Copywork for the boys, 2012-13

Charlotte Mason wrote:

“A Child should Execute Perfectly. No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course…Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes. If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it to-day, let him go on to-morrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph. So with the little tasks of painting, drawing, or construction he sets himself--let everything he does be well done… Closely connected with this habit of 'perfect work' is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand. The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished.”

The idea is quality over quantity, which is why last year I had the boys copy just one letter at a time, and execute that letter to the best of their ability just three times.  I used to go for quantity- (poor Ella!) but have since learned that everyone is happier if I assign less but expect it to be done WELL. (So even though I toyed with the idea of having them copy George Washington's Rules of Civility (we are studying American History, after all!), I decided against that and am stepping up from one letter a day to one word a day.)

I decided to do the books of the Bible-- something we've done in the past for memory work-- but this will serve as copywork for this year and a refresher on the books of the Bible.  Handy!

So, in their copywork jar are two copies each of each book of the Bible.  They'll each draw one out, find where it goes (I've lightly penciled in all the books of the Bible on the left-hand side, in order), they'll tape or glue their slip of paper over my word, and then write the word (once!) in the space on the right-hand side.  Eventually they'll have written all 66 books of the Bible, in order!

*UPDATE: Annie asked in the comments if I'd be willing to give this information out so that she could use these copywork pages, too.  I am completely willing, always.  (Honestly- I had thought about posting it but then was all, "Well- that's sort of presumptuous to think someone might want it." so I didn't.  But goodness!  Ask and I am always happy to share!  :)But apparently it's impossible to post pdf documents in Blogger, so I've posted them into Google docs. (This is the first time I've done this, so I hope it works for you.  Please let me know if you try it and it does work.)

For the link for the copywork pages, click here. (you only need to print page 1.  page 2 is blank.)

For the link for the listed books of the Bible, click here.
*August 3rd UPDATE: Grr.  My little plan to post those into Google docs did not work.  Sorry!  If you're interested in the files, just email me and I'll email them to you.  Several of you have done so and that is working just fine.  :)  (If anyone knows another way for me to make them accessible here on the blog, let me know!)

Isaac's dinosaur exhibit

Copywork for the boys

{I was going to blog about my plan for the boys' copywork this coming year, and realized that I had never posted about what they did this past year.  I found a draft of a post I'd started about their copywork, so I'll finish that up here and then in my *next* blog post I'll tell you what we're doing for this coming year.}

 * * * 

My goal this year for the kids' copywork was QUALITY over quantity.  I made the boys (Isaac- 2nd grade, Isaias- 1st grade) their own copywork jar, but reaaaaallly simplified it.  I just wrote out lowercase and uppercase alphabet letter sets for each boy (Isaac's on green paper, Isaias' on blue paper), and dumped them into a jar.

Here's what their copywork paper looks like

Each day, they pull out a letter and write it- carefully- three times.

Then once a week-- on Fridays-- I had something called "Copywork Draw", where they'd instead draw a short word, and then a draw a picture of that word.

And that was it.  Super fun to see their illustrations, especially.  I love their drawings so much

Laundry room makeover

I think the key to living in small spaces is being able to re-examine your space, over and over again, and be willing to change it up. (It's why I'm constantly rearranging furniture, and pulling that table from the other room to use here in this room, or using that dresser here because it fits better or suits us better for this season, or... you name it: the options are endless.)

Our three girls share a small room.  We've got two twin beds and a trundle (that is always pulled out) and there is not much additional space.  We had a bookshelf and two dressers in their room and Adelia's clothes were in bins beneath her bed.  It was all rather squishy.

Then there is our laundry room, which is a fairly large room (for our home) and where I have my sewing stuff and where we keep our printer.  The laundry room had also become a sort of catch-all for All Other Random Things (gift bags, yarn, photo albums, bins of clothes the kids have outgrown, bags to consign, a chair that no longer fit in our playroom, etc).

