Bookish Life | Classical Conversations

Strengthen Your Reading Muscles with the Classics

By on October 14, 2019

I recently enjoyed a debate with some teenagers about what makes a good book. We were reading a classic with which they were struggling to connect. This started a lively discussion on the merits of reading this book. Was it a good book? What makes a book good?

My final conclusion was that a book is good when you can learn from it. This doesn't mean non-fiction, fact-based books are the only good books. It means that I am challenged, encouraged, inspired, and changed by reading it. As the reader, the burden of learning something from the book is on me. Classics make good teachers because they don't give up their goodness easily. You have to fight for it.

Is the Bible a good book?

If a student believes that books are good if they instantly capture their attention, keep them up all hours of the night waiting to see what happens next, and thrill them with delight with an unexpected ending, then they will find very few classics "good". The extension of this idea is that if no classics are good books, then the Bible, which is the greatest classic of all time, is not a good book.

Does God's word instantly draw us in to its truth? Do we stay up all night waiting to see what happens next in God's story? Is the ending so delightful that we can't wait to start the book all over again?

These kinds of questions challenge me. My pastor recently suggested trying to sit down and read the Bible in a day. He wasn't suggesting studying it, but simply reading it like you would a good book - a page turner. While I didn't make it all the way through in one day, I did start trying to read it like I would approach my favorite books. I've learned that as I become a stronger reader, I have greater access to the Bible. So I'm working my brain out on some classics, and finding the strength training allows me to appreciate all of the books of the Bible.

Challenge in reading the classics

Classic literature poses many challenges that make you fight to glean their goodness. The Bible is no different.

1. The Language is foreign

You don't actually have to find a book in a foreign language for it to feel like your reading in a foreign language. Have you tried to read Canterbury Tales in the original Old English recently? It doesn't even sound like English. The Pilgrim's Progress can feel the same in the sense that it just isn't written with the vocabulary and sentence structure that modern writers utilize.

2. The Time Period is foreign

The next difficulty readers face is the fact that they aren't living in the time period of the author. Even a modern historical fiction book is easier to read because the author shares the same time period as their reader. That means that they know how to bridge the gap between modern thinking and historical thinking. Gulliver's Travels is a challenging read because his satire aims its jabs at the culture of the day. If you're not familiar with 18th Century English government or the Whigs and Tories, then you might miss his point.

3. The Writing Style is foreign

Even worse, each generation has its favorite style of literature to devour. You may not appreciate Robinson Crusoe if you're not a fan of travel adventure novels. In the same way, you might miss the beauty of Gothic romances like Jane Eyre if you're hoping it will be a modern romance.

I totally understand the challenge here because I grew up reading Sweet Valley High. The good news is that even someone who didn't grow up appreciating the more challenging literature can grow to love it in time.

Moving from Foreign to familiar

In order to move from the foreign to the familiar we're going to have to build a bridge. That's going to take work. It won't be easy. Here are some tools to help bridge the gap between our modern sensibilities and those of the classic authors.

1. suspend judgment

It is way too easy to start a book, struggle getting into the story, and then just stop reading. I've found that many books I've thought were dull came to life by the end like A Tale of Two Cities. Then again there are those that dragged on forever and never seemed to end...but I had to get to the end of the book before I could fully make that assessment. Persist to the end before you start to make a judgement.

2. Employ curiosity

As I read, I like to try to see if I can discover the hidden beauty in a book. If it is deemed a "classic", how did it earn that title? It is like when someone tells you that a song is their favorite, you listen to it differently. Someone has found some profound beauty in this work, so there must be something to find.

Another strategy I've used is to read a book with the attitude of this is the most interesting thing I've ever read! When I think it is interesting, I can usually find something that is interesting when I read.

3. Keep Moving

One of the best tools I've used is Audible. I love listening to the book aloud as I read along. This helps my brain keep from wandering and gives me that extra boost to finish reading to the end. I know Tolkien says, "Not all who wander are lost," but I think it is definitely true that all who wander while they're reading are lost! Having an audio version of a book helps to discipline your focus as you read, which will allow you to get more out of everything you read.

4. Take notes

I know this idea can seem counterproductive to my previous encouragement, but note taking helps to focus your interest in the story and draw out some of those meaningful observations. This is where you can bring out your detective skills and see if you can find hidden connections that aren't visible on the first pass. While you can simply take notes on each chapter, here are some alternative solutions:

  • Make a Character Chart - list the characters and map out their relationship to one another or encounters with one another.
  • Timeline of Events - Every good detective knows that the timeline is where you start when trying to figure out what is happening
  • Map Out the Story - Sometimes it can be helpful to map out the story in a way that fuses the two together in a character chart timeline. It can get kind-of messy, but it is sure helpful in gaining understanding of the overall story.

