Every place has a story. The photograph above is part of the story of my place. These are my momma's people. The man in the center is my great-grandfather McGee. To the left is my great-grandfather Scalf. Reclining on the log is my grandfather Scalf. The woman standing in the door is my great-grandmother Scalf and the girl inside the cabin is my Aunt Nadine who is now nearly 90. My people are Appalachian Mountain people, born and raised in the mountains of upper East Tennessee. They were poor, hard-working folks like all those in the hills and hollers. They were uneducated by our culture's current standards but had a grit and determination (as well as common sense) rarely seen today.
It was Thanksgiving one year ago that we began a life-enriching habit. We vowed to read aloud every single day for as long as we could. This habit was inspired by The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma.
Our Streak, begun Thanksgiving Day, has awarded us many hours of lovely read-aloud time. We always celebrate the Christmas season by reading aloud from our collection of Christmas titles. This year we have enjoyed many treasures together.
What would the world be like without our animal friends? We spend hours a day with our farm animals. Milking cows, gathering eggs from our chickens, herding our sheep, laughing at our ducks, petting the cat and dogs are teaching our boys responsibility and compassion. My middle son is known in our farming community as the animal whisperer. He can get any of our animals to do just about anything we need them to.
I think this fasciniation is universal.
I recently took a quick tour through a modern bookstore. I usually avoid them, knowing that most of what is currently published is devoid of beauty, both of sight and of mind. But I had a few minutes to kill so, as the bear who went over the mountain, I went in to see what I could see. I left dejected, uninspired and definitely unimpressed. What little life that was there was crushed among the death-obsessed tomes.
One of the greatest joys of our lives is to have hosted foreign exchange students from all over the world. Two boys in particular have become like sons to us. In fact, when folks ask how many children I have, I say I have five boys including two French sons. You see, for us France is more than just a spot on a map, more than just landscapes and landmarks. It is two very special people.
As a librarian who is also a homeschooling mama, I am often asked by prospective patrons if I have the books listed on various homeschool curricula book lists. I remember as a new homeschooler 18 years ago trying to find a curriculum that utilized real, living books. After we finished our time with Five in a Row, we definitely did not want to settle for dry facts common in the textbooks listed in most homeschool catalogs and marketed at homeschool conventions. I found only one such curriculum at the time. We plunged in, enjoying the books we could locate on that list, substituting books we could not find or...gasp...leaving them out altogether. It really never occured to me that my child's education would somehow be ruined if I did not have the exact book recommended on a particular list.
Many parents eagerly embrace living books when teaching their young children. Snuggling on the couch, making memories around books is lovely. Other parents use living books only for history. Biographies and historical fiction truly make history come alive, making us feel as if we are really there. Some families, however, fail to recognize the value of living books for science and math, relying instead on textbooks and workbooks, especially in the later years.
Tis the season...for snow! Science for the seasons is one meaningful way to develop a relationship with the natural world. These resources will cause your children to stand in awe of a Creator God who does all things for His glory and for our good.
Christmas?!? But it's only September!! Yes, but time goes so fast. Christmas is three months from today so I thought it would be great to post some past and future favorite Christmas titles. Every year I find wonderful blog posts about favorite Christmas titles...four days before Christmas and too late to do anything about it. So here is my list early so you can make your Advent reading plans in plenty of time. I encourage you to choose a book (or more) from this list or from your own favorites to treasure with your family this year. It is one of our most blessed traditions.