Summer Reading

Summer is a wonderful rest from the school year routine. For me, it has become my most intense season as I help moms plan their coming school year, so I beg your understanding for neglecting to post blogs often here. These are the most recent books I have finished.

School Education by Charlotte Mason. I am not participating in the Idyll Challenge, but reading along with my husband as the participants read through Mason’s six volumes. I still remember unpacking the treasures contained in this third volume the first time I read it, and continue to glean practical advice for working out her principles in the pages of rich information and illustration contained here. It’s worth noting that Home Education and this one were essential references for P.N.E.U. teachers on an ongoing basis.

Netta, A Biography of Henrietta Franklin by Monk Gibbon. One way to get to know a friend better is to know one of their other close friends better. This is the experience when reading the biography of this truly unique and amazing woman, close comrade of Charlotte Mason. Told by an intimate friend and colleague of Mrs. Franklin, this biography paints the picture of Henrietta as her long life displayed a woman of incredible energy, intelligence, generosity, and vision. Those of us who follow a Mason education owe deep gratitude to her tireless efforts to change education. My husband and I read this aloud together and both looked forward to our evenings with Netta and each new episode in her life adventures.

So Dear to My Heart by Sterling North. For all who loved Rascal, this is another heartwarming story of a different boy in a different place with a different pet. Instead of a raccoon, it is now a lamb, a very special one. Instead of Wisconsin, it is rural Indiana. Again, this masterful storyteller captures the heart of a boy, his thinking, longings, and hilarious scrapes and predicaments. This book makes a perfect family read aloud for listeners of all ages.

The Book of Naturalists: An Anthology of the Best Natural History ed. by William Beebe. Mason had her mothers reading in the area of natural history always in her Mothers Education Course, and I have tried to expand and extend my knowledge of the limitless natural world’s riches by reading, too. This is a historical compilation of the representative writings of naturalists throughout history, from Aristotle to the present. It is a wonderful resource for discovering naturalists throughout the ages that can be further explored in their more complete works that are informative of their time period, and still relevant as the natural world’s wonders continue to fascinate and reveal the knowledge of God and the universe.

The American Revolution by Sir George Otto Trevelyan. I kept stumbling over this title and author as I read Barbara Tuchman, so of course had to track this down. I only had an audio of the one-volume synthesis of his original three volume work, published near the turn of the twentieth century. Even so, it was a thorough account of the American Revolution as it affected the British empire. Born just 50 years after the defeat of the British in our war, Travelyan’s revelations of the persons and policies from the viewpoint of our opponents was eye opening and a fresh look at the war most of us first learned about in elementary school and the beginning of which is still a national celebration every Fourth of July. The perspective of our issues and battles from a British citizen and member of parliament’s point of view was extremely engrossing and this is probably one of the books I have appreciated most so far this year.

The Last Gentleman by Walker Percy. This author is new to me in the last few years and I wanted to read another one of his novels. This was a great ramble with a gentleman stuck between boyhood and manhood, and his journey from New York City back to his southern roots. There is always so much to think about from one of his novels, I should wait six months before saying much more.

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. In one week, I heard this book raved about by four different people in four different settings. It is a story of beauty and hope, about an orphaned boy in twelfth century Korea who yearns to create the beautiful pottery of his region. He pays a high price to gain the privilege of working under a master potter, and continues to do so as he learns the art of pottery and living with people. It is a perfect book for anyone from seven on up, a simple story with beautiful life lessons.

Fiddlestrings by Marguerite De Angeli. If your children take violin lessons, this book will inspire them. It is the story of a young son of a musician who has a great love for and talent with the violin, but whose desire for baseball, sailing, and bringing home stray dogs competes with the needed discipline his family insists on to make the most of his talent. The story is a summer tale of his freedom from routine, and the changes one year in a young life brings. It is full of heartwarming family strength, and the simplicity of an earlier American era, but the desires of his heart are just like those of young boys today.

Yonie Wondernose by Marguerite De Angeli. Yonie is a lovable little boy who is given some man-sized responsibilities to help his aging grandmother. De Angeli, as ever, brings a picture book to children that will delight their eyes and ears as they listen to the simple tale of a care-free boy who one day suddenly faces an emergency with a man-sized effort and proves that courage and clear-headedness are not just for adults to show.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Curtis. After my delight with Bud, not Buddy, I had to return to another Curtis tale. The protagonist in this one is the only daughter of a family struggling against the worst of the Depression in Gary, Indiana. Poverty pushes their family to the wall and she helplessly watches everything they have striven for disintegrate. Most of the story is the riveting tale of how her courage and intelligence, loyalty and trust in her family, eventually brings them through, not unscathed, but rewarded for tenacity in the face of the worst life can deal out. It is a story for young adult (11-12 on up) boys and girls, though the title may not seem so,. To say it was inspiring is an understatement. It was not the easiest story to read emotionally, but one of the most rewarding I’ve read in a long time.

For the joy of reading,