There are so many wonderful picture books out there right now that my son and I decided to give ourselves the challenge of reading as many as we can for the rest of the year. This all started because I was a little sad to move onto strictly chapter books with Ben because, isn’t it about the time we should put away all the beautiful picture books and get on with our life? I thought so, but…..after listening to multiple Read Aloud Revival podcasts, I was happy to hear that so many educational experts were encouraging parents to include even their teenagers in on their family read-aloud times and that picture books are not solely meant for the little ones after all. Yay!
We had so much fun this month learning about artists, musicians, inventors, and female explorers. To get a little more “learning” out of the books, we hopped over to our world map and located all of the countries that each book mentioned. Then we looked up online more of the art works that some of the artists produced in their lifetimes and recorded their names, accomplishments, and birth/death dates in our Charlotte Mason timeline book. I love finding new ways to teach my kids without them knowing it. **I equate reading quality picture books with hiding veggies in baked goods. Its both delicious and nutritious….well kind of….
The Bravest Woman in America tells the true story of one of the first women lighthouse keepers in the US. Ida Lewis earned the title of “The Bravest Woman in America” by saving the lives of 18 people during her stint as lighthouse keeper at Lime Rock. I did not know that lighthouse keepers back then would row out to the shipwrecks and pick up the survivors all on their own! Ms. Lewis earned the Congressional Life Saving Medal in 1874 and was the first female recipient of the American Cross of Honor in 1907.
Oh how we loved reading Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor. I am a sucker for anything about life sciences, so a female zoo keeper specializing in reptiles was right up my alley. The artwork and story are both brilliant in this book. We loved learning that Joan had a pet Komodo dragon that she would take on walks around the zoo and even let it come to tea parties with children as well.
When I saw this book at the library, I knew that Ben would be interested. Whoosh! tells the true life story of Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the Super-Soaker. We found it interesting that Mr. Johnson was from Mobile, Alabama and attended college at the Tuskegee Institute because we live in Alabama ourselves and had no clue he was from the same state. The whole story can just be summed up as: Lonnie Johnson did not give up. He didn’t give up when an aptitude test said that he would never be an engineer. Instead he went on to graduate with an engineering degree and helped to design a back up power supply system for the Galileo satellite that sent back so many amazing pictures of Jupiter to Earth. Lonnie did not give up when toy company after toy company passed on his idea of a super soaking water gun. It took many attempts, but one company agreed to make and sell his Super Soaker eventually and soon kids across the nation were happily squirting each other in backyards for years to come. Lonnie did not retire after his success, but went back to his workshop and began work on finding better ways to harness solar energy and he is still at it today.
I love learning about artists…especially happy ones. Henri Matisse was definitely a happy artist. He came late to the art world and did not pick up a paint brush until he was 20 years old! Apparently his parents pushed him into the legal field (which he hated) until one day while he was in the hospital with an illness, he got bored and asked for a set of paints. And as they say, “The rest is history.” Matisse was one of the few great artists that achieved some success during his life. We loved seeing all of the different colors he chose to paint with and found it interesting to learn that he was known as the “master of color” by many in the art world.
Vincent van Gogh is definitely one of my favorite artists, but his story is a little sad, so beware of this book if you have a sensitive child. We were amazed to learn that apparently Van Gogh only sold one of his paintings during his lifetime (!!!!) I never knew that he was deeply religious and was a minister at one time in his life. His story always makes me so sad because he died thinking he had no talent, but somehow became one of the most famous painters of all time. It really makes you reexamine your own life and expectations a little closer.
John’s Secret Dreams explores the life of John Lennon. I never knew that he was abandoned by his mother and raised by a strict aunt who did not support his love of music. Ben and I both really liked the artwork and seeing how the author worked Lennon’s lyrics into every page throughout the book.