Recent Sequel Readalouds

I’m getting backlogged on writing about our readalouds (we’re moving through them faster now) so here’s a post catching me up to date on some of the sequels and pseudo-sequels I’ve read to my son, with my daughter listening in as she wants.

More Milly Molly MandyMore Milly-Molly-MandyMore Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley by Joyce Lankester Brisley

We’re all fans of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and this book is a not-essential sequel to the Sonlight book we read last year, The Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley. If you liked the first set of stories, you’ll likely enjoy this as well. It’s more of the same, with no surprises. However, it’s not really necessary to have read the first book, as you’ll quickly catch up on the setting and characters. These are excellent first-chapter books, as each chapter stands on its own, and helps develop those listening skills.

Penny and PeterPenny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

This sequel picks up right where Here’s a Penny left off. This book has a lot less of his next door friend, and the focus is instead on Peter as well as Penny (no surprise with the title). Another one where if you liked the first, you’ll probably like this one too. I would recommend not reading this one before Here’s a Penny – you’ll spoil yourself as far as some particulars go.

Dolphin TreasureDolphin TreasureDolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler

My son was not into this one as much as the first book, Dolphin Adventure. I’m not sure why, as I felt they were pretty similar stories, although this one did take a bit longer to get to the point of any significant action. That’s probably enough of a reason for him to have been less interested in it. 🙂

Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson by Margaret Davidson

A sentimental favorite for me, as I’d read this as a child, and recognized the stories and the illustrations. My son really liked 4 of the stories, but one of them did not keep his interest at all. I prefer this book to the Five True Horse Stories, so if you’re debating between them, go for this one. And yes, this isn’t a true sequel, but more of another book in a similar style.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan
Three years ago: Reading Less / Reading More

Recent Readaloud: No Children, No Pets

No Children No PetsNo Children, No Pets by Marion Holland

An unexpectedly enjoyable book. It’s an older title, and can be hard to track down, but it was included with our Sonlight Core A readalouds. If your library doesn’t have it and you have trouble locating it, it’s not an absolute must-read (in other words, don’t go to extreme effort or expense to find a copy), but if you can easily obtain it, it was fun to readaloud.

The Florida setting was one of my favorite parts (I am partial to it, as that’s where I grew up), and the slight mystery included in the plot held my son’s interest to the point where we read the last four chapters in one day – we both wanted to find out how everything resolved!

A warning though: it is old-fashioned, especially with occasional remarks about “women’s work.” If you are adamantly opposed to books with that sort of thing in it, you’ll likely want to pass on it.

Find the book: It’s out of print, and used copies are very expensive on Amazon. Sonlight has republished it themselves, and you may still be better off buying a copy from them and paying their shipping fees | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Three children and their widowed mother inherit a run-down apartment building in Florida. A sign on the front door says “No Children, No Pets.” Adventure awaits as the kids solve lingering mysteries and help fix up the building. A satisfying childhood tale that keeps you guessing what will happen next.

Book Details

Title: No Children, No Pets
Author: Marion Holland
Category: Juvenile Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Two years ago: Book Review: Code Name Pauline by Pearl Witherington Cornioley and Kathryn J. Atwood
Three years ago: Biggest Disappointments of 2012

Homeschooling Update: 2/3 of the way through Core A

Core A IG CoverWhile it seems impossible to me, we’re currently on week 24 of our 36 week schedule for Sonlight’s Core A. So what was going to be a halfway-done update has turned into a two-thirds finished one instead.

(Curious about how the rest of the year has gone? Read our last update here.)

What’s Still Working

We’re still using the daily checklist to structure the day, and the extent of my planning is writing down the next day’s assignments on that card. Since that takes no more effort than looking at what the Sonlight instructor’s guide says to do, or what the next pages are for math, reading, and handwriting, this is blissfully simple.

Most of our school work is currently being done on our still somewhat new-to-us enclosed porch. What is very new is the loveseat we now have on it – perfect for reading aloud. I’m on the lookout for a great deal on a different table, as I hate the one we have out there, but it’s a low priority unless we do find one at a price I can’t resist. I like being able to look out at the backyard and see the trees and squirrels and birds while we work.

Family-Time BibleThe continuing readalouds are all going well (history, poetry, etc.). We have finished the Bible we were reading, The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible, and have now started using Family-Time Bible in PicturesFamily-Time Bible in Pictures by Kenneth N. Taylor.

