Favorites

An on-going list of books and other items we have loved!

Bible
~ Read-n-Grow Picture Bible - edited by Libby Weed - this was given to me when I was eight years old, so I've loved it for a long time :) ...I've gone through it several times as various ones of my children have gotten old enough to appreciate it, and I'm still as fond of it as ever
~ The Children's Bible - edited by Grispino, Terrien, & Wice - another goodie from my childhood...I have fond memories of my mother reading this to me and my siblings...this is a more comprehensive children's Bible than the other mentioned
~ Noah's Ark - Jerry Pinkney - the account of Noah's ark has often been made too childish and cartoon-like in books and movies and pictures, etc. so I was leery of this book...however, I was pleasantly surprised by it!...Pinkney does an excellent job with both text and illustrations

Character
~ The 7 Habits of Happy Kids - Sean Covey - conveys important life lessons in silly, fun ways
~ The Treasure Tree - John & Cindy Trent and Gary & Norma Smalley - helps kids understand--and appreciate!--different personality types
Mr. Peabody's Apples - Madonna - Josiah brought this home one day when he returned from volunteering at the library, and I was skeptical: a book by Madonna? how was that going to be any good?...my skepticism changed to admiration, however, as I read her take on an old, old lesson...it was a joy to read this to my young children and see the light dawn on their face as they got the moral of the story
~ A Day's Work - Eve Bunting - I cringed as I read this, dreading the consequences of the dilemma described in this book, but rejoiced as I saw the resolution...excellent tale about the need for telling the truth and for taking responsibility to make things right when a mistake has been made

Heroes of the Faith
~ Missionary Stories with the Millers - Mildred Martin - we were introduced to this in Josiah's first grade Sonlight curriculum, and it quickly became a favorite for both of us

Math
~ G Is for Googol - David Schwartz - includes all kinds of interesting math information, presented in a somewhat entertaining way...both my math-minded son and my not-so-math-minded son (he takes after his mother) ;-) loved this book
~ How Much Is a Million? - David Schwartz - sometimes visualizing something is the only way to understand it
~ The King's Chessboard - David Birch - not only a great example of the power of multiplication, but also a powerful example of how pride can be a trap
~ The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable life of Paul Erdős - Deborah Heiligman - I had never heard of Erdős, but found this book very interesting, not just because of the details of his life and his mathematical genius, but because it reminded me of the incredible variety among children and how that should be nourished
~ What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? - Julie Ellis - a perfect way to introduce the Pythagorean Theorem to young children
~ One Hundred Hungry Ants - Elinor Pinczes - how many ways can 100 ants be divided?...a silly and subtle way to introduce division to young children
~ Rooster's Off to See the World - Eric Carle - this barely qualifies for this category because the math is so very basic; but for a child just learning to count up to five and down again, this book, with its typical bright Eric Carle illustrations, is perfect...and for anyone else, it's simply a fun story

History
~ The Usborne Book of World History - the illustrations provide a fantastic start to the study of history
~ The Usborne Time Traveler - we first read this for school, but it quickly became a book that my boys would reach for just for fun
~ A Street through Time - Dr. Anne Millard, illustrated by Steve Noon - a fascinating look at what kind of civilization (or lack thereof) existed in one particular spot through the centuries...we also enjoyed A City through Time

Science
~ Why Do Roosters Crow? - Time-Life Books - nice illustrations and helpful answers to introductory questions about farms, both for those of us who live surrounded by them and those who live far away from them
~ You Nest Here with Me - Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple - I contemplated putting this in the "Bedtime Books" category because it would go very well there, as well as here; but because of the gentle introduction to different kinds of birds, I included it here with science books
~ Chickens Aren't the Only Ones - Ruth Heller - children know we get eggs from chickens, right?...but what other kinds of creatures lay eggs?...this book, with its simple yet creative text and colorful illustrations provides the answer...even though it's suitable for very young children, it taught me a new word: "oviparous"!
~ Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian - Margarita Engle - fascinating history of scientific thought...haven't we always known about the life cycle of a butterfly?...apparently, we haven't; but thanks to Maria Merian's curiosity and determination even from a young age, the world progressed in its knowledge of where moths and butterflies really come from...this book tells Maria's story in a very simple, accessible way

Art
~ Come Look with Me series - Gladys S. Blizzard - we have several of these and have enjoyed them very much because of their non-intimidating approach that makes art accessible and understandable
~ A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin - Jen Bryant - includes some of the hard things in Pippin's life, but doesn't get weighed down by them...a very pleasant way for children to be introduced to him and his work...most of all, his persistence in overcoming obstacles and his strength of character shines through
~ The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau - Michelle Markel - besides the value of learning about Rousseau's art, there are also great character lessons in this book about following one's dreams even later in life, not paying too much attention to negative critics, and showing great persistence over a long period of time

Poetry
~ Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose - Mary's colorful, whimsical illustrations pair perfectly with these poems
~ A Humble Life: Plain Poems - Linda Oatman High - poems inspired by the daily life, simple routines, and seasonal changes of the Amish and Mennonite communities...I can't decide what I like best about this book: the words or the illustrations (done by Bill Farnsworth)...I guess it's the words...no, it's the pictures...no, it's the words...no really, it's the pictures...OK, I give up...it's BOTH!

Non-fiction Picture Books
~ The Tree Lady - H. Joseph Hopkins - having lived in San Diego, I found this account of Kate Sessions' work with planting trees (and encouraging others to do the same) in that city absolutely fascinating...what my kids enjoyed most was choosing which tree each of them particularly liked in the list of unique trees Kate found to plant in San Diego
Blueberries for the Queen - John & Katherine Paterson - I like everything about this, except the way the main character's brother is unkind to him...everything else about it is charming: the imagination of the little boy, beautifully expressed in the illustrations and so similar to the imaginings of my own sons; the gracious manner in which the queen receives the boy's gift; and especially the historical aspect of this little-known event that really did happen during World War II
~ On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein - Jennifer Berne - when I even begin to think about Einstein, my head starts to whirl; but this simple and entertaining book made learning a little about his life and thoughts quite approachable, even for my young children (maybe I should say, even for my foggy brain!!)  :)
~ Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library - Barb Rosenstock - avid readers will understand Jefferson's obsession...and perhaps non-avid readers will be inspired by this comical, yet informative book
~ Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 - Michelle Markel - a wonderful example of standing for what is right, no matter how hard it is...also an inspiring reminder of the innumerable contributions that immigrants have made to our country
~ A Taste of Freedom: Gandhi and the Great Salt March - Elizabeth Cody Kimmel - by learning about one incident from Gandhi's life, children can begin to understand the essence of this world-changer whose legacy has affected millions of people around the world
~ Mama & Papa Have a Store - Amelia Lau Carling - before I read this, the thought had never entered my mind that people from China immigrated to Guatemala during World War II when the Japanese invaded their hometowns...this colorfully-illustrated book gave a very interesting look at the intersection of Chinese, Mayan, and Spanish cultures in Guatemala City
~ Clara and Davie - Patricia Polacco - this account of the early life of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, is both informative and fascinating...my favorite aspects of it are the homeschooling she received from her family when traditional schooling did not go well for her, and the very close relationship she had with her brother Davie (which, of course, reminds me of my own close friendship with my brother David, as well as Moriah's closeness with her brother David)  :)
~ Christmas Tree Farm - David Budbill - since we are able to go to a nearby tree farm and get our own Christmas tree there each year, we were familiar with the idea of growing and harvesting Christmas trees...but this book gave an interesting, thorough overview of the whole process...especially helpful, I would guess, for kids who have only ever seen Christmas trees sold at stores like Walmart or Home Depot!
~ Big Tractor - Nathan Clement - the illustrations are bold and attractive, and the text is simple; but even my kids (who see tractors regularly so it's not a novelty) enjoyed this and even learned some terms for the various farm tools that a tractor can pull
~ The Year at Maple Hill Farm - Alice & Martin Provensen - delightful and informative record of what happens on a farm during each month...the unexpected touches of humor were nice, too...we also enjoyed Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm
~ Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure - Don Brown - in case you ever wondered who the first woman to drive a car across the USA was (and even if you didn't!), this book is a very interesting account of a piece of nearly-forgotten history...fits well with a geographical study of the US, too
~ Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story - Dandi Daley Mackall - a good first glimpse into the Great Depression...but even better, a story that beautifully illustrates the virtue of helping each other
~ The Tsunami Quilt - Anthony D. Fredericks - reading Rudy Rides the Rails introduced us to the series "Tales of Young Americans," and The Tsunami Quilt is part of that...this tells the true story of a tsunami that hit Hawaii on April 1, 1946 (my birthday, 30 years before I was born!)...I think this book is excellent, but for an especially young or sensitive child, the death of the children in it might be disturbing, so I advise some caution because of that...other books in the "Tales of Young Americans" series that we've enjoyed are The Last Brother (Trinka Hakes Noble), The Scarlet Stockings Spy (also by Trinka Hakes Noble), and Pappy's Handkerchief (Devin Scillian)
~ The Kite that Bridged Two Nations - Alexis O'Neill - vivid memories of our 2007 trip to Niagara Falls came to mind as I read this book about the astonishing way the bridge across the chasm began to be built...also demonstrates focus and perseverance to reach a goal
~ The Man Who Walked Between the Towers - Mordicai Gerstein - such a fascinating book that I felt myself gasping for breath as my stomach tightened with anxiety: would he make it across?...we first read this on September 15, and I wished that I had read it to the children a few days earlier because of the tie-in to September 11...but it's a great read any time of the year!
~ People - Peter Spier - when children are young, they intrinsically consider themselves the center of the universe and assume that everyone must be similar to them...this book is a wonderful way to begin to dispel both notions...this is a great first glimpse into the vastness and complexity of the human race (and from a Christian perspective, the immense creativity of the Creator!)

