Looking for a good book?

reading3.jpgWhen my children were younger we loved finding new books to read. It was often a big part of the discussions that we would have when we were visiting with other homeschoolers. It seemed we were all on the look-out for good books that we could read with our children and one of the resources many of us used to find new books was Joan Torkildson’s column in Home Education Magazine, So Many Books. Reading the column was like talking to a friend who shared why she or her kids loved a book.

Reading her columns again has been a walk down memory lane as I have checked to see if the books I’ve listed are still in print. I’ve listed some of them below along with links to her original column and some occasional snippets from her reviews. I hope your family enjoys each of her recommended books as much as we did!

I distinctly recall borrowing and reading Steven Kellog’s I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago after reading Joan’s review in her July-August 1997 column. She wrote:

No one retells a tall tale with more panache than Steven Kellogg. In this one, which was adapted from a nineteenth-century American folk song, multiple narrators boldly take credit for some of the most outrageous claims in history. One by one, they brag about having seen King Pharoah’s daughter fish Moses out of the water, of seeing Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden, of showing Columbus the way to the New World, of secretly marrying Queen Elizabeth in Milwaukee, even of playing hopscotch with spacemen on the moon (with plans to visit Saturn). All of these outlandish boasts are embellished with Kellogg’s own verse and typically exuberant illustrations.

In that same column she reviewed A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipplle, the first book in the Dear America Series, A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder, by Walter Wick and Lives of the Athletes: Thrills, Spills(and What the Neighbors Thought.)

In her January-February 1998 So Many Books column, Joan Torkildson reviewed:

  • Cracked Corn and Snow Ice Cream A Family Almanac, by Nancy Willard
    Joan writes this about the book: Perfect for browsing during long, wintery afternoons (even if you don’t happen to live in the Midwest), the almanac is both an engrossing read and a poignant reminder of a quieter, less complicated time not so very long ago.
  • I Wonder Why Trees Have Leaves and Other Questions About Plants (Kingfisher books by various authors)
    The books are an eclectic mix of bold, easy-to-read type, beautifully realistic illustrations, and humorous cartoon-like drawings. Questions range from the sensible (“Why do leaves change color in the fall?”) to the quirky (“Which bird sniffs all night?”).
  • The Kingfisher Young People’s Atlas of the World
    Extensively indexed, the book also includes detailed charts of facts and figures for each continent.
  • I Saw a Purple Cow by Ann Cole, Carolyn Haas, Faith Bushnell, and Betty Weinberger
    The emphasis here is on the simple and homemade, a feature that will no doubt be appreciated by budget-minded homeschooling families. Most of the activities in the book use recycled or common household items, such as cardboard boxes and tubes, egg cartons, newspapers and magazines, cans and jar lids, old clothes and jewelry, crayons, and watercolors. Have plenty of white glue and tape on hand.
  • The Best of Shakespeare: Retellings of 10 Classic Plays E. Nesbit

In the So Many Books March-April 1997 Column, Joan wrote this about

  • With Needle and Thread: A Book About Quilts , by Raymond Bial, With Needle and Thread would make a nice addition to a unit study on quiltmaking, or could simply add depth and background to a family quiltmaking project. Ambitious types might try researching a few of the hundreds of colorful names (Broken Dishes, Chinese Coins, Drunkard’s Path, Trip Around the World) to uncover more of the history of this gentle “art within.


In this column she also reviewed

Here is a list of other books that she recommended via her column:

I’ve linked many of the books to sites where you can purchase them, whether brand-new or well-used, but don’t forget to see if you can borrow them from your local public library first!

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