I keep adding in extra readalouds, like lots of picture books (yes, still, even for G as a 1st grader), plus additional chapter books. I’m skeptical that when H gets to this Core (and definitely M 3 years after that, assuming we’re still using Sonlight) that I’ll be making any effort to add extra books to our reading day, but for now the schedule isn’t enough readalouds for us. Getting more books from the library is easy enough, and lets us have lots of variety, plus there are plenty of sequels to the books already scheduled in Core A.

What’s Not Working

Or, more accurately titled “what’s especially challenging right now.” But that was a lot longer and didn’t parallel the other title as well. 🙂

Middle sister “H” is wanting to do school, but it’s usually just seems to mean interrupting whatever her brother is doing. She had been playing so nicely by herself for 20 – 30 minute stretches before, but right now that hasn’t been happening.

Baby sister “M” is also much more challenging, as she is into EVERYTHING. She can also reach up and grab things off of tables, so we have to watch and make sure anything she shouldn’t have is well out of reach. No more just cuddling her on my lap and reading!

Art & Music have not been happening. At all. Clearly I need to figure out a way to make it happen or else acknowledge that it’s not a priority while the baby is such a menace as far as getting into things. It is just a stage, although I don’t remember how long the other two were in it…

For similar reasons, we’ve done absolutely none of the experiments scheduled with the science curriculum. I may need to just take a week and do nothing but science experiments, but that sounds miserable for me. (I am not a fan of science experiments). Maybe grandma will come for a visit soonish and I can rope her into helping, or at least helping by keeping the toddler out of the way! 🙂

What’s New Since Last Time

Math Mammoth 2AG finished Math Mammoth 1, and has started 2. He likes it, I like it, and fingers crossed it continues to work well.

As of next week (assuming things don’t fall apart between now and then) he’ll finish All About Reading Level 4 (!) and be done with official reading instruction. Then it’ll be all about practice!

H wants to learn to read, and I told her I’d start teaching her in January. Yes, I am making her wait until her brother finishes his reading lessons – it only pushed her back a couple of weeks and it seemed like it’d be easier on me.

I added in an extra science text – The Usborne First Illustrated Science Dictionary. It does have some overlap with the encyclopedia we’re using as the science spine, but not really all that much. G likes it, and the Sonlight schedule is a little light on science for his tastes, so this way we have something to read every day, whether an encyclopedia entry from the schedule, or a section from the dictionary.

Other Updates

H has also moved up to the “big kid” classes in taekwondo. She’s “officially” too young for them still, but she was more than ready, so they’re letting her go for it. While for the next two months this may make my life more of a challenge (her class times are kind of obnoxious, when paired with G’s), in February she’ll hopefully pass her next belt test and move to a better class time. So work hard these next months kiddo, and pass that test!

Where her new classes will help is with getting school done during the morning. Her previous class schedule included 11:30 classes on Monday and Wednesday morning. While theoretically we “should” be able to get everything done before leaving for her class, it was a challenge, and almost never happened. Now those days can be like the rest of the week, and that should make our mornings easier.

And if she does pass that belt test in February, I may have FOUR MONTHS where both kids are in the same class again. Four glorious months of only one class time to attend (and keep the baby happy during). At that point G (if he keeps passing belt tests) would move up to the final class level and they’d be back in separate classes, but those two class times work together reasonably well for me. At least as they’re currently scheduled. 🙂

Looking Ahead

Sonlight Core B IG CoverAssuming we don’t hit any major bumps, we *should* finish Core A in late February or early March. That’s including lots of days off along the way. I have Core B ready to start (well, some of it’s currently on loan to a friend, but I’ll have it back by then), and I *think* we may be able to finish 9 weeks of it before breaking for the summer.

Because yes, I am planning on having this summer be like last summer: about 7 -8 weeks off to go to VBS and taekwondo camp, play with the neighbor kids outside, and have lots of time for going to the park or other outings.

Although I reserve the right to change my mind in any way regarding schedules and plans. 😉

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: What the Kids are Reading (in December 2014)
Two years ago: Bookworm Problems: I’ve Got Them
Three years ago: Favorite eBooks

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Mary on Horseback

Mary on HorsebackMary On Horseback: Three Mountain StoriesMary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells by Rosemary Wells

Don’t avoid this book, thinking it’s only for children. It’s a trio of well-told stories about Mary Breckinridge, who founded the Frontier Nursing Service in rural Kentucky after World War I. It’s not a true biography, but just a set of vignettes from her life.

Although it made me wish for a real biography about her – what an amazing woman! I did find an autobiography, but some reviews make me think it wouldn’t have the focus I’d want. I may or may not search it out.

