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October 23, 2016 / Olivia

The Reader Inside Us

I hated to read books as a child. Nothing could have been a worse punishment to me. Something that is considered an easy and enjoyable task to many, was enough to make me cry at the thought of it. Anything was better than reading endless pages of tiresome books, let alone sitting still for so long.

The thought of spending hours with my nose in a book, when I could be out playing with the other kids on the street or in my room tracing coloring books, appalled me. Why waste my time reading when I could be doing something else, anything else instead?

Throughout the thirteen years of school, teachers would assign reading homework – everything from the easiest of children’s books to the High School required list of Shakespeare, The Scarlet Letter, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Great Gatsby. Nothing made a lasting impression on me. I received my grade and moved on to the things I did enjoy.

I really took a liking to math, geography, art and science. Those were hands-on subjects that dealt in numbers and pictures, something I could relate to. It’s no wonder that once I finished High School I wanted to go into architecture, which involved drawing floor plans and structural details. That eventually is what drew me into the engineering and surveying field as an adult, working with maps and calculations.

There were a few books I read as a child that I still remember their wonderful stories to this day. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, Hoomania, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, and The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. But here’s the difference between these stories and the other stories I read as a youth. I chose these books. They were not assigned reading for grade level or by the teacher. I was not required to do a book report or read a passage in front of the class. They were not associated with a grade at the end nor did not have to take a test on them. I read them because they were interesting and they were my choice to read.

It took a few years of deschooling after High School, after Shakespeare and The Catcher in the Rye, to finally pick up a book again. My first book was The Creator and the Cosmos, a science book written by a Christian apologist who discusses the harmony between science and the Bible. It’s the book that finally opened my eyes into reading. Since then I’ve read probably a dozen books like Dan Brown’s Deception Point, Hugh Ross’s Improbably Planet and others.

The problem with reading now is not the interest, it’s the time. As a mom and homeschooling teacher, my free time is consumed by my family (which is not a bad thing). It’s hard to get the time to yourself to read these books that were not appreciated in youth and with so many books missed it would take months, if not years, of reading to catch up.

But I have a second chance.

I have another chance to read and actually enjoy the books I missed by reading them with my children. There are no tests at the end of the section. No book reports or reading lists or homework. They are not assigned, but chosen.

Since my kids were born, I’ve been reading to them. When my oldest was younger, we read for, no joke, two hours a day. He would pull out books from the shelf and he would sit on my lap and we would read them. We went through a stack of 50 books a day, every day. Now that my son can read well himself he’s reading them to me.

Last night, we read the first chapter of Beezus and Ramona, one of the few books I remember as enjoyable reading as a child. Beezus’s frustration with her little sister’s antics and Ramona’s fascination with Scoopy the steam shovel, bring back memories that a child should never forget, that it’s fun to read when you’re reading for fun.

October 22, 2016 / Olivia

Homeschool Friendly Storybooks

Finally, books with which homeschoolers can relate! These aren’t the kinds of books about “So and So Goes to School.” These are books that homeschooling kids can say, “He’s just like me!”

Here are a few books that are well worth the read.

This post contains affiliate links.

This Is My Home, This Is My School

Inspired from the childhood experiences of the author, you are led on a journey through the homeschooling day of a young boy and his family. He shows us what life for this homeschooled family and that dad is the kind of substitute teacher any kid could want. Jonathan Bean grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in the house his parents built when he was young. He wrote a separate book about that experience called, Building Our House, told from the viewpoint of his older sister.

My kids fell in love with this book! It’s a favorite here in our house.

Ippie Unschooled

Ippie’s a barefooted, band-aid covered, free-spirited eight-year old. She’s a lot like all the other kids in her neighborhood, except for one thing…Ippie doesn’t go to school. She has no teacher and follows no curriculum. So just what is Ippie doing all day? And how can she possibly be learning? Come spend some time with Ippie and find out. Written by former educator and current unschooling mom of four Nicole Olson, this ground-breaking story gives us a sneak peek into the world of unschooling through a child’s eyes.

I Am Learning All the Time

I Am Learning All the Time is the story about 5 1/2 year-old Hugh as he begins the discovery process of what it means to not go to school. He reflects on life at home and life of his neighborhood friends, who go to school.

Updated with a few more books thanks to a reader:


Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go.
Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

My Name is Mina

Mina loves the night. While everyone else is in a deep slumber, she gazes out the window, witness to the moon’s silvery light. In the stillness, she can even hear her own heart beating. This is when Mina feels that anything is possible and her imagination is set free.
A blank notebook lies on the table. It has been there for what seems like forever. Mina has proclaimed in the past that she will use it as a journal, and one night, at last, she begins to do just that. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams.

Who’s Not In School?

Who’s Not In School? Tim’s not because he’s got the flu. Katy’s not because she has an appointment at the hospital. Little Harry isn’t either, because he learns at home. While he’s learning he has all sorts of adventures … some of which he shouldn’t!


Grace and Tippi don’t like being stared and sneered at, but they’re used to it. They’re conjoined twins – united in blood and bone.
What they want is to be looked at in turn, like they truly are two people. They want real friends. And what about love?
But a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead for Tippi and Grace. One that could change their lives more than they ever asked for…
This moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

October 11, 2016 / Olivia

Free Travel Guides & Maps for the 50 States

I remember when I was in second grade, in public school, the teacher had us each draw a slip of paper from a basket with the name of a state on it. That state would be ours for researching that year. I pulled Wyoming. We each were to write a short letter asking for information about the state. It took a few weeks (to a second grader that’s an eternity!) before we received responses from our chosen states. I remember getting a pamphlet or magazine and a state map.

Now my son is in second grade this year. I was curious if this still existed. It does! And it’s even easier than it used to be to request material. This year, we are studying the 50 states, becoming familiar with the names and where they are located on the map. He already knows the western states, but still has to learn a majority of the eastern states. Every week he picks which states he wants to learn about next and orders them, for free. To help space out the learning over four months, we only order three at a time. You can order two a week to space it out further.

We just got Nevada!

As soon as we get them, we color them in on our map, take a look at the brochures and find out about that state. What things are there to visit if we were to take a trip there? What is that state famous for? Does it have any special features? Where is it located on the U.S. map?

The state links below will take you to online order forms where you can get the free travel guides, state highway maps, and brochures. To order information about a state, click the link and then enter your name and address on the form that appears. It’s really that easy.