Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Psalm 23: Board Books for Christian Formation

The new school year tumbles in, with torrential rains, soaked earth, and flickering electric power. Online classes begin, with technology connecting us to classrooms in Serbia and Romania, classmates in Ethiopia and the United States, and language studies in Russian, Chinese, and Greek.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I am a member of the Psalm 23 launch team. The publisher, Harvest House, provided me with a complimentary copy of Psalm 23 in exchange for writing and publishing this review. I was already a fan of the Baby Believer Primers by Catechesis Books before being selected for the launch team. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

My third culture heart is so delighted we have been fortunate enough to build an intentionally global homeschool (after all, we serve a global God!) I love seeing how this plays out in little details, like virtual classrooms which span the globe, a world wall map centered on the Pacific Ocean, not the United States, and middle school math built around the UK framework. (Singapore math is my go-to for elementary grades.)

A Global Worldview Extends to the Very Youngest Members of Your Home

Seeing the world with a wide-angle lens also goes hand-in-hand, I think, with seeing kids as born persons. A global worldview sees all people, regardless of geographic location or age, as equal and equally deserving.

The eager 3-year-old deserves to learn something new each day, just the same as the 6th grader. There is no minimum age for learning, nor is there a maximum age for open-ended play. (The sixth grader can play with LEGO while I read aloud. The preschooler is not an afterthought to lessons, nor is he an interruption. And board books are just as valuable as Shakespeare. Yes, really.)

Lochlan started out the school year with the newest board book from author-illustrator team Danielle Hitchen and Jessica Blanchard, Psalm 23: A Colors Primer.

I love this series of books, and I love the concept behind them:

Baby Believer Primers help you teach your children the central tenets of the Christian faith that they may never know a day apart from the Lord. –catechesisbooks.com (emphasis mine)

Isn’t that beautiful?

Previous books in this series have derived their text entirely from hymns, creeds, and Bible verses, and the Psalm 23 primer is no different. Other than the colors, the text of Psalm 23 is all Scripture, with each colorful two-page spread illustrating a verse from the ESV translation.

Baby Believer Primers from Catechesis Books teach Christ-Centered Truth Alongside Preschool Basics

Since it’s a colors primer — prior Baby Believer books have included shapes, emotions, numbers, movement and more — Psalms 23 walks kids through ten colors:

  • brown
  • green
  • blue
  • grey
  • black
  • orange
  • purple
  • yellow
  • red, and
  • white.

A serene blue scene, for instance, is used to illustrate “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul” while flowing oil and brilliant yellow sunshine brings to life “you anoint my head with oil.” The book ends with a gleaming celestial white, reminding us “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The illustrations are top-tier. Each page is drenched in deeply pigmented color. Lochlan recently learned his colors, so he was feeling pretty proud of himself as he “read” the book by shouting out the color for each page. He also loved how illustrations switched back and forth between horizontal and vertical spreads, since it required him to turn the book sideways — and this is quite hilarious when you’re three!

A side note: While I have no theological issue with depictions of Christ — I am typing this next to an icon of Christ the Shepherd — some readers may wish to know that this book contains an illustration of a shepherd cradling a lamb.

There are now NINE books in the Baby Believer series!

Baby Believer books have a special place in my heart. Aveline and Lochlan are actual miracles; click through to read my review of Jesus Heals, and the story of God’s miraculous healing hand.

(P.S. Lochlan is wearing a hand-me-down Småfolk shirt, which Aveline originally wore in kindergarten! I saved it out of pure hope. You can click here to see teeny-tiny four-year-old Aveline wearing the same exact shirt back in 2015. Once you click through, scroll down! She’s wearing it in 4 different photos. Oh, time!)

I’ve absolutely loved reading these primers with my dear kids —

I’m thrilled to add Psalm 23 to our regular rotation. It’s launched at a perfect time — the beginning of the school year — and Lochlan is thrilled he gets a new book, too, while sister digs in to her stack of school books.