As a readaloud, it’s one of the more challenging ones I’ve read to my son. The chapters are longer than most of what we read, and the topic wasn’t as immediately compelling for him. He listened to it, but was glad we never read more than one chapter a day. I wouldn’t use this with kids who aren’t already used to listening to chapter books.

If you’re homeschooling or just looking to supplement other schooling, this could work well as a readaloud for elementary school about the early 20th century in America. It appears to be a fairly popular library title, so it might be easy to try it for your family.

Recommended, for the right audience.

My verdict:

Loved it, even if it did make me teary-eyed at times.

The kids’ verdict:

G (6) thought it was ok. H (4) did not stick around for it. It’s a better fit for older listeners.

Find the book: Print | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In 1923, Mary Breckinridge (who had been a nurse in WWI) learned about the nonexistent medical facilities in Appalachian Kentucky, and founded the Frontier Nursing Service — a group of women who traveled by horseback to isolated mountain residents to provide medical care. These three compelling, poignant stories, each with a different narrator – a boy whose father almost loses his leg; a nurse in training; a mute young girl who realizes she might have a career in medicine – show Mary’s effect on the people and world around her, brought to vivid life by master storyteller Rosemary Wells.

Book Details

Title: Mary On Horseback: Three Mountain StoriesMary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells
Author: Rosemary Wells
Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Waiting at Joe’s by Deeny Kaplan Lorber
Three years ago: Author Interview with Annie Downs

Homeschooling Update: Finished with the First Quarter of Core A

Sonlight Core A 1st Quarter CompletedLast week we finished week 9 of Sonlight’s Core A, which is the backbone for our homeschooling year. Something about finishing a quarter seems like a real accomplishment, and that I need to stop thinking of us as having just started the curriculum. 🙂

Structuring Our Day

Daily checklist September 2015Last year I briefly tried writing the day’s tasks in a spiral notebook (idea found via Catherine I believe), but that didn’t last long. What works better for us is a 3×5 card, flipped sideways, where I write the tasks. Why the difference? I’m not entirely sure. Some of it might be because there is more limited space that way, and some of it may be because when we’re done he gets to throw the card away (a.k.a. put it in the recycling bin), so it’s more satisfying.

Whatever the reason, it’s working well for us, so I’m continuing with it.

Daily assignments are done in no particular order, although we do usually have to work around the baby’s needs. Some of the readalouds happen while they eat breakfas – it’s helped break the watching tv in the morning habit we fell into over the summer, so I’m happy to continue with it lest they start asking for a show again.

History & Geography

Ongoing reads:

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaThe Children’s EncyclopediaThe Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia endures as the biggest hit of the entire curriculum – G loves it so much. Most days he clicks through the links that are included as well – they’re hit-or-miss, but every so often he finds a real gem, so it’s worth trying them all.

Living Long AgoThe Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the Ages (Explainers Series) is still lots of fun, although I wish I’d remember to look ahead and see what projects are mentioned in it – they look like some easy ways to add a hands-on element to the curriculum. G really wanted to make a ruff like they wore back in the day, and I was scrambling to find some paper that would work.

Our substitute for I Heard Good News Today is The Story of ExplorationThe Story of Exploration, and I am quite impressed with it. Invariably I learn something new from each section, and feel compelled to pass it along to my husband. I really enjoyed the section on Marco Polo, and now want to read more about him. What an incredible story!

New this month

Sticker Dressing ExplorersWe’ve added in Sticker Dressing – Explorers, which combines beautifully with that Story of Exploration book. So much fun, and the easiest hands-on-element I can imagine. Love this book! G is always delighted when it’s time to do another page in it.

Read Alouds

Ongoing reads:

The Llama Who Had No PajamaWe continue to read from the poetry books The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes and The Llama Who Had No Pajama, although our pacing has slowed down; we’re roughly on schedule with what the Instructor’s Guide says.

New since last time

In Grandma's AtticIn Grandma’s AtticIn Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series) by Arleta Richardson. I tried, really I did, but I’ve shelved this one. I hoped it would be like Little House books, and I think it wants to be, but the framing of each story is clunky, and the moralizing is heavy-handed. It was disappointing, especially because when Amazon had a sale on the other books in the series I bought them all. At least they were inexpensive, because I don’t think we’ll be reading them.

Here's a PennyHere’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood and Penny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood. We liked Here’s a Penny enough to get the sequel, which I finished reading last week. Cute, old-fashioned stories that my kids enjoyed. Did they love them as much as some other books? No, but that’s ok.

