Give Your Child the World: Week 4 – North America

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See this post for an explanation of this Summer Book Club. Follow week 4’s post at Simple Homeschool.


As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a bit behind due to being out of town. I figured this week (North America) is probably a good one to not spend as much time on. However, I would have liked to spend some time on the minorities of North America – we’ll have to make sure we revisit that in the future.

(All italic descriptions from, and asterisks mark my own thoughts on the book.)

littlehouseLittle House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pioneer life is sometimes hard for the family, since they must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But it is also exciting as Laura and her family celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. And every night they are safe and warm in their little house, with the happy sound of Pa’s fiddle sending Laura and her sisters off to sleep.

And so begins Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved story of a pioneer girl and her family. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America’s frontier history and a heartwarming, unforgettable story.

** We actually read this book a few months ago as part of our curriculum this year. It’s still one of my favorite series. It’s such a great look at frontier life in the mid 1800s, and also in homesteading. It opened some great conversations about where our food comes from; about farming and butchering, and how we keep things during the winter. It really makes you realize how easy we have it in regards to food! Savannah really enjoyed the book (especially the fact that it’s about three sisters!) and is bugging me to read the next one. Hopefully soon. :-)

MakeWayforDucklingsMake Way for Ducklings
by Robert McCloskey

Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live. The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston. But with a little help from the Boston police, Mrs. Mallard and Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack arive safely at their new home. This brilliantly illustrated, amusingly observed tale of Mallards on the move has won the hearts of generations of readers.

** This book isn’t in the “Give Your Child the World” book, but it fit with the theme and we were just visiting Boston with the kids so I’m including it. :-) I grew up listening to this story, because it’s one of my mom’s favorites. I have really loved passing on the love to my kids. It’s a short but really sweet story set in Boston of a mama duck who braves cars and bikes to cross the streets with her 8 ducklings in toe. The kind Boston policemen stopped traffic for her to make sure no ducklings were harmed as they made their way to Boston’s Public Gardens. Of course, Robert McCloskey’s illustrations make the story, in my opinion. Now, there are statues of Mrs. Mallard and her 8 ducklings in the Public Gardens that are delightful to visit. We first visited the “Make Way for Ducklings” statue with them 3 years ago, when Savannah was 4 and Caroline was 1.

Make way for ducklings!

This year we visited with all three kids and they had a great time. We actually sat on the grass in the Public Garden for a while as we had a snack and watched the swan boats and the ducks. It was so pleasant – the weather was wonderful. If I had remembered the route Mrs. Mallard had taken with her ducklings, I would have tried to recreate that, but it didn’t occur to me. Perhaps next time. :-)

Make way for ducklings!

Elizabeth on the ducklings

onemorninginmaineOne Morning in Maine
by Robert McCloskey

Today is a special day for Sal because she gets to go to Buck’s Harbor with her dad. But when she wakes up to brush her teeth with her baby sister, she discovers something shocking… Her tooth is loose! And that’s just the start of a huge day!

** This book is on the booklist, and fit well with “Make Way for Ducklings” and spending a week at the beach. I actually am not sure I have ever read this one. Savannah enjoyed the fact that Sal has a loose tooth just like her, and we all enjoyed the fact that her little sister Jane looked to be about Elizabeth’s age. We enjoyed learning a little more about clams and mussels, and taking a boat to the harbor. And again, I just love Robert McCloskey’s illustrations – they make the books, in my opinion. Definitely one we’ll be reading again.

Reflections on this week: While these books are good and I’m glad I shared them with my girls, they were more focused on history rather than on a culture that is different from our own. The point of this book club is to expand my girls’ horizons and introduce them to other countries and cultures. I do think it’s important to show them how North America isn’t just white people in the United States. There are many suggestions in the booklist, so I do think it’s important I touch on those as well.

Give Your Child the World: Week 3 – Europe

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See this post for an explanation of this Summer Book Club. Follow week 3’s post at Simple Homeschool.


I’m really late with this! Week 3 was actually two weeks ago, but we have been traveling the past few weeks, so we’re behind. I did check out the books for Europe and took them with us to the beach! And got a picture on the beach just for fun. :-) The girls thought I was crazy but they humored me.

