Book list for a seven year-old girl

Here is a list of the books Ella read on her own in 2009.
Now. I'm sure she would want me to point out that she is eight years old, not seven, but since she just turned eight in December, most of these books were read when she was seven. She's a pretty voracious reader, my girl. I think this list contains over ninety books. Sheesh!

I took my list- which was made in the order she read them- and reorganized it for you so that books by the same author are grouped together and books in a series are together.

I have read only some of these books. I have skimmed nearly all of them. (Which means I've read various paragraphs throughout the book to get a feel for the book.) Also: Ella consistently tells me when there's a "bad part" in the book. And just so you know: her definition of a bad part is when a character disobeys their parent or says the word hate.

We try to be selective about the books we choose for her/allow her to read. That being said, even in this list there are probably a few books that I would consider borderline "twaddle". However, I'd say with 90 percent of them, that is NOT the case. And: Ella has enjoyed reading even the ones I might label "twaddlish". :)

Again, I've "coded" them as follows:

* Ella's favorites to read
** my favorites for Ella to read (since I haven't read most of these books, I starred books I am most familiar with, or books that I could tell made a lasting impression (in a good influence sort of way) on my girl.)

{books from the Reading to Learn series, Christian Light Education}
***I Wonder...
***Happy Hearts
***Doors to Discovery

{Millie series, Martha Finley}
*Millie's Unsettled Season, Book 1
*Millie's Courageous Days, Book 2
*Millie's Remarkable Journey, Book 3
*Millie's Faithful Heart, Book 4
(Note: Millie is getting too old for Ella; Millie is now 15)

{Rachel Yoder series, Wanda Brunstetter}
*Back to School
*School's Out
*Out of Control
*New Beginnings
*A Happy Heart
*Just Plain Foolishness
*Jumping to Conclusions

{Books about Martha Morse, Laura's great-grandmother, by Melissa Wiley}
***The Far Side of the Loch

{Books about Charlotte Tucker, Laura's grandmother, by Melissa Wiley}
***Little House by Boston Bay
***On Tide Mill Lane
***Across the Puddingstone Dam

{Books about Caroline Quiner Ingalls, Laura's mother, by Maria Wilkes & Celia Wilkins}
***Little House in Brookfield
***Little Town at the Crossroads
***Little Clearing in the Woods
***On Top of Concord Hill
***Across the Rolling River
***Little City by the Lake
***A Little House of Their Own

{Books about Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, by her heir, Roger Lea MacBride}
***Little House on Rocky Ridge
***Little Farm in the Ozarks
***The Land of the Big Red Apple

Note: Some of the Martha, Charlotte, Caroline, and Rose books have been republished in abridged editions. You can recognize the abridgments by their photographic covers (pictures of real girls). The orginal, unabridged editions have illustrated covers. I've found that the original, unabridged editions are becoming more difficult to find, but we're still trying to track them down so that Ella can read them all. You can find a complete list of the unabridged books here.

{Dear America series}
A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620
The Winter of Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, PA, 1777
My Brother's Keeper- Virginia's Diary, Gettysburgh, PA, 1862
*Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie- The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847
Love Thy Neighbor: The Tory Diary of Prudence Emerson
*Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady (1912)
So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, An Irish Mill Girl, Lowell Massachusetts, 1847

{Moody books/Sarah Maxwell}
***Summer with the Moodys
***Winter with the Moodys
***Autumn with the Moodys
***Spring with the Moodys

{Pioneer Daughters series/ Jean Van Leeuwen}
***Hannah of Fairfield
***Hannah's Helping Hands
***Hannah's Winter Hope
{other books by Jean Van Leeuwen}
***Cabin at Trouble Creek (Mark read this book, and liked it so much that I have it bookmarked for a future read-aloud)
Bound for Oregon

{Barbara Greenwood/Heather Collins collaborations}
***A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840
***A Pioneer Thanksgiving: A Story of Harvest Celebrations in 1841
***The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad

{books by Patricia MacLachlan}
***Sarah, Plain and Tall
*Caleb's Story
*More Perfect Than the Moon
*Grandfather's Dance

{The Boxcar Children series}
Surprise Island
Mike's Mystery
Mystery Cruise
Mystery of the Dog Show
*The Campout Mystery
Houseboat Mystery

{American Girl books}
***Kirsten (all 6 books)
*The Runaway Friend (A Kirsten Mystery)

