Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Well-Educated Mind Reading Challenge

Being an English major and frequent page-turner since I learned to read, I've felt some pressure to read "the classics." After years of feeling stuck in college classes and forced to read books they wanted me to read, I felt like I lost my will to read for personal pleasure.

But I just can't get away from the allure of a reading challenge, which gives me hope that my passion for reading hasn't died.

Since I am interested in giving my son a classical education, reading all of the classics myself can only help me. I have already read some of these, but I am rereading those and cracking open the ones that are new to me.

If you'd like to challenge yourself, feel free to join me.


My plan:

1. Start at the beginning of the list. 
2. Read a little each day.
3. Blog about my progress (at least once a month) to share and keep myself motivated.

Without further ado, here is the list:
Books marked by an orange asterisk (*) are books that are being re-read. Books written in blue ink are ones I have completed. I'll be reading a few from each section so as not to overload on any one type of literature. 

Don Quixote- Miguel de Cervantes (1605) currently reading
The Pilgrimʼs Progress- John Bunyan (1679)
Gulliverʼs Travels- Jonathan Swift (1726)*
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen (1815)
Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens (1838)
Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte (1847)
The Scarlet Letter- Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)*
Moby-Dick- Herman Melville (1851)
Uncle Tomʼs Cabin- Harriet Beecher Stowe (1851)*
Madame Bovary- Gustave Flaubert (1857)
Crime and Punishment- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)
Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy (1877)
The Return of the Native- Thomas Hardy (1878)
The Portrait of a Lady- Henry James (1881)*
Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain (1884)*
The Red Badge of Courage- Stephen Crane (1895)
Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad (1902)
The House of Mirth- Edith Wharton (1905)
The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)*
Mrs. Dalloway- Virginia Woolf (1925)
The Trial- Franz Kafka (1925)
Native Son- Richard Wright (1940)
The Stranger- Albert Camus (1942)
1984- George Orwell (1949)
Invisible Man- Ralph Ellison (1952)*
Seize the Day- Saul Bellow (1956)
One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1967)
If on a winterʼs night a traveler- Italo Calvino (1972)
Song of Solomon- Toni Morrison (1977)
White Noise- Don DelilloPossession- A.S. Byatt (1990)

The Confessions- Augustine (A.D. c. 400)
The Book of Margery Kempe- Margery Kempe (c. 1430)*
Essays- Michel de Montaigne (1580)
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself- Teresa of Avila (1588)
Meditations- Rene Descartes (1641)
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners- John Bunyan (1666)
The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration- Mary Rowlandson (1682)
Confessions- Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1781)
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin- Benjamin Franklin (1791)*
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself- Harriet Jacobs (1861)
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass- Frederick Douglass (1881)*
Up from Slavery- Booker T. Washington (1901)
Ecce Homo- Friedrich Nietzsche (1908)
Mein Kampf- Adolf Hitler (1925)
An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth- Mohandas Gandhi (1929)
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas- Gertrude Stein (1933)
The Seven Storey Mountain- Thomas Merton (1948)
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life- C.S. Lewis (1955)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X- Malcolm X (1965)
Journal of a Solitude- May Sarton (1973)
The Gulag Archipelago- Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
Born Again- Charles W. Colson (1977)
Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez- Richard Rodriguez (1982)
All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs- Elie Wiesel (1995)

The Histories- Herodotus (441 B.C.)
The Peloponnesian War- Thucydides (c. 400 B.C.)
The Republic- Plato (c. 375 B.C.)
Lives- Plutarch (A.D. 100-125)
The City of God- Augustine (Completed 426)
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People- Bede (731)
The Prince- Niccolo Machiavelli (1513)
Utopia- Sire Thomas More (1516)*
The True End of Civil Government- John Locke (1690)
The History of England, Volume V- David Hume (1754)
The Social Contract- Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762)
Common Sense- Thomas Paine (1776)
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire- Edward Gibbon (1776-1788)
The Vindication of the Rights of Women- Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)
Democracy in America- Alexis de Tocqueville (1835-40)
The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848)
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy- Jacob Burckhardt (1860)
The Souls of Black Folk- W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism- Max Weber (1904)
Queen Victoria- Lytton Strachey (1921)
The Road to Wigan Pier- George Orwell (1937)
The New England Mind- Perry Miller (1939)
The Great Crash 1929- John Kenneth Galbraith (1955)
The Longest Day- Cornelius Ryan (1959)
The Feminine Mystique- Betty Friedan (1963)
Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made- Eugene D. Genovese (1974)
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century- Barbara Tuchman (1978)
All the Presidentʼs Men- Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1987)
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era- James M. McPherson (1988)
A Midwifeʼs Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary- Laura Thatcher Ulrich (1990)
The End of History and the Last Man- Francis Fukuyama (1992)

