3 Terrific Books for Curious, Nature Loving Kids

3 Terrific Books for


This post is an oldie but a goodie from a previous blog I owned. Some links may be affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Enjoy!

One of my kids adores animals and bugs and all things great outdoors. At not even two, I caught her studying small insects on a tree for at least 15 minutes. She just stared and stared at it, storing into her brain the way it moved and looked, and what it did. As she got older, she devoured books about animals and bugs. She still goes off on her own for hours to read and randomly shares the knowledge she has learned with us. She surprises me often, answering a question we have about something, all from remembering what she has read in her books.

I asked her to pick her top three favorite animal and nature books. She has dozens of them but it was not a hard choice for her. The first book in this list she has read multiple times, cover to cover. The last two she got for her birthday last year and they are really beautiful books. The pictures alone are enough reason to add these selections to the shelves in your home.

Smithsonian Super Nature Encyclopedia, Derek Harvey

Oh my goodness, my daughter has read this oodles of times. The binding is falling apart and the pages are starting to look well-loved on the ends. This is the one book she would pick if she had to for a deserted island. The headers on each page are made to be attention getting. “Fussiest Eater” and “Beach Bulldozer” and “Greatest Artist” are rather sensationalist but they are useful for drawing in kids who might otherwise not be interested in this subject matter. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates are covered, with interesting facts on how they live, move, and sense things.


Animalium, Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

The front of this book has a ticket-looking sticker with the words “Welcome to the Museum: Admit All” printed on it. This is a great hint at what is inside this book. When you open this book, the beautiful illustrations are museum quality. The intent is to make you feel as if you were actually at a natural history museum, but without having to leave your home. Of course, I am all for experiencing life, but if you are unable to visit a museum, this book is a welcome alternative. Inside are 6 visual and written galleries that showcase invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The descriptions are short and to the point, with just enough information to whet the appetite and perhaps provide the push to do more digging around on one’s own.



Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World, Julia Rothman

This book is amazing! I love the feel and look of it. You could truly use this as a science curriculum for the younger years. It is a great overview of our world and makes learning interesting and beautiful. Those who do any kind of nature journaling will appreciate the illustrations and the occasional cursive writing entries. This book covers so much! Layers of the art, neighborhood animals, insects, flowers, birds, ecosystems, trees. If your child cannot read cursive writing, you will need to help them with some pages, but there is so much here for any person of any age to enjoy. I cannot recommend this book enough. I love it (I bet you can tell, huh?).

I’m always in search of great nature and animal books for my kiddos. If you have any recommendations, please share below in the comments. Thank you!

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My Favorite Latin Program

favorite latin program

(Please note: while there are some Amazon affiliated links in this post, this is NOT a sponsored post. I was not sent this book for review. I am only offering this review of a book I purchased with my own funds in order to share curriculum that I believe will be helpful to other homeschooling families.)

Why do we study Latin? Why is a dead language still very much part of our world? Is it worth taking time out of our day to learn something that we will not be using to communicate with another person?

Quite simply: yes.

Susan Wise Bauer shares wisely in The Well-Trained Mind, 4th Ed. that

“Latin trains the mind to think in an orderly fashion. Latin (being dead) is the most systematic language around. The discipline of assembling endings and arranging syntax (grammar patterns) according to sets of rules is the mental equivalent of a daily two-mile jog. And because Latin demands precision, the Latin-trained mind becomes accustomed to paying attention to detail, a habit that will pay off – especially when studying math and science.

Latin improves English skills. The grammatical structure of English is based on Latin, as is about 50 percent of English vocabulary. The student who understands how Latin works is rarely tripped up by complicated English syntax or obscure English words. And for decades, critical studies have confirmed that children who are taught Latin consistently score higher than their peers in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and even critical thinking and problem solving.”

These are all necessary and good things to learn and develop. Mental strength, focus on details, reading comprehension, critical thinking are all virtues incumbent upon me to teach my children. The problem is that many Latin programs are very teacher and student intensive.  At this busy time of life I just cannot spend more time than is needed to get the job done. Searching Latin curricula became problematic for me because what is offered on the market is much too teacher- and student-intensive than I am willing to give. Simple and straight to the point, the Ernest Hemingway of Latin programs, is what I looked for. It also needed to be easy enough for my definitely Latin-unknowledgable brain. And please, no cutesy singing because it ends up annoying rather than driving memory.

Through my research, Getting Started with Latin by William E. Linney was mentioned often. I admittedly looked it over so many times because it was too inexpensive, not bulky enough, too easy looking, too whatever. I needed simple but also something concrete and beneficial. The cost and simplicity drove me to it and I figured if it didn’t work out, I would not have invested much money in it.

It was worth it.


Getting Started with Latin is inexpensive whether you choose the Kindle version or the printed book. If you look at some of the other popular Latin options you will find their cost is significantly higher. GSWL is financially feasible for most homeschooling families. Alongside that benefit, the lessons are simple. The format is straightforward: learn a new Roman verb and then translate about 10 latin sentences. Free .mp3 files at the Getting Started with Latin site give pronunciation help in either classical form or ecclesiastical form along with files in which the author, William E. Linney, has recorded short lectures for each lesson. I was delighted to learn that Mr. Linney offers a free, online Latin class to follow completion of Getting Started with Latin.

A couple of things to keep in mind are that sometimes I would like a bit more explanation on a few things. What is that flat bar symbol above some of the letters called and why/when is it used? Also, depending on your student, you will find that you may have to make up your own review or quizzes as these are not provided in this book.

Mr. Linney also offers a similar French and Spanish curriculum. My daughter and I were going through a French program this past year and she remarked to me “Mom, I wish that there was a French curriculum in the same format as my Getting Started with Latin book.” Fortunately for her, there is.


Which Latin curriculum have you used? What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it? Have you used Getting Started with Latin? If so, what did you think about it?


This post is NOT sponsored. I am only offering this review in order to share curriculum that I believe will be helpful to other homeschooling families. That being said, some of the links are affiliate links.

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2017 Book List

2017 Book List

photo credit: James Barker Photography

This is the year in which I will read more books. At least that is what I tell myself. My Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2017 is 52 books, one for each week. (By the way, if you are not on Goodreads, you should check it out. It is very helpful in keeping track of books you read, own, want to read, etc. You can also make friends on there with similar reading interests. Many books that end up on my night table are because someone on my friends list was reading it. You can create your own yearly challenge or look me up. This is not a sponsored post, I promise; I just really love Goodreads!)

My mind and soul do better when I read. My tastes are such that you won’t find much fluff on my nightstand. My mind must be challenged, to learn something new or to strengthen the underpinnings of a framework already adhered to. Words are inherently powerful because the meaning to them is more broad and full of impact than just ink on paper or electronic words on a reading device. Our family is going through a rather trying time and books have kept us afloat, young and old alike.

To this end, to encourage others to realize the significance of reading, here is my tentative list of 2017 Books to Be Read. It is a fluid list, destined to be changed. I’ll put an asterisk next to them when I’ve finished them, a plus sign if I am currently reading them, and use strikethrough if I’ve taken it off my TBR shelf. Perhaps I will review some of them. Each of these links and pictures will be affiliate links. Enjoy!


2017 Book List


*The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

*The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, Geraldine Brooks

Ordinary Grace: A Novel, William Kent Krueger


The Eve Tree: A Novel, Rachel Devenish Ford

A Man Called Ove: A Novel, Fredrik Backman

Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift

The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

Watership Down: A Novel, Richard Adams

Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

Burial Rites, Hannah Kent

Jacob’s Oath: A Novel, Martin Fletcher

*Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra

Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

*At the Water’s Edge: A Novel, Sara Gruen

*Me Before You: A Novel, Jojo Moyes


The Illiad/The Odyssey, Homer

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Anonymous

Dramas and Plays

Aeschylus: Agamemnon

Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

Biographies and Memoirs

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself

The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe

All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir, Brennan Manning with John Blase


Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist; Karen Swallow Prior

St. Augustine’s Confessions

Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anything Else): Using the Methods of the Great Catholic Medieval Memory Masters, Kevin Vost

The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy L. Sayers

Holiness for Housewives: And Other Working Women, Hubert van Zeller

I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisiuex, Jean C. J. d’elbée

+Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis

Politics and Social Sciences

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote


History of the Peloponnesian War, Thycydides

The Histories, Herodotus

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, Catherine Clinton

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, Robert K. Massie


How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, Ken Ludwig

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education, Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark

+A Philosophy of Education, Charlotte M. Mason

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace, Sarah Mackenzie

Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education, Stratford Caldecott

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

*A Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas,  Deborah Taylor-Hough


Michel de Montaigne – The Complete Essays

Read-Alouds with my Children

*The Time Machine, retold, H.G. Wells

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers, Ralph Moody

All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor

+The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

Health and Fitness

The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can, Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, Gretchen Reynolds


*Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him, Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson


The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow, Shawn L. Fink

Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children, Sarah Clarkson

*Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success, Charlotte M. Mason

+The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Daniel. J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

 Science and Math

On Airs, Waters, and Places, Hippocrates

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One of my resolves this year is simple: read more. Last year, Goodreads says that out of the forty books that I had challenged myself to read, I read twenty-five. Twenty-five is a decent number but my brain needs a better workout so one a week has become the challenge for 2017.

My book stack of current reads contains four books, all non-fiction. While two of those four are related – Charlotte Mason – the other two are not at all Charlotte Mason but rather a memoir/practical help book on mothering and a book on the spiritual view of habit. These books are full of depth, a deepness that challenges mental capacity and at the same time encouraging the the current vocation in my life. Last year was full of deep and overwhelming days so encouragement quite literally feels like a breath of fresh air. (By the way, I will include affiliated links to the books I mention at the bottom of this post.)

Now, originally I chose these books in order to facilitate a greater understanding of what pursuits there should be in our home. These books are a tool, a means to aid my brain in forming visions and plans to bring greater peace and cohesiveness to our daily lives. Non-fiction is beautiful to me but it has to have a purpose. It needs to be read for a reason because it generally takes more time and mental power for me to read it.

The book You Are What You Love was waiting at my library for me via interlibrary loan. I had forgotten that I ever requested it and I must have done it at least six months ago. The timing is . . . interesting. And oh my, when all four books spoke specifically on habits, over and over, this was time to pay attention and understand that maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit was pointing out a specific need for our family.

Habits. Why habits? It sounds boring and as if it involves menial, monotonous, laborious instruction all day long. Compound that instruction by six, my brood of half a dozen, and it utterly overwhelms.  But these habits that Charlotte spoke of, as well as the other homeschooling mom who’s book I am reading, sound practically beautiful and worthy of the effort and mama-time required to put into them.

It is so very hard to see beyond the now, the right-in-front-of-my-face work. At the same time, I am a natural visionary in that planning and looking forward to the future comes easily to me. It’s the in between, that time of steady plodding to get from point A to point B – oftentimes stopping at half-way points too many to count along the way – that stagger us and slow our feet. That is when we become the most weary and give up, hoping that we might pick it up at some other time but for goodness sake, I’m tired and haven’t I done enough?

But habits, good habits, ones that bless and create peace and help through hard times are something worth keeping-on keeping-on. There is trophy of sorts to be gained through the effort of learning new virtues and trampling underfoot vices. The benefits outweigh the exertion. The more we put into it the bigger the relief when we have said goodbye to bad habits.

I see this. Some people see it. Many do not. It is easy to put aside the formation of good in order to foster the easy. If many adults cannot grasp this, how do I teach it to my children?

Ah. That? That is the question of my life.

And so small breaks are made to ponder this while I read. There are many concrete, intellectual ways I can do this but the example I set personally for my children is the boldest and most potent means to convey to them the importance of forming good habits and eschewing bad. Easier said than done, right? And that is okay. Things were their salt are going to be worth getting there.

So start small. It is okay to start small. There are lists of virtues and good habits and if you do not like them, make your own or write down the ones found in the Sermon on the Mount or read about what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. We have to start somewhere because we will never get anywhere without that small baby step.

For me, gentleness in speech will be my first step. There are so many I could have chosen but my sarcastic bent has wrought too much destruction to allow it further reign. There is no love in constant sarcasm and so toning down my words and the way things are spoken to my loved ones seems like the best place to start.

After that? Who knows. I certain do not. My trust is in the Holy Spirit who will surely convict me of that next good habit.


With the next post, I’ll discuss how I think habit fits into homeschooling. Until then, what are your thoughts on the importance of good habits?

Books Mentioned

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