A few weeks ago I decided to clean up the laundry room and get rid of stuff.   In preparation for that, I was talking to Mark about it (Where do you want me to put the chair that's in there?  Where else can I move the shelving?) and suddenly an idea occurred to me: What if we moved the girls' dressers and clothes out of their room and used our laundry room as a changing room?  That would solve our other problem about the girls' room being too crowded!-- and if I'm going to be cleaning anyway, I might as well rearrange the space!

So... that's what I did.  We ended up deciding to move ALL the kids' clothes in there, boys and girls.  We bought some closet shelving (one for hanging up the clothes, another for my sewing area) and some bins, and this is what we came up with:

The bins at the top have labels like: CONSIGN, KNITTING PROJECTS, YARN, FABRIC SCRAPS, and PATTERNS.
Bonus for Audra (and us, since she changes 5x a day): she can now reach her dresses!
(To the left: our printer, then sock and pajama bins for each of the boys, and on the bottom are shelves containing some of Adelia's clothing.)
My sewing table now also doubles as a folding table.
My sewing area all tidied up, which should inspire me to sew again, right?
Now that we have all the clothes (except ours) in one room, there is no more carrying hampers of laundry from one level of the house to the other, nor are there hampers of clean laundry sitting on my couch waiting to be folded.  (!)  All of the washing, drying, sorting, folding, and putting away happens in that one room. 

Also, to cut down on time spent sorting, I made a new laundry schedule:

Monday > girls
Tuesday > towels and sheets
Wednesday > boys
Thursday > daddy and mommy
Friday > girls
*Saturday > one load of boys clothes
*recently added, because the boys' dirty clothing was piling up fast

Now- why I didn't have that system before (only certain "groups" of clothing on certain days), I don't even know.  But it has been WONDERFUL in terms of cutting waaaaay back on time spent sorting.  It's sort of revolutionary to me- still- to only be dealing with girls clothes on Mondays: only sorting, folding and putting away girls clothes!  And!-- their dressers are just steps away!  I LOVE IT!  We all do.  It's been such a blessing already.

[Credit for this brilliant idea goes to my friend Amy, who moved shelving and clothes into her laundry room years ago.  If she hadn't done that I don't think I ever would have even considered our laundry room as an option for housing clothing, too.]

New chore chart

our new chore chart, posted on the fridge

"New chore chart" was also on my school planning list.  Check!

I like to get these done during the summer so that we have a couple of months to get the kinks out.  The kids all examined it carefully and Ella even told me she's excited, and that she wasn't disappointed about anything I listed for her.  So that's a good start, right?

New to us this year: I've assigned a "breakfast helper" for each weekday morning: someone who will "report" to the kitchen a half-hour before breakfast and assist me in getting breakfast ready and setting the table.  Benefits to this:
-The kids often want to help, but I can't always utilize all of them and I'm hoping this will decrease the squabbles over who gets to help.
-This will give me help for the one meal I am most anxious to get on the table on time (because it marks the start of our school day).
-For breakfast, I have a particular item assigned to each day of the week (ie: on Mondays we have eggs/toast/bacon, on Tuesdays we have oatmeal, etc...)- so this means that the kids will be working on the same meal every time they're a helper, and thus: perfecting the making of that particular meal.  RIGHT? 
-They're all especially excited about this.  Even Audra is going to help me get cereal on the table on Thursdays.  :) 

Fifth grade copywork plan

Iriemomma mentioned in the comments that she was anxious to see my plans for the upcoming school year, and asked if I would be sharing them.

My reply to her was that I hoped to, as time allowed.

Since I happen to have time NOW (it's amazing how free my schedule is without school!  It really makes me realize what a HUGE undertaking it is during the year to do what we do.  I would like to hug every single homeschooling mother and say to them: "Great job!  Thank you for your commitment and dedication and time and research and in-the-moment problem solving and planning and managing your home and making those meals and taking care of the babies and toddlers all the while helping your child with a story problem or settling a dispute with your other children and--- all of it.  It is amazing, the work that you do.  YOU are amazing."  So if you're reading and you are a homeschooling mom, consider yourself hugged and encouraged.  I admire you.)

