Thursday, May 13, 2010

day 133: morning reading books or the reish family (with links)

Morning reading—for us, this is like our “school devotional extended.” We have this morning reading time after morning routines and morning chores—three or four days a week (“more often than not”). Because it is devotional and school, I like to do a variety of things:

1. Character reading—this usually involves Bible too (see below for Character Sketches)

2. Chapter books—we are going through a series of American history biographies—we have done biographies in morning reading for twenty-five years!!!

3. Creation science—we always read from Answers in Genesis and other materials together

4. Bible or Bible stories (depending on ages, etc.)

5. Poetry—we added this two years ago, and I love it!

6. Nature devotional—been doing these for years and years

7. Literature excerpts—I assign whole books to the boys (one chapter book per week unless they are lengthy, in which case, they may read the same book over a two week period), but I like doing excerpts and shortened ones with them aloud

8. Character stories—we have done a variety of these—right now we are doing one my one of my favorite Christmas story authors (Wheeler, see below)

 Below are the current titles we are using, along with their authors and links. The books listed are ones I do now with my boys, ages 11, 15, and 17. I am capitalizing the titles because I cannot get the FB blog to underline or italicize consistently—not trying to “yell” at you! 

1. Character studies—reading about godly character of Bible people and how character qualities are shown in the lives of animals—CHARACTER SKETCHES, Volume III—published by Institute in Basic Life Principles (one semester book)

2. Short literature excerpts, an outstanding way to introduce classic literature to kids ages eight to fourteen (or even older—Jonathan and I love them!)—CLASSICS TO READ ALOUD TO YOUR CHILDREN—compiled by William F. Russell (one semester book)

3. Nature devotional—IN HIS HANDS—A NATURE DEVOTIONAL-—by James and Priscilla Tucker (year long book)—out of print—if your kids like animals, nature, and trivia, I recommend you try to get this book used!

4. Bible “story” book for older students and adults (followed by listening to the portion covered in here on audio cd from the regular Bible)—THE STORY OF STORIES—THE BIBLE IN NARRATIVE FORM –by Karen C. Hinckley (one semester book)

5. Creation science book—ASTONOMY AND THE BIBLE: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS by Donald B DeYoung (one semester book) (sample chapters at )

6. Biography—MERIWETHER LEWIS: EXPLORER by Janet and Geoff Benge (one month book) (contains links to other books in the Heroes of History series)

7. Christian poetry (for older children and adults)---THE ONE YEAR BOOK OF POETRY—published by Tyndale (one year book)

8. Short Christian and character stories for all ages (older children and adults primarily)—GREAT STORIES REMEMBERED by Joe Wheeler (might be out of print, but still has sellers on amazon)

Tomorrow, I will post some suggestions for “morning reading” or "devotional reading" for four to ten year olds.

day 132: read aloud tips--part ii of ii

"Right after lunch Josiah, Kara, and I picked out our stories for story time. We snuggled on the couch with Mommy and read them. I was so happy ‘coz it was my day, and I got to pick two stories today. I picked Curious George and a book about astronauts. Story time is my favorite time of the day.”
                                                          “Jonathan’s Journal”

                                       Read Aloud Tips (continued)
6. Consider having an ongoing chapter book as part of your story time. At the end of story time, I almost always read a chapter or two out of a chapter book. By that time, the youngest listeners were often drifting off to sleep, so if they were not interested in the chapter book, they just started their naps. However, the older preschooler and elementary child was still alert and awake. (We call this the “bus stop approach” to teaching little kids—stay with us and we’ll introduce that concept more fully in the future.) If your little is “almost ready” for chapter books, but not quite, you can start the process by choosing some longer picture books (i.e. instead of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” or “Curious George,” read “Kidderminster Tales” or picture books of “Black Beauty” or James Herriot stories for children (reviews forthcoming). Then after he is used to listening to longer picture books, choose short chapter books at first, such as “Three Cousins Detective,” “Boxcar Children,” or “American Girl Books.” These often have forty to eighty pages, so they are good introductions to chapter books for preschoolers. (Some of these shorter chapter books also have an occasional picture; this might help bridge the gap from picture books to chapter books.)

7. Use book and cd sets from the library to substitute for you when needed. My older kids used book and tape sets (Joshua’s favorites when he was three to six were these old “Stories That Live” Bible story books with accompanying cassettes.) However, Josiah and Jacob (our last two children) have used picture book and cd sets more than any of the others. With several children and the older kids’ needs and activities, story time has taken a drastic change in our home. I no longer stay home all the time; I no longer have one to two hours every afternoon to read; and, unfortunately, I no longer get to take naps! To offset my reduced story time, I have utilized book and cd sets for the younger children. Since we homeschool and our children have daily independent lists, the boys had “listen to book and cd set” on their list most days when they were younger (and Jakie still often does, though he is quickly outgrowing them). These sets are available in zip style bags at libraries and are really a great help for busy moms—if your children get in the habit of doing them. Like every other “quiet” or “less high-tech” activity, listening to book and cd sets, talking books, radio dramas, etc. is a learned art. It will probably not come naturally to children today. But, just like brushing his teeth and making his bed, it can become part of his daily routine if it is insisted upon by Mom and followed through on. (Book and cd sets and/or audio books are especially good for kids who are outgrowing naps to do while youngers sleep.)

8. Make story time a privilege. As with the toddler joining your story time, this special event should be a privilege for every child—and privileges are earned and are much different than rights (which should be greatly reduced in the lives of children—yes, our children have rights to safety, nourishment, love, etc. but the sense of entitlement that we give our children for everything causes a very me-focused approach to life that is inconsistent with genuine Christianity, which is the opposite of this “myopic” way of life). Our kids knew the rules for story time, and I seldom had problems with bad behavior during it. Why? Simply because they wanted Mom to read to them! The repercussion for not sitting still, not being kind to those around you, being loud, complaining, etc. during story time was no story time that day, period. As my husband has always reminded me: “Our children will behave just the way we want them to” (i.e. the way we allow them to)—annoying saying huh? But true.

9. Try to have a consistent story time. If you can have a set time, like right after lunch every afternoon you are home or right before bed three evenings a week, etc., it will make it more routine and will cause the children to look forward to it. Consistent story time (or consistent anything) causes children to have order and peace—and provides a small framework of accountability for Mom too.

10. Use story time for Bible and/or character training. In addition to an ongoing chapter book, I always had a Bible story book and/or a character book that we read through a little each story time. This gave me another opportunity to teach Bible stories and character lessons. (Reviews will follow for some suggestions for these over the next few days.)

Reviews, suggestions, and links coming up! Thanks for joining us.

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

day 131: read aloud tips--part i

"Right after lunch Josiah, Kara, and I picked out our stories for story time. We snuggled on the couch with Mommy and read them. I was so happy ‘coz it was my day, and I got to pick two stories today. I picked Curious George and a book about astronauts. Story time is my favorite time of the day.”
                                     “Jonathan’s Journal” *

                                       Read Aloud Tips

1. Make books a big part of your life from the beginning! Our kids knew that books were important to us. It isn’t uncommon for us to have forty to fifty books and talking books under our tree on Christmas morning. When our kids were babies and toddlers, they had little baskets with their baby books in them. These were their book baskets—and putting their books in them after play time was one of their first chores!

2. Make reading aloud a big deal from the beginning. As I said in some earlier posts, I started having a story time with our babies when they were several months old and were being weaned from one of their nursings. I would replace that afternoon feeding (after the baby had eaten food for lunch and had milk out of a sipper cup) with a story time. It was short—at first only two to four minutes—but it became an integral part of baby’s schedule.

3. Make joining into “older kids’ reading” a big deal—and a privilege that is earned. Once our toddlers became preschoolers, they got to join our regular “before nap” story time. This took the place of their short story time with Mom alone. We made a huge affair of the little joining us. The other kids were always so excited to have the toddler come into our snuggle and read time! However, if the toddler didn’t lie still and be quiet, he got taken to his crib early and missed the rest of story time. The toddler soon learned that joining regular afternoon story time was a privilege that was to be earned, not just something that he got to do at a certain age or time.

4. Let children choose story time books too. If you have enough time to really do a lengthy story time, go for it. I had long story times with my preschoolers and elementary children, so everybody got to pick one story, and the person who was “it” that day (see post two days ago) got to choose two stories. I had library books on a library shelf, then, of course, our huge collection of books to choose from. Choosing a story or two each day was really exciting for the kids. Sometimes they would talk about it or ponder it all day long!

5. You choose stories too. Kids will often pick the same books over and over again, so I always chose a couple or a few (depending on the length of the books that day) to read each day too. The children often found new favorites through my choosing of books—and oftentimes they were books that they maybe would not have picked themselves, etc. Sometimes I would choose stories that went along with what we were studying in homeschool (i.e. “You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pioneer” when we were doing American History or “Hiawatha” when we were doing poetry, etc.). Other times I would choose something similar to what they were picking or by the same author, etc.

Continued……more reading tips coming—including suggestions and reviews!

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:
"Right after lunch Josiah, Kara, and I picked out our stories for story time. We snuggled on the couch with Mommy and read them. I was so happy ‘coz it was my day, and I got to pick two stories today. I picked Curious George and a book about astronauts. Story time is my favorite time of the day.”
                                   “Jonathan’s Journal”

As my children were growing up, we had several read-aloud periods—often in one day. And we had various names for all of them through the years: morning read aloud, content reading, subject reading, history reading, devotional reading, character reading, breakfast reading, family read aloud, lunchtime reading, unit studies reading, story time, matching sweat suit day reading (corny, but we loved it!), read all day reading, story time, bedtime stories, and yes, even more.

Now we have just a few reading times. I will list these below and will detail them in the coming week, including some suggested titles for them and book reviews!

1. Morning reading—for us, this is like our “school devotional extended.” We have this morning reading time after morning routines and morning chores—three or four days a week (“more often than not”).

2. History read aloud—two or three days a week, I do history reading with the kids. I have never been one to get my pre-high school kids a bunch of science, social studies, health, etc. text books. I have always used our read-aloud times and assigned reading of real books as their primary sources for these subjects. We have been doing American history for the past couple of years, slowly making our way through various read aloud sources, audio books, assigned readers, and more.

3. Family read aloud books—We enjoy listening together as a family to radio dramas (especially Adventures in Odyssey!), audio books, Christian discipleship type books, biographies, and occasionally, fiction books. For example, we have recently read Mercy Ships (about the ministry of the medical/surgical ships that go around the world) and Being a Christian in a Brave New World by Joni Ereckson Tada. Unfortunately, the older the boys get, the harder it is to get us all together long enough to read lengthy books; however, audio books are something we can do while we do other things, so we try to utilize those whenever possible.

4. Story time—Jakie and I are the only ones who regularly enjoy story time nowadays (sniff, sniff). However, sometimes we can talk Josiah into joining us, and occasionally, if we are reading a chapter book, Jonathan will listen from the dining room as he does school or works on a project. Story time is one thing that I for sure do not regret spending the hours upon hours in over the past twenty-seven years of parenting. When I had several small children, we would get the babies to sleep then cuddle in Mommy’s bed and read for one to two hours, then drift off for afternoon naps (including Mom!). My first reaction to that is “How did I ever find time for that nearly every weekday afternoon?” And my answer is that I found the time because it was a priority to me. We find the time for everything that is truly important to us. (And I found the time for the nap because it was essential during the fourteen out of seventeen years that I was nursing and/or pregnant!) I stayed home most days and just invested in my kids and home—and I don’t regret it at all!

The next few days will include story time tips, suggested story time books, starting chapter books aloud, and more!

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

day 129: today is "my day"!

"Right after lunch Josiah, Kara, and I picked out our stories for story time. We snuggled on the couch with Mommy and read them. I was so happy ‘coz it was my day, and I got to pick two stories today. I picked Curious George and a book about astronauts. Story time is my favorite time of the day.”
                                       “Jonathan’s Journal”

In the story time excerpt from “Jonathan’s Journal,” it was Jonathan’s “day,” so he got to pick two stories instead of one. When I had several young children, I assigned each child “a day” each week. I first got this idea when I was in teacher’s college, and it was suggested that we teachers pick a different student each day to focus on. It was recommended that we write that child’s name on the calendar for that day (to keep record of who got which day and to ensure that each child got a day) and that we try to praise, help, make more contact with, etc. that particular student on that day. This approach would keep the “non-sqeaky wheels” from getting overlooked.

I applied that to my family, assigning each child a day (Monday was Cami’s day; Tuesday was Kayla’s; Wednesday was Joshua’s; etc.). On that day, that particular child got many advantages and privileges, as well as some extra jobs. Here are some of the perks that I instituted for the child on his day throughout the years:

1. Special focus—I tried to praise, affirm, spend more time with, tie heart strings more, etc. for that child on that day

2. Sitting in the front seat if we went anywhere (Because we only went places one or two days a week during the day during the week when my older children were little, we had to alternate whose day it was each week because otherwise, for example, the Monday or Tuesday child would seldom get to sit in the front seat since we seldom went anywhere early in the week.)

3. Sitting closest to Mom during morning read aloud and afternoon story time

4. Saying the prayer during breakfast and lunch

5. Getting to choose two stories instead of one at story time (and getting their stories read first and last)

6. Getting to have a longer talk time with Dad that night before bed

7. Helping Mom cook dinner that day (before they could cook meals entirely by themselves)

8. Doing an extra job from the job jar

9. Taking a morning or afternoon “twalk” (talk and walk) with Mom

My kids loved having their special day. It meant more responsibility and work, but it also meant more heart-affecting time—and they were keenly aware of that.

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link: