A 9 Year Old’s Thoughts on the Assigned Literature for American History

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At the beginning of the year I assigned my 9 year old (or third grader if you need that information) a whole basket of literature that I wanted him to read during the course of the 2017-18 school year. The idea behind this is to give a living education in a Charlotte Mason way. I looked for wholesome living books and used my handy-dandy- full sticky back post it notes to write the daily reading schedule for the student. For the record, I got that idea from Pepper and Pine. The thing about assigning books is that a lot of times, it greatly depends upon the character of your child to know whether or not the books assigned will be a good fit. MY son loves detectives, spy, and frontiersman so I knew finding literature would help him in that. I knew that if a book would be too hard to understand that he would assume himself to be stupid and not enjoy reading (so, the standard Charlotte Mason reading list resources are usually too much for him. And a note to that- while I want to challenge him and help him grow in his ability to comprehend and strengthening his vocabulary, it was more important to me that I choose read aloud books that would do that rather than independent readers. I am working more towards books that he can relate too.) This is not mommy keeping poor little son as long as possible and coddling him, but mommy realizing she was pushing too hard and started to see a potential danger ahead and reeled back. So without further speech, lets get on to the books we HAVE read, and HIS thoughts on that.

Where Do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus? By Jean Fritz
Stephen says: “I liked it, it was ok. My favorite part was when Columbus got some natives and took them back with him.
A mama note: His narration wasn’t as animated as some of the other books we’ve done in the past. Now I know that sometimes its just a hard time to absorb what is going on and to keep focused to the task at hand but I have not seen him pick this book up again.

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
You can’t go wrong with this author. We have read several books by him and have always enjoyed them.
Stephen says: “I really liked this one and I have already read it again. I like when his friends invited him on the ship and then they took him back to London and then went home to his own people.”

The Secret of the Andes by Ann Clark
Stephen did not enjoy this book as much (Mom has yet to read it! Bad mama!) and found that the chanting difficult to understand. His narration gave much more insight to the story but as per son’s request, I am not sharing his narrations. 🙂

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
You can’t go wrong with this author’s books! Stephen’s happens to be “Bears on Hemlock Mountain“. But he really enjoyed this book and my two eldest have read it multiple times. Don’t let the size deter you from handing this book to multiple grades. It is a darling book and while simple in vocabulary, it is rich in content.

The Keeping Room by Anna Myers
Stephen says: “I definitely loved this book. I love how he dresses up as a British Soldier to try to help his father escape.” Mom has not read this one. Again, I based it off of reviews of other mothers and the whole spy and danger thing I knew would appeal to him and so I assigned it him. We read this around the same time as I did my read aloud with Johnny Tremain (An excellent read!) and I remember Stephen contributing to the conversation based on some of the information he read in this book. The only thing that bothered me was the fact that I didn’t hear about any of the major people of the Revolutionary War. But I think (again, not having read) that it was more about the child’s perspective. I have no doubt that major names were used like George Washington and King George but I guess in a similar manner of today, we only have major names like President Trump and Queen Elizabeth to associate with our time period. Food for thought.

Phoebe the Spy by Juddith Griffin
Stephen didn’t remember reading this at first until he began to flip through it. Hmmmmm, wonder if that means anything. Stephen’s response was, “meh. It was ok. ” I was a little surprised because I thought he would have enjoyed it more. It will be interesting to see if I give it to him later, if he would enjoy it more.

What’s the Big Idea Ben Franklin? By Jean Fritz
So, while I assigned this book, it got overlooked and didn’t get read. However, I am including it because I think it gives a great idea of the whole persona of Benjamin Franklin.

The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
Mom note: LOVE this living book! Great for all ages, like Courage of Sarah Noble.
Stephen’s review is that “I really like this! I have read it at least 2 times because I read it last year for school too.” Me: “Would you read it again? Without Mommy telling you too?” Stephen: “Can I read it now?”
There you go. He had a great narration for this one. Action for boys and of course, guns and Indians. 😉

Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin By Marguerite Henry
Stephen: This was a really good book I really liked it. I loved it when he went to Philadelphia. He was a Quaker and He wanted to paint but they weren’t allowed to do that. And then his cat comes and saves his mother. It was a good story.”
I have to say, that of all the books, I heard the most of about this book. That being said, it was a longer book and he could tell me more of it.

What Was the Lewis and Clark Expedition? By Judith St. George
Mom note: I read this as well as beloved author, James Daugherty’s Of Courage Undaunted and the comparison between the two was great. The facts lined up as well as kept it interesting. I would say that I found The What Was, book to be more flowing than the Daugherty book. However, the Daugherty kept it well written like you would find in a journal or log.
That being said Stephen had a “It was ok. It was good.” I think we were kind of done with Lewis and Clark by this point. It did seem to drag on forever.

His current read is the beloved, Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And he is LOVING it. How do I know? Because he constantly is telling me more and more about what he just read. That being said, I think us reading Sweet Home Alaska from January’s Family Reading Crate from Build Your Library, really sparked a lot of relations with this book.

I hope that was helpful for someone out there. It can be difficult weeding through all the books and resources available.

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