Anyway- I realized that since I happen to have time NOW, I should try to post what I plan to do with the kids when we start up again in the fall.  I don't have everything planned out yet, but some I do, so I'll share as I go.

Here's one thing I have planned:  Ella's copywork.  I've decided to change things up a bit this year.  In previous years I have had her draw from the copywork jar every single day.  I'm not going to do that this year.  Instead, I've selected eighteen verses from the King James Version (not our usual version), and have filled the jar with those verses.  I tried to select verses that give a visual picture.   I'm going to encourage Ella to carefully write the verse, in cursive, and then draw a picture to go along with it.  (Or, if she'd rather, for some: just make her cursive large and calligraphy-ish and add a border around the edges.)  My intent is for her to: (1)carefully practice her cursive, (2)be able to draw, which she loves, and (3)create a finished project by the end of the school year: a book of illustrated Proverbs (we'll add all pages into a nice notebook or bind it as a little "book" somehow.)

Eighteen verses works out to one verse every two weeks, which is why it's so different than our daily-copywork of the past.  But Ella does a lot of writing every day, so I'm not concerned about it.  My only concern is that she is such a perfectionist, and I think she might be anxious about messing up during the actual execution of her drawing.  My guess is that she'll write the verse beautifully and then begin her drawing, mess up, and want to start all over, so I'm trying to figure out a way around that.  (Have her do it all in pencil, first?  Do the handwriting on a separate piece of paper and then cut and paste onto a completed drawing?  I'm still thinking it through-- your ideas are welcome!)

I've listed the Proverbs I selected below, if you're interested:

* * *

Proverbs 3:3, KJV
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.

Proverbs 3:9-10, KJV
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

Proverbs 4:18, KJV
The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Proverbs 4:25-27, KJV
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 8:34, KJV~ read more for context before illustrating
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
Proverbs 12:25, KJV
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

Proverbs 12:28, KJV
In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

Proverbs 13:9, KJV
The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

Proverbs 13:20, KJV
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 14:27, KJV
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Proverbs 18:10, KJV
The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

Proverbs 15:3, KJV
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 15:29, KJV
The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Proverbs 20:12, KJV
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.

Proverbs 21:13, KJV
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

Proverbs 22:2, KJV
The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.

Proverbs 24:20, KJV
For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

Proverbs 6:20-21, KJV
My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.

Studying nature with Miss Mason

A few months ago at Goodwill, I spotted (then purchased) three volumes of The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason.  We do a lot of Charlotte-Mason-ish schooling around here (living books, nature study, picture study, etc) and yet I've never read her work, other than excerpts online from time to time, and heavily-quoted books about her methods.

Recently I've begun reading Charlotte Mason's first volume, Home Education.  I am pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it has been to read her words.  I think she knew the mind of a child very, very well- and set about to engage within each child an interest in the things around them.

I have been particularly re-inspired by her words about really seeing and observing the natural world.  I read an idea of hers last night aloud to Mark:
It is a capital plan for children to keep a calendar- the first oak leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when.  The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations.  Think of the zest and interest, the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions. 
{Just as an aside: I am quite delighted by the fact that Miss Mason used the word "capital".  I might have to start sneaking in that phrase around here: "Kids, I think it would be a capital plan if you chose to do your chores right now."  And another aside:  I think we might have to work on that bit about "daily walks".  Yipes.}

I digress.  Anyway- don't you think that's a great idea?  I know that my Ella would LOVE such a project: a clean calendar with blank squares to fill with firsts.  I don't know about a cowslip or a catkin, but just think of the possibilities: the first robin spotted, the first acorn found, the first snowfall, the first fallen leaves, the first bloom, the first pumpkin, the first little plant coming up in the garden, etc.  Goodness, even I want to do it!  And just think of all the possibilities for little drawings.  