5. Get Help

There is nothing wrong with allowing a guide to help you walk through the process. I love to use SparkNotes to ensure I'm understanding what I'm reading. I'm not using the notes to read the book for me, but to keep me on the right track. One resource that transformed my reading is the CiRCE Institute's highlighting method. They have a book now that explains the process: A CiRCE Guide to Reading.

Here are some other resources I love on how to read:

It's also helpful to have some resources that introduce you to the stories:

What Happens when you become a stronger reader?

With anything you practice, you become stronger and better able to navigate the challenges of difficult material. It comes slowly, but each time you read you become better able to see things that you couldn't see before. It's like you're slowly gaining access to a whole other world.

Martin Luther fought for a whole generation of people to have the Bible in their own language so they wouldn't be dependent upon someone else to translate it for them. Today we have access to the Bible in our own language, but we either don't read it or we can't. It's probably a combination of both.

We need to strengthen our reading skills so that we don't slip into a world again where people don't read the Bible for themselves and therefore don't think for themselves.

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations

Challenge IV Resources & Ideas for Making A Memorable Senior Year

By on May 27, 2019

Not many make it to the final year of the Challenge program. Our son was old enough to graduate at Challenge III (just barely), but we opted to finish out the program, and we are so thankful that we did. Challenge IV is such an incredible year focusing on cultivating leadership.

The students really take charge this year leading three out of the six seminars: reasoning, literature, and debate. This gives them so many opportunities to practice those leadership skills.

Reasoning: Theology

Students read through most of the Old Testament and New Testament in the Reasoning seminar of Challenge IV. In addition, they're reading through some great books as they go including:

One of my all time favorite resources for reading through the Bible (and understanding what's going on) is the outline videos from the Bible Project.

Exposition - Ancient Literature

The exposition strand walks students through five ancient texts including:

Peter Leithart's book, Heroes of the City of Man, walks students through these texts while pointing always to the Christian truths and themes that flow through these pagan tales.

I also appreciate the worldview guides from Canon Classics. It's always great to have an additional source to lean on in difficult texts.

One of the first tasks to do in Challenge IV is to make a family tree or chart of the gods. Here are some resources that helped us understand that:

Students who had read the Percy Jackson series knew all of this information already and didn't have any troubles!

Debate - World History

In this seminar, students use Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself as their World History text.

They also have six speeches (some impromptu) in this seminar over the year. One helpful hint is to keep a timeline or reference list of the "discoverers" that are discussed and where you can find them in the book.

I found this two volume boxed set of The Discoverers at Half Price Books. It has beautiful full color pictures throughout that just enhance the text.

Tutor Led Seminars

The three seminars that are led by the tutor are math, Latin, and Physics. Although they are tutor led, there is still so much student discussion and participation that the richness comes from what the students bring to class.

Making the Senior Year Memorable

There are some major events that are included in the senior year that parents and tutors have to keep an eye out for. It's so helpful when parents partner with the tutor to help make them happen.

Senior Thesis Retreat

One of the options for students in the Spring Semester is to write a Senior Thesis. This is a persuasive paper that ranges from 12-20 pages in length. They get to choose their topic, research it, and then present it before a panel of judges to defend their stance.

In February, to encourage students to get a strong start on this project, and as a way to motivate them to keep pressing on in their Senior year, my husband and I took the class on a Senior Thesis Retreat.

I found an inexpensive Airbnb (which was easy because it was the off season for travel) and we took the class to Austin for three nights. It was really the highlight of our year.

The first night, to warm us up to discussing thesis ideas, we played Bring Your Own Book with the books they brought to research their thesis. This was such a fun way to play with the ideas they were thinking through in a lighthearted way.

We ate five meals at the lake house and so I assigned each of them as the star of the meal. During that meal their thesis topic was the focus of the group's discussion. This was a great opportunity to get to know their thoughts and heart behind the topic they chose and to help them think through challenging aspects of their idea.

We also spent one night out in Austin, TX just exploring the town and enjoying one another's company. This trip really solidified their friendships and made the final weeks of class really special.

