Life at Warp Speed

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Good Literature is What Everyone Needs to “Feed” Their Child’s Soul April 17, 2014

If you don’t know me IRL, you might not know that I am a homeschooling mom of 5yo boy. I am also a bibliophile. There are shelves and shelves of books in my house. I have multiple library cards from systems across the state. I often get cards where I vacation frequently so that I can avoid toting a stack of books with me in my luggage. Used bookstores are a dangerous place for me to step foot in. I seriously have a love for books.

Within the homeschooling community (and even outside), many families emphasize literature and lots of it. I am of the school of thought that there is a lot of what I call junky children’s literature that occupies the shelves of the library. Fun, entertaining books that don’t always have much redeeming value. We read some of them just like everyone else, but we try to pick the better stuff. Don’t get me started on what I think about Junie B. Jones. I get it though. I get that people just want kids to read anything. I don’t think it is that hard to find entertaining books to interest children, so I won’t be writing about that in this post.

So, what if you want to provide good literature to feed your child’s soul? Stories that have stood the test of time. Stories that inspire the imagination of girls and boys. Stories that instill timeless values. Stories teach about courage, loyalty, honor, sacrifice, generosity, love, kindness, character, honesty, trustworthiness, family and duty. I am probably forgetting something here, but you get my point. Those are the sorts of stories I remember spending hours reading when I read through the entire children’s section at my local library.

So, instead of making my own lists of great English literature which would take ages. I pulled from existing online literature lists:  Sonlight which is very well known in the homschooling community for their literature-rich curriculum, Ambleside Online which is a free Charlotte Mason (living books) curriculum, Great Books Academy reading list (focuses on classics of Western literature), and 1,000 Good Books which was compiled by a group of Christian classical homeschooling moms.

There is a fabulous list of Sonlight books that are grouped by 4 year history cycle and grouped by grammar, logic and rhetoric stages here: I did not include this list in the spreadsheet because I wanted to respect the restrictions on sharing the list.

If you are a fan of classic literature for kids, Veritas Press has a book recommendation tool that you can find here:

It used to be that we would call a well-read person educated. That is something that I think is largely lost in our culture. I think when we fill up our minds with mindless media and junky literature, we do so at the expense of the things that are really good for our heart, mind, and soul.

So, I am sharing a google doc with you to make it easy for homeschoolers to find good books to read with your children or for you to have around for your children to read. If you don’t homeschool, then you might find this list as a place to pick out a book or two to read at night with your children. Maybe make it a goal to do a book every month or two. I would ask that you share this blog entry rather than the direct link to the doc so that I have an idea of how many are clicking through. There’s a convenient link below for your use that you can bookmark.

Happy reading!


Edited and updated on 2/21/15:

I have added four more lists. One is a list of beloved library classics for kids sorted by grade level. The second is a list of books to read aloud to the preschoolers, toddlers and babies which also includes a selected list of picture books that correspond to a specific letter sound which works well as reinforcement for those teaching children to read. I felt that there are many parents with non-school aged children that were looking for better choices for their search for what to read next.

The third list is a compilation of the literature selections from Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing for Ease curriculum. I agree wholeheartedly with her argument that good writing springs from reading copious amounts of great prose. I have no idea how we expect students to produce good writing if all they read is the prose that is typically found in junky children’s literature.

The fourth list is going to be a work in progress as I have only completed the K and 1st grade courses. I really have enjoyed and valued the literature selections of the original language arts courses which I continue to have access to as a private user of K12. I don’t like the changes I have seen with the CC-aligned K12 and will be sticking to the older courses and those literature selections. This list contains many selections that do not appear on any other lists and should not be overlooked.

ETA 4/23/16:

I discovered this mom’s blog where she has created lists for various interests and genres. You are sure to something that suits the tastes of your reader here:

Click though here to the list on my google drive:


$7.99 Highlights Activity Books at Costco

Filed under: Children's Books,Deals — lifeatwarpspeed @ 7:51 pm
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Who didn’t love Highlights as a kid growing up? If you had siblings and had to share the magazine you would fight over who got to do the puzzles and activities first. If you didn’t have a subscription to Highlights, do you remember being happy finding a copy of Highlights at the doctor’s office? It was surely disappointing when the someone filled in the puzzles or actually circled the hidden pictures in INK.

