June 23, 2012

Summer Reading Program 2012

In case you missed this post over at Latter-day Homeschooling, I thought I would post it here!

I once posted about the summer reading program I do with my nieces and nephews every summer.  You can read about it here.  We've read Lloyd Alexander, we've read Austen, and this summer I thought it was time for more emphasis on nonfiction.

Nonfiction is a tricky little animal.  When I was really young I drank in nonfiction.  I loved to learn about anything.  Then I discovered fantasy and while I still liked nonfiction, I gravitated towards books with dragons and wizards and evil spells.  Sometimes it is hard for nonfiction to compete with a whole new world.

Another problem with nonfiction is that it is hard to find really high quality books.  There are 40 gazillion books out there about Egypt (I know, I've been putting together our 8 week unit on Ancient Egypt) but only a handful are worth reading.  I know, I know, fiction is the same way--but there are numerous ways to find high quality fiction but fewer avenues to finding the best of the best in nonfiction.  How many book blogs do you know about that spotlight nonfiction for children?  See what I'm saying?

The last, and I think greatest, problem with nonfiction is that it is not escapist and it taxes your brain sometimes.  I have always been an escapist reader.  After college, I drifted away from nonfiction because it wasn't required.  Fortunately, homeschooling has forced me to really dive into children's nonfiction and together my children and I have learned that the perfect nonfiction book is a gem and worth all the digging through the rabble.

Since historical fiction is one of my great loves, I thought I would build a summer reading program that integrated historical fiction with nonfiction.  As always, my nieces and nephews know they will have to discuss the books with me and their cousins in a intelligent manner.  This year we are even planning skype book sessions because some of the cousins moved to Switzerland and another cousin moved to Texas.

Without further ado, here is what I posted on the family website . . .

My Aunt’s Obsessed With History Summer Reading Program!!

Rules: Pick two time periods and read all the books listed for that time period.  That’s it.  If you are younger than 10, don’t read the books listed as "for the over 10 crowd.”

Prizes: What do you guys want?  Another ice-cream sundae/movie party?  Pizza?  Chicken dancing?

Time Period Options:

Ancient Times in the Middle East:
Masada by Neil Waldman
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas (over 10 crowd)
Alexander the Great by John Gunther

 American Turn of the Century:
The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman (if you read this you will know more about WWI than most Americans)
Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, 1880-1924 by Deborah Hopkinson
Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Big Burn by Jeanette Ingold

On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck
Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury
Their Finest Hour by Sir Winston (the MAN) Churchill (over 10 crowd—at least 100 pages)
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (over 10 crowd)
Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Tunnell (under 10 crowd)

Happy summer reading!


  1. Okay, I've lost my comment twice and that really annoys me, so this is just to see if _anything_ will work right now. Grr.

  2. Yay! It worked. I was just going to say that my claim to fame is that the Candy Bomber is my best friend's Grandpa. We lived in his house (while he was living elsewhere) when we were in college. And after we graduated from high school, we got to go with him to Germany for some 50th anniversary (or something) celebration. We visited an elementary school named after him and saw a musical written about his experience and watched celebratory jet flyovers and went to fancy military dinners with 4-star generals and engraved place cards that said "Miss Marilyn" and "Miss Rachael" (and champagne-laced sherbet, which I didn't know till _after_ I tasted it). It was amazing. I've never felt more famous. So anyway. I like the Candy Bomber. :) And by the way, I am getting to your email soon.

  3. You are famous, Miss Marilyn!!!!!! That is awesome. I'm glad that he was celebrated over in Germany. I didn't hear anything about his story until just recently. I wonder if I was just out of the loop, or if his is a story whose time has come.

  4. I found this through your PW comment, and I'm glad I did! I am a bit of a bibliophile, too, but my kids are younger and I'm just behind where you are in having read a lot of kids' books--but I'm working on it! Thank you for the recommendations!