The Four Agreements

About a month ago my husband bought the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. After I kept stealing his copy to read it; he bought me my own. That’s a life hack, use your husband’s stuff until he gets you your own. :) Anyway, I really enjoy reading books with my husband, it’s like it is our own cool book club that he doesn’t know he belongs to.

This is one of those books that is life changing. It’s simple, easy to follow, and yet so profound.

I’m going to go over the four agreements and some of the highlights from each agreement. They resonate with me so much that I’ve hung them up around my home. I’ve included a free download so you can be cool like me and hang it up at your home! My husband and I each give this book two thumbs up!

Be impeccable with your word

  • Speak with integrity

  • Say only what you mean

  • Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others

  • Use the power of your word for truth and love

Don’t take anything personally

  • Nothing others do is because of you

  • What others do and say is a projection of their own reality

  • When you are immune to the actions and opinions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering

Don’t make assumptions

  • Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want

  • Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama

Do your best

  • Your best will change from moment to moment, it will be different when you are sick vs. when you are healthy

  • Under and circumstance, simply do your best


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Under The Hawthorn Tree

A few years ago one of my darlings quite successfully lied to me. Everyday my kids meet with me for Minute With Mom and have to tell me what they studied about the day before. One of my little darlings would tell me about the books she read the day before, and the fool that I am, just believed that she had actually read them. Instead of reading any of her books, she just sat there staring at them, and then made up some pretty amazing stories about the books.

She finally got caught when she misspelled Mona Lisa. I told her to grab her Leonardo Da Vinci book so we could look up how to spell it correctly. The fear was quite evident in her little face as she thumbed her way through the book; I’m sure just praying that somewhere it mentioned Mona Lisa. The famous painting was no were to be found and tears immediately began to flow as she came clean with her crime. She hadn’t read any of her books for two months!

Part of me was impressed at how well she made up several complete books, but the other part of me realized that I better know what in the world my kids are reading, instead of just handing them books that I’ve never heard of. I started to pre-read a lot of my kids’ books after this little incident. Now it’s not always feasible for me to pre-read every book my kids read, so I just do my best.

One of the books I read this year was Under The Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna. It was a book assigned to two of my kids in their homeschool co-op class. It’s a small read with only 119 pages, so I knew I would be able to get through this one.

It’s a historical fiction of a small family in the 1800s during the famine in Ireland. Three young children are left to fend for themselves. They are alone, starving, and scared, and their only hope is find their great-aunts. They only know their great-aunts through their mother’s stories, and pray that they will be able to help them.

I full on cried in this book. It is an absolutely beautiful and heart wrenching story. My son 12, and my daughter 10, both loved the story too. It opened up the door to some pretty amazing conversations when they found out that this was based on true events.

I give this book two enthusiastic thumbs up. It is a great book just to read, and a really great book to read if you are studying Ireland’s history. There are more books in the series, but I haven’t read them yet. Sometimes when the first book is so good, I get worried that the following books might ruin it, but that’s just because I’m weird.

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Kidnapped

Last term our poet we studied was Robert Louis Stevenson. Whenever we study a poet who also wrote books I like to use one of their novels for our read aloud. I was going to read Treasure Island, but one of my big kids was currently reading it, so I bought another one of his books, Kidnapped.

Before I get into the book I want to give you a brief picture of what our read aloud looks like. Just so know that if your read aloud looks like a circus, you’re not alone.

I have the kids come into the family room and get comfortable on the couches and I begin to read. The baby takes stuff from others and laughs or screams. The little boys try to start wrestling, or decide now is a good time to get a ball and play with it in the house. I get everyone calmed back down, when I look up and someone has gone off to go the bathroom. I wait for them to return, and I try again.

Our read aloud rarely goes smoothly or as I would have planned. The little boys usually groan when I say it’s time to read, but I read anyway. Usually, when I start a new book someone lets me know how this book is dumb, or they don’t like the story and almost every time as I get near the end of the book they don’t want to me to stop reading because they have to know what happens.

