Thursday, January 10, 2008

Our Booklist for Second Term

I've been wanting to explain why we haven't used the Ambleside Online book choices for Year One. Since the topic came up in a comment this week, I figured now is as good a time as any. If you're hoping for some thought-provoking, philosophical reason behind my choices, well, sorry. Mostly, we've chosen different books because we had already read the AO Year One books or just because we wanted to ;) As I've said before, AO's booklist is topnotch and I owe the AO Advisory more than I could ever repay. Who knows? I may use other AO years just as they are written. By the way, I'm more aware now of *not* reading AO books before their scheduled year. (That's a tip for any moms who haven't actually started homeschooling yet.) *grin*

This could easily become a very, very long post. I would prefer to keep it from becoming so. In an effort to keep things short and sweet, I think it would be easiest to just go down the line of subjects. I'll type the AO books in bold face for quick reference. Here we go...

We read straight from the ESV or from Catherine Vos' story Bible. Hubby is still considering reading at least the Psalms in KJV.

We decided to skip Trial and Triumph. Okay, this one might be a deeper reason than those I mentioned above. I'd rather not get into it tonight, though. Some children may be completely fine with Blandina getting torn apart by lions; I'm not so sure about mine at this point. I don't want to shield the children from martyrdom by any means, but I also don't want to encourage fear by giving them more than I feel they can handle now. We chose to replace Church History with Missionary Biographies because it was still highly important to us to set Christian heroes before the children (beyond those in the Bible). We also wanted to bring missions to mind early and often.

We use Our Island Story. This may be the only history book we use for Year One in the future. In looking through CM's programmes (you can read them at AO), Year One often only listed Our Island Story for history. At times there was a hero-type book as well.

We used Fifty Famous Stories for the first term. Hubby is the history man :) He felt like the stories in 50 Famous were (perhaps) a little too truncated. The book does accomplish the purpose of educating in cultural literacy (as the Advisory intended), but we wondered if the little bits-and-pieces stories were too random. At any rate, we're fairly confident that the girls would love to read these independently when they are a little older. For this term, we'll go in depth with William Tell by reading The Apple and the Arrow, instead.

Not sure yet about Viking Tales. Again, I'm thinking that Our Island Story is enough for history based on Miss Mason's programmes. Might be good to keep in mind for free reading, though.

We will not count American History biographies (the D'Aulaire books) as school reading the next time we do Year One. SweetP and Shug both like to check biographies out of the library for free reading, so no worries there. The D'Aulaire books are wonderful, but I won't officially schedule them the next time.

I really like Paddle-to-the-Sea and the other Holling books. We fully intend to buy them for our home library. For school purposes, though, they don't cover the geography "ideas" that I'd hope to get across at this young age. Miss Mason wrote about the children reading little books about children from other lands and reading travel books. We like to check out large coffee table travel books from the library. As for the stories of children from other lands, I've had a hard time finding something well-written, engaging, and yet fairly short. Li Lun is the best I could do for this term after ditching Paddle to the free reading list (my girls read a lot, so even the free reading stuff gets read). I also printed out Miss Mason's Elementary Geography book to use for Years 1 and 2. The little book "What Makes Day and Night" is to supplement one of the EG lessons.

We own many of the Burgess titles, and the girls have already read The Burgess Bird Book, so we chose one of the Clara Pierson books from Yesterday's Classics instead. We also love James Herriot, but we've read through those stories so many times that they really wouldn't be useful for us as school books. We use Comstock as a reference, but not as a text to go through cover to cover (you may want to read the intro to the book if this confuses you).

Again, we have already read Stevenson and Milne many, many times over. I chose Favorite Poems Old and New for the first term just because I liked it so much :) For the second term, we skipped ahead to one of the AO Year 2 poets and chose Walter de la Mare. It's a beautiful book :) We'll likely stick to these two choices for the remainder of the year.

I cut out several of the AO books after spending some time reading the PNEU programmes for Form 1b. Miss Mason seems to have consistently used Aesop's Fables and fairy tales as the only literature for Year One. AO has a lot of literature books listed.

Parables From Nature was used as a Sunday Reading book in CM's programmes. It is the same in our home.

Just So Stories was moved to free reading, and it does get read - just not aloud and not during school time ;) I had a hard time deciding about this one. It's one of the more challenging books for this year, and I considered keeping it because of it's strong vocabulary. Kipling's not a bad writer, you know ;) In the end, though, I chose to keep the school load as close to the PNEU programmes as possible, and Just So Stories was one book too many for our schedule. It's nice to have the children in the habit of reading challenging books for fun.

We use the Milo Winter version of Aesop for Children, but only 3 fables per term. That's what the PUS programmes scheduled. Again, I'm counting on the girls reading the rest on their own later.

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare is not my favorite choice - too sparse. I much prefer the Lamb version, but plan to save Lamb for a little later on. For a very first introduction to Shakepeare, I really like the Coville books (check out my sidebar). But, again, I can't find anywhere that Miss Mason included Shakespeare in Form 1b, so I feel perfectly fine with only doing one play this year. I chose The Winter's Tale. It's about 40 pages long and it will take about 10 weeks to finish.

And that brings me to The Blue Fairy Book. Here, I admit, I think I made a mistake by replacing this book. I wanted to try to use books we already had. I soooo love the illustrations in the Treasury of Children's Literature (TCL) and the stories are told well, but they really don't come close to Lang's versions. As preparation for Year Two's harder books (Pilgrim's Progress, Robin Hood), I really think Lang would be hard to beat. SweetP is reading Rumplestiltskin independently from TCL right now, but I think the next fairy tale will have to be Lang. She may not be able to read it independently, but I really want her to have the more challenging vocabulary. So, we're running back to AO for fairy tales.

So far this year, SweetP has read Charlotte's Web and The King of the Golden River (which she voluntarily narrated - often), Pocahontas, and The Velveteen Rabbit from the list. We have read St. George and the Dragon and The Little House in the Big Woods before this year. I'm hoping to get The Red Fairy Book for her birthday next month :) Also, I plan on reading Pinocchio and Peter Pan aloud to the children after we finish The Magician's Nephew and The Long Winter (maybe later this spring). So, I'm following the recommended free reading list quite closely ;)

Hope that clears some things up.