50 Books and Counting

Last new years my son challenged himself to read 50 books on his reading level and over 150 pages. He reached the goal at the beginning of December, and the journey through us both a few lessons about goal setting and achieving. I realized pretty early that the page requirement would have to lose considering how long some of the books on this list are. There was also the issue of books that were 135 pages. Would I prohibit him from reading them? No. I had to set some internal guidelines for what would count and what wouldn't.  The most significant benefit of this adventure was the moment he suggested he would write book reviews for a living at some point in life. He realized that she could read all day and be perfectly happy AND it is possible to do that and earn a living. Of course, that's not all someone who writes books reviews does, so next year we are setting a goal of 12 book reviews. That either means twelve new books or reaching into this list, I will be happy either way. Keep a look out for his book reviews which I will publish here. Special thanks to the staff at our local bookstores, Unabridged and 57th Street Books as well as the Chicago and Evanston Public Libraries.

Here is a complete list of the 51 books and seven audiobooks blerd read this year. *You can listen to the latest episode of conversations with berldhero about complex characters too. The episode contains a random interesting discussion about the representation of governments in the books he has been reading and the significance of complex characters. 

  1. Aesop's Fables

  2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Koningsburg (Author, Illustrator)

  3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (Hogwarts' Library Book)

  4. Max Helsing and the Thirteenth Curse (Max Helsing: Monster Hunter) by Curtis Jobling

  5. Max Helsing and the Beast of Bone Creek (Max Helsing: Monster Hunter) by Curtis Jobling

  6. Hidden Figures: Young Readers Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly

  7. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist

  8. The Boy In the Striped Pajamas

  9. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

  10. N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (2009) by Michael Buckley and illustrated by Ethen Beavers

  11. N.E.R.D.S.: M is for Mama's Boy (2010) by Michael Buckley and illustrated by Ethen Beavers

  12. N.E.R.D.S.: The Villain Virus (2012) by Michael Buckley and illustrated by Ethen Beavers

  13. N.E.R.D.S.: Attack of the Bullies (2013)by Michael Buckley and illustrated by Ethen Beavers

  14. Warriors: The Prophecies Begin Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

  15. Warriors: The Prophecies Begin Fire and Ice by Erin Hunter

  16. Warriors: The Prophecies Begin Forest of Secrets by Erin Hunter

  17. Warriors: The Prophecies Begin Rising Storm by Erin Hunter

  18. Warriors: The Prophecies Begin A Dangerous Path by Erin Hunter

  19. Warriors: The Prophecies Begin The Darkest Hour by Erin Hunter

  20. Warriors: The New Prophecy Midnight by Erin Hunter

  21. The Fairy-Tale Detectives (Sisters Grimm #1) by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson

  22. A Tale Dark and Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm Book 1) by Adam Gidwitz, Dan Santat (Illustrator)

  23. In a Glass Grimmly (A Tale Dark & Grimm Book 2) by Adam Gidwitz, Dan Santat (Illustrator)

  24. The Grimm Conclusion (A Tale Dark & Grimm Book 3) by Adam Gidwitz, Dan Santat (Illustrator)

  25. George and the Big Bang by Lucy and Stephen Hawking

  26. George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Lucy and Stephen Hawking

  27. George and the Unbreakable Code by Lucy and Stephen Hawking

  28. X: a Novel About Malcolm X By Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

  29. Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffery Brown

  30. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

  31. Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown

  32. In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse  by Joseph Marshall

  33. Tales of the Greek Heroes by by Roger Lancelyn Green, Alan Langford

  34. The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

  35. The Genius Files #2: Never Say Genius by Dan Gutman

  36. Wayside School is Falling Down No. 10 by Louis Sachar and Adam McCauley

  37. The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade by Max Brallier

  38. The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier

  39. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

  40. Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 4 by Stan Sakai

  41. Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 5 by Stan Sakai

  42. City of Thirst (The Map to Everywhere) by  Carrie Ryan, John Parke Davis

  43. Thorfinn the Nicest Viking: Awful Invasion by David MacPhail

  44. The Adventures of Captain Underpants (1997) by Dav Pilkey

  45. Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets (1999) by Dav Pilkey

  46. Chika and the River by Chinua Achebe

  47. My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson 

  48.  Nicholas by René Goscinny, Jean-Jacques Sempé

  49. Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

  50. Holes by Louis Sachar

  51. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Audio Books

  1.  Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone
  2. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
  5. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
  6. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
  7. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows





Race Relations over Tacos

We had our neighbor over for dinner. I made tacos. He brought pie and ice cream. My son has never made, friends with the neighbor and I have never had neighbors over for dinner. . We talked about race most of the night. As soon as the kids finished their food, they ran from the table, to hide in the corner with the iPad and that's when the conversation started. I could have guested this put I wasn't fully prepared.

More conversations like this are necessary, and they are gentle reminders of how much some white people are bothered. I wouldn't invite hardly any white people to come to my house and talk about race. That's stress I don't need in my life, but I do think it's important to understand where my son's friends parent's stand on such an important issue. I certainly don't make these types of discussions a practice, put parenting often takes you

Let's be clear about where you stand before our kids spend time together. If your child thinks Christopher Columbus discovered America my son would call bullshit. This oversight call into question what else you choose not to dismantle. I'm not giving the benefit of the doubt, that's basic and here's why  

Adolescence is four blinks away and he will be navigating the city alone, and I need those friends to have a basic understand of privilege and politics. I refuse for my son the become a casualty in someone else's journey; he has his whole life to navigate -isms. For now, we vet friends. I know my vetting will not completely shield him, but to me, that seems like all the more reason to try.

So far so good. #SundayDinner


The Chicago Field Museum

I found a great resource on the Field Museum website. The downloadable PDFs are great for helping me stay focused and discover new parts and perspectives. It is divided by age groups and there is not much for younger learners but I have looked at the sheets for older students and they are certainly adaptable. We also enjoy watching these videos. I find that they are a great alternative to Netflix which usually leads to a mini battle about what counts as educational programming and me making concessions out of sheer fatigue Why am I arguing with a six year old, why is he winning?. There is also a Vimeo page we love. This is my personal favorite.

We are museum enthusiasts thanks to the free passes from the Chicago Public Library. I have also found that Chicago Museums have a lot of resources to help me navigate while educating. These free online resources take our museum experience to another level. Not to mention, how much more capable I always feel. Large museums like The Field can be a bit overwhelming especially if you want it to be educational and interactive, at least for me. My son tends to bounce from thing to thing without really digesting it (I think), which for the most part is fine until we are at the part that fits our homeschooling lesson. Resources like this go a long way for me.