So I'm trying to figure out how to build that in to our school year.  In the meantime, I am inspired to be an observer of the beauty God has created: to slow down, to take the time to see it (and to draw it!)

Today when Ella asked me what she might do, I suggested she get out her nature journal and draw things around the yard.  She wanted to, but didn't know where to start, so I said, "Why don't you wander through the yard and collect different leaves and start drawing them?"  I set up a spot in the shade, she got her journal and pencils and some leaves, and went at it.  A couple minutes into it she was frustrated.  (She's such a little perfectionist, that girl.)  I told her to wait a sec and I'd get my own journal and we could do it together.  So we did.  After a few minutes Audra joined us... then Isaias.... then Isaac.  Here are our drawings:

Three-year-old Audra's nature drawings: see that flower there on the right-hand side?  

Isaias's strawberry leaf (traced)

Isaac's leaves (also traced).  I think.
Ella's drawings: a strawberry leaf and berry, and a hydrangea leaf and petal.

Detail of my page.  (I'd forgotten how much I like to draw!)

Our homeschool library

Jodi asked a question on my previous post (hi Jodi!  Oh my goodness!  Has your blog disappeared?  I was going to link to you but can't find you! :() that I thought I'd quickly respond to with another post.  Especially since it's Mark's day off and I have a bit of extra time right now.  Here is Jodi's question:

"Out of curiosity... do you buy most of the books your family reads for the school year? You must have lots of books. :)"

Yes, we buy most of the books our family reads for the school year.  That said, nearly all of the books we buy we purchase at Goodwill (for 79¢/book) or at garage sales (even cheaper!),  at library book sales or used book stores.  It is very rare that we will buy a book for full price.  (Our total budget for homeschooling is $20/month, so.. yeah- we don't buy much at full price.)  Searching for cheap, *good* books has become one of our hobbies.  And we find them, all the time.

We frequent our local Goodwill about twice a month, and our family is usually scattered throughout the book section- the girls are in the cart, reading books; the older three kids are on the floor, reading books, and Mark and I are perusing the shelves for good books to add to our collection. 

When Mark and I went away for our anniversary, we stopped at a handful of Goodwill stores along the way.  This is what we came home with:

As for how many books we have, here's a picture of some of our books: 

A few years ago we purchased five tall black bookshelves (cheap: we got each one for maybe $19 at Big Lots) for our basement and we have one other bookshelf down there.  Those are our books, and it is from the books on those shelves that we study history and choose many of our read-alouds.  We know ahead of time what period of history we're studying so we keep an eye out for certain books within that time period.

Every thing else we check out at the library.

With five kids and our decision to homeschool them, and our appreciation for good (living) books, we figure it's a good investment to build somewhat of a library for our family. 

Hope that helps!

If anyone else has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them!

Read-alouds: our favorites

Thus far my major accomplishment in the school-planning category {thank you, Lord!} is this: I have collected all the books we're going to be reading next year.  This includes our read-alouds, our history selections, and lists of books I'd like to check out at the library to accompany the books we own.  Also, the kids' assigned reading shelf is filling up (and Ella and Isaac are itching to get their hands on them).  I am so thankful because that is a HUGE part of my planning.  We read a lot of books, and this year we're tackling more than ever.

Today I sorted the books I'll be reading aloud and checked in with Mark to see what he'd like to read to the kids.  That got me thinking about some of our favorite read-alouds to date, so I thought I'd share them with you, with notes following some of the titles, especially the lesser-known ones:

* * *

Incident at Hawk's Hill and Return to Hawk's Hill, Allan Eckert
     -The story of a shy, six-year old boy named Ben who wanders from home one day and gets lost- for months, but befriends a badger in the process. (based on a true story.)  Our kids were riveted- and while we read this a few years ago, now- it remains a family favorite. 

Charlotte's Web, E.B. White 

Heidi, Johanna Spyri
     -I blogged about how much we loved this book here.