5 True Horse StoriesFive True Horse StoriesFive True Horse Stories by Margaret Davidson. Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson is scheduled for later in the Core, and I added this on somewhat impulsively. It’s a great fit for this level, although the writing is nothing special. I shared more about it yesterday.

CapyboppyCapyboppyCapyboppy by Bill Peet was previously included in this core, and I added it in – I’m so glad I did! It was a cute story, with charming illustrations. The full story of what happened with Capyboppy is not cute, and the book reflects different values regarding wild animals, but it was still worth reading.


The Story for ChildrenWe’re continuing on with our substitute Bible, The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible. We’ll likely finish it well before we finish the Core, but I’ll just add in another Bible (we have several children’s versions that we already own)


Math Mammoth 1A We just finished chapter 2 of Math Mammoth 1A, and have started chapter 3 on place value. So far, he has no trouble with place value, and thinks it’s super easy. Chapter 3 is the final one in 1A, and then we’ll move on to 1B (which I already have printed and waiting).

For whatever reason, math seems to be the subject where I am most tempted by other options, and can’t seem to stop looking into what else is available. Why do I do this, when as far as I can tell Math Mammoth is working?


The “spine” of science is the Encyclopedia mentioned above, but it’s supplemented with other books, both officially according to Sonlight’s schedule, and unofficially according to my own picks. 🙂

Eggs and ChicksWe read Eggs and ChicksEggs and Chicks in one day (love those books!) and we’ve finally started the Science ActivitiesUsborne Science Activities, Vol. 2 book – reading it, watching the DVD that goes along with it, and doing some of the experiments. The one where we put a coin on the top of a bottle’s mouth, and then poured warm water on the bottle to heat up the air inside? Big hit here. Both with the kids who love seeing the coin “jump” and with me because of how easy it is.

A Journey Through the Digestive SystemWe’ve also been reading the Max Axiom graphic novels. He got some for Christmas, and some for his birthday, and he loves them. He goes and gets a new one off the shelf whenever he’s ready for it, and he’s already talking about how he needs more of them. Maybe Christmas again?

Language Arts

All About Reading Level 4 Soar with Reading Activity BookAfter breaking from it over the summer, we’ve started All About Reading Level 4. Lesson 1 was a review, and it took us about 3 weeks to get through it (there was a lot of sickness in there too delaying things). We’ve since moved on to the new material, and that’s a lot more fun than review.

All About Spelling Level 2All About Spelling Level 2 was added in last week, and after a slow start through the review of lesson 1 he’s back learning new material. Once again I am so pleased with the letter tiles – they make it so much easier for him to spell! He does it that way about half the time, and the rest of the time he dictates to me, but either way he does not want to do any of the writing himself. Which is kind of funny, because…

Getty Dubay Italic Handwriting AHandwriting has seen a dramatic change – it used to be his most loathed subject, and now he’s saying it’s his favorite! I have to watch him, because he wants to do it on his own, and do extra pages, but I try to see what he’s doing as he occasionally tries to form letters in … creative ways, and I want to correct that before the habit gets ingrained.

Billy and BlazeHe’s doing a lot more reading on his own, and that’s lots of fun to see. He picks out his own books at the library (they’re invariably silly ones with super heroes, ninja turtles, or lego characters, but whatever. Have fun kid.), and then I also give him ones to read. Lately he’s working his way through the Billy and Blaze series. He’s finished the first two books, and is waiting (somewhat impatiently) for me to get him the third. I mix that in with Syd Hoff and Dr. Seuss books and other easy readers, and it ends up being nice practice for him. He still needs/wants lots of white space on the page, or he gets overwhelmed. The reading he does with All About Reading is challenging for him, so I like also giving him other books that are easier, to build his confidence, improve his fluency, and help show him that reading is fun.


He’s now a senior green belt in tae kwon do – not sure if he’ll be ready to test in October for the next belt or not. We’ve missed a lot of classes due to visitors and life getting in the way of things, so he’s a bit behind as far as prepping for the test as far as I can tell. But, I am far from an expert so he might be just fine to test then. We’ll see.

I keep looking into continuing swimming lessons, especially through the winter when I’m always hunting for ways to keep the kids active when it’s hard to play outside. I’m praying about finding a way to pay for that, because right now it’s not in the budget. They’d love it though, especially since our summer lesson season was even shorter than expected because of our unexpected trip west.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 I mentioned in the last update that I was doing a “graduated” restart – not adding all of the subjects in at once. Art and music are the ones that have had to wait. We’re starting them next week, now that everything else is in a good routine. We’ll still be using Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 as we’d barely started it last year before putting it aside for the summer.


