Tag Archives: books

To Read or Not to Read – What Kind of Question is That?!?

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It’s hard to believe January has arrived and with it a blank slate of fresh starts and new beginnings. I love restarting homeschooling with a new schedule and a renewed sense of direction. And making goals for a new year is always exciting.

January is also a good time for reflecting on the past year, and I am excited to say that I accomplished my reading goals for the year! I made some changes to my reading plan as I went as it became evident that I had chosen some books that weren’t what I wanted or needed to read. But before the last day of each month, I had finished whatever book I had set out to read. And because of what I had chosen, I went to see a live showing of Les Misérables and met author Doris Kearns Goodwin! It was an exciting year-much of which was “spent” in the 1800s with my good friend Abe Lincoln. (I have a secret crush on old Abe, but that story is for another time.)

While I was spending time in the French Revolution or amongst the streets of Washington or learning a new thought regarding parenting, however, some other areas of my life became very, well, um, unpolished. My house began collecting more dust than I like, and my blog has needed a good old dose of elbow grease as well. I’m going to try to work a little more on keeping other areas of my life up to date as I read this year. But before all these things, my kiddos have to have their time, so my house and blog may still get a little dusty here and there.

I want to share with you the books I read this year and those I plan to read this year, and I really want to encourage you to make a similar list. I wish I had started sooner! I jotted down some ideas to help you make and keep a plan. Hopefully you will enjoy revisiting the world of words as much as I have!

Some Tips for Making Reading Goals…

  1. Choose a plan that is doable for you. If you haven’t read in a while or have minimal amounts of time, maybe you can plan to read a book every couple of months. Most of us have a crazy lot of things going on in our world, but my guess is a little less time spent on social media and watching television will give you a good amount of time to read a chapter or two each night. But DO plan to read, and make sure you accomplish your goal!
  2. Select books that make you want to read. Choose books that are helpful in your stage of life, are from an exciting time period, or are popular. You can get good book suggestions from a librarian, friends, or other people’s book lists. (Like mine below!) Another way I like to find books to read is to look up a book I really liked on Amazon and check out what other people purchased with that book.
  3. Utilize your own bookshelves and your local library. This last year, I listed a few books I owned and had never finished (or even started!) and a few I wanted to get at my library. Excepting a couple of e-books I purchased to read on my phone, I didn’t spend any money reading the books on my list this year. Our library has interlibrary loan options that allow me to request books that they don’t carry – like the book I checked out on chickens when I wanted to start a coop in my backyard. (This story is also for another time!)
  4. Be flexible. If you start reading a book that is just not for you, give yourself permission to change things up. But keep in mind that most books are hard to get into for a few chapters.
  5. Keep things varied and stretch yourself a little. Read a variety of types of books – old and new, nonfiction and fiction, helpful books and entertaining books. I love to throw in some biographies and classics. They are a lot of fun to read, and you really feel cultured when you’re done. (Cultured is a feeling most mommas don’t experience. Well, unless you count cultured milk that an infant projects down your shoulder!)
  6. Get excited about accomplishing your goals. Maybe you reward yourself with tickets to see a play, the purchase of a new book, or a night out with coffee and your next book. Make it fun and exciting to revisit the world of reading.
  7. Find someone who will keep you accountable. I knew I was going to have to post on this blog if I didn’t finish a book, and that was very motivating for me. I also had friends who asked me how my reading was going, and my husband did his own reading along with me. It’s good to have people around you check in with you on your goals –and this is true for any goals you set.

Okay, now for the fun… Here are my booklists, past and future. This year, I wanted to read more than 13 books, but I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with everything if I picked two a month. So my plan for 2014 is to read three books every two months. This way, I can get started on a book if I finish one early one month and finish it up along with another book the next.

Books I Read in 2013 – about 5,000 pages!
JanuaryEducating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson
FebruaryGood and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
MarchWordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson
April For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay
MayThe Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
JuneKilling Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
July What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings – and Life by Laura Vandekam
August Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
SeptemberTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
October Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
November Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason
DecemberThe Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight by Heidi St. John
BonusHints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumball

Books I Plan to Read in 2014
January
A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
February
The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children by Sally Clarkson
Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series Vol. 2: Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason
March
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
April
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Blood Brothers: The Dramatic Story of a Palestinian Christian Working for Peace in Israel by Elias Chacour
May
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
June
Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants by Douglas Wilson
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
July
The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken
August
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
September
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
October
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea
November
The Bully Pulpit: Theordore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
December
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noël Piper
Bonus Books to Read with My Hubby
Hints on Child Training by H. C. Trumbull (This is a repeat from last year!)
The Duties of Parents by J. C. Ryle

I would love to hear from you about what books you plan to read. Happy Reading in 2014!

A Reading Rundown: Good ideas from Great Books

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I have been a plugging along reading these last few months, and what fun it has been! I wanted to share some of what really stuck with me after the books were closed and put away. After all, there are scores of reviews found on books on the Internet….I wanted to share something different. Be advised that these are not necessarily main thoughts, just the leftover parts…like the fat build up on my thighs after I’ve eaten too many skillet cookies, or something like that!

JanuaryEducating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

  • Rest is for mommas, too! I don’t like to admit I need rest, and I think naps are overrated. But I have discovered, especially as I homeschool, that a short rest (for me that’s reading a book or scrapbooking) is just what I need! I get the kids all settled, and enjoy about 20 minutes of undisturbed peace and quiet. And, what’s more, I don’t allow myself to feel guilty for it!
  • Instead of a movie night, try cuddling up with popcorn and other snacks for a “reading night!” We gave this a try and loved it! I am anxious to try it with an audio book – I was too busy reading to eat popcorn.
  • Limit phone use (and other technology) to really “get something done.” This is pretty basic, but served as a good reminder to leave my phone away from the area where we do school. It was so helpful! I need to try that again!