Reading Kidnapped was no different. It was written in the 1800s and so sometimes the language was a little hard for them to understand. I would stop often and have to explain the plot, but as we got to the end, all of the monkeys were begging me to keep reading. I’m sure one of the reasons they ended up enjoying this book is because I have the best/worst Scottish accent of all time.

Kidnapped is set in Scotland, and it is the story of David Balfour. His father has died and he is given a letter to go to the house of Shaws. When he gets there a crazy old man lets him know that he is his uncle. He is mean and doesn’t like David. He tries to send David on an errand that he hopes will kill him, but somehow David survives. The next day his uncle tricks David to get onto a ship and they kidnap him. The story then goes on to David’s adventure of trying to get back home.

We found that there was an old Disney movie made about the book and I promised the kids we could watch it after we finished the book. It was terrible. We laughed our way through the lame movie. The kids voted that I had a better Scottish accent than most of the actors, which is really sad.

It was fun to hear the kids’ commentary about parts of the book that were left out of the movie. Apparently, my monkeys listened to more of the story than I realized.

I do my best to mix in some old classics with modern classics. Some of the older classics are a little harder to get through. This book is fun and has a lot of adventure; it also has some language that we don’t use today and at times we weren’t sure what they were trying to say, but overall we ended up liking it.

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Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

I just finished reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglass Wiggin to my girls and I loved it! The book was written in 1903, so some of the language was a bit outdated, but the story is still easy to follow. And I do the best/worst accents ever, so it’s hard to not fall in love with it when you hear me read it. :)

My girls were hesitant to read this book with me, so it took us a little longer to read it than it usually does. My girls would want me to talk to them before bed, instead of read, but every time I read they really liked it.

The story is about Rebecca Randall who lives at Sunnybrook Farm. Rebecca has two aunts, Miranda and Jane, that she is sent to live with. Aunt Miranda is not very kind to Rebecca; she had wanted her older sister Hannah to come, but her mother needed her more back at the farm.

Miranda goes out of her way to be unkind to Rebecca, but she is such a light that wherever she goes that the people of Riverboro fall in love with her. As you read the story you will easily fall in love with her too.

The book was so well loved that it was turned into a play and into a film.

I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it!

The Family Under The Bridge

I have an awesome homeschool friend who has a gift for finding great books. If she recommends a book, I just buy it. (I have a book buying problem) Anyway, she told me that her own children have struggled to fall in love with reading, so she has to be careful to select only good books.

Last year she suggested The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson. I read it to my oldest son, last Christmas time, for our Read and Feed. This year I’m reading it to my four younger kids. I started it last week, and I got the the usual moans and groans about sitting and listening to me read, but when I finished the first chapter every single one of them begged me to keep reading. Total mom win!

The story is set in Paris around Christmas time and is about an old homeless man named Armand. He enjoys his solitary life. He begs and does some work for money and food, but really enjoys his carefree life. One day Armand comes upon three children and their mother. He tries to ignore them, but soon finds himself caring for the family and sharing his home under the bridge.

The book is only 128 pages and has some illustrations splashed throughout. It’s an easy and lighthearted read, with a good message. I would highly recommend it! Great for all ages.

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Bud, Not Buddy

Our last read aloud was Moon Over Manifest and everyone really loved it, so the kids weren’t thrilled to read a new book.

Luckily, I have mad book finding skills and we found another good one called, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. The story takes place in 1936 in Flint, Michigan. Bud’s mother has passed away and Bud being tired of foster homes decides to run away to try to find his dad.

He has many adventures as he is on his search. One of our favorite things about Bud is his list of how to respond to certain situations; it’s called, Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.

The story is really endearing and my little boys really liked it. I should create a book scale that is just whether my little boys like something or not. They can be a little tricky to please, so it says a lot about any book that they’ll actually sit and listen to.

I liked the book, but it was a little hard reading it after a book that I LOVED. I probably would have liked it better if I hadn’t just read Moon Over Manifest.

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Moon Over Manifest

I was looking for a great book to read this summer to my kids and I started to scour the internet for great recommendations. I decided to start reading reviews on books that have won a Newberry Award. After sifting through a lot of them I decided to go with Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.

It's the story of a 12 year old girl named Abilene. Her father sent her to live in Manifest while he went to work on the railroad. She lives with the Pastor and while she is in her room she finds a box of mementos and letters hidden in the floorboard. She goes on to start finding out the stories of each memento and also to discover the spy in the town.

The stories switches back and forth between 1936 and 1918. As it it progresses you start to find out more about the town and the people. One of my sons said it was like Encyclopedia Brown where you had to piece together the clues from the past stories to figure out what the girls were trying to discover.

To say we loved this book is an understatement, we LOVED this book. The day we finished it we read for over three hours because everyone had to find out what was going to happen. They begged for me to read it right through lunch.

I cried through the ending, none of my kids did, apparently I'm just getting old. It was an amazing book and I've been recommending it to everyone. Both my girls and boys liked it, which is always a huge bonus in our home.

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The Greatest Book Series Of All Time

I'm about to share with you the greatest book series of all time. My husband had started reading them when they originally came out and had urged me to read the series because he loved them so much. The books are long and there are 14 of them, so I didn't think I had time to read them.

Finally, I grew tired of his pestering and I caved in. 

It took me a few months to get into the first book, but as soon as I did I decided to give up being a wife, a mom, a decent human, and just read the series. It was SO worth it. And my darling husband encouraged my bad behavior because he would make me tell him about what I was reading so he could relive the books.

What is the greatest series of all time?

Wheel of Time by the late Robert Jordan and then the final books were finished by Brandon Sanderson.

When someone asks what they're about I wonder, "Well how much time do you have?" How do you sum up something that changed your life in a blurb? I usually tell people that it's like Lord of the Rings, but so much better.

Wheel of Time is a fantasy series. It takes you completely into a different world, different customs, and cultures. It features Rand, Mat, and Perin as they're led by Moiraine through the world finding out about the Dragon Reborn.

It was funny, I was reading a bunch of reviews and no one can really sum it up other than saying they loved it and it is worth reading!

A few of our kids have read it and the ones who have finished it, or are close to finishing it, equally love it as much as we do.

Here is my disclaimer. There are many battles, some of the women in certain cultures are topless, and sex is implied.  Mat swears throughout the book, but it's made up swear words, like blood and bloody ashes.

My 13 year old daughter just finished the series and now she doesn't know what to do with her life. I remember feeling the same way; I was so sad when it ended, but I'm glad my kids are reading it so now they can remind me of all the great stuff that I've forgotten.

If you are looking to dedicate your life to a series, do your self a favor and read this one! If you don't like it, I don't know if we can be friends. My second son didn't finish the series, I don't know how much longer I can let him live in my home.

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Teaching From Rest

I have decided that if you're going to only read one book on homeschooling that Teaching From Rest by Sara Mackenzie is it. It is short, simple, and beautifully written. When I first heard the title I assumed that the book was about something along the lines of sitting in bed and teaching school, but it's not.

Teaching from rest is being understanding and staying calm when things don't go the way you think they should go. It also goes into what is more important, that you were a task master and made your kids plow through a bunch of math problems or that maybe you only got through a few math problems, but your kid really understands division?

It also helped remind me about what is most important which is my relationship with my kids. In 10 years from now when my big kids are all out of the house, what do I want them to remember and what do I want our relationship to be?

It is a very Christ centered book and she quotes a lot of scripture throughout. My favorite comparison is Peter walking on the water. He is scared and starts to sink, but Jesus takes his hand and helps him. He is there for us too. Especially when you're just starting homeschool and it can feel like such a daunting task, even like you've been asked to walk on water, but with His help anything is possible.

She also gives ideas on how she runs her day. These didn't apply to me as much because I've been doing it for so long, but it would be very helpful to someone just starting out.

The book is so good that it's one that I will read again to help me to remember to relax and take it one day at a time.

