Reading - Assigning Literature

My Father's World uses a Book Basket method to develop a love of learning and enrich all subjects; Independent Reading Time has different goals and methods but there is overlap in book lists and helpful hints
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MJ in IL
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Reading - Assigning Literature

Unread post by MJ in IL »

racegirl wrote:One thing I liked about our previous program was having dd read books she wouldn't normally choose if she had the choice. She's a good reader, but if given the choice will pick up "easy reading" or "fluff." Having a schedule, she read so many books she wouldn't have on her own, and ended up loving them. I read them along with her and we were able to have some great discussions.

Next year we are doing Exploration to 1850, and I originally had planned to incorporate historical fiction into our plan and assign them to her, actually write them on the schedule. She kinds of likes knowing what she'll be reading and waiting to see what's next. I hadn't really thought that book basket suggestions included fictional chapter books. Would book basket recommendations for year 4 include historical fiction for a child, say 5th to 8th grade level?

Anyone have any comments regarding assigning books vs letting them choose themselves via book basket? There are so many wonderful books for that time period, and I worry if given the choice she would not choose any books to challenge or stretch her. During book basket time, this is fine, as we schedule book basket during our afternoon quiet time and she can choose what she wants, but I also like her to have other readers that she reads independently.

Any ideas?
Hi! There are a wide variety of reading levels in the book basket lists. (Ex-1850 is the 1 year I don't have, but I'm assuming given the others.) I do both...I have a variety of books in the book basket and assign books for them to read. They usually choose to look at other-than-assigned during the book basket time.

I started out the year, like you mentioned, assigning one every set # of weeks. I later decided to assign one, encourage them to read, and when they finish, wait a few days to a week and assign another. My 10ds rarely chooses to read anything (...yet, I still have hope!) so this is pretty much it for his reading. Ds12 reads quite a bit for enjoyment, so if he is engaged in a book, I will try and wait until he is nearly finished before suggesting another.

In the TMs there is also a list of good books to read at each grade level that are not directly related to the historical topic. I have arranged those on a shelf. The kids have gone and chosen some on their own, but I will assign those or direct them to choose one too.
Michele in WA
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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by Michele in WA »

Hi! We are doing Ex-1850 now and yes, there are plenty of chapter books (historical fiction as well as non-fiction) to choose from in the book basket list. My ds 11 has also read others that we either own (G.A. Henty is a favorite of his right now), or that others have loaned us, etc, that apply to the years we are learning about. I think you will find quite a few to keep your children busy, as well as those beloved picture books that MFW has listed that are just fun to look through, no matter what the age! If you do run out of books because they have read the ones listed in the TM, you can always ask here for suggestions for more.

To add to your other question.... I assign the books "sometimes". Usually my oldest will come to me asking if he can read a book he's chosen. Sometimes I get the books from the library and encourage him to read a certain chapter book, which he does without problem. For my younger children, they might need a little more encouragement to pick up a chapter book, but they are definitely getting better. Yes, there is hope!! So, I might tell one of them that I'd really like them to read such and such book. And they do, and usually end up enjoying it. We ALL enjoy the read alouds, and really appreciate the ones that MFW offers in the deluxe packages.

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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by mgardenh »

My dd is not at your level but i give her the books she is to have during book basket time. Some are easy books ones on topics she likes and others are ones I want her to read because we are studing the subject. Then I give her one or two days a week that she gets to choose all the books. I have often been pleasantly supprise at what she picks :-) .
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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by my3boys »

We also have a book basket time - these are mostly the books with pictures in them - non-fiction or short stories.

Then we also have a reading time that is for an assigned chapter book. I have found that I can't leave that up to ds or he will not read at all or will take an entire year to read one book (he would read a paragraph and tell me that he had his reading time).

I think some kids don't need them assigned as they will eat up as many books as they can get. What I have found about MFW book lists is this - most of the popular titles are in the booklist, but with more age specific listings + lots of non-fiction titles that you wouldn't get with other programs. There are stars beside the books that are especially recommended - so this year I'm going to make sure that we have access to all the stared books and all the age-appropriate fiction.
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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by RB »

I was just thinking of the fact that there is a flip side, too...with SL things were so scheduled that there wasn't much time to add certain books that I personally really want dc to read.
Now we have at least 4 categories of books going for each reading child:

1) Book Basket
2) Read-alouds (the YWAM books, something from the BB list or something else i choose)...these are read by me
3) Their reading books (at their level or a bit above, sometimes from BB list, sometimes from the list at the back of the TM, sometimes something I chose...these are almost always selected by me one way or another)
4) Their bedside books (often a bit easier, their choice from what we have on our shelves or from the library, but since we don't allow bad quality books in they are still good choices)

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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by HSmommi2mine »

I assign books. My oldest does enjoy the books I assign over-all and I don't give him too many. I am able to make it fit him or fill in areas where I think he is weak. I like to expand his horizons and still keep him interested.

