Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Homeschool Travel Books

Years ago at a homeschool convention, the Educator and I were looking for information on our locals states. It was May and the summer was coming up. This was an ideal time for trips that require warmer weather. I can tell you, visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial on a blustery winter day is not the most comfortable feeling. We stumbled upon a small booth and discovered a series of books by a family. This would be the only time we would see these people at this convention.

Our first purchase was “Kids Love Pennsylvania” by George and Michele Zavatsky. The book is a guide book of what there is in Pennsylvania. The book is broken out into areas such as the Central Area or South West Area an so on. These are put into chapters. There is even a master index and activity index. You can find a map of the state as well as a map of state broken into areas. Your children can learn the counties of the state as you travel. There is a city index which displays what area each city is in. At the beginning of each chapter, family favorites are listed. How nice is that?

Take Chapter One, the Central Area, as an example. The initially list Horshoe Curve near Altoona, Allegheny Portage Railroad in Gallitzin and even Penn State as some of their favorites. You can see a small area map covering ten counties. The following pages give information on sites such as state parks, museums and even sports teams in the area. You’ll find their address, phone number and website along with a little blurb about the attraction. Maybe during your travel you want to stop at Delgrosso’s Amusement Park for a day. It is in there.

Towards the back of the book you can find a seasonal and special events section. In July can you can find the South Central information for the Battle of Gettysburg among other fun events.

These books are worth reviewing to see if they fit in your plans. We have used this book not necessarily for travel but for history research. It is nice to find some destination pertaining to the revolutionary war and then visit their website to glean information. It may be a small out of the way place that remains unknown until you discover it in these books.

Vist and discover this way of learning about America.


My Weakness

Mother’s Day was spent in Gettysburg, and yes this was a desired destination. This was a day of bicycling and grumbling by the Youth 2. His idea of spending the day was not going to Gettysburg and biking. This was for mom.

A quick visit to the visitors center brought me closely with a love like metal to a magnet. As you enter the center, the bookstore is to your right. Ah, the pleasure of seeing books and being teased about it. Youth 2 clamped down on me in a mock attempt at preventing me from entering. Oh the pretty, pretty books! My excitement was tempered with the knowing fact that no money would be expended with this visit. Darn!

I did see a book or two concerning civil war medicine. Ooh I would love those books.

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My Top Ten Fiction Books

January 12, 2014 Leave a comment

I was reminded of the book The Catcher in the Rye recently. This reminder had me think of the other books I have read. All of this had me thinking about my favorite books. There are a few books I consider to be my favorite and others required some thought. This is about my ten favorite fiction books.

The requirement for being in the top ten is not just plot. My requirements are enjoyment, influence and readability. If my reading was pleasurable then I enjoyed the book. That is simple. Some books have influenced me in my actions, decisions and even beliefs. There are some books that I can re-read. This is rare for most books I can never read again.

As I thought about my list, I was able to immediately remove some books. Moby Dick was too intense for me. You need to read this slowly and ponder on everything mentioned. This is a very deep book. Wuthering Heights was nice but didn’t wow me. Lady Chatterley’s Lover bored me. In fact, I may not have finished that book. The Razor’s Edge was dull and very uninspiring for me. I didn’t enjoy that book. All Quiet on the Western Front was okay. It just didn’t hold me. The same goes with The Naked and the Dead. Fahrenheit 451 , I found to be horrible. I can go on with plenty of horrible books, but I can save that for another post.

My list surprises me. I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy almost every year. I love the books and enjoy the depth of the story. There is so much to this trilogy, but it doesn’t make my list. It is difficult to include one book and not the other two, so they all must be kept out. Here I go.

10. Inherit the Wind – This is a play and not a book, but I read it and consider it close enough to a book. The reason it is #10 and not higher is the fact it is truly a play. This story is enjoyable and started me thinking.
9. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – This is a novella and the reason why it is so low on my list. Like #10, this story helped me grow in how I thought about the world and other aspects of my life.
8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – This is the third installment of the Harry Potter series. The series rebounds after a disappointing book two. Like the first book, I found it to be an easy and very enjoyable read. I had difficulty in putting this book down.
7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – This is the first book in the Harry Potter series and is a breath of fresh air for children’s fiction. Like #8, this book is a very enjoyable read. In general I enjoy re-reading the entire series from time to time. Unlike LOTR series, there isn’t the depth and requirement to actually read very slow to understand everything.
6. Anne of Green Gables – This is a pure joy to read. I remember buying it at a bookstore for my mother and her having me read it. What a fond memory I have of this book. Unlike #7 and #8, this book doesn’t have the easiest read but is very fluid with the ups and downs of the character. How can you not like Anne?
5. A Christmas Carol – This story took years before I finally grasped it meaning and power. This is a very intricate read that had me wanting to know more about Victorian London. There is a deep meaning wrapped around this story. This is a story that all should read. In my opinion, it is better than the other books written by Dickens.
4. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Not much to say other than what an adventure. This story had me look at life around me differently, especially the woods nearby. I have always had a hankering for adventure since that book.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird – This is a beautifully written book where you care about everyone. To this day I am still affected by the story. Atticus is a man in a hostile environment unwavering in truth and well respected in this environment.
2. The Catcher in the Rye – This story had me thinking philosophically. It was the first to do so. It took years and multiple readings for me to understand a fraction of what was in this story. The influence of this story reverberates within me even though I seldom think of the book.
1. The Hobbit – This book started my love affair with the fantasy genre. I even include science fiction. I had read books before this, but this book launched me into getting my mother to take me to the bookstore to buy books. Upon finishing this book, I was left ravenous for more.

