Life lessons from Russian literature, person-centered language, 21 great books for fall, and more stuff we like.
Did you watch the eclipse? It was definitely one of the high points of our summer—it’s inspired a whole lot of astronomy-related construction projects here!
around the web
This list of songs about historical events is so great!
An excellent roundup of reading on the subject of hate in America.
The importance of humanities in tumultuous times
This is a fantastic read: Love, duty, women, caregiving, and Middlemarch
You can donate your eclipse glasses to Astronomers Without Borders — they’re collecting to distribute them to students in Asia and Africa for the 2019 eclipse.
in the magazine: We’re doing something a little different this fall: Our September group subscription deal is available exclusively through SEA Homeschoolers. SEA is free to join, and you can take advantage of the super-duper group discount (just $15 per subscription) whether you’re buying for yourself or a for a group.
on the blog: I love Maggie’s tips for creating an environment that nurtures readers
on instagram: Old-school eclipse viewing in our backyard
two years ago: If your math curriculum was on Facebook…
three years ago: Mindful Homeschool: Letting go of fear
I’m basically only rereading stuff for my upcoming classes right now, so my lists are totally boring this week and I’m jealous of all the cool stuff my kids are reading: the Vesper Holly series (it really stinks that this one is out of print, but if you can find copies, it’s totally worth reading!), The Story of Clocks and Calendars, Catstronauts: Mission Moon, Vegetables in Underwear, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Out of Abaton, American Born Chinese, and The Ruby in the Smoke seem to be at the top of the piles, but I’m not sure who is actually reading what.
We’re celebrating our son’s 10th birthday this weekend. Double digits!
I’ve talked about working and homeschooling before, but with Jason’s school opening up in a couple of weeks, I’m having to find a whole new balance—and honestly, it’s got me a little stressed out. I know I have to trust that I will find a rhythm—and not be afraid to change things that aren’t working—but wrapping my head around a totally different kind of schedule feels really challenging this week.
There has been a lot NOT to like this week. Can we please just all agree, for the sake of sanity, that Nazis are doubleplusungood?
around the web
Short but helpful: What do you do when you realize your favorite childhood book is actually racist? (Spoiler: You read it, and you talk about it.)
In difficult times, we turn to the real purpose of the internet: cute animal pictures
More reasons James Baldwin will always be cooler than I am (and I am totally OK with that)
If you’re loving the excitement the eclipse has generated in your homeschool, keep up with other big astronomy events all year with this handy calendar.
on the blog: Someone asked for an eclipse reading list, which made me realize there are a lot of great books about eclipses.
on instagram: It’s planning season!
one year ago: We should all know more about Nellie Bly
two years ago: Rebecca reviews Thames and Kosmos science kits
It’s another not-so-stellar week of Library Chicken over here as I obsess over planning and re-planning my outside classes, but I always manage to squeeze in a little reading time: No Time Like the Past (+1, actually managed to get this in, read it, and return it on time, which I think deserves a cake and/or parade); The Dire King (+0, advance copy, but it’s the new Jackaby book so I can’t wait to write about it!); The Jumbies (+1, thanks to Suzanne’s fall column for the recommendation); It’s Perfectly Normal (+0, off the shelf, just rereading before I read through it with my almost-10-year-old); Salad Samurai (+0, off my shelf, because I am looking for some lunchbox inspiration); Thorn (+1, I loved this fairy tale reimagining)
I finished my baby knitting projects and cast on for my first pair of socks. Because apparently I don’t have enough to do. Which is also apparently why I’m applying to graduate history programs. What is wrong with me? :)
I have been too busy, but as soon as I have a minute, I have the second season of Mr. Robot all queued up. I’m not sure if I really like this show or just find it interestingly weird, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.
You guys know that I was really hesitant about offering a print subscription, especially at such a high price point (and I totally understand everyone who’s commented that the price is just too high, believe me!), so I just want to say a big, huge, gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who has subscribed to the print edition. I promise that we will pour our hearts and souls into making these the best issues of HSL ever.
around the web
I don’t know, maybe you won’t find this brief (filed by the ACLU on behalf of John Oliver who’s being sued by a coal magnate over one of his shows) as funny as I do, but you should definitely read the table of contents.