You can purchase Baby Believer books directly from Catechesis Books, or shop at any major retailer.

My prayer is that Lochlan tucks Psalm 23 away in his heart, never doubts God’s endless love for him, and grows up to always love Jesus.

What is your prayer for your kids this year?

Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Book Review: Middle-grade Novel Bronze & Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan

In your quest to add own-voices literature to your homeschool, don’t overlook translated novels! Translated books don’t try overly hard to be diverse, they simply are.

Written in Chinese by children’s author Cao Wenxuan, Bronze and Sunflower follows the two title characters through a summer in a rural village in China in the 1960s, shortly after Chairman Mao established agricultural labor camps during the Cultural Revolution.

Continue reading “Book Review: Middle-grade Novel Bronze & Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan”
Homeschooling

Weekly Recap: Kampung Boy and Fractal Broccoli

What’s Happening in Our Homeschool?

This week, I polled you on Instagram stories and asked if you’d be interested in reading an informal weekly recap of our homeschool — a brief blog post highlighting books we read and resources we particularly enjoyed that week. 90% of you — well, 90% of you who voted — said yes. (And a couple of you, prompted by Aveline’s book reviews, asked if she’d include any of her opinions in the weekly recaps. You’ll have to read and see…)

This format is really old-fashioned blogging, isn’t it? The headline didn’t give you five reasons why you should click, and what I’m writing here isn’t hyper-focused on answering your pain point in three easy steps. By all accounts, this kind of informal writing is what the blogging experts say not to do. But through what I’ve observed in my blogging-since-2002 escapades, it’s that the personal, transparent, unpolished conversational elements have largely vanished from the blog scene. So let’s try it, shall we?

Continue reading “Weekly Recap: Kampung Boy and Fractal Broccoli”

Book Reviews, Homeschooling

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

If you’re teaching your kids Mandarin Chinese and are looking for a hands-on way to supplement the lessons, or if you’re searching for summer kids’ craft projects which are also culturally and historically relevant, you’ll love this book. Now that Chinese school is out for the summer, we’re looking forward to creating shadow puppets, lanterns, traditional knots, banners, and even a floating dragon boat — all from the instructions and templates in the “Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts”!

Author Jennifer DeCristoforo has provided clear, illustrated, step-by-step instructions for each project; she also explains how the craft relates to Chinese culture. Throughout the book, “Did You Know?” sidebars entertain and inform, and photographs and art provide insight into traditional art forms.

Each craft is given a Level 1 through Level 4 designation to mark the difficulty. Level 1 crafts can be attempted by 3- to 6-year-olds, while a Level 4 activity is ideal for 12- to 15-year olds. Regardless of complexity, the directions remain simple and engaging, with  illustrations and icons to aid the crafter. Where intricate designs — or Chinese characters — are required to complete a project, the book’s appendix contains all the reproducible templates needed (this is a huge plus!)

And the book lends itself well to actual, practical use, because the practical spiral-binding means the book easily stays open and lies flat, and the hardcover and thick, glossy pages hold up against heavy wear.

This book really is a celebration. Jennifer DeCristoforo’s daughter was adopted from China in 2003, and “Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture” is a beautiful tribute to her heritage.

You can purchase the “Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts” on Amazon, or order directly from Jennifer, so more of the proceeds go to the author and not to Amazon. ;)

If you want to see even more book recommendations, follow my Instagram account, @oaxacaborn, and watch for the #oaxacabornreads hashtag. To receive an update in your inbox each time I publish a post, click here.

Happy summer of crafting!

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

WEB_13_Oaxacaborn_Lucky-Bamboo-Book-of-Crafts_Chinese-Crafts

WEB_4_Oaxacaborn_Lucky-Bamboo-Book-of-Crafts_Chinese-Crafts

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

WEB_20_Oaxacaborn_Lucky-Bamboo-Book-of-Crafts_Chinese-Crafts

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

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