What We’re Reading–The Time of Easter

We have a lot of books for the Time of Easter, which begins with Ash Wednesday, (the start of Lent), and ends with the Day of Pentecost. The focus of most of these books is Easter itself, with the time leading up to Easter being secondary in most cases. I work really hard to make sure we don’t read any resurrection stories before Easter Sunday, which can be a bit of a challenge–sometimes, we can only read a part of book during Lent, and then have to wait until Easter Sunday, (and the days following), to finish it. I’m not nearly so fastidious during Advent, when we read Christmas stories all season long.

I’m also very careful to keep only religious Easter books around–nothing secular at all, so the list isn’t long compared to our Christmas collection. It actually makes me a little sad that there are so fewer options at Easter, when Easter is an even more important festival than Christmas. Again, at Christmas, I’m a bit more flexible in what we read, especially stories that showcase how Christmas is celebrated in other countries or at other times in history, although I do try to stay away from Santa stories wherever possible. You won’t find any “Easter Bunny” in our Easter readings, though–I really want to emphasize that which is sacred at this time of year!

All that being said, I thought I’d share the books that we do look forward to reading every year at Easter time, most of which are published by CPH!

  • Amon’s Adventure–Like its counterparts for the season of Advent, this book by Arnold Ytreeide is meant to be read throughout Lent. It is not divided into daily readings, however…that’s up to the reader to organize. I find that a bit irritating, because, unlike Advent, which can have a varying number of days, Lent always has the same number of days, and should have been easier to write into daily readings. Except for Ash Wednesday and Holy Week, I chose to forgo readings on Wednesdays and Sundays, and split a few of the longer chapters up over two days, in order to stretch out the readings to last through the whole season of Lent.
  • The Very First Easter–A fantastic book by Paul Maier, which tells the whole Easter story. This is a follow-up to another family favorite, The Very First Christmas, and like the Christmas story, Maier’s Easter tale is Biblical, well-written, and has beautiful illustrations.
  • The Very First Christians–Sometime between Easter and Pentecost, we read the follow-up to The Very First Easter, which focuses on Pentecost and the early church. Like all of Paul Maier’s other books, this one is also excellent.
  • The Real Story of the Exodus–A different series, but also by Paul Maier, this is a good book to read on Maundy Thursday, to make the connection between the first Passover and the Lord’s Supper.
  • That’s My Colt!–This is a story about a boy whose pet had a special purpose on Palm Sunday, and then continues to follow the story through all of Holy Week.
  • Easter ABCs–This is a new book for us this year. I got it mostly for Ladybug’s benefit, and as the title suggests, it goes through the alphabet letter by letter, and mentions some aspect of Easter for each.
  • The Easter Cave–This is a rhyming book, with each line building upon the last. It’s especially good for preschoolers, as they can help “read” the story through the repetition.
  • Things I See At Easter–The children are really too old for this book, but it’s good practice for Moose to read it, and the simple pictures are good for both him and Ladybug to look at and connect to this time of the church year.
  • The Time of Easter–We all still love the story of Smidge and Smudge, two mice living in a church, learning about the church year. As the title suggests, they learn all about Lent through Pentecost in this title.
  • The Story Bible–Through the course of our Jesus Tree readings, we’ll be reading the whole Holy Week/Easter story in this children’s Bible. I’m very impressed with this particular Bible, and if I didn’t already have it, I might have bought The Easter Story, which is taken directly from The Story Bible, and includes all of the parts of the Easter story.
  • Before and After Easter: Activities and Ideas – Lent to Pentecost–I know, I know…a book from Augsburg Fortress? But, I found that there are some good stories and activities in this book, even if I don’t use everything in it.
  • Celebrate Jesus! At Easter–This isn’t a read aloud book, or a children’s book…it’s more of a devotional. And while we don’t use it daily, it does have lots of good ideas, Bible verses, and hymns that can be implemented throughout the Easter season.
  • A Very Blessed Easter Activity Book–OK, technically this isn’t a book we’re reading, either. But it is a reproducible book with fun crafts, puzzles, and Easter pictures. The reproducible part means we’ll get a lot of use out of it, and it’s good for a variety of ages, so I can find something for everybody in it at this point.

Third Grade: Week Twenty Wrap-Up

Another busy week in third grade! We’ve continued to work on fractions and division, (with remainders!), learned about the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, and “The Star Spangled Banner” in U.S. History, and wrapped up our study of subjects and predicates in grammar. We also continued our Latin review from last week, which was an eye-opening exercise. I always figured that foreign languages would be Bunny’s “thing,” because she’s always had such a good grasp of language in general. And she does fine at it, although, she hasn’t yet memorized all the declensions we’ve worked on. Turkey, on the other hand, I assumed would struggle a bit with learning another language, because he’s more of a math/engineering guy. What I didn’t take into account, however, is that Latin is a very logical language, which really appeals to his brain, and so he’s been able to memorize everything, from vocabulary to conjugations to declensions, with amazing speed. It’s really quite impressive to listen to him rattle off a declension!

