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Calling all book nerds: Will you look at my 4th and 5th grade reading list?


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Hi Everyone,

 

I am trying to come up with a reading list for both my 4th and 5th graders that will complement our history study.    We will be studying the first half of American History.  (We are using A History of US by Hakim books 1-4 as our history book.)    

 

I purchased Build Your Library Grade 5 as a base to help me plan.   However, I don't own all of the books the guide schedules, and some we have already read.  So I was thinking of modifying the list with some other similar books that we already own.   (Mostly Sonlight Core D readers and read alouds plus a few books from Beautiful Feet Press.)   I hate for these great books to go unread and just sit on our shelves, and I feel wasteful purchasing new books when we have other books that might work.  

B

UT-- The problem is that that is throwing me off schedule.  (Kind of the point of using BYL! )  And that has me questioning my book list.    Too many books?  Too easy?   Not enough classics?   

 

Anyways, I have been looking at this book list for WAY too long.    If you are familar with any of these titles, will you take a look and give me your HONEST feedback?   

 

My children were both late readers.   But they have made a TON of progress.   They have an hour of quiet time per day set aside for reading and audiobooks.   After they do their assigned reading and audiobook, they can either read / listen ahead or pick a "for fun" book up.   That has been our standard routine and it seems to work well.

 

My questions are:

1)  Does this look like too many books to fit into a 36 week school year?  (Some are very short.)   

2)  Are these books WAY too easy?  Is that bad? (BYL originally had Sign of the Beaver and Johny Tremain scheduled as readers, but I thought they might be better read alouds.)  

3)  Do you see any obvious books that I could cut?

4)  Do I need more CLASSICS and less historical fiction?   (Be honest!)

5)  Does my order look roughly chronological...not counting the "for fun fictions" thrown in.

 

 

Assigned Readers:

Om Kas Toe

Sees Behind Trees

Pedros Journal

Pocahontas Biography by D'Aulaire

The Courage of Sarah Noble

Tuck Everlasting

A Lion to Guard Us

Matchlock Gun

Ben Franklin Biography D'Aularie  (Cut because too many biographies of B. Franklin)

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia (Landmark)

Washington Biography by D'Aulaire

Phoebe and the Spy

George Washington's Breakfast

A Week in the Woods

George vs. George:  The American Revolution as Seen from both Sides

My Side of the Mountain

Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale by Steven Kellog

Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett: A Tall Tale by Steven Kellog

Paul Bunyan, a Tall Tale by Steven Kellog

Naya Nuki

How We Crossed the West:  The Adventures of Lewis and Clark

Justin Morgan had a Horse

The Green Book

By the Great Horn Spoon

Stone Fox

Sarah Whitcher's Story

A Cabin Faced West

Brady

Sarah Plain and Tall (maybe will do as read aloud since I love it so much.)

 

Audiobooks / Family Read Alouds:

Children of the Longhouse

Bridge to Terabithia

Blood on the River:  James Town, 1607

The Hobbit 

Witch of Blackbird Pond

Sign of the Beaver

Indian Captive:  The story of Mary Jemison

Johny Tremain

My Brother Sam is Dead

Carry on Mr. Bowditch

Winter Danger

Adoniram Judson (Missionary biography)

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Bears on Hemlock Mt. (for my 3 year old mostly, but whole family will listen)

Little House on the Prairie Audiobooks 

 

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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Did I hear book nerd? I'm here! I'm here! :hurray:

 

First thoughts - some of the books on your list are really pretty young for 4th/5th. We used them in 1st grade as readers (my son was a strong reader, but still - your kids would read them in like 15 minutes).

-The Courage of Sarah Noble

-The Matchlock Gun

-A Cabin Faced West

-A Lion to Guard Us

-Phoebe the Spy

-Paul Bunyan

-Stone Fox

-Sarah, Plain and Tall

 

Some of the books on your list would be a little intense or mature/boring for my (rising) 4th grader:

-Tom Sawyer

-Bridge to Terabithia

-My Brother Sam is Dead

-Johnny Tremain

 

I'm planning almost the SAME THING for next year - my 4th grader will be using Hakim's Condensed books A & B (which basically cover books 1-6 of the 10-volume set). I haven't bought the BYL guide, but I have looked at the book list for readers and read alouds. I have been collecting books and audiobooks based on which ones look the most interesting - not all of the BYL books do, and some we will use in later years so I am waiting on those. I use Moving Beyond the Page for literature, and saved a couple of the 8-10 units to do next year because they fit in nicely with history (I didn't line up every book perfectly, but that's fine with me). Each literature unit takes 3 weeks, and here is my list of 12.