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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by Lucy »

Dear All,

Just a reminder that book basket and reading (readers) are 2 different times and have different purposes in MFW. Book basket is to enrich learning and nuture a love for books and reading. These books to not have to be completed. "Reading" is a time when each child completes a book at their level. This is usually a fiction book, but may be a non-fiction book. This is when students read historical fictions and great classic books. Although a child who loves reading may choose to read a novel during book basket time as well, this would not have been an assigned book. Kids choose from the book basket what they will read or look at each day where as the reading books for "Reading" are assigned or choosen with your child to be completed and are read at a different time than book basket.

I know that many of you already know this, but when this topic comes up sometimes it seems like the 2 start to become blended and I just wanted to make sure everyone understood how it worked.

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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by cbollin »

I sometimes set aside a specific title from book basket list and assign it to use during "reading time" (aka yes, you need to read this one and finish it) so that they have a historical fiction book to use during reading time.

It says something like that in the manual under reading time. "When possible, choose a book that relates to the historical time period being studied. otherwise select a general book..... from general list"

By pulling one of the longer books from the book basket list it's really the only way that I know good stuff out there and when to use it. If they start it one week and finish in another week, I don't fret it.

just what I do.
They have "book basket time" to read on their own and put it down if they don't like it.
They have "reading time" and to choose a book related to historical time being studied I pull out something from book basket list and put it in a separate pile.

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Re: Assigning Literature/Book basket recommendations

Unread post by racegirl »

This is exactly what I was thinking, to let them peruse what they want from the book basket during book basket time, but assigning historical fiction for them. I was planning on sitting over the summer and going through different books lists, and lining up books with what we're studying, but from what I'm beginning to understand MFW has already done this for me? If so, I'll be SOOO THRILLED because they've literally done all the planning for me. What am I going to do over the summer? Hmmmm . . ..

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Assigned Reading

Unread post by gratitude »

hsm wrote:I would like to pick the brain of btdt moms/dads. I am starting ECC with my 3rd grader and 6th grader soon. I understand book basket time and read aloud time. We incorporated both of those ideas this year before we even heard of "book basket".

My question is in regards to independent reading time. Do you assign specific books to your children? For book basket and read aloud, the kids are very cooperative and love both. However, when I have tried to assign specific books, it is pulling teeth to get them interested and reading it. Rarely (I don't think ever actually) does a book get finished that I have assigned. This is a point of frustration for me as I let them choose whatever they want for free reading time in the evening or during their free time. They also have a lot of choices and flexibility during book basket time. However, assigned reading is a challenge. My 3rd grader is about a grade and half advanced reading level and my 6th grader reads at a 9th/10th grade level. They LOVE reading, just not what I assign. I want them to read certain books that go with the program and/or classics. Has anyone dealt with this and how do you deal with it? My kids are otherwise cooperative.

My follow up question to this is this....for assigned independent reading time scheduled in the TM, do you assign books from the list in the back that correspond with the units or from the classic list or none of the above? Just trying to figure out what to do with this time slot. Maybe I am making more of this than necessary?
Well...I don't assign reading exactly, once they can fully read on their own. (Before that they read aloud to me daily)

I do though have a stack of books I want them to read that is very special above the refrigerator on a high shelf that they can only have one at a time. ;) They also can not have the next one until they narrate the first one and tell me all about it. ;)

So they read books I want them to and they narrate them...but to them they are a reward and a treat! :)

I hope this helps and is encouraging.
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Re: Assigned Reading

Unread post by DS4home »

I do think it depends some on the kids. With that said, I do typically assign books for independent reading time. I have also not had too much grumbling about it either ;) The reason I like to assign books is to make sure they are reading a variety of genres. I try to assign one biography a year, one non-fiction, one adventure, one historical fiction, etc.. I find that when I leave it up to them they gravitate to their favorite genre and read that only. I want to expose them to other types of writing. They always know that they will have time to read their favorites in their free time! :-)

I think you need to look at what they are reading and decide from there how to handle it. If they are actually reading a wide range of genres in book basket time, maybe it doesn't need to be an issue in your home to assign other books. If you want to expose them to a genre they don't read much of, maybe you could give them a choice between a handful of titles. That way they have some say in the book, yet you also will achieve your reading goals for them.

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Re: Assigned Reading

Unread post by hsm »

Gratitude: I love that your children find it a reward to read something you want. A little reverse psychology? ;) Maybe I will try something like that. I do want to have both girls read aloud to me more often. I have failed to do that as much as I should.

Dawn: I love the idea of assigning specific genres as you suggest-biography, adventure, non fiction, etc. They do read a variety in book basket, but for independent reading, my dd11 tends to gravitate toward "twaddle-type" books (very easy chapter books with no depth-Dork Diaries, Fairy chapter books, etc). For the more advanced books she tends to choose fantasy books. I would like to have her read a greater variety of genres. I am okay with her reading below reading level because I do feel that is important but because she is such an advanced reader, I want her to read something with a little more substance. My dd8 on the other hand always chooses books above her reading ability. I try to steer her toward more appropriate books, but her interest is different than her reading level if that makes sense. Although, now that I think about it, both girls come home from the library with an armload of nonfiction books every time. So, I guess they do get a wide variety of genres in their "book diet". I do think I will request they choose from specific genres from time to time.

So, am I misunderstanding MFW's time slot for independent reading? I don't really need to assign something specific that matches the unit we are on? I know as homeschoolers we have flexibility and free reign, but I am interested in what the author's recommend in that slot.
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Julie in MN
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Re: Assigned Reading

Unread post by Julie in MN »

In some ways, if your kids are already reading on their own, maybe you don't need to schedule reading time during your school day. You might have another area you want to spend time on. I had to schedule reading time because I don't have readers for kids. I don't know why -- they all learned to read quickly and easily, and our house is filled with books, as reading's my favorite thing to do :)

I think I was in between the history/classics and the twaddle-type books. If my son had an interest, like humor or mysteries, I'd try to find some good books along those lines. Lots of Encyclopedia Brown & Homer Price & even easy Nate the Great one year; another year it was Pippi & Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle & Amelia Bedelia (the puns are better when they're older).

Another thing I tried to do was read the first chapter or so aloud. Often it seemed to help my youngest to approach a book he wouldn't otherwise know how to get into. I could use voice inflection to illustrate the comedy or the drama, and he'd often get interested enough to take it from there.

Around 6th grade or so, my son was asked to join a boys' book club. Reading with the group helped him take on some books he might not have otherwise read. And by 8th grade, I started actually scheduling some of those classics at home that I wanted him to read but might not want to spend time on in high school (Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, etc).

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Re: Assigned Reading

Unread post by hsm »

My kids are definitely readers. I have found that a lot of times if I leave them alone they will read for hours. My oldest has to be told to turn her light off at night or she would stay up waaaaay to late reading. ;) So, maybe, I don't need to assign reading time per se. I might just assign a specific book or two I want them to read in the year and the rest of the year let them choose. Then as they approach high school, assign more classics. Book club is a great idea! I wonder if I could find one around here or start one. I also like Dawn's idea of picking something from a specific genre. Thinking out loud here. I don't want to force the issue of "assigned books" right now if it will squash the love they have for reading. It's interesting you mentioned reading the first chapter out loud. I had mine listen to an audio of a book I was suggesting that they were not wanting to read. After hearing it on audio, my oldest got the rest of the series from the library to read. Sometimes it is hard to get into a book. I get that. Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.
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How many books?

Unread post by DS4home »

klewfor3 wrote: Wed May 11, 2016 10:14 am How many books would should your dc typically finish in a school year? (I mean during the "reading" time every day). Eeeek...I am wondering because I haven't stayed on top of this. It is quite possible :~ that we haven't done enough and I might assign some summer reading. My kids typically read at bedtime, whatever they choose, but I don't have any readers who will go off and read on their own during the day. I just don't want to be over the top....

Just wondering how it works for you all...thanks!

**just want to add that the kids DO read for 20 minutes during the school day....what I am not keeping track of is the amount of books they are completing during the school year.
My last one doesn't typically go off and read on her own either. For reading time on the grid, I take time during the summer to find and schedule out several books at their level. I try to cover several different genres and match up the time we are studying in history. This year she is in Exp-1850, and it looks like I had her read 7 books this year. She did a Progeny Press guide with one of them, so it went a little slower.
This dd also hates book basket, she is very capable just doesn't find enjoyment in reading. :~ I, on the other hand love books! :-)

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Re: How many books?

Unread post by Poohbee »

Hi Kathy!

I have 2 very different readers at my house. My eldest daughter (G) is in 9th grade and is my more reluctant reader. She doesn't do much reading except what is required for school (unless you count comic strip books...she devours things like Far Side, Baby Blues, Fox Trot, Calvin & Hobbes...she reads those like crazy). My middle daughter (H) finds a series or an author she likes and she just flies through the books. She'll even sometimes start and finish a book in the same day because after school she just sits on the couch and reads, but only when she finds something she's really interested in. Lately she has been into some series and authors that have her reading books like crazy.

For their reading time, my requirements for them are to read 1 chapter each day if the book has longer chapters or 2 chapters a day if the chapters are short. As Dawn mentioned, if they are doing a Progeny Press guide with the book, it definitely takes a bit longer for them to get through the book. I try to have them read from a variety of genres. I am very big on giving them choices in what they'll read. So, I'll often choose maybe 2-5 books that I would like to see them read, and then I let them choose one from the stack I've given them. For example, 2 of my favorite childhood books were Bridge to Terabithia and Tuck Everlasting. I really wanted G to read at least one of those. So, I gave her both books and let her choose which one she wanted to read. When we were learning about the Holocaust during 1850MOD, I gave G about 5 different books to choose from that were about that event or took place during that time, and she picked The Diary of Anne Frank. That's not to say that I never choose particular books that they must read. I sometimes do that, as well. But, if there are several books that will accomplish what I desire, then I like to give my kids a choice when possible.

I keep a reading log for my kids each year by entering the books they read into Homeschool Tracker Plus. Looking back at the past few year, I can give you a picture of what the reading habits of my 2 eldest dds have looked like.

This year:
G--9th grade--12 books...authors such as Dickens, Poe, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie...a few shorter works in there.
H--5th grade--50 books...lots of Encyclopedia Brown and all of the books by Andrew Clements, plus others.

Last year:
G--8th grade--7 books...all 3 Lord of the Rings books, The Giver, Anne Frank, etc.
H--4th grade--46 books...about 16 chapter books and the rest picture books.

2 years ago
G--7th grade--6 books (2 of them with PP guides)...Sign of the Beaver, Anne of Green Gables, The Hobbit, Tuck Everlasting, etc.
H--3rd grade--37 books...mostly shorter chapter books

That just gives you an idea. I would say it is not unreasonable to expect maybe 1 book a month (not counting December, since that is a shorter month for most due to a Christmas break), especially as the kids get older and the books they read get longer. So, anywhere from 6-8 books (in grades 4-8) is a reasonable expectation for a school year. In our house, I just pretty much expect my kids to have a book that they are reading and making progress on every day during the week. After reading a book, I like them to respond to the book in some way, so my 9th grader writes a brief summary of each book she reads. My 5th grader chooses a project to do after each book read. I get project ideas from books such as Literature Pockets: Fiction published by Evan-Moor.

I do ask my kids to read during the summer, too, but that is totally choice reading for them. I meet with them at the beginning of summer to set a reading goal, but they get to choose what they want to read, within reason, of course.

That's how reading time works in our house. :-)
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Re: How many books?

Unread post by ruthamelia »

My oldest niece and nephew are above average readers, and I must admit I'm living (reading) vicariously through them all the books I wish I had read when I had the time! During the summer I make a list for each of them for the following year. Then they can choose from that list all year long. I put quite a bit of variety on the lists, and many more books than they will actually read. This year I challenged the 12 year old to read 20 books- not sure if he'll make it but he's getting close. I knew that was a high bar to reach, but achievable for him, and he does well when he has goals like that to strive toward. I think the 10 year old is closer to about 10 books this year. I didn't set a goal for her- she typically just reads a chapter or so a day.
Back to your original questions though- I think part of the goal is just to BE READING, and since you say they are reading every day, you've met that goal regardless of the number of books they completed! Also, reading always continues through the summer for us. Why stop? Our library has a summer reading program that provides some significant motivation!
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Re: How many books?

Unread post by klewfor3 »

Thanks for your responses!

I agree ruthamelia that the true point is to just make sure they are reading....and my kids are. But last year I had them do a verbal book report (at least) and record the book they read in a log. This year I didn't do that for some reason and now that we are almost done, I had a moment of panic..."Did even they read at all?!" LOL :-)

Dawn, I have one that is very capable too, but reading is not something they would choose to do on their own. Like you, I LOVE to read and I think I am still in denial that a child of mine would not feel the same way! I do think my lack of following up played into a slower reading year. My kids maybe read about 3-4 books each (Lord of the Rings could count as two books in some cases, wouldn't you agree? ;) )

Poohbee, that is an amazing list!! I can tell this year was not our strongest reading year, but we did do book basket, reading, and the read alouds (except William Carey). But I think you're right...if I set a goal of 1 book a month even if they don't meet it, that's fine, as long as they have a goal. Thanks for the insight into the reading you do for your school. I am going to check out the Literature Pockets. It sounds interesting!
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