FebruaryGood and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

  • “Come when you’re called” is pretty self-explanatory. But I love the way the authors encourage you to get near to your child and for them to get near to you to discuss things. How often are we yelling, “Would you clean up your toys?” from the kitchen? And then we wonder in amazement that our kids annoyingly holler at us! We’ve been practicing having the kids come to us when we say their names. We’re still a work in progress on this.
  • The authors introduce the term badgering to refer to a kid pestering, relentlessly, to get a parent to change an answer. My kiddos, as young as they are, try this technique now and then. After explaining to them what badgering and bullying were, I now simply say, “Mommy said you can’t do that right now. Since you’re asking again, I am feeling bullied.” They actually apologize on their own, and move on to other things! This one has been so useful in our house!
  • When you give a child a task, it’s so important to follow-through, or check in with them. You can ask them to let you know when they’re done, or you can simply watch them accomplish it. This has been helpful in helping our boys follow through with our requests, instead of finding out hours later that a bed was never made. Reduces momma’s blood pressure just a bit!

MarchWordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

  • My favorite quote from this book is, “Read until your brain creaks.” Man, I love that thought. It makes me just want to read and read. He encourages readers to have 20 books going at once – a dangerous thought for this half-book-reader-who-doesn’t-always-finish-the-book! But it’s encouraging, too, that you can pick up a book – from an array of choices – that best suits your mood!
  • Stretch yourself – write a genre you wouldn’t normally write or read something you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll be stretched and maybe enjoy something more than you thought!
  • Don’t worry about the fact that you will forget most of what you read – rest in the thought that you have been shaped by it

April For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

  • Forming good habits with the kiddos is so worth the time. Having good habits for the everyday and mundane frees up a kiddos mind (and a momma’s!) to think about more important things! I have been making a list of the habits I want to better instill in my kids (like what to do when we finish our work early, how to best leave the table after dinner, etc.) so I can focus on bigger ideas with my kids.
  • Kids need to be outside – often. The best education comes not within the four walls of a building, but in the world around us – God’s creation. As much as I don’t like bugs, letting the kids capture and examine a grasshopper can teach far more than any textbook on the subject.
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The words of Jesus. Simple ones that I have heard hundreds of times. But I have never been encouraged to apply them to my life as a mom. So powerful.

I hope you’re keeping up with reading a book or two each month of your own! I would love to hear how a book has recently impacted your life as a woman, a wife, or a mom!

Stay tuned – later this week I have a fun craft to share!

 

Read an Entire Book? Check!

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On January 30th (with a whole day to spare!) I finished reading Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Yay! I was way excited to compete a book (all 376 pages, thank you very much!) – and I couldn’t have chosen a better book to kick off my reading challenge!

I loved soaking it all in – and I am pretty sure I underlined a fourth of the book! If you homeschool, or think you might, this is a homeschooling “textbook” of sorts with many helpful tips and insights. I plan to reread it again in the future, as I am sure I would get something more out of it the next time I get a chance to read it. (Book List 2014, anyone?)

I hope you’ve made a reading challenge for yourself. You wouldn’t have to choose as many (and certainly not as few) books as I have listed. Even one book this year could be a very rewarding goal! I once heard a wise man say that a busy mom could get through a 300+ page book easily by reading just one page every night before bed – how encouraging is that thought?!

And while you’re at it, what a great goal it would be to choose a book each month to read out loud to your kiddos! We read several books a month here because we homeschool, but even working mommas can enjoy some cuddle time with a great book and a sweet little one or two! We have just cherished the shared “memories” of the wonderful books we are reading! (Who can get enough of the Little House on the Prairie series?!?)

“Take a look, it’s in a book, a reading rainbow.” Oh that good ol’ Reading Rainbow song! Now that that’s stuck in your head, I’ll close.

Happy reading!

 

Below is a recap of my (perhaps overambitious) list of books I am reading:

JanuaryEducating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

FebruaryGood and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

MarchWordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

April For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

MayThe Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

JuneKilling Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

July What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings – and Life by Laura Vandekam

August The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten by Martha and William Sears

SeptemberUncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

October When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg

November Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

DecemberCharlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason

BonusHints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumball

13 in 2013: A Book Challenge

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I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think I have ever even made one. But January is a fresh time for new resolves and goals. Something about it lends to renewed starts and refocus.

So this year I have made a non-resolution to attempt to completely (key word here) read 13 books this year. I love to read but, since having kids, have failed to make completing books a priority. I don’t know if I have undiagnosed ADD or what, but I read a book until it bores me (or another book promises to be more exciting) and then add it to my large pile of books in process. I have a baby or two and then realize I have “been reading” some of the books for years!

And so I give you the books I want to read each month for 2013. I hope this can be an encouragement for some of you to make lists of your own. After all, in the words of Douglas Wilson in his book I partially read, Wordsmithy, you should “read until your brain creaks.” I love that thought.

January
Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

February
Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

March
Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

April
For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

May
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis

June
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

July
What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings — and Life (ebook) by Laura Vandekam

August
The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten by Martha and William Sears

September
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

October
When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg

November
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

December
Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason

Bonus Book (I downloaded this on Kindle to read when I steal a quick minute or two!)
Hints on Child-Training by H Clay Trumbull

If you take up this challenge, I would love to know what books you’re reading!
Happy Reading!