Stories/Picture Books
~ The Empty Pot - Demi - when Josiah read this, the unexpected ending caught him completely off guard, to the point of him exclaiming aloud...when I read it, the ending hit me hard, too...a superb example of the value of honesty
~ Henry Hikes to Fitchburg - D. B. Johnson - inspired by the thinking of Henry David Thoreau, this cute story (with fun illustrations!) demonstrates that you don't always have to do things the "normal" way in order to succeed, and sometimes the joy really is in the journey
~ Henry Works - D. B Johnson - another one in this series inspired by Henry David Thoreau...this makes me hope that each of my children will grow up to find "work" that is as rewarding as Henry's in this book
~ Cats Sleep Anywhere - Eleanor Farjeon - simple text which is perfect for very young children, but what sold me on this was the gorgeous illustrations by Anne Mortimer
~ Make Way for Ducklings - Robert McCloskey - I like everything about this classic
~ Blueberries for Sal - Robert McCloskey - another classic...when I read this, I like to pull some blueberries out of the freezer, get out a metal bowl, and let my kids do like Sal did (well, except for the finding-a-mother-bear part)  ;-) ...it can be great math practice--and delicious, too!
~ Where's My Teddy? - Jez Alborough - with a plot twist reminiscent of Blueberries for Sal, this rhyming book was a hit in my family from the very first time we read it...it has just enough suspense for very young kids
~ Lentil - Robert McCloskey - especially fun if you get a harmonica and take it to the bathtub to practice, so you can be like Lentil  :)
~ Cars! Cars! Cars! - Grace Maccarone - my vehicle-loving boys thought this was grand!
~ The Story about Ping - Marjorie Flack - a clever way to illustrate the potential consequences of disobedience, as well as introducing some aspects of Chinese culture
~ Ten Black Dots - Donald Crews - simple and creative...good for very young kids
~ The Little House - Virginia Lee Burton - those of us who have felt stifled by cities and have longed for the country can relate well to this classic!
~ Flossie & the Fox - Patricia C. McKissack - who can resist Flossie's wit and charm?...this is a fun one to read aloud, so you can really add the sass into it  :)
~ The Tale of Tricky Fox - Jim Aylesworth - another fun fox tale...moral of the story: don't mess with a New England schoolmarm  ;-)
~ Aunt Pitty Patty's Piggy - Jim Aylesworth - lovely illustrations by Barbara McClintock add to the enjoyment of this fun story that builds on itself...a silly chain of events leads to a happy outcome in the end
~ Two Terrible Frights - Jim Aylesworth - the twist in this story of girl and mouse always makes us smile when we read it
~ The Full Belly Bowl - Jim Aylesworth - besides the funny plot of this book, we love the story because it demonstrates kindness, the need for attention to detail and obedience to instructions, and contentment
~ I Know a Place - Karen Ackerman - even though this story doesn't "fit" us (since it describes going away on a school bus), I like it very much because of the sweet harmony of the family relationships and the comfortable peace of the home
~ All the Places to Love - Patricia MacLachlan - this is one of those books that, no matter how many times I read it, never fails to bring me to tears...it's all so beautiful...the text and the illustrations combine perfectly to show how precious life in a loving family in a country setting can be...I never get tired of this one (even though I can't actually read it to my kids and have to get one of the big brothers to read it to them...and then they turn to me and ask in a puzzled voice, "Why does this make you cry??")  ;-)
~ Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? - Nancy White Carlstrom - ever since we read this book as part of the Before Five in a Row series (which I also highly recommend!), we have loved it...my favorite part? the loving relationships between the family members; it's so refreshing to see that in children's books...there are others in the Jesse Bear series, and I especially like How Do You Say It Today, Jesse Bear?
~ If You Plant a Seed - Kadir Nelson - the simple script and large, vivid illustrations will appeal to even very young children; and the message of kindness and generosity will appeal to their parents!  :)
~ A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat - Emily Jenkins - I think I enjoyed this book as much as my kids did!...it was fun for all of us to notice what has stayed the same in the past 300+ years, as well as what has changed (technology, houses, daily life, family structure, etc.)...the concept for this book is fantastic, and the way it was written and illustrated just adds to the charm
~ How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World - Marjorie Priceman - if you want to make an apple pie, but the market is closed and you can't buy the ingredients, you can simply travel the world to find them--to Italy, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and other places...a slightly preposterous book that teaches while it entertains!  :) ...we also enjoyed How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.
~ Maple - Lori Nichols - a sweet story of a girl and her tree growing up together...and then they're joined by a new tree and a baby sister!...I especially like the loving family dynamics shown in this book
~ Uncle Jed's Barbershop - Margaree King Mitchell - the beautiful illustrations in the book highlight the power of the text that tells the story of family love, loyalty, and self-sacrifice in the midst of hardship...this is a good way to begin to open the eyes of children to the injustices of racism in the South in the first part of the 20th century, and to the challenges faced by those who lived during the Great Depression
~ Ernest L. Thayer's Casey at the Bat - illustrated by Christopher Bing - more than 125 years ago, the poem "Casey at the Bat" was published and has delighted innumerable children (and adults!) since then with its build-up of tension and excitement and then its succinct conclusion...but this version of it beats all because of the rich detail in the illustrations...one could spend a very long time observing all the extras this illustrator included...masterfully done!
~ At the Same Moment, Around the World - Clotilde Perrin - helps kids move past the stage of thinking only about themselves and what is happening in their immediate vicinity, to encompass what goes on around the world...a simple concept, but very nicely done!
~ On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World's Weather - Marilyn Singer - a similar idea to the above book...clever captions add to the fun
~ Huggy Kissy - Leslie Patricelli - a very simple board book that demonstrates how much a family adores their baby...fun to act out!
~ Junk Man's Daughter - Sonia Levitin - beautifully demonstrates the dreams that immigrants had as they came to America--and the hard work they put forth to make those dreams come true
~ Imagine a Day - Sarah Thomson, paintings by Rob Gonsalves - the kind of book that demands time and thought as each page is turned...the paintings are extremely creative and fantastical, and my children and I had a lot of fun choosing which were our favorites and explaining why we felt that way
~ Names for Snow - Judi K. Beach - with cute illustrations featuring mice, and limited text on each page, this might seem like a book for very young children; and yes, they would enjoy it...but the wit was lost a little on my youngest ones; they needed some explanation to really understand why snow would be called this or that...I, on the other hand, thought it was not only lovely but also completely delightful!
~ Friend on Freedom River - Gloria Whelan - a very realistic book, with outstanding illustrations, about the Underground Railway, specifically in Detroit...the back cover says, "A tale of spirit, compassion, and the courage to do what is right when it would be safer to do nothing," and I say, "That is exactly how I want my children to live their lives"
~ What Does Love Look Like? - Janette Oke - when I was a young teen, I voraciously read Janette Oke's novels of Christian romance, so when I spotted this children's book in the library and noticed the author, it didn't take me long to decide to take it home with me :) ...it's a very sweet story with an ending that caught me off guard, in a very wonderful way!
~ Sara's City - Sue Alexander - the text is minimal (which makes it great for young children), but each word seems carefully chosen and performs beautifully...combined with the illustrations, it presents a fascinating, realistic feel for what life in Chicago in 1940 was like (not that I was alive then to experience it!)  ;-)
~ On Sand Island - Jacqueline Briggs Martin - an enjoyable tale, ostensibly about a boy who wants a boat, but on another level, about the values of community and neighborliness and persistence and creative thinking to reach a goal...delightful!
~ Raising Yoder's Barn - Jane Yolen - the tale is familiar but still enjoyable, and the illustrations are lovely, as is the text...very nicely done
~ Everywhere Babies - Susan Meyers - incredibly sweet book...I love everything about it: the simple text, the charming illustrations, the new appreciation it brings for the wonderful feat of being a baby, summed up in the closing words, "Every day, everywhere, babies are loved ~ for trying so hard, for traveling so far, for being so wonderful just as they are!"...I'll probably give a copy of this book to each of my children when they start having children!  :)