Toliver's Secret, Esther Wood Brady
     -I honestly can't even remember much of this book, but I starred it on my list at the time (a few years back) as a favorite of the kids'.  I double-checked with Mark, who had read it aloud to them, and he assures me they really liked this story.

Wait for Me, Watch for Me, Eula Bee, Patricia Beatty
     -from Amazon: "The heart-pounding story of a Texan boy's transformation to a Comanche brave and back again.  With Pa off fighting in the Civil War, Lewallen Collier and his little sister are captured in a bloody Comanche raid. Admiring Lewallen's courage, the Indians give him the name Sings His War Song and try to teach him the ways of a young brave. But Lewtie dreams only of escape -- and of the day he can return to rescue little Eula Bee."  Boys, especially, will love this book!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Narnia series, C.S. Lewis

Treasures of the Snow, Patricia St. John
     -A powerful story of forgiveness.

The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare

     -Another great book.  Matthew is left to guard his family's cabin in the wilderness while his father retrieves the rest of his family.  (This is going on Isaac's assigned reading list for the year, though we've already read it together as a family.  He'll just love it all over again on his own.)

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien

George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans, Geoff and Janet Benge
     -I just love George Muller.  He inspires me to greater prayer and greater dependence upon God.  This is a great book for kids, detailing God's provision for the orphans even though Muller never ONCE asked for money- though the need was often great.  Throughout the book there are examples of times when they truly had no food at the orphanage and God would miraculously answer their prayers!  I loved reading this with the kids and we had great discussions throughout this book.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Margaret Sidney
     -from Amazon: "Since their father died, the five Pepper children and their mother have been living in poverty, with only potatoes and brown bread for supper. Ben chops wood to help support the family, and Polly looks after the little ones while their mother earns what she can by sewing. The Peppers are so poor, they've never even had a Christmas. But from measles to monkeys, through bad times and good, the cozy kitchen in the little brown house rings with laughter and hope."

Gentle Ben, Walt Morey

Summer of the Monkeys, Wilson Rawls (*also authored Where the Red Fern Grows)
     -Another great read-aloud.  We all loved this adventure of Jay Berry trying to capture those monkeys!

Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
     -One of my favorite books.  I had so much fun introducing Anne, Gil, Diana, Matthew, Marilla, Miss Stacy, and even Rachel Lynde to my kids!

Little Britches, Ralph Moody
     -If there was just ONE book from this list I would implore you to read-- outside of the Narnia series--- it would be this book.  Especially if you have boys.  It is thoughtfully narrated by an eight-year-old Ralph, growing and learning to become a man.  It is so full of wisdom and heart.  We all LOVED this book and it will ever be a favorite of ours.

The Railway Children, Edith Nesbit

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson
      -This was a fun read-aloud--- mostly because my kids were so horrified by all the antics of the Herdman family.

God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew

Robin Hood, Howard Pyle

{Let me know if you've read any of these, or you can list one of your favorites in the comments!}

Letter to Ella while she's away

I love this picture of you and daddy!

My beautiful girl,

Oh, how we all miss you around here these past couple of days!  Isaac was looking so glum at the breakfast table this morning, and when I asked him why, he replied, “It’s just different without Ella here.”  It is different. I told daddy yesterday that with you gone it feels as if a bright light has gone out in our house.  It reminded me that your name means “light” so that seems fitting, then, doesn’t it?

I was praying for you yesterday- that you would enjoy your time with Grandpa and Grandma and with your cousins, that that you would be a blessing to them all, and that God would protect you while you are away from us.  I also prayed that even though we-- who love you most and know you best and are so familiar to you-- are not with you; that you would be reminded and comforted that God is always with you, wherever you go, that He truly knows you best and loves you even more than we do; and is your best friend and companion.  I’m so glad you know Him.  :)

I know you wanted every detail of what happened here when you were away, so I’m going to write for a bit so that I won’t forget.  Here are just some snippets of what we’ve done so far...

