Thursday, January 13, 2022

Author Spotlight: Cynthia Rylant

If you haven't yet acquainted yourself with this delightful children's author, please do! She's the author of so many of our favorites. 

Annie and Snowball... Fun, wholesome leveled readers about a girl and her pet bunny... Companion to Henry and Mudge books. 

The Blue Hill Meadows... This simple early chapter book has such beautiful descriptions of life in the country during each season. 

Henry and Mudge... Fun, wholesome leveled readers about a boy and his dog... Companion to the Annie and Snowball books. 

The High Rise Private Eyes... these simple detective leveled readers are not my very favorite of her works but they were still cute. My son went through a major detective book kick when he was a beginning reader so he very much enjoyed these.

Let's Go Home... I feel like I am going to have to fight myself throughout this whole list because so many of these books make me want to type out this is my favorite. I adore this book that gives me all the Cozy homie feelings and it was one of my daughters very favorites for a little while.

The Lighthouse Family... these early chapter books are fun and sweet, about a few animals who find each other and become a family. It starts with cat, a Lighthouse Keeper, and each of the other animals she fines and loves.

Mr. Putter and Tabby... these leveled readers are about an old man and his cat. I have not read all of them but the ones I have read were cute.

Nativity... this one is very simple because it is just the Nativity Story But I of course really like that, especially at Christmas.

In November... A perfect cozy autumn book to read November 1st. The illustrations give me all the Autumn cozy feels as well.

The Relatives Came... I liked this book, but my children love it. This is just a fun and playful look at relatives coming to stay and the illustrations crack them up.

Rosetown... this middle-grade novel takes place in the 70s and in one of my favorite places, a Bookshop! I was a little iffy about it at first as the Parents separate early on but I will say that all's well that ends well and there was somehow still an uplifting feel to this story.

Silver Packages... such a delightful Christmas picture book about a man who brings gifts to the children of Appalachia and one of the children's story as he grows up

Snow... This one paints the best picture of snowy winter magic- my favorite! See what I mean? One of my favorites, anyway. I love snow and I love this short and simple yet magical book.

Thimbleberry Stories... A chipmunk, his friends, and his cozy cottage life! Delightful early chapter book. 

When I was Young in the Mountains... This picture book paints a picture of a joyful, simple childhood spent in the mountains with her grandparents. 

These are only the ones I have read! This prolific author's list of works is huge so let me know if you check out one of her books and what you think of it! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Monday, January 10, 2022

Homeschool Science: The Brain!


We recently had a blast studying the nervous system with a big emphasis on the brain! These are the resources we most enjoyed. 

🧠 10 Foods to Improve Your Brain Health... We read about ten specific foods for brain health and made sure to incorporate several of them into our lunches throughout this unit. 

🧠 Baby Brains... A just-for-fun picture book about the (fictional) world's smartest baby.  

🧠 Brain model... We used gluten free Play Doh instead of fondant, still awesome! 

🧠 Indescribable (and How Great is Our God)... We love these science devotionals and specifically sought out brain-themed pages. There weren't many but that's okay! 

🧠 My Brain Won't Float Away... This fun picture book is a really well-done explanation of hydrocephalus just for kids! 

🧠 My First Book About the Brain...  This book is also a coloring book. We would read a page and then they'd color it, and now they love that we have a book they colored themselves! 

🧠 Professor Noggin's The Human Body... This is not brain specific but we love this human body trivia game for all human body systems!  

🧠 Sid the Science Kid: Now That's Using Your Brain... We love Sid and this is a good one. A has outgrown Sid but he humored me. 

🧠 Your Fantastic Elastic Brain... A great picture book explaining how to strengthen our brains through learning new things! 

I also have lots of fun grown-up recommendations for you! It turns out I love this subject. 

🧠 The Aging Brain... Protecting your brain from Alzheimer's, Demetia, and general brain-specific aging concerns. Fascinating stuff! 
🧠 Anxiety is Really Strange and Trauma is Really Strange... These are like comic books explaining anxiety and Trauma in easy-to-understand language. So helpful! 
🧠 Brain Rules... (I also loved Brain Rules for Baby when I was pregnant with Baby A!) I really enjoyed both of these and Ryan and I enjoyed watching the accompanying Brain Rules DVD with A, although we did skip a section about reproductive instincts. 
🧠 Unreasonable Hope... this fantastic Christian Memoir is written by the father of a little girl named Georgia who is born with the rare anomaly called Smooth brain. Our brains are wrinkled little organs but George's does not contain those oh so important wrinkles. I learned a lot about this subject but even more about faith. One of my favorites! 
🧠 Waking the Tiger... this one also specifically deals with trauma and Trauma recovery. I found it so fascinating and helpful.

Our next science unit: Ecosystems, courtesy of The Good and the Beautiful

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Adult Christian Fiction with Teenage Main Characters

I have been a bookworm my whole life but I have not always read Christian books. I didn't really enjoy YA (young adult) novels as a teen so I read maybe ten of them during my teenage years, otherwise adult books.

I wish I hadn't read most of what I read back then but alas, I did. If I could go back, if love to recommend these adult novels to my teenage self! These are all clean Christian fiction novels featuring teenage main characters. 