Agamemnon- Aeschylus (c. 458 B.C.)
Oedipus the King- Sophocles (c. 450 B.C.)*
Medea- Euripides (c. 431 B.C.)
The Birds- Aristophanes (c. 400 B.C.)
Poetics- Aristotle (c. 330 B.C.)
Doctor Faustus- Christopher Marlowe (1588)*
Richard III- William Shakespeare (1592-93)
A Midsummer Nightʼs Dream- William Shakespeare (1594-95)*
Hamlet- William Shakespeare (1600)*)
Tartuffe- Moliere (1669)*
The Way of the World- William Congreve (1700)
She Stoops to Conquer- Oliver Goldsmith (1773)
The School for Scandal- Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1777)
A Dollʼs House- Henrik Ibsen (1879)*
The Importance of Being Earnest-Oscar Wilde (1899)
The Cherry Orchard- Anton Chekhov (1904)
Saint Joan- George Bernard Shaw (1924)
Murder in the Cathedral- T.S. Eliot (1935)
Our Town- Thornton Wilder (1938)
Long Dayʼs Journey Into Night- Eugene OʼNeill (1940)
No Exit- Jean Paul Sartre (1944)
A Streetcar Named Desire- Tennessee Williams (1947)
Death of a Salesman- Arthur Miller (1949)
A Man for All Seasons- Robert Bolt (1960)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead- Tom Stoppard (1967)
Equus- Peter Shaffer (1974)

The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2000 B.C.)*
The Iliad and the Odyssey*- Homer (c. 800 B.C.)
Greek Lyricists (c. 600 B.C.)
Odes- Horace (65-8 B.C.)
Beowulf (c. 1000)*
Inferno- Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)*
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (c. 1350)*
The Canterbury Tales- Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400)*
Sonnets- William Shakespeare (1564-1616)*
John Donne (1572-1631)*
Psalms- King James Bible (1611)
Paradise Lost- John Milton (1608-1674)*
Songs of Innocence and Experience- William Blake (1757-1827)
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
John Keats (1795- 1821)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1883)
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)*
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)*
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)*
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)*
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Robert Frost (1874-1963)*
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Ezra Pound (1885-1972)*
T.S. Eliot (1888-1954)*
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)*
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Mark Strand (1934-)
Adrienne Rich (1929-)
Seamus Heaney (1939-)
Robert Pinsky (1940-)
Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)
Rita Dove (1952-)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Library Haul- May 28, 2013

A la The Well-Trained Mind, I had Aidyn select the books during this library haul based on categories. Doing so helped him to learn the locations of certain sections in the library, and he enjoyed being able to pick  all of the books himself. He chose one of each:

1. a science book
2. a history book
3. a biography/autobiography
4. an art/music book
5. an imaginative storybook
6. a book of poetry
7. a classic novel

(I was also going to have him select a how-to book, but the art book he chose fit the bill.)

Here's what he chose:

1. Science- Volcanoes: Journey to the Crater's Edge
2. History- Eyewitness Books: Castle
3. Biography- Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan
4. Art- Fast and Funny Paper Toys You Can Make
5. Imaginative Storybook- Dr. Suess's Daisy-Head Mazie
6. Poetry- Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep
7. Classic novel- The House at Pooh Corner

Excited about the books he had chosen, we immediately dove in and started reading. He wanted to start the poetry book, so we shut off all the lights, closed the blinds and lit several candles to create a spooky atmosphere. He arranged a blanket and pillow on the floor, and we read spooky poems.

