My apologies to the 24 people who follow this blog. March saw us madly dashing around trying to get ready for Norwescon, which we attempt to attend every year. This one was our biggest — my daughter had worked hard on a costume of her creation to enter into the masquerade competition (and won, second year in a row), and I got a chance for professional critiques of my writing in THREE writers’ workshops — and was immediately concluded at the end of the weekend with frightening news that my mother, only 56 years of age, was heading to the hospital, unable to speak properly and spouting impossible and paranoid things not at all like her. She had been ill for a few weeks, but her mind had been fit beforehand.
A week later, I was on a plane to Germany, because her condition had seriously worsened. I arrived an hour too late, my mother passed away on April 16th of an infection she contracted while in the hospital. Since then, our homeschooling experiment has been bumpy at best, and it’s taken a high toll on both my daily living and my daughter’s ability to focus on anything but her art.
It’s almost two months now, though it feels like days since it happened. She was an extremely generous, loving, and creative person, and her husband, my daughter, and I are all still reeling from the shock of her sudden absence in our lives. Of the three of us, I’m pushing hardest to avoid allowing my grief to consume us.
That being said, I’m going ahead with a plan I’d had rattling in my head for the last few months. I’ve talked to my daughter and my friend’s eldest about the almost-two years of Reading Selections I began with them, where it’s taken them thus far, and whether they feel other children would benefit from it. So, starting in September, I intend to take on new students in a casual environment — a handful of children in the homeschooling group — and give them a more polished and practiced form of this literary critiquing group we’ve been having so much fun with. I’ve watched my daughter’s awareness of what she reads deepen, her insight into the subtle working of the world around her awaken, and my friend’s son’s critical analysis take on greater nuance. They’ve become more considerate of the media to which they’re exposed through choice or accident, and I’m so proud to see my daughter’s own test scores in reading and spelling jump far ahead of where she’d been when she was in institutionalized schooling (and flagging) — she’s finally proficient at her approximate grade level!
I went back through this site’s archives and saw how there was nothing posted for the last “school year” of Reading Selections. Tomorrow, I will attempt to sit down and post the list, complete with the links I can find of sources for the readings we did from September through March (our work stopped when my mother died), so anyone interested in what they’ve been reading, or who are looking for recommendations, can provide the same materials to their own home students.
What I’m most enjoying at the moment in our schooling adventure is how they’ve both taken to this summer’s reading selections project. Their assignment is to choose three books: one fiction novel (not graphic novels/manga/manwa/etc.), one non-fiction book on a subject they find interesting, and one collection of a single poet’s work*.
Friend’s son has chosen:
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Content by Cory Doctorow
Death and Transfiguration: Poems by Kelly Cherry
Daughter has chosen:
Sky Village by Nigel Ashland
A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year by Ellen Evert Hopman
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
After reading their three selected books, they are to find common threads, themes, or a single key subject within each of them and create a project based on that element. They’ve both started reading, and they seem to be enjoying themselves! I can’t wait to see what they come up with in September . . .
*I decided a single author’s work is more definitive of an individual voice, where as a selection of poems from various authors, usually compiled on a theme (e.g. feminist poetry collections, horror poetry collections, etc.) would dilute the process of seeking a shared connection between the three books. If one of the books is already a cacophony, it can be hard to make the three books together create harmony, to tie them together.