Totally relevant to my life: Freelance achievement stickers (Y’all, I did NOT get the Put on Pants sticker today.)
This is the kind of mash-up of journalism and academia that I live for: How the pink plastic flamingo became an icon
Have you heard about this new alternate history show Confederacy that's coming out? I have issues with it for a lot of reasons, but Roxanne Gay explains several of them better than I could.
In case you’re wondering what to get me for Hanukkah: E.B. White’s farm in Maine is for sale
on the blog: A day in the life of Shelli’s homeschool
in the store: Speaking of Shelli, our awesome senior editor has written a brilliant guide to homeschooling the early elementary years
one year ago: The Girl Who Drank the Moon is one of those gorgeous books that you can’t help falling in love with
two years ago: Great books about the Gold Rush
three years ago: How do you homeschool through a financial crisis?
This (lackluster) week in Library Chicken: Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life (+1), What Katy Did (+0, on my shelf), The Power of Myth (again—I had to pick my class readings!—+0, on my shelf), Invisible Cities (+1), All the King's Men (again—also prepping for class!—+0, on my shelf), Mythology (also class prep—0, on my shelf), The Iliad (also class prep—are you noticing a theme?—+0, on my shelf), 4:50 from Paddington (I am watching Miss Marple, which makes me want to reread all the Miss Marple books—+1). Basically, I’m super annoyed at Suzanne because she keeps reading really interesting books that I do not have time to read right now.
We are crazy busy getting all the final stuff organized for Jason’s school—there is a lot of “one more thing”-ing when you are starting a school! (Actually, there is a lot of “one-more-thing”-ing in my life in general these days.)
It’s also a busy planning-for-a-new-grade season here. I’m sure I’ll go on and on about what we’re doing next year, but I’ll give you a brief rundown: Non-Eurocentric World History, Latin, creative nonfiction (reading and writing), Beast Academy, and critical thinking for my soon-to-be-4th-grader, and AP U.S. Government and Politics, World History and Literature (she may end up taking the AP World History test at the end of the year, but I didn’t put in an AP syllabus for this one because I really wanted to focus away from traditional Euro/white/hetero/male-focused history), Introduction to Critical Theory (I wrote the curriculum for this, and I am so excited to get to teach it—like, making-up-little-songs-about-it excited), Japanese, Algebra II, and Biology for my almost-10th-grader.
I am always trying to balance talking about our homeschool with protecting my children’s privacy, so I won’t tell you how my daughter ended up doing on the AP U.S. History exam. But I WILL say that I’m really glad we did it, and if you are thinking of aiming for the AP test, you definitely should — it ended up being a very happy experience for both of us with the class and with the exam.
This is the time of year when I feel a little sorry for all the kids in our neighborhood going back to school but also I can’t wait to have the library to ourselves again!
around the web
It’s like The Toast knew just what I needed.
Relevant to our interests: Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite children’s books
in the magazine: The good news: We’ve finally got a print edition! The bad news: It’s pretty pricey. (Maybe someone will buy it for you for the holidays if you start dropping hints, though?)
one year ago: Our favorite school supplies
two years ago: What to read next if you loved The Phantom Tollbooth
three years ago: Mindful Homeschool: Find Peace in Your Home
This week in Library Chicken: A Circle of Quiet (+1, lovely whenever I need to feel that the world is a better place and I can be a better person in it); Labyrinths (+0, because it was on sale for the Kindle, and you can’t buy Borges and not read him immediately); The Hazel Wood (+0, advanced copy, and it was so weird because I don’t think it was a good book but it was so creepy that I couldn’t fall asleep until I finished it so maybe it actually was good? I will have to think further on this.); Dust Tracks on a Road (+1, and if you are a Zora Neale Hurston fan, you should definitely read this, and if you are not a Zora Neale Hurston fan, you may become one if you read this); Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin (+1, work-related); Howl and Other Poems (+1, work-related); People of the Book (+1, didn’t love it but it was still pretty good, and I was happy to cross it off my TBR list finally); The Library at Night (+1)
We’ve been doing our homeschool planning meetings this week, and I think we’re all set to tackle 4th grade and 10th grade. I am especially excited about our NOT WHITE MEN world history year, which both my kids will be tackling in different ways. Putting together a plan for this was a little challenging, but I am so happy with what we came up with for both tracks. (If everything works as planned, maybe I’ll publish them here next summer.)