{books by Marguerite Henry}
Brighty of the Grand Canyon
Justin Morgan Had a Horse

{books by Meindert DeJong}
Along Came a Dog

Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross (Augusta Stevenson)
Go Free or Die: A Story about Harriet Tubman (Jerri Ferris)
I Remember the Alamo (D. Anne Love)
*Corn Farm Boy (Lenski)
Sacagawea: American Pathfinder (Flora Warren Seymour)
Cora Frear (Susan E. Goodman)
*Happy Little Family (Caudill)
Prince Tom (Jean Fritz)
Betsy-Tacy and Tib (Lovelace)
Shanghaied to China (Trailblazer books/Dave Jackson)
A Doctor Like Papa (Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, James Bernardin)
Sarah's New World: The Mayflower Adventure (Colleen L. Reece)
*Bread and Butter Indian (Anne Colver, *illustrated by Garth Williams!)
*Mandie collection, Volume 1 (Lois Gladys Leppard)
The Story of Florence Nightingale (Margaret Leighton, illus by Corinne Boyd Dillon)
The Wilds of Whip-Poor-Will Farm (Janet Foster)
*Linnea in Monet's Garden (Cristina Bjork)
*Whinny of the Wild Horses (Laundrie)
*Old Town in the Green Groves (Cynthia Rylant)
Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)
*Little Lord Fauntleroy (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
*The Railway Children (E. Nesbit)
Phyllis Wheatley: America's First Black Poetess

Please let me know if you have any questions about this list or recommendations for us that you may have thought of while reading this list!

School after breakfast: Narrations

The whole idea behind narration is that a child will more fully absorb what they have read or heard read to them if they narrate it, or tell it back.

Children do this quite naturally. For example, when Mark comes home from work, Ella immediately begins giving him a rundown of what's been happening. Isaac will come alongside of him and explain what he's been building or creating. Someone is always filling him in on what we've read during storytime. The retelling of events happens throughout our day.

The way we've done narrations is just an extension of this. Mark is able to join us for lunch each day, and so a couple of times a week I will ask one of the kids to tell daddy about what we read in either our history book or what we read from the Bible. I then furiously type as they tell.

Here are a few examples over the last several months:

So when the angel Gabriel came to Mary they talked to each other for awhile and then he said you’re going to have a baby and then she was happy and then she went to her friends house at Elizabeths and then they talked for awhile and stuff. Then when John growed up he was a baptism and then that’s the end.
{Isaac, age 5}

The following two entries show Isaac, then Ella, narrating the same passage:

So there was this king who was in Judah and he did mean things and he set up idols and people worshipped them and stuff and the Assyrian army came and captured him and then they went back and then when he was in prison he prayed to the Lord and then the Lord got him out and then he came back to people but they were still worshipping idols and he tore the idols down! And it was just an amazing story. {Isaac, age 5}

There was a man named Hezekiah and when he died he had a son named Manasseh and Manasseh became king when he was 12 years old and Manasseh was a very very evil king and he worshipped idols and made idols and he worshipped the idols in God’s palace that Solomon built. Then one day when he was doing these evil evil things and making people worship idols, the Assyrian army attacked him and took him away. When he was in the jail and being treated by brutal treating, he prayed to God and God made him free and he went back and God even let him sit on I think Solomon's throne and he shouted “Break all the idols!” and he tore down all the idols and he told people to worship the only God and instead of just saying “I would really really like it if you obeyed my God, instead he said: You can ONLY obey the one God.” And so they did. But some of the people still didn’t do that. And it was a very amazing story because it showed about God’s forgiveness. And he started to obey in his father Hezekiah’s ways. And that’s the end. {Ella, age 7}

And here's one of Isaias' narrations, at age 4:

Um, so... they helped Jesus on the boat and they started sailing on the water and pretty soon a big storm came and they were frightened and then they woke up and Jesus said “Master” and then pretty soon he said peace, and let the waves be still and they were still. And then they said to each other, how could the waves obey this man? And then pretty soon they kept sailing.

My only rule with narrations is that I don't interrupt a child to correct him/her. Even if Ella interrupts her own narration to say, "Mommy, I don't remember his name. Can you tell me his name?" I ask her to tell what she DOES remember, and continue with her narration. When a child is done speaking, I generally point out their errors~ (or sometimes I don't have to: one of the other kids will usually do it for me!) Sometimes I will mention, "Oh, I'm surprised you didn't tell about this part", and offer a few details of something they missed. Other than that, they are free to sift and sort the information they heard and retell it as they remember it.