 

Native American Animal Stories (8-10)

Pedro's Journal (8-10)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond (9-11, and all following too)

The Cay

A Wrinkle in Time

My Side of the Mountain

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

A House of Tailors

The View from Saturday

Lincoln: A Photobiography

Independent Study (research project)

 

Those are kind of set in stone (as much as they can be, at least). I am a lot more flexible with the other books - if we get to them, great, if not, we'll skip and move along. I haven't differentiated yet between readers, read-alouds, and audiobooks - we'll see what seems good at the time. My son can easily spend 2 hours a day listening to audiobooks, so that is likely how we will cover many of these. Here is my list:

 

The Birchbark House

The Double Life of Pocahontas

Blood on the River, Jamestown 1607

Amos Fortune, Free Man

Johnny Tremain (if we do this, it will definitely be an audiobook)

Toliver's Secret

Mr. Revere and I

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Fever 1793

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Robert Fulton, Boy Craftsman

The Story of Eli Whitney

Justin Morgan Had a Horse

By the Great Horn Spoon!

Seeds of America trilogy (Chains, Forge, Ashes)

Freedom Train

The Slave Dancer

The Mostly True Stories of Homer P. Figg

 

Edited by ondreeuh
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Well...these are just my thoughts, so please feel free to ignore what doesn't work for you. :)

 

I agree with the Ondreeuh that many of the above books are a bit young, but you know your children's reading levels better than I, so including some my be beneficial. I would consider shortening that list, though. Could you just toss any books that you decide to remove from a main list into a basket. You could easily let the children read from the book basket on a once or twice per week basis, using it as an activity to fill in any gaps which sometimes pop up unexpectedly during the week.

 

Here are the Readers I would keep:

 

Pedro's Journal

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia (Landmark)

A Week in the Woods (I haven't seen this but I see it's on the BYL list.)

one of the books about George Washington

George vs. George

My Side of the Mountain

Naya Nuki (I haven't seen this one.)

How We Crossed the West

Justin Morgan Had a Horse

The Green Book (I see this is on the BYL list too.)

By the Great Horn Spoon

Brady (also on BYL list)

 

I would choose either Tuck Everlasting or Bridge to Terabithia but maybe not both...they are both sad. :( But, I see both are included in BYL, so you may wish to do both after all...maybe spread them apart, if possible. It probably just depends on how sensitive your children are.

 

For the Read Aloud List, I might choose these:

 

Children of the Longhouse....but I really like Ondreeuh's suggestion of The Birchbark House too...if you wanted to add it

Blood on the River:  James Town, 1607

Witch of Blackbird Pond

Sign of the Beaver

Indian Captive:  The story of Mary Jemison

Johny Tremain

My Brother Sam is Dead

Carry on Mr. Bowditch

 

One aspect of BYL that I do like is that her booklists do include books from other genres...not just historical fiction. So, I would definitely try to include some of these types of books too.

 

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Little House on the Prairie Audiobooks

The Hobbit

 

I also like these from Ondreeuh's list to go along with the above different genre list:

 

A Wrinkle in Time

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

 

We also really liked Amos Fortune, Free Man from her list too. This could be added to the historical fiction list, if you had room.

 

I see that BYL includes poetry...so I would keep those too.

 

Benjamin West is a great artist to study during this time period and this book is great to use along with it: Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin...also by Marguerite Henry. This would make a good addition to your reader list.

 

Jean Fritz books such as And Then What Happened, Paul Revere and Shh! We're Writing the Constitution might also make good readers too.

 

:)

 

 

 

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Kfamily, can you tell me why it would be better to have fewer books scheduled?   It is really hard for me to cut books and I need to justify the reasoning.  I'm having a hard time making the cut.   Is it so they can have more choice in what they spend their time reading?

 

Right now we are doing NO lit discussion or worksheets.   I simply have them narrate their reading (and listening from audiobooks) to me Charlotte Mason style. 

 

After lunch we have "outside time", then we have a quiet hour.  They typically do their assigned reading and listening (audiobook) during their quiet hour.   After they do what is assigned they can either read (or listen) ahead in the book if they are enjoying it.   OR, they can then finish up the hour reading whatever they want.  (Or if they have finished their assigned book early, they might spend the entire hour reading or listening to whatever book they want.)  