ABC Books
~ Dr. Seuss's ABC - this book practically taught my kids the alphabet (for example, here is my second son David, identifying all the letters in this book--and did I mention, he was two years old when I made this video of him?!)...if I had a dollar for every time I've read this to my kids, I'd be a much richer woman than I am now!
~ Amy, Ben, and Catalpa the Cat - Alma S. Coon - the lilting rhymes, Colonial Williamsburg-inspired illustrations, and inclusion of the historical figure of George Washington combine to make a charming alphabet book
~ The Folks in the Valley: A Pennsylvania Dutch ABC - Jim Aylesworth - I like this for its peek into Amish culture and the colorful illustrations...my kids enjoy the subtle humor in the page for "D" and the one for "J," but I like the pages for "X" and "Y" the best because of the peace and love they display
~ ABC T-Rex - Bernard Most - we enjoyed trying to find every item on each page that started with the featured letter (and were grateful for the list in the back that helped us see what we had missed!)
~ Take Away the A - Michael Escoffier - a clever way to go through the alphabet, showing how, by eliminating one letter from a word, it can become a totally new word
~ Country Road ABC - Arthur Geisert - although I've lived in/near big cities, I'm a country girl at heart, so I loved this book because it just felt like home to me!...I can imagine that for a child growing up in the city, this would be a peek into an entirely different world however!