I was really excited to find Costco has Highlights Puzzlemania (beginner and expert) and Hidden Pictures (Fun with Friends and Animal Jamboree) for sale right now, These are thick, colorful books with more than 150 puzzles or more than 170 Hidden Pictures that are ready for coloring. These books are $7.99 (58% off the cover price). Hopefully, there are still some available at your local warehouse.

Recommended for ages 6 and up. Age 4 to 5 if your child has good pencil skills, reading and writing skills, and adept at puzzles.



La Luna: Disney Story App – free for a limited time! December 31, 2013

Filed under: Apps,Book Apps,Kids — lifeatwarpspeed @ 10:12 pm
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La Luna: The Story Project on the App Store on iTunes.

La Luna is an Academy Award winning Disney/Pixar short film. The storybook app version was Apple’s Most Innovative App of 2013. It is absolutely free right now! (Normally, $3.99). Hurry and download this lovely story rendered in amazing detail and includes the entire short film. Really, don’t miss out! (if you are missing out of these awesome app deals, sign up for email alerts below by subscribing.)

Highly recommended for ages 2 and up.



Stella and Sam Story Pack Bundle – Free right now. June 29, 2013

Filed under: Book Apps,Kids — lifeatwarpspeed @ 12:07 pm
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Stella and Sam Story Pack for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

Stella and Sam rank among my most favorite storybook apps. This whole pack of e-books (normally $6.99) is free right now. I have written a lot about Stella and Sam:

Highly recommended for ages 2 to 5.



The Legend of Momotaro for iPad on the iTunes App Store June 26, 2013

Filed under: Book Apps,Kids — lifeatwarpspeed @ 11:11 pm
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The Legend of Momotaro for iPad on the iTunes App Store.

No time today for a detailed review. I noticed this e-book app (normally $2.99) go free today. The Legend of Momotaro is a famous Japanese legend. It is rather hard to find good e-books that speak to Asian Americans and celebrate our cultural heritage. This is one I would suggest you add to your e-library.

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.



Oxford Owl – hundreds of free e-books! (no iPad needed) June 17, 2013

Free children’s ebooks for ages 3-11 | Oxford Owl.

Help your child’s maths | Oxford Owl.

I don’t want non-iPad owners out there to feel a bit left out. Even though you can snag all these cool deals with your iTunes account, it would be nice to have something that you could access right now. So, here is a great pair of websites from our friends from across the pond.

The reading website has over 250 FREE e-books, tons of activities and games, and resources to help you with your child’s reading skills. Everything is separated by age range/reading ability which makes it very easy to find what you are looking for. The books range from age 3 up to 11. The math(s) website is geared towards ages 3 to 5 and 5 to 7 with activities and resources to help you develop your child’s math skills. This site is not nearly as robust as the reading website.

Keep in mind, these are British websites, so the pronunciation, phonetic rules, and spelling adhere to Queen’s English.

Recommended for children in pre-K to 5th grade for reading and pre-K to 2nd for math.



Massive List of Free Reading Programs for the Summer! (updated 6/16) June 16, 2013

Filed under: Children's Books,Deals — lifeatwarpspeed @ 12:52 am
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Book Adventure | Free Reading Program.

Sylvan’s Learning Centers. Book Adventure is a fun, free way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they have read, and earn prizes for their reading success. Program is on-going.

Summer Reading – Barnes & Noble.

The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program is here to

help you on your way, encouraging you to read books of your own choosing
and earn a FREE book, simply by following these three easy steps:
1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in this Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Imagination’s Destination Journal. Be sure to let us know to whom you would recommend each book, and why.
2. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 21st and September 3rd, 2013.
3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

Activities | Pottery Barn Kids.

Summer is the perfect time to instill a love of reading in your child. From now through August 26th, read all the award-winning books on one of our recommended lists and qualify for fun prizes.

