Wednesday, July 27, 2011

School Year Planning [part two] - The Books

I don't know if I'm the only one, but sometimes I think that I chose to homeschool just so I could justify buying lots of books!!

Depending on which of the six people in the household you speak to our favorites run the gamut. With an age range of 21 months - 37 years we own bath books, board books, lift-the-flap books, touch and feel books, picture books, coloring books, early reader books, chapter books, reference books, classic books...the list goes on and on.

While I have pared down much of our collection, it is hard to enjoy all of our great books if they are not somewhat organized.

This brings me to how much I enjoy that each year our curriculum focuses on a particular time period and this year being Cycle Three we will focus on American History, Modern scientists, poets, artists, composers, writers, etc. Having done this cycle once before, I was extremely giddy to unpack my resources and look over what I hadn't laid eyes on in three years. Goodness, Jackson was only 5, Haviland was 3 1/2, Bennett was 1 1/2 and Whitaker was nowhere around!

I thought for sure that I was the only one to recall much of what was in the box, but as I opened the lid, Jackson and Haviland were all hands and shouting "I remember this book!" "Look how funny I wrote my name then!" "Mom, do we get to build our body in science again?"

The moment reminded me of Christmases past when my mom would pull out all the ornaments with great anticipation to trim the tree, but we'd get easily sidetracked as we reminisced about each thing we pulled out of the box.

While I am sure they don't remember much as I think, what I was most thrilled at is that they seemed to be getting reacquainted with old friends. I love that about good books.

Okay, I went off on a rabbit trail there, but my point is that by having less books accessible to them at once makes them notice what they have and hopefully they will be able to enjoy them deeper.

So, here is a look at how we organize the children's books.

  • Favorites: We keep favorites by their bedsides for them to read at any time. These are books solely of their choice- primarily favorite picture and story books and I never bother or move them except to clean up or repair torn pages.

  • Library books: We try (although never completely succeed) at keeping those on the living room side tables or in the library bag. Our house and car seem to eat library books faster than I can turn around so I am fairly diligent about making sure these stay in one place for fear of ginormous fines - right Ali??? :)

  • "Quiet time" books- for lack of better words, these are books that I have chosen that fit into our curriculum, but I don't assign reading from these. These books are for them to explore on their own.

For quiet time in the afternoon they have one hour to either color, draw, or read from two shelves on a bookshelf in the play room.

Books I have chosen for Haviland are on the top left, Jackson's are on the top right and books that are for either are in the top middle and on the bottom shelf. Most of the books on the bottom shelf are resource books but they love taking them out and looking at the pictures in them. I have changed these out to reflect much of what we will will be focusing on in Cycle Three.

Bennett has his own bookshelf filled with early readers -no, he isn't reading, but at 4 he enjoys these "big boy" books- Go Dog Go!, Frog and Toad, Bob Books, Dick and Jane, Mouse Soup, Tea for Francis, Berenstain Bears, etc.

He is also immensely enjoying these small resource books (about the size of my hand) and a picture dictionary (think "First Words" dictionary, but with 12,000 words.

  • Read-Alouds: These are books that I choose to read aloud throughout the year. At this stage of life I read one every 6 weeks so we get about 4-5 books in a year which isn't fantastic, but as much as I'd love to read the entire "Little House" series aloud this year, I'd have to cram them in and who wants to rush that journey???  So for this year,  I think I've whittled my read-alouds down to Little House on the Prairie, The Secret Garden, various poems by Robert Frost and Robert Lewis Stevenson, Number the Stars, and if I can handle it time-wise and emotionally- Where the Red Fern Grows.

I'd love to hear where everyone else purchases their favorite books and how you organize them. Almost every single one of these has come from our library's discarded book sale, yard sales, Marshall's/Ross/TJ Maxx, or 2nd & Charles.

In Part Three I'll be focusing on the needs of each child.

And now, some great quotes to leave you with. :)


"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall."
— Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions nor regret the loss of expensive diversions or variety of company if she can be amused with an author in her closet."

— Lady Montagu, providing advice on raising her granddaughter, 1752

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
— Groucho Marx

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