 

After the hour they narrate the book to me.  I ask informal questions the way I would if a friend was telling me about a book they were reading.   

 

We also have a family read aloud time after dinner when my husband is home.   I'm considering moving some of the books I want to read with them to that time.  

 

---------------

 

My New list....very much subject to a million revisions.   hahaha

 

New Reader List:

1)  Om-Kas-Toe (or skip)

2)  Sees Behind Trees

3)  Pedro's Journal

4)  Matilda (for fun pick)

5)  Pocahontas Biography (Use D'Aulaire or another suggestion?)

6)  Tuck Everlasting 

7)  Mouse and the Motorcycle (for fun pick)

8)  A Lion to Guard Us

9)  Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia (landmark book)

10) The Sign of the Beaver (moved from reader to read aloud)

11)  A Week in the Woods

12)  Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry (I actually own that book!)

13)  George vs. George

14)  My Side of the Mountain

15)  The Cabin Faced West

16)  How we crossed the west (Lewis and Clark)

17)  Naya Nuki

18)  Justin Morgan had a Horse

19)  The Green Book

20)  By the Great Horn Spoon

21)  Brady

 

Quiet Hour Audiobook List:

1)  Children of the Longhouse (Audiobook)

2)  Birchbark House (Audiobook)  (Moved to better match up time frame)

3)  Blood on the River:  James Town 1607 (Audiobook)

5)  Witch of Blackbird Pond  (Audiobook)

6)  Indian Captive:  The story of Mary Jemison  Birchbark House (Audiobook)

7)  Johny Tremain  (Audiobook)

8)  My Brother Sam is Dead (Audiobook)

-) Sherwood Ring  skip?   I don't own this.  I wonder if it is worth buying?

-)  Fever 1793  skip?   worth buying?

9)  Chains (Seeds of America)

10)  Carry on Mr. Bowditch (audiobook)

11)  Winter Danger (Audiobook)

12)  Adoniram Judson (Audiobook) 

13)  Other books that he/she want to continue from series (A Wrinkle in Time, Wolve Chronicles, Seeds of America)

 

Family Reading at night after dinner: 

(Finish up cycle of Narnia) , then...

1)  Bridge to Terabithia (Sub out with A Wrinkle in Time...I think I like that book better.)  

2)  The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Family Read-Aloud at night)

3)  The Hobbit (Family Read-Aloud at night)

4)  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Family Audiobook at night so we can discuss)

5)  Amos Fortune, Free Man  (Audiobook)

6) Farmer Boy (Cherry Jones Audiobook)

7) By the Shores of Silver Lake (Cherry Jones Audiobook at night)

8)  The Long Winter (Cherry Jones Audiobook at night)

9)  Little Town on the Prairie (Cherry Jones Audiobook at night)

10)  These Happy Golden Years (Cherry Jones Audiobook at night)

11)  Sarah Plain and Tall (Family Read-Aloud at night at night)

 

----

 

Too many books again probably.  Sigh.  

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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Hmmm, I may have to come back to this in the morning, but here are a few thoughts so far.

 

I think we all tend to divide and categorize books differently, so what I might do might not be appealing to someone else. But, that's okay...we all have to do what works for our own families. You know your students far better than I do. :)

 

For me, I prefer to scale back on the historical fiction books, allowing more time for books from other genres and subject areas. So, my girls would be reading classic fiction, fairy tales, myths, retellings, fantasy, science biographies and living books meant for school. Although at 4th and 5th grade the living books meant as our school books for history, literature, science, etc.  would be carefully chosen and a number of books would be read together type books. 

 

I do include some historical fiction, because it is nice for them to see history through a character's eyes, and because they, frankly, do tend to make good reader style books or books that can be read independently. So, I tend to include them partially for the purpose of developing the reading skills of a mid-elementary student or one who needs a bit more practice in fluency before the expectations of middle school descends upon them.

 

Reducing the number of books allows me to add books such as I mentioned above, giving them exposure to a greater variety of style, content and literary language.

 

We are very CM too, and we also narrate a great deal. But, by this age, my girls were also writing narrations which might be written summaries, descriptions, comparison lists, letters, and other types. Following a reading with this type of narration (maybe 4 of these a week) means they need more time to respond to the reading. Because it takes more time, we can handle only so many books per term.

