Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review – The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Our family has been reading through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House Collection aloud every night.  Currently, we are finishing up “The Long Winter”.

This book has been my favorite in the series.  While each book presents the trials and triumphs of the Ingalls family, “The Long Winter” gives us a glimpse of a family and a town teetering near starvation as they struggle through extreme cold and blizzards.  Throughout these events the Ingalls talk about God and His design, sing His praise, pray for friends and exhibit a steadfast love for each other.  It is in these circumstances that we see the true faith, grit and determination that made them successful pioneers.

It is a book that offers up a banquet of character studies:

Charles Ingalls: A man beloved by his family, whose ability to read the signs of the coming winter and accept the sage commentary of an old indian saves their lives.  His nemesis is starvation as supplies run low and the train doesn’t come.  His response is steadfastness.  He does all the chores without complaint.  He rebukes the wind.

Mr. Foster: A man, who through his excitement and lack of self-control, scares away the only meat (antelope) the town folks will see in the winter.  In our own home, we now say “Don’t be a Foster” when someone is at risk of ruining a situation for others due to their own lack of self-control.  He is also a man that redeems himself by butchering his oxen as a substitute for the antelope.

Caroline Ingalls: A diligent, loving mother who teaches her children by example.  An encouraging  wife that brings to mind the Proverbs 31 woman: prepared, resourceful, kind whose children rise up and call her “Blessed”.

The examples go on and on.  It is a book for the whole family, because it’s lessons are timeless and it’s characters are multifaceted.

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Charlotte Mason Original Homeschooling Series – where to find it

The Original Home Schooling Series includes the complete works of Charlotte Mason.  Currently, I belong to a group that meets once a month to discuss Charlotte Mason’s writing.  Basically, we read one book at a time, one chapter at a time.

We meet at someone’s house each month and our moderator leads us in discussing the assigned chapter.  Our moderator, who has been leading the group for over 10 years, is an amazing woman that has been homeschooling for over 17 years and the majority of that time she has been using Charlotte Mason’s methods.

I have had the privilege and pleasure of being part of this group for over 3 years.  I joined simply to meet like minded, Christian women that were going to home school or were already home schooling their children.  I had no idea who Charlotte Mason was.  I did a quick google search, read a brief bio and was interested.  Since then, I can truly say I have been on a journey.  I have come to realize that when we meet we are covering Charlotte Mason’s theories.

Charlotte Mason’s Original Home Schooling Series represents her theories on education.  She covers a broad spectrum of topics bringing them all together under the main theme: “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

The breadth and depth of these books will give us plenty to discuss in upcoming posts.

Ambleside Online has made the books available online for free here.  If you find it difficult to read, Ambleside Online also has a Paraphrased Modern English version available for free here.  If you wish to have a hard copy, I would recommend following the book link above to Amazon (through our affiliated related link) or try other web stores.

Amazon has other versions than this available but I’ve heard they do differ from the Original Homeschooling Series so beware.

Blessings to you all!

How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – Book Review

I began this book with my son when he was four years and three months.  It was very easy to follow and the instructions were spelled out very specifically.  It literally tells you exactly what to say. I really liked this because it was simple and straightforward. However, I started too early with my son and I realize that I was just over eager.  I pushed through a little longer than I should have and finally realized he just wasn’t ready. We put the book aside and didn’t pick it back up until he was 4 1/2.  I realize that it may not seem like a lot of time, but it worked for us.  Since he had already been through quite a few of the lessons in the first go round, the second time he zipped through the first few lessons.  I think this gave him a boost of confidence and from then on it was smooth sailing.  He did not struggle at all like he did the first time.  I truly believe the lessons should only take 15 minutes or less.  If it’s taking you longer it might be a situation similar to ours where the child is not ready.  Be patient.  You will get there! One thing I felt that helped us was making flash cards for the words that you can’t sound out, such as: said, is, was, etc.  I also made flash cards for all the common words: the, this, that, has, have, had, I, she, we, he, etc.  I only reviewed the flash cards if we had already covered the word in the book. We would complete a lesson in the book and then go through the flash cards.  This helped him recognize the words quicker and improved his reading. If you are unsure about whether you are ready for this book or not, you may want to check with you local library to see if they have a copy and try it out a couple weeks before buying. Making the flash cards was simple.  I typed the words in Microsoft Word, printed them, laminated them, and cut them out.

All the best to you in your home school journey!