We started a new religion program for Lent this week as well. I’m using this in the same way as I did our Jesse Tree during Advent–instead of our regular Scripture readings, and readings from our Bible Handbook, we’re using the Scripture readings from the Jesus Tree, but this time, we’re doing it twice a day, once from the ESV, and once from a children’s Bible. We are continuing our regular study of the catechism, and making sure we do a lot of review, especially as we prepare for Confirmation on Palm Sunday. We’re also reading through Amon’s Adventure this Lent, which isn’t directly related to our religion lessons, but is complementary.

We also managed to find time for a really cool field trip this week. While the mastodons and mammoths didn’t really have anything to do with what we’re currently learning about, (I just really wanted to see the exhibit while it was in town!), the History Museum itself has a lot to do with the Louisiana Purchase, especially the 1904 World’s Fair exhibit, and that tied in nicely with our history lessons, even though I hadn’t planned that timing in the least. We had another circumstance of unintentional good timing this week, too, as we learned about the state of Louisiana in general, and Mardi Gras in particular–quite timely. I love when things like that work out with no effort at all on my part!

We’ve only got about three more weeks of school left, before we take a break due to Chickadee’s arrival. Hopefully, in that time, we’ll be able to plow through a lot more of our material, so we don’t have to keep working all summer long!

Arnold Ytreeide Strikes Again!

Last year, I read Jotham’s Journey with Turkey and Bunny every day in Advent. I had heard about this book from, I don’t know, *every* homeschool forum I frequent (and that’s not an exaggeration!). Everyone has loved reading that book with their children, and there was also a big stir because the two follow-up books, Bartholomew’s Passage and Tabitha’s Travels, were being reprinted after several years of being unavailable. And everyone that raved about the books wasn’t kidding–they’re excellent stories that I would recommend every family to read, homeschoolers or not (but do be aware that they’re best read with children who are probably at least 7 or 8). Actually, I would even recommend the books for adults to read on their own–even though the main characters in the stories are children, they are such compelling books that I think adults would also benefit from adding them to their busy Advent schedules (I know I sure have!).

Jotham’s Journey is a cool story about a shepherd boy who gets separated from his family after they think he has been killed by a wild animal. He spends the remainder of the book trying to find them, trying to get away from some bad men who are after him, and making new friends he otherwise would never have met. Two of these friends, Bartholomew and Tabitha, are the main characters in the follow-up stories. Oh, and of course the ending–well, I won’t ruin the whole surprise, but remember, I said we read it every day in Advent–so what event do you think Jotham got to witness firsthand?

Of course, this is a fictional book that just happens to be set around real events. But it is such a real book–it really makes you feel as though you’re in Israel with Jotham, experiencing the things he’s experiencing. There are some tense, even scary parts, and because you read a section every day, there are days that leave you wondering what will happen next, if Jotham will ever be reunited with his family, if he’ll even survive! Not to imagine the twists the story takes–there were some revelations that shocked even me! It’s an excellent story.

We’ll be reading Bartholomew’s Passage this year, and Tabitha’s Travels the next, then we’ll start over again with Jotham. I think it will make a nice three-year cycle (somewhat similar to the lectionary), and put enough time between each reading that we don’t get bored with any of the stories, and might even forget some of the more interesting twists and turns.

But the Jotham trilogy isn’t even what I’m excited about today (although I am ecstatic that we’ll be starting Bartholomew’s Passage in less than a month!). What I’m really excited about is that, while nosing around on Amazon this morning, I discovered a new book by Arnold Ytreeide, set to come out January 31, 2011, called Amon’s Adventure. And while this book is an Easter story instead of a Christmas story, it appears that it is set up in the same way, with a reading for every day in Lent, leading up to Easter. It focuses on some familiar characters from the original books, as well as some new characters. I can imagine which events will be witnessed by those characters in this book, given that it’s a Lenten story.

I have sorrowed every year when we put our Advent wreath away–we have our family prayer time around the candlelight every night in Advent. I have wished for some kind of similar Lenten wreath, even though I know it wouldn’t be the same, and really, wouldn’t be as meaningful, anyway. Well, we may not have the same candlelight for Lent this year, but we will have a story to read every night, that will remind us of Jesus’ great sacrifice for us, and help us better understand the events of the Passion.