Cultivating Common Ground with a Book Club
When I envisioned homeschooling, I pictured a long and lonely road. Initially, I thought homeschoolers were pioneers who desired to be independent and knew everything so they didn't need any help.
While there may be a few of those superwomen out there, I am not one of them. Thankfully, a good friend told me about Classical Conversations, and I've been loving homeschooling in community ever since.
Community Offers Accountability
I've found that if there is a hard book I want to read, I need a friend to read with so that I might actually finish it. Reading with friends and knowing that there is a deadline you're all seeking to meet can really boost the desire to get it done.
Accountability sometimes feels like a bad thing, but completing a good book and knowing that your friends have done the same feels really good!
Community Provides Conversation
In no other community have I found a place where I can talk so freely about what I love: educating my children.
With these two blessings of community in mind, my sister started a book club with her CC community to foster friendships and build a common core of literature in which their conversations about anything else might be strengthened. Thankfully, she allowed me to join in on those conversations and I have been blessed by the relationships formed in that first book club.
Here's what we read:
The Core by Leigh Bortins
I consider this book to be a must read for anyone starting out with Classical Conversations. Since my kids are constantly changing, I try to read this book every August/September to help manage my expectations for each of my learners. Often I expect them to perform beyond their developmental abilities. I'm always encouraged when I read this with others, because different ideas resonate with each reader and I retain more of the content when I can discuss it!
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
This book is a reader in the Challenge A program. As a mom with a student in that program, I desired to read all of the books so that I could have a discussion with my son. It was wonderful to first have read and discussed the book with adults so that when it came time to read and discuss it with him, I was prepared and excited. I'm on my sixth read of this book...it gets better every time.
Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons
This is an example of a book that laid on my shelf for two years before I had the courage to read it. The accomplishment of reading this book felt similar to climbing a great mountain. My brain was stretched, but I was also inspired to truly embrace learning Latin, and wished I had the courage (and time) to learn Greek. Maybe one day.
Little Britches by Ralph Moody
This semi-autobiographical book is a reader for Challenge B. I listened to this one on Audible. While the reader was endearing to me because his voice reminded me of someone my dad would enjoy listening to, another friend in the book club was totally distracted by the narrator. Regardless, this story takes the reader back to life on a ranch in Colorado at the turn of the century. This book is the first of a series, so I'll warn you that once you finish this one, you'll be thirsting to hear what happened next!
Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey
We took longer to read this book, but it was my absolute favorite read. No book has impacted my thinking and my very soul like this book did. In my own education, I was trained to passively receive information. Truth was separated into facts and opinions. Pearcey challenged me to see God's Truth as the Total Truth - no split necessary. Sometimes books are engaging early on, and then they become redundant and lifeless as you read. Instead of slowing down, this book picked up interest and speed as she arranged her arguments so beautifully, and laid out an incredible history of the Evangelical church as well as the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the family.
I made it through five books with them that year. Five books that I might not have read without the community and accountability of a book club.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.
I love the balance between Mama/Educator books and stories our kiddos will read eventually. I think having a good share of both is an excellent way to spice up club as readers as well as better equip parents for future conversations. Not to mention, if you buy the $3-$5 dollar books here and there as you go along, it’ll help make a dent in the challenge tuition hike by already having some of the titles in your home library 😉
It is great to collect these books over time! I also enjoy being pushed to read both fiction and nonfiction.