-We stopped for ice cream (vanilla cones dipped in chocolate) on the way home.  The little girls were sleeping, but Adelia woke up right before we ordered so Audra was the only one who missed out.  Isaac has occupied your seat in the van and loves it there. 

-When we got home we had a picnic snacky-dinner on the living room rug, played a game with Isaias and Adelia, and rested.  (Isaac read his book, Audra was playing dolls.) The girls went down well-- even without you there-- but I laid down in your bed to tuck Audra in and held her hand and she asked, “Mommy, are you going to stay here and hold my hand until I fall asleep?”  I said no, but that I would hold it for a little bit.  She was very chatty and wanted me to linger, and then come back in, and then in again, so I could tell she was missing her nighttime chats with you.  (Adelia was already sleeping.)

-Daddy ordered a new see-saw for the swing set!  It should be here in a week.  (Isn’t Audra going to be SO happy?!)

-We let the boys come up and watch the fireworks from the front porch-- because they were still up and some of the neighbors across the way put on a REALLY good show for us!  We were all bundled up in blankets on the stairs, clapping and cheering.

-Yesterday we played outside nearly all day long.  It was a beautiful sunny day-- I’m sure you’re enjoying it at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, too!  I filled the pool in the morning and Isaias and Adelia spent nearly all day in it.  Isaac played on the swingset, swam a bit, and read his book outside.  Audra was my helper when she wasn’t eating berries.  ;)  I made some popsicles-- two kinds: limeade popsicles and then limeade blended with frozen strawberries.  They’re both very yummy.  (We saved you some; don’t worry!)    Then I put laundry on the line, weeded, and finally sat down to choruses of “Watch me, mommy!” --from Isaac, on the swingset,  “Look at me, mommy!”-- from the two in the pool, and “Mommy!  See me?”-- from Audra (doing whatever she was doing.)

-Daddy worked late last night so we couldn’t go to the church picnic, so we ate here, cleaned up, played another game, and went to bed.

-This morning we ran errands (bank, Costco, Target), brought daddy some coffee on his route, and then came back home to play outside some more.

-Oh!  The chicks are doing well with the bigger chickens.  They like to sit up on the chicken tractor, out of the way.  But when I bring in greens or scraps, they hop down and try to meld in with the others.  They’re getting much braver.  But they’re careful not to get in Flora’s way!  ;)  Oh, and they’re still roosting on their little roost.  That tiny little white egg from Millie was egg white only-- no yolk, and Isaac ate it this morning for breakfast.

-Audra has singlehandedly eaten every single raspberry in our yard!  I keep finding her by the bushes, picking berries and popping them into her mouth.  Nevermind that she picked all the ripe ones yesterday already!  Apparently she’s going for the almost-ripe ones today!

Isaac, checking to see if Audra left him any berries.
-Everyone has said how much they miss you, several times.  It seems quieter around her without you.  Especially at meal times-- we keep accidentally setting your plate and then staring across the table at an empty spot.  Can’t wait until you come home!

Love to you, sweet girl.... I can’t wait to hear all the details about your time away.

ps: the pink hydrangeas have bloomed!

Ella's book list, 2011-present

Recently my sweet Ella, 10, closed the book she'd been reading, let out a satisfied sigh, and announced that she had finished it.  When I asked her why she liked it, she simply said, "Because it was about a family."  Of course.  It's what she knows: brothers and sisters and their interactions, a mother and a father and a home.  It's why she's not interested in an animal story- though she loves animals- unless there's also a family tucked into the story.  It's why she continues to pick up Boxcar children books off the library shelves-- the children in the stories are siblings, experiencing adventures together. 