I finally got around to watching Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and while it is nothing like either of the Dirk Gently books, it is silly and fun and interesting. And it entertained me while I finished the knitting parts of my Tiny Tea Leaves and matching headband, so onto the Tiny Shoes!
Just FYI: Our subscription service is raising its price-per-purchase, so the price of a subscription to home/school/life magazine will be going up $2 (to $21) in August. If you want to renew or subscribe before August 1, you can still do it for $19. The blog will obviously continue to be free. :)
around the web
Great tips for helping introverts participate in class without telling them to “just speak up.”
Timely read: How to do nothing
on the blog: I love Maggie’s ideas for creating a list of writing topics.
one year ago: What to read next if you loved the Warriors series
three years ago: Books we read in June 2015
My Library Chicken score this week: The Secrets of Wishtide (which I totally loved, and I thought it was a series but it’s not, and why the heck not? +1), The Art of Eating (+1), The Murder at the Vicarage (+1), The Power of Myth (+1, work-related, though I ended up buying a copy, too), The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (+1), Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America (+1, work-related), Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America (+1, work-related, and the book that launched me on my current Thurgood Marshall kick)
My son is reading Survivors obsessively, making this his second book series obsession of the summer and me pretty much the happiest mom in the universe.
Jason and I are watching our way through season two of Poldark and lots of Marple while I work on my current baby shower knitting project. (Acorn TV is definitely the best subscription television for me!)
I am SO HOPEFUL about the Wrinkle in Time movie. Do not let me down, Ava DuVernay.
Apparently, finishing an issue makes me very chatty. I promise I am not enjoying a glass of frosé while writing this. (But no promises about what I’ll be doing after it’s written!)
around the web
The best thing I read this week was Rebecca Solnit’s talk about the time she spent roaming—both books and wilderness—during her childhood summers: “I was lucky that children were weeds, not hothouse flowers, in those days, left to our own devices, and my own devices led in two directions: north to the hills and the horses, south to the library.”
One thing you have to decide when you have a website is how you want to handle ads. I guess it’s obvious that my decision has been to limit them to the occasional sponsored post from companies whose homeschool philosophy syncs with ours, which is maybe not the most financially savvy decision but one I (mostly!) feel good about. (Obviously other people make other decisions, and those are the decisions that work best for them, so this isn’t any kind of criticism, just me musing.) But this piece about video ads taking over editorial content makes glad we’ve made the decisions we have—and that I’ve been the person with the power to make those decisions.
This is terrifying.
Great piece on how we think poetry is so much more complicated than it actually is.
Nice to see book clubs have remained consistent since the 1700s: “In most cases, food and alcohol in copious quantities, accompanied we may suspect by a considerable element of boisterous good humour, played an important part in the life of the book clubs.”
on the blog: Look! I finally posted our 9th grade reading list. Now to finish our reading list for 10th grade! (It's a world history year—suggestions welcome.)
