Homeschooling

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (AND a BOOKLIST of my favorite series!)

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Book Series Recommendation Gift Ideas Stocking Stuffers

If you’re raising an eager little reader, you know how hard it is to keep up with that voracious appetite for reading material. And you also know the only thing better than finding a good book is realizing the book is part of an entire series. MOAR BOOKZ!

If you’re looking for early chapter books with just the right amount of adventure (time travel! kid-sized explorers! Biblical lands!), I think you’ll love this series. It’s especially perfect for early-grade readers, but my kiddo who usually gravitates toward middle -grade novels is still SUPER excited about it (I mean, look at that face!)

Continue reading “Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (AND a BOOKLIST of my favorite series!)”

Homeschooling

Diverse US History Books for Kids

I’m frequently asked for recommendations on diverse US history books for kids, especially to supplement American history curriculum.

There’s only so many books you can read about George Washington, know what I mean? And honestly — why would you keep reading about the same handful of people over and over, when there’s a whole wonderful world to embrace?

Continue reading “Diverse US History Books for Kids”

books, Homeschooling, How To

A Guide to Jean Fritz Books

Jean Fritz’ living history books are a terrific way to incorporate a narrative, storytelling approach into to your homeschool history lessons.  You probably know about her popular U.S. history books, but did you know she was a missionary kid who also wrote books about her time in China?

A few weeks ago, I went through my entire Jean Fritz collection — over half of the books she’s ever written — and put together a guide for the iHomeschool Network blog called How to Choose the Perfect Jean Fritz History Book.  In this topical guide, I list the themes, geographical area, time in history, and suggested reading level for each book, so you can grab the title which best matches where you are right now in your history studies. You’ll see your favorites there, of course, but you just might discover some unknown gems as well, like books about Chinese history, a picture book with saturated 1950s art, and a number of longer novels for the middle grades.

Continue reading “A Guide to Jean Fritz Books”

Homeschooling

Finding Accurate Thanksgiving History Books for Kids

Finding Accurate Thanksgiving History Books for Kids

Finding Accurate Thanksgiving History Books for Kids

Looking for accurate Thanksgiving history books for children can be difficult. So many of them have been romanticized to the point of falsehood.

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Stories about the Pilgrims and the colonial times overall  are often problematic anyway. Many of the books which do provide a truly accurate account contain content unsuitable for sensitive children. Child-friendly volumes, on the other hand, often take liberties with history, since the true story of the colonies’ tragedies and trials isn’t a child-friendly topic. And of course — and this is a biggie — many books about Pilgrims depict Native Americans in a incredibly offensive way. (I’ve written more about the way Native Americans are depicted in children’s literature.)

Squanto’s Journey

Thankfully, Joseph Bruchac’s Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving is one of those rare early American history books. It’s accurate and compelling while still being child-friendly. In fact, it’s the only picture book about the first Thanksgiving I recommend.

With empathy and strength, the author — who is of Native American ancestry himself — tells Squanto’s story in the first person.  I love how he begins not with the First Thanksgiving or with planting corn, but with Squanto’s first difficult journey away from North America to England. Squanto is portrayed as a man of courage, and Bruchac masterfully writes of Squanto’s difficult role in Patuxet-turned-Plymouth.

With a book as solid, factual, and beautiful as this, there’s no reason to turn instead to watered-down inaccurate stories about this misunderstood man. Definitely add it to your library request queue or your bookstore wishlist if you haven’t already.

Three Young Pilgrims

Another book which handles this difficult time period fairly tastefully, but not perfectly, is Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness.  This is a good choice to give children a broad overview over of the Pilgrim perspective during the early colonial years,  since it shows various trials, hardships, and joys the Pilgrims experienced while adjusting to the New World during and after arrival.  Kids will love the large, illustrated primer format, and the wealth of hand-lettered facts incorporated into the rich, brooding illustrations.

But there’s a caveat: the author admits in the foreword that Three Young Pilgrims only tells “part of the story”,  and hopes it will “lead the reader to study further”.  I agree. It’s beautiful and touching, but glosses over a few details and romanticizes a bit, so definitely read it alongside Bruchac’s book.

Help Your Kids Separate Thanksgiving Fact from Fiction

And talk to your kids! Like Cheryl Harness said, that any book we read only tells “part of the story”.  As children take in the folklore surrounding the holiday this Thanksgiving, let’s begin conversations to help kids sort out legend from historical fact. I’ve created a series of discussion prompts to help you talk about real Thanksgiving history with your kids — click here to read 10 Thanksgiving History Conversation-Starters for Kids.

Finding Accurate Thanksgiving Books for Kids

What resources are you using to delve into Thanksgiving history this year?

books, 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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