(All italic descriptions from, and asterisks mark my own thoughts on the book.)

charlotteingivernyCharlotte in Giverny
by Joan MacPhail Knight

It’s 1892 and Charlotte is bound for Monet’s famous artist colony in Giverny, France, where painters like her father are flocking to learn the new style of painting called Impressionism. In spite of missing her best friend, Charlotte becomes enchanted with France and records her colorful experiences in her journal. She makes new friends, plants a garden, learns to speak French, and even attends the wedding of Monsieur Monet’s daughter!

** This is a longer book and we haven’t finished it yet. However, Savannah loves art so she’s been very intrigued by this story. I love how it’s part art history and part learning about France. The style and layout make this book really fun and interesting.

catwhowalkedThe Cat Who Walked Across France
by Kate Banks

The cat and the old woman have lived happily together for many years in the stone house by the sea. But when the old woman dies, the cat is packed up with her belongings and sent north to the village where she was born. Soon he is forgotten. He walks the streets aimlessly until, spurred by memories and a longing to return to the place he knows and loves, the cat embarks on a journey to find the home he was taken away from.

In lyrical prose and breathtaking images, Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben take the reader on a journey across the Norman countryside, past ancient ruins, through bustling cities, to the sparkling ports of the Mediterranean Sea and a place the cat can call home.

** My girls really loved this book, as did I because, well, it’s about a cat. :-) We were very sad for the cat but don’t worry, it has a happy ending. :-) I tried to point out the countryside in the illustrations on each page, but I’m afraid I don’t know French landmarks very well and wasn’t able to be very detailed. However, it’s a sweet story and I’d recommend it especially for the cat lovers out there.

theyellowstarThe Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark
by Carmen Agra Deedy

When Nazi soldiers occupied his country, King Christian X of Denmark committed himself to keeping all Danes safe from harm. The bravery of the Danes and their king during that dangerous time has inspired many legends. The most enduring is the legend of the yellow star, which symbolizes the loyalty and fearless spirit of the king and his people. The result is a powerful and dignified story of heroic justice, a story for all people and all times.

** I loved this story, but I think it was a little beyond my girls’ heads. We did talk about the Holocaust when we read Twenty and Ten last year, but I think it’s really hard for Savannah to grasp the horrors of what the Nazis did, and just how serious it was to be a Jew in Europe at this time. I haven’t pushed it – she’s still so young – but I think that made it harder for her to understand how cool of a story this was. Perhaps we’ll revisit it in the future, when she’s much older.

katjethewindmillcatKatje the Windmill Cat
by Gretchen Woelfle

This heroic tale was inspired by a true story that took place over 500 years ago. It tells of Katje the windmill cat who lives happily with Nico, the miller, in a Dutch village by the sea. But when Nico brings home his new bride, everything changes. Katje is shooed away by Lena as she sweeps the house or when she finds Katje playing with the new baby. Eventually poor Katje leaves her home and moves into the windmill. But when a storm breaks the dike that holds back the sea, Katje performs a feat of extraordinary courage that makes her forever welcome in the house.

Hands down my favorite book of the ones we read this week. Of course, it’s a happy tale about a cat, so you know I’m going to like it. My kids really enjoyed it too, and we got to talk about the Netherlands and dikes and sea level and flooding. Also, this just made it even cooler – the day before we read this book, we happened to visit the Plimoth Grist Mill in Plymouth, Massachusetts, which is a working grist mill and a replica of the one that served the town in the mid 1600s. We got to watch them set the stones up and then grind the corn, and we learned all about how mills worked.

Plimoth Grist Mill

One thing they had was a little model of the mill, and a little cat and two little mice. I actually took a picture of it because, cat. And pointed it out to the girls and we talked about how cats were kept as mousers and how it was an important job.

A model of the mill

So, the next day we read about Katje who lived in a mill and who had an important job of catching mice! The girls were so excited to make that connection, and I just love to see all this learning going on! I might buy this book for ourselves because I liked it that much.

adeleandsimonAdèle & Simon
by Barbara McClintock

When Simon’s older sister, Adèle, picks him up from school, he has his hat and gloves and scarf and sweater, his coat and knapsack and books and crayons, and a drawing of a cat he made that morning. Adèle makes Simon promise to try not to lose anything. But as they make their way home, distractions cause Simon to leave something behind at every stop. What will they tell their mother?

