As a parent, perhaps you feel like the last academic year has been a rollercoaster ride, and you want your child’s brain to stay sharp over summer. Maybe you are wisely thinking ahead to rainy day activities, or simply want to find more quality reading suggestions.
Here are my top 3 picks for kids reading series. These are suitable for parent read-alouds, audiobook, or for independent readers aged 8 and up, depending on ability. (I have read these books and they are not just for kids!)
These action-packed volumes take a group of gifted (multi-ethnic) children through physical and mental challenges and the readers will enjoy the ride immensely. Friendship, danger, riddles, puzzles and mysteries await readers of all ages. These are tremendously well-crafted, intriguing stories and we loved the audio versions, read by the talented Del Roy.
Awards include: E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers, Massachussetts Children’s Book Award, Iowa Children’s Choice Award Nominee.
This is an engaging series of seven books about a 13 year old kid lawyer. Theo faces typical and unusual challenges as he uses his gifts to help others, hunt down fugitives, defend himself when framed and dig through evidence to discover the truth. Written by bestselling author John Grisham and designed for young readers. Excellent audio version for all books in the series narrated by Richard Thomas.
Here is one adult review to which I can relate:
…”I purchased the Theodore Boone novel not realizing it was geared towards younger readers. I’m 47 years old and a professional in the communications industry. I found the novel refreshing and interesting…definitely recommend this series regardless of your age…” (Amazon.com review)
Kyle Keeley would rather play games than read, but he and his team end up getting the chance to spend a night in the new town library, which was recently designed by the eccentric game creator, Mr. Lemoncello. The exciting team challenge is to complete all of the puzzles and clues in order to escape from the technologically-savvy new library. These books have been called a cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Night At the Museum, and are peppered with humor, quirky characters, and suspenseful fun. We loved the audio versions of these books, read by engaging narrator, Jesse Bernstein.
I have been living carefree, as if summer would last forever. Casual breakfasts at 9:00, lingering discussions over the kitchen table with my cup of coffee…late lunches at 1:00…cat naps on the sofa….easy, cool dinners created with garden produce. I have awakened in the morning thinking: maybe we will go to the beach today? Or the farmer’s market? Or perhaps we will grab our books and art supplies and blankets and fall asleep in the sun?
Not anymore. It is time to pay for the slothful sins of summer. I should have been hunting down appropriate textbooks and gathering resources. Week after week, I saw the universe of school supplies, shining from a distance in the aisles of Walmart. But did I walk toward the light? No. I lived in avoidance, by walking the long way round, through automotive or pet supplies.
Now, I humbly and hurriedly dig through a tangle of spiral wires, only to uncover the wide ruled notebooks that nobody wanted. I have ordered books on Amazon, but they won’t arrive until next week. My younger son asked yesterday, “I wonder what the spelling words will be?” I muse internally, “Hmmm, I wonder, too…” I start scratching down a possible word list.
How could I have lived in such denial? Even now, just hours before the bell rings, am I planning? No, I am sitting here at my computer, looking for suitable photos to post here with my ramblings.
The air is chilly. The coffee is brewing. I don’t know what I will serve for breakfast. The First Day of School has arrived.
Being sheltered at home does not hinder learning. On the contrary — we have more time than ever to carry on with our studies. This is a fact that parents like, but may cause students to glare and grimace.
Since being homebound, we have picked up and played our dusty musical instruments, rediscovered board games and watched endless episodes of Perry Mason.
My daughter and I have sewn 50+ face masks, like the one worn below by the 15-year-old author of this homeschool-assigned report:
What to Know About the Coronavirus
At this point in time, it’s common to hear the words “Coronavirus” or “Covid-19” dropped into everyday chatter. It seems as though it is the foremost issue on most Americans’ minds. It would also appear as though everyone on TV has some new statistic or symptom that is now “breaking news”. What I’d like to do is break it down into the simplest of terms for the average person. Everyone should know the basics of the virus and what they should be doing about it. So, let’s just jump right into it.
Firstly, the question of origin must be asked and answered. Depending on the news channel you’re watching, they might call it “The Chinese Virus”, some say that it is racist to call it just that. Either way, the virus has strong ties to China. According to several trustworthy news outlets, the Coronavirus has been traced back to the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China.
Now, this next part might disgust you, but in China, it is fairly common to have markets where animals such as bats, snakes and rabbits are sold as food. This goes on despite the selling of these animals being illegal. Nevertheless, it is believed that the coronavirus was originally carried by one of those animals and then passed along to humans. That’s not where the gross part ends though. No, sadly when a concerned Chinese doctor first came across the virus in December and reported it, the government shut him up. They accused him of: “spreading rumors and disturbing the social order.” It took three costly weeks for the government to finally acknowledge the disease as a real threat. By then, it had spread exponentially. By the way, that doctor, Li Wenliang, age 34, died in February 2020 of the virus.
