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The Novelty of Studying Novels

 Lead your littles as they read with novel studies

You know how I feel about reading.  I mean, seriously.  You know I want you encouraging your littles to read every day for the rest of their lives.

And not just street signs, either.

So in our homeschool we read, read, read.   And read again.  Fiction, nonfiction, stuff we’ve written ourselves.  If you’ve read my ebook, How to Homeschool Without Buying a Curriculum, then you know that picking our fiction books for the year is my first step in planning.

I started this blog with one thought in mind.  I wanted to create novel studies that other people could use to teach their kids and sell them for the low prices we homeschooling parents can afford.  But first, I had to write stuff to go on the blog.  You know, so you would come here.

I’m grateful every day that the blog became so much more than just an avenue to sell novel studies, though sometimes I do wish the universe would grant me one more day a week so I could get some more studies done.  Because busy.  Always.
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Exploring the World for What to Read Wednesday

Ideas and books for studying explorers that often get overlooked

With Columbus Day right around the corner, it’s a good time to think about explorers and how you can introduce your littles to the wonders of exploration.

This isn’t just about Columbus, though.    He’s cool to learn about, but lots of people have contributed to the knowledge of our world and universe, and it’d be awesome to teach your littles about some of them.

When we think of the Age of Exploration around here, we heart the stories of Magellan and Hudson.  I mean, it’s a little crazy that Magellan made it all the way to Asia by sailing west and died before he could get home and claim the glory.  And Hudson?  That dude went nuts.   The boys have spent plenty of make-believe time being one or the other of those explorers (or both), and I don’t really know what that says about my boys.  But they are, after all, huge Walking Dead fans, so obviously they like the gloom and doom stories.   (Yes, fellow WD fans, we are also counting down the days until Daryl.  I mean the season premiere.)

Today, let’s spread our wings beyond the usual suspects.  Exploring isn’t only about sailing across the Atlantic, after all.   Let’s look at some explorers that are often overlooked. 

Five Brave Explorers from the Great Black Heroes series

We have a very cool book called Five Brave Explorers from the Great Black Heroes series.  It tells the story of Estaban Dorantes, a man born in Morocco, who traveled to Florida with the Spanish.  With a few companions, he explored more the Gulf of Mexico coast than anyone had before.  It tells of Jean Baptiste Ponte DuSable, who founded the trading post of Eschikago, which you know as Chicago.  Mae C. Jemison, an astronaut from Georgia, who explored space on the Endeavour in 1991.

I mean, that’s the stuff.  Heroes, all.  And honestly, before we read this book, I had no idea that a determined black man founded the city of Chicago.  So ultra cool.

Women Explorers of the World

Mae C. Jemison is an awesome role model for any girl (or boy, for that matter), but there have been plenty of other female explorers.  We came across the Women Explorers series back when we first started homeschooling.  We have Women Explorers of the Mountains, Women Explorers of the Oceans, and Women Explorers of the World.  Each book contains 5 biographies of women explorers.

Florence Dixie, who lived in the Patagonia region of South America and traveled through the Andes Mountains before spending time among the Zulu in South Africa.  In the late 1800s.  Because she rocked.

Naomi James, who traveled around the world in a yacht—alone—in the 1970s.  Talk about courage.

Nina Mazuchelli who helped lead an expedition into the Himalayas in 1870.  The Himalayas, people.

There are a lot more books in this series, including explorers of the Americas, Asia, the Polar regions, and Africa.  What a great addition to a geography study!  Plus, they’re like a penny apiece on Amazon right now.  Score!

For Learning About the Usual Suspects

Around the World in 100 Years

Around the World in 100 Years was one of our favorite books for learning a bit about the explorers who started it all.  It’s kind of funny to me that the first chapter is called, “Before the explorers,” because what?  How is that even a thing.  It means, of course, before the Age of Exploration and the European explorers who started it all.  But the Vikings and the Japanese were exploring parts unknown long before that and, heck, anybody who decided to move on to unmapped territory or traveled to a new place was an explorer, right?  Humans didn’t end up all over the world by Not exploring.  But there’s a cool explanation of early maps in the chapter that sparked  my boys’ imaginations and gave them plenty to think about.

The book starts with Henry the Navigator and covers some sometimes-overlooked explorers like Bartholomew Diaz and Amerigo Vespucci, along with Columbus, Ponce de Leon, Balboa and Magellan, among others.  It’s very well-written and engaging and full of information about the dudes that changed the world.  Or at least its maps.

Great Explorers-Magellan

Even more informative is the Great Explorers series by Colin Hynson.  Set up very like a DK Eyewitness book, these books concentrate on just one explorer at a time and full of pictures and illustrations and more in-depth facts, like how the explorer prepared for his journey and a closer look at what he found.  The boys pored over these books when we studied the Age of Exploration  Seriously, they could spend hours with them.

The cool thing about studying exploration is that it reminds us that there are still plenty of places, both on Earth and beyond, to be explored.  So get exploring.  And happy Columbus Day.

What to Read Wednesday

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And now for the link up!

What to Read Wednesday mylearningtable.com

Our hosts will still share a themed selection of our favorite books each week.

If you’d like to join us as a co-host for What to Read Wednesday, please contact Anne.

Anne at Learning TableLeah at Sandy Toes Creations

Crystal at Castle View AcademyGinny at Not So Formulaic

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This list has our book themes, but you don’t have to stick to that to link up–any family-friendly posts are welcome. So, come on! Join in the fun!

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YA Book Review: A Calling of Quarrels

YA Book Review of A Calling of Quarrels by Shannon Wendtland

If you’ve not heard of Shannon Wendtland yet then you didn’t read my review of A Quarrel Called, the first novel in the Stewards of the Plane series.  Go read it.

I’ll wait.

Listen, this woman is a storyteller.  From way back.  I haven’t read anything YA lately that can compare with this.

Seriously, y’all.  I did not think it possible for Ms. Wendtland to top A Quarrel Called, but the lady has Outdone Herself.  I do so crush on a second book in a series that carries a weight of surprises and is even better than the first the book.  And A Calling of Quarrels has the stuff.  This story is one of the most believable magic stories I’ve ever read.  Ever.  Ev. er.

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Story Time: Twilight Comes Twice


Story Time: Twilight Comes Twice with crafts, activities, printables, and recipes to engage your littles while they read the picture book.

This book.   This book, y’all.  I love Ralph Fletcher, as you probably already know from my Hello, Harvest Moon Story Time.  His use of the language almost makes me cry.  I love reading gentle, lulling books with my boys, and this is definitely that.

Twilight Comes Twice is a poetic book done up in gorgeous watercolors to tell the stories of dusk and dawn.  Twilight, dusk, and dawn, are 3 of my favorite words because of the images and feelings they evoke whenever I hear or read them.  So this book plays my heartstrings like a brilliant orchestral piece.

I mean, “A crack opens between night and day and twilight slips through the crack?”

Um, more please.

I usually don’t do this, because you know I believe wholeheartedly that you should be the one reading to your kids, but if you want it read aloud with beautiful music and lovely sound effects, check out this awesome Youtube of the book.  But have the book in hand when you do.  Because books.


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