Secular Science Resources for Homeschoolers



More good books

I saw a post on Facebook about giving a child a new book each day in December and thought what a great idea!  My kids are too old for this and only read ebooks on their iPads but I started thinking about some of our favorite picture books from when they were younger.

61rMNeQ4q3L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_  Parts, and it sequels by Tedd Arnold is a hysterical look at a young kid who thinks he’s falling apart when he notices his hair on his comb, is it all falling out! and belly button lint – his stuffing is coming out!  The writing is great, very similar to Dr. Seuss with its rhythm and rhyme, which makes it fun to read aloud.

The next book is one my kids and I still make jokes about and quote, though I’m sure no one around us ever understand why we’re saying, “I have a jar. Do you have a jar?” 1318100The book is called The Happy Hocky Family moves to the Country by Lane Smith.  It was a gift from grandma for my eldest’s 4th birthday and it was an instant hit.  The Hocky family moves from the city to live in the country and the book shows the problems they have adapting to country life with some very simple pictures and very brief statements that hit the funny bone just  right.  This book has been on our shelf for over 11 years and there it will remain.

91rE2vRRtJLIf Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover is another book we read over and over and over again. The illustrations are the key to this book about what would happen if everybody… picked flowers (a whole meadow of empty stalks), smashed cups (room full of broken cups) etc.  I can’t find my copy of the book, I think I may have given it to a friend, or stashed it with the Dr. Seuss books.  Its a funny way to get the point across to kids why they shouldn’t pick flowers, or leave toys about, squish the cat, etc.


The Martian by Andy Weir

the martianMy boys and I finished the audio book of The Martian last night and I can easily say that’s the best audio book I’ve ever listened to.  The story is fantastic, the main character Mark Watney is fantastic and the narrator, R.C. Bray does an amazing job.  Yes, there is swearing in this audio book, but the man is stuck on Mars, and I’m pretty sure my language would be a lot worse than his.  If there’s any situation where swearing is appropriate its this book.  My boys 12 and 15 had no problem following along with this audio book and we all really enjoyed it.  Lots of laugh out loud moments with Mark Watney’s wise-ass remarks – many of which can be found on page of The Martian Quotes.  If you have  some science/space geeks in your house, or just a smart-ass teenager I highly recommend listening to this book with them.   (updated: We really enjoyed the movie as well, but as usual, there is much more in the book, so make sure you read – or listen to The Martian).

A few good books

These series are books my boys have read themselves. I’ve read a few of them, but not all of them.

benedict societyThe Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is the first of four book, five if you count the book of puzzles, The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums.  I think my kids were around 10 years old when they read this series.  I read the first one and it was quite fun.  Kind of like Harry Potter where these kids with unusual talents get together to fight ‘evil’.  What’s nice about this series is that teaches critical thinking and problem solving as it shows the kids working their way through the mysteries and puzzles.  My older son really enjoyed the book of puzzles as well.

last apprenticeMy older son has read all of the The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.  In the UK, the title of the series is the Spook’s Apprentice.  The Seventh Son, which is very loosely based on these books, came out a year or so ago,  but we haven’t seen it because the reviews were so bad and the trailer alone made it clear it wasn’t the same story as the books.  The main character, 12 yr old Thomas is apprenticed to a spook – who fights and captures witches and other ‘evil spirits’.    These are pretty easy and quick reads so if you have a reluctant reader these might be a good choice. I read 5 or 6 of these and found them entertaining, Amazon says they’re good for 10 and up.

artemis fowlMy younger son has recently finished reading the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.  I haven’t read any of these but my son really enjoyed them.  The main character, Artemis Fowl is a 12 year old criminal mastermind and my son says, “Its a futuristic fantasy with fairies and dwarves, with laser guns….”, sounds like a good book for boys.   There are 8 books in the series and Amazon rates them for ages 10 and up.

A Princess of Mars

Science classes start next week, until then,  I thought I would continue sharing some books we love because if you read as much as we do, you are probably always on the lookout for good books as well.Book-1-A-Princess-Of-Mars-1

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs is the first of a long a series of fantasy/sci-fi books that take place on Mars.  My son and I both read a dozen of these.  You may have seen the movie John Carter a few years ago… it was LOOSELY based on these books.  To be honest I had trouble enjoying the movie the first time I saw it because I was expecting it to be more like the books.    In A Princess of Mars, John Carter is a Civil War veteran who falls asleep in a cave on Earth, and wakes up on the planet Mars. His adventures start right away as he’s captured by one of the many species (see 4 armed green creature on book cover) living on Mars.  I had to laugh when I saw this book cover because the princess is not the helpless thing depicted here.  She kicks some ass and has some sass.  I found the ‘gods’ of these books very amusing.  There are multiple levels of hierarchy on Mars and the ‘gods’ of one species ends up to be just a more advanced race, taking advantage of the simpler race and enslaving them with the promise of a better afterlife.  My son and I had some interesting discussions onfree books app religion while we read these.  They do start to get a bit far fetched as you get to the last books in the series but they are a fun read and you can get most for free since they’re older books.  The first book was published in 1912.
We read most of them on the Free Books app by Digital Press Publishing on our iPads.    My son was around 12 years old when he read them.

And Now for Something Completely Different.

Miss PeregrineWell, maybe not so different, its still a book review, but Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, is unlike any book you’ve read before.  I believe I became aware of this book through my college alumni magazine.  Kenyon College seems to be producing quite a few best selling authors lately, including, John Green (Fault in Our Stars) and Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken) – I highly recommend their books as well.  My older son read Unbroken when he was 14 and really enjoyed it. Its an amazing book.

Ok, back to the peculiar children.  What makes this book so unique is that the author is a collector of old photographs…. bizarre old photographs (notice the girl appears to be floating on the cover of the book), and he based his story on these photographs which are included in the book.  The main character, Jacob, is a 16 year old boy, who grew up listening to his grandfather’s ‘monster’ stories and after his grandfather’s strange death, he starts to think they might be true.  Jacob heads to Wales with his father and finds the hidden world his grandfather was always talking about… and its in danger.  We read this together, along with the second book in the series, Hollow City, and plan on buying the third book, Library of Souls, as soon as it becomes available in September.  Tim Burton is directing the movie version of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its expected to be out in March 2016.

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