 

Typically, we divided our books into three main categories:

 

1. books that the girls read themselves, chosen from a larger book list I gave them

2. books we read together, usually my choice, but sometimes we read ones that they requested

3. books that they read of their own choice, narration was not required

 

But, if you have a great plan that works for you and your family, then you should keep with it. You have a of of great books on your lists! Sorry if this is a bit scattered...I'm trying to multi-task. :)

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Fever 1793 is great. But I like Laurie Halse Anderson's Seeds of America series better, honestly. And it's good on audiobook. Right now, you've got a list that's older - which is okay, but keep in mind that there's nothing inherently "better" about reading old historical fiction books - as in, Johnny Tremain isn't more accurate because it's older. It's just older and expresses an older view of history than the current one. Again, not good or bad, but something to be aware of with historical fiction since I think there's a sense among a lot of people that older books about history must be accurate, which just isn't true. Anyway, adding Chains (or that series in general) would give you a newer historical fiction book about the Revolutionary War. And, honestly, you have a list that's about the beginning of the US and has very little about slavery on it - and you have older elementary schoolers, not really little kids. So, I personally, would see that as a problem. One that Chains would help.

 

But, speaking of that... I personally would not have my kids read Amos Fortune, Free Man. It has been widely criticized as reflecting the white author's inaccurate views and of reflecting her strong biases - it's a very old book - from the 50's, I think, and as such, it reflects very old white views of slavery and race. The author even admitted later in life that she would not have written the book that way were she to write it again. She implied she might not have written it at all, calling it a regret, despite the fact that it earned her a Newbery.

 

And I wouldn't personally have kids read Indian Captive, which is a really problematic book from a current perspective. You've got Children of the Longhouse and Birchbark House, which is great. But you've also got the D'Aulaire's Pocahontas, which is very misleading and not a good representation (I'd definitely sub that for something else). And you've got Witch of Blackbird Pond and the Little House books... which I think are not enough about First Nations peoples to take off your list, but definitely have problematic depictions that you should take at least a few minutes to address, the same way that you're obviously planning to talk about the way race is discussed and portrayed in Tom Sawyer.

 

I don't think it's too many books. I don't think Bridge to Terebithia is too much for most 5th graders - I do think 4th is pushing it. But Wrinkle in Time can be a hard one for 4th as well so it's not a perfect sub. Depends on the kid. I think Matilda is a great addition. And Week in the Woods is fun. And The Great Horn Spoon is super fun.

Edited by Farrar
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Fever 1793 is great. But I like Laurie Halse Anderson's Seeds of America series better, honestly. And it's good on audiobook. Right now, you've got a list that's older - which is okay, but keep in mind that there's nothing inherently "better" about reading old historical fiction books - as in, Johnny Tremain isn't more accurate because it's older. It's just older and expresses an older view of history than the current one. Again, not good or bad, but something to be aware of with historical fiction since I think there's a sense among a lot of people that older books about history must be accurate, which just isn't true. Anyway, adding Chains (or that series in general) would give you a newer historical fiction book about the Revolutionary War. And, honestly, you have a list that's about the beginning of the US and has very little about slavery on it - and you have older elementary schoolers, not really little kids. So, I personally, would see that as a problem. One that Chains would help.

 

But, speaking of that... I personally would not have my kids read Amos Fortune, Free Man. It has been widely criticized as reflecting the white author's inaccurate views and of reflecting her strong biases - it's a very old book - from the 50's, I think, and as such, it reflects very old white views of slavery and race. The author even admitted later in life that she would not have written the book that way were she to write it again. She implied she might not have written it at all, calling it a regret, despite the fact that it earned her a Newbery.

 

And I wouldn't personally have kids read Indian Captive, which is a really problematic book from a current perspective. You've got Children of the Longhouse and Birchbark House, which is great. But you've also got the D'Aulaire's Pocahontas, which is very misleading and not a good representation (I'd definitely sub that for something else). And you've got Witch of Blackbird Pond and the Little House books... which I think are not enough about First Nations peoples to take off your list, but definitely have problematic depictions that you should take at least a few minutes to address, the same way that you're obviously planning to talk about the way race is discussed and portrayed in Tom Sawyer.

