Wednesday, September 10, 2014

World War I, A Little Bit of Austen, Space Ventures, and Lot's of Boy Stuff - It's What We're Reading Wednesday!

People often ask me how I am able to keep television and media time at a minimum with the boys. First, I'll let you know that it isn't always easy (teaching our kids anything worthwhile is always an investment of time and energy), but if you set a certain standard of expectations when your kiddos are young, and follow through with consistency, they are more likely to develop a strong appetite for exercising the imagination with activities, such as reading, that don't involve being "plugged in."
Our oldest sons (13 and 11) are now at an age where I can say that those early implemented standards of little or no electronics (chores, outdoor time, and quiet reading come first) has gone from being the parents rules to their personal decisions and habits. They both love to read, and I can often find them on the deck or in their rooms engrossed in a book.  I really enjoy it when they come to me eager to share all of the details of a story they have just finished. They are setting a great example for their younger siblings!

Of course they still ask to play Minecraft or watch sports on TV, and we say yes to those things too, but often they will go for days without making such requests, which is such a pleasure for Steve and me, because we know that they are finding pleasure in reading, playing outside, or engaging in games or other crazy adventures together.

Here's a sampling of the goodies we have scattered about the house right now. Some of them we finished reading this summer.  While I'm not a huge fan of incentives when it comes to academics, I thought it would be fun to "inspire" the boys to read more challenging works, so I gave each of them the option to read one book of my choosing and two of their own to be completed before school began. If they finished all of them by the end of summer, they received a gift card to Sports Academy. The oldest three all completed the challenge!
1.  All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich M. Remarque
I remember, with great fondness, reading this book in high school.  This is the book I chose for Benedict, since he really enjoys history, and is quite an accomplished reader.  After seeing how much he loved our trip to the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, I knew he would dive right into this book.  Set during WWI, the story recounts the experience of Paul Baumer, a young German soldier, who enlisted to serve his country during the war. (Note: there are places in the book where the descriptions of the war are quite graphic, and best suited for mature readers.)

2.  The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
Ben and Andrew are both big fans of this series.  While I haven't read them myself, they tell me that they are full of action, adventure, suspense and have virtuous characters who are loyal, smart and courageous.  There have been a great deal of discussion at the supper table over the battle of good vs. evil in literature, and these books offer a clear picture of just that.

3.  Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay
I read this novel, which came highly recommended by Anne at The Modern Mr. Darcy, on the way to the lake last week, and I must say that I really enjoyed it.  If you are a fan of Jane Austen, you will appreciate the way Reay intertwines quotes and characters from Austen's most famous works throughout the novel.  

4.  Strong Mothers, Strong Sons by Meg Meeker, M.D.
I'm just getting started with Dr. Meeker's latest publication and am already taking notes.  After reading her book, Boys Should Be Boys, which I highly recommend, I was so impressed that I knew I had to add this title to my shelf.  Unlike her other works, this book is completely dedicated to encouraging healthy mother-son relationships and gives moms insightful tips on how to engage in conversation with our sons, as well as seasoned advice on respecting and better understanding their masculine nature.
5.  The Stars & Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey
Isn't the moon absolutely beautiful this time of year? Gazing at the evening sky during the late summer and fall months always inspires me to better understand astronomy so I can share it with the boys.  Now is the time to get outside, to lay on your backs and to search for constellations, shooting stars and planets with your kiddos! 
We are using these two books, to guide us through our evening adventures. I love the detailed descriptions and the vintage illustrations of both books.  They are truly worth adding to your library! Here's a brief description for both books from Amazon:

Containing star charts, a guide to the constellations, and details about seasons and the movement of the objects we see in the sky, this classic book makes H. A. Rey’s passion for astronomy evident on every page.

Do you have any literary suggestions for me??
Please share!


  1. Hunter has read all of the Rangers Apprentice books. I have a hard time keeping up with what they are reading - thankfully both of my boys are big readers.
    Jordan usually reads things about ancient Rome.

    1. I love that Jordan is so into ancient Rome. I remember you telling me about that at the state wrestling tournament! We are hoping to take the oldest 2 boys to Rome in the spring of 2016. I know that they will love it, since they are both big history buffs!

  2. Those all look great. I confess that most of my literature has been very girl-centered, since my oldest 2 are girls. But I'm excited to read great boyish books, too. Have you read Justin Morgan Had a Horse? It's fantastic.

    1. Justin Morgan Had a Horse is my son Andrew's all time favorite book! I think he's read it at least 10 times!

  3. Thanks for the book recommendations. I just ordered the two about raising boys :)


If you are having trouble leaving a comment, please feel free to send me an e-mail or leave a response on my Facebook page. Thanks!