Tag Archives: books

Help Your Kids Learn & Love The Bible ~ a Crew book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Danika Cooley has written some neat curriculum for Bible study that I have used in a few different ways and groups over the years. So, when her newest book, Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible, published by Bethany House Publishers, came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it. I have found over the years that Mrs. Cooley presents no-nonsense ideas and straight-forward talk on the Bible amid creative ways to apply the content. I was not disappointed in her approach with this book.

Mrs. Cooley’s focus, in all of her writing, is about raising our families to know, understand, and live the word of God. She has put her knowledge of stumbling along this road with her own family down on paper so that you and I can benefit from her hard-won information. She shared, very plainly, her successes AND her failures so that, maybe, I won’t find the same pitfall. This book is easy to read and feels almost like having a cup of tea and talk with someone who cares about your family.

Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible is a softback book of about 5″ x 7″. It contains 198 pages divided up into three parts, plus an introduction and conclusion.

Part One: You’re The Leader

Okay – this one is an obvious one but we don’t always claim this role the way we should in Bible study. I really like the way Mrs. Cooley approaches some of the big excuses people use for not delving in deeply to the bible with their young children. Straight forward responses in a way that is relatable. Working right into the heart of the matter – priority – Mrs. Cooley gets your time schedule and your habits worked on right from the start. No excuses, time scheduled, ideas presented.

Part Two: Faithful Reading

The information in part two deals with topics such as where the Bible came from and how it came about, the message of the Bible, and what it does for us when we read it faithfully. Where the Bible came from does deal with some big words that our children need to know and understand. Mrs. Cooley does a great job of defining those and helping us define them for our children. The chapter titled Keeping the Message in View brings up large themes that are carried through the books to be on the lookout for and practical ideas for your kids to utilize to focus, such as cheat sheet cards with questions to think about. I also enjoyed the Profitable Discussion chapter because it is again, some very practical ways to begin discussions about what is read in the Bible. I do not agree with the catechism recommendation. God gave us His word to answer questions. Answers should be straight Bible verses if you are going to work on memorizing answers to questions, rather than what man has created as the answers to questions and filled with interpretation. Doctrine should be straight from the Bible.

Part Three: A Daily Walk

Once again, Mrs. Cooley delves boldly into keeping your daily habit of reading and studying the Bible as a family up front and center. This section really has some practical ideas of how to read, how to pray, memorizing, and keeping up the habit when life throws a few wrenches your way.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I feel as though it is more of a practical read for those with younger children, though she does address how to do some of this with teens. We have 3 girls – 12, 15, 17 – that are all very active in many things outside of the home. The practicality of these ideas have been something that I would have loved and benefitted from 10 years ago but struggle with today. Between the girls activity and my husband’s non-standard work schedule, I have yet to be able to put into practice any of the ideas. I plan to reread some of the chapters and see if I can find a way to apply them to our family. I would love to do a family Bible study so I have to find a place for it, perhaps moving some other thing when we get off of the summer schedule. As Part One says – I’m the Leader. 🙂

Be certain to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read what other families have done with their schedules after reading Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible by Danika Cooley, published by Bethany House Publishers.

Lori, At Home.

Books We Love – from preschool to high school

Not long ago, the girls were looking for some books to share with preschool friends. They started going through the book shelves and couldn’t stop proclaiming how much they loved books. They decided they wanted to share their favorite book friends with you. So, here they are and it all started with Toad on the Road!

Picture Books: (varying lengths)

  • Toad on the Road
  • Little By Little
  • The Little Engine That Could
  • Francis books – including Bread and Jam for Francis, A Bargain for Francis, A Baby Sister for Francis, and A Birthday for Francis
  • Dancing In The Wings
  • When I Grow Up
  • Best Loved Doll
  • Lyle the Crocodile series – including Lyle, Lyle Crocodile and Lyle and the Birthday Party
  • Madeline series – including Madeline, Madeline in London, and Madeline and the Bad Hat
  • Fortunately
  • Eensy Weensy Spider
  • Library Lion
  • The Princess Collection
  • The Store Book
  • May I Bring A Friend
  • There Was A Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea
  • Chicken Sunday
  • Teeny Tiny Mouse
  • 5 Green and Speckled Frog
  • I Love You Daddy
  • Going To Sleep On The Farm
  • Two Cool Coyotes
  • 5 Little Penguins
  • The Silly Sisters
  • Naked Mole Rat
  • I Love You Stinky Face

Chapter Books:

  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series
  • All of A Kind Family series
  • Great Brain series
  • Little Women and following books
  • Half Magic and following books
  • Misty of Chincoteague and other books
  • Five Little Peppers

If you need something new or a gift for a new baby, here are some great options for you. The girls adore these and highly recommend them all.


Lori, At Home.

Online Book Club – July is Dream Destinations

Does July have you dreaming of vacation times? Maybe you get to take a vacation of sorts this year? I know many of us are still dreaming of that one special vacation. At Home Dad and I had planned to take a trip to England last year to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Like so many other things, it did not happen and it may be a while before we get to head off to that dream destination. So what can I read that will help curb some of those desires that can’t be indulged right now?

I am going to be reading some of the vacation books that we had for England.

Lonely Planet has a guide book simply titled Great Britain that is on my travel stack.
I also have a lovely book called Walking London by Andrew Duncan. It has some really interesting walks to take and the stories to go along with them.
Another walking tour book that has tons of interesting information is Turn Left at the Pub:Twenty Walking Tours Through The British Countryside by George W. Oakes and Anton Powell.
The final book on the stack for that dream destination is titled Curiocity: An Alternative A-Z of London by Henry Eliot & Matt Lloyd-Rose.

But, since you are reading up on book club, you understand that some dream destinations are intentionally in your head through stories. I picked up this book at the library that caught my attention as I was walking by one of the stacks

Wild & Free Book Club: 28 Activities to Make Books Come Alive is going to be a lovely way to read up on some possible destinations. My youngest may be 12 but she is still very much a hands-on learner and so this may help me introduce a few new books to her with fun activities to boot. And that type of thing really transports you to the place of the book, thus how I see this one fitting into the dream destination idea.

Finally, I am going to read A Devil To Play: One Man’s Year-long Quest To Master The Orchestra’s Most Difficult Instrument by Jasper Rees. This one is a skills destination but a dream one just the same. I love the French horn. It is my instrument of choice and I hope that very soon I can rejoin the community band and play with them. Until then, I will read about one attempt to hit the destination of playing the horn well.

That’s my plan for the next 3 weeks or so. Do you have any dream destination reading you are doing?

Be sure to visit the other participating in the online book club –

Hopkins Homeschool
At Home: Where Life Happens
A Net In Time

Every Bed of Roses
Homeschool Coffee Break 

Lori, At Home.

Online Book Club – end of June wrap up for Beach

You know, June kind of flew by and I don’t know where it went! Actually, I do – church camps and dance. A lovely time but here we are and June is now done. So, what did I read that hits the theme of “Beach?” I’ve got two for you and neither were planned, which is kind of fun.

Sprinting Through No Man’s Land: Endurance, Tragedy, and Rebirth in the 1919 Tour de France by Adin Dobkin

This was a Kindle book I grabbed when it was free. I thought it sounded sort of interesting. It is. I am really enjoying it but it is a slow read for me so I’m not quite done with it. I thought it sort of hit the brief for the theme of beach because the beaches come up several times as they travel around France.

This is the story of the 1919 Tour de France. Most, if not all, of the cyclists were straight off the battle field. No training, little to no time for family, poor bicycles, and lots of hardship. These men were willing to do this not for the prize money but for the strength of the country. France needed this and these men were doing more of what they had done as soldiers – stay strong for the good of the country. This is the story of their hardships – they were lied to about what the conditions of the road were; they were supposed to have tires provided and did not; they had strict rules to follow that made horrible conditions worse; and much more.

