What we’re reading

Books this year

Today I finally got all my planning done for the school year, including who gets the computers at what time, when the teens will be taking their science tests, and which books all the kids will be reading this year.  Our three teens, all juniors, have just one book a month of assigned reading, which they’ll read during the first two weeks of the month, then write about during the second half of the month.  In conjunction with that, we’re working our way through a world view book called The Eternal Argument.  They’re kinda yawning through this one so far, but I at least think it’s interesting.

Our 7th grader has three books a month of assigned reading.  I was going to have her also do some essay writing like she did last year, but after going through the bookshelves upstairs, I realized there are great quantities of wonderful books there that she’s never read. Since she has really taken off with her interest in reading lately, I decided to make it a reading year for her.  Plenty of time to work on more essay-writing for next year. My 4th grader, who still reads best when reading to me, has a book or two a month that we will work through together.

To make the books easier to find, I set all their books for the year together on one shelf. The teens are reading some of the same books, and some fairly deep ones, including the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and few others that are no slouch. One interesting new addition to our library is Worthless: The Young Person’s Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major. It is an uber-practical and irreverent look at selecting a college major that I have really been enjoying reading, and that I thought might give some guidance to the teens who don’t yet have a game plan post high school.We’ll see how it goes.


One other new addition this year for the teens is a College Prep Genius program that we started last week.  It is proving to be absolutely excellent, and while (again) it’s not riveting to the teens, it is exceedingly practical.  Over and over while watching the DVD’s with them, I’ve said, ‘I didn’t know that!’  And these are not the first kids I’ve helped prep for SAT’s.  I think it will offer them some major help on the PSAT in October, and the SAT next year.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

That’s enough for tonight!  I’ll check in with you on Friday and tell you how I’m doing on my grocery savings challenge.


  1. Love your reading philosophy and your choices . Was thinking about my childhood favorite From the mixed up files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler that your 7th grader is reading, while a great book, can only imagine what a child will think of using a typewriter at a department store ( a highlight during my childhood but something kids have no clue of

  2. Hi Mary,
    Reading your book list made me want to hustle up and get some of my stack read so I can move on to some you have shared. 🙂 My husband read Ben Franklin and loved it. He tacked on “The Book of Ages; The life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.” He loved it and thought the book added some additional depth to the Ben Franklin story. They are both on my list. Books add so much to our lives. It’s a gift to your children to teach them to read well.
    Much love,

  3. I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and still read them from time to time. Lucky girl who gets to read those!

  4. Mary, I love the choices in reading for your family and your chart is amazing as well as how orderly your bookshelf is. I have to assume that it doesn’t always look like that!
    Decided to let daughter pick out her reading material this school year. As long as she could explain how it related to a school topic, I was okay with whatever choices she made. I think she made some really great picks. They include: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Roots, Because of Mr. Terupt, Blue Zones, The Girl in the Picture, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Hangmans Curse, Love in Black and White-The Triumph of Love over Prejudice and Taboo, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Fault in Our Starts, Skipping Christmas, The Kaffir Boy, and Ten Mindful Minutes. I have given her a syllabus for each book and she must write an essay upon completion. Essay writing is very important in college so grasping how to complete a superb document is of extreme importance to me.
    I am confident she will find many more books in our family library to read this year but these are the ones she IS going to read for sure. As a parent is fun to see the type of books your children choose to read as they age.

    • Although it might be dull, the Princeton review ACT and SAT books are excellent, and only about $20. Both of my boys applying to college used them and scored in the top 1% nationally, which means they were offered scholarships. The oldest attends college for free-a good return on a $20 investment! Also, consider the ACT. Both of my boys have done better on it than the SAT. I had them take practice exam that here in Tucson are offered by various tutoring centers in hopes of attracting clients. They were timed, full-length exams. Then, of course, we take the results and study ourselves! Kids who do well in school academically but may not be the best standardized test takers traditionally do better on the ACT. In fact with my high school junior, he didn’t even take the actual SAT. He doubled his study time and only took the ACT. Top 1% again. Check your colleges–most take both.

  5. Picking out books for the coming school year is one of our favorite activities. The kids get to choose some of the books as long as they are somehow related to what we’ll be studying and they really appreciate that. However, I’m almost 100% certain that some of the books I happen to think are absolutely fantastic, the kids can’t wait to finish and lock away. 🙂