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What I’m Reading (and the Kids too) May 2017

The last few weeks, the front porch has been one of my favorite places to sit and relax. We finally purchased a new cushion for our porch swing (someone picked a hole in the old one) and now the swing is nice and cushy soft. Although there aren’t any flowers in the pots, it’s been fun watching a few birds build a nest in our hanging ferns – more definite signs that spring is here and the lovely weather is here to stay.

Although I didn’t get through quite as much of my non-fiction this past month, I did read a few other books that weren’t on my list that I’m glad not to have missed.  The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines was one of those I added because it was a Kindle deal recently and I was cracking up with some of the back story between those two. A few of the books are still in my pile to continue reading this month, and we have some more car trips coming which hopefully means some reading time (and not fielding disagreements between the backseat passengers). 

I did knock a few books off  my 2017 reading list (and again loving the Good Reads app to help me track my progress), which always is nice. Feel free to join me there and follow along! It’s so much fun to see what others are reading and recommend.

Here’s the list I want to tackle during May:

The Kids are Reading…

The girls have finished up their required reading for the year, so they are taking a bit of a breather in that area. Laurianna is working on other subjects to get caught up and McKenna needs to head to the library soon. Kaleb recently finished his first chapter book and I thought for sure he would pick an easier book to read, but he asked to read the second book in the Boxcar Children series – and I couldn’t be happier! 

What I Read in April

The best two books I read this past month by far were How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig (gave me some great talking points to use with one of our high school lit classes) and also A Fall of Marigolds  by Susan Meissner. I honestly LOVED this last one- cannot say how much, quite honestly. It wove the stories of women from two different eras (early 1900s and 2001) along with their personal losses – and it was just fabulous. 

Books I read…

That’s all for this month! I’ll share what I’ve managed to finish next month with you all. What books do you and the kids have set aside to read this month? 

Teaching Shakespeare to Your Kids

Reading Shakespeare can seem a bit like a foreign language to both children and parents. Despite having studied (and loved) Shakespeare in college, teaching it has been a bit daunting. I don’t want our kids to just read it, muddle through, and not really appreciate it and all the subtleties each work contains. Granted that’s true of any piece of literature our children read, but works by Shakespeare tend to seem even more overwhelming because of the format and language.

A few weeks ago I picked up a book  How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig (aff link), dragged it along with me through multiple airports, and FELL IN LOVE. You all, if you have ever doubted your ability to form a way to work on Shakespeare with your kids, you need to check out this book. Yes, you will have to read the actual book itself, but it has a plethora of information inside (I promise, it’s worth it). Technically, there are a few chapters you really want to read first and the remainder you could skim through unless you are studying those plays (definitely read the intro and chapters 1 – 6, 10, 14, 21, 31, and the epilogue), but I would recommend reading the entire book.Personally I would recommend a hard copy of this book (instead of Kindle) because it’s a book you will likely do a lot of flipping around back and forth.

Ludwig believes the younger you start kids learning and memorizing the better. While memorizing seems daunting, he breaks down the process, making it manageable and even something young children can work on. In addition to memorization techniques, Ludwig talks about Shakespeare’s life and history, components of Shakespeare’s plays (imagery, humor, poetry/prose, metaphors), and so much more.

While not an exhaustive look at all of his plays (Shakespeare wrote many!), the insight Ludwig provides into the various works is very helpful and will prompt some great discussion. In addition to delving into the reason for his book, how to use it, and giving a biography of Shakespeare’s life and works, a variety of Shakespeare’s plays are discussed in detail:

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Twelfth Nigh
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Macbeth
  • Henry IV, Part 1
  • As You Like It
  • Henry V
  • Hamlet
  • The Tempest

This year is the third year that I have taught a high school literature course as a part of a small co-op we belong to, and each year we have discussed one of Shakespeare’s plays and also attended a nearby Shakespeare production (more on that in a bit). Rarely do the play we are studying and the performance line up to be the same, and this year was no exception. We are studying The Tempest and the one performance we could attend was Romeo and Juliet. While I have quite a few notes and guides for each play, I loved the chapters of help on the both plays that Ludwig provides in How to Teach Your Children ShakespeareEach chapter offered some different insights and discussion ideas for our class (and a little something “fresh” for me to ponder as well). 

