Sunday, August 22, 2010


I'm popping back in for a moment to share some of what's been keeping me so busy lately...

My girl will turn five in December, and since we live and breathe a Charlotte Mason-based classical education in our home, I have no plans either this year or next to have her doing official schoolwork. (Read Charlotte's thoughts on suggested school age here)

Eliana will be very much involved in our daily Circle Time (which, at Sapling Academy, is referred to as Grove Tending!), and I designed this year's order specifically with her fresh perspective in mind. (Here is a rough draft of our first term) She is our happy snack-fetcher, taking great care to serve everyone else first, she delights in the daily candle-lighting at the desk as much as I do, and she flits around the chairs with hugs and smiles while we compute and read, breaking the concentration we so gladly surrender.

But, from experience, I knew that as the third and sixth-grader's books began arriving in the mail (what a happy moment it is when the mailman knocks on the door every day!), a certain little lady would be asking if any of the bounty was for her. And while I don't believe she needs to have new books just because her brothers do, I do believe she needs to have new books. ~smile~. I just do.

A few months ago, I began scribbling in my journal some notes that looked like this...
character? daily. maybe scripture? fables?
biography. definitely. combine with art? Beatrix Potter?
storybook? collection of fairy tales? no. Pooh stories.
poetry. yes. Now We Are Six? Child's Garden of Verses? find one illustrated by Tasha Tudor.
animals. nature. Burgess. James Herriot. done.
one fairy tale? please? one story? research this.
Yes, sometimes I talk to myself while writing in my journal, but my hope was to compile a list that would result in a box full of books that would enrich Eliana's library for years to come, and would also make this coming school year special for her as well. Books to excite in her the attitude of learning, sparking delight and anticipation as she waits for the first day of school, and that would continue throughout the year with comfortable consistency. Living books, by one author, with sections or chapters that would lend themselves to not-always-daily use, but also Quiet Time and bedtime stories.

So, armed with my precious Charlotte Mason Companion, the bookfinder at Simply Charlotte Mason, and a budget from my generous husband, who smiled kindly at the animated expressions and hand gestures that accompanied my excited description of this task, I set to work. (Our mailman will get a nice jar of apple butter and a healthy container of homemade salsa in our mailbox this Christmas- he's the best!) I shopped only for used books unless, for some strange reason, it was cheaper to buy new!

James Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author
by James Herriot

If you've never read James Herriot's series, All Creatures Great and Small, well, you would still enjoy this collection of animal stories. (But you should definitely read his other series as well!) My mama has this book on her shelf, and my boys have so enjoyed it on all of our visits- it's time we owned our own copy.

Old Mother West Wind and 6 Other Stories
by Thornton Burgess

Micah thoroughly enjoyed The Burgess' Animal Book for Children last year, and Eliana, listening while she colored, exclaimed and laughed at all the same parts we did- I've heard that this set of stories is classic, and can't wait to read them aloud with her.

A Child's Garden of Verses
by Robert Louis Stevenson

This has come home on loan from the library more times that we can count- we're so excited to own our own copy now! Combined with Now We Are Six, which we found at a used book store years ago, poetry for my girl is now but a breath away.

Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop's Fables
by Helen Ward

I wanted a book of Aesop's Fables for Eliana that is beautifully illustrated, and this is the one. I love a book that is so well told and drawn that bodies of all shapes and sizes are soon smooshed around it, peering intently at the pages. And the conversations that are sparked because of those lessons? Priceless.

The Magic Hill
by A.A. Milne

We're going to get our dose of Milne this year, let me tell you. The author of beloved Winnie-the-Pooh also wrote a fairy tale - did you know that? And I can't wait to share this one with my girl. Eliana has plenty of fairy tales stocking her shelves, we didn't need to add another huge storybook (for now, anyway!), so I was thrilled with this excellent [small] addition to the preschoolish book-box!

Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
by Nicole Savy

(Children remembers tiny facts about people so easily it seems; I papered Eliana's dollhouse with vintage wallpaper found at an antique store, and in the "master bedroom" is a replica of the parlor paper found at Sagamore Hill, Theodore and Edith Roosevelt's home. I told her all about this once, and then yesterday, while I was reading a biography about Edith Roosevelt, she flopped on the side of my chair and asked who that lady is on the cover! When I said, That is Edith Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt's wife! she gasped and exclaimed, Oh! Just like my wallpaper from Sagamore Hill!)

So we are going to read a child's biography of Beatrix Potter, who is adored in this household. We already own Tales of Peter Rabbit and His Friends, so with the combination of the two, we plan to learn more about this author/illustrator of virtuous character who strived in life to bring joy to others, while examining her artistic style on a closer level, perhaps with watercolors of her own, for my girl who loves to paint.

I plan to quietly begin Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with Eliana this year, at her request so she can really read her own books. And I may still add a Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook to the preschoolish book box (we gave our copy away!), and our entire art supply needs some serious overhaul and refreshing, so that still remains to be done, but otherwise, every day 'round these parts, long about four o'clock, a little face framed with long golden locks can be seen peering out the window, waiting for the mail truck to pull up. She gleefully hands me the package(s) and skips behind me down the hall while I slip it into my closet, for we are keeping the treasures secret until The Big Day. The anticipation can be seen in the form of giggling as she claps her hands together and skips back up the hall, while Mama takes a peek and makes sure all is as ordered.

It was such a pleasure to put together this collection for my girl- I can hardly wait to begin Little Man's list! But I will. I promise.

With shelves already lined with our own copies of The World of Pooh and Lavender's Blue and fun old favorites like Petunia and Amelia Bedelia, with stacks of puzzles and blocks and drawing paper, with chants of the Greek alphabet and books of the Bible filling the school room and the opening song starting our day, preschoolish is one of the best things to be.

We think so, anyway.

8 fellow travelers shared:

Christine said...

Inspiring post! Love your heart for your children and for books and for life-long learning.

Hooper said...

Although you and I talk about all of this stuff on a regular basis, I read this post and am still amazed at what you pull together for the education of our children! I am truly blessed to have you as my beloved, and our children are blessed to have you as mama/teacher!

Haley said...

Such fun to see your ideas for your daughter's year! Are you planning to do anything science-y? I've heard the Berenstein Bears Big Book of Science and Nature is surprisingly good. The first Betsy-Tacy book would be great for an almost 5-year-old, too!

Elise @A Path Made Straight said...

Hi, Haley!

Perhaps our Beatrix Potter reading might benefit in the science arena as well... she really researched her animal subjects! :) Like I said, though, I was trying to make Eliana's sweet li'l list as un-official as possible!

{And, are you a Betsy~Tacy kindred? :) I've already read her the first one- she loved it! Perhaps we'll delve in a little further this year... thank you for the reminder!)

Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

This was delightful to share with you! We are still gently "finishing well" and will start fresh Ambleside Year 2 plus Five in a Row with our boys, ages 8 and 6, daughter almost 4 plus twin toddlers.

I love that you wrote each day had joy and delight in some fashion; same for us. I also share the hope in my heart...grateful anticipation. It is a delight and your place is very dear.

We love many of these "friends" you've listed and are Betsy-Tacy kindreds.
warmly from Mary Brooke in Atlanta

Anna at Joy In Every Step said...

Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I have three young girls and these books look wonderful for them. I am still new to the Charlotte Mason way. I have loved all that I have read and learned so far, but I still have a lot of learning to do. Thank you for helping me along in my learning. I look forward to reading some of your links!

Carrie said...

Oh Dear Friend, How I would love to have our little girls play together... and for us to sit and visit...

Several of these books are favorites here. The others? Already added to some lists. :)

Enjoy these days (though I know you are :) )!

Anonymous said...

Your vision of preschool is terrific--we've done a lot of the same here. I love your book list too--many of those are our favorites as well. We are reading Treasury for Children (again!) this year, and I plan to read the Beatrix Potter stories to my four year old son as well. We are also reading "A Child's Garden of Verses" as well as memorizing some Stevenson. Thanks for sharing about "Magic Hill"--I've never read that one. My husband just finished reading "House at Pooh Corner" with the four and six year olds. I hope you have a wonderful year!


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