Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Booklist

Life's been a bit chaotic around here, with the wrap-up of soccer season being one of the many things eating up our days. I'm struggling with this thing called balance and how to find it while homeschooling three young kids, working part time, being a soccer mom, and having all these visions of self-sustainability. For example, it's nearing the end of May and I haven't planted so much as a tomato plant. Sigh.

As the local schools are all finishing up for the summer, we've decided that our little unschooling adventures don't really call for a long break. A box from Amazon arrived last week, and look at the goodies it contained:

Included in our new stash of books is Joy Hakim's The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way. I've been trying to find something to get Bonnie excited about science, and this series looks like it might be it! The first chapters open with lessons on distinguishing between mythology and science. The author uses examples from Genesis, sacred Hindu texts, ancient Chinese works, and others to show the difference between creation stories rooted in oral traditions and scientific theories on the formation of the universe that are firmly rooted in facts. She talks about how myths are unchanging and non-evidence based, while science is constantly evolving as we learn more about the world around us. I love it! We also ordered a little Student's Quest Guide, but the verdict is still out on that one. I like it, but Bonnie is kind of adverse to anything that involves, well, writing.

I also picked up the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fossils, so that Jack and I can identify the trilobites and other fossils we find together.

We're not quite finished with The Story of the World: Volume 3 , but will continue a chapter per week during the summer and start with Volume 4 as soon as we've finished. The authors really try to make the books non-Western centric, and though they don't always succeed, Bonnie loves the narratives and I find them a great starting off point for moving through history chronologically.

To help counterbalance some of the history according to Dead White Men, we picked up Howard Zinn's A Young People's History of the United States, which shares the too-often untold stories of women, slaves, immigrants, Native Americans, and workers. It came highly recommended by Jennifer at Home for Good, and we look forward to reading it. She also suggested The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math: 24 Death-Defying Challenges for Young Mathematicians, and I'm excited to work through that right away.

Bonnie just finished reading Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor, a photo journal depicting child laborers in the early nineteen hundreds. She flew through it, and it's hard to described how moved she was seeing pictures of those children, some of them even younger than Fred (who is only four.) This book should be required reading in every middle school. I want my children to know that we don't have to wonder what will happen if workers' rights and labor laws continue to be attacked.

The last book in the box isn't for the kids: Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. Though we rarely attended church when I was growing up, my parents were raised as staunch Catholics, and I received a hefty dose of trickle-down guilt. This should be a fun read.

What's everyone else reading this summer?


  1. Reading Structural Yoga Therapy (Mukunda Stiles) & and audio version of Cannery Row (John Steinbeck) for me.

    I have started the kids on the Percy Jackson series (audio)--fitting as we studied Greece this winter/spring. The boy is slooooowly reading his way through the 2nd Eragon book (Eldest).

    The girl will read Ivy and Bean (when I ask her to "read to me"). Otherwise, she's more interested in building a homemade "Ponyville" in her toy room. She'll read picture books to herself, too.

    Neither of my kids is the reading geek I was, but then-- I didn't have the internet when I was a kid. It was reading or brain-numbing boredom at Grandma's all summer. (Daytime soaps, anyone?).

  2. I'm thinking about getting Perfectly Perilous Math, how do you like it so far?

    1. With Bonnie having camp and other summer activities, we haven't done much with it so far, but it looks great! I will let you know once we really break into it.