Understanding the Language of Shakespeare

Even if you understand the plot of one of Shakespeare’s plays, muddling through the language of the day can be hard for kids. There are key words and phrases that are interpreted differently today or than how we think they were written. A few resources I highly recommend are the No Fear Shakespeare guides or the Shakespeare Made Easy series which both offer the original words of a text on one page and then a modern day translation on the facing page so kids can better understand what is happening. While we go over and review various phrases in class with the kids, these have been extremely helpful for kids when reading through on their own.


Go See a Play (or Watch One) with Your Kids

We are also fortunate to have an incredible Shakespeare theatre not too far from us. Each month they offer student matinees and a “talkback time” with the actors after the show is over and we love to take advantage of their acting and knowledge. The theatre we visit is a recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre and the actors and actresses are fabulous.  It’s one thing to read a play, but seeing it come to life in front of you is a completely different thing! The subtle delivery of a line or the mannerisms that go along with a monologue can completely change the meaning and understanding of a scene (body language speaks volumes). 

If you have a theatre nearby, I highly recommend taking time out of your day to attend with your kids (granted, remember that Shakespeare has quite a few innuendoes in his plays that may not be suitable for younger kids, but often pass over their heads as well). Our high school group laughed and followed the bulk of the performance we saw, but at times the dialogue moved so quickly some parts were lost on the kids. Still, it brought a deeper level of respect and understanding of Shakespeare to the kids, and they went home not dreading their upcoming reading as much (and that’s a win in my book!). 

A Few (Fun) Additional Resources


While reading the actual plays are key, above (and below) you’ll find a few other fun resources to go along with your Shakespeare studies. 

What I’m Reading (and the Kids Too)

I know – you are probably thinking, “that looks like a real page turner!” While cookbooks aren’t typically on my reading stack, I have a few that I am reading through to see if there are tweaks and changes we can make to Laurianna’s diet (and ours) to help her out. The last few months have seen a bit of a learning curve, and the words “quick and easy” may have caught my eye. A friend let me borrow her book, and it is laid out much the way my brain thinks, so it moved right on up to the top of my pile. 

Reading glasses though. This past month I finally had to admit that my almost 44 year old eyes needed a little assistance, especially in the early morning or late night. My hubby is having a grand time with this fact (mainly because I have given him much grief over the years about his own – so I’m getting it honestly). :) 

Some of my books that were on my February pile made the shift to March, but for the most part I am making progress on my 2017 reading list (and again loving the Good Reads app to help me track my progress. Feel free to join me there! 

March will have me traveling quite a bit, so hopefully between airports and downtime I’ll have some time to knock out both fiction and non-fiction that is amassing on my Kindle and nightstand. Here’s what I’m hoping to read this month. I know the pile looks huge, but several I’ve already started and am a few chapters in (and honestly I have a little of everything depending on my mood).

The Kids are Reading…

What I Read in February

February was the month I FINALLY wrapped up a book that has been on my pile for what seems like forever. Fervent has been one I’ve picked up, read and contemplated, and then needed to process a bit more than others. It isn’t exactly light and easy reading, but that’s a good thing. Honestly, much of what I read this month, was exactly what I needed, right when I needed it – and that’s a wonderful thing. 

That’s all for this month! I’ll share what I’ve managed to finish next month with you all. What books do you and the kids have set aside to read this month? 

What I’m Reading (and the Kids Too)

I had been hoping to read more last month with my mom having surgery (and spending several days in the hospital with her), but honestly, reading was really hard to focus on and I ended up binge watching a show on Amazon in the wee hours of the morning between resetting all the crazy alarms that continued to go off during the night. Reading normally is something relaxing for me, but I needed something that required absolutely zero effort on my part other than pushing the play button. Shallow, but true. 

This month though, I really do want to get a few books knocked off my stack and have some picked to hopefully fly through, while several (including Ferventare part-way done and I need some focused time to concentrate and absorb the content since they are a little ‘heavier’ in nature. 

The Kids are Reading…

What I Read in January…

Years ago I read the 5 Love Language of Children book and the bulk of our kids were so little it was hard to really put them in a specific area. This time it really was much more fun to read and have the kids take the quiz as well. I’m planning to also read the teen version of the book. 

As far as fiction reading, What She Knew was a very interesting read, and although there were some parts I skipped in Seven Sistersthe overall plot really pulled me in. I am definitely enjoying the Uncommon Heroes series from Dee Henderson as well. They’ve been on my shelf for years and I’m finally pulling them down to read! 

