The topic for this weeks blog cruise is “Your favorite subject to teach”. Well, that’s an easy one for me!! I LOVE reading! As an only child growing up on a farm, books were my escape, my adventure, my best friend….and I think it all started in first grade when I fell in love with Nancy Drew! (remember her? 🙂 ). I started collecting books to read to my kids before I had even graduated high school. I have several worn copies of well-loved books I have read multiple times that I just love to share with them.
I’ve been reading out loud to them since they were born, and even though my oldest is in 9th grade we still read chapter books together at night before bed!! My hubby says we have too many books, I say that’s not possible!! Reading was my favorite subject to teach in my classroom, and it is still my favorite subject at home. My kids read (and get read to) a lot.
I use a mixture of chapter books and texts for reading. My youngest son (6th grade) uses Mosdos Press Literature. We have used several texts over the course of our homeschool, and this is by far my favorite. The stories are wonderful and beautifully illustrated. They have a good mix of all the different genres, and very solid instruction. I get the textbook and student workbook, and the textbook is well-made and easily resold at the end of the year.
Why use a textbook at all? Well, I guess it’s the English teacher in me, but I want to make sure that we cover all areas of literary instruction, not just my favorites. Each lesson has some type of literary focus (i.e. imagery, irony, flashback, point of view etc. etc.). Usually we spend 3 days of our week working in the text, then 2 other days reading our chapter books. I like to apply the literary device from the lesson in the text to our chapter books, so my son can practice using that skill in his regular reading. It’s really fairly easy to do, and a good way for him to learn to recognize those devices in day to day reading.
We use both oral and written narration for our chapter books, as well as discussions, hands-on projects and questions and answers that I make up. I like to use a variety of methods to explore the books we read. The hands-on projects can range from writing a diary for one of the characters, to creating a campaign for that character for president, to drawing scenes from the story or making a map of locations in the story, to even dressing up and acting like the character or writing a new ending for the book. I usually give my kids a couple of choices for their final project, so they can choose the one they are most excited about, then they have some time to complete it and present it to the family. I keep all of our written work in a literature binder so we can look back at all of the things we have read.
Now, my oldest son, being like me, will read anything. I rarely have a hard time getting him to read a book! My youngest, well, he prefers comics. He can read, but it’s just not something he enjoys as much as I do, and that can be hard for me because I just don’t understand it!! So, I try to choose books I think will interest him as much as possible (and usually I do a pretty good job), and I let him read his comics in his free time. I try to be sensitive to his likes and dislikes, because he is very different from his brother, and they don’t like the same kinds of books. Fortunately, I still read a lot (and usually I’m buying books from the kids/teenager section so I can find stuff for them to read), so I have a pretty good list of books in my head to choose from.
What chapter books are on his reading list for this year? Farmer Boy, The Wringer (one of my fave books for boys…its well written, and ripe for discussions about right vs. wrong, compassion, being yourself vs. following the crowd, does the end justify the means etc…my students loved it when I read this book aloud too!), Scat (we love Carl Hiaasen!), and The Mysterious Benedict Society (a great little mystery!).
My older son is working his way through MFW Ancients this year, so most of his reading is guided by that program, and it’s pretty heavy! Fortunately, I have read most of those books already so we can still discuss them. However, this summer I did create a list of “must read” books I want him to finish before he graduates high school. He reads these during his daily reading time, and he is a pretty fast reader, so I think over the next four years we will have gotten to most of them. What’s on the list? Well, so far he has read Watership Down (an old fave of mine), Alas Babylon and A Tale of Two Cities (I am NOT a huge fan of Dickens…I know his work is classic, but I read a lot of his stuff in high school and I was bored! However, I want my son to at least be familiar with him). Coming on the list will be a mix of older classics (Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstien, Robinson Crusoe) and some newer books I have read and enjoyed (Red Kayak, Tangerine).
I just believe that reading is so completely central to life in general. If you can read and comprehend (even if you don’t enjoy it), you have the ability to teach yourself things, to continue to learn, to explore new things….and I want my kids to have that ability. Teaching reading is easy for me, because I love it so much!! (Now if I could only get that excited about science!!).
What is your favorite subject to teach? To see what other members of the crew had to say about this topic, click here: