What I’ve Been Reading and a Reading Challenge Comes to a Close

Hey there everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, hasn’t it? I am way overdue for a reading update! Well, I know I’ve mentioned before that my youngest daughter LOVES to read; so I do a fair bit of pre-reading children’s books.🙂 These last few months I’ve read a number of children’s books along with other books for my own personal reading. So here’s a look at some of the books I’ve read since my last What I’ve Been Reading post.


The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster

I loved this book! This book is clever, witty, and altogether genius. One of the things we get each of our kids for Christmas is a book. I chose this one to give to my 8yo for Christmas this year. I’ve pre-read it and it is now packed away and ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree come December.🙂


Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

Well, I can finally say I’ve read a Jane Austen novel! Probably a year or so ago, I attempted to read Emma but ended up ditching it because I had a hard time getting into the book (even though I love several of the movie productions of this book!) Not so with Pride and Prejudice though! I really enjoyed reading it. It was so fun seeing how the different movie renditions lined up with the book. As I read the book, I remembered various scenes from my two favorite movie productions of this novel….those being the classic BBC production with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and the newer production with Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley. I like each of these movies for different reasons. But without a doubt, the BBC version is still my favorite.🙂


by Holling C. Holling

I enoyed reading Pagoo and knew I definitely wanted to have it on the schedule this year for a nature study book for my 8yo daughter. So I scheduled the readings for Pagoo out over 12 weeks. However, my daughter loved it so much that she ended up reading it in a shorter time frame. She would tell me, “Mommy, I just HAVE to read another chapter!” I love that!


The Awakening of Miss Prim
by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

I found this book to be a delightful read and very much enjoyed it. In fact, it is one I would totally read again. I have only one complaint….I wish that there was a bit more to the ending. I don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to give any of the storyline away in case someone reading this post might want to read the book. But a little more to the ending would have been nice. And a sequel would be even better!


The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame

This was a re-read for me. I read this a number of years ago as a read-aloud with my oldest daughter. This is such a classic. You can’t help but laugh and shake your head at the infamous Mr. Toad. I decided to choose it as one of the independent literature reads of this school year for my 8yo daughter. So I re-read the book first, and then it went on the school schedule.


Charlotte’s Web
by E. B. White

This was another re-read for me. This is the second independent literature read I picked for my daughter for this school year. I actually scheduled this out over a number of weeks on the school schedule; but the moment my daughter picked it up, she didn’t want to put it down. So she ended up reading it in just a couple of days. It was definitely a hit!


The Princess and the Goblin
by George MacDonald

Oh my how I loved this book when I first read it a number of years ago. In fact, there were times when I didn’t want to put it down. And it was just as wonderful to read it again as a read-aloud with my 8yo daughter. I love that she loved it just as much as I did! This was our latest read-aloud and we just finished it a few weeks ago. We are now reading the sequel called The Princess and Curdie. I hadn’t read the sequel yet so this is a new one for me too!

The Door in the Wall
by Marguerite de Angeli

This was a read-aloud pick in July. My daughter enjoyed this book. I, however, wouldn’t rank this one high on *my* list of favorite read-aloud books. Not that it isn’t a good book; just not my favorite for a read-aloud. For some reason, it felt a bit tedious to me in reading it aloud.


In addition to those, we read some picture book read-alouds together; and for myself, I’ve read some other non-fiction books as well as a handful of books that I started but didn’t finish. That leads me to share about the 2016 Reading Challenge. Last year, I attempted to do a reading challenge and failed miserably. I read one book that actually fit in one of the categories for that challenge. So this year, I wanted to give a reading challenge another go. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge seemed to be more realistic for me. And over the course of the year, that has proven to be true. I am amazed at how many books I’ve read this year both for the challenge and in addition to the challenge.  This reading challenge helped me stretch myself to read some books that I may not have picked up otherwise. The Count of Monte Cristo was not one that I had much interest in reading; but because of the reading challenge, it was the book my oldest daughter chose for me to read for the category of “A Book Chosen for You by Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF.” And I’m glad I read the book. I’m glad I finally read a Jane Austen novel. I picked The Giver for one of the categories and went on to read that whole series. I tackled epic poetry and re-read a couple of favorite books. And now, I have decided to bring the 2016 Reading Challenge to a close. I accomplished all but two categories and that makes me happy. Why stop with only two categories left? Well, honestly, I’ve tried a number of books for those two categories and haven’t finished any of them. And I’m content to let those two categories go. So as a final wrap-up, here’s all the categories I completed for this year’s reading challenge: (By the way, for the books I wrote a post for, I’ve linked those posts.)

A Book You Can Finish In a Day
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
By Brian Selznick

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Deconstructing Penguins:  Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading
By Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

A Book You Should Have Read in School
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

A Book Chosen for You by Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A Book Published Before You Were Born
The Boxcar Children (#1 in the series)
By Gertrude Chandler Warner

A Book That Was Banned at Some Point
The Giver
By Lois Lowry

A Book You Previously Abandoned
The Wizard of Oz
By L. Frank Baum

A Book You Own But Have Never Read
100 Best-Loved Poems
Edited by Philip Smith

A Book That Intimidates You
Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves:  Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen
by Edmund Spenser, Updated and Annotated by Roy Maynard

A Book That You’ve Already Read At Least Once
The Reading Promise
By Alice Ozma

Will I do another reading challenge next year? I don’t know. I’m thinking that I may put together my own personal reading challenge focused on children’s literature. But we’ll see.🙂

What I’ve Been Reading – June 2016

In June, among the books I read were a number of children’s books, the final book in The Giver Quartet series, and a book for the 2016 Reading Challenge.

First, the book completed for the 2016 Reading Challenge:

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Category:  A Book Chosen for You by Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF

This book could also fit in the category for “A Book You Should Have Read in School” since I didn’t read this in high school; but I’ve chosen Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for that category. My oldest daughter chose The Count of Monte Cristo for me because it was one of her favorite books she read in high school and she said I *needed* to read it.🙂 While it is a pretty long book, the story kept moving. I saw the movie a long time ago and from what I can remember, it is quite different from the book. I plan to watch the movie again now that I’ve finished reading the book.

Other Books I Read

I read Son by Lois Lowry which is the final book in The Giver Quartet series.


I enjoyed this series. The author did a superb job of presenting different storylines and characters and then weaving them together. This series will definitely bring up discussion and I can’t wait to discuss them with my husband once he finishes listening to the audiobook.

And finally, throughout the month, I read a number of children’s books.

The Minstrel in the Tower

The Minstrel in the Tower by Gloria Skurzynski is a great little short chapter book to read if you are studying The Middle Ages. I read this aloud to my 8yo daughter and she loved it so much we ended up reading it all in one sitting.🙂

I only read these four titles from The Lighthouse Family series; but they were all delightful little reads. These are great for children who are beginning to read chapter books; but even if a child is beyond the beginning chapter book stage, these are still great little books…especially for children who like animal stories. My 8yo daughter loves animal stories so these were perfect for her. She loved them all.

2016 Reading Challenge Spring Update

Over the last couple of months, I took awhile to read my epic poetry selection (I’m so glad I’ve finished it!). I also opted to read a bit less and re-watch some favorite Netflix shows.🙂 Still, I was able to finish some books for the 2016 reading challenge as well as a few others that weren’t for the challenge.

As usual, I’ll start with books I completed for the challenge then I’ll list the other books I read after that.


Deconstructing Penguins:  Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading
by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
Category:  A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read


100 Best-Loved Poems Edited by Philip Smith
Category:  A Book You Own But Have Never Read


Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves:  Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen
by Edmund Spenser, Updated and Annotated by Roy Maynard
Category:  A Book That Intimidates You

I had mentioned before that epic poetry intimidates me. I thought I would try Paradise Lost by Milton. I attempted to read it and ended up ditching it. So….I opted to go with Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves:  Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen instead. I wish I could say that reading it helped me like epic poetry more. But nope…it didn’t. Maybe I could say I might be a *little* less intimidated by epic poetry now. Maybe just a wee bit. But I still don’t want to tackle Paradise Lost anytime soon.🙂

Other Books I Read

Who Was Marco Polo? by Joan Holub
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Classic Starts The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle, Edited by John Burrows
Messenger by Lois Lowry (#3 in The Giver Quartet Series)

Books Currently In Progress

Son by Lois Lowry (#4 in The Giver Quartet Series)
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown


I have four categories left to complete in the reading challenge:

  • A Book Published This Year
  • A Book Recommended by Your Local Librarian or Bookseller
  • A Book You Should Have Read in School
  • A Book Chosen for You by Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF

As of right now, I have books picked out for two of the categories:

A Book Chosen for You by Your Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (My daughter chose this one for me.)

A Book You Should Have Read in School
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I’m thinking I will start reading The Count of Monte Cristo once I finish Son by Lois Lowry (the 4th and final book in The Giver Quartet series).

Have you read any good books lately?

The Value of Efforts and Habit

*Here is another post from my archives that I’ve updated and am re-posting.*

In Mystie’s post The effort of thinking, learning, and teaching, she shared the following quote:

Quote 1

Education requires effort and self-discipline…it’s built on habits. And we as homeschooling mamas are the ones that are helping to train our children in the self-discipline education requires…the building of habits…the putting forth of effort needed. It doesn’t matter what curriculum you use or what methods you follow, effort will always be a part of the process.

I think Mystie said it very well in her post when she said:

Quote 2

It’s true that sometimes we might need to change curriculum or change a resource. However, sometimes it might not be about the curriculum at all…but more about habits, about effort. And really, most times issues of habits and effort are probably not going to be solved by switching curriculum.

Remember the importance of the little things…the daily steps? Little by little, day by day, good habits are being developed, effort is put forth, lessons are being learned, and character is being built. We are growing, learning, becoming.

This and That: New Journal, Pens and More

We recently celebrated my birthday and I just had to show you a piece of the birthday cake my hubby made for me:

Homemade Hot Fudge Cake.jpg

My husband knows how much I like  chocolate.🙂 So he made homemade hot fudge cake with plenty of hot fudge sauce as you can see. Oh my. It was absolutely delicious!


This past Saturday, my hubby, youngest daughter, and I went to the local bookstore and I bought my first paperblanks journal. I almost didn’t buy it though. They are a tad bit on the expensive side as far as journals go. After picking out the journal, I looked at my hubby and said “My frugal side is kicking in.” Then I proceeded to show him some very basic plain notebooks that were much cheaper. My hubby wouldn’t let that fly. He insisted I get the one I really wanted. And so I splurged and bought the paperblanks journal. Isn’t it beautiful?

Pens and Journal

The pens with it are ones I just bought Wednesday. I decided to go with the Inkjoy pens and as you can see, I chose a pack with 8 different colors.🙂

While we were at the bookstore, I also bought some books. Imagine that!🙂 One of the books I bought was the third book in The Giver series. I can’t wait to start reading it! I am a bit bummed that the book is a different size and a totally different look than the other three books in the series. Is it weird that I like books in a series to all be the same size so that they sit pretty on the bookshelf?  LOL  Nonetheless, I still bought the book and can’t wait to read it.



I’m still pluggin’ along with Paradise Lost. It’s slow going right now. But I am making good progress on finishing up the books I’m reading of The Once and Future King. I have finished Book 1 and am ready to begin Book 2. Yay!


Oh, and this week I did a post about the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Somehow it initially posted with the wrong date and so I had to go back in and change that to the correct date, which means it posted again but with the right date. Unfortunately, the emails went out to blog subscribers before I could get the post date changed and so the link probably didn’t work since it deleted the original one that posted with the wrong date. My apologies for the confusion. You can read the post HERE.

How was your week?

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Hugo thought about his father’s description of the automaton. “Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?” he asked Isabelle. “They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder, like the automaton. Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do.” Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again, and set it down. “Maybe it’s the same with people,” Hugo continued. “If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken.”

                                    The Invention of Hugo Cabret, pg. 374

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick was the book I chose to read for the reading challenge category “A Book You Can Finish In a Day.” Hugo is an orphaned boy who lives in the walls of a train station in Paris. He must keep the clocks at the station running while keeping his existence a secret. Hugo is hanging on to the hope that an automaton has a message for him from his father. In order to get parts to fix this automaton, he has been stealing various things from a toy shop owned by George Méliés. (The toy shop is in the train station.) Méliés has tried to forget the past and what he once was. Instead of moving on though, he is bitter, broken, and has lost his purpose.

