course of the year, documenting what she learned, if she was any happier, and if she still follows or enjoys the practice. I still want to read her newest book on habits, but I doubt I'll go for her first one, "The Happiness Project". 

*Wonder by R. J. Palacio -- This is a young adult novel that I'd heard about from someone who works at a school. The person told me an entire grade in their middle school was reading and discussing it, and when I found out what the topic was, I was interested. It's about a young boy who was born with a facial deformity, and his first year in school. My expectations were high, so I was a bit let down with the plot, but for a first novel I thought the author did exceptional. It's a story about overcoming adversity, loyalty, and bullying, and it's worth a read for a young kid entering the world of junior high and peer pressure. 

*Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver DeMille -- Oy. This homeschooling book took me FOR-EV-ER (yes, just like they say it in The Sandlot) to read. I forced myself to read this book whenever I had a spare moment just so I could be done with it. I'm planning on selling it, since it's still priced high on amazon. I've heard wonderful things about Leadership Education by two homeschooling blog authors I read zealously, so I thought I would connect with it. I get the main ideas and philosophy, but it could have been edited down to about 100 pages, not 300. The writing was overly descriptive and tedious to get through, and so much of it was really common sense that shouldn't need to be written in the first place. Stick with the charts! Not my favorite homeschooling book. 

Read Alouds with Children:

*Homer Price by Robert McCloskey -- Lukka loved this novel that included 5-6 'old-time' stories about a boy named Homer Price. Homer is honest, a hard worker, and resourceful. You might know McCloskey from "Blueberries for Sal" or "Make Way for Ducklings" fame. I didn't love this book but I didn't hate it, either. It was enjoyable to read aloud, and Lukka was very entranced by the stories which included a big problem, and a solution made by Homer near the end. Each chapter was about 20 pages but they went quickly. I'd recommend it to some, but not all. He's better at children's picture books, and you won't go wrong with the two titles linked above. 

*The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo -- This book was very different from the other DiCamillo books we've read, but I and the kids enjoyed it nontheless. She writes with a lot of fluidity and the story really seems to take shape only after she's written part of it as opposed to having a clear picture in her head how the story will turn out. That's only a guess, and we enjoyed this novel, but I will say it is much darker than some of her other children's novels. Edward, an arrogant and lovely china doll rabbit is taken very literally around the world through a series of imaginative and practically impossible (one might say, "miraculous"!) twists of events. In the end, he learns to do what a toy is meant to do, love. 



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