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Ivanhoe

We just finished reading Ivanhoe. It is a book that I have always wanted to read but I was having a hard time finding the time to read it plus all the other books I wanted to read. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use it as our read aloud. 

It's the hardest book I've read to the kids. I usually really try to pick books that are super fun and easy to follow along, so this was a bit of a challenge for a certain little boy to sit and listen to the story. Because of that I would only read very small sections of the book each day and my my son would do his best to sit there.

With all that being said I really enjoyed the book. My kids liked the story, but I had to often stop and summarize what was going on. The story is of Ivanhoe, one of King Richard's knights. He and his father have had a falling out because he is from Saxon decent and yet a follower of King Richard. There is a lot of contention throughout the book between the Saxons and the Normans and also the Christians and the Jews.

This is called a romance book because there are two incredibly beautiful maidens, Rowena and Rebecca. Rowena is Ivanhoe's childhood friend, and Rebecca is someone who helped him greatly but she is a Jewess and the Christians and Jews fought among each other. To be honest I was hoping it would have more romance in the story, but my little boys were probably grateful that it had more battles. I'm a sucker for a great love story.

Robin Hood also makes an appearance in the book which was super fun. Some of my kids have read Robin Hood before so they were excited when they knew more about the characters. 

The book has some Latin and French throughout, and unsurprisingly I am not fluent in either language, so sometimes I would just skip over parts that were in another language. I'm sure I also mispronounced most of the French names, but luckily none of my children speak French. 

All my kids liked the book except my seven year old boy, but he doesn't love when I read aloud unless there are pictures.

I would recommend the book for read aloud if your kids are 10+ and if they're mature readers they could read it on their own.

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The Obstacle Is the Way

A while back I read, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph, a book by Ryan Holiday. This is a fantastic book to introduce you into stoicism.

What is stoicism you ask? It is an ancient Greek school of philosophy in Athens. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain. That was straight from Google, I would never use “vicissitudes” in a sentence, I’m not that smart and if we’re being completely honest I’m not 100% sure what that word even means.

Basically, stoicism is enduring a trial without having a nervous breakdown. Not only not having a breakdown, but actually becoming better because of your trial. My nerdy husband and I started reading some of the original stoics works. They have lots of good tidbits in them, but definitely read like an ancient book. I only read a page or two at a time. 

The Obstacle Is the Way takes the ideas of the stoics and puts it into modern writing that everyone can understand. My only hang up with this book, and the reason I haven’t wanted to share it, is that it swears a lot in the book and it is completely unnecessary. I still let my older kids read it because I thought it was such a great book and apparently I’m trying to raise heathens, but I have a hard time recommending it to anyone else because of the language. I’m sure my mom senses are making it worse than it was because my boys said that it wasn’t too bad, but it’s in there nonetheless. 

As I continue to study all about emotions and mental health all the ideas that people are suggesting come from the stoics. I really enjoyed reading about stoicism in layman’s terms and it gave me some great scaffolding in being able to understand the original works.

Some of the topics covered in the book are: live in the present moment, think differently, find the opportunity, the discipline of action, use obstacles against themselves, and one of my favorites, meditate on your own mortality. Those are just a few of the many topics covered.

I absolutely enjoyed the book and so did my husband. I would recommend this book with the warning that it does have language in it.

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Big Life Journal

Not too long ago I read the Mindset. I really enjoyed the book and I was trying to teach the idea to my kids as much as possible. I was very excited when I found a book for kids to teach them how to have a growth mindset.

It’s called Big Life Journal. It is designed for younger kids and their “journal buddy”. You go through 13 different topics over 26 weeks. Some of the ideas are: dream big, believe in yourself, and failure is learning. You take two weeks for each topic.

We have been using the journal for a little over a month now and LOVE it! It asks your kid questions that really make them think. Who is someone you can help? How did you feel when you helped someone? Name something that you would want to invent and how would it help the world?

The book is colorful and has poems and stories throughout. My kids really like it and remind me to do the book with them if I forget. I would suggest that the book is best for kids 6-12 years old. Next year they are coming out with a journal for teens and adults.

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Mindset

My husband and I each just read the book Mindset by Carol S. Dweck and it has rocked our world. It has been one of those books that makes you really look at who you are and what you can become.

The book basically splits people into two different types of thinking, either the fixed mindset or the growth mindset. The fixed mindset says that I am this way and there is no changing it. Other people are talented or successful because they were just born that way. The growth mindset looks at someone successful and thinks how could they do that too? They know they have weaknesses and shortcomings but work hard to overcome them.

One example she gave in the book was about a girl who was a very talented musician. She was giving concerts at a young age and eventually went to Julliard. When she attended the school she didn't think she could learn anything else because she was already so amazing. Eventually, students who weren't as talented ended up surpassing her because they were teachable and practiced. She was about to get kicked out the school before a teacher was able to help her change her mindset. 

Another great thing about the book is it gives you help on how to have a growth mindset and more importantly, how to help your kids have a growth mindset too. One of the recommendations is: at dinner ask your kids what mistakes did they have that day or failures, and how did they overcome them? We have been trying to do this with our kids. The first time we did it only a few kids could even think of anything, but as we keep doing it my kids who think that they never make mistakes were able to start recognizing them, realize they're not that big of a deal, and then try to think of possible solutions in a safe environment. 

She gives a lot examples of famous people that have the different mindsets. It really helped me to better understand the difference between a growth and fixed mindset. I didn't always agree with the author that some of her examples had a growth mindset, but overall I thought she did a great job.

I haven't had my kids read the book, yet, but I talk about the book so much to my kids it's like they've already read it. :) I actually plan on having my older boys read the book sometime this school year. Any mature reader could easily read and understand the book.

Hands down, this is one of the best books I've read this year. I highly recommend it!

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Peter and the Starcatchers

As I was looking through my posts on book review I noticed that I’m just gushing over a lot of them. They are usually ones that I have absolutely loved and can’t help but share them. I thought I should probably be posting about some of the books that aren’t as high on my list too.

Do you feel like you hear too often that you should read classic books? From someone who grew up not reading at all I couldn’t have cared less if a book was a classic or not; I was just happy to be reading a book. But, as I’ve grown and matured so have my tastes in books and I’m finding the beauty that comes with good, classic literature. I love the way the author writes, the vocabulary they use, and the lessons you learn through the story. There is so much depth to the book.

Most everyday I read to my kids. Most have been amazing books that we have loved. I wanted to try something new and I decided to read Peter and the Starcatchers. I actually thought it was the original story that inspired Peter Pan, but because I get lazy I didn’t even check to see if my hypothesis was right. This book came out in 2004.

Peter and the Starcatchers is the first book in a series of five. It is a really fun book. It gives the reasons why Peter Pan can fly, how Tinkerbell came about, why nobody ages on Neverland and so on. It is told in a fun and exciting way that makes the book hard to put down. My kids and I plowed through the book and then they finished the whole series on their own within a few days. 

I have no personal beef with this series and I obviously am I OK with my kids reading them, however, because there is not a lot of depth to book I got really bored with it, and I wouldn't let my kids read it for school. I have no desire to read past the first book. The book didn’t leave me feeling inspired or wanting to change for the better. It was just a fun story. 

I think it is fun every now and then to read a book or series like this, however, I can’t do it very often. I love a good book that makes you think, makes you cry, or inspires you to be a better person. I recommend this book if you are looking for a fun and easy read. It is also a great book for a hesitant reader. Whenever I have a hesitant read who claims that they just don't like to read I have them get into a fun series, and then I have tricked them into loving reading. It has worked every time. :) 

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How Green Was My Valley

My husband will often give suggestions for books for the the kids or me to read. We were looking for a good literature book and he highly recommended, How Green Was My Valley. I do my best to pre read as many books as possible, but it isn't always feasible. So my oldest two boys read this book before I had a chance to dive in.

