This is Week Four of our Read the World Book Club Series. For the next couple of weeks we are going to be posting a pile of our favourite books from each continent… and you are welcome to join us on our journey. This week we are journeying to North America, along with The Simple Homeschool Folk and #Giveyourchildtheworld.
Welcome to North America
We have so many best blogging friends in North America, my kids’ god parents live in North America and some of our best friends lived in Canada for years… and yet only the father person has ever been there… in the olden days before we had kids. He did return home with some swish swag after a trip to Epcot, lucky man… and the rest of us have never crossed the Atlantic Ocean at all… though given a chance… nothing would stop us!!!
Our Favourite Books from North America
Because we have used Sonlight Curriculum for school our entire school career, it makes sense that we have covered North American History more than a few times… in lots of lovely literature rich stories. When it comes to books about North America, literally dozen of favourites spilled off the shelves as our kids tried to say… choose this one, no this one, what about this one… so here are a couple of absolute favourites…
Se7en of the Best Non-Fiction Reads for Children.
The Children’s Encyclopaedia of American History: This has been the quintessential guide to American History for us, not a book that we look things up in, but rather a book we have read together slowly and surely as we travel on a literary journey through American History. This is a book packed with maps and charts and stunning photography and really provides the details of what happened when and where and how… from the Discovery of America until the New Millennium.
Before Columbus by Charles Mann: Everyone knows that the history of America began before the “Discovery of America” and this book takes you even further back in time. It is a fascinating read… it does traverse central and south america as well, and full of incredible facts about ancient times. This book is simply packed with short blocks of information, if the publishers could use an illustration to explain something then they have. We found this book intriguing… because sometimes you have to step further back in time than an arbitrary starting point… sometimes curious minds need to know what came before the alleged beginning.
The Fifty States by Gabrielle Balkan: This book is on our wishlist for school next year… I think it may well be one of those books that end up on the coffee table and never ever leaves. while we have a pretty clear idea of the history of the States, which came arrived when and why… but we don’t know the contents of all the states, the things that set each state apart today. This book is a book full of infographics, page after page of them… and we can’t wait to dig into it.
Lives of the Presidents by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt: This past school year was the first year that we really tried our hand at memorising anything way beyond Bible verses. I know… where have we been? I just don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. A smattering of poetry, list so of amazing things, and we set ourselves the tasks of learning the American Presidents. This book has a short bit of information about each of the presidents, a little bit of back story sure does make your intentions to learn things a lot easier.
The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong: This book is a family favourite and one we have read through from cover to cover during our family school time, quite a few times already. it is a book you can dip into and read from a particular era you are learning about, but we have enjoyed reading it through from start to finish. It is a collection of true stories… arranged in a timeline. The stories include all sorts of icons of American history such a s Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere, inventions like the telephone and the Wright brothers’ flying machines… packed with stories about exploring new territories and even outer space.
The Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane: It is only right to include a biography in our list of the best of the rest… and while we could have chosen from numerous biographies of numerous famous American personalities, this one stands out for us. This is the diary of Noah Blake, a fifteen year old boy in the early 1800s. The book is filled with delightful sketches of all sorts of out door tools and equipment, things he would have needed in his everyday life. It is a fascinating read and one that has inspired our kids to try out things they have seen in the book, for themselves.
The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children’s Poems: A Collection of American non-fiction books wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful poetry book and this is one of our all time favourite poetry books. This book is beautifully illustrated, with a whole range of different genres of art, to match the poems. Poems like: Barbara Frietchie, Casey at the Bat and dozens of others… pure loveliness.
Se7en of the Best… Picture Books to Chapter Books
When it came to fiction we had no idea where to start and where to stop… so many many many favourites… these books are just a drop in the ocean of American literature for us…
Ten Little Rabbits by Virginia Grossman: A good place to start is this work of art, the ten little rabbits… which is a first glance a counting book for beginners. But in actual fact this is a book filled with Native American traditions. It is beautifully illustrated and you are drawn into the simple story, wondering at what the rabbits will get up to next. The story has a wonderful rhythm, and you will find yourself learning it off by heart very quickly.
Make Way for McCloskey by Robert McCloskey: This is quintessential America… These stories have to be every childhoods favourite. This collection of stories includes Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, among others. All stories that you feel like you are living in as you wander through the pages. We absolutely love this book and have worn it out more than once as it has been read and re-read and then read again.
The Year of Miss Agness by Kirkpatrick Hill: This is one of our families all time favourite books, we have read it aloud again and again… it is our comfort food of reading. It is the story of an Alaskan village who have a visiting teacher that they never expect to last long. But there is something about Miss Agnes that is exceptional… she has that magical quality of engaging with her students and opening up the world to them and suddenly school is no longer a cold little room n a small village – it is a vast expanse for curious little minds. This book could quite well change the way you teach your kids.
Only the Names Remain by Alex Bealer: This book describes the tragedy of the Cherokee Nation, as they were forced to journey from their homeland into exile. It was a journey that took them through harrowing conditions and really was the devastating end of a proud civilisation. It is a sad and poignant read, very thought provoking and a powerful must read for anyone trying to understand American history.
All of a Kind Family by Sidney Taylor: This is the first in a fabulous series and is the story of an immigrant family and their rich tradition living in New York at the turn of the last century. They are a poor Jewish family with five, fun loving daughters. The reader joins them on their day to day adventures… not to mention all the mischief that seems to follow the girls around wherever they go. You can’t read this book and not feel like you are part of the family… this is pure delight.
Laura Ingalls Wilder: Well we couldn’t leave Laura out of it… and she needs no introduction. We have never managed to read the whole collection out loud… we always get half way through the second one before it vanishes into thin air and I find the rest of the series has been hijacked by an adventurous reader, who has decided to read through the series on their own.
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes: Is the story of a boy caught up in the American Revolution. The book begins with a very “entitled teen” he is likeable, but becomes a lot more so through out the book as Johnny is called to raise his game and rise to the occasion again and again. Lots of familiar characters are scattered throughout the book but it Johnny that you grow to love and you simply can’t put this book down, you have to find out more about the hero of the story.
Previous Posts in this Series
You are welcome to join the club… and if you do post on instagram use the #Giveyourchildtheworld hashtag.