one year ago: Homeschooling High School: Mythbusters Edition
two years ago: Resources for teaching current events in your homeschool
three years ago: Mindful Homeschool: You Have All the Time You Need
I have basically rocked Library Chicken this week in my post-issue to-do list vacuum, so I am just going to give this whole space to my own reading list this week. I returned Just One Damned Thing After Another (first in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series) because I was having second thoughts, but I picked it up again because some of my requests for further books in the series came in, so I read my way through the aforementioned Just One Damned Thing After Another, A Symphony of Echoes, A Second Chance, and A Trail Through Time like I was a binging a TV series. (And this would make a great series—ooh, maybe Eleanor Tomlinson could play Max!) These books are pure, history nerd, easy reading fun—the perfect back-porch-poolside-too-lazy-to-get-out-of-bed-today summer reading. Resist the urge to compare them to Connie Willis, and you should be fine. (Library Chicken score: +4)
I also recently discovered that Joan Aiken (you may remember her from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and the Armitage family stories) wrote Jane Austen fan-fiction. How did I not know this? Suzanne said to start with Jane Fairfax (whom you may remember from Emma—she marries Frank Churchill), so I did, and it was such fun revisiting the world of Highbury and getting a different perspective on some of the characters. Some parts were better than others, and I definitely wouldn’t describe it Austenian, but it was certainly worth reading. Next up: Mansfield Park Revisited. (Library Chicken score: +1)
I am also really digging into my upcoming Greek history/literature/music/philosophy/art/science class for this fall. I’ve been reading a lot of context and criticism to help get oriented in the Classical world, and now I’m going back to the primary sources, some of which I hadn’t read since college and some of which I read before I had my inner chronology of Greek history properly in place. First up: Herodotus’s Histories, which really helped me get into the Greek mindset (and to appreciate that history has always been a narrative rather than an objective collection of facts) and Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War (again, now that I have the Peloponnesian War straight in my head and a different edition, which I really liked), which goes into long, delicious (and only very occasionally tedious) detail about the war between Sparta and Athens. Is it weird that I’m starting to view Greek history as my own personal soap opera? (Library Chicken score: +2)
I’m also trying to wrap my brain around a plan for high school world history next year, so I’ve been reading with that in mind. I really enjoyed Glimpses of World History, which Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in the 1930s as a series of letters to introduce his daughter to world history—I’m always looking for a way to see world history through non-Western eyes. I also enjoyed the perspective offered by Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, which mixes science into history in a way that many traditional world history books don’t. And I know we’re going to read Guns, Germs, and Steel, so I gave it a quick reread. (Library Chicken score: +3)
Another summer, another friend with a baby on the way. This time I’m knitting a Tiny Tea Leaves (I love this pattern!), some Tiny Shoes, and a matching Violets Are Blue headband. (It’s a girl.) I got some lavender-ish yarn in the KnitPicks summer sale, and I think it's going to be adorable.
It is apparently our Summer of New Appliances. We recently replaced our hot water heater, and now we’re getting a new fridge. Yay?
The kids and I have taken up cross-stitching to cope with all the steamy, soggy afternoons we’ve been having this summer, and it’s a really fun project. I think I know what I am getting for Hanukkah this year! I would be really happy to get in some pool time, too, though.
around the web
This might be the best movie review you ever read.
I am always up for a true story about an imaginary kingdom with a real consulate, and this one is just fascinating.
Disney Princesses suck at consent. (Suzanne sent me this because she knew I was having a hard week, and she knows what brings me joy.)
Also, Suzanne would like everyone to know that THERE IS GOING TO BE A SQUIRREL GIRL MOVIE.
in the magazine: Hooray! The summer issue is out!
on the blog: Resources for better literature classes
one year ago: One of my all-time favorite posts: How to NOT Teach Your Kids Shakespeare (But Do Something Else Really Important Instead)
two years ago: The easiest way to get organized for high school (This is still the system I use—I like it so much, I implemented it at my husband’s hybrid high school)
three years ago: Am I the only lonely homeschool mom?
I’ve been swamped this week, so it’s another not-so-stellar Library Chicken report: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession (+1), Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter (+1), 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories (-1, returned unread but not because I don’t want to read it), How to Cook a Wolf (+0, on my bookshelf)
Another lazy homeschool week here, but we did just start a big family Harry Potter reread, starting with the fancy illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Everything in my house needs cleaning or laundering, but I am still planning to spend as much of this weekend reading by the pool as is humanly possible. It’s not like the mess won’t still be there on Monday, right?
The summer issue is in final edits—hooray!
around the web
This piece about aging and women in Tudor England was both hilarious and fascinating. Case in point: “Contemporaries had only to consider the wildly popular Women’s Secrets to know that old women should be viewed with suspicion. Best keep these crones away from infants, cautioned the learned text, since they could ‘poison the eyes of children lying in their cradles by their glance.’ All women were ‘entirely venomous,’ readers were told, but in earlier years menstrual blood at least served to dilute these evil humors. With the onset of the menopause, the poison was left to stew fetid in the body, with the worst toxins escaping malignantly through wrinkled eyes.”
