phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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Egyptian Treasures, Ancient and Modern

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In our latest literary journey, we traveled to Egypt, where we explored stories both ancient and modern. I wanted to show the nation’s rich history without crystalizing it in the past, so we combined stories of mythology with tales from the present. This list shows a similar geographic setting for both old and new, illustrating the way past, present, and future converse through stories.

  1. Cleopatra by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema
  2. Cry of the Benu Bird: An Egyptian Creation Story by C. Shana Greger
  3. The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide, Judith Heide Cilliland, and Ted Lewin
  4. Egypt: CIA World Factbook
  5. The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo and Ruth Heller
  6. Color the Egyptian flag and map by Crayola
  7. Watch Families of Egypt
  8. Build a Great Pyramid by Crayola
  9. Hands around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books by Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya
  10. Magic Treehouse Fact Tracker #3: Mummies and Pyramids by Mary Pope Osborne, Will Osborne, and Sal Murdocca
  11. Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  12. Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book about Ancient Egypt by Gail Gibbons
  13. Pepi and the Secret Names by Jill Paton Walsh and Fiona French
  14. Rimonah of the Flashing Sword: A North African Tale by Eric A. Kimmel and Omar Rayyan
  15. The Tomb of the Boy King by John Frank and Tom Pohrt
  16. We’re Sailing down the Nile: A Journey through Egypt by Laurie Krebs and Anne Wilson


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Big Cats, Little Cats

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Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the lazy cats who lounge around our house all day are related to majestic beasts like lions and tigers. But big or little, these cat cousins have lots in common, as we learned from this list. Using fiction and non-fiction, we explored cats’ role in nature, history, and mythology, and learned just how much humans have always been intrigued by felines—no matter their size.

  1. Watch African Cats by Disney Nature
  2. Watch The Aristocats
  3. Amazing Cats by Eyewitness Junior
  4. Big Cats by Seymour Simon
  5. Big Cats by Jonathan Sheikih-Miller and Stephanie Turnbull
  6. Watch Cat by DK Eyewitness
  7. The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar
  8. Cats by Jane Resnick
  9. Catwings by Ursula Le Guin
  10. City Cat by Kate Banks and Lauren Castillo
  11. Everything Big Cats by Elizabeth Carney
  12. Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga’g
  13. Outside and Inside Big Cats by Sandra Markle
  14. Puss in Boots by Paul Galdone
  15. Watch Puss in Boots by Dreamworks
  16. Six-Dinner Sid by Inga Moore
  17. Small Cats by Markus Kappeler
  18. The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst and Erik Blegvad
  19. There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz
  20. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  21. Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
  22. Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurrican Katrnia, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson, Mary Nethery, and Jean Cassels
  23. Your Cat’s Wild Cousins by Hope Ryden
  24. Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young
  25. The Wild Side of Pet Cats by Jo Waters


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What Does the Fox Read?

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Real foxes, the shy sort who peek out from the edges of fields and forests, don’t typically make quite the same stir as the famous Ylvis song they inspired. But they are beautiful, fascinating animals who’ve appeared in folklore and fables for centuries. In this list, I combine non-fiction with fiction to show the many creative ways we interpret these clever creatures.

  1. Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse by Rick Walton and Jim Bradshaw
  2. Chanticleer and the Fox adapted from The Canterbury Tales by Barbara Cooney
  3. Exploring the World of Foxes by Tracy C. Read
  4. Watch Fantastic Mr. Fox
  5. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake
  6. Flossie & the Fox by Patricia C. McKissack and Rachel Isadora
  7. The Fox and the Hen by Eric Battut
  8. Foxes by Emilie U. Lepthien and Joan Kalbacken
  9. The Fox in the Dark by Alison Green and Deborah Allwright
  10. Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop by Amy Lowry
  11. On the Trail of the Fox by Claudia Schnieper and Felix Labhardt
  12. Reynard: The Story of a Fox Returned to the Wild by Alice Mills Leighner
  13. The Tale of Tricky Fox by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock
  14. The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren and Harald Wiberg
  15. What’s in Fox’s Sack? by Paul Galdone
  16. The Wonder of Foxes by Patricia Lantier, Judy Schuler, and John F. McGee


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Unicorns: The Loveliest List of All

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I’ll be honest, this list is short in spite of reading rather a lot of unicorn books. There are a lot of sappy, sentimental literary tributes to these mythical creatures out there, and that’s not really our family reading style. Still, both my girls stake their place in what is no doubt a rather long line of little girls who long for pet unicorns. So here are some silly and whimsical stories that play with our fascination with a beast who’s eluded our capture, but never our imaginations.