Awana has started up again – G is in his second year as a Spark (his sister is in her last year as a Cubbie). We’ve switched locations, and although it’s not as close as the previous church, they have their program on Sunday evenings, and I think that’s going to work better for our schedules.

Looking Ahead

We don’t have any visitors planned, or anything else of significance that should disrupt our schedule and routine, so I *should* have lots to report next month as far as progress goes. However, I know that nothing is certain, so we’ll just have to see how it goes! We had a couple of bumpy days as we got restarted with it all, but overall it’s going really well and I think we’re all enjoying it!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: Here’s a Penny

Here's a PennyHere’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

A Sonlight book that I’m not likely to have picked up on my own. I’d never heard of it, and the cover didn’t grab me. The only reason I *might* have tried it is because of the familiarity of the author’s name.

They stories are sweet, in an old-fashioned way. A heads-up if you’re reading to children with any issues related to adoption: Penny is adopted and then he gains a brother at the end of the book by another adoption. I tried to gloss over this a bit, because G REALLY wants another baby so he can have a brother, and the book makes it seem so easy – just ask your parents, and you’ll get your brother! We quickly finished it and I went into distraction mode with other books.

There’s a sequel, Penny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood. I’d hoped to get it from the library, but it wasn’t available. I ended up buying a copy, because G liked it enough and wanted to know what happened next with Penny.

My verdict:
Easy to readaloud, the chapters are a nice length too for keeping their interest. They’re not as short as true beginning chapter books, but each one is generally 10 – 14 pages. The illustrations scattered throughout the text are nice, but their style doesn’t match with the cover art. I’m wondering if they’re original to the text – I know the versions currently in print have updated covers, which would explain the difference in style.

The kids’ verdict:
G enjoyed it – after reading one chapter a day for two days, we put it aside for our trip (and recovery). Picking it up again, I gave him a quick refresher as to what had taken place. Then I read chapter 3, and there were immediate requests for another one! Another one! Another one! Yeah, we read the final 8 chapters in two days, and if I’d been able to finish in in one day he’d have happily listened to it.

H semi-listened to it, but she didn’t complain when we finished it without her.

Publisher’s Description:
His name is not Penn or Penrose or anything that would make you think of Penny. His real name is William. But when his parents first saw him as a baby, with his red face and red-gold curls, they said, “My goodness. He looks like a brand-new copper penny.” And Penny is what they call him.

Now Penny is six years old, and this is the story of his adventures at home and in school. Many of them include his two best friends, Patsy and Peter, and his two kittens, Really and Truly. Penny learns how special it is to be adopted, what it means to belong in a family, and even, in the end, how it feels to have a new brother.

Book Details

Title: Here’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood
Author: Carolyn Haywood
Category: Children’s Fiction

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Recent Readaloud: My Father’s Dragon

My Father's DragonMy Father’s DragonMy Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett

This is part of Sonlight’s Core A, but it’s also a title I found recommended frequently as a “best of” for readalouds, or early chapter books. I’d never heard of it before, but apparently that says more of my obliviousness to it, because now that I know of it I’m seeing references to it constantly!

And for good reason. This is such an engaging book for kids, and the chapters are such a perfect length for listeners new to chapter books (or for newer readers tackling chapter books on their own). There are lots of fun illustrations throughout the text which also helps keep readers attention. And the plot is just ridiculous enough to be fascinating and full of “what might happen next!” wonder.

My verdict:
It’s not one I’d want to read (or reread) on my own, but I’m not the target audience. It’s still very easy to readaloud, and I went ahead and bought the compilation title with the two sequels, Three Tales of My Father’s DragonThree Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. It’s a really nice hardcover, and a good deal for all three titles.

And a heads-up – this is one where if you buy the kindle copy you can then get the Audible version for a reduced price. Even though I own the book I’m considering doing this – my son can then follow along with the text and listen to the story. And then both girls can do the same thing eventually.

The kids’ verdict:
So much fun! Dragons and tigers and lions and a gorilla and boars and tortoises and and and…

Publisher’s Description:
My Father’s Dragon is a children’s novel by Ruth Stiles Gannett about a young boy, Elmer Elevator, who runs away to Wild Island to rescue a baby Dragon.

The narrative mode is unusual, in that the narrator refers to the protagonist only as “my father”, giving the impression that this is a true story that happened long ago.

The illustrations within the book are black and white done with a grease crayon on a grained paper, done by Ruth Chrisman Gannett, who also illustrated other children’s books such as My Mother Is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Paco Goes to the Fair, Miss Hickory, Hipo the Hippo, and adult books such as Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck.

