What We’re Reading–St. Patrick’s Day

It’s not a long list, but here are some of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day books:

My Favorite Bookshelf

This is my very favorite bookshelf in our house. It’s completely full, so I don’t know what will happen the next time I get a really good book, but for now, almost all of my favorite books are here. There are a few missing titles, due to their placement on other shelves in the house (like Gone with the Wind), but, in general, this is “comfort reading” at its finest!


Book Review–“Praise God with Banners”

I just realized that I’ve referred to this wonderful resource many times, but never actually reviewed it! Since this book has been so helpful to us, I thought others might like to know about it, as well.

Praise God with Banners

As the name suggests, this is part of the Praise God with… series that CPH publishes (other titles include another family favorite, Paper Plates, as well as Paper Cups, Paper Bags, Shapes, and Puppets). The books are meant for classroom or church use (but are also great for home use!), and are reproducible. All of the patterns are meant to be used on a 9×12 piece of felt or construction paper, to create a personal-sized banner, but are easily enlarged for full-sized banners suitable for classrooms.

The majority of the book is dedicated to banners for the church year, but there are a few ideas for Bible banners, as well. Each banner has a basic design, with suggestions for colors of paper or felt for each piece, and also has additional ideas for extra embellishments, from gemstones and sequins to glitter and yarn. There are also suggestions for phrases and Bible verses appropriate to each banner. The back of the book has a full alphabet and numbers that you can reproduce as templates for whatever words you choose to put on the banner…I used these for some of our banners, and printed off my own fonts for others. There is also a brief “Lesson Connection” for each banner.

This is one of the most useful books we have in our homeschool library. We were able to create a full church year’s worth of banners from the designs, and may make a few more specific ones in the future. Some of the banners we made are almost identical to the plans in the book, while others were created using the book as a jumping off point, and then coming up with our own additions. I used some of the phrase suggestions, and came up with some of my own using words from hymns and other Bible verses for some banners. I also combined and/or repurposed some of the suggestions to make exactly what we wanted for some portions of the church year.

I highly recommend this book to teachers and parents. I’d like to think that even if we weren’t homeschoolers, we’d still have made church year banners for our playroom, to make a solid connection between church and home.

What We’re Reading–British Children’s Literature

Our summer school theme this year is British Children’s Literature (OK, British and U.K. lit) and British history. I realize that my definition of literature and the true definition of literature may be different, but I want to make sure we have a good sampling of the well-known British authors. Here’s a list of books we’ll be reading, either as book basket selections, or read-alouds:

We’ll also be using one book for our British history survey: Our Island Story. We’re going to have a lot of reading to do this summer…I can’t wait!

Book Review–“Dressing the Queen”

I mentioned Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly a while back, and I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. In short, if you’re a fan of fashion, or Queen Elizabeth II, or history, you’ll love this book!

It’s filled with beautiful pictures of fabrics:


And jewelry:


And pictures that show the amazing detail that goes into every aspect of the Queen’s wardrobe:



There are also sketches created by Angela Kelly:


And some photos that can only be described as whimsical:


One of my favorite parts of the book is a picture of the Queen in what can only be described as a “casual” pose…as casual as you can be when you’re Queen, anyway!


Pictures aside, this book is full of information. You’ll learn what kind of fabrics are used, and during which season, and where the fabrics come from. Some of them are quite old! You’ll learn what the team of dressers actually does, and how they keep track of what the Queen has worn in the past.

There are also sections on hats and accessories, which are fascinating. And the care of the Queen’s wardrobe is also discussed, as is packing it up for a trip, big or small. No book about the Queen’s wardrobe would be complete with a section on her jewelry, and there is a nice representation of the different gemstones she favors in photographs. I was very interested to learn how the jewelry is presented to the Queen every day!

A big section of the book is naturally dedicated to the Diamond Jubilee wardrobe, as the subtitle suggests. Of course, the famous three outfits of the Jubilee weekend are shown, but so are less-known outfits, like the ones worn to the Royal Windsor Horse Show, the Sovereign’s Lunch, and the Royal Ascot. And the Queen’s “Bond Girl” dress from the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics is discussed in great detail!

Dressing the Queen is both beautiful and informative. It is practically unheard of for a member of the Queen’s staff to be given permission to write a book about his or her job, which makes this a very special, unique item, with a very unusual perspective. I highly recommend it!

