Reading Lists (Heavy on the Lists)

Did you all know Mockingjay is being released today?????  I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  Of course, I pre-ordered it through Amazon back before I knew we were moving.  Once we moved, I made sure to change my address with Amazon; but apparently they don’t apply the change to orders made a few months earlier.

My book is being sent to Little Town.  *sob*

I think I’m just going to call the post office back there and ask them to please give it to the lady who runs the Little Town book club.  I know several of the book club ladies had already signed up on the library waiting list for the book and they were waaayyyy down the list, I believe.  This way they can have a copy to share amongst themselves, and I will just go to Borders today to get the book AND the keychain.  Have you seen the keychain?  I am suffering from irrational consumerism over that keychain, but it is half off, and so is the book, TODAY.

But that’s not really want I wanted to blog about.  What I wanted to blog about is this home schooling stuff.  I was all worked up into a tizzy, actually fighting back tears as I talked to McH on the phone yesterday while he was commuting home, because what if I fail my children???

We have used the same curriculum for our entire home schooling time.  Year after year it was a known quantity, and it served our children well.  I’m not saying I loved everything about it (math = *gag*) but some parts of it?  I loved, loved, loved.  And, as I said, it served our children well.  When they went to public school last year they were light years ahead.  So after all those years of home schooling and knowing that they were absolutely learning what they needed to learn and more, I am terrified of failing them this year as we use entirely new materials.  Part of me wishes we’d just dropped the 8,000-ish dollars to get the curriculum we once got through our tax dollar funded charter school.

But then I get a grip.  That is a LOT of money.

So, here we are, just two weeks away from our start date.  I spent a goodly chunk of time yesterday making up binders for each kid that contain general schedules of how many lessons for each subject need to be done each week, what materials they will be using for each subject, reading lists, etc.


L~s reading list is, verbatim, from Susan Wise Bauer.  Ms. Bauer advocates breaking history into four periods (Ancients, Medieval-early Renaissance, Late Renaissance-early modern, Modern) and teaching one period a year (in order,) then cycling back through them.  That means students study the ancient period in grades 1, 5, & 9.

The reading/literature portion of their studies, then, corresponds to what they are learning in history.  Obviously, as they get older their study of each time period becomes more in depth.

I love this approach to learning history and literature.  Love it!  Kids miss so much in their literature studies because they don’t get the historical perspective of the author and/or setting of the work.

So, this year L~ is in the Medieval-early Renaissance period.  From a literature standpoint, this is not my favorite period so I am just snagging Bauer’s list.  What, if anything, would you add to this?  She is going into sixth grade, but her reading level is higher than that (I think I’m going to throw in some actual Augustine for her):

1. Robert Nye, Beowulf: A New Telling (New York: Laurel Leaf, 1982).

2. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, verse translation by J.R.R. Tolkien (New York: Del Rey, 1979).

3. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean, Oxford Illustrated Classics series (New York: Puffin, 1997). (purchased)

4. Geoffrey Chaucer, “Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales. (Translated by Nevill Coghill, Penguin Classics, 2003).

5. Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Cantos I-V. (Translation by Allen Mandelbaum or Robert Pinsky)

6. Edmund Spenser, Saint George and the Dragon, from The Fairie Queene (Geraldine McCaughrean retelling if available) (purchased)

7. Thomas Malory, a version of Le Morte d’Arthur (T.H. White, The Once and Future King).

8. Leon Garfield, Shakespeare Stories (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998).

9. Phillip, Neil, Illustraed Book of Myths, New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2007

10. Colum, Padraic, Nordic Gods and Heroes, New York: Dover, 1996

11. Chute, Marchette Gaylord, Stories from Shakespeare, New York: Plume, 1959

12. Columbus, Christopher, First Voyage to America: From the Log of the Santa Maria, Whitefish, Mont.: Kessinger Publications, 2007

13. De Angeli, Marguerite, The Door in the Wall, New York: Laurel Leaf, 1998

14. De Trevino, Elizabeth Borton, I, Juan de Pareja, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987

15. French, Allen, The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, Chapel Hill, N.C., Yesterday’s Classics, 2007