Book Details

Title: My Father’s DragonMy Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Author: Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Category: Children’s Fiction
Buy the book: Print | Kindle | Audible
Buy the trilogy: Print | Kindle | Audible

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: Core A Progress and Getting Ready for Summer

Homeschooling Update Core A Progress May 2015We’re now roughly through week six of our plans for First Grade, using Sonlight Core A. Here were some of the highlights from the past month:

History & Geography

Ongoing reads:

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaMy son says the Children’s Encyclopedia is his favorite. He wants to read from it every day (and every day doesn’t have something scheduled, so he’s extra happy when it is an encyclopedia day.) Fortunately it’s also used in Science A, and between the History and Science readings I can make it so most days get an encyclopedia entry. 🙂

Living Long Ago is still popular (and he’s definitely learning from it). On the other hand, I’ve officially given up on I Heard Good News Today. I may try it again next year, or with another core even, but for now I’m substituting something else for it.

New this month

The Story of ExplorationAnd that something else is The Story of Exploration. I went through and scheduled out this book in place of IHGNT, and we’ve read two sections of it. My son loves it, I love it, it’s a much better fit for us. It’s a great book with lots of fascinating information (including some details that I never knew about the Vikings!)

Read Alouds

Ongoing reads:

The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseLast month I wasn’t sure how they felt about the poetry selections The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes and The Llama Who Had No Pajama but there’s no doubt now – they really like them. We’re likely to finish both of these super early, and end up rereading them at least once. After seeming fairly indifferent towards them last month, now my son is enthusiastic about them, and requests many pages each reading session.

New this month

HeidiIt’s not scheduled in the core, but we read HeidiHeidi (Great Illustrated Classics) by Johanna Spyri, abridged by Deidre S. Laiken this month. My kids were not all that impressed with it, and my daughter barely listened to it. I think they were just a bit too young to appreciate it. I thought they’d enjoy this abbreviated version that’s loaded with illustrations, but it wasn’t to be. And actually, I wasn’t all that impressed with the abridgment, or the illustrations. I tried playing the audio book for them, but that did not go over well – I’d like to keep trying that with him, to see if I can find some he’ll like. Clearly Heidi was not it!

Dolphin AdventureI already shared how we finished Dolphin Adventure, and my son really liked it. He’s excited to read the sequel.

We’ve also just started My Father’s DragonMy Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and James Herriot’s Treasury for ChildrenJames Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small, illustrated by Ruth Brown and Peter Barrett. So far I’m not sure how successful My Father’s Dragon will be for them (maybe they need another couple of chapters to get into the story?), but they’ve liked the James Herriot book. I love the illustrations in Herriot’s book – they add a lot to very familiar stories, and they’re simply beautiful. It’d make for a fabulous gift book!


The Story for ChildrenMy son really disliked the assigned Egermeier’s Bible Story BookEgermeier's Bible Story Book and I feel like we gave it a good try. Instead, I’m substituting The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible, which we already owned. The illustrations are fabulous, and he likes listening to it (and he follows along with what I’m reading much better than he did with Egermeier’s.) Plus I like reading this one more too.


Math Mammoth 1A We’re still working in Math Mammoth 1A, and we’re right in the middle of Chapter 2, on subtraction. I’m not sure he really gets subtraction yet – somedays he seems to, and once in awhile it’s like he’s never heard of it, and has no idea what I’m talking about. We use the abacus and Legos a lot at those times. 🙂


WeatherWe finished reading WeatherWeather (Usborne Beginners, Level 2) in about two days, because my son wanted to read more and more and more of it. He loves those books! These are easy enough where he can read much of it himself, and we often took turns reading the page.

We are quite behind on the experiments, and even on watching the DVD of the experiments. Hopefully daddy can get things set up so we can watch it soon on the TV (we’ve got a weird setup and I have passed on learning how to do it myself.)

Language Arts

ShipwreckLast month, I said my son had just reached the halfway point of All About Reading Level 3. Well, he then went on a tear and finished the final 18 lessons in a week and a half – he was super motivated! We’ve just received Level 4 and started it this week. I cannot say enough how much we love this program. Full post about Level 3 coming eventually. 🙂

Since he was doing so much phonics work ever day with reading, I didn’t start spelling like I’d originally planned. We’ll start that next week.

Handwriting is the big thing that I’m struggling with. How picky should I be as far as his letter formation? Am I expecting too much from him? Am I not expecting enough?


He received his senior orange belt in taekwondo last month, and he might even be ready to test for his green belt next month.