This list could change if I happen to recall books from my past. I have read so many books, that many have mixed in my memories. I have read so man Conan books that they all seem to be the same. In fact most of the fantasy and science fiction may have blurred together.

There are fictional books I left out. Like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I could not judge one book over the other. There are the Robert B. Parker books, Jeeves and Wooster and even the Hornblower books to consider. It is unfair to only select one book when the group is needed to accurately judge.

This list will remain in order unless I read a new book or remember one from my past.

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It is only a book

January 12, 2014 Leave a comment

I can sit back and recall with fond memories of laying in my bedroom, glancing out the South facing window into the hill that sat off in the distance. This was a break moment for me. The rays of sunlight whether winter or summer radiated through the window shining the dust particles suspended in the room. I was happy, and I was reading a book.

Much of my youth would be spent spending hours reading in solitude. My first experiences of Tolkien happened here. Huck Finn was experienced here as well. Many books of history were spent being digested by me. I believe more time was spent reading in my bedroom than sleeping. I was known to read in our family car in early spring where the suns rays kept me warm. There was a favorite maple tree that I sat in and read. Yep, thirty feet up and reading the whole time. I read in the car while travelling and tried to read in church; the church reading was not successful.

As I look at my two youths, I view reading just as important for them as it was and is for me. Reading is an important method of communication and a way to learn about the world. There is the prescribed reading for school, and the reading for one’s self. Each of my youths are required to read a number of books for the year. My oldest reads more than what is required. The youngest is not much of a reader.

I do not fret about their reading as much as I did a few years ago. I come to understand there are readers and non-readers. Youth 1 is a huge reader. Youth 2 can take it or leave it. This doesn’t worry me for my brother was never a reader until he reached his late thirties. I can only encourage Youth 2 to read and try to help guide Youth 2 to topics of interest.

Looking at my small library, I have the bulk of my books on history. The majority are on the war between the states. I spent many years studying the civil war. The history section does coverage a large range of history. I have some religious texts as well. I have some of Thomas Aquinas’s writings. There is some fiction, too! My favorite is Sherlock Holmes and the Spenser books by Robert B. Parker. There are even cookbooks! Oh, I almost forgot. There are some comic books, too.

My children are encouraged to read my books. The Educator is not really permitted to read my books. I have a thing about opening my books too far, and the Educator doesn’t follow my fascination with keeping books pristine. This is our friendly battle where I am thought to be a bit of a looney on this.

It is my belief reading is an important element to education. My experience has shown me that homeschoolers read upwards to four times the amount of books other students read. Reading is very instrumental in college life as well as personal life. The best part of reading I have not mentioned. Reading takes you to a place where you discover a new world or fantasy that is all yours to live in; a place to get away for a time.

Calculus Book Is In

Yesterday, Youth 1’s calculus book arrived. Apparently, I was the only person excited to look over the book. Youth 1 was forced to look at the book. It really did not seem as if Youth 1 was excited. Must be the fact Youth 1 had worked yesterday.

Reviewing the book, my comfort level for Youth 1 ran high. Unless Youth 1 goes brain dead, there should be little problem taking a calculus course at the university. The pre-calculus course from last year was invaluable. Youth 1 doesn’t understand my demanding nature in this course, but it may become apparent in the fall. Teaching Textbooks has prepared my child. My overseeing the coursework as a professor has helped, too. Youth 1 is prepared.

It is my firm belief that a homeschool parent should NOT leave the learning to the child or teenager. A teenager does not think or see the consequences as a parent does. They will take shortcuts.

This is the continuation of parental divesting of Youth 1. Youth 1 is on a limb a few feet from the nest spreading out the wings. Next year, the learning to fly begins. For now, we are fine with the stretching of wings.

Categories: Books, Education, Homeschool

Beware Of The Myths

I am currently reading a book by an author that is a former homeschool mom. She is touching a historical period that not only have I studied but happen to be researching at the moment. Her book within six pages is complete rubbish. I will finish this book and continue to do something I loathe to do, write notes on the pages. She completely obliterates history and misleads. She continues the perpetuation of myths that are known to be false. She basically says a group of people are savages in not so many words. She fails to understand them nor did she ever try to understand their culture. To her, they were not Christian therefore they were “wild”.

When you read a book be careful. What you read may not be true. I do not think this author is trying to mislead. She has kept with the myths that have been carried on since the Victorian era or even earlier. She displays a religious bias that prevents her from understanding the period. Too bad. If she were to spend the time and effort doing PROPER research, she could have constructed a wonderful book.

Please, do not believe all you read are told.

Now back to this book.