Detailed pen-and-ink drawings – filled with soft watercolors – make a game of this unforgettable tour through the streets and scenes of early-twentieth-century Paris. Illustrated endpapers extend the fun by replicating a 1907 Baedeker map of Paris.

** This is a sweet little book that Caroline especially enjoyed. It was similar to the Cat Who Walked Across France, but this time is only a small part of Paris. But, they both enjoyed following each page and trying to find the item that Simon lost.

beatrixpotterTimeless Tales of Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit and Friends
by Beatrix Potter, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

One last book – this actually was an audio book that we got from the library for our trip. It was perfect; short stories that captured imaginations but weren’t too hard to follow. And since they are set in the English countryside, they fit with this week’s theme. ;-) However, I don’t believe this is a title in “Give Your Child the World“. One realization I had while listening to these classic tales is how much Beatrix Potter’s illustrations add to the story. I was sad that Savannah wasn’t getting a chance to see them as she was listening to the stories. I guess I’ll have to check them out of the library and read them to her again. ;-) (Also, I started making plans again to visit England… ha!)

Whew that was a long one. Thanks for bearing with me and I promise next week’s is MUCH shorter. :-)

Give Your Child the World: Week 2 – Africa

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See my previous post for an explanation of this Summer Book Club. Follow this week’s post at Simple Homeschool.

This week is Africa! I have to admit, Africa is not an area that I feel very passionate about. I wouldn’t normally pick up a book about Africa to read to them. So, I was a little nervous about this week because I didn’t want to accidentally pass on to my kids that Africa doesn’t matter. But! I have really, really liked the 4 books we have read this week! I debated making some African food, but I decided to maybe approach food when they’re a little older and either less picky or more easily bribed. ;-)

(All italic descriptions from, and asterisks mark my own thoughts on the book.)

lalasalamaLala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby
by Patricia Maclachlan

“The rhythm of the day’s activities creates the melody of the evening’s lullaby in this sweet song of family life along the banks of Lake Tanganyika… Rich, beautifully detailed illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon offer a restful complement to the Swahili refrain ‘lala salama’–an invocation to ‘sleep well.'”

** I loved this sweet, gentle story of a lullaby the mother is singing to her baby. The illustrations were my favorite part, but the tone of the book is also calming. I thought it was also a great introduction for my kids about what daily life is like for a family on Lake Tanganyika. Honestly, this is one I might buy for our home library. **

annahibiscusAnna Hibiscus
by Atinuke

Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa with her mother, her father, her baby twin brothers, and lots and lots of her family. Join her as she splashes in the sea, prepares for a party, sells oranges, and hopes to see sweet, sweet snow!

** This book is great! It reminds me of some of the simple chapter books we’ve read this past year for school, like Beezus and Ramona. My 6 year old and I are both really enjoying reading about the adventures of a little African girl. I hope our library has the other books in the series! **

Beatrice’s Goat
by Page McBrier

“This illustrated book offers the true story of how a poor African girl was able to attend school after receiving a goat as a gift through a special international project and then sell its milk to get the money needed to buy her books.”

** This was probably my least favorite of the 4 books we read this week, though I certainly didn’t dislike it. It is a great explanation of how projects like Heifer International can help families. I do highly recommend this book if you are desiring to involve your kids in a family donation to Heifer or another similar organization. **

bringingtherainBringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
by Verna Aardema

“A cumulative rhyme relating how Ki-pat brought rain to the drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. Verna Aardema has brought the original story closer to the English nursery rhyme by putting in a cumulative refrain and giving the tale the rhythm of ‘The House That Jack Built.'”

** We enjoyed this fun rhythmic book, and it gave a great opening to talk about the climate in Africa and also about tall tales. **


Another fun thing I added this week was two Usborne sticker books. My girls love stickers and dolls, and Usborne books are such high quality. I got Around the World and Costumes Around the World. Each page has a person or persons from a different country/region, and a short little explanation about the clothes. The stickers are the outfits and you build the outfits with the stickers. The two books don’t have the same countries, but I was able to find one in each for Africa (Nigeria and South Africa), so we got to talk about the climate in Africa and how that affects the clothing. I think I might pick up a few more of these books for our next road trip.

stickercostumes stickers