Ella has a binder in which she records each book she's read throughout the year, and she's read a lot.  Over 100 books.  Some of them are from our our own shelves and are re-reads, some we've found throughout the year at Goodwill or garage sales, some from the library.  Some we assigned to her and she would not have read it otherwise.  I've tried to categorize the ones I could, and I'll start with her favorites, which were marked in her binder with stars and notations to me such as "This is was so good", or "Read this book", or "You have to read this book", or "I love this book!" Without further ado, here they are:

{Ella's favorites}

A Way Through the Sea, Beyond the River, Into the Flames, Far From the Storm, Chasing the Wind, A Light in the Castle, Follow the Star, and Touch the Sky, from The Young Underground Series, by Robert Elmer~ currently out of print, but our library still had them and she loved this series of 8 books.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton

The Cottage at Bantry Bay and Francie on the Run, by Hilda van Stockum

Bridge to America, by Linda Glaser

The Moffats, The Middle Moffat, and Rufus M., by Eleanor Estes


That ends her marked favorites.  The rest of these to come?  She liked them, too- and many of them got happy sighs, also.  I have starred (*) the ones I know for sure were re-reads for her, which likely means they're on her bookshelf and thus were already favorites.

from the Five Little Peppers series, all by Margaret Sidney:
Polly Pepper's Book, Five Little Peppers in the Little Brown House and Five Little Peppers and Their Friends (the first book in this series, Five Little Pepper and How They Grew, is one we've read aloud and Ella has read several times by herself.  It's a favorite!)

from The Boxcar Children series, Gertrude Chandler Warner:
The Honeybee Mystery, *Blue Bay Mystery, *The Boxcar Children, The Mystery at the Mixed-up Zoo,
*Schoolhouse Mystery, The Woodshed Mystery, The Pet Shop Mystery, The Mystery of the Hidden Beach and The Mystery in the Snow

from the Heroes of America series, biographies of:
Benjamin Franklin, Jackie Robinson, Clara Barton and Daniel Boone

from the Childhood of Famous Americans series, biographies of:
Sacagawea, Buffalo Bill, Louisa May Alcott, Betsy Ross and Molly Pitcher

Other mostly stand-alone books, alphabetized by author:

the books of Daniel and Titus, from the Bible (these we did NOT assign, and are not on our Bible reading list, so I love these entries.)
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Aiken
The American Schoolhouse Reader, Allie
Bunnies in the Bathroom and Kittens in the Kitchen, Baglio
Corrie Ten Boom, Benge
*New Beginnings, Brunstetter
The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat and The Adventures of Prickly Porky, Burgess
Happy Little Family (1), Schoolhouse in the Woods (2), Up and Down the River (3) and School Room in the Parlor (4), Rebecca Caudill
*The Courage of Sarah Noble, Dalgliesh
Family Reminders, Danneberg
Adopted Jane, Daringer
Kisses from Katie, Davis
Because of Winn-Dixie, Dicamillo
Five Smooth Stones, Gregory
Trouble at Otter Creek, Hays
Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley, Henry
Survival in the Storm, Janke
Nellie the Brave, Jones
The Jungle Book, Kipling
*Almost Home, Lawton
A Light Kindled, Leininger
The Children of Noisy Village, Lindgren
Secrets of the Woods, Long
Three Against the Tide, Love
*Little Town in the Ozarks, MacBride
The Princess and the Goblin, Macdonald 
Gentle's Holler and Louisiana's Song, Kerry Madden
Whitetail, McClung
The Triplets Fly High, Moore
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, O'Brien
Island of the Blue Dolphins, O'Dell
*In Grandma's Attic, *More Stories from Grandma's Attic and *Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic, Richardson
(plays) The Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure, Shakespeare
Gentle Annie, Shura
Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Good Queen Bess, Diane Stanley
American Tall Tales, Stoutenburg
Hadassah, Tenney
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, Trafton
Meet Molly, Tripp
Pegeen, van Stockum
Tapenum's Day, Waters 
The Kings Daughter and Other Stories for Girls, White
*Across the Puddingstone Dam, Wiley
My Name is Sally Little Song, Woods
Jotham's Journey, Ytreeide