Wordless Books
~ Journey - Aaron Becker - creative and imaginative, this was a big hit with my two pre-readers
~ Quest - Aaron Becker - another great book that continues the Journey saga...my younger boys looked through this before I did; and then when we looked at it together, they delighted in pointing out details that I didn't notice...great fun!
~ The Lion and the Mouse - Jerry Pinkney - without text, how much of this classic Aesop's fable can a child understand?  quite a bit, as it turns out!...the illustrations are stunning in this very nicely-done book
~ The Tortoise & the Hare - Jerry Pinkney - another winner from Pinkney!
~ The Arrival - Shaun Tan - my oldest son, who volunteers at our local library, brought this home from one of his afternoons there...when I took the time to sit down and really look at this, I could not believe how extraordinarily deep it is...such a surprise for a wordless book to be this moving!...the ability of this artist to capture human emotion in these illustrations is second to none
~ Billy's Button - William Accorsi - this is technically not quite a wordless book; but after reading one page of simple text to a pre-reader, the child is then ready to search on their own for Billy's button on all the rest of the pages...great for keeping a child happily, quietly, and productively occupied for a few moments!
~ Lights Out - Arthur Geisert - like Billy's Button, this has one page of text that sets the stage for the wordless pages that follow...this is so detailed and creative that it took most of my kids several times through the book before they really understood what was happening...in this case, wordless doesn't mean simple!...we also enjoyed Ice, another wordless book by this author, as well as Haystack, also by this author (but Haystack has words)

