Vikings: Take 1

Since we're spending most of August looking at the Vikings, as referenced in my last post, we picked up a few books at our library to aid our study.   Here they are in no particular order.


First Facts About the Vikings

I really like the way this one is lad out.  Each spread starts with a stated fact at the top and then goes on to "prove" the veracity.  The illustrations are decent.  They do not shy away from some of the more violent tendencies, and blood and death are depicted. I like that it has a glossary in the back.

Viking Times (If You Were There)
We glanced at this one, and the kids enjoyed paging through it.  It was good, but not nearly as fun as the others. The one we borrowed from our library had a timeline and a fold out game board in it too. It has a lot of information laid out by topic.  It was an easy one to read a few pages at a time.

 Your Life as an Explorer on a Viking Ship

This was a really fun story. It's told as if you were the kid in the book, portraying a viking in a school play. It's full of facts presented in an engaging way.  I think this was my favorite of all of them.

The Real Vikings : Craftsmen, Traders, and Fearsome Raiders

We really didn't do too much with this one.  I think we all fell into the "judging a book by it's cover" trap.  It just wasn't as fun looking as the others. I really think we would have learned a lot by reading it. It is more of a book to read than the others.  Lots more words in paragraphs, and fewer illustrations and photos.

Viking (DK Eyewitness Books)

This one has a clipart CD that came with it. That's a fun little extra, but I'll be honest and tell you I didn't look at it.  Very informative, the kids loved to look at all the pictures in this one. It has lots of pictures of artifacts. It feels more like a Viking encyclopedia than anything else.

 This was our other favorite.  It's such a fun book. It's not quite a story, but not quite straight facts. Each two page spread is full of one aspect or another of Viking life.  Definitely kid-friendly, but also doesn't shy away from some of the less pretty aspects of the culture.  We'll look for more books in this series as we move forward! 

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Leif the Lucky

We're back in the swing of things school-wise here. We've got two weeks under our belts and I thought I'd share a little bit of what we're reading.  This year for history we're studying American History. I decided to use a "living books" approach and settled on Beautiful Feet Books "Early American History" as a spine.

We're spending just about the whole month of August looking at the Vikings. We're slowly making our way through Leif The Lucky by Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire.  We're really enjoying it.  It's not a short book, we're breaking it up into chunks and reading a few pages at a time, but it is well written, and the pictures are phenomenal.  We love to look at them.
Picture is a link

This is a book I think we'll come back to again and again. 

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"B" is for Betsy

What a fun little surprise this was!  I pulled the book thinking that it would be a cute, easy, summer chapter book for Stella and I to read.  The cover art made me a little nervous, it's a new cover with new art and I assumed that it was a mid-'90's kid-lit.  I had no idea what a gem I had picked up.  Just goes to show that you really CAN'T judge a book by it's cover!  It's a sweet little story.

Anywho... "B" Is for Betsy was written by Carolyn Haywood and first published in 1939.  I immediately relaxed.  This would be safe.  The children were respectful, the perspectives refreshing. There was some independence, some rebellion, but also remorse and reparation.

Stella begged for more chapters, and even Bruce sat through most of it.  She couldn't wait to find what Betsy would do next!  I really enjoyed it also!  We would whole-heartedly recommend this book to any family with kids in the early chapter book years.

It's also a series, and we are looking forward to the next few books!

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The Three Ninja Pigs

This week at the Library we borrowed the book The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz.  A little back-story: I am married to a man with a second degree black belt and a love for all things Japanese, karate, or ninja related.  I love fractured fairy tales.  So when I saw this book, I knew we'd all love it.  And we did.

It was funny.  It rhymed (well).  It taught the concept of follow-through, and working hard to accomplish a goal. But without being preachy.  Some of it went over the kids heads I'm sure, but the pictures are great, and the story easy to follow.

I do think it helps a kid to know the original fairy tale before reading the fractured fairy tales.  Otherwise they aren't nearly as funny.  So I asked Stella to tell me the original story.  She's a good story teller.

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Tuesdays at the Castle

So, I'm late getting this post up, since we actually read this book almost three weeks ago!  But we loved it.  It was a little advanced for Stella, and there were parts that she was a little nervous to read through.  But I persisted and we finished this delightful book by Jessica Day George.

I am a huge fan of fantasy of this sort.  I mean, really, who isn't fascinated by a magical, growing, living castle. The fun part of Tuesdays at the Castle is that it makes the castle, the setting of the book a major character in the story.  The heroine of the book, 11 year-old Celie is a bright, fleshed out, child.  I loved that she was simply a girl, she didn't act or speak like an adult.

Stella's favorite parts were where she was escaping from the "bad guys"! 
We are looking forward to the sequel, Wednesdays in the Tower
There are some heavier themes in this one, so be aware of that. Celie's parents are presumed dead for much of the book, there is an attempted coups by some advisers and a foreign prince.  And her older brother is at school to become a wizard.  With that said, we would highly recommend this book for 1st grade and up.

What are your favorite books fantasy books for kids?

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The Secret Garden

I love, love, love, The Secret Garden !  I have loved it since I was a little girl.  There is something so captivating about it. The opening of tragedy, but the quick almost skimming over of it.  The idea that there were no toys or even children to play with once she arrived at her uncles home.  They mystery. The Secrecy. The coming alive of heart and mind and garden all together.  And the language!  The delightful fun of trying to make my very American tongue say words with not only a proper British accent, but also the Yorkshire slang of the characters.  Delightful.

It was a joy to introduce this book to Stella.  Some of it went over her head.  And she never chose to read it.  But when I would insist on a chapter, she would beg for more.  I really do think that she enjoyed it, if it was a little advanced.  But she has started to incorporate a British accent into her imaginative play.  And at 5 if that is what we take from books... I'll take it!


Treasury of Inspirational Stories for Children

We loved this book!  James Herriot's stories are exceptional.  Stella, like all little girls, loves animal stories.  And I have loved James Herriot since high school.  So when my Aunt Sue gave the kids James Herriot's Treasury for Children for Christmas I knew we were all in for a treat.  I hadn't realized that he had written for children.  And maybe they aren't written for children, but they are certainly appropriate for them.  He writes in a way that makes the country and the people and the animals come to life and the illustrations by Ruth Brown and Peter Barrett add to it.  This is a delightful book and we all enjoyed.  Even Bruce wouldn't wander too far, and for some stories he even sat with us.  Out of eight stories we enjoyed, well, eight.  Super sweet, and fun.  I would highly recommend this to anyone! 

 Have you ever read any of James Herriot's books?