Tag Archives: library

Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers

ninjago insideMany children are intimidated at the thought of reading a chapter book, or any book with more text per page. Being a reluctant reader does NOT mean they aren’t good at reading. It may be something as simple as finding a subject matter to grab their attention. For others it might be they are shy about reading aloud.

Regardless of the reason, I highly recommend trying a couple of graphic novels.

Definition from Wikipedia:

graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word “novel” normally refers to long fictional works, the term “graphic novel” is applied broadly, and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term “comic book”, which is used for comics periodicals.

Our 3rd grader has been enjoying a mixture of graphic novels along with traditional books since the end of first grade. While some teachers and parents may frown at the idea of letting children read graphic novels, we think they are GREAT!

Below are some of my children’s favorite graphic novels. Click on a photo to purchase through Amazon. You may be able to find some of these at your local library as well.

lightning thief  warriors

ninjago  boxcarchildren

trojan horse  starwars

black beauty  owly

bone  binky

Another great thing about these graphic novels is many of them are part of a series. Find one your child likes? Let them read the others in the series!

Looking for more tips for a reluctant reader? Read my previous post “Getting Your Child to Want to Read”.

***This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for more info.


Posted by on October 26, 2013 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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Real Life… Learning Around Town

schoolwork waiting room

What does the term “homeschooling” mean to you? Do you picture a family sitting around the dining table with workbooks? Perhaps sitting on the couch reading and discussing a lesson together? These are both valid thoughts, however not every day has to be that way.

Some feel that “home education” would be a better term for what we do every day. BUT, even the term home education has the word “home” in it.

For our family, homeschooling is NOT about staying home and doing book-work all day. We have frequent dentist appointments, visits to the library, we take grandma to the hospital for outpatient procedures, and other time-consuming events which pull us away from home during the typical school hours.

dentist office work

On top of everything above I try to plan a fun day once a month. We take our books with us to either the park, Chick-fil-a, or Pete’s Party Castle (indoor play-place with obstacle course, slide, and arcade games).

My rule for these fun places is they must complete 20 minutes of work to get 20 minutes of playtime, then repeat. Feel free to adjust these times as fits best for your children. I certainly do!

Side note: for restaurants such as Chick-fil-a, make sure to go between their peak hours so you aren’t taking up a table from their other customers. I try to be courteous and aware of my surroundings. When the lunch crowd starts pouring in it’s time to leave.

Whether your family is visiting someone at the hospital, going to a doctor or dentist appointment, or perhaps visiting your spouse for lunch; education can happen anywhere.

book cafeschoolwork hospitalcounting bugles


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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Real Life


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Getting Your Child to WANT to Read

Getting children excited about reading isn’t always easy.  More often than not there will be groaning and whining when you ask them to read a book.  Here are some tips to help you encourage your children to read.

luke 8yrs reading

Our 8yr old during quiet reading time.

Set aside a specific time each day for quiet reading.  It doesn’t have to be a long time, just 10-20 minutes for young children, perhaps 30-40 minutes for older children.  Be sure to set a timer, but if one of your children wants to keep reading, by all means let them!  Try to have quiet reading time in the family room. This way it’s more of a family event and they can see you are reading a book (or magazine or newspaper) as well. If your child isn’t reading yet, they can look at a picture book and practice turning the pages from left to right.  You could also grab a book and read it aloud to them while any older siblings are reading to themselves.

Be excited about reading yourself!  Children catch on to excitement coming from their parents.  If you love to read and are seen often with a book in your hands then chances are much higher your children will also enjoy reading.

books luke can read

Example of easy readers geared towards late Kindergarten – early 1st Grade

Buy them age appropriate books.  This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by the number of children who don’t own any books geared towards their age or interest.  Is your child into airplanes, cats or astronomy?  Do they like mysteries, riddles, or ninjas?  Don’t forget about graphic novels, because comic books count as books too!  Browse the books on or at your local bookstore to see what is available for your child’s age-range and interests.  Books make great birthday and Christmas presents and most children have plenty of toys and gadgets already.

Take your children to the library often.  No matter how young your child is, PLEASE take them to the library.  The library is a fascinating world full of books, magazines, audio books, DVDs and more.  Most children love going, they just need a parent to be willing to take them.  If you’re worried about your young child being too loud or disruptive, have them carry a toy and remind them BEFORE you enter the library that only whispers or very soft voices are used in the library.

Take turns reading aloud.  Some children feel really overwhelmed when it comes to attempting to read a book.  Explain that you’re going to read the book together, then take turns reading paragraphs or pages, whichever your child feels more comfortable doing.  Often this will take the focus off of reading the book as a whole, but onto whose paragraph (or page) has the most words.  Continue to take turns and when the book is finished (or your reading time is up) show your child how many pages you read together.

reading prizes

Some of our rewards for reading books.

Give rewards for reading books.  I’m sure you’ve seen the different reading rewards programs where your child can read 6 books and get a free kids meal, pizza, or similar prize from a restaurant.  These don’t always work for children because some children (like our son) don’t want the free kids meal, pizza or whatever the prize is if it means they have to read books.  Talk to your children and come up with prizes in the $1 – $5 range that you know they would be willing to earn by reading books.

Some examples of prizes we’ve used in the past are small games, puzzles, deck of cards, yo-yos, lego mini-figures, and even more books!  Our children are ages 8 & 5, so if you have older children these prizes may not be enough of a pull for them.  Instead try offering a trip for frozen yogurt or to get doughnuts.  I recommend that each small book (non-chapter book) be the equivalent of 50 cents, so a young child would need to read 2 books to get a $1 prize, or 6 books to get a $3 prize, and so on.  For chapter books at the 2nd-3rd grade level I typically count them as being worth $2 each. Though we don’t pay them actual money for prizes (ours would rather have toys or books instead of the cash).

Best of luck and happy reading!

***This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for more info.

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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Overlooked Benefits of Using the Library

The public library has sooo many resources to benefit homeschooling families.

  • phonics blendsEducational DVDs available to rent for FREE (science, history, math, phonics, foreign languages,
    and MUCH more)
  • Music CDs (classical, jazz, rap, country, gospel, etc.)
  • Kids InfoBits – Online resource of reference materials, magazines, newspapers, maps & flags, charts & graphs, images.  (Use password = gulfcoast)
  • Mango – Learn a new language for FREE – up to 14 languages available
  • Inter-Library Loan (ILL) – Looking for a particular book that your branch doesn’t have?  What about a book not available at ANY of the local libraries?  ILL services will try to locate a copy at other libraries across the southeast and have it shipped to the local library of your choice for only $2.  This is very helpful for research and our family has used the ILL services many times.
  • Local History & Genealogy Services
  • Storytime – geared towards children ages 2 – 6yrs.
  • Books on CD with read-along books (perfect for emerging readers)
  • Audio books – Taking a long ride in the car?  Put a favorite book in the cd player.  Everything from Magic Tree House or Beverly Cleary books to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games.
  • Non-fiction books – this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many parents only check out fiction books for their children.
  • Fiction books – Don’t forget to let your child check out graphic novels.  Sometimes they just need a different format to grab their interest.
  • Computers to use while at the library with Magic Schoolbus and other popular learning games.

Popular Children’s Graphic Novels

I’ve heard some parents say they don’t like to take their children to the library because their children are so loud or difficult to handle.  Let me just point out that if children aren’t taken to places where they need to talk softly and not run indoors then how are they ever going to learn these things?  Avoiding the problem is very rarely the solution.  If you’re a parent of 5 or more children under the age of 7 then I’ll give you some slack, but try to find the time to take the older children while someone babysits the younger ones.

Another reason parents seem to have for not going to the library is they just don’t know which books to check out.  The solution is actually pretty simple.  Go online.  Search for books based on subject.  Select the book you want and put it on hold.  Choose which library you want the book sent to and generally it will arrive within 48hrs.  You can also renew your books online.


Lastly, PLEASE allow your children to check out the books they want.  Don’t stifle their excitement over going to the library and looking at all those books by then telling them no they can’t check one out.  There is a time and a place to tell your child no, but this isn’t it.  If your young daughter wants an inch thick book because of the cat pictured on the cover let her get it.  If your son chooses a book that you know is too difficult for him to read, let him get it anyway.  Children are smarter than we give them credit for.  They KNOW what they’re capable of reading.  Sometimes they just want to look at the book.  Yes, even if it doesn’t have any pictures other than the front cover.  It’s important for children to love books.  It’s not always about reading them.  Sometimes it’s simply about looking at them, or holding them, or smelling them.  (Yes, I said smelling them.  If you read very often you know books have a smell.)

Try to schedule a trip to your local library at least once a month.  Your children may turn into avid readers because of it and that’s never a bad thing.


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Is Fancy Curriculum Neccessary?

Many people just starting out with homeschooling seem to think they need fancy curriculum to teach their children.  While it’s true that some of the boxed curriculum sets may be easier to teach, they tend to be very expensive and may not suit your child’s needs in each subject.  I’ve found that it really helps to read curriculum reviews online and talk with other parents who have children of similar ages.  My favorite book for choosing curriculum is “100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum“.  This book can be quite overwhelming for someone in their first year of homeschooling, so I’d recommend reading it in very small dosages to keep from feeling lost.

Did you know some parents teach the lower elementary grades by using inexpensive workbooks, library books and the many free resources available online?  Seriously!  Here are some of the 2nd grade workbooks I’ve picked up from yard sales and thrift stores. The top two books cover all the basic subjects and focus on the typical things learned by 2nd graders across the US.  The bottom left workbook is a reading/literature/writing book and the bottom right is a math homework book.  Both of these are used by the public schools here in Alabama.

There are many educational DVDs available at the public library which can be used to help teach some subjects.  For example, I’ve found DVDs on numerous topics in science, history, math, grammar, phonics, and reading.  It’s also important to check out non-fiction books AND quality fiction.  I find that many parents tend to forget about non-fiction for the younger elementary grades.  Be sure to read aloud to your child as well as having them read to you.

To make learning even more fun I recommend these awesome online resources.  (They are listed in no particular order.)

Spelling City – Vocabulary & Spelling lists and activities
Khan Academy – video lessons in math, science and more
IXL – math, plus standards for each state listed
Illuminations – math activities & lessons grades K-12
EZ Tales – online books & reading activities for ages 2 – 10
Cool Math for Kids – lessons & games in more than just math!
Fun 4 the Brain – many subjects, even up to middle school
– learning games for K-5th grade

If you happen to be like me, you might take the eclectic approach and use a combination of curriculum and workbooks from a variety of sources.  I’ve never used a boxed curriculum set and though I’m sure it works for some people I really don’t think it would fit for us.  Like many children, our son has strengths and weaknesses in different subjects.  If I feel that he isn’t understanding a certain concept I simply try to find another way to tell him or show him.

If you’re looking for a FREE way to homeschool using all online resources then definitely take a look at Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.

Whether you choose fancy curriculum or go another route, remember to keep things fun and they will enjoy a life of learning.

Happy teaching!  🙂


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A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

Asking what our typical day is like is not an easy question to answer, but I’ll do my best.  Keep in mind that just because this is how our family chooses to do things doesn’t mean it will work for you and your family.  Part of the beauty of homeschooling is being able to adapt to whatever works best for your children.

Here goes, the typical daily schedule:

7:00 breakfast
7:30 morning chores (make bed, brush teeth, etc.)
8:00 pledge, prayer & Bible story
8:30 handwriting & spelling
9:00 English
9:45 Math (written portion)
10:00 outside time
10:30 Music, Art or Spanish – depends on which day of the week it is
11:00 Math games (manipulatives, flash cards, etc.)
11:30 Science or Social Studies – depends on which day of the week it is
12:00 lunch
1:00 Reading lesson & practice
1:30 – 3:00 quiet time – playing in their rooms or playing computer games quietly, occasionally we’ll watch a movie together during this time
3:00 outside time
4:00 free time
5:30 dinner
6:00 evening chores, clean-up
7:00 Reading practice (either using or reading a book aloud)
7:30 bedtime (often it’s past 8pm before we turn out the lights, but technically 7:30 is their bedtime….)

You may be wondering why I included our whole day and not just the school portion of our day.  Well I think it’s important to see the whole picture to understand how we can re-arrange our day when life happens.  Sometimes we will have morning doctor appointments or some other commitment so our schedule has to be adjusted.  This is a very flexible schedule so that any of the subjects could be flip-flopped with another one if needed.  Since any written schoolwork is a huge chore for our first grader I have scheduled all the written work to be done very early in the day.

Once a week our children attend co-op classes with other homeschooled children through Evergreen Christian Academy.  We meet at a local church and though there are many, many different classes to choose from, our children are currently taking a Health/PE class and Beginner Legos.  The co-op Health/PE class has been extremely beneficial since it’s very difficult to play freeze tag, kick ball and a wide assortment of other group games with just three of us.

On top of all these things we make a weekly trip to the library to check out educational dvds, books for fun, and books for learning.  I usually add a stop at the local feed supply store to this trip as well since it’s on the route.  This takes a good 45 minutes out of our day once a week, but what we miss out on during the late morning we can easily make up for in the afternoon.  All-in-all they are learning, and I feel it’s more important that they experience life than to stick to a really strict schedule.

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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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