Bedtime Books
~ The Good-Night Kiss - Jim Aylesworth - one thing leads to another in this simple, sweet story that describes what is going on at night - perfect for a loving, calming bedtime tale
~ Hush, Little Horsie - Jane Yolen - if you happen to have, like I do, a child who is a horse lover, this peaceful book showing a variety of mother horses and their babies will be a delight!
~ At Night - Jonathan Bean - this author went to the college I did, so I was doubly interested in checking out his work!...this peaceful story of a city girl going to sleep (in a very unusual place, according to us country folks!) did not disappoint...my favorite part is the way her mother, unnoticed, watches out for her
~ Going to Sleep on the Farm - Wendy Cheyette Lewison - the text is peaceful, with a nice amount of repetition; but the real stand-out in this book is the illustrations...Juan Wijngaard did a phenomenal job with them...each animal scene is charming, especially the way he includes the animals already mentioned while adding the new ones; but the scenes with the father and his son are even better: you can feel the love...don't forget to check out the endpapers and find all the differences between the front one and the back one!
~ Sleepy Me - Marni McGee - sweet and simple...the real charm is in the loving involvement of both the daddy and the mommy as they tuck their baby in bed

Chapter Books
~ Five True Dog Stories - Margaret Davidson - of course, the stories about the dogs are very interesting; but I also like this book because it's not very long, so it's encouraging for readers who are just graduating to chapter books
~ Summer of the Monkeys - Wilson Rawls - even though this book was written in the year I was born, I had never read it until a friend recommended it for my oldest son to read as he was approaching his preteen years...there are funny parts to enjoy, but the real jewel of it is the way the family relationships are portrayed, particularly the choice the main character makes that benefits his little sister...precious
~ Snow Treasure - Marie McSwigan - I had never heard of this book until the fall of 2014; and after I read it to the family, I wondered why it isn't more well-known...the fact that it's based on actual events during World War II turns an entertaining story into a meaningful one as well!
~ The Trial - Jen Bryant - we got this for free during the gleanings portion of the used curriculum sale at our homeschool convention in 2015 and discovered that it was unexpectedly good!...the idea of a historical novel being written entirely in poetry did not immediately attract me; but in this case, it works splendidly...I learned more about the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh's young son and subsequent trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the man accused of the crime, than I thought possible from such a book--and was fascinated the whole time
~ Rain Reign - Ann Martin - Josiah brought this home from the library after an afternoon of volunteering there; he read it, told David he needed to read it, then told me the same...all three of us agree that it is outstanding...more than any other book I've read, this opens the door to understanding the world of autism in a wise, compassionate way

Christmas
~ Once in the Year - Elizabeth Yates - a short, sweet story which uses the same characters as another wonderful Yates book, Mountain Born
~ Miracle in a Shoe Box - Franklin Graham - I cry every time I read this story about children in war-torn Bosnia...especially meaningful since we have participated in Operation Christmas Child

Other Holidays
* Rather than repeat everything I included in this blog post about wonderful books for Father's Day, I'll just link to it (and here are five more).  :)
~ The Valentine Bears - Eve Bunting - this story of sweet "married" love always makes me smile...and the fact that the roles Mr. and Mrs. Bear play are pretty close to how I see myself and Jeff interacting (if we were bears, of course) makes me enjoy this even more...plus, Jan Brett is the illustrator, and she's one of my favorites, too

Series
~ The Little House series - Laura Ingalls Wilder - the indisputably quintessential American series...if I were stranded on a deserted island with my family and could only have one series of books, this would be it
~ The Anne of Green Gables series - L. M. Montgomery - I like this series more every time I read it; and that's saying something because I loved it the first time...Montgomery's skillful use of language makes it a pure delight to read...when I get to the end of the series, I always wish there could be more books about Anne!
~ The Billy & Blaze series - C. W. Anderson - I remember these stories from my childhood, and it's been a special joy to share them, in turn, with each of my sons...the skillfully-done black-and-white illustrations make Blaze a pony that any boy (or girl!) could want for his (or her) very own
~ The Mr. Putter & Tabby series - Cynthia Rylant - a great transition from simple picture books to chapter books, this series delights by the antics of two senior citizens who are neighbors and who happen to each have an adored pet...these books are silly and sweet and are sure to please with their gentle humor

CDs
~ Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Rock - what better way to learn multiplication facts than through music?