16. Gray, Elizabeth, Adam of the Road, New York, Puffin, 1987

17. Green, Robert Lancelyn, The Adventures of Robin Hood, New York: Puffin, 1995

18. Kelly, Eric P. The Trumpeter of Krakow, New York: Aladdin, 1992

19. Sperry, Armstrong, Call it Courage, New York: Simon Pulse, 2008

20. Sutcliff, Rosemary, The Lantern Bearers, New York: Sunburst, 1994

21. Willard, Barbara, Augustine Came to Kent, Warsaw, N.D.: Bethlehem Books, 1996

Things were a bit trickier for A~.  If I followed Susan Wise Bauer’s method exactly, she’d be doing the Modern period.  However, as and eighth-grader, I know in public school, both here and in our former state, she would be doing American History.  And?  I believe it is important to spend an entire year in middle school, and again in high school, studying American History.  So she is doing American History.

Ms. Bauer didn’t have a reading list for that, so I came up with one on my own.  It is long.  It seems crazy long as I look at it.  But?  A~ reads crazy fast.  And?  I actually love most of this stuff (though admittedly there are a very few things on this list I haven’t read).  Plus, some of it is poetry and short stories, so it’s not like it’s a gawshawful long novel list (though even if it were she could do it).  So, again, what would you add or take away from this list, if anything?:

A Model of Christian Charity (excerpt) – John Winthrop
Of Plymouth Plantation (excerpt) – William Bradford
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God – Jonathan Edwards
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin
Common Sense – Thomas Paine
The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (Excerpt) – Thomas Jefferson
Letter to John Adams – Thomas Jefferson
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Quiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (Excerpt) – Olaudah Quiano
Rip Van Winkle – Washington Irving
The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
To a Waterfowl – William Cullen Bryant
Various selectionsRalph Waldo Emerson
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Psalm of Life – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Raven and other selections – Edgar Allen Poe
The Gettysburg Address – Abraham Lincoln
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
Gods and Generals – Jeffery Shaara
Killer Angels – Michael Shaara
Various selections – Henry David Thoreau
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave – Frederick Douglass
Carefully chose various selections – Walt Whitman
Various selections – Emily Dickinson
Tom Sawyer &/or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Samuel Clemens
Selections from Civil War Stories & The Devil’s Dictionary – Ambrose Bierce
Short Stories – O. Henry
Ethan Frome — Edith Wharton
The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane (maybe optional)
Various short stories – Jack London
The Butchering at Wounded Knee – Black Elk
Various selections – Paul Laurence Dunbar
O Pioneers! – Willa Cather
Various poems – Robert Frost
Selections – T. S. Elliot
Maybe something by Faulkner
Our Town – Thornton Wilder
Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
Various selections – Langston Hughes
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
1984 (OR Animal Farm) – George Orwell
Short story selection(s) – Eudora Welty
Night – Eli Wiesel
Maybe Anne Frank
Tales of the South Pacific – James A. Michener
For Esme – With Love and Squalor – J. D. Salinger
Maybe The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” – Michael O. Tunnell
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
To Kill a Mockingbird –
Harper Lee
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee – Charles J. Shields

I’m especially stumped as we get into more modern American History, which is why I stopped with To Kill a Mockingbird (which she’s already read more than once anyway, hence the inclusion of the Harper Lee biography).  Also, I put Gone With the Wind where I did on the list because, even though the setting is during the Civil War, I plan to approach it through the historical context of the writer, talk about the growing feminist movement of her time, and compare Scarlett and Melanie as two ideas of what it means to be a strong woman.

Yeah, don’t even think I’ve put that much thought into all the others.  Some of them we’re just going to breeze through.  Like Red Badge of Courage.  Anybody else hate that book?  I wouldn’t even have it on this list except that I know every 8th grader in the U.S. pretty much has to read it.

