Readaloud of the Week: Owls in the Family

Owls in the Family
By Farley Mowat

In brief: Billy rescues two great horned owls and brings them to his family’s Saskatchewan home, and hijinks ensue. Wol is a comedy genius, battling it out with skunks (during dinner) and terrorizing everyone from the minister to Billy’s French teacher, while Weeps is afraid of everything except the family dog.

What makes it a great readaloud: This old-fashioned, episodic novels lets kids peek into truly free-range childhood: Billy and his friends roam their neighborhood and the surrounding prairie with enviable freedom, and the owls’ (and boys’) antics provide plenty of laugh-out-loud entertainment.

But be aware: You may want to remind your kids that we know more now than we did then about how to treat wild animals—some of Billy’s stories (such as when he robs birds’ nests of their eggs) don’t jibe with current environmental ethics.

Summer Reading: What to Read Next If You Like Roald Dahl

Summer Reading: What to Read Next If You Like Roald Dahl

If you love the fantasy, fun, and humor of Roald Dahl, you’ll enjoy these books that capture some of that same playful spirit.

Readaloud of the Week: When Mischief Came to Town

When Mischief Came to Town
By Katrina Nannestad

In brief: After her mother’s death, Inge Maria goes to live with her grandmother on a tiny Danish island where the grown-ups and her new school are stricter than she’s accustomed to. But Inge Maria’s curiosity, intelligence, and tendency to making mischief may be just what the little island community needs—and Inge Maria discovers that she has more in common with her grandmother than she expected.


What makes it a great readaloud: Perfectly balancing tenderness and humor, this is pretty much a textbook example of a heartwarming story. Inge Maria is utterly lovable, and the island town is peopled by funny, interesting residents. Bonus: This book is full of yummy food.


But be aware: Inge Maria’s mother’s death is a sad undercurrent that runs throughout the book.


Quotable: “Tears and laughter. Grief and joy. Loss and love. It's all right to have both. I know that now.”

HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.23.17: My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane
By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Come to this wild and weird YA historical fantasy expected a rollicking tale and lots of laughs, not historical accuracy, and you’re pretty much guaranteed an enjoyable read. Almost everyone knows the sad story of England’s nine-day queen, but this book gives her a shot an actual happy ending—if Monty Python decided to write an alternate Tudor history, this might just be the result. Fun and frothy in all the best ways.

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.

HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.22.17: Dark Lord of Derkholm

Dark Lord of Derkholm
By Diana Wynne Jones

You can't blame people for wanting to visit the magical world next door, but it's not exactly easy on that magical world's inhabitants—especially when the holiday organizer, Mr. Chesney, requires everyone to put their lives on hold and enact fantastic scenarios for his Pilgrim Parties. The natives are restless, and they're determined to get their freedom back—starting with appointing a terrifically inept Dark Lord for the latest season of tourists. You can't go wrong with DWJ, and this often-hilarious novel is an ideal summer (or anytime) readaloud.

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.

Readaloud of the Week: Karlson on the Roof

Karlson on the Roof

In brief: Eric wants a dog; instead, he gets Karlson, a grumpy man who flies around with his propellor making mischief.

What makes it a great readaloud? Karlson is utterly unlikable—in the great trickster tradition, he wreaks havoc (and usually leaves a mess) wherever he goes. The gently interconnected stories are weird and often hilarious, and 7-year-old Eric (also known as Smidge or Little Brother, depending on your translation) is charming protagonist.

But be aware: Karlson is a grouchy trouble-maker and may not appeal to every reader.

HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.17.17: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

In this web comic-turned-novel in cartoons, 7th grader Greg Heffley recounts the trials and tribulations of middle school life in his definitely-not-a-diary. Think of it as a hybrid novel-slash-comic book, and enjoy the delightfully goofy humor. This book isn't intellectually challenging, but it can be a great door-opener for reluctant readers. (In fact, it can be such a lightbulb book that we have people regularly asking us what to read next.

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.

Homeschool Humor: Math on Facebook

Hahaha! Hilarious! If your math curriculum were on social media ("That awkward moment when someone mistakes you for his current bathroom read." I love homeschool humor..

If your math curriculum had its own social media account, you’d know how it really felt about you


Finally able to share the good news — I'm in a cart! Oh yeah, baby, I'm moving on up to a dee-luxe homeschool in east Tennessee.

I've been sitting in her shopping cart for six days now, and nothing. #commitmentissues

Woke up at 5 A.M. because she deleted me from her cart, then immediately added me back in. The mapping book just beneath me seems gone for good. Too bad. We kept each other's spirits up. The art history curriculum that replaced him is a little snooty.

A little tired of being trotted around and shown off to everyone she knows. #humblebrag

That awkward moment when someone mistakes you for his current bathroom read...

She fell asleep on the couch with me in her arms tonight. So sweet!

Is anybody else seriously peeved about the problem in the whiteboard equation on the last episode of The Big Bang Theory?

I’m just gonna say it: Those math jokes aren’t funny, y’all. “Solve your own problems.” “Stop asking me to find your x.” Just because we math books tend to stick to the facts doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings, too.

Hiding me behind your Story of the World activity book isn’t going to make me go away.

Next time we do dividing fractions, I’m bringing Kleenex. Talk about a tear-jerker.

Is it wrong that I kind of like her sister? She just really seems to get me — and she uses those awesome cinnamon pencils.

Oh, sure, pull me out right after Mythbusters. They’ll be really excited about the quadratic formula after watching Jamie and Adam blow stuff up for half an hour. I can compete with that. NOT.

O.K., I’ll play along. Grammar gave me the year 2,200 B.C. I was base-60 at the time and living in Babylon. I did most of my work on clay tablets and was just starting to really get into place value.

@georgetakei is my spirit animal.


originally published in the spring 2014 issue of home/school/life.

illustration by Chi Wai Un via Creative Commons

Homeschool Humor: Curriculum Crush