Senior Thesis Night

The Senior Thesis replaces the Blue Book in the Spring Semester of Challenge IV. We had our Senior Thesis night the night before graduation. This allowed family members who had come into town for the graduation to attend both events.

Each student had thirty minutes of focused time on their thesis. Two judges stayed the same for all of the students and each student invited one judge to join them on their turn to present.

If you ever get an opportunity to attend one of these events, go to it! It was simply amazing to watch them stand and share their heart on a topic that was important to them.

Graduation

Not every community hosts a formal graduation ceremony, but our group wanted one so we worked together to put one together.

Each student put together a table to represent their achievements over the years. This was a fun way for friends and family to get to know all of the students better. Some things we included on our table were:

  • Favorite books read throughout the years
  • Awards from academic and athletic achievements
  • Pictures through the years
  • Future plans (like college paraphernalia)
  • Objects that reflected interests (travel, gardening, wood working, music, etc.)

The students decided that they only wanted to wear the cap and not the gown. They also decided to keep the ceremony simple by allowing each student to have a slide show and then their parents to say one or two sentences as they presented the diploma.

This was a good thing, because nearly every parent that attempted to speak was quickly in tears. We were all so proud of our graduates!

Instead of having a speaker come talk to the graduates, our graduates gave the commencement speech themselves. They worked together to write a speech that talked about the importance of leadership. Each student wrote and delivered a piece of the speech. It was incredible to see the students expressing the joy of the education they had received.

I'm so thankful that we encouraged our son to finish out the Challenge program. His class was such a blessing to him. I know for certain that he's ready to be launched and that he'll be a confident leader wherever he goes - leading others towards truth, goodness, and beauty.

Looking for resources from another level?

Challenge A

Challenge B

Challenge I

Challenge II

Challenge III

Challenge IV

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations

What’s on my bookshelf: Challenge III Resources

By on May 20, 2019

The Classical Conversations Challenge III program is where the incredible fruits of the entire program just start to explode all around. With Shakespeare, poetry, and philosophy, this is one of my husband's favorite levels to tutor. This year looks into consequences of choices made in literature, American history, and so much more.

As with all of my resource book lists, these items are all optional. I'm also including some of my favorite extra adventures that we did with the class that really made this year special.

Exposition

Shakespeare

Challenge III shifts the literature reading from 18 books in Challenge II down to 5 Shakespeare plays. This allows students to really dig into the plays. They read together, discuss the stories, and memorize lines to present to the class.

My absolute favorite resource is Peter Leithart's book, Brightest Heaven of Invention. He walks readers through the plays and explains the structure of the work as well as spiritual themes that run through each one. This is a required reading for students, but for parents, it would be a great way to stay connected to the reading with your students and offer great conversation starters for discussing these big ideas further.

Shakespeare Movie Nights

One of our favorite things to do included hosting Shakespeare movie nights. I got the idea from The Pioneer Woman and we found it a fun way to build community while getting a better idea of what was happening in the plays!

Much Ado About Nothing is a really fun play to start with watching together. Watch out for about the first ten minutes though...the group is cleaning up to welcome the soldiers and there is a lot of joyful showering that is completely unnecessary! We used a science fair board to cover the screen until the scene passed.

Julius Caesar was a little difficult to follow, but what really helped was reading a summary before we watched it. This helped us track with the story line.

All of the boys loved Henry V and the battle scenes. Kenneth Branagh happens to be very involved in bringing Shakespeare to life, so it's funny to see him again as a different character.

We did not watch Macbeth together. There aren't any versions of that movie that aren't rated R. We did watch an animated version that was pretty creepy. This animated cliffs notes will give you an idea of why that might be the case.

Fun with Hamlet

At the end of the year, students are given the option to stage a mock trial for Hamlet. They get to put him on trial to argue whether he was crazy or a murderer.

We also didn't watch Hamlet for a couple of reasons. The first was that the Kenneth Branagh version of the movie, which is excellent for the most part, has a flashback of Hamlet and Ophelia's romantic relationship that would not be presented in a stage play. Without that visual imagery, this movie is incredible. Maybe if you had a clear play DVD player...but we opted out.

The other reason that we didn't watch the movie was that my son's class decided that instead of doing the mock trial, they'd create a dramatic presentation of Hamlet for our community. By not watching the movie, this gave them dramatic license to creatively express the story in their own way.

This was the highlight for the class this year, and such a great way for them to work together on a project.

Other Shakespeare Books on My Shelf

Ken Ludwig's How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare has been one of my favorites even though I've never read it all the way through. It brings out the beauty of the language in an approachable way.