The baseball season is about halfway over, and is having lots of fun playing. And lots of fun getting snacks after every game and then playing on the playground next to the ball fields. His sister is enjoying getting to play on the playground during his games, so it’s been a success for everyone. 🙂

Swimming lessons have begun again – they’re both scheduled for about 10 weeks of instruction. I’m hoping they can get to be semi-independent to independent swimmers by the end of that. Wishful thinking? Perhaps; I have no real idea what is reasonable to expect at those ages, with once a week lessons.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 We’re still doing Harmony Arts Grade 1 plan – and I still really like it. I’m not exactly consistent on doing it every week, but I’m doing more than I did last year when I had no plan.

I especially like that it’s easy to include his sister with it as well. She adores art and is a much more enthusiastic participant in this program than he is! So far everything we’ve done has been easy enough to adapt to whatever level of skill or interest fits. I’ve even joined in with them occasionally – those art supplies are lots of fun to use!


Our homeschool group has wrapped up for the summer, and I’m still thinking about what I want to do for next fall. Part of me wants to just do my own thing, or try to coordinate some easy things with some of my homeschooling friends, but then I wonder how complicated that would be, and do I have the time/energy to try and do that? Maybe I should first gauge interest in it.

Looking Ahead

I have wanted to slow down our progress through Core A, but so far I’m not being all that successful at it. G really loves it and generally wants more in a day, not less. This summer may make it easier to take our time, as we’ll have lots of extra things going on and taking up our usual school hours. Taekwondo camp, VBS, and a planned visit from Grandma will all be weeks when I’m not planning on doing any school. Add in lots of time playing outside with the neighbors (hopefully) and we may have other shorter school days ahead.

Next month’s update should be the real test: do I have much to report? Have we done anything? Have we done lots, proving that this core just will not be slowed down, despite my initial plans?

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Recent Readaloud: Dolphin Adventure

Dolphin AdventureDolphin Adventure: A True StoryDolphin Adventure: A True Story by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler

The story-telling isn’t the best (it’s serviceable, but not phenomenal), and if I were rating it on my own I’d probably give it 3 stars. However, my son’s enjoyment of it made me bump up the overall rating I gave it on GoodReads to 4 stars. He was a fan – so much so that when he realized there was a second book following this one, he insisted that we had to get it because he needed to hear it too.

My verdict:
An amazing true story, I appreciated how it opened up several areas of discussion. Plenty of illustrations and very short chapters make it a good choice for kids new at listening to chapter books. It’s easy enough that it would also work for newer readers – not complete beginners, but somewhat new to reading chapter books.

The kids’ verdict:
My son immediately requested to read the second book, Dolphin Treasure. My daughter was only slightly interested in it, and mostly just wanted to see the pictures. So, good for my five-year-old, not so good for my three-year-old.

[Read more…]

Homeschooling Update: Beginning Core A

We’ve finished our first two weeks of Sonlight Core A (more or less). Here were some of the highlights from the past month:

History & Geography

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaMy son LOVES the Children’s Encyclopedia. LOVES it. I catch him flipping through it on his own, and asking when we’re going to read certain pages.

One of his favorite things is the internet links included – I’ve bookmarked the encyclopedia on the computer, and he knows how to get to it and explore the links. So far his favorite things have been putting the continents/countries/cities on the globe, and playing a game where he makes a mummy.

Living Long AgoLiving Long Ago he likes, but not as much as the encyclopedia. So far there have been some fairly easy hands-on activities mentioned in LLA, but we’ve not actually owned the items we’d need to do those activities. I need to look ahead and see if I can get them, because I think they’d both like to do them.

I Heard Good News TodayI Heard Good News Today has not been a hit. I’m putting it aside to try again in a few months.

Read Alouds

(And a clarification: We don’t necessarily read all of the books in the official order given in the Core. They’re not tied into history at all, and so I will move them around and add in other books as we like. So seeing a book from the Core mentioned here doesn’t mean it’s scheduled that way.)

The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThey like The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes, but I’m a bit burned out on Mother Goose (plus I preferred the illustrations in last year’s A Treasury of Mother GooseA Treasury of Mother Goose). I’m reading what’s scheduled, but no extra. The rhymes are making an impact on my daughter at least: she spent several days reciting Humpty Dumpty after I read it one afternoon.

The Llama Who Had No PajamaI want to hold off on a verdict for The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite PoemsThe Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Betty Fraser – we’ve read so little of it. So far the kids seem to like it, but they’re not desperate for more.

