Mum To Mom

Musings of an Aussie Mother Living in the USA

Tag: Books

Top 5 Books of 2018


As we begin 2019, I’d like to do as I did last year and share with you the top 5 books I read this past year.  2018 was a good year for reading books. As in previous years, much of my reading list was taken from my children’s school lists on Ambleside Online. There isn’t much time for other reading if I am to keep up with the Year 7 booklist alongside my daughter, as well as the Charlotte Mason 20 Principles Study that I am still in the middle of and will get back to, Lord willing, this month.

Also, for the first time, I kept a log of all the books that I finished during the year. It was fun to look back on books that I’d forgotten I’d read. And, yes, audiobooks count. (The copious picture books read aloud are not included.)

Top 5 Books of 2018

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

Since reading Oliver Twist a few years ago, Charles Dickens has become one of my favorite authors. This year, I had the delight of enjoying another of his novels, David Copperfield. A-Age-12 and I listened (separately) to it on audiobook performed by Richard Armitage. I say performed because it really was a performance. Armitage is a master at capturing the personality of the characters, complete with their accents and dialects. He brought this book to life more than any other audiobook I have heard. His portrayal of the aunt and Mr. Micawber were superb. Mr. Murdstone was chillingly cold and my daughter and I find ourselves impersonating the voice Armitage gave him whenever we discuss the book.

The audiobook performance aside, the story itself is so good. As with all Dickens novels that I have read (and I have only read a few), Dickens highlights societal problems that he saw in his day. David’s mistreatment is frustrating and upsetting, yet this book feels more hopeful than Oliver Twist, as David experiences success despite a miserable upbringing. There are characters that are endearing despite their obvious flaws and there are characters that you despise. There is the folly of youth and it’s consequences, friendship, and the overcoming of difficulties with forgiveness and grace. But what surprised me most was the conversations that this book prompted between my daughter and me about the women in the story. This topic was by far our most discussed subject. The women that I felt sorry for because I saw them as oppressed, she disdained because she saw them as weak. This is the power of a living book. That two people can read the same book and have completely different reactions to it says a lot about the reader as well as the skill of the author. It is the conversation that the reader has with the author when the book is well written. The discussions that we had were about the role of women. What is a virtuous woman? How did our view or Dickens’ view of women line up with Scripture? What traits, both weaknesses and strengths, did we each share with the various women in the story? Why did David’s mother particularly, respond the way she did? How should she have responded? How should a godly woman conduct herself? Some of our answers to these questions were VERY different from one another. But by discussing our points of view we learned to see the issue from a wider perspective and, hopefully, grow in thoughtfulness and compassion. If you and your daughter like Dickens, I highly recommend reading and discussing David Copperfield together. It has been very rewarding for us.

Know and Tell by Karen Glass

“It is our part to see that every child knows and can tell, whether by way of oral narrative or written essay” —Charlotte Mason.

An integral part of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education is the child narrating what they have read. In this book, Karen Glass explains what narration is and why we should use it, how to encourage and develop it, how and when to move from oral to written narration, and how to develop written narrations into the art of writing. This book is what the Charlotte Mason community had been waiting for and I know it is one I’ll continue to come back to again and again as I educate my children.

Learning to Love The Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey

This book was my companion for the better part of the year. I read it slowly, 1-2 pages a day with plenty of time for reflection. I have gained a deeper understanding of the structure of the Psalms (Did you know that the order is not random?), it’s connection to historical narratives in the Bible, and have learned to see how the Psalms speak of Christ. I feel like this is a book I need to read over and over because I know that I have already forgotten half of what I had learned.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe

Robinson Crusoe has made it to my top 5 list again this year. It was my third time reading it and the first time reading it aloud to G-Age-9. She loved it. It is interesting, in last years post I talked about how this book discussed “rebellion against God, feeling sorrow for our sin, the continual need for repentance, the joy and lightness we feel when we ask for forgiveness, [and] God’s providence in our circumstances.” What stood out to me this year was the importance of gratitude to God in your circumstances. Because God is sovereign, whatever circumstance we are in He means it for our good. Life could have been worse. [SPOILER ALERT] As Crusoe comes to realize, God was actually gracious to him by stranding him on an island for 24 years. Because the alternative was that he could have died with the rest of the ship’s crew. He realized that all his complaining about his circumstances displayed a lack of gratitude for God’s preservation of his life. He not only found himself on an island after being shipwrecked, but that island was filled to abundance with all he needed to survive. This is a lesson we can all do with remembering.