Some Inspiration for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day, one of my five favorite holidays, is almost here! If you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are some fun things we’ve done in the past, plus a few Irish-themed dessert recipes!

The Leprechaun Trap

Other books and activities

Irish Cream Cheesecake

Chocolate Irish Cream Cheesecake

Guinness Cake

And, a list of fun books to read around St. Patrick’s Day:

Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs

The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day

Leprechaun in Late Winter

St. Patrick’s Day Alphabet

My New Favorite Book

I have a new favorite book–Dressing the Queen by Angela Kelly. I think it may have even made its way to my top five list.


I hope to do a full review later, but for now, let me just say, if you love the Queen, or fashion, or both, you’ll want to pick it up. The pictures are amazing, and really show the amazing detail that goes into the Queen’s wardrobe, especially for those of us who have only seen her on TV or in print, but never in person!

Royal Reading

As you may have noticed, this has been a very British year for our family. Starting in the summer, I began searching for and reading as many books about the monarchy as I could find. I prefer reading “authorized biographies,” especially for contemporary figures, so I focused on finding as many of those as possible. Many of them are out of print, but I was able to track down pretty much everything I was looking for in our library system. I did have a few more “scandalous” books on my list, too, but nothing that was intentionally negative about the royals, and only books written by respectable authors–nothing sensational. Other than general information on the monarchy, I started at about the time of Queen Victoria, and moved to the present day from there.


Official Biographies:

Other Biographies:

General Information:

Crown Jewels:

And, a few bonus royal documentaries, just because I can!

I didn’t finish reading all of them…there just wasn’t time. But I do intend to go back and finish the rest, because it’s so interesting to read about the history of Europe’s most prominent royal family!

What We’re Reading–Christmas 2012–Christmas in England

Last year, I shared a list of books we’d be using in “Christmas School.” Some of those books won’t be repeated this year (especially anything American Santa heavy), as the theme is different, and I’ve also added a few books, mainly to go along with this year’s focus on Christmas in England:

  • Letters from Father Christmas–Yes, it’s a Santa book, but it’s also something of a Tolkien classic, and quite timely, as Turkey and Bunny have both recently read The Hobbit.
  • A Child’s Christmas in Wales–This classic will be added to our permanent collection.
  • The Christmas Bird–I haven’t been able to determine if this legend originated in England, or if it’s just popular there, but robins at Christmastime appear to be a British custom.
  • An Edwardian Christmas–This is a tiny little picture book, but the pictures are beautiful, and show what Christmas was like in England at that time.
  • The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems
  • Father Christmas and the Donkey
  • Victorian Christmas–Technically, this book is about Christmas in America, but it shows how England influenced American Christmas celebrations, so decided to include it.
  • Christmas in England
  • A Christmas Carol–A classic that’s been in our family library for years, but is especially appropriate for this year’s English Christmas theme…it will be our main read-aloud.
  • A Christmas Dinner–Another Christmas book by Charles Dickens
  • The Jolly Christmas Postman–Another Santa book, but the Jolly Postman seems to be very popular in England, so it must be included.
  • Christmas in the Trenches–This book was already in our library, but as it focuses on the temporary truce between British and German soldiers during WWI, it has a special place in school this year.
  • The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book–While this anthology has stories from all over the world, it’s printed by a British publisher, so I thought it fit the year’s theme.
  • The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit–Not written by Beatrix Potter herself, but inspired by her farm.
  • How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas–Even though this series is about the origin of the Santa stories, I really like the books. This one focuses primarily on the Puritans in America, as well as the English Parliament’s interference with Christmas celebrations.
  • Christmas in Williamsburg–This is another book that focuses on Christmas in America, but we’ll specifically looking at the colonial period, when America was still under British rule.

We’ll also be using our book basket time to read all of the other many Christmas books we love!

What We’re Reading–Christmas

Last year, I posted a list of books we read for our “Christmas in American History” unit. I decided to re-organize that list of books, removing some that we don’t normally read, and adding a few new ones for this year. Later, I’ll be creating a seperate list, which will contain the books we’re using this year for “Christmas in England,” but won’t necessarily use on a yearly basis.

Biblical/Religious Storybooks

Christmas in America

Nutcracker Read-Alouds

Book Basket Books–(These are any Christmas books we happened to have in the house, some from past “Christmas Around the World” units, and some from previous curriculum, or just for fun!)

Winter Books (As long as winter begins during the Christmas season, I’ll include the books we always read on the first day of winter)