The Alliance... I've talked about this Amish apocalyptic story, set immediately after an EMP, a few times. This one is edgier than most Christian fiction as there is violence (people in the outside world want to take out the Amish community or their resources) and non-graphic talk about a person who used to use and sell drugs. There's also non-graphic about people fearing someone may have been sexually assaulted. I found this story (and it's sequel, The Divide) quite compelling. This one is told from the perspective of a 19-year-old young woman in the Amish community (with lots of emphasis on her 15-year-old brother she's a guardian for) and the Englisher (non-Amish) young man who happens upon her community at the start of the EMP so it will be of interest to teen boys and girls alike. 

Dear Mr Knightley... My bet is that our main protagonist, Samantha, is about 19 years old, maybe 20. She's given a scholarship to a prestigious journalism program but the caveat is she must write progress letters to her anonymous benefactor, whom she calls Mr Knightley. She tells him everything and things get a little crazy! This is an epistolary novel, told all in letters, and it's a retelling of classic novel Daddy Long Legs

Even Now... This Karen Kingsbury novel is the exact kind of dramatic teen pregnancy cautionary tale I loved in middle school. In this one our heroine, who is around 17 or 18, has been raised by her grandparents. She discovers her mother's old journals, from she was a pregnant teen in the 80s, and uses the clues found there to search for her estranged parents. The sequel, Ever After, is about the daughter's relationship with her new boyfriend and something that will be a spoiler to the first one. I liked both.  

The Key to Everything... This one will also work well for teen boys. Set in the 1940s, out 15-year-old male protagonist sets off on a bike ride down the coast of Florida, both in remembrance of his recently deceased father who once took the same bike ride and in search of the girl he's fallen for. All the main characters in this one are very sweet and almost flawless. I like the sweet mother-son relationship. 

The Moonlight School... This one is set in 1911 Appalachia. Our primary protagonist is 20ish-year-old Lucy, sent to stay with her aunt Cora and help bring literacy to the hills of Appalachia. I also enjoyed the perspective of teenage Angie, who is sweet on a boy who's sweet on this young new teacher. Atmospheric and fun. 

The Nature of Small Birds... This book was really interesting, at least from a writer's perspective, because it's essentially a story about Mindy that's told in alternating timelines and from her family's perspectives... But we never actually hear from Mindy herself! The 1988 storyline is from Mindy's sister during their teenage years. Mindy was adopted from Saigon, Vietnam in the 1975 Babylift. As an adult she's going back to meet her birth mother and it brings lots of things to the surface.  

No Ocean Too Wide... This is a story about the McAllister children who are separated when their mother takes ill. This based-on-true-events book is set in the early 1900s and is about the children's attempt to reunite the family despite seemingly impossible circumstances. 

The Shunning... Katie is kind of a rebel Amish girl, always stretching a toe over the line and wishing for things she knows aren't suited for Amish women. She crosses the line and is subject to a shunning, but also unearths a family secret and goes to great lengths to track it down. I don't normally love Amish fiction or Beverly Lewis' writing style but I still liked this enough to finish the series! 

Whose Waves These Are... This timeslip, set in sleepy Maine, is one of my favorites. There's a contemporary anthropologist heroine unraveling the story of an old man's young adult past, which we get to see from his own perspective just after WWII. This is a novel about grief, unconventional families, forgiveness, courage... Love it so much! 

Also on my radar: Children of the Stars // The Choice // A Long Time Comin' // Set the Stars Alight // Stars of Alabama // Under the Magnolias // Under the Tulip Tree // When Stars Rain Down 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A great devotional for men



I pretty constantly find books about inspiring women, books meant to encourage my daughters to dream big and break glass ceilings. 

I'm glad my girls are growing up in a time where they feel valuable to God and to the men (Dad, grandpas, uncles) in their lives. I'm glad they already see the beauty in their God-given femininity and have never had a reason to feel less-than simply because they lack a Y chromosome. 

But what about boys? I want my son to do more than exist for his own enjoyment. I want him to grow and thrive, to live a rich and beautiful life as a man of integrity! I want him to know the Lord and follow him, to be inspired and to be inspiring! 

I'm always on the lookout for boys and men who did great things so my son can grow up with shelves of inspiring leaders to look up to. I'm always on the lookout for books that will challenge and grow him, books that will help mold him into a man of honor. 

I am excited to have found a great devotional, Kingdom Men Rising*, to present to him as an older teenager. 

I'm not the target audience for this book at first glace but I still jumped at the chance to review it because I know I am mothering not just a boy, but also a future man. 

I found the messages to be powerful and precise, a short devotion that packs a punch following a short scripture passage and followed by action steps and a prayer. 

"Without a clear understanding of kingdom success, we won't know what to invest in with our time, talents, and treasures. Whatever a man sows will be what he reaps. But Satan often gets men to sow into the wrong things because of this misunderstanding of authentic success." 

"One of the most important lessons to learn in your development as a kingdom man is that your own choices are what lead to a dire state of distress in your life." 

"If we, as kingdom men, collectively choose to follow Christ by cultivating a relationship with Him and submitting to His rule, we will produce life." 

*I received a free copy of Kingdom Men Rising in exchange for an honest review.