This is an area I'd really like to see us grow in. Ideally, I'd like to have these 'formal' narrations occur daily around here, but in this season this is what we're able to do, and I'm fine with that.

Next year I will have Ella begin writing narrations. She does this now by way of a book report for each book she reads, but we haven't done it for our school subjects yet.

I think this officially ends the school series! I'll post Ella's 2009 book list soon and may briefly talk about Isaias' Super Star Speech at some point, but that's it for the official subjects/areas we cover. Thank you for putting up with this long and rambling series on what we do for school. :) It's been fun for me to write!

School after breakfast: Books we've read aloud

When we began reading chapter books aloud to our kids, I decided to get smart and write down every book we read aloud. I figure that way we can re-read the same good books a few years from now when everyone is a little older.

At some point I'd love to add a short excerpt of what each book was about (because although I remember now what each of these books was about, I know I'll forget), but for now I've just made note of our favorites using this little system:

* the kids' favorites
From time to time I'll ask the kids what their favorite read-alouds have been, and I've noted (*) which ones they've remembered and enjoyed.
**a favorite of daddy and mommy
I've selected our favorites (**) based on the story and content. Although all the books on this list are good books, some are better suited for reading independently, or just didn't have that "couldn't put it down" quality. These, for us, were the exceptional books; ones I know we'll want to return to.
*** then, is a favorite for ALL of us

{A (D) indicates that Daddy read that one, in the evenings before bedtime. All the others I've read.}

Here was our read-aloud list for this past year, 2009:

Mountain Born**
The Family Under the Bridge
Incident at Hawk's Hill*** (D)
The Door in the Wall (D)
Winnie the Pooh*** (D)
Rascal (D)
The King's Daughters
The Wind and the Willows (D)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory*** (D)
Twenty and Ten**
A Lion to Guard Us
Davy Crockett: From the Backwoods of Tennessee to the Alamo (D) this one was pretty dry
A Little Princess***
James and the Giant Peach* (D)
Return to Hawk's Hill*** (D)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe*** (D)
Prince Caspian*** (D)
The Boxcar Children (audio)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader*** (D)
The Borrowers*
The Silver Sword*** (D)
Treasures of the Snow***
The Sign of the Beaver***
The Silver Chair*** (D)
The Horse and His Boy*** (D)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH***
Jotham's Journey (for advent)

For those who are interested, I also have book lists from 2007 and 2008. I've also kept a list of all the books Ella read on her own in 2008 and 2009. Let me know if you'd like me to post any of those.

Next up: Narrations

Our favorite kind of gift-giving

Three years ago this Christmas, we began a new tradition of gift-giving.

It has become my favorite tradition, and I'd like to take a few minutes to share it with you.

Ella got her doll, yes. Isaac his LEGOS, and Isaias his football jersey. Adelia and Audra received gifts from us, too.

But even better, we were able to gift other children with the means to learn God's Word~ through a Bible camp or materials for a Sunday School class. We helped save the lives of mothers and babies and we were able to give money to rescue a child from bondage and abuse. Ella gave clothing and shoes to children, seedlings for fruit trees for a family, and the gift of honey bees to help a family begin a business through the sales of honey and beeswax. She also gave mosquito nets. Isaac gave little stuffed lambs to bring comfort to hurting children, and he gave a box of food containing rice, beans, soup and other staples for a family. Isaias gave baby chicks to a family and gave storybooks so that several children could hear the story of Jesus.

We do this by using the Samaritan's Purse gift catalog. The catalog itself is a much anticipated delivery and our children are quite literally jumping up and down when they see it come in the mail~ sometime in November, I think. They immediately scramble to the couch and pore over its pages, talking about what they will give this year.

Finally, during an evening close to Christmas, we sit with the catalog, all together, and select gifts to give. And then we pray for the people who will receive what we've given, and for the Samaritan's Purse workers who not only bring aid to families, but share why they do so:
"As our teams work in crisis areas of the world, people often ask, "Why did you come?" The answer is always the same: "We have come to help you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ." Our ministry is all about Jesus—first, last, and always. As the Apostle Paul said, "For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5, NIV).*
We are so abundantly blessed. God has given us so much, and it all belongs to Him anyway, so we joyfully give it. We pray that He will use it for His kingdom, that lives will be saved because of these gifts. And we hope that our children will begin early to have hearts of compassion for the poor, to be cheerful givers, and to develop habits of lifelong giving.