Whatever the kids are reading they have to narrate it back to me. When my oldest read the book I honestly don't remember ANY of his narrations. I was super pregnant at the time so I'm going to blame it on that. My second son read the book this summer for his literature. He had a really hard time in the beginning of figuring out the book. The characters speak in broken Welsh. Once he figured out their speech he was able to get more into the book. I actually didn't have him narrate the ending to me because I hate having books spoiled.

I just finished reading this book a few days ago and it is amazing!!! The broken Welsh does take a few pages to grasp, but as soon as you do, you will completely love how they are speaking. This book is based in Wales. It is centered around the Morgan family. Their youngest son, Huw, is narrating the book.

The Morgan family lives in a mining community. The book is really just telling about their life. The struggles and the beauty that comes with family. I think what I love about the book so much is the way the author writes. He does such an amazing job at describing the beauty of the valley or how someone feels about another person.

I love the Morgan family. Is it weird to love a fictional family? They always have an open door and always have tea ready for anyone coming by. They truly care about others and it is described so beautifully. The way the author writes is completely intoxicating. I love it.

My husband and I were discussing the book last night and we were both in awe of it. The more we spoke of the book the more our sons, who read it, understood. We looked like a bunch of nerds gushing over the book.

Alright, here is the parental advisory. There is a little bit of language throughout the book. A few crude words and a little bit of swearing. I obviously let my teenagers read it, and I will let my other kids read it too when they're old enough. 

There was also a love scene, but it's not told in a sexual way. It was told in metaphors and my boys had no idea that it was in there. I actually wasn't sure myself, but it alluded to it later in the book, so eventually I figured it out. :)

This book is definitely a more mature book. I would highly recommend it for mature teens and adults. 

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Call It Courage

When I was a kid I only read a few books. The two I remember reading were Ramona and Megan the Klutz. Those are some pretty high quality books. I honestly don't even remember what they were about. 

I married a sexy nerd who read for fun. He helped me get into the habit of reading, but most importantly, helping me read books that are a little higher caliber than Ramona and Megan the Klutz.

When I was reading reviews for Call It Courage, many people shared how this book really impacted them as a kid and how much they still love it. It also had the fancy gold circle on it, The John Newbery Medal, and usually that means it will be an excellent book.

Call It Courage is based in ancient Polynesian times. The story is centered around Mafatu, a 15 year old boy who is afraid of the ocean. The book is his journey of overcoming his fear and venturing out into the sea. He becomes stranded on an uninhabited island and has to figure out how to survive.

It's a quick read. It's only 95 pages and some of the pages have pictures on them. It would be perfect for an elementary aged child. There are Polynesian names throughout that are tricky, well for me, to pronounce.  It was kind of fun that two of the Gods he mentions are Maui and Moana. I think that will be exciting to someone reading the book because of the movie.

One disclaimer. He talks about "eaters of men". It doesn't describe them eating men, but they are mentioned a few times throughout. 

Overall, I liked the book. I'm having my 10 yr old son read it this year in school. I really think he will like the adventure. It also teaches about courage and getting over your fears, which surprisingly I didn't learn in Megan the Klutz.

Book Review: Where the Red Fern Grows

Have you been thinking to yourself that maybe it's been a while since you made your kids cry? Well, if you have, then this is the book for you! :) We just finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows and my kids and I cried our way through the ending. 

I don't know if I'm one of the few people who didn't read this book as a kid, but this was my first time reading the book and I LOVED it. My boys and my girls loved it too. It is so great when we find a book that we all like.

The book is about Billy who lives in the Ozark Mountains and wants nothing more than some coon hounds. The dogs are expensive, so he comes up with a plan to earn the money to buy his dogs. It takes him two years to save up enough money. 

Most of the book is about the adventures he and his dogs have. It is beautifully written and we were completely hooked the whole time. 

Even though I had never read the book I knew what the sad part was at the ending. And even though I knew what was going to happen I still cried through it. All my younger kids cried through the last two chapters too. Even though it is a bit sad it is so beautifully written that I would highly recommend this book. I would like to add that if you have a super sensitive child I would suggest reading together, just in case they need a shoulder to cry on.

