Homeschool

This Summer: All About Book Clubs

I’m feeling very inspired by the idea of summer book clubs. Planning for summer things in advance, as our other commitments are winding down, is always pleasant for me, whereas coming up with anything particular in that moment summer has arrived–forget about it. There’s also the urging to mark the end of something and celebrate, and herald the beginning of something else–that takes planning too. So I’m thinking through which books we may like to read and invite friends to read with us. Last summer for Lux was all about the four-volume Green Ember series, a family-friendly fantasy series about warrior rabbits. It’s no Tolkien, but kids love it and it has positive messages about integrity, friendship, and honesty.

Listening to this podcast interview with Amber Johnston, I was so surprised to hear she read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry¬†as a 4th grader. I read it in middle school, and didn’t really understand it. Or maybe I just had no understanding of where Jim Crow laws, lynching, and sharecropping placed in American history. Either way, the opportunity was missed. Amber discusses how influential it was for her, and how she is now reading it to her daughters in their elementary years, and I would like to do the same!

(Definitely listen to the whole interview with Amber, linked to above, it is excellent.)

Do we homeschool year round? Of a sort. Classical Conversations ends this week. Online Latin ends at the end of May. That’s just in time because with the change of seasons and the sudden pleasure of being outside, we’ve all grown terribly tired of memorizing…anything. But we seem to do best* when we have about three things we’re doing all the time–reading something aloud together, working on reading lessons for those who need it, keeping up with handwriting practice or copy work (as I type this, two of the girls have printed off the first page of wikipedia on *wolves* and have carefully copied out three handwritten pages from it. Their idea, but nonetheless it counts towards all sorts of things academically), and working on something specific, like science experiments, categorizing rocks, identifying plants in the woods, or meeting up with homeschool friends to discuss a book.

*By “best,” I mean that interacting with each other around some structure each day results in the most pleasant interactions and better expectations, on both sides, of what those interactions may be.

A friend of mine remarked to me that her boys enjoyed the the transition from summer to fall because she starts paying attention to them again, after a heady summer of managing her thriving vegetable and flower gardens. That kind of seasonally inspired neglect fascinates me, but it’s not really the case in my house. And I find with homeschool, it’s often the case that all you need to do is switch up the routine a bit and you’ll still enjoy “doing things” year round.

You can preorder what looks like an amazing title about Summer Book Clubs from Wild & Free. Reading through the list of books they’ve planned activities, themed gatherings and discussions around is inspiration enough. I am a wary follower of Wild & Free because they have a lot of magic childhood phrasing, all the time, which isn’t the best influence on me when I’m scrolling social media for affirmation and encouragement (isn’t that why we’re usually on that app?). Personally, I don’t feel the pysche of childhood is all that magical, but rather grounded in boredom with omnipresent pursuit of stability, and habit. But Ainsley does an incredible job of gathering influential mothers as writers and encouraging them content creators, and I really admire that.

Last thought on summer titles…and I’m thinking about suggesting The Martian to Joe as his next read aloud. I think he can manage the sage contextual work of editing out the curses and f-words as he goes! Perhaps they can celebrate with NASA shirts at the end.

 

2 Comments

  • Julia

    I think I know what you mean about Wild + Free. I don’t feel especially welcome in the group of “mamas” who are “protecting childhood” and “chasing wonder” in linen and sepia tones. I fit the profile, but the showcasing falls flat. See how humble we are? Are you not inspired by our ability to experience exhaustion and gratitude simultaneously? (Also, the few Wild + Free meetups I’ve been to have leaned heavily, let’s say, anti-science, which becomes more pointed and relevant in these pandemic times.)

    …but I would enjoy ideas on hosting an old-time country fair…ah, there’s the rub!

  • Susan Magnolia

    I am looking forward to reading fantasy with my nine year old daughter soon. I will have to check out The Green Ember.

    Lately we have enjoyed the writing of George Seldon and Cynthia Rylant’s Gooseberry Park books. It just so happened they both discuss conservation of water and green spaces which seems very timely. The characters of these books are very precious to us now.

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