That’s it for this month! What are you reading for yourself or together with the kids? Leave a comment and share. :)

Six Tips for Reading Aloud with Kids

The past few months have been so crazy during the evening hours, that reading aloud together kind of fell by the wayside. During the day we are still having our daily rest time (most days), but when it comes time to sit down together with the kids, we have been running in a million different directions with swim practices and other commitments, so it was put aside. 

And I really truly hate that. Because reading is a HUGE love of mine and I want to make sure our kids have that same love instilled in them – especially our boys. 

We had pulled out The Green Ember by S.D. Smith to read last year…and somehow were sidetracked, but it resurfaced again and we are reading through it now. Each afternoon we’ve set aside a time to pull out our book, we settle down with a cup of hot chocolate or steamed milk, and continue our read aloud adventure. I tried using the audio book (the kids don’t like it because they like the way I read it better – yay, but oh boy for my voice!). I’ll admit that we are having a bit of a hard time getting into it, despite it’s already bent cover and worn look, but it’s one I personally want read because it has come so highly recommended. 

Read Aloud Tips

Maybe your family is having a hard time settling down for a read aloud time? If so, maybe one or more of the below tips will help your family out {especially little ones}.

  1. Let kids do something with their hands. We frequently have crayons and paper handy for drawing or Legos for the kids to build with. Having something to do with their hands helps the attention span – trust me!
  2. Be silly and spice your reading up. Kick that monotone voice to the curb and sprinkle in some fun voices and accents. Read in a hushed voice during parts that are building in intensity. Have fun and enjoy the book along with your kids!
  3. Mix fun in with the serious. While I can’t wait to delve into some of the classics with the kids {and we’ll hit on a few different books during our school time this year}, fun reading is good too! Our family has been wrapped up in several different series that were full of adventure and fun. Not classic literature, but it was still so much fun to read together!
  4. Set a timer. Occasionally we have a kiddo that really doesn’t want to sit down for a story. Setting a timer for 10 or 15 minutes makes it seem do-able and most of the time everyone gets so involved in the book that they want to keep reading!
  5. Set aside a specific time of day to read together. Kids know when to expect the time that you’ll be reading and it will become a part of your daily routine. Whether it be a meal time, bed time, or another time during the day, block off that time to be together!
  6. Talk about the book together! When you come to the end of a chapter (or a suspenseful part of the book), ask your children what they think will happen next. Explain parts of the story that they may not understand (i.e. words or phrases).

What is your best tip for making reading out loud something fun? Leave a comment and chime in with your tips today!

 

Books We’ve Previously Read Together

Here are a few other books that we’ve read together and blogged about. Click over to see our thoughts on them!

Audiobooks for Families to enjoy

 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Vocabulary Cards – Free Printables

Brown Bear Brown Bear Vocabulary Cards

Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. is such a classic children’s book, and with my nieces and nephew working on books together with their mom, I put together these Brown Bear, Brown Bear Word Cards for them to use in the upcoming weeks – and thought you all might enjoy them as well!

 Brown Bear Brown Bear vocabulary word cards for Read Build Write Mats from Homeschool Creations

There are three different pages of word cards – a total of 35 vocabulary words in all for Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Words include: bear, sheep, bird, dog, frog, horse, duck, fish, cat, teacher, students, as well as color cards. 

You will need TWO downloads (both free!!) to use the word cards – both the word cards and the Read! Build! Write! Mats.

All downloads are in the green columns on the Read! Build! Write! page

The Read! Build! Write! Vocabulary Mats

Not familiar with the Read! Build! Write! mats? Basically, they are a fun way to work with your child on word identification and spelling.

Read, Build, Write collage

Here’s how the mats are used:

Read: Place one of the vocabulary cards in the top box and read the word together.

Build: Use letter tiles or magnets to build the word in the second box.

Write: Finally, practice writing the word in the bottom box.

Print the mats onto cardstock and then laminate them so that you can use Vis-à-vis markers or dry erase markers on the mats.

Read, Build, Write collage 2

Check out the Read! Build! Write! page to find additional themed vocabulary cards to go along with all of the Early Learning Printable Packs that I’ve put together so far.

All downloads are in the green columns on the Read! Build! Write! page

 

 

Hope these help you all out! Feel free to ‘pin’ the printables and share them with others! If there are some other vocabulary cards that you would like to see me put together, leave a comment and let me know!