Hatchet

This was a fantastic book! Both my sons and daughters really enjoyed this book.

Hatchet is the story of Brian Robeson. His parents recently divorced and he is traveling to Canada to spend some time with his father. He is in a small plane traveling over Canada when the plane crashes in the wilderness of Canada. He barely escapes from the plane with only his hatchet.

The story is absolutely fantastic as Brian tries to figure out how to survive in the wilderness. He has to figure out his shelter, how to get food, and especially figuring out the wild animals in the forest.

The only thing we didn't like about this book was that the ending was too quick. The author spent so much time going into his survival and the change that took place within Brian; then quickly it was all wrapped up and the book was over. My kids and I would have loved a longer ending.

I have a child who is darn near impossible to please, especially when it comes to reading aloud, and he absolutely loved the book. If you knew how difficult my young friend can be to please you would understand what a great endorsement that is for the book.

My favorite thing about this book was that my nine year old daughter found her own hatchet out in the yard and recreated parts of the book. Thank goodness I just happened to have random hatchets just lying around in the yard. :)

Understood Betsy

My friend recommended this book to me months ago. We were in the middle of another book, so as soon as we finished the other one we started Understood Betsy.

I absolutely LOVED this book. My daughters LOVED this book, my sons endured this book, until the end, then they really liked it. The girls and I are so outnumbered with the boys that a lot of our books tend to be more masculine, so it was a nice change to have a more feminine book.

This book was written in 1916 by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. It tells the story of the nine year old orphan, Elizabeth Ann. She lives with two of her aunts who are very protective. She is a small and scared child. 

One of her aunts becomes ill and she has to go live with the Putney cousins on their farm. It is a very different lifestyle from what she was used to in the city. Her aunts have told her how horrible the Putneys are. Elizabeth is very apprehensive to go and stay with them.

From her first encounter with the Putneys she is already becoming a different person. Uncle Henry had her take the reins to the horses while he had some "figgering" to do, a skill Elizabeth didn't have. She was terrified and made a mistake, Uncle Henry did nothing. She quickly learned from it, and figured out how to drive the horses. I love this quote from the book, "It is possible that what stirred inside her head at that moment was her brain, waking up. She was nine years old, and she was in the third A grade at school, but that was the first time she had ever had a whole thought of her very own."

Like I said, my daughters and I instantly loved the book from the first chapter. My boys didn't warm up to the book until 3/4 of the way through. Then they plead for me to finish it because they needed to know what happens. 

Growing Up Duggar

My older kids each read a different book that helps them develop character. I had my daughter read, Growing Up Duggar. I know who the family the Duggars are, but I honestly have never watched their show. My friend is a die hard Duggar fan. She took a road trip and she was hoping somehow they would run into them and become best friends. Any who, she highly recommended this book.

My daughter, who is 11, read this book and really liked it. I don't think she let anything sink in because she continually makes her siblings cry on a daily basis. I'm not trying to be funny, she really does. She is seeing if she can go more than two days without making anyone cry. So far, she hasn't been able to reach her goal. Apparently, I need her to read this book again.

I think there are a lot of good things you can take from this book. It delves into appropriate ways to have relationships with yourself, your family, people in your community, and God. One of things that I really did like about this book was their section on dating. They recommend getting to know someone's character. Instead of just always going out on a date, where the both of you can be on your best behavior, have opportunities to see how they handle real life situations. If they are at your house and a younger sibling spills on your date, does your date freak out? Or, is he calm and patient? 

I also thought this book was a little cheesy. To me, these girls are looking at the world with rose colored goggles. They have had a pretty good life, not perfect, but a reasonably good life. I think they are naive to suggest that if you just pray really hard, everything will work out. They are out trying to talk to girls who have been abused and/or have had horrible upbringings. It's like trying to take diet advice from someone who has never had to diet, and I had hard time believing what they were selling. 

I know, I'm cynical. I'm working on that. Just kidding, I'm totally not. 

So, overall I would recommend this book. Just know that I found it a tad cheesy.