Stuff We Like :: 4.29.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Happy birthday today to my mom, who always bought me all the books I wanted from the Scholastic order form!

around the web

I have always suspected this: Speed reading is really just a fancy term for skimming

I will always love A Little Princess, but this critique of Sara’s wealth morality is pretty spot-on.

Just for fun: If we wrote about men’s athletic wear the way we write about women’s fashion

Being busy and distracted is actually retro. Like 1700s retro.

The brief, glorious life of Boaty McBoatface


at home | school | life

on homeschoollifemag.com: Have you downloaded our Homeschool Recharge workbook yet? It’s free for everyone through the end of May (and always free for subscribers)

on the blog: I have been living vicariously through Shelli’s Citizen Science posts, but this one is so easy, I have no excuse not to try it!

also on the blog: I'm really excited about our new bloggers, who you'll get to meet next month!

in the classroom: Registration for our summer classes starts on Sunday!

on Facebook: Weigh in on what you’d like to see more (or less) of on the home | school | life blog.


reading list

I’m trying to get back into the routine of doing a new book review for the blog every Saturday—which means I finally got around to reviewing The Goblin’s Puzzle, which we really loved.

On my night table: Inventions of the March Hare, Loquela (so weird and challenging, but I kind of love it)

On my 8th grader’s night table: Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, thanks to Suzanne’s spring column. (We ordered ours from Abe Books, but it looks like there’s U.S. edition coming our way this fall.)

On my 3rd grader’s night table: A giant collection of Pokemon cards. (But he’s been reading his sister’s old Amanda Pig books when no one is looking. Honestly, I have no idea how to classify his reading level at this point, so I’m just going to eat some chocolate and try not to think about it.)

Next up in our readaloud queue: Holes


at home

watching: Doctor Who, now that it’s finally returned to streaming on Amazon Prime

knitting: Nothing! I can’t decide what to knit next

planning: Our first Homeschool 101 online workshop with the fabulous Suzanne and figuring out how to set up a private chat group for the participants

eating: Every artichoke I can get my greedy little hands on

listening: Prince, Prince Prince

What You Should Read in Middle School

what you should read in middle school

In the summer issue of home/school/life, we’re helping you navigate the transition from elementary to middle school in your homeschool. An important piece of the puzzle: Your middle grades reading list. These titles tap into tweens’ developing social and emotional lives


It’s heartbreaking to read, but that’s kind of the point of this book about life for one Jewish girl in hiding during the Holocaust.


Flowers for Algernon
By Daniel Keyes

Some of the situations in this book may be a little mature for younger middle schoolers, but its themes of identity and intelligence will captivate tween readers.


What cost does utopia have? How important is freedom? Tweens are ready to tackle those ambiguous questions right along with young Jonah in this deceptively simple novel.


To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

For many tweens, Harper Lee’s American classic is the first novel that really makes them sit up and pay attention to what literature can do. Scout, Boo Radley, and Atticus Finch are characters who stay with you.


The Catcher in the Rye
By J.D. Salinger

People have called Holden Caulfield, the book’s not-a-hero-protagonist annoying, boring, spoiled, and hard to identify with. That unlikability is part of what makes this a classic.


The Outsiders
By S. E. Hinton

Tweens trying to sort out where they belong will identify with reluctant hoodlum Ponyboy in this story about two rival gangs in the 1960s Midwest.


By Louis Sachar

Coincidence or fate, revenge or redemption, justice or generosity — Sachar tackles these big topics with good-spirited humor and a rollicking good story.


Golding’s novel might poke fun at some of the traditional fairy-tale elements in epic adventures, but the story of Buttercup and her Westley is an unabashed literary delight. (Golding was inserting wry narrator notes long before the trend took off in children’s literature.)


Lots of children’s books talk about the history of Native Americans, but Alexie’s novel is one of the few that digs into what it’s like to grow up on a modern-day Indian reservation. There’s tough stuff in this book, but that’s part of what makes it so worthwhile.


Bridge to Terabithia
By Katherine Paterson

This book, about two lonely kids who find friendship while creating an imaginary world, will break your heart in the best possible way.


By Neil Gaiman

Like a more confusing, much darker version of Alice in Wonderland, Coraline is a fascinating look at the costs of getting what we want.


A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)
By Madeleine L'Engle

You don’t have to be a science-fiction fan to get completely caught up in this story of Meg’s search for her father, and even non-science-minded kids will appreciate the intelligent writing.