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from diapers to deconstruction


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Aloha, Hawaii!

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I started this list because of all the buzz about Moana; while I realize that film is not totally rooted in Hawaiian culture, I wanted my children to have a deeper understanding of the rich history of one of the Polynesian islands than a single film (however dominant in the marketplace) could provide. What follows is a list that delves into the historical, geological, and mythological stories of Hawaii. There are stories that focus on native peoples, colonialism, Pearl Harbor, and President Obama, as well as tales that tell of contemporary, everyday life on the islands. There are stories of the volcanoes and wildlife that make the islands unique. And there are, of course, stories from the mythological tradition (many about Maui that, my elder daughter noted, did not make it into the Disney movie). As always, I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach of this list and the way it illustrates a place with a rich history that is by no means confined to the past.

  1. A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by U’ilani Goldsberry and Tammy Yee
  2. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Maui! by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  3. Aloha Is… by Tammy Paikai and Rosalie Prussing
  4. Children of Hawaii by Frank Staub
  5. Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan and Lillian Hsu-Flanders
  6. Goodnight Hawaiian Moon by Dr. Carolan and Joanna F. Carolan
  7. Grandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
  8. Listen to Hawaiian Playground by Putumayo Kids Presents
  9. Hawai’i: The Aloha State by Jill Foran
  10. Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Oachs
  11. The Hawai’i Snowman by Christine Lê and Michel Lê
  12. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by M.C. Hall
  13. How Māui Slowed the Sun by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  14. Hula Lullaby by Erin Eitter Kono
  15. The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i by Fay Stanley and Diane Stanley
  16. The Legend of the Kukui Nut by Robert Brandon Henderson and Mark McKenna
  17. Legends of Landforms: Native American Lore and the Geology of the Land by Carole G. Vogel
  18. Little Princess Ka’iulani in Her Garden in the Sea by Ellie Crowe and Mary Koski
  19. Māui and the Secret of Fire by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  20. The Menehune of Naupaka Village: A Hawaiian Fairy Tale by Christopher Sur and Gary Kato
  21. The Musubi Man: Hawai’i’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama and Pat Hall
  22. Pearl Harbor by Stephen Krensky and Larry Day
  23. Pele and Poli’ahu: A Tale of Fire and Ice by Malia Collins and Kathleen Peterson
  24. Pele and the Rivers of Fire by Michael Nordenstrom
  25. Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i by Gerald McDermott
  26. A President from Hawai’i by Dr. Terry Carolan, Joanna Carolan, and Elizabeth Zunon
  27. Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale by Lee Wardlaw and Felipe Davalos
  28. South Pacific Mythology by Jim Ollhoff
  29. The Story of Hula by Carla Golembe
  30. The Surprising Things Maui Did by Jay Williams and Charles Mikolaycak
  31. Tales of Tutu Nene and Nele by Gale Bates and Carole Hinds McCarty
  32. Tsunami: The True Story of an April Fools’ Day Disaster by Gail Langer Karwoski and John MacDonald
  33. The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i by Jama Kim Rattigan and Carla Golembe
  34. Young Princesses around the World: A Story Based on the Real Life of Princess Liliuokalani of Hawaii by Joan Holub and Nonna Aleshina
  35. Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien
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When Irish Eyes Are Reading

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For our study of Ireland, we listened to a lot of toe-tapping tunes and fancied finding wee folk all over. As with all of our place-based units, there’s a mixture here of folklore and history. We made connections to our own family background and our region’s Irish influences, not to mention finding a new bread recipe we love. I got to share one of my favorite childhood movies with my girls and found a new and enchanting film for us all. Our exploration of The Emerald Isle was filled with wonder, but the real magic, as always, is in the journey-by-book.

  1. Brigid’s Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan and Helen Cann
  2. Watch Darby O’Gill and the Little People
  3. Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco
  4. Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman and Kelly Murphy
  5. Great Irish Legends for Children by Yvonne Carroll and Robin Lawrie
  6. “Ireland” by CIA World Factbook
  7. Color the flags of Ireland and Northern Ireland by Crayola
  8. The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo and Loretta Krupinski
  9. Irish Fairy Tales edited by Philip Smith
  10. Bake Irish Soda Bread
  11. Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie dePaola
  12. Leprechaun in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  13. Leprechauns and Irish Folklore by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Bryce, and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole
  15. Leprechauns on the Loose: An Adventure in Ireland by Disney’s Small World Library
  16. The Long March: The Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  17. O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott
  18. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
  19. The Prince of Ireland and the Three Magic Stallions by Bryce Milligan and Preston McDaniels
  20. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Celtic Crossroads
  21. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Women of the World, Celtic
  22. S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet by Eve Bunting and Matt Faulkner
  23. Watch The Secret of Kells
  24. This is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek
  25. Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk: An Irish Tale by Gerald McDermott
  26. Viking Ships at Sunrise by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca


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¡Hola! Mexico

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Once more, food and parties inspired our most recent literary excursion. This time we traveled by book to Mexico, where my children delighted in the rich traditions of folklore and religion, the artists’ biographies, and the contemporary glimpses of our neighbors to the south. And, of course, we were all so pumped about the piñatas that we threw two parties just to keep the festivities alive. What we found in our perusal of Mexican stories holds true for all our literary explorations across the globe: each place and people group tells of a unique history and perspective that connects past to present. And, as always, it’s a privilege to step into these story worlds and see just a glimpse of another culture, to broaden our world and our mind with stories. To that, we can only say gracias!

  1. Watch The Book of Life
  2. Borreguita and the Coyote by Verna Aardema and Petra Mathers
  3. The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos and Rafael Lopez
  4. Color Crayola’s Mexican Flag and Map
  5. Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston and Jeanette Winter
  6. Listen to De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children by José-Luis Orozco and Elisa Kleven
  7. Diego by Jeanette Winter and Jonah Winter
  8. Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh
  9. Elena’s Serenade by Campbell Geeslin and Ana Juan
  10. Erandi’s Braids by Antonio Hernández Madrigal and Tomie dePaola
  11. Watch Families of Mexico
  12. The Fisherman and the Turtle by Erica A. Kimmel and Martha Aviles
  13. Frida by Jonah Winter and Ana Juan
  14. Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself by Margaret Frith and Tomie dePaola
  15. José! Born to Dance by Susanna Reich and Raúl Colón
  16. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales
  17. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
  18. The Lizard and the Sun by Alma Flor Ada and Felipe Dávalos
  19. Mexico by CIA World Factbook
  20. Nacho and Lolita by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Claudi Rueda
  21. Off We Go to Mexico! An Adventure in the Sun by Laurie Krebs and Cristopher Corr
  22. Our Lady of Guadalupe by Felipe Dávalos and Francisco Serrano
  23. Pequeña the Burro by Jami Parkison and Itoko Maeno
  24. The Piñata Maker by George Ancona
  25. Listen to Putumayo Presents Mexico
  26. The Sad Night: The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss by Sally Schofer Mathews
  27. Soccer on Sunday by Mary Pope Osborne
  28. The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella Story by Penny Pollock and Ed Young
  29. Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine and René King Moreno
  30. Watch Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
  31. What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla and Magaly Morales
  32. Who Was Frida Kahlo? by Sarah Fabiny and Jerry Hoare


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Feasting in France

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My elder daughter and I have a pact to visit the Eiffel Tower together some day, so it’s no surprise that she chose France for our country-a-month study. We previously did a unit study called “Paris in the Springtime,” so I’ve tried to expand to France more broadly here, and I’ve avoided duplications from that list. During our study, we discovered that we wanted to explore two artists in greater depth, so I made separate lists for Edgar Degas (“Delighted by Degas”) and Henri Matisse (“Mad about Matisse”). My daughter is still delighted by the Eiffel Tower, but one of our favorite parts of studying France is, of course, the food. Bon appétit!

  1. Anatole by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone (part of a series)
  2. An Armadillo in Paris by Julie Kraulis
  3. Beauty and the Beast by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb
  4. The Cat Who Walked across France by Kate Banks and Georg Hallensleben
  5. Cézanne and the Apple Boy by Laurence Anholt
  6. Cinderella (Adaptations of Charles Perrault’s Version)
  7. Count Your Way through France by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson, and Andrea Shine
  8. Crayola’s Coloring Pages of the French flag, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte
  9. Crêpes by Suzette by Monica Wellington
  10. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall
  11. France: The CIA Factbook
  12. The Inside-Outside Book of Paris by Roxie Munro
  13. Joan of Arc by Demi
  14. Kiki and Coco in Paris by Stephanie Rausser, Jess Brown, and Nina Gruener
  15. A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
  16. Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich and Amy Bates
  17. Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
  18. Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words by Leda Schubert and Gérard Dubois
  19. Papa Chagall, Tell Us a Story by Laurence Anholt
  20. Puss in Boots: A Tale by Charles Perrault and Fred Marcellino
  21. A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino


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The Barre to the Bookshelf

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After my older daughter started taking ballet class (the first activity she chose for herself), my younger daughter wanted in on the action too. My little one got excited every week about waiting in the lobby just so she could catch a glimpse of her sister sous-sus out of the studio. My elder child loves ballet, but in a reserved, quiet way that fits with her personality; my younger child oozes delight and enthusiasm out of every pore. Finally, we found a class for toddlers and picked up a pair of ballet slippers (on clearance, two sizes too big) for my two-year-old. For the entire first day, she refused to take off the slippers, pirouetting (to the best of her abilities) around the house and asking us all repeatedly if we liked her ballet slippers. We do. She fell asleep with them on and awoke to the same routine. Her class starts in a few days, but her excitement is undiminished, and I have a feeling my children’s love of dance is only beginning. Here are some fun ballerina-stories to keep you inspired between lessons.

  1. Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert and Robert Andrew Parker
  2. Ballet Kitty Ballet Class by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams
  3. Ballet School by Naia Bray-Moffatt and David Handley
  4. Belinda Begins Ballet, Belinda the Ballerina, Belinda and the Glass Slipper, Belinda in Paris by Amy Young
  5. A Bunny in the Ballet by Robert Beck
  6. Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie
  7. Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella, Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker, Ella Bella Ballerina and the Sleeping Beauty, Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake by James Mayhew
  8. First Ballet by Deanna Caswell and Elizabeth Matthews
  9. Going to My Ballet Class by Susan Kuklin
  10. Lili at Ballet by Rachel Isadora
  11. Miss Lina’s Ballerinas, Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and the Prince, Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and the Wicked Wish by Grace Maccarone and Christine Davenier
  12. On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora
  13. Tallulah’s Nutcracker, Tallullah’s Solo, Tallulah’s Toe Shoes, Tallulah’s Tutu by Marilyn Singer and Alexandra Boiger
  14. We Love Ballet! by Jane Feldman

 

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