David snapped this picture of us

As our school year is coming to a close, we're going to transition to summer reading and simply enjoy every story and subject to which we are drawn.

Are there any books you are looking forward to reading over the summer? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Mega Ultimate List of Summer Fun: 170+ Ideas for Making a Memorable Summer

Here's your go-to list for all things fun in the summer. How many can you do?

1.       Go on a hike.
2.       Pick wildflowers.
3.       Do leaf-rubbings.
4.       Collect and sort rocks.
5.       Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt.
6.       Have a picnic outside.
7.       BBQ.
8.       Play in the sprinklers.
9.       Launch water balloons.
10.   Swim and dive at the pool.
11.   Visit all the parks in your community.
12.   Spy wild animals at the zoo.
13.   Tour a factory.
14.   Feed ducks at a pond.
15.   Make sidewalk chalk art.
16.   Play hopscotch.
17.   Jump-rope.
18.   Host a hula-hooping contest.
19.   Play Simon-Says.
20.   Create an outdoor treasure hunt.
21.   Join your library’s summer reading program.
22.   Cook food inspired by books you read. Mmm, green eggs and ham.
23.   Set a $10 limit for each child and buy anything at the craft store to make at home.
24.   Build a marshmallow-and-toothpick tower.
25.   Knock down the marshmallow-and-toothpick towers creatively.
26.   Strap on some aprons and paint like crazy!
27.   Paint with spray bottles.
28.   Paint with found objects- bottle caps, pipecleaners, leaves, sticks, etc.
29.   Be a hippie for a day and tie-dye some shirts.
30.   Paint a bird house, fill it with bird seed, and hang it outside your window.
31.   Make a personalized sign for your room.
32.   Buy transfer paper at the craft store and design your own t-shirts.
33.   Create gigantic bubbles with a kiddie pool, water, soap, and a hula hoop.
34.   Attend your library’s summer programs.
35.   Giggle at a clown show.
36.   Be amazed at a magic show.
37.   Listen to music.
38.   Attend an outdoor music festival.
39.   Escape the heat at a dark and cool movie theatre.
40.   Try every frozen yogurt place in your community.
41.   Listen to 50s summer music.
42.   Build sandcastles and sandcreatures.
43.   Dip around in a tide pool.
44.   Catch a wave at the beach.
45.   Tour an aquarium.
46.   Start a run-along-the-beach race.
47.   Star-gaze.
48.   Moon-gaze.
49.   Watch a spectacular fireworks show.
50.   Send a kite soaring.
51.   Climb trees.
52.   Go mini-golfing.
53.   Spend a day at the county fair.
54.   Ride bumper cars.
55.   Eat cotton candy.
56.   Play a few carnival games.
57.   Scream your heart out on some rollercoasters.
58.   Grow delicious summer strawberries.
59.   Plant a garden.
60.   Raise butterflies.
61.   Purchase an ant farm and observe.
62.   Make homemade ice cream.
63.   Make homemade smoothies.
64.   Present an ice cream sundae buffet.
65.   Make root beer floats.
66.   Make homemade play-dough.
67.   Host a pizza party.
68.   Spend the day at an amusement park.
69.   Take time to ride the carousel.
70.   Take lots and lots of pictures.
71.   Give your kids disposable cameras and let them take pictures.
72.   Make a summer scrapbook with all the photos.
73.   Paint self-portraits.
74.   Decorate a summer-themed frame for your favorite summer picture.
75.   Celebrate Dad on Father’s Day.
76.   Make a list of everything you aren’t good at yet but always wanted to try. Pick something from the list and do it!
77.   Go camping.
78.   Go kayaking.
79.   Toss rocks in the river.
80.   Catch a frog and let him go.
81.   Go fishing.
82.   Create a fun obstacle course.
83.   Hop around in a potato sack race.
84.   Build Lego structures.
85.   Help with the creation of a lemonade stand.
86.   See a play.
87.   Put on your own play.
88.   Dress up in costumes.
89.   Make your own puppets.
90.   Put on a puppet show.
91.   Aim at a bulls-eye on your fence for water gun target practice.
92.   Pick blueberries.
93.   Visit your farmer’s market and buy a colorful collection of produce.
94.   Ride bikes, trikes, and scooters.
95.   Explore the area with a road trip.
96.   Adventure on an unknown road trip. Label dice with N, S, E, W and drive whichever direction the dice tell you. Stop when you find something new and interesting to explore.
97.   Devour watermelon.
98.   Paint rocks to look like strawberries.
99.   Freeze treasures in a block of ice.
100.                        Read ghost stories in a tent with a flashlight.
101.                        Take a warm evening stroll.
102.                        Rent a huge inflatable waterslide for no special occasion and invite friends.
103.                        Roast s’mores over a campfire.
104.                        Make a giant fruit salad inside the cavity of a watermelon.
105.                        Bake a pie with a fruit you’ve never used in pie before.
106.                        Lay in the grass.
107.                        Make wishes with dandelion seeds.
108.                        Take walks in the outdoor floral department of a hardware store and smell the flowers.
109.                        Adopt a flower and add it to your home.
110.                        Press flowers in an old book.
111.                        Adopt a new kitten.
112.                        Make a list of summer adventures near you and do them.
113.                        Take grandma/grandpa out to lunch on a beautiful day.
114.                        Fight gladiator-style with pool noodles.
115.                        Go “golfing” with pool noodles and balloons.
116.                        Take early morning walks.
117.                        Indulge in cocoa butter (great for moisturizing and treating sunburns).
118.                        Tour a local historic mansion.
119.                        Dispense some cash to the kids and visit yard sales.
120.                        Wander around the flea market.
121.                        Buy those bubble-blowers at the flea market and shower everyone with bubbles.
122.                        Try a new restaurant where you can eat al fresco.
123.                        Go to Disneyland/Disney World!
124.                        Take advantage of the warm evenings and relax on the porch.
125.                        Talk late into the night.
126.                        Attend a baseball game.
127.                        Buy the kids peanuts and cracker jacks until they don’t care if they ever come back.
128.                        Root, root, root for the home team.
129.                        Organize your own little baseball game at a park.
130.                        Play catch.
131.                        Watch baseball movies like The Sandlot. Or Rookie of the Year.
132.                        Beach-comb for treasures.
133.                        Plant a tiny fairy garden with little trees, mini roses and other itty bitty flowers and shrubs.
134.                        Get together with extended family for a reunion.
135.                        Read The Relatives Came for a silly story about extended family.
136.                        Visit a nature center or raptor sanctuary.
137.                        Leave your kids alone:
138.                        Play with shapes! Buy colorful shape blocks and build a castle.
139.                        Encourage your child to write a summer journal.
140.                        Try a brand new art medium.
141.                        Leave a pair of binoculars and a bird book by the window.
142.                        Borrow a science experiment book from the library and try some out.
143.                        Let kids play on a computer paint program.
144.                        Dictate a story told by your child.
145.                        Decorate your table with a colorful summer cloth.
146.                        Don wacky smiles with orange slices.
147.                        Build an outdoor arch and cover it with vines and flowers.
148.                        Make up a dance routine.
149.                        Paint pictures on rocks.
150.                        Visit a planetarium.
151.                        Tour a space center.
152.                        Learn all about your favorite animal.
153.                        Paint 5 rocks to look like ladybugs and 5 to look like bumblebees and play tic-tac-toe.
154.                        Make banana splits with all the fixings.
155.                        Make a sundial.
156.                        Pick peaches and make peach cobbler.
157.                        Make your own trail mix.
158.                        Play a game or two of croquet.
159.                        Break out the deck of cards and play the best card games.
160.                        Track the phases of the moons.
161.                        Craft an inspirational idea from Pinterest.
162.                        Carve a watermelon-o-lantern.
163.                        Have an all-out pillow fight.
164.                        Play in the mud.
165.                        Learn some magic tricks and stage your own magic show.
166.                        Connect with Mommy-Daughter makeovers.
167.                        Connect with Father-Son makeovers.
168.                        Cut watermelon with cookie cutters to make watermelon “cookies.”
169.                        Play Jenga.
170.                        Play Chutes and Ladders and Candyland.
171.                        Buy a huge poster board and have your kids design their own world and name it.
172.                        Play Giant Jenga outdoors with 2x4s.
173.                        Play a game of family tag.
174.                        Paint rocks with really creative designs and hide them outside for a Painted Rock Hunt.

175.                        Ride in a hot air balloon.

Does your family do something in the summer that is not on the list? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

8 Out-of-the-Box Summer Activities You've Got to Try

I admit it: I'm a little sad to start putting away the curriculum from this school year. But the days are stretching longer, the sun is beaming and summer is peeking from around the corner.

We've made our bucket list and put the usual summertime activities on it, but why not do something extra silly? If summer is our time to let loose, why not do some out-of-the-box activities that will create wonderfully personal memories? Below are 8 ways to do just that:

1. Host a glow-in-the-dark bowling game.

2. Have a Ice Excavation Day.

We tried this during the year (wish I took pictures!), but it consumed the whole day, was a ton of fun, and brought up so many questions about animals who really fossilized in ice and how to break/melt ice (hint: try salt...).

3. Throw an informal party and invite a clown to your house!


We're pretty lucky to know this clown personally. She's amazing at everything she does, and she's super fun and bubbly. She works in the central valley of California and you can visit her page HERE!

Search your area for clowns and invite one over to wow your guests.

4. Take a hike.

Everyone has some natural beauty around them that has yet to be explored. It's always some state park, river, creek, forest that you've heard about but have actually never been to. Go explore it!

One of our most fun activities last summer was trekking up Mount Diablo. We didn't even go with the intention of learning anything, but we found a quiet little path near the peak with these simple brochures about the trail.

We followed the trail and read the brochure aloud. There were 14 stop points and a little blurb about a specific geologic feature or the flora along the trail. We learned to identify chert, greenstone, and graywacke. We also spied a few reptiles darting under the chapparal.

Not only that, but we had fun, built confidence in climbing huge rocks, and gained a new perspective looking out on the mountaintop.

What natural wonders are waiting for you to explore?

5. Feast on a medieval dinner.

Brush up on your medieval etiquette and ban the silverware! Serve a hearty meal any peasant would love.
While you're chomping on delectables, talk about medieval happenings!

We had a TON of fun when we did this last summer! We got messy, we got full, and we laughed, all while learning a little bit about medieval times.

6. Travel back in time and enjoy a 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s Saturday morning.

This took a fair amount of planning, but our 80s Saturday morning was the BEST morning we had all summer.

Here's how:

1. Find out what was playing on a typical Saturday morning of your chosen decade. Here's a wiki article showing the TV grid for Saturday mornings all the way to 1960. The 50s technically did not have a Saturday morning cartoon lineup, but you can still pull some 50s shows together to watch.

2. Make a playlist on YouTube and add episodes of your chosen shows. Look for 3-part episodes and insert commercials from that decade. If you have an XBOX or another system that allows you to watch YouTube on your TV, you're set. If you don't, play movies from your chosen decade.

3. Pack away any toy that screams modern day. Take out any toys you might still have from that decade (we pulled out all the old Star Wars figures). Visit flea markets and thrift stores to find toys from your decade. 

4. Explicitly choose your breakfast. For 80s Saturday morning, we chose the then-popular Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Visit the breakfast timeline to see which cereals were most popular.

5. If you want, purchase other foods from your decade. This food timeline could help you out.

6. Plan an activity after watching cartoons and playing with toys. For our 70s Saturday morning, we went roller skating and played table tennis (with an actual set made from the 70s that we found at the flea market).

7. Talk about your decade, play music from your decade (you can search any decade on Pandora), and have fun!

7. Have a marshmallow fight.

Or a balloon fight. Whatever.

8. Bring a book to life with FOOD!

There are so many wacky cookbooks at the library. Scan the selections and pick something you and your kids would love. Here's a booklist to get you started:

1. The Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook

2. The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook

3. The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

4. The Little House Cookbook
5. Roald Dahl's Even More Revolting Recipes
6. Disney's The Magic Kitchen Cookbook

I would love to hear more ideas about having a unique summer! If you have any ideas, please share!