Developing Critical Thinking Skills Through Literature

Last week, my teenage daughter said to me, “I love talking about books.” I couldn’t agree more. And the popularity of book clubs is evidence that we’re not alone. What a pleasure it is to read a good book and then talk about it!

Thankfully, doing these two simple things is an effective way of developing critical thinking skills — provided you ask and discuss the right questions. So, as I promised in my last post, here is a list of questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy that you can ask your children/teens to help them think critically about the books they are reading.

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23+ Easy Chapter Books for Wholesome Girls

As a child, one of my favorites things about summer was having the luxury to read, and read, and read. Now, each summer I give my kids a reading list, and I make sure they have plenty of time to delve into their books and get lost in a story.  Here is a list I compiled many years ago for my oldest daughter, now updated for my youngest girl to enjoy. 

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24 Great Books for Boys in Middle School

Earlier this spring, twelve-year-old Feisty was perusing our book shelves, looking for something to read. “I’ve read that, and that, and that,” he noted. “I’ve read everything on these bookshelves!”

“That can’t be,” exclaimed my oldest daughter. She scanned the bookshelves and picked out Investing for Dummies. “You haven’t read this one.”

“Fine. I’ll read it.”

A few days later, Feisty told us he wanted to invest in stocks — which is a great thing for a kid to start doing. But I also knew it was time to find him some new books. So I turned to my trusty sources and compiled a list of books for his summer reading. The two great things about this list: 1) The books are clean and wholesome 2) Most of these are available at the public library. Already he’s read most of these books and approved of them. Here it is for your boys to enjoy:

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12 Classic Novels Girls Should Read before Turning 12

Give your daughters some classic novels to read this summer — books so beautifully written that the characters become like childhood friends. I have read many of these over and over again as a girl, and I can honestly say they have been very formative. A poignant, well-crafted novel can help shape the heart and form the mind. Here are 12 classic novels which do just that.

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Teaching Your Child to Read with Short Vowel Stories… and a free give-away!

When my oldest was a kindergartener, I wrote some super short stories to help her learn to read. I then used them to teach all my other kids to read, along with a variety of other phonics books. Variety is the spice of life, so it is good to give your emerging readers a mixture of books  with which they can learn to read.

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More Poems for Copywork and Memorization

Having a repertoire of memorized poetry is something my kids secretly enjoy… although some would never admit it.  Sometimes when the younger ones are reciting their poetry, the older ones jump right in, remembering the same poems they had learned in earlier years.

There are many good reasons for copying and memorizing poetry: The rhythm and rhyme of poetry is catchy and fun. As they get older, the kids learn to appreciate the imagery and the way poets play with words, rhyme, and meter. More importantly, it is an excellent way to fill our children’s minds with beautiful imagery and rich vocabulary. In a world so devoid of culture and beauty, memorizing poetry is one way to help our children appreciate that which is true, beautiful, and good.

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How We Use FaceTime to Improve Writing and Reading

A little background….Mary and I met over 15 years ago in Tempe, Arizona when our husbands were in graduate school at Arizona State.  We have been great friends for such a long time.  God has blessed our families with kids who are the same age and sex and obviously, the call to homeschool.   We now live in different states but try to get together several times per year.  The kids disappear for the weekend, the husbands work on research, and Mary and I laugh, serve meals, and talk about all kinds of great stuff!

A few years ago we decided to meet weekly via FaceTime to work on writing.   We wanted our oldest daughters especially to have more time together.  What we didn’t realize was how effective our weekly meetings would be.

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Christmas Gift Ideas

On Friday, Mary and I were having our weekly chat and both had the same question…What on earth are you getting your kids for Christmas that doesn’t involve LEGOs or plastic toys made in China?  Now I have to preface this with neither of us have anything against LEGOs or plastic toys, but we are both inundated by them.  Admittedly the Grinch sneaks into my heart this time of year as I threaten to either throw out all the toys or tell everyone I know that there is a toy ban on our household.  Truth be told some of each will end up at both of our houses this Christmas no matter how hard we try to avoid them.  That being said, we are both looking for creative gift ideas.   We spent an hour mulling over this topic (at least that is what we told our kids so we could have some uninterrupted mom chat time) and here is what we came up with.  Continue reading “Christmas Gift Ideas”