Beowulf translated by Burton Raffel

This was my first introduction to epic poetry and it did not disappoint. In many ways, this story points to Christ. A hero who slays the monster. Sound familiar? Yet it also points to Christ in another way. In the end, there was an end for Beowulf. A mere man, no matter how brave and heroic, cannot be the Savior. Man needs a Savior who will always slay the monster. With lots of battles and chest beating speeches, if you have never read epic poetry, this is a good one to begin with.

Books I read 2018

Non-Fiction

1. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
2. Know and Tell by Karen Glass
3. How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macauley
4. Learning to Love The Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey
5. Are My Kids On Track by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan
6. Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster
7. The Story of the Greeks by H. Guerber
8. The Story Of The Romans by H.A. Guerber
9. The Mystery of The Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker and Jeanne Bendick
10. Archimedes and the Door to Science by Jeanne Bendick
11. It Couldn’t Just Happen by Lawrence Richards
12. Galileo and the Magic Numbers by Sidney Rosen
13. The Story of David Livingstone by Vautier Golding
14. The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin
15. Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard Maybury

Fiction

16. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Road to Gundagai by Jackie French
19. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
20. Beowulf translated by Burton Raffel
21. Watership Down by Richard Adams
22. The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

School book re-reads to younger kids

23. Poor Richard by James Daugherty
24. Of Courage Undaunted by James Daugherty
25. The Landing of The Pilgrims by James Daugherty
26. Secrets of The Woods by William J. Long
27. Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober
28. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe
29. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
30. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
31. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
32. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Audiobooks

33. Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
34. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
35. Ben Hur by Lew Wallace
36. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
37. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
38. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
39. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
40. Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris
41. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
42. In Freedom’s Cause by G.A. Henty
43. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

The Secret to Downloading Free Audiobooks

We read aloud a lot in our home because we use living books for school. So when it comes to reading aloud just for fun, I don’t always have the time or the energy. It’s my ideal that the children have one story, that’s not a school book, read aloud to them every day. It’s a lovely idea, inspired by one of my favorite podcasts, the Read-Aloud Revival. But realistically, this never happens. With homeschooling, co-op prep, extra curricula activities, a toddler, and a home to run, I am lucky to manage 2-3 days some weeks. I can only be stretched so far. But a few months ago I discovered a way to attain my lofty read-aloud goals for my children, easily and without burden, by borrowing digital audiobooks from our local library. This in no way replaces snuggling on the couch with the kiddos and reading aloud to them myself. But when I’m strapped for time, I’m thankful for the option. They still get to hear wonderful stories and I get to breathe *wink*.

Borrowing Digital Books from the Library

My county library uses Hoopla to lend digital books. Other libraries use Overdrive. I will talk about what I know about both, but I have less experience with Overdrive since my library doesn’t use it. These are services used in both Australian and American libraries. So my Aussie friends can check out the service as well. My Overdrive example is with a library from Australia. Just remember, like any library, use discernment. This is not an endorsement of every audiobook.

You will need your library card number and pin to borrow from these services. If you have your library card number but not your pin, you can go to your library’s page, click on “My account” at the top of the page, then click “Forgot password/PIN code?” You will be asked to enter your library card number and your pin will be emailed to you.

Volusia County Library Page

Requesting Library Pin

Hoopla

I discovered Hoopla scrolling down through my library page.

Hoopla on the Library Website

Alternatively, you can go straight to the Hoopla webpage.

Hoopla

You can browse the digital library there, but in order to borrow, you need to log in first by clicking the “Log In” button at the top right of the page. If you are new to Hoopla, you can then sign up by clicking the blue “Sign Up Now” button.

Hoopla Log in

You will then select your library.

Hoopla Sign Up

Now that you are logged in, you can browse audiobooks, digital books, and movies to your heart’s content. There are categories you can browse to discover the items that you are most interested in. If there is a particular title that you wish to borrow, you can search for it in the search box.

Searching with Hoopla

It will then bring up all titles related to your search inquiry. Because I only want audiobooks, I make sure to select “Audiobooks” underneath “FILTER.”

Mary Poppins in the Park is the book I want to borrow. So I simply click on the title.

Mary Poppins on Hoopla

Then click “Borrow.”

Borrowing using Hoopla

Did I mention that there is a Hoopla app for tablets and smartphones? Because I am borrowing on my iPad, and I have already downloaded the app, it automatically wants me to open the audiobook through the app.

Opening audiobook in Hoopla app

After clicking “Open in App,” the Hoopla app is automatically opened ready for me to play my newly borrowed audiobook, Mary Poppins in the Park. Click play and enjoy! This will stream the audiobook over the internet.

