5 tips for reading middle grade novels with your kids

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Written by contributor Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things

When my oldest children were small, I couldn’t wait until we could read middle grade novels together. I enjoyed reading picture books with them, of course, but it had been Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl who had sparked my own childhood imagination and turned me into a lifelong reader.

I couldn’t wait to introduce favorite books and characters to my kids.

The first novel I tried to read to my kids was Little House in the Big Woods. It was wildly unsuccessful.

I hadn’t yet developed my own read-aloud skills enough to deliver the long descriptive passages in an interesting way, and my girls hadn’t had enough practice painting pictures in their heads and following along with longer narrative to keep up with what was going on. It was such a disappointment.

Now, I maintain that Laura Ingalls Wilder has written some of the best books ever written (and we have gone on to read her entire series three times as a family), but I don’t usually recommend that parents just starting to read novels with their kids start there.

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Best books of the month

This post contains affiliate links. When you buy anything through Amazon after clicking these links, it benefits my family. Thank you for your support of this site!
best booksJamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

Sometimes the hardest part of choosing books for myself or my kids is the process of sifting through the thousands of choices available. But I find I’m much more likely to pick up a certain title if someone I know recommends it.

Maybe we can help each other with the book selection process. I’m introducing a new series today, and if you find it helpful we can do it on a monthly-ish basis.

book-buttonIt’s called Best Books of the Month.

Here’s how it works:

I’ll share a few of the titles we’ve enjoyed in our family this month, and I’ll ask you via social media what books you loved. Then I’ll compile the results into a handy list for you to bookmark and come back to when you’re in need of a good title.

So let’s get started! Here are a few recommendations from our family: (with short descriptions)
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Curricula bliss: 12 products we couldn’t live (or learn) without

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Curricula bliss 12 products we couldn't live (or learn) withoutJamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

Our family spent the first two weeks of September on vacation–something we’ve made a tradition of. When most people head back to the grind of school and work routines, I love that we can celebrate our homeschooling freedom on an empty beach together!

Now that we’ve settled in back at home, the leaves are changing color around their fringes and we’ve pulled out our jackets. Something about autumn calls us to new beginnings, to crack open dusty books, clear off shelves, and get to work once more.

Instead of sharing with you a curriculum plan for our year, I thought I’d share our curricula bliss. In all honesty, I don’t do much traditional homeschool planning–I refuse to map out a game plan for a whole year because I always reserve the right to change my mind along the way.

But I have come up with some overarching guidelines and goals–and right now these twelve products/programs have us pointed in the right direction.

We inspire, not require when it comes to academics–so the resources below are not essential elements in my kids’ education, but ones available for them to choose from.

I’ve marked the resources that we do together as a group with an (*) symbol. Those without an asterisk the kids can choose (or not)–many of these I gathered as a result of their homeschool compasses.

I call them curricula bliss because, well, for the most part, they make us happy!
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When you have no money for homeschool curriculum

no money for homeschool curriculum

Written by contributor Jamerrill Stewart of Free Homeschool Deals.

I have shared the journey of my family living on one small income to accomplish our homeschooling dreams. It’s what many families do, and they do it willingly for the joy and vision of being together as a family.

It was during these same years of growing our family on a super-tight budget that it became normal to find myself at the beginning of a homeschool year with no money for homeschool curriculum.

I was greatly encouraged during that time by reading amazing homeschool books such as Educating the WholeHearted Child and The Three R’s by Dr. Ruth Beechick. Those books helped me realize that I was not going to be successful as a homeschooling mom based on what curriculum-in-a-box I bought.

I would be successful just by learning alongside my children, going on nature walks to fill baskets full of pinecones for craft projects, and loading up a laundry basket full of enriching books at our local library.

My children could have a powerful education even if I didn’t have the funding to make big homeschool purchases, and the same goes for your children.

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10 inspiring book titles that model love of learning

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10 inspiring book titles that model love of learning
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

We all want our kids to fall in love with learning, don’t we?

And we can always use a little help as we press toward that goal. Instead of constantly telling our kids how important learning is, let’s show them–through our own example, of course, but also through the books we bring into our home.

After curling up with Abe Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Ben Carson, and the other protagonists featured here, we just may find our kids appreciating their education–and eager to learn more–than they were before.

The following ten titles feature main characters who discover just how important learning is, and who grow to love the doors it opens for them.

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