So now that you know some of the history of the virus itself, I feel the need to explain some of the terms frequently used in relation to it. You may hear doctors saying things like “the novel coronavirus.” Well, that simply means it is the new coronavirus. There have been other strains, or versions of the disease. You may have heard of the names “SARS” or “MERS” both of which are strains of coronavirus which are all respiratory diseases. The one that we hear of now is known as COVID-19. The COVID part stands for COronaVIrus Disease. And 19 is simply the year it popped up on the proverbial radar, which would be 2019.
We’ve already covered how the disease started. Now the logical question would be, how will it end?
The truth is that it will end when it ends.
Some think that we are right around the corner from a vaccine. Some say the warmer temperatures of summer will kill off the virus, as is the case with most respiratory diseases. Others hold to the idea that if everyone stays away from each other, everything will calm down. And to be honest, they could all be true, but they could equally be totally wrong. At the moment, all we know is that we should all be washing our hands an insane amount, keeping our distance from large gatherings and just use common sense. Someone put it quite simply when they stated that we should all act as though we have it.
If you knew you were infected, you wouldn’t go out in public, would you? And we know that the infected can spread infection even though they don’t exhibit any symptoms. So there is a chance you could be carrying it. The bottom line is: Be responsible, wash your hands well, try to stay away from large groups of people, and treat others as you would want to be treated.
Korean stop sign, photo taken by my son because he knows I like stop signs in various foreign languages.
New local bakery where my daughter and I shared a pecan caramel roll and cherry turnover, good coffee and sweet conversation.
Blueberry muffins galore, made by my daughter and gratefully consumed on ski day morning.
Time alone on a chairlift– beautiful and peaceful silent time. Short and sweet and high off the ground, but I’ll take it.
Trying to walk regularly outside because I should, not because I really want to, so I grit my teeth and lean into the wind.
God frosted the trees for us, beautifying our homeschool ski day with His creative handiwork plus cheerful sunshine and no injuries.
My husband drove this cute little Mazda Miata down to Florida for a friend recently. It looks like a toy car, but he sure got lots of applause / envy from strangers along the way. The admiration sat well with my husband 🙂
I am sad to say goodbye to a wonderful audiobook trilogy about Crispin by author Avi.We finished the last of the three books this week.
From beginning to end, these stories about a young orphan growing up in the Middle Ages are adventurous, suspenseful, and touching.
Avi is a talented and prolific author and his first Crispin book is a Newbery Award Winner.
A new puzzle. This is our third Mudpuppy puzzle, and it’s Kaleido-Beetles! I like Mudpuppy puzzles because they have three pictures of the finished puzzle for reference as you go, making it easier for 3 or more people to work on the puzzle.
We are studying similes and we are trying to avoid the trite cliches that are “as old as the hills”, so we are making up our own. Everyone chose five abstract nouns and wrote two similes for each one. I thought these were some of the best:
He felt freedom like a feather in the open air.
Hatred melted away like a stream in the spring.
Reality is like a punch in the face.
Forgiveness is like a safety net.
The crime was as big as a bonfire.
His anger was like a house-eating wildfire.
He was as dishonest as a killdeer.
Their romance was like a budding flower — ever changing.
His anger bubbled up like a volcano.
Accepting defeat is like trying to know somebody you’ve never met.
His adventure was as fun as a ride at ValleyFair.
The moonlit snow sparkled like a thousand tiny jewels.
Jealousy is like hair loss; it might take someone else to point it out.
He was as calm as a painting.
His hatred was as hot as a burning furnace.
Music is like a therapy session.
He was as fast as a full-grown cheetah in the desert.
The lion’s power was like a legion of angry dragons.
“Reading these similes was like an eye-opening ride through an undiscovered village.” — Me
We are finally in the 1970’s in homeschool history, and this will shine a spotlight on why — for us — homeschooling has been the best way to go:
this may be the first time in my life I will truly understand what was happening in my childhood when I was too young to comprehend or care.
Questions like the following will be answered for all of us:
What is Watergate and why did they call it that?
Where and what was Camp David?
Who was the Shah of Iran?
Why did they put yellow ribbons all over fences and buildings?
As I assigned a few reports to my oldest homeschoolers yesterday, they didn’t get why I danced around the kitchen, singing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree” and got busy reserving “All the President’s Men” from the library website. They didn’t understand why I told them to: “Write the first paragraph of the report like a newspaper article — like a summary; like “Watergate for Dummies.” Explain the start of the Islamic Republic of Iran like you were explaining it to a child.
Hooray! I might finally understand all this stuff. More soon.