"The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn." - John Lubbock
Monday, June 11, 2012
Books We've Been Reading
I keep forgetting to post the books we've been reading. One of the reasons is that we've been re-reading the same books about trash and recycling that I mentioned before. Plus with so many things going on we sort of slowed down a bit with our reading. So this is a recap of the last couple of weeks.
I love books by Gail Gibbons for their illustrations (you can almost tell the story without even reading it) and for the simple, yet not simplistic language she uses to describe complicated things. Combine the two and these books are some of the easiest for me to sight-translate. And with the hurricane season upon us, this is a timely read. Plus it will help me get M more involved in hurricane preparedness, like checking our supply kit and talking about what we're going to do in case of emergency.
See, what did I tell you about Gail Gibbons's books? This is another one we've been reading last week. We haven't gotten through the whole book since there's quite a lot to absorb. So we are going to pick it up again this week. M's been very interested in what Earth is made of. So we talked about the inner and outer core, the mantle and the crust. And he asked what would happen if the inner core is removed and what would happen if the repairs crew digging on the street corner would dig clear through the crust and into the mantle.
Ok, this was M's choice. He's been fascinated with the human body, particularly the brain and the skeleton, for a couple of years now and knows well all the major organs and body systems. This is not the book we read together. Instead, he flips through it on his own and brings it to me to show the most interesting finds. Like today he found a picture of a mummy and asked whether it was a real human being and if yes, why it looked the way it did. We also had some interesting discussions after M found pictures of an eye, a cell, a brain scan and a picture showing the structure of a bone (hey, Mom, this looks like a tree!)
As I am trying to find the Russian translation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie, we are listening to the English CDs. We finished the first 4 books, including The Farmer Boy (after listening to this one M got busy making hay for his toy cows; we still have piles of dry grass all over the family room). M is particularly worried about Pa. Every time Pa has to leave, M asks whether he's going to come back to Ma and the girls. Overall though, M alternates between saying that life in the "ancient colonial times" was boring and difficult or exciting and interesting. I am thinking about doing a whole big unit study based on the books.
Bedtime is always our Russian story time. After finishing Pippi Longstocking, we had no new Russian books, so we started re-reading this collection of stories by Grigori Oster. M just can't get enough of Котенок по имени Гав, Приключения Пифа and lately, 38 попугаев (turns out, the stories are a lot funnier than the cartoons and we both enjoy them). There is a lot of deep math thinking in these stories, for example when the little elephant and the parrot try to figure out what does "a lot" mean, how many coconuts are "a lot" and how many are not. Or the hilarious story with a title that can be translated as "Unmanipulatives".
I mentioned that we finished reading Pippi Longstocking. This is not the edition that I have. But I bet this one doesn't have pictures in it either (except for the cover). I'm not sure why Russian publishers are so against putting lots of good quality pictures in books (Publishing house Mahaon is a notable exception). M just didn't care to listen to a book that had no pictures in it at all. So I got him an audio book (English) from the library and he loved it. After that, he was very eager to listen to the Russian story even without pictures.
This has been our latest library find, Gianni Rodari's "Phone Tales". He's not at all well-known in the US, but is still quite popular in Russia (at least with parents my age). This book is an exact opposite of the one about Pippi. It is wonderfully illustrated. Each page has a colorful picture with lots of interesting details. But the stories themselves are hit or miss. Some are just cute; some are endearing. Yet there are plenty that are nothing, but moralistic mess like the one about an absent-minded boy who gets so distracted on his walk that he loses first his hand, then his arm, his foot, his leg and his nose and neighbors bring all those body parts back to his mom who puts the boy back together. At the same time, the story that follows it, called Confused Grandpa is just adorable. In it grandpa is trying to read newspaper while his grandson insists on hearing a story. So grandpa distractedly tells him a story of the Little Red Riding Hood, messes up all the details, sends his grandson to get chewing gum and finally gets to read his paper. We've just started reading this book, so I'm not sure how it's going to turn out overall.