Reading is a foundational, imperative skill to learn, I think we can all agree. Last summer Kai and I started this reading curriculum, and we finished right before Thanksgiving. I am one who likes to take it a subject at a time, which is why I choose to school year-round. Six weeks on, take a break, another six weeks-this is manageable for us right now. So now that Kai has the skills and knows how to read, our focus is simple: practice. At six years old, I made him a deal at the beginning of the year. He reads a book and I follow along, then I read a book and he follows along. For practice we are going through this set from Usborne books. In addition to him practicing with this set, we’re getting multiple picture books and doing one read-aloud book series as a family (this month it was Winnie-The-Pooh).
Reading aloud has transformed our school time, family time, Kai’s reading comprehension, language, imagination, so much. Sarah with Read Aloud Revival is a gift y’all. I believe anyone raising a human or teaching a human could benefit from her podcast, blogs, and books. Sit in her presence and learn from her. Utilize all her amazing resources. I downloaded her year of picture books list, poured over it, and planned what we’re reading each quarter. I always tell people, homeschooling, especially in the beginning does not have to be expensive. If you have a library card and an amazon prime account, that’s all you need to get started.
One thing that has challenged me in my own reading life is that I typically read for purpose and purpose only, rarely ever for fun. On my shelf you find books about the brain, trauma, parenting, adoption, sensory processing disorder, social justice issues, practical and for learning only. I used to love reading for fun growing up, but do you know what ruined all of that? When I started getting tested on every single book I read. When it became about points and grades and the fun books were “worth less” in school, it took all the joy out of my reading. Getting to homeschool, it’s helping me redeem that. So, I’m making it a point to mix reading for purpose and reading for fun with Kai. This year, one of my goals was to also read for myself, and use that same mix: books that will challenge, inspire, make me learn and grow, and books that will allow me to escape and have fun. Another strong value that we also take seriously with our media is representation of people of color. We are raising a child of color, therefore he needs to see both his reflection and the reflections of those who do not look like him represented in what he is consuming whether read or watched.
Things I Consider
As I am planning out my quarter there are some things I ask myself before I ever start putting books on a list. Here are some things I consider:
How is Kai currently feeling about reading?
What are some subjects I notice that he’s really interested in right now?
What are some things I want him to learn about?
What would compliment other subjects?
What is the current season we are in, and how can we find books to celebrate it?
Are there any important days in history coming up or people who made a difference in social justice that we can learn about in age appropriate ways?
Are there any other resources that would further compliment these things (activities, movies, shows, museums, etc.)?
This is not an exhaustive list, but I do think that the first step in planning is simply getting curious. Learning is something I want Kai to enjoy. If there are things he really wants to understand that aren’t part of my plan, how can I adjust so we can run with what he’s already naturally curious about?
So with all that said, I made an amazon storefront that I’ll update each month with what we are reading. I want to highlight a couple of books here, ones we have gotten from the library and so fallen in love with we had to own them.
Let The Children March: This book y’all. Please don’t think subjects like civil rights and racism are too hard a subject for kids to understand. We have got to have these conversations early. This book is absolutely beautiful and so moving, I tear up every single time. The art is incredible, and you need to be prepared that it will spur on conversations. Highly, highly recommend this.
Pies From Nowhere: We just got this from the library and will for sure be purchasing. I think there is such a need to teach about well-known people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but we tend to forget that there were thousands of other influential people who contributed to times in history like the Civil Rights Movement. This story is about Georgia Gilmore, who was an incredible cook and baker and used that gift to raise funds and contribute to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We sat down and ate pie while we read this, and it was one of Kai’s favorites.
Martin & Mahalia: The art in this book is bright and captivating, and the story highlights how these two powerhouse voices complimented each other and worked together in the fight for justice. Kai did not want to turn this book back into the library, and this led to us finding videos on youtube of Mahalia Jackson because we just had to hear that voice that was like “brass and butter” at the same time.
Make a hot drink, cozy up together, and escape in these stories. All books are linked under January Reading List. Happy reading!