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I have this notion that homeschooling is about filling your mind up with really great things. It’s not about how many text books you complete or which curriculum you are using.  There are many ways to fill your mind, as long as you choose to fill it with great things.  

I am having a hard time explaining this to my girls.  This stage of “in between” is a tough one.  They are in between childhood and adulthood and  there is no road map for this mama to use as a guide.  

Lilah is capable of reading all the books that are making headlines now.  However, she is still just eleven years old.  She wanted to read Fault in Our Starts.  I pre-read it and felt that some of the relationship content was too much for an eleven year old.  There is great buzz about Divergent so I read that too and felt that the scenes of violence were just too much for someone so young to take in and process, same with Hunger Games.  Does this make me an overprotective mom?  I really don’t know.  I know that this is a popular genre and she wants to be a part of the dialogue that takes place when these books come up.  She is a reader at heart.  She is also a visual, creative, emotionally sensitive girl.  

I offered her Uglies, and we’ll see if she likes that. In the meantime, she has picked up the book club book that we will meet to discuss at the end of the month, Jerry Spinelli’s Milkweed.  I did not choose this book.  It was recommended by my friend, whose son is in the book club and has read every book I was thinking of for our first meeting.  In fact, he has listened to this book but was willing to re-read it because he said it was that good.  How fortuitous that it happens to be about WWII and the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Poland.  How perfect that we already have an understanding of this horrible time in history.  How interesting that the girls have a deceased relative who took part in the resistance.  

To help build a total understanding of this book I am making a story board. Nothing too fancy, just a place to elaborate on some of the concepts in the book that are new to us, like the term jackboots and that it is not simply the boot but also the symbol for totalitarianism.  I put up the map of Poland to illustrate where the country is in relation to Germany and a bit of the history of the occupation. I have had a very mature discussion of the many meanings of the word ghetto with Lilah.  We are just six chapters in and I look forward to this daily reading time together with my girls.


  1. I'm with you on the difficulty of finding suitable books for this "in between" age. I'm having the same issues with my Miss 13. I just don't feel that she is ready for some of the heavy content of many currently popular novels.

    1. Have you found any that you and she like?

  2. We have not read this particular book but spent a good bit of time last year studying WWII and the Nazi occupation. Grace is not a reader and doesn't come to me about the books that other girls her age are reading. I have read many of them on my own because I enjoy youth or young adult fiction. Some of the books I chose for us to use as read alouds just for fun like the Percy Jackson series, Michael Vey series, Peter and the Starcatchers series, and I am thinking about Fablehaven. She loves them when I read them to her but doesn't care to read them on her own. By the way the sun came out and has melted a great deal of our snow away. I was starting to get a little cabin fever not being out of the house since Monday. Hope yours also melts away soon.

    1. There may be some melting here mid can't come soon enough! I have the same issue with my Grace, who is old enough to read these books, but it is my 11 year old who wants to read them and I am not always sure what the right thing to do is, so for now I listen to my intuition...

  3. I love the idea of a book club. I am thinking about it for my group maybe. I did let Keilee read "Fault in our Stars" and she started Divergent. But there is a lot of difference between 11 and 14. And Keilee and I talked about it before and after she read it. She is usually very 'hard' on bad language, etc from kids her age but she was more forgiving because of Augustus and Hazel's cancer. She LOVED it. I also love the idea of a story board!!

    1. I liked them both too! Lilah asked to read Fault in our Stars ages ago and she is totally capable of reading it but I agree with you, that there is a huge developmental difference between 11 and 14 but I feel bad sometimes that by the time she is 14 these books will be on the shelf and there will be new books making news. I hate for her to miss out on conversations and the movie buzz about both these books, but I keep thinking that is just not the right time......

  4. Jess - thanks for this recommendation. I am going to suggest it to Anna. I was just reading last night about literature for kids in the Dialectic stage - and filling their minds with GOOD literature. Anna and I read The Hunger Games together and she just finished Divergent. Most of the kids in her Challenge group read Divergent, so her tutor actually had a brief discussion with the kids about the book. I was SO thankful for that. They're also reading The Door in the Wall (which I of course like much better) and writing papers on that right now.

    You are right - there is no manual for this age, and we have to take it on a case by case, child by child basis. I'm so thankful for your blog and your wisdom.

  5. For Mia I just tell her the watered down version of the popular books because she does have a desire to know about them. This, for now, is enough. She has really enjoyed The Warrior Series. She told me that she has even learned about herbs because there is a medicine cat in the book.

    I did let Oliver read Hunger Games. But he is a boy and I was thrilled that he wanted to read anything at all at the time. Since we switched to homeschool he reads more and doesn't desire those books so much. He is reading/enjoying the Erin Hunter books as well. He got Divergent. I read it but he hasn't an interes


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