Mr. C is an avid reader, and I want nothing more than to encourage that passion for him. I truly believe that reading is one of the best gifts that we can give our children! But when your six year old reads novels in a few hours, how do you keep them engaged?
Thankfully, Mr. C is also a history-buff. He loves to learn about how we’ve changed as a civilization, other cultures, and how our history fits into the modern world. Right now he’s obsessed with American history (I blame the election!) so it worked out perfectly that we found a book-based history curriculum that fit his exact reading level!
Why We Use a Book-Based History Curriculum
(I am a proud BookShark Brand Ambassador. I was given the curriculum to try, but I was not required to give positive reviews. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own, and you can see my full disclosure here!)
Transitioning From Learning to Read to Reading to Learn
Third grade is my favorite grade because it is the biggest transition from learning to read into reading to learn. By third grade most kids have a solid handle on reading, and they start working more on comprehension and analyzing the literature that they’re reading.
Mr. C is a book-nerd just like me, and he was more excited for this year than I was! He’s been reading short chapter books for a while, but we’ve mostly stuck to simple novels that were quick to read and easy to comprehend. Now that we’re in third grade, we’re stepping that up!
BookShark’s Reading With History curriculum came with so many high quality readers. Mr. C told me that he isn’t even sure if he could read them all in one year, that’s how many there are! What I love about the books is they are on his reading skill level, but they give him a challenge with understanding and comprehending.
Because sure, he can read really complex language, but the real test is knowing if he is truly understanding what he’s reading. So far we’ve read three novels, two readers and one read aloud, and they are the first novels that have really challenged Mr. C.
Book Shark comes with review questions, so it’s super easy for me to gauge his comprehension and the review questions actually make you think. They aren’t asking “What color was the boat?” they’re asking, “how do you think x-character felt when y happened?”. It’s really helping Mr. C to slow down and absorb what he’s reading.
Why Living Literature Is Important
If you’ve been homeschooling a while, I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard about “living literature” before. But in case you haven’t, what is living literature? Put simply, it’s high quality literature that tells a story rather than simply listing facts. When you look more in-depth, I like this description:
“A “living book” is usually written by an author who is very knowledgeable about his subject, many times in an experiential way. The author tends to write from a love of his subject, one that propels him to write with an enthusiasm that excites the imagination of the reader and carries him along as though experiencing the subject firsthand.” – Home Hearts
Living literature is important because it helps our children develop a love of literature at the same time as a love of the subject matter. They’re not getting dry, dumbed down descriptions from a text book, they feel like they’re gaining the knowledge first-hand.
Think of it this way. In school I’m sure that you read a text book paragraph about World War Two. Everyone did, right? But did you really connect to World War Two before you read Anne Frank or Number the Stars? I know I didn’t.
I absolutely love when subjects are intertwined for so many reasons. First, I’m a busy busy mama, and when subjects go together, that means less teacher-intensive time for me. (Side note, BookShark is probably my favorite curriculum for not wasting time. You can really open and go!)
Beyond that, I feel like kids learn and absorb material better when it is connected to other subjects. This is why we often memorize things to music, or we learn the math behind what we’re learning in science. When you can connect two or more subjects, you have a more solid understanding.
Reading and history are some of my favorite subjects to combine because of how wonderfully living literature fits into a history curriculum. It can be difficult for students to really connect with history. It can all feel like stories and dates that need to be memorized for no reason, but when you incorporate living literature into the history lessons they suddenly become real.
Mr. C feels like he was on a ship with Pedro from Pedro’s Journal. He was journeying to America in A Lion to Guard Us. He is retaining the facts about these historical events, but more than that he’s understanding the meaning behind them. He’s understanding that these are real things that happened to real people just like him.
BookShark Reading With History
We could not be happier with BookShark’s Reading With History curriculum. I love seeing such a passion for history and reading both shine in Mr. C, and he has had an absolute bast so far this year. He even told me that he couldn’t pick a favorite subject, because reading and history would both win!
I was nervous to try BookShark Reading With History because I was afraid that the books wouldn’t be high quality or that it would be too complicated for me to get done each day as a busy mom. I’m telling you friends, I am so glad that I went for it. This curriculum has made our homeschool year go so much smoother. It’s truly an open and go curriculum, and my son is challenged and loving it for the first time in a long time.
Have you tried BookShark yet?