Then, of course, the WWII era is tricky, because most of the standard literature from that period isn’t written by Americans.  This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that the plan is to study American Literature.  But I’ve thrown a couple non-Americans in there anyway.  Any suggestions for this one would be much appreciated.

And now that I’ve listed you to death, I shall go shower and find the closest Borders so that I can get my copy of Mockingjay and the accompanying key chain.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Oh, and fellow bloggers?  I am so behind on reading your blogs, but I haven’t quit, I swear. 

9 thoughts on “Reading Lists (Heavy on the Lists)

  1. All I have to say is I’m glad “The Red Badge of Courage” is optional. I hated that book when I was in 8th grade. In fact, it may be great book, but I’ve never had the desire to pick it up again. 🙂


  2. Never read “Red Badge of Courage” so it must be a fairly recent thing? Also, personally I woud pick 1984 over Animal Farm if you were only doing one. I might just take both these lists and read them all myself. There are many on there I have never read!

    You are keeping records aren’t you? I have a feeling by that by 6th grade the virtual academy and I will no longer be together. I am very interested in how you guys do things once breaking away. This year we are required do two classes a week minimum with their teacher. It is annoying, but it is not just a suggestion this year. Add to it the fact that my 3rd grader doing 4th grade work (who has been doing the same grade as her one year older sister since grade K that they won’t level up) will be doing her two online classes with her third grade teacher doing third grade work. Boring and a waste of time for her. Bright side is new math is better. Not sure how it could have been much worse.


  3. AAAAAAAAAAA I didn’t realize it is being released today and I am trapped in a tiny town on the Oregon coast with no bookstore AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    And your reading lists are right on, and I agree with you 100% about History!


  4. I have to admit, I don’t envy L. But A? What a lucky, lucky girl. I would love to go back and reread a lot of those…although I do with my freshman. TKAM and Of Mice and Men are two of my favs. “I was just trying to pet the rabbits, George”. Such a good story. Not keen of F451 but still a pretty good read. I’m drawing a blank on what we use for more “modern” history. I know there are a few good ones…that will come to me around 4 this morning so I’ll let you know!


  5. There is a fabulous essayist named Anne Fadiman. She has a couple of books out, one of which has an essay on 9/11 and how her family reacted (they had been Manhattanites and had just recently moved to Massachusetts.) I recommend everything of hers, but that essay might be a nice “modern history” piece. Her books are “Confessions of a Common Reader” and “At Large and At Small.” Beware the second one has a doozy at the end. She recounts for the first time (some 20 years later) witnessing the drowning of a fellow camper and being able to do nothing to help him. As someone who witnessed the near drowning of three of my friends at Girls’ Camp one year, this hit particularly close to home for me. And, I was lucky enough to hear her read it at a book signing event. She is an amazing writer, and even teaches at Yale. Check her out.


  6. Dianna

    For ‘more modern’, you could take a look at Truman by David McCullough. I am most definitely not a home school expert, so take this with a grain of salt, but I read it in college and found it both interesting and informative. In fact, I liked it so much that I have read it again since. He also has John Adams and a GREAT book about the creation of the Panama Canal (Yes, I’ve read those purely for fun. It’s a sickness). Also, you may want to think about The Letters of John and Abigail Adams. I loved the perspective on politics and their relationship – could work in nicely with your feminism theme because Abigail Adams definitely wore the pants in that family! Ummm… If I remember right, your munchkin may also come away with a different perspective on Benjamin Franklin because I think Abigail is fairly straightforward about her instructions to John… as in, don’t be fooling around with Paris whores like ol’ Ben. They don’t exactly teach THAT in junior high history classes 🙂


  7. Nonnie

    “We Band of Angels” by Elizabeth Norman is a non fictional account of American nurses in an internment camp in Bataan during WWII.


  8. Christina

    I pre-ordered Mockingjay and because I used the free shipping option stupid Amazon is taking their own sweet time mailing it to me. I’m going to be stalking my mailbox until it arrives and then I plan to lock myself in my room and read it cover to cover. Oh I might come out to feed the kids… but you know what I mean.


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