*Quoted from their website.

School after breakfast: Read-alouds

Reading aloud is hands-down my favorite part of school. I think it's safe to say that it's a favorite for all of us.

There's just something about cozying up on the couch, all of us together, and delving into a good story that is unmatched, in my opinion. I hope to continue reading great books together for years and years to come.

When the kids were younger, we had a routine of reading stories before naptime. I'd tell everyone to choose a story and they'd all go in search of a picture book from either the library bin or off our shelves, then pile up on the couch~ snuggling under the blanket, all warm and cozy~ and I would read aloud.

We still do this~ but it's a little more disjointed, now~ with the two little ones in the mix. Usually I read Adelia her book and then I put her down for her nap and I move on to reading with the older kids. There are some days, though, that Adelia stays with us a little longer.

Audra goes down for a later nap, so she is always with us for story time. Having these adorable girls with us just makes for a reading time that usually has one or twelve interruptions.

Now that we have moved to chapter books for the older kids, and I am juggling the little girls (who want to tear turn pages or grab at them or scramble around on top of us during part or all of this time), we don't read picture books as often as we used to. Often I'll ask the kids to choose just one for us to read, some days we'll skip it altogether and head straight to our chapter book. I know there will be an easier season than this one for more reading aloud, but we are making it work for where we're at right now.

We have one rule for reading aloud. We had to instigate this rule because I have one child, in particular, who spends a lot of time asking questions, making comments, and- often: guessing what is going to happen next and sharing every detail about the possibilites- on whatever story we're reading. Between that child with the constant interruptions and the other ones with the occasional interruption, I found that I was being interrupted about every third word and we were all getting frustrated during reading time.

So. Our rule is this: If they have a question or a comment to make, they are to grab my thumb and hold it. Then I'll know that they have something to say and will let them know when a good time will be for the question/comment. This gives me the opportunity to finish a paragraph or even get to the end of the page. We've been doing this for a couple of years, now, and it works for us!

For chapter books, I allow the kids to play quietly with their toys (Isaac will choose Legos, Isaias usually drives little cars around the living room rug. Sometimes Ella joins them but most of the time she just listens.) If they abuse this privilege by talking to one another or playing too noisily, I warn them once and then stop reading if it happens again. It's rare that I have to stop. They are usually very focused on the story and don't want to miss a thing!

I almost always read one chapter, sometimes more, sometimes less. On a day when the girls are already both down for naps and I am really in need of a little down time myself, I may only read a couple of pages. On a day when we are in a really good book and we're all eager to find out what happens (mama just as much as the children!), we'll read "just one more chapter" until we end up finishing the book! Every day, as our reading time comes to a close, the kids are asking for more: Can't you read just one more chapter? Well, just one page? How about just one word?

Generally I am doing a daytime read-aloud with the kids, and Mark has another book going that we do as a family read-aloud before bedtime.

Next up: Books we've read aloud

School after breakfast: Math

Math was always my least favorite subject in school. Ugh. That and Science. I was much happier working on an English or History paper or even an art project. I think I'll safely be able to get our children through Geometry, but when it comes to Algebra or anything beyond that: we're doomed.

That's exactly when Mark will take over the math in this house.

So far, though? We're handling it quite well.

A couple of years ago we started with Math-U-See, and Ella just never "took" to it. I'm not exactly sure why- I still think it's a great curriculum- but I could tell she dreaded doing it whenever I pulled it out. Based on my own experience, I so did not want to start her down that road.

One of the many reasons I love homeschooling is that I have the privilege of figuring out how my children learn best, and then with that knowledge, I can tailor our learning to best teach them.

So when Math-U-See wasn't panning out, I shelved it (in the hopes that my boys will use it at some later date) and began all over again. I purchased workbooks from Rod and Staff (she's currently working through the Grade 2 set), and ta-da: all of a sudden she loves Math.

It's a very straightforward book, and she is able to do most of it on her own with little help from me. She has to do three pages in her workbook every day, and she can do it on her own time. Most of the time, she is anxious to finish up with school and play with her brothers and sisters, so she often asks: "Mommy, can I do math on my quiet time?" So she does.