Half Price Books – Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program.

For kids 14 and under:

  1. Read for at least 15 minutes each day for a month. (Grown-ups may read aloud to kids who are still learning.)
  2. Add up your minutes and have your parent or guardian initial each week.
  3. Once you’ve read 300 minutes, turn in your completed reading logto earn your $5 HPB Bookworm Bucks reading reward for the month.

We’ll award one top reader per age group each month with a TOP READER prize – a $20 HPB Gift Card!*

How about free tokens on their next visit to Chuck E. Cheese’s? Print out our free rewards calendar to get started.

Download and print out the calendar. Mark the days off with a pen or sticker as your child accomplishes their goals. Bring in the completed calendars to Chuck E. Cheese’s and receive 10 free tokens as a reward. This is an on-going program that can be used to reward a wide variety of goals.

Scholastic Summer Challenge 2013.

A free online program designed to motivate and excite your children around reading books this summer. The Summer Challenge is an easy and fun way for kids to log the minutes they spend reading as they earn rewards and help Read for the World Record.

Summer Reading Community Challenge – iVillage.

Keep your kids reading and learning all summer long with our Summer Reading Community Challenge. Join our free 4-week program and starting June 17 you’ll get daily emails filled with:

  •  Literacy-building tips from the experts at Sprout and Scholastic
  •  Games and activities to help foster a love reading
  • Printables and crafts to share with your kids
  • A daily chance to win a family trip to visit the set of Sprout’s Sunny Side Up Show to meet Chica

Summer Reading Program.

We make reading fun while teaching young people the importance of saving money. It’s just part of TD’s commitment to education – and to you.

Participating is easy:

  1. Read 10 books this summer.
  2. Print out the Summer Reading Form (343K PDF)
  3. Write down the names of the books they’ve read
  4. Take the form to the nearest TD Bank
  5. Receive $10 in a new or existing Young Saver account

Random House | Junie B. Jones |.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of Junie B. Jones, but for those kids who are, you can earn a free book.

Mensa For Kids.

Earn a commemorative certificate in recognition of your outstanding achievement and get an Excellence in Reading T-shirt, too!
The Mensa Foundation recognizes and encourages education, gifted youth and lifelong learning through programs like the Mensa for Kids Web site and other activities. To encourage the joy of reading, the Foundation has developed the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Award Program!

Scholastic Book Clubs Offer | Kellogg’s Family Rewards™.

Enter codes found inside specially marked Kellogg’s Family Rewards™ packages which are only available at Walmart to collect points. Redeem points for rewards and fun. Earn $5 coupon good for credit towards a book from Scholastic Books Club.

Buy Movie Tickets Online | Showcase Cinemas. (Northeast)

Every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. from July 10 – August 7, just bring a book report with you to the select Bookworm Wednesdays movie and that’s your price of admission! (TEXAS ONLY)

Just pick out 10 books and get started. After you finish reading each one, log it in the form. Be sure to have a grownup put their initials by each book you’ve read. (Parents, you can read to your children if they are too young.) When you’re done, pat yourself on the back! You’ve read 10 books. Now reward yourself with a cool prize by mailing the form and in 3 – 4 weeks, you receive your prizes.

San Diego County Fair – Del Mar, California : Reading Certificates.

Students aged 12 and younger who read 10 books and have that accomplishment verified with their teacher or librarian can bring the certificate to the Fair and receive free admission on any day of the Fair, by presenting the completed and signed certificate at the admission gate.

Reading Makes Cent$ Save for College! Promotion : ScholarShare College Savings Plan. (CA only)

The Reading Makes Cent$ Promotion is open to legal residents of the State of California who are at least 18 years of age or older and are the parent or legal guardian of a California student of any age through grade 8 during the 2013-2014 school year and who is participating in a public library Summer reading program in the State of California. Enter the promotion by completing the entry form between June 1 – August 19, 2013. Sponsored by the ScholarShare College Savings Plan.

Of course, you should sign up for the free reading programs at your local libraries.

That’s it for my massive list of free reading programs for summer 2013. Happy reading!



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