We’d already read The Boxcar Children, so I added the sequel, Surprise Island. We also read Winnie-the-Pooh, and we just started The Yellow House Mystery (The Boxcar Children, No. 3)The Yellow House Mystery (The Boxcar Children, No. 3) by Gertrude Chandler Warner (book #3 in the Boxcar Children series)

The Story about PingWe finished The Story about PingThe Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack. I loved it and both kids really liked it – enough so that we read it a couple of times, and then read a couple more Flack books. My son especially liked The Boats on the RiverThe Boats on the River by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Jay Hyde Barnum. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve read it now, and I still don’t mind reading it again – always the sign of a good book.

The Complete Adventures of Curious GeorgeWe also finished The Complete Adventures of Curious GeorgeThe Complete Adventures of Curious George: 70th Anniversary Edition by Margret and H. A. Rey in one day because the kids loved it so much. Every time I finished a chapter they begged for more, and were sad when we reached the end.


Egermeier's Bible Story BookWe’re working through the Egermeier’s Bible Story BookEgermeier's Bible Story Book. The amount of reading seems fairly inconsistent on the schedule, but I’ve changed it to just read a section every day. It works. I like it more than the 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible101 Favorite Stories from the Bible in P 4/5, but not as much as the The Jesus Storybook BibleThe Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.


Math Mammoth 1AWe’re moving along in Math Mammoth 1A, and just finished through page 50 (practicing adding three numbers). G also decided that he wanted a break from it and spent a few days working in his Mathematical Reasoning B book instead. I let him pick each day which one he uses.


Tadpoles and FrogsWe’re doing Core A science, and have done the readings through all of week one, and half of week two. We have not watched the DVD, or done the experiments. The worksheets we’re doing orally. We’re in the midst of reading Tadpoles and Frogs, and surprisingly for an Usborne book, this one doesn’t have my son begging to finish it in one day. That’s a sign of how high my expectations are for those books that I’m shocked he just likes it and isn’t obsessively crazy over it. 🙂

Language Arts

Chasing HenryWhile I have Sonlight’s LA1, we haven’t done any of it so far. He’s still doing All About Reading 3 (just reached the halfway point of it and finished the first reader, Chasing Henry), and will be starting All About Spelling 2 soon (I was getting us settled into the new Core first). He’s got a handwriting book too.

The Sonlight LA seems pretty redundant from the other materials, and I’m not sure how I want to use it. At some point I’ll have him read the readers at least (maybe maybe interspersed with AAR 3 & 4?), and I’m considering going back to the LAK sheets and going over the writing assignments from it. We were inconsistent with doing them, and they seem like they’d be a good fit for him now.


G had a taekwondo tournament, and finished 3rd in forms and 5th in sparring. He’s belt testing this weekend, and will hopefully pass and get his senior orange belt.

He’s also started baseball, and is right in the middle of practicing. Later this month he starts playing real games, and he can’t wait.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1I purchased Harmony Arts Grade 1 plan – it’s designed as an overview year, and is supposed to be good for those new to art and music appreciation. That would be me/us. So far we’ve done the first week of it, and I like it. It’s very doable by me, and it’s fun for the kids. It’s also inexpensive enough that I didn’t feel like I was risking a lot by trying it out.

(and a heads-up if this looks interesting to you: it’s 40% off through the end of April using the code SPRINGTHING40. That’s making me seriously consider buying next year’s program already.)


Create-a-CalendarI’m a bit disappointed in the calendar Sonlight includes – it’s a blank calendar, and the kids are supposed to add their own dates and stickers and all that. Except it’s got the months listed, and it begins in September. While that might be a typical start date in North America, I’d really have preferred the blank calendar to be completely blank, so whenever we started the Core, we could decide how we wanted to use the calendar.

Sonlight Timeline BookThe timeline though, is a HUGE hit. G wants to add figures to it every day, and we’ve only added about one a week, much to his disappointment.

We’re all taking a field trip today and touring a local ice cream place, to see how they make it. I haven’t told them what we’re doing and they are going to be so excited. I can’t wait to see their reaction. And when they find out that they’re going to get to TRY the ice cream? They are going to be ecstatic.

He’s still doing lots of Legos and puzzles. He’s already planning which Lego set he wants for his birthday, and for finishing Level 3 in reading. Until my Kindle Fire died, he was playing lots of Presidents vs. Aliens and Stack the States on it while waiting for his sister to finish her taekwondo class. I’m wondering how long I’ll be able to hold off on replacing it with another tablet – there are definitely times when it’s handy. And I was surprised at how much he picked up regarding US Geography and Presidential history from playing those games!

Beginning Core A Update 1

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