This right here is my favorite part of math-at-our-house:

Ella leaves me notes in the margins because she knows I'll be by later to check her work. So we leave little notes to each other throughout the pages of her math book.

What else? Oh. On Saturdays (and usually one other time during the week), she goes through her flashcards.

And that's math at our house.

Next up: Read-alouds

School after breakfast: Kindergarten

Today I'm covering Kindergarten, which we do only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

You may remember that I wasn't actually planning on schooling Isaac this year. He joins us for our memory work, Bible and history, and I thought that was enough until he began reading. But whenever Ella sat at the table with her schoolwork, he wanted some work to do, too. I had printed out some letter-practice worksheets for the boys, as well as some fun "find the items hidden in this picture"-type worksheets, but it became immediately apparent to me that he needed something more challenging. And like I said: he wanted to do school, and I wasn't about to to deny him that, so I had to do a bit of scrambling to get some ideas together for him.

The first thing we worked on was an All About Me book (thank you, Kimmie for the idea!) Isaac thought this was the greatest thing EVER, and I know it will be a treasure to look back on. Here are the pages we did, for anyone who is interested:

(Front cover)
(1) My name is...
(2) This is a picture of me:
(3) My daddy works at the ___________. This is what he looks like when he's working:
(4) We live at________________ in_________________. This is what my house looks like:
(5) My favorite things to play are:
(6) My birthday is:
(7) My favorite books are:
(8) My favorite movie is:
(9) When I grow up...
(10) My favorite thing to do with mommy is...
(11) These are some things I do well:
(Back cover)

Here are a couple of those pages:

[I just have to interject, here, to tell you that I LOVE this self-portrait of Isaac. He often wears a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap, and he has drawn that, here. And that shirt is his rendition of the Spiderman t-shirt he wears, with a big web on the front of it. I think it's so cute that he drew himself with these typical-Isaac clothes on.]

I also purchased Nancy Hall's Explode the Code, and I am so glad I did. It is perfect for where Isaac is at: he knows all of the letters by sight and many by sound, but he is not yet reading.

The format of this book just makes good sense. It is very straightforward and simple, and repetitive enough that it immediately built confidence in him. Here's an example of one of the pages (click page for larger view):

I have just ordered Rod and Staff's Grade 1 Math for him, too. We can tell he is really good with numbers and we thought it would be a fun addition to plug Math into his Kindergarten work.

Here are some other Kindergartenish things we have done:

*Leap Frog- Letter Factory DVDs
*pattern blocks
*cuisenaire rods for making words

Oh, and many of you stepped up with some great Kindergarten ideas in the comments of this post, so don't forget to peruse that if you're looking for some ideas!

Next up: Math

Back at it!

I trust that each of you had a wonderful Christmas season! We've spent this past month happily crossing everything off of our list and attending all sorts of family Christmas parties.

I am so thankful for the time off, but am feeling pretty wiped out from all the holiday festivities (read: MANY late nights, MANY days of no naps/quiet times, and just a general lack of structure to our days.) It's taken its toll on all of us. I'm feeling a LOT overwhelmed about this week: Mark is back to work, we are back to our daily routine and starting up school- and all of us are tired and not quite functioning at our best. I'm praying for extra doses of love, laughter, and patience!

I am always anxious to be back into our routine. Life is just calmer when we're all in our groove. We'll be changing a few things up around here, school-wise. We've shifted the chores for the kids, thrown some new memory work into our mornings: art cards, a catechism, and we'll be learning the fifty states by name and location. I have a new read-aloud chosen, a new artist selected for Picture Study, and we're also adding to Isaac's Kindergarten work. (I've been keeping these changes a secret and they're going to LOVE the new stuff!)

I'm also going back to keeping a breakfast schedule~ something I used to do but have fallen out of the habit of doing. [For example, Mondays=eggs/toast, Tuesdays=oatmeal, Wednesdays=breakfast burritos, etc-- but the idea is that EVERY week it's the SAME schedule.] I'm hoping that will add a little bit more calm to our mornings- at least for me!

Thank you for your patience as I took a break from this school series.

In the next few weeks we'll cover Kindergarten, Math, Read-alouds, Narrations, and Speech.

I'm always more than happy to answer any questions, too- so if you have a burning question, feel free to ask and I'll make sure to cover it.