• An exploration of the different ways in which counting books present numbers.
    books,  mathematics

    Can you count the counting books?

    One of my children choose a counting book at the library the other day, and I thought about how my youngest was just about able to start counting and maybe I should find another counting book too. So we came home with a collection of them, with me rejoicing in the differences between each book. Some books count different things – five oranges, six apples, for example, while other groups count one group that grows and shrinks. Some books start with one, others with zero. Some start to move into multiplication, grouping things together. I’m describing them here starting with the ones involving the easiest math to the hardest. borrowed…

  • books,  history,  homeschooling,  science

    Lesson ideas using Superman comics

    As a kid I enjoyed watching Lois and Clark, or at least the first two seasons of it, but I never actually read any Superman comics. It’s only been recently with my kids interested in superheroes that I’ve started to learn more about them. At first I was thrown by the discontinuity of the stories. I tried to link things together looking for a big storyline, until I suddenly realized that like Archie comics, there isn’t one. There are story lines, but not one big single one. Suddenly I could start looking at the different stories for what they are. In the earlier Superman comics the little stories were similar…

  • books,  bullying

    The Prince Iggy Books

    It’s been a while since I’ve accepted the gift of a book in exchange for a review. I’ve been hesitant to for fear of being stuck with books that I can’t really enjoy, but recently I decided to try out the Prince Iggy series by Aldo Fynn, and really enjoyed sharing it with my kids. Prince Iggy grew up in the Kingdom of Naysayers, in a boarding school my nine year old described as “the Hogwarts out of Hell.” The kids are served porridge three times every day (more gruel anyone?) and encouraged to behave unethically. There Iggy is belittled and bullied until he believes himself to be Stinky Iggy…

  • books,  history,  science

    learning about Marie Curie and radioactivity

    As I was preparing to write that blog post about comic books, there was a day when I asked my husband to grab some more comic books when he goes to the library. One of the books he brought back was called Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss. It was from the adult graphic novel section, and it isn’t exactly a comic book. It’s an artistic exploration of the Curie’s life and also of the “fallout” of their discovery of radioactivity. The book tells how Marie and husband met, and how they grew in fame but suffered ill health problems. It describes…

  • books

    Comic Books

    My children love comic books, and I like reading them with the kids for the chance to discuss the books. Often there are subtle jokes, historical or cultural references, or just interesting themes. Benny and Penny: The Toy Breaker by Geoffrey Hayes is an easy-reading comic book for that most younger kids should relate to in some way. Bo is a toybreaker, a cousin whom Benny and Penny don’t really like because he tends to break things. It takes a bit but Benny and Penny realize he doesn’t want to break things, and they find a solution so they can all play happily together. Dalen and Gole: Scandal in Port Angus…

  • books

    But they’ll judge me if I say that….

    I have heard the phrase “the elephant in the room” before but somehow I have always focused on the thought of what the elephant represents (different in every instance) rather than think about the fear that keeps the people from acknowledging it. Two books have left me thinking about that fear more, and how we worry about how others will judge us. One is a story called What Elephant? and it is written and illustrated by Geneviève Côté. Similar to the story of the Emperor’s New Gown, there is something everyone can see but no one wants to acknowledge. In some ways the story is like There’s No Such Thing…

  • activism,  books,  politics

    A is for Activist

    I found a neat book for children of activists! It is called A is for Activist and it is by Innosanto Nagara. While the book is a baby board book it held more interest for my six year old than my three year old, as he could relate to the abundance of poster-carrying protesters. Each letter is tied in with at least one activist-related word, including those normally hard to use letters: V is for Vox Populi, the voice of the people, X is for Malcolm X and Z is for Zapatistas. There’s lots of room for discussion of concepts that don’t always come up in every day life, like…

  • books

    Melanie Bluelake’s Dream

    I’ve had the book Melanie Bluelake’s Dream sitting by my computer for  while now. I haven’t wanted to return it to the library until I write something about it, but I haven’t known what to write. It is a children’s chapter book by Betty Dorion about an eleven year old Cree girl who leaves her reserve to go live with her mom in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She’s not happy about leaving her Kõhkom (grandma) and her community. The usual nervousness about starting a new school in a new place are compounded by poverty. She can’t afford the school supplies. She and her mom are basically couch surfing, moving   between different…

  • books,  history

    Learning about medieval religious plays and poems

    Yesterday I finished reading the book A Little Lower Than the Angels by Geraldine McCaughrean. It is a great historical fiction novel, set in Britain during the middle ages and one of the wonderful things about it is that it isn’t about knights and castles. Instead its about a stone-mason’s apprentice, Gabriel, who runs away with a group of travelling mystery players. Gabriel enjoys the care given to him by Garvey, the playmaster who plays God, but he’s a little nervous around the Frenchman Lucier, who plays Lucifer. When they run into some trouble Garvey decides to turn Gabriel into a faux miracle worker and tensions mount. Gabriel is innocent…

  • books

    My Name is Blessing, and the organization behind the book

    The book My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters bears a lot in similarity to the book I Come from the Water. Both tell of a child finding a home in a children’s house (orphanage) and both are based on real stories. I Came From the Water takes place in Haiti. My Name is Blessing takes place in Kenya. The boy, Blessing, was not named that by his mother. Instead she named him after suffering. He was raised by his grandmother until she thought it best to take him to the children’s house. There he is told there will not be room for a boy named suffering. He thinks it…