I also love any any of the DK reference books. They do a great job of summarizing information and giving students a great resource for researching more.

These little Shakespeare children's story books are a fun way to get a basic idea of what will be happening in the play. We always start here.

Then we read the Charles and Mary Lamb version of the play to get another layer of familiarity with the characters before we dive into the full Shakespearean language.

Poetry

The other element of exposition in Challenge III that really enhances their writing is the poetry emphasis. Students work through Roar on the Other Side: A Guide for Student Poets and write poetry throughout the year.

At the end of the year they can put together a poetry anthology, or a formal physical presentation of their poetry. My son used Blurb to put his together and it was a beautiful keepsake for his work.

Debate

While the reading volume goes down in the literature department, it increases in the history department, but this is a great shift.

American History

To give you a little bit of perspective on the depth of A Patriot's History of the United States, the Audible form of the book has a running time of 55 hours and 43 minutes. Pause for a minute and take that in. While it is a lot of reading, it is a really great read.

We enjoyed listening to The Intellectual Devotional: American History during morning time with the family when my oldest was working through this study.

One of my favorite American History resources is The Landmark History of the American People by Daniel Boorstin. He writes in a very interesting way and helps add perspective to the topic that can be great for enhancing conversations.

Throughout the semester, students write papers and present speeches on the topics they're reading. I loved having Joy Hakim's series on my shelf for researching purposes. I've found this whole set used over the years, so I didn't pay the full price of a new set.

Study Tips

One thing that my son did that really helped him keep the stories straight was to create an "important events" journal. For each chapter in the book he picked two or three major events to summarize. This worked well for preparing for speeches that he had to give as well as just helping him process the material he was reading.

Lincoln-Douglass and Team Policy Debate

The skills of formal debate are continued to be practiced and cultivated in Challenge III through a Lincoln-Douglass debate in the Fall like Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified, and a Team Policy debate in the Spring like The United States federal government should substantially curtail its domestic surveillance.

My absolute favorite resource for debate is the Debate Trivium Table. This gives students the order of each of the debates, tips on the importance of each section of the debate, and explains the stock issues that will help them win their arguments.

I also love the Rhetoric Trivium Table as they move into more presentations. This helps them work through the five canons of Rhetoric to make their presentations memorable.

Chemistry

The Chemistry study in Challenge III looks at consequences from a scientific perspective. Every week students are working through labs in class and discussing their results.

Although some of the labs were extremely short, if students had read the module and come with their lab books ready for the experiment, the conversations were greatly enhanced. Looking at the cause and effect patterns in the labs will only be understood when the at home assignments were completed.

Periodic Table Helps

One really helpful tool is knowing and understanding how the periodic table flows. Some great books on my shelf include:

Math in Chemistry

Stoichiometry is the math that will make or break your Chemistry study this year. Students must attend to the language of this math in order to find success in Chemistry. Kahn Academy has a great Stoichiometry series that students can watch to help them through their studies.

Here are some other online resources that you might seek out for help in this department:

Chem4Kids - Reactions: Stoichiometry

Stoichiometry and Balancing Reactions

How do you solve a stoichiometry problem?

Reasoning

This is always one of the students' favorite seminars.

Philosophy

The first semester centers around The Consequences of Ideas by R.C Sproul. There is a whole video series that corresponds with this book that is fantastic. You can access it here, on RightNow Media, or you can get the DVD free here!

Students walk through the beliefs of different philosophers over the years.

As always, I like to have additional resources at home to have another point of reference if a certain philosopher is confusing.

One of the books that used to be in the Challenge I curriculum is Sophie's World. This is a fun introduction to philosophy as it is told in story form. This would be a great summer read in preparation for the semester's studies.

I've also collected a few dictionaries of philosophy from used book sales to keep on the shelf. There isn't a specific one that I just love, but I really like having multiple resources especially in something like philosophy.

Logic & Socratic Dialogues

In the second semester, students take on Advanced Formal Logic and begin to apply the skills they've been learning to actual writings. One of the challenges they face is finding good articles that express the types of syllogisms they're studying. Here are some great options:

They'll also be digging into Plato's Meno which asks the question: what is virtue and can it be taught. The students write a paper on this topic, which ended up being my husband's favorite all time paper from any of his challenge tutoring days. He also put their papers together into an anthology with Blurb to give to them as a gift.

Latin

In Challenge III, students finish up Henle's Second Year Latin book in the first semester and move on to Henle's Third Year Latin book in the Spring. They finish up translating Caesar and then move on to translating Cicero.

The vocabulary can be a little more challenging because it moves away from the war terminology. The footnotes are very helpful for keeping up with the new vocabulary.

Also, don't forget how helpful the answer key can be. Since this is a speech, it is good to read how the answer key translates the arguments.

Math

If you're using Saxon, I think the biggest help is knowing how the pace you choose can relate to your student's high school transcript. First of all, it is good to note where you get that Geometry credit.

Since it's incorporated in with Algebra, you get ½ of the Geometry credit when you complete Algebra II, and the other half when you finish the first 60 lessons of Advanced Math. This also leads to a question about pace.

If you're wanting your student to take Calculus, you'll want to work to complete the Advanced Math book in their Challenge III year. If you're not that ambitious, you can slow down your math pace and take two years to complete the Advanced Math text book. This is what we chose.

Here are some more thoughts on Saxon Advanced Math on the Transcript that I found very helpful.

Challenge III

By the time most students reach Challenge III, they will be driving and have jobs. This will be the most challenging aspect of their year: how do they fit it all in. While the workload seems to decline a bit, their rhetorical assignments (think presentations) ramp up. It can be difficult to juggle it all.

Always keep in mind that as the parent, you have a vision in mind for your student. Work together with your student and their tutor to make sure that the choices that you guys make together fall in line with that vision. Trust the process and enjoy the fruits of your laboring together.

Looking for resources from another level?

Challenge A

Challenge B

Challenge I

Challenge II

Challenge III

Challenge IV

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations

What’s On My Bookshelf: Challenge II Resources

By on May 13, 2019

The Classical Conversations Challenge II program is one of my favorites. With British literature, artists and composers, and Socratic dialogues, I feel a bit indulgent as a tutor to walk through these studies with students. I love that many of the things I collected from my Foundations years are revisited in Challenge II. It is a year of contemplating choices, and it is rich with great content.

As with all of my resource book lists, these items are all optional. Sometimes, in order to wrap your head around something, you need a little more help. So here are my helps for Challenge II, strand by strand.

Latin

We're finally promoting to Henle's Second Year Latin book. This is exciting and scary. Not all students make it through the first year book, but that's okay. If they've mastered the concepts through Lesson 26, they can move on to the second year book.

However, they shouldn't fully retire that purple book. There isn't a whole lot of explanation of concepts in the second year book, so you'll want to refer back to the first year book to fill in the gaps.

In the second semester, you start translating some of Caesar's conquest of Gaul. We struggled some in this work because the story was so unfamiliar to us. I found this English translation of the work super helpful for tracking with the ideas!

Latin with Andy also has resources for all of the lessons in Henle 2, along with vocabulary sheets, flashcards, and other great resources!

Debate

Western Cultural History

Walking through Francis Schaeffer's book How Should We Then Live, students gain an understanding of how the philosophies of the day are expressed in the arts.

"Art is a reflection of God’s creativity, an evidence that we are made in the image of God."

Francis Schaeffer

The video series that goes along with the text is available on Amazon Prime. I have the DVD set to watch in class, but this is great for families to watch together at home and discuss.

Another great resource I've gathered over the years are the Picture Portfolios by Simply Charlotte Mason. I love having these large, full color versions of the paintings to enjoy observing together for all of those comparison papers they'll be writing!

Along with these pictures, I've collected a variety of books that give additional background information on the artists. These books are great resources for cultivating great discussions in the classroom.

Policy Debate/Lincoln Douglass Debate

Another aspect of the Debate strand in Challenge II is actual policy debate and Lincoln Douglass debate. My very favorite resource is the Debate Trivium Table.

It includes such great information about the flow of a debate, the purposes of each part, and what to watch for (stock issues).

In the second semester, students are introduced to Lincoln Douglass debates which focus on debating morals. One of the topics they can debate is whether one should risk their life for art. This is a great topic as they've been immersed in the study of the arts all year. Some excellent movies that help walk students through this idea are The Monuments Men and The Rape of Europa.

Exposition

Oh my favorite subject! First of all, if you haven't seen my Challenge reading trackers, you need to find those and print them off. There are so many amazing books to read in Challenge II that parents will want to dive in with their students!

Socratic Circles

I introduced my Challenge I students to Socratic Circles at the end of the year. This is an amazing way for students to discuss a book together.