I did not know that they ran the Tour that year but this is a whole new look at it. I have enjoyed this story and will enjoy it to the end. It is a tough narrative to read as it isn’t the exciting retelling that you might expect but it is written with as straight-forward a telling as possible so that you are not swayed with emotion – good or bad – for the riders or the organizers or the people along the way. It does bring to light the condition of so many in the year 1919 as the war ended. I can definitely recommend this book.

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook

I found this a quick and fun little book to read about getting one’s life back on track after a shift in your plans that you can’t plan for. Noreen is sidetracked by a layoff, losing everything that she thought defined who she was. In trying to get herself back to, well, herself, she makes some new friends and they start walking together. This builds a strong friendship and they all help each other through life transitions, difficulties, and the joy of day to day living. This is the kind of book that you want to read just for fun and you sort of fly through.

So, why is this a beach read? Well, they spend a large part of their walking time on the beach. So, there you go. 🙂 Living close to a beach made it possible for them so it plays into their story a bit.

I just found out that it is technically book 1 of a series so maybe I’ll look for the others just for the fun of it. I loved that it was a beach read that was about friendship, not romance. That is a bit unusual. Yes, there is a smidge of that but it is all a part of the friendship/getting life back together stuff, not the whole book.

Other books read, non-beach-themed include:
These Tangled Vines – by Julianne Maclean (fiction)
Immerse – by Dale Jenkins (non-fiction, Biblical)
Vienna Prelude – by Bodie Thoene (fiction)
Hey Ranger! – by Jim Burnett (non-fiction)
Help Your Kids Learn & Love The Bible – by Danika Cooley (non-fiction, review coming up in July)

That’s the wrap-up. What did you read this month?

Lori, At Home.

Pursued To Eternity book ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Stories can often convey ideas and influence thoughts that we as people struggle to articulate. Pursued to Eternity shows us just that. This is a fictionalized story, though it is so well written that it can pull you in and make you want to research more about the people in the story. This short story is an easy read and is within reading ability for most middle school students and up.

John Riley is the author of Pursued to Eternity. He wrote this story to mix the truth of salvation and apologetics (defending the truth of the Bible) with fictional story lines that intersect. The story is written with the purpose of defending the Bible and bringing truth to those who doubt the Bible. The idea of evolution is addressed in the story, as is the idea of an old earth. One of the main characters is an athiest but God is pursing him, thus the title of the book.

The story line spans several locations and several centuries, bringing the old to the new through geology and archaeology. But first, there is an introduction that addresses ideas of time, pursuit, eternity, and history. Bible references are throughout but are particularly common in this introductory section.

Connor Bridges and Alan Bridges were brothers. The book starts with a retrospective from Connor Bridges. He begins by telling us who his brother was and that he died a few month prior. And Connor is rejoicing because Alan turned from athiesm to Christ right before his death. And then Connor tells us the story.

It begins centuries ago with the story of a dinosaur hunt. We follow the hunt to see that the wounded creature took a man to his death with it. Next we are in Egypt about 1000 years later. We follow the story of Egyptians who sympathized with the Hebrew slaves and helped them secretly. The man and his family have to quickly leave the city when it is suspected that they had been found out as helping the Hebrews with food, medicine, and money. After they leave, though, God does something even more amazing – the ten plagues are upon the Egyptians. The daughter of the family that has escaped to the desert is keeping a record of all this in her diary which she hides in a clay pot in the sand before the family is discovered and punished with death for treason.

Jumping forward in time to 2020, we find the Bridges family going through their lives with the two brothers at odds over beliefs. There is a great discussion included of Conner talking to Alan about why he believes the Bible and science are on his side. After this discussion, Alan announces he is leaving for a new job in Kenya. The family is concerned.

Conner’s life continues on as he goes about teaching biology. His students are smart, interested, and questioning. They ask him tough questions that the school boards has forbidden him to respond to with anything other than the teaching of evolution. Outside of school, he met his students one day and he encouraged them to pursue their questions and told them he would help guide them but all work must be their own. The students start a website of questions that the science curriculum doesn’t answer for them. They research it. They want to know.

Well, because Conner is connected to the students, he ends up facing termination from his position for it. Despite so many in the community supporting him and his students, he loses his job. But all is not bad – he is able to join Alan in Kenya. And wait until you read about what they find!

This all adds together to create a compelling story that is easy to read but has a lot of depth to the Biblical truths it teaches. The Biblical references are clearly noted so that the reader can double check them for truth and it makes for a strong apologetics storyline.

I found that by the end of the story that the characters felt very real and I wanted to go searching to find out more about the “finds” in the story. Of course, it is fiction so the characters weren’t real, nor were the archaeological finds. This is well written and can provide a good foundation with simple reading for someone struggling with the teaching of evolution, big bang theories, and athiesm. Will it be the only thing needed? No. You have to be involved with the new students learning about God but this is a good little book that can head them in the right way through a fictional story that has a lot of Bible truth in it.

If you would like to know more, you can visit the website for Pursued to Eternity.

You can also visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families thought of this short novel with a fictional setting and apologetics storyline. I encourage you to do so.

Lori, At Home.

Milton Hershey, a YWAM biography ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

It is no surprise to those of you who read this blog that our family enjoys the YWAM Publishing biographies. We have a shelf full of these biographies and we look for them everywhere we go. Each of the biographies they publish, whether part of the Heroes of History or part of the Christian Heroes series or part of the series for the younger students, are well-written and interesting to read. Combined with the unit study materials, these biographies make for a great study with your students of any age. We received the Milton Hershey: More Than Chocolate biography, along with a download of the unit study. (The site says that you must be a register user to take a look at the available unit study.)

YWAM is a company with a mission to reach the people of the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They train many people to go out to share the gospel but they also publish materials that help students see the Christian character of many people from our history. That is what their unit study and biography series is all about.

The Milton Hershey biography was a joy to read. My youngest daughter, 12 years old and in 6th grade, read it with me. We thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life of Mr. Hershey and all the challenges he went through. It was quite a surprise to us both to learn how many business failures he had in his life and how much he had to overcome in people not believing in him. We marveled a his perseverance and success, and applauded how his mother and his aunt and a couple of friends continually assisted and encouraged him. We were startled to learn that Mr. Hershey was first successful with carmels, not chocolate, and that he lost a huge amount of money at one point. We were thrilled, though, when he weathered that storm with the full support of his workers and came back stronger than before. We were surprised to learn that he built a huge factory in Cuba to provide the sugar he needed at his Pennsylvania factory.

But most of all, we were so please to read about his philanthropic adventures. While his success in the carmel and chocolate making businesses were exciting to read about, it was heart-touching to read about the ways in which he paid back (plus!) the people who invested and supported him – how he provided for his mother and his aunt beyond anything anyone expected of him; how he set up a town (Hershey, PA) to provide a beautiful, wholesome place for his workers to live, so unlike his early experiences of company towns; how he created a place to work where the employees shared in the success and were fully invested in the business.

But again, there was one thing above all else that we marveled at – the foundation he created to care for orphan boys. This foundation was probably the thing that was most successful for Mr. Hershey and his wife, Kitty. It was where their impact lived on the most. They touched the lives of hundreds of young boys and men who needed it, providing healthy and wholesome food and education, teaching them how to be strong, productive members of society. The boys made him proud!

The Milton Hershey biography is a joy to read and we are so happy to add it to our shelf. In addition to reading the biography together, Miss J used some parts of the unit study to further enhance her learning. She worked on the biographical sketch of Mr. Hershey. She completed the printout of the timeline of Mr. Hershey’s life and work, along with some of the more important world happenings, like wars and economic hardships. She marked the included map for important places from the story. She created a piece of artwork with a saying from Mr. Hershey. We talked about some of the questions from the unit study that go along with each chapter of the book. We did a taste test of a couple of different chocolates and read up a bit more on the processes of making both caramel and chocolate. We made some caramels. (They definitely were not soft ones, though!)

We made caramels, which is how Hershey started out.
printable pages from the unit study

The unit study is a downloadable product. There are two parts to it that are most applicable to the book. One is the blank maps, timeline, and biographical sketch to fill in. The other is the unit study that includes suggestions on teaching the book and unit, as well as additional suggestions for supplemental books, sites, and resources. There are 8 parts to the study guide.

  1. Key Quotes
  2. Display Corner
  3. Chapter Questions (answers are included)
  4. Student Explorations
  5. Community Links
  6. Social Studies
  7. Related Themes to Explore
  8. Culminating Event
screenshots from the unit study

As you can see, the unit study provides a lot of material to use as you feel is appropriate for your students. It is highly adaptable and can be easily modified to fit your students, age levels, interest levels, or ability levels. There is plenty here to fill a week or a month, depending on how you choose to use it. It worked well to allow us to take a much needed 2 weeks break from our normal history curriculum to work with this unit. Miss J had a good time and was able to choose activities that really brought the story alive for her.

We are always pleased with the biographies presented by YWAM Publishing and recommend them for all ages. I even enjoy reading them myself. The Heroes of History series includes a large number of people who have influences the history of America. If you would like to see other ways to incorporate the YWAM biographies and unit studies, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew and click on any of the links in the link up at the bottom of the page. Each link will indicate which biography they reviewed so you can find some that sound particularly interesting, or just randomly choose a few to see what they did. Either way, you’ll see real families incorporating these great products into their educational times.

Lori, At Home.

Want to read more about the biographies we have used? Check out these previous reviews.
Jacob DeShazer

George Washington Carver

Amy Carmichael

Gladys Aylward

Clara Barton

C.S. Lewis

Online Book Club – March Wrap-up

March means Irish and green and fresh and new for me. I enjoyed rereading a novel about an ancestor from my past. Honor O’Flynn: a search for the True Will of God, by James P Bailey, is the story of Honor and how she came to be in America. I had forgotten a good bit of the story line so it was good to read it again.

In the book, Honor was kidnapped off the coast of Ireland when she was a young teen. During the horrific days that followed in the hollows of a nasty ship, she is friended by a kind woman and a teenage boy. The woman sold herself as an indentured servant so she could provide for her children, hoping to bring them to America before long. The boy came to make a better life than he could have had in England. Honor was going to be sold as a “tobacco wife” to the highest bidder. These friends helped her more than she could imagine.

Honor had thought she was meant to serve God as a nun in her hometown teaching children. This new turn of events had her perplexed and she was seeking to see God in her new circumstances. She learns that things are not always what we plan and that God can be served where you are.

Honor does marry, willingly, William Logsdon and goes on to live a long life in America. These two are actually in our family line, though this is a novel. It was unclear by reading the notes in the book how much of this is created and how much is based on fact. It is a fun read, nonetheless, and is a good story, indicative of the times.

I didn’t search for any other books for the theme this month.

Please visit the other participants to see what they read this month. There has been a variety of books this month.
Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Lori, At Home.

February Online Book Club Wrap-up

So, as much time as we had at home, I didn’t read nearly as many love-themed books as I had planned. I was unable to get to the library to see if they had a print copy of the CS Lewis book The Four Loves, which I had really wanted to read. I’ll keep it on my radar and maybe I can get it before long.

The book on theme that I did read was My Mother’s Quilts. I treated it as a devotional book, reading three or four thoughts per day. Each of the thoughts was based on a quilt one of her family members had created, running all the way back to the Civil War era. The thoughts focused on family but also on lessons the Lord can create from daily encounters or common items. This is a highly recommended one. Just beware – you may want to start quilting. I know I do but my machine isn’t working right and I can’t find anyone to fix it!!!

I read a couple of others books that hit on the idea of love in a different way:

Animal Days by Desmond Morris – This book shows how much the love of learning or a profession can drive your life and make it something you are really proud of. This is the story of a zoo keeper and how he ended up there, where the zoo life took him, and many of the lessons he learned from it. I really liked this book and would recommend it.

When I Was Yours by Lizzie Page – This is a novel about a family who takes in a refugee from London during WWII. It jumps back and forth between the years of WWI and WWII, tying memories and choices to their current day situations. It highlights how choices affect others and how we can make one choice that will change the course of our lives for the better. This is one I enjoyed (there was a scene or two that I wish weren’t included – the shock value is useless and it cheapens the book to me).

I also worked on the series of Hamelin Stoop by Robert B Sloan. It is a review for the 3rd book that will post early next week on the Facebook page.

What did you read this month? Do you recommend it?

Be sure to visit the other members of the Online Book Club to see what they are doing this month for the theme of Winter.

Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Lori, At Home.

Winter ~ Online Book Club January Wrap-up

For the winter challenge, I chose some books that had wintery themes or scenes in them. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, in particular. Their books are fiction but tell of real life that they experienced in one way or another.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a semi-autobiographical account of a winter that was harsh and hard. They, and many others in the area, almost did not survive it. From the stories of bravery to the recounting of the daily grind stuck in a small room while preserving heat and food as much as possible, the family must survive. They depend on Ma and Pa and each others as they all try to work together and encourage one another through the long days and dark nights of blizzard after blizzard after blizzard. I had forgotten some of the parts of this story and it really helped me appreciate my blessings and material possessions even more. Those were some tough folks who settled the prairie!

Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane was joy to reread and was a short read. She follows in the footsteps of her mother well. This book tells the story of two young (teenagers, really) pioneers as they journey west and settle into a dugout. After what promises to be a prosperous yield of crop, the prairie does what it does best – throw up obstacles. Between the locusts and the lack of jobs, leaving the area is the only option. But if they leave their homestead, others will move onto it while they are away for the winter and take it from them. What to do? One leaves and one stays. This is the tale of their lives.

These were the two main ones that I read, though I did also pick up Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink. I had a book from childhood, Caddie Woodlawn, that was a favorite. A couple of years ago, I saw Winter Cottage at a used book sale and grabbed it but hadn’t read it. I did this month and really fell in love. A family of a father and two daughters are trying hard just to survive. Their car breaks down on a trip through the woods and they take shelter from the weather in a winter cabin. They don’t know the owners but need something and so choose this option. This is the story of their time at the winter cabin and the adventures. While I don’t love the taking over of a house that isn’t their, I adored the way this story took unexpected turns and showed that open hearts and honest hearts can go a long way towards making wrongs right.

Be sure to visit the other members of the Online Book Club to see what they are doing this month for the theme of Winter.

Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Lori, At Home.

A Reading Plan for 2021

The first challenge for the year from the Homeschool Review Crew is about reading goals for the adult(s) of the homeschool. We often make plans or goals for our children, especially when it is built into great curriculum like From Adam to Us (what my 6th grader is completing) or Sharon Watson’s high school literature courses. But what about you? Do you have goals?

I am not a huge fan of making a specific list and working through it. The reason is that my moods and ideas change as I grow through the year. Also, sometimes I want something challenging but other times I want something light and easy to read. So, what is my goal going to be?

I think I will keep it the same as it has been for the last couple of year. Read. Challenge myself some. Read the Bible daily. Read good Bible studies. Read biographies. Read some titles that I “should have read;” also known as classics. 🙂 Read some tough things. Read some light things. But mostly, read.

I like to track what I have completed (or bombed out in the middle of) in my school planner. I just jot the title of the book down at the top of my monthly page. I use a color of ink that I like and that is how my tracking works. Simple. Easy. No stress but I see it often enough that if I get off track and quit reading, I’ll get myself back on track.

So, do you have a goal this year? If so, great. If not, I encourage you to make a simple one that will keep you growing and reading.

Lori, At Home.

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