Movies
~ 12 Angry Men - a winner in every way - from this classic movie, you can learn everything from how to argue rationally to how to treat people - the dialogue is so attention-grabbing that you forget that all but three minutes of the movie are filmed in one rather ordinary jury room
~ Belle - this tells a fascinating aspect of the fight to end slavery in England, as well as showing the beautiful love of a couple who had to fight society and family in order that they could marry...I enjoyed every minute of this, especially Lord Mansfield's powerful proclamation, "Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall!"
~ The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition - being a documentary, the pace of the film was slower than what my kids are used to watching; but after they got past their initial surprise at that, it really drew them in...even though I knew the end of the story--that all the men in the expedition were saved--I still found my heart pounding as I wondered, "How will they survive?"...my favorite moment occurred when the men were deciding who would get the best sleeping bags after they were forced to abandon their ice-bound ship, and somehow the supposedly random lottery was rigged so that Shackleton and the other leaders got the worst sleeping bags, leaving the best ones for the men of lower rank...that's a great example of servant leadership!
~ Follow Me, Boys! - I have a special fondness for books or movies that give an overview of the life of an "ordinary" person, demonstrating the cumulative impact that he or she had, just by doing the right thing in many "little" situations...this movie did that splendidly and, despite its age, was entertaining enough to keep the attention of my children...it's clean, occasionally funny, and often touching

Websites
~ Starfall.com - my husband first learned about this website when our oldest son was two years old and we were living in Israel...I have many fond memories of Josiah sitting on my lap as we explored this website together...each child in turn has sat on my lap as I've moved the mouse and pushed the buttons for them; they they've learned to do it themselves as they've gotten older and more capable...we've benefited greatly from this site

Games
~ Spot it! - surprisingly challenging, this game is perfect for the wide range of ages in our family because non-readers can play it, but it's still intriguing for adults

Paintings
* My all-time favorite artist is, of course, my very own father-in-law, who was remarkably talented in a number of genres.  But other than his art, here are some paintings I particularly admire.  :)
~ Ernesta (Child with Nurse) - Cecilia Beaux - Beaux herself said that in this painting she hoped to demonstrate that "a child of that age is habitually led by the hand" which reminds me of the precious times I've held the hands of my little ones
~ The Way Home - Ludwig Michaelek - the warmth of the light coming from that single window (door?) is so striking and welcoming
~ The First Babe - Jehan-Georges Vibert - perhaps only to parents could a sleeping baby be so interesting to watch, but I've certainly gazed at my own children in this enthralled way  :)
~ The Hatch Family - Eastman Johnson - maybe it's because I treasure quiet evenings at home with my family when all of us can be together doing diverse things; but for some reason, this painting of a large, three-generation family appeals greatly to me

Bible Verses
~ Lamentations 2:19 - "Rise during the night and cry out.  Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.  Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children..." - sometimes in the night, I go into my kids' rooms, lift up my hands to the Lord, and pray for them in this way
~ Isaiah 54:13 - "All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace." - especially comforting for a homeschool mom who often feels inadequate for the task!

Quotes
~ "We are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness.  We speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing, not a thing to take into very serious account...the Bible again and again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements in human nature.  The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous.  It is often the one blot on an otherwise noble character.  You know men who are all but perfect, and women who would be entirely perfect but for an easily ruffled, quick-tempered, and touchy disposition." - Henry Drummond, in The Greatest Thing in the World, as quoted in I Need You Now, God, While the Grape Juice Is Running All over the Floor by Dotsey Welliver
~ "Mental floss daily with God's Word to avoid truth decay." - seen on a church sign and included in a newsletter from Home Educators Association of Virginia, January 23, 2013
~ "I've realized the secret to surviving my kids leaving the nest is to be fully present with them, looking forward to the future through the lens of their life, not backwards through the lens of my life." - Kami Gilmour, in this article

More to come...eventually!  :)

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