 

I don't think it's too many books. I don't think Bridge to Terebithia is too much for most 5th graders - I do think 4th is pushing it. But Wrinkle in Time can be a hard one for 4th as well so it's not a perfect sub. Depends on the kid. I think Matilda is a great addition. And Week in the Woods is fun. And The Great Horn Spoon is super fun.

Really good feedback! I appreciate it!

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One thing I do when I'm concerned that I'm planning too many books is divide them into two lists--the ones I want to do for sure, and then the optional books if we have time. I try to put an anticipated week by each book I plan, so that if we're up to that book before that time, I either add in an optional book or give my kids a choice between 2-3 books for their next reader. That way I don't have all optional books at the end of the year and can still alternate easier/harder books or lighter/heavier reads, etc... 

 

Or another way I've done that is to make a list that I think will work but asterisk the books that I for sure don't want to miss. If we get behind during the year, I cross off one of the books--but this way I won't drop a book that I really wanted to do by mistake.

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Man, oh MAN!  This thread is seriously loaded with wisdom!    :hurray:  :hurray:  You have all given me such great feedback.   Thank you so much, everyone!   

 

Kfamily, I think you are telling me some really wise things about limiting the amount of historical fiction I assign.  Thank you for taking the time to help me.  I am an old Sonlight user, so I have a tendency to assign way too much historical fiction.   I have to fight that urge every year and reading what you wrote made me realize that I am doing exactly that.   :)   While there is some value in reading historical fiction, I feel like myth, legend, nature lore....and just good stories help them grow as people too.  My children need those types of books in their "diet" too.    I did a really good job this year of diversifying our books lists.  However, I am finding it a lot harder to do with American History for some reason.  (It felt a lot easier to make cuts to our Ancient history and Middle ages study...perhaps there were just fewer books.)   Not included in my list above is our non-fiction science reading and they have a couple of scientist biographies assigned.   (They do science in the morning.)   I will also read aloud to them biographies from poets/artists/composers as part of our morning time.   So we have biographies included.   (Just not listed here.)   And I help host a Shakespeare club for homeschool kids.   So we will cover 3-4 Shakespeare plays this year as well. BUT---I think you are right in that there needs to be a better mix of myth, legend, and all of that.   :)   I am going to mull over your advice and see if I can put it into practice.  

 

Farrar, you have given me some REALLY good feedback too.   This is exactly the type of information I was looking for.    I have never even heard of The Seeds of American series!   They sound really great.  I also think your suggestion about putting some newer books on my list would be better...and help round things out.  (I just don't know of the newer books.)  Do you have any suggestion for a sub for Pocahontas (D'Aularie)?   

 

And Merry, I like your advice about how to schedule my books.  I think that will help me (mentally!) make those hard cuts, and also prevent me from feeling "behind".  

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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I don't have a Pocahontas sub book... I think a lot of them are really problematic. I think of the Jean Fritz one that Ondreeuh had on her list as not bad, but I don't know if that's true or not. I think we skipped her other than in our history spines. I think of the reading books as being taking advantage of what's out there and I try not to get too worried about what isn't out there, if that makes sense. She's not a must study with more information in my mind. Different place and slightly different time, but the picture book biography of Squanto by Bruhac is a good quick one.

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I don't have a Pocahontas sub book... I think a lot of them are really problematic. I think of the Jean Fritz one that Ondreeuh had on her list as not bad, but I don't know if that's true or not. I think we skipped her other than in our history spines. I think of the reading books as being taking advantage of what's out there and I try not to get too worried about what isn't out there, if that makes sense. She's not a must study with more information in my mind. Different place and slightly different time, but the picture book biography of Squanto by Bruhac is a good quick one.

Yes, we have that Squanto book by Bruhac.   It is a beautiful book.   

 

You know, Joseph Bruhac wrote a book about Pocahontas.   Has anyone read this?  

 

It seems like there are bad reviews on most every Pocahontas biography I can find online.   Maybe that is because there just isn't a lot of historical information to base a book from. (???)  A lot of it seems to by just myth and legend.   

 

  Build Your Library schedules the Double Life of Pocahontas by Jean Fritz but it has bad reviews too.   I guess I was hoping to cover her somehow in their reading.  (Cultural Literacy and all that.)   And I don't want their first (or only) impression to be the Disney movie.  I know she is covered in the Hakim books.  I am going to pre-read that section and see if I really need to find a separate reader or audiobook for the kids.   Maybe that will be enough.

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