Play Audiobook of Mary Poppins in the Park

If you want to listen to the audiobook without an internet connection, you can download the audiobook to your device to listen to it whenever you want. The title will automatically leave your device after the 21 day borrowing period. No more overdue fees! To download the audiobook you simply click on the cloud icon at the top right of the page. An orange progress bar will track across the screen to let you know when it is downloaded. This is wonderful for those long road trips.

Downloading audiobooks to your device

You can find all your borrowed items in the “MY TITLES” section.

Hoopla Search

Overdrive

I will attempt to explain how to borrow audiobooks using Overdrive, but as I said, I have no experience borrowing using this service since I don’t have an account with a library that uses it. From what I can see, the principles are essentially the same, but the interface (how it looks) is slightly different. Hopefully this will be enough explanation to get you going.

The first step is to go to the Overdrive webpage or download the app and sign up. I found the iPad app the easiest. The browser experience may look slightly different.

Overdrive Sign Up

Once signed up, follow the prompts to swipe right.

Overdrive 1

Click “Add a Library.”

Selecting Libraries in Overdrive

Type in a city name, postal/zip code, or library name. I searched for a library near Rowville, Australia—a familiar city to me.

Find Library in Overdrive

Overdrive found Rowville library. Click on the library name.

Rowville Library Overdrive

Rowville library is part of the Eastern Regional Libraries system. Click on it.

Eastern Regional Libraries

Now I have selected my library that is connected with Overdrive, I am free to browse or search for titles in the search box at the top right of the screen. I tried to search for Mary Poppins, but sadly, this library system didn’t have Mary Poppins available as an audiobook download.

Overdrive 2

So I decided to select “View more…” under the Audiobook Fiction section in the black navigation bar to browse what was available. The headphones icon over a title tells you that it is an audiobook.

Overdrive

I scrolled down through the various categories until I came to one that interested me (Literature) and clicked “View more…”

Browsing Overdrive

To narrow down my search, I selected “Subject” from the left side bar.

Overdrive Literature Audiobooks

Then I selected my subject of choice, “Classic Literature.”

Classical Literature Audiobook

I scrolled down until I found a title that I wanted to download, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and clicked “Borrow.”

Alice in Wonderland Audiobook Overdrive

Just a note about children’s literature. There can be many versions of the classics. My encouragement is to read the unadapted and unabridged version. Our children deserve the respect of giving them rich, quality literature, that hasn’t been dumbed down

This is as far as I can take you since I don’t have an account with a library that uses Overdrive. I think that you will be able to take it from there though.

Borrowing with Overdrive

I connect my iPad via bluetooth to a portable bluetooth speaker for a better listening experience. My children then prop the iPad and speaker up on their dresser, snuggle into bed, and enjoy the story.

Mary Poppins in the Park Audiobook

I’d love to hear your audiobook experiences.

On Our Night Stand (Summer 2015)

He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!

—Emily Dickinson, A Book

I was a voracious reader when I was a kid. Once I left school though, I stopped reading for the most part. There were certain Christian living books that I read from time to time, but not a lot and not consistently. Since becoming a part of the homeschooling community online, I have enjoyed seeing what other mums are reading when they post updates on their blogs. This has inspired me to read again and to read more widely. These mums introduced me to the classics and encouraged me to cultivate an atmosphere of reading in our home. So, I made it my goal to read a chapter of something each day.

In the hope that it might encourage you, here are the books on our nightstand this summer.

What Mum Is Reading

Mum's Books

Mum’s Books

Devotional

Fellowship with God by Martin Lloyd Jones

These are Jones’ sermons from 1 John, to compliment my own personal reading of 1 John

Historical

Selected Letters of Jane Austen

I find the everyday life of Jane Austen’s world fascinating. I’m a big Austen fan. I read one or two letters a week just for fun.

Special Interest

Grammar Book For You And I (Oops Me) By C. Edward Good

Can I tell you my deep dark secret? My knowledge of grammar is appalling. It’s shameful, I know. I’m hoping this book will help me with this oversight.

Education

The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater

Loving this book about the power of Charlotte Mason notebooking. It has inspired me to keep my own commonplace book and encouraged me to be more intentional with our nature study notebooking.

School Education by Charlotte Mason (Online)

Gaining a more thorough understanding of the philosophy of education that I love, and how it works out practically as my eldest moves into 4th grade next year.