A feminist biography mixtape (I’ve read some of these, but the rest are going on my TBR list, reasonable life expectancy considerations be damned.)
Really interesting read that doesn’t end up where you might necessarily expect: Are coding toys useful?
on the blog: Teaching what you don’t know
one year ago: Our favorite campfire readalouds
two years ago: Organizing your reading lists
three years ago: Find the Beauty in the Mess and Chaos
My Library Chicken game was pretty weak this week, but I am cranking out the summer issue, so maybe I could get a point for that? My summation: The Adventures of Sally (+0, on my Kindle, a little non-Jeeves Wodehouse fun but I missed Bertie); Monster, Human, Other (+0, advance copy, but I’m looking forward to doing a full review of this); The Power of the Adolescent Brain: Strategies for Teaching Middle and High School Students (-1, returned unread, but I do still really want to read it); Mrs. Sharp's Traditions: Reviving Victorian Family Celebrations of Comfort & Joy (+0, on my shelf); The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (+1, really well written and interesting and I’m glad I read it, but I think I need to stick to Wodehouse for a little while because this made me so sad)
Homeschool reading: None! Summer issue holiday for the kids, which they are mostly using to build Hogsmeade in Minecraft
We spent the Fourth of July getting a new hot water heater, so I am enjoying my Very Expensive Showers for the next couple of weeks until the cost-per-shower returns to more normal numbers.
I don't want to be all self-promote-y, but if you are in Atlanta and looking for middle or high school classes, you should check out The Academy. I've been spending a lot of time helping get it up and running, and I think it has really amazing classes.
Where did June go, you guys!?
around the web
This is our official high school summer reading list: A curriculum for white Americans to educate themselves on race and racism. (See also: Reading list for summer in participatory citizenship)
Relevant to my interests: Gendered Treatments of Trauma during the First World War
You may notice the absence of the video for "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)." That's because I broke down crying in the middle of watching it and couldn't finish. Maybe you'll have better luck.
in the classroom: Just an FYI that we’re putting a hold on our online classes for one more term while I help my husband get his hybrid high school up and running this fall. (If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can always take a class with Suzanne or with me at the Academy.) We do plan to get back to classes—but a girl can only have so much on her to-do list at a time.
on the blog: Are you keeping up with our summer reading series? Suzanne has some great recommendations for addictive summer series.
two years ago: The Rory Gilmore reading challenge, Emily Dickinson on Facebook, spoon puppets, Richard III and more feature in this Stuff We Like roundup from July 2015.
three years ago: 11 reasons we love the summer (2014) issue of home/school/life (our second official issue!)
My Library Chicken report for this week: Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School (+1, work-related), Habits of Mind Across the Curriculum: Practical and Creative Strategies for Teachers (+1, work-related), Queen Lucia (+0, read on Kindle), Miss Mapp (+0, read on Kindle), The Hearts We Sold (+0, advance copy), Just One Damned Thing After Another (-1, returned unread—I wanted to read this so much [British time travel antics!], but then I made the mistake of reading a review that compared it to Douglas Adams and another that called it a funnier Connie Willis, and I just knew it couldn't live up to that and I needed more space between reading it [which I will eventually because British time travel antics] and reading about it)
Homeschool reading: The Book of Unknown Americans, Art and Physics (with my almost-10th grader); The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe, The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History (with my almost-4th grader)
Our current family readaloud: The Dark Is Rising
I am in that place where I am trying to do too much, but everything I am doing is really important, so I have to keep juggling all the balls for a while. If you, too, find yourself in this position, I encourage you to (1.) get better at saying no! and (2.) invest in a bottle of Library of Flowers Forget Me Not bubble bath to make the most of those cobbled-together minutes of down time.
Cookie of the week: Billionaire bars (I could eat all of these by myself, but that might just be the deadline talking. :))