As the worlds of these two characters collide, an intricate story unfolds…one of survival, hurt, loss, brokenness, and healing. The story is captivating; the pictures stunning. This book will not only tug at your heart, but also beg to be read and re-read. It’s one of the books I absolutely love and have read it more than once. I’ve also watched the movie several times as well.🙂

2016 Reading Challenge February Update

Well, I’m obviously a little late getting February’s reading challenge update posted. But here I am….finally.🙂 The following is what I read in February. Most of what I read wasn’t for the challenge; but I did complete one category. And I did start Les Miserables, which was one of my book choices for the category “A Book that Intimidates You.” But after reading a bit of it, I decided that I think it needs to be a book for another time. So this month, in fact just this past weekend, I picked up one of the other book choices I had for that category:  Paradise Lost by John Milton. Epic poetry intimidates me. It might take me some time to read it…….

On to the reading challenge update…..

The Reading Promise

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma
Category:  A Book You’ve Already Read At Least Once

I absolutely LOVE this book. I’ve read it twice now and could still probably read it again. The first time I read it, I read it in just a few days. This time around, I decided to read it slower. So I scheduled it out to read over the whole month.

Other Books I Read

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla
*This is a great chapter book to read if your children are studying the Middle Ages.

I began The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit as a read-aloud in January and we finished it February 1st.

The Value of Reading Widely

*Here is another post from my archives that I’ve updated and am re-posting.*

Awhile back, I began reading the book Watership Down. One day, while reading this book, I found myself reading the following words:

Odysseus brings not one man to shore with him. Yet he sleeps sound beside Calypso and when he wakes thinks only of Penelope.” (Ch. 22, pg. 162)

Right smack dab in the middle of a book about rabbits was a reference to The Odyssey, a classic work of ancient literature. What is exciting about this is that because I had started reading The Odyssey at one time, I knew exactly what that reference to The Odyssey was. And that’s exciting to me! Why? Because it’s a connection…a connection between two very different types of books. No one had to point it out to me. I knew the connection because I had read some of The Odyssey myself.

Reading Widely

Coming across this reference to The Odyssey in Watership Down is just one example of the benefits of wide reading:  you never know when any two books you read will cross paths and a connection is made.

Through wide reading…through a generous curriculum full of quality living books…children are introduced to many ideas. And ideas are nourishing food for the mind.

“The life of the mind is sustained upon ideas…” (A Philosophy of Education, pg. 25)

“The intellectual life…has but one food whereby it lives and grows – the sustenance of living ideas.”
(School Education, pg. 121)

“…mind appeals to mind and thought begets thought and that is how we become educated.”
(A Philosophy of Education, pg. 12)

Reading widely is good for our children; and I think it is also good for us.

Our children’s minds need the nourishing food of ideas. So do we.

That wide reading…that filling of our minds with lots of soul-nourishing, mind-nourishing ideas…is important. When we read widely, we are exposing ourselves to a world of ideas; and that means we are learning…we are growing…we are enriching our lives.

This and That: Movies, Books I Want to Finish, and More

I had mentioned in a previous post how I loved watching The Wizard of Oz movie growing up but hadn’t read the book. So I decided that I would read the book aloud to my youngest daughter as I was reading it and then we could watch the movie together. My daughter loved the book; so I was pretty certain that she would enjoy the movie as well. When we decided to watch it this week, of course I called up my mom, told her that we were going to watch the movie and would she like to watch it with us. If you read my post about the book, then you know my mom loves this movie. Of course her answer was “Yes!”. So we headed over to my parent’s house with movie in hand. My mother and I sang to pretty near every song and quoted lines of the movie along the way. LOL And I was right…my daughter loved the movie too! So we now have three generations of Wizard of Oz fans.🙂


I’ve been thinking the last couple of days that starting in March, I’d like to work on finishing up some books I started awhile back and never finished. They are books I *want* to finish. For some reason or another, I started reading them and then set them aside. I may try to tackle one each month until I get them finished, since I’m already currently reading Les Miserables. Here’s the ones I’d like to finish reading:

I’m only reading Books I and II of The Once and Future King and I’ve already read almost all of Book I. I’m about halfway through Watership Down. So it shouldn’t take too long to finish both of these books….I think…


While we’re on the subject of books, let’s talk tea. I shared one of the quotes I love from C. S. Lewis on Wednesday:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
~ C. S. Lewis

I love a good cup of coffee; but I also enjoy a variety of teas. I have to say that my favorite is probably English Breakfast with Earl Grey following up in second place. How about you? What’s your favorite tea?