Novel

Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Kindle)

I started reading this to see if it would be appropriate to read aloud to my 5,7, and 8 year olds and found that I’d fallen in love with it for myself. I’m only in chapter 3 and it’s wonderful so far.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, narrated by Stephen Fry (Audible)

Funny science fiction. What’s not to love. And Stephen Fry is brilliant to listen to. Hubby and I are enjoying this one together.

Read-Alouds with the Children

The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton

These were my very favorite when I was a kid. I’m glad to be able to share them with my children.

Read-Alouds

Read-Alouds

Family Devotions

Grandpa’s Box by Starr Meade

Dad is reading this to us. Retelling the biblical story of redemption.

What the Kids Are Reading

Beginner Reader

Our 7-year-old has just started with the Little Bear books. They are so sweet.

Beginner Reader

Beginner Reader

Library Finds

I let the kids pick their own books but they have to bring them to me to approve. There were a hundred Halloween selections for some reason. I picked the nicest looking ones.

Library Books

Library Books

Our 8-year-old is a huge Marguerite Henry fan.

Library Books

Library Books

8-Year-Old’s Bookshelf

My eldest daughter reads so fast and so much that I cannot keep up with her. Because of this she rereads the books on her shelves over and over and over again.

8-Year-Old's Bookshelf

8-Year-Old’s Bookshelf

8-Year-Old's Bookshelf

8-Year-Old’s Bookshelf

Did I mention my daughter loves horse books?

I’d love to know what’s on your nightstand.

What Does My Homeschool Look Like? – Our Booklist (Year 1)

I mention in my bio that I am a homeschooler so I thought I would do a series of posts about what our homeschool looks like at the moment. I currently only homeschool my 6 year old and we are following the booklist and 36 week schedule (3 terms) for Year 1 at Ambleside Online (AO1).

Here is our AO1 booklist:

Bible
We are reading the book of Genesis.

Copywork
This is basically handwriting and spelling practice. I choose a short passage from one of the books that we are reading and she copies it out. Usually only one or two sentences a day. I try to vary the type of writing to expose her to a variety of writing styles. For example, for a couple of days she will copy a verse from a poem, the next day a line from Aesops fables, the next couple of days something from literature, the next something from a history book, etc.

Readers
Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik
Harriette Taylor Treadwell Readers (free online readers)

Math
Math-U-See

Science
Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright

Nature study
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess (free online ebook)

Literature
The Aesop for Children by Milo Winters (free online ebook)
Beautiful stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit (free downloadable ebook)
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (free downloadable ebook)
Just so stories by Rudyard Kipling (free downloadable ebook)
Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty (free online ebook)

Poetry
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson Term 1
Now We Are Six/When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne Term 2
A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa Term 3

History
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
An Island Story by H.E. Marshall (free downloadable ebook)
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin Terms 1 & 2 (free downloadable ebook)
Viking Tales by Jennie Hall Terms 2 & 3 (free downloadable ebook)

American History Biography
Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 1
George Washington by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 2
Buffalo Bill by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 3

Geography
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling

French
First Step en Francais (free online beginner course)
Tres Bien app for iPad

Artist and Composer Study
Term1 – Renoir/Debussy
Term 2 – Ruisdale, de Hooch/Bach
Term 3 – Seurat/Opera Overtures
Wikipedia and other online resources
I will discuss how we do artist and composer study in another post.

P.E.
Classes run for homeschoolers at our local gym.

Free Reading
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (free downloadable ebook)
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (especially for my younger girls who are 4 and 3 and not ready for chapter books, and 6 year old enjoys it too)
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (free downloadable ebook)
The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs (Australian)
The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall (Australian)

I may add more to the free reading list if we have time to read more than what is listed. There are a couple of books that I also may include for Australian History/Literature if I am able to get the books and can work out how to fit them into our schedule. These are: The Way of The Whirlwind by Mary Durack and Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel Pedley. Thanks to my Aussie friend Jeanne at A Peaceful Day who drew my attention to these Australian books and has spent many years Australianizing AO by compiling great Australian literature to compliment the Ambleside Online curriculum.

I have linked to as many of the free ebooks that I could find, but obviously you can choose to purchase the paper version of these books instead if you preferred to. I started with all the ebooks that I could for budgeting reasons but have since gone back and purchased a few of the literature books in paper. While the ebooks are helpful, they are a poor substitute for a beautifully illustrated children’s book that the children can hold in their little hands and can pull off the shelf anytime they want to immerse themselves in the adventure it holds.

Well there it is. My next post I will show you what our weekly schedule looks like.

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