  1. Claire and the Unicorn: Happy Ever After by B.G. Hennessy and Susan Mitchell
  2. Day Dreamer: A Journey of Imagination by Emily Winfield Martin
  3. Goldilicious by Victoria Kann
  4. “Help!” by Shel Silverstein (from Falling Up)
  5. Lily the Unicorn by Dallas Clayton
  6. Nobody Rides the Unicorn by Adrian Mitchell and Stephen Lambert
  7. Stories of Unicorns by Rosie Dickins and Maria Cristina Lo Cascio
  8. The Tale of the Unicorn by Otfried Preussler and Gennady Spirin
  9. Uni the Unicorn: A Story about Believing by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Brigette Barrager
  10. “The Unicorn” by Shel Silverstein
  11. Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea


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For the Love of Elephants

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When my younger daughter initiated a study of elephants (her favorite animal), I didn’t anticipate the emotional reading we had in store. Along with silly stories and scientific facts, we read stories of animal cruelty and elephants’ bravery. My daughter loves elephants even more now (and understands why we shouldn’t ride on them!), and her affection is tempered by a burgeoning respect for the dignity of all creatures, great and small. By looking at elephants across different cultures, throughout history, and from different disciplinary perspectives, we all came away with new-found appreciation for these impressive animals.

  1. Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert and Robert Andrew Parker
  2. Big Beasts: Elephant by Stephanie Turnbull
  3. Watch Elephant by DK
  4. Elephants by Sydnie Meltzer Kleinhenz
  5. Elephants: An Affectionate Portrait by Jean Brody
  6. Elephants Can Paint, Too! by Katya Arnold
  7. Elephants of Africa by Gail Gibbons
  8. Elephants of the Tsunami by Jana Laiz and Tara Cafiero
  9. Elephants: From Trunk to Tail by Lucy Sackett Smith
  10. Endangered Elephants by Bobbie Kalman
  11. Elephant Prince: The Story of Ganesh by Amy Novesky and Belgin Wedman
  12. Support The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
  13. Mission: Elephant Rescue by Ashlee Brown Blewett and Daniel Raven-Ellison
  14. “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” by Patricia Thomas and Wallace Tripp
  15. Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley


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Dragons and Dynasties

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Our literary travels to China introduced us to fairy tales, folk tales, poetry, everyday images, immigrant stories, and so much more. The variety of sources helps us see the diverse perspectives even within a single nation, because there are so many stories and so much history that make up China. My children especially loved the stories about dragons, and we learned how much of our own cultural values and perspectives are invested in our ideas about dragons, whom Chinese stories regard as signs of good luck! And we felt lucky indeed to journey through time and space for a reading adventures in China.

  1. Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully
  2. Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem about China by Eo Young
  3. Watch Sesame Street’s Big Bird in China
  4. C is for China by Sungwan So
  5. China: The CIA World Factbook
  6. Color the Chinese Flag and Map by Crayola
  7. The Chinese Siamese Cat by Amy Tan and Gretchen Schields
  8. Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin
  9. Watch Families of China
  10. Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang and Chong Chang
  11. Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi
  12. Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year by Katie Waters, Madeline Slovenz-Low, and Martha Cooper
  13. Listen to Little Dragon Tales: Chinese Children’s Songs
  14. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
  15. The Long-Haired Girl by Doreen Rappaport and Yang Ming-Yi
  16. The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong
  17. Picture a Country: China by Henry Pluckrose
  18. Mouse Match by Ed Young
  19. My Chinatown: One Year in Poems by Kam Mak
  20. Oranges on Golden Mountain by Elizabeth Partridge and Aki Sogabe
  21. The Paper Dragon by Marguerite Davol and Robert Sabuda
  22. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang and Sally Rippin
  23. The Real Story of Stone Soup by Ying Chang Compestine and Stephane Forish
  24. Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China by Deborah Noyes and Sophie Blackall
  25. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
  26. Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie and Ed Young

 


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Our Place in Space

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One of the coolest things about our unit on space was seeing how the content is always being revised. We read older books that still counted Pluto as a planet and newer books that explained its new status; the changing discoveries displayed in the texts reminded us how much more there is to explore! In this list, I’ve tried to only include the most updated texts, though there may be some exceptions where the rest of the content is strong. And I’m sure in a few years, the content in even the best of these will require updating. That’s part of the pleasure of learning and recognizing that our place in space is always open to new knowledge.

  1. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about that: Space is the Place!
  2. Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian
  3. Watch Eyewitness: Planets
  4. If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty and Steven Kellogg
  5. The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
  6. Mousetronaut by Astronaut Mark Kelly, illustrated by C. F. Payne
  7. Planets by Elizabeth Carney
  8. Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin, paintings by Wendell Minor
  9. Watch The Magic School Bus Space Adventures
  10. The Magic School Bus Super Star Power
  11. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
  12. National Geographic Little Kids’ First Big Book of Space by Catherine Hughes and David Aguilar
  13. Our Solar System by Seymour Simon
  14. There’s No Place like Space! All about Our Solar System by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz
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