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Where do I find the recommended books?

Many of the books may be found at your local LIBRARY or through interlibrary loan.  If you are on a strict budget, I would check here first.  If you will be using a book for longer than three weeks you may want to purchase the book instead, if feasible.  There are many options available for purchasing books, but these are my favorites:

Amazon: If purchasing books new I recommend Amazon, especially if you need the title quickly and are a member of Amazon Prime.  Amazon also offers many books in Kindle format if you prefer to read on an e-reader.  When buying reprints of out of print titles it is always best to purchase Yesterday's Classics or Living Book Press, when available.  These two publishers offer the highest quality of reprints.

Christianbook:  Not all titles are available on Amazon, or if they are they may be a little more expensive.  I always comparison shop with Christianbook, especially if I am able to use their free shipping option, make sure to check online for coupon codes enabling this offer!

Better World Books:  If you are a fan of USED books, and who isn't?? Better World Books is a great option.  You can often buy many of your books for the year in bulk at discounted rates vs new and they always offer free shipping in the US!  If it's a book that is relatively inexpensive to buy used, and I know I will be using it again with another child, I will typically go ahead and buy it used and add it to our home library.  Better World Books also has a wonderful customer service team.

Thriftbooks:  Another great option for used and new books is Thriftbooks.  However, I have never purchased new books from this bookseller.  If you are looking to purchase NEW books Amazon or Christianbook generally offer a much better price for new.  When it comes to USED books, Thriftbooks is a fantastic option!  Their book ratings (like new, very good, good, acceptable) are generally spot on.  They also offer great customer service should something not meet your expectations.

How do you teach copywork?

Copywork can seem simplistic. Give your child a sentence or two and have them copy it. It can also seem like busy work, but the benefits are great! Copywork is a simple introduction to handwriting, spelling, and composition.  Have children copy only the best authors, with the best writing, and ideas to fill their growing minds.

When should I begin copywork?

Once a child learns how to write their letters comfortably, they are ready to start simple copywork. Start with very short sentences and have them copy it, always in their best handwriting. It is important that they give their best effort. If you find them struggling, give them less to copy. In the beginning, it’s okay if they only do a few words per sitting as long as it is in their best handwriting. You can gradually increase the length of the model as they become more and more comfortable. However, it is important to take their age into consideration. As they gain age and experience with copywork the quantity and quality of their work should improve.

Why copywork?

Copying models of good writing teaches children what good writing looks and sounds like, thereby improving their own writing. Many of the worlds greatest writers learned how to write through copywork. Benjamin Franklin would copy or outline essays and then try to recreate them on his own to see if he could write them better.

What is narration?

Narration is a technique which at its simplest means "telling back." Though in its fullest educational benefit there is more happening than simply comprehension.

If you read or see something – you remember 15%
If you hear something – you remember 20%
If you see and hear something – you remember 30-40%
If you tell it to someone – you remember 80-90%


Developmental stages with narrations:

  • Initially children will just give you the facts – just as they heard it.

  • Then they will start to make connections – as they give you a narration on the fresh information they have just heard/read they will add to it background information that they have gleaned from elsewhere, at a previous time.

  • They will start to make opinions, express opinions and support their opinions while giving you the information.

  • Then they will be able to see analogies (hidden meanings, wisdom connections) and draw life lessons from what they are reading.

When do we narrate?

We find that the children are telling us things that they have discovered from really young - we just encouraged this to continue. When they tell us about what they saw, what they did, what they heard they are beginning the skills of narrations. They will still be sorting out sequence of events, they may not start with a topic sentence so it takes a while to know what they are talking about, they may give you all the unimportant information first - this is a learning curve - the more they talk the more these things get sorted out.

When you read a book to your children, ask them to tell you the story, ask them to tell you what they have learned, or what they heard. Once again at the beginning, the order of their retelling may be all over the place, but they are learning and you will see change as they grow older.

You can get your children to narrate

  • When they read a book

  • When they see a movie

  • When they watch a documentary

  • When they visit a museum or art gallery

  • When they spend the day with friends

  • When they learn a new skill

What are the benefits of narration?
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So much of our focus is on writing that we forget to look at the foundation of writing. We believe it is more important to have something to say than it is to write it properly. We want our children to be thinkers and to be able to communicate that thinking to others.


Most presume that that means students need good writing skills, and they do, but writing is putting our thoughts on paper - so first they need to be able to have the thoughts. We find that talking through issues, being widely read, and being encouraged to ask questions, and answer other people's questions, will give our children something of substance to write when it comes time to communicate in the written form.

It is much easier for a child to answer a few questions about a passage that was just read to them, than it is to provide a narration. Narration takes a much higher degree of comprehension and thought.  It is oral composition.  Narration has to be learned by practicing, as with any new skill, but the benefits will astound you!

How do I read aloud?

Always remind each other briefly where you left off from the previous reading.

Slow down. Make sure you are not reading too quickly.

Become your characters as you read their lines. This doesn't mean you have to use your body, modulate your voice to reflect emotions. When your characters shout, raise your voice. When they cry, put on your crying voice. Whine at the appropriate time. etc... Sometimes you may not be in a frame of mind to alter your voice as much as other times, but it is always helpful to do it to some degree.

When you want to create mystery or come to a part you want to emphasize, lower your voice and lean forward. Students love this and it often will be the deciding factor between a favorite book and a boring book for them.

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