My kids love books, but they approach them in very different ways.
Typical random pile-o-books at the Sparklee household
Super enjoys fiction, especially stories with animals as characters. Her early independent reading started with Thornton Burgess animal stories, Bill Wallace books and the Akimbo series by Alexander McCall Smith. Later she blazed through the Warriors and Seekers series and even started writing her own animal adventure stories.
At the moment she is reading the Wildwood series, which is penned by Colin Meloy, the lead singer of the Decemberists. How cool is that? She really enjoys this series--sometimes I have to insist that she stop reading and go to bed!
Dude is more of a just-the-facts-ma'am reader. While he will happily listen to me read fiction for hours (and in fact is always the first to suggest a family read-aloud session) when he picks up a book on his own, it's going to be nonfiction.
One of Dude's favorites
Dude has always preferred nonfiction to fiction, and these days he prefers to get his information from electronic sources. He's a wellspring of facts that you didn't even know you didn't know, mostly from YouTube channels like Vsauce, Minutephysics, and Mental Floss.
Finishing these to wrap up last year's WWII Unit Study
I'm thrilled that he loves collecting arcane knowledge, and I know videos can be very educational but...
There is something about really getting into a book--a real, paper-and-ink book--that just can't be replaced by any technology.
And I believe there is immense value in reading fiction, too. Not just any fiction, but fiction that deals with big themes, fiction that makes you think, fiction that teaches important lessons about life.
I think it's reasonable for a 7th grader to read at least a novel a month, and that's the goal I'm setting for Dude. He'll be keeping an independent reading journal for his own choices and doing a variety of projects based on the books I assign to him.
One of our many packed bookshelves
There's no shortage of great YA literature. The hard part is choosing what to read and when. So here is our tentative book list for the 2014-15 school year:
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Animal Farm by George Orwell
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Requested by the kids because they loved Chains
The last three books on the list are part of Oak Meadow's 9th grade Intro to Literature and Composition curriculum. We are using Oak Meadow for the base of Super's high school English, with some supplemental reading and writing projects.
This is a new one for me, highly recommended by Dad
Dude will read from the same book list, with the possible addition of the Artemis Fowl series for his independent reading.
As always, we will open our school day with a poem, but this year I won't be choosing all the poems. I want the kids to take turns choosing their own favorites to share.
Trying to overcome my "fear" of poetry
I've always loved poetry but I'm also a little intimidated by it, so I've chosen some fun and approachable sources for this year's poetry reading.
all the small poems and fourteen more by Valerie Worth
Pug and Other Animal Poems by Valerie Worth
Poetry Speaks: Who I Am edited by Elise Paschen
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman
The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear
Valerie Worth and Mary Oliver, accessible and not a bit scary
We'll read nonfiction related to Super's Thinkwell Biology I course and whatever history topic the kids decide to jump into. (We're about halfway through Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, but we're reading it in small doses because the kids find it so sad.) I'll also save interesting news and opinion pieces from a variety of sources, and I just subscribed to Cicada and Dig so hopefully the kids will find those interesting as well.
I'm sure we will add to and edit our reading lists as we discover great new literature during the year. We are looking forward to lots of great reading!