Books I’m Loving Lately

23 Feb

I’ve recently made some book purchases that have had quite an impact on me, and will greatly impact our homeschooling. Here they are:

Deconstructing Penguins. Boy am I glad I bought this! I have a good working vocabulary, I can read most classics, but I cannot analyse a book. I cannot find hidden meanings, metaphors, symbolism, etc in books. This book doesn’t dive that deeply, and I don’t think they get into metaphor and symbolism (I’m about half-way through it), but it’s a fantastic introduction on dissecting literature. It’s really gotten me thinking. I’ve been thinking back on books that I’ve read and trying to identify the protagonist, antagonist, setting, crisis, etc. When I’m finished, I’m going to read The Graveyard Book and see what I can do with it. It’s going to take some practice, I know, which is why I’m reading it now. Not only will it make my own reading more enjoyable, but Esa and I will be able to “deconstruct” books together when he’s ready.

Keeping a Nature Journal is the best book EVER for nature study. I cannot recommend this book enough. I thought it was just going to be pages and pages of sample pages from nature journals, but it’s not. Yes, the margins are filled with nature sketches, and there are some sample pages, but after reading a bit, I’m glad those samples are there. I always thought nature journaling was just sketches with a bit of labelling, but it’s so much more. This book is packed with information, ideas, drawing help, and motivation…there’s almost too much! I *love* this book.

I checked out The Story of Art from our library and I’ve found it difficult to put down. This is a nice, fat book and a must-read for those who, like me, know nothing about art, but wish they did. This book is completely changing the way I look at art. Before, I could only appreciate “pretty” things, but now I’m seeing the value of art that is less pleasing to the eye. I’ve ordered a copy of this because it’s going to take me a while to get through, and in fact, it’ll probably be something I’m continuously reading. And when Esa’s older he can enjoy it, too.

Ok, I’m cheating a bit here, because I haven’t actually started reading The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way yet, but I plan to soon. I was looking for some sort of history of science book for Esa, and I knew the Hakim set was good, but I also knew it was geared for children a few years older. The book just looked so beautiful (all three books do, actually) and I knew we’d use it eventually (even if Esa were to go to school), that I decided to buy it. And it is gorgeous. I’ve only looked through it and read a few pages to judge the suitability (I’m thinking another 1 or 2 years and Esa will be ready for it), but it’s fabulous. When I have time, after reading some of my other picks from above, I’m going to read this for my own benefit.

Sometimes I just know how to pick ’em. A few days ago, I gave Esa a little informal reading assessment. In most areas, I know “where he is.” But I find it difficult to judge with reading. And even though I can see his reading improving, which is truly all that matters, I wanted to have some idea how far we’d gotten. I figured he was at about first or second grade level. My Kindergarten-aged boy came in at early third grade level. It doesn’t matter of course, but I have to admit, I liked having this reassurance. As a little treat I decided to take Esa to a WHSmith outlet where all the books are 3 for 2. (This is not something I normally do; I don’t believe in rewards, carrots & sticks, etc, but I thought he deserved a little something for putting up with my neuroticism.) He really wanted a Captain Underpants book (the only twaddle I allow…they’re fun and funny). He found 2, but we just couldn’t find anything else that looked good. I don’t tend to buy adult fiction because I can usually find something at the library, there were no good reference books, no audio books, and since I have 4 books penned by Alan Titchmarsh I simply do not need any gardening books, we were at a loss. And then I picked up The Graveyard Book.

It wasn’t until after I got it home that I learned two things:

  1. This book is written by the same author of Coraline.
  2. This book won the Newberry Medal in 2009.

At first glance, I thought it was just a fun, creepy story, but after doing a little research, I’ve learned that the book is about love and family. I can’t wait to read it, and when Esa’s a little older, I can’t wait for him to read it, too.


3 responses to “Books I’m Loving Lately

  1. misti

    February 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Interestingly enough, I am also reading Deconstructing Penguins, The Story of Art , and waiting for Keeping a Nature Journal to come in at the library! 😉

    The Story of Science is on my wish list, but we probably won’t get it until next year, since we’ve spent out homeschooling funds for the year. 🙂 (Unless I managed to find it somewhere cheap…!

    • whimsyway

      February 24, 2010 at 7:27 am

      A while back you posted a photo and in the photo, on a table, was the book When Children Love to Learn and I remember thinking, ‘Hey, I’m reading that, too!’ What a coincidence! 🙂 When you see Keeping a Nature Journal, you’re either going to wear your hand off making notes, or it’s going to end up on your wish list, too, cause it’s fantastic! 🙂

  2. Michelle

    March 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I also just finished reading Deconstructing Penguins! I really enjoyed it and it got me thinking more deeply about reading.

    I got Story of Science from the library, too. I skimmed it and didn’t really love it like I thought I would. A lot of the same historical figures and concepts are in Mathematicians are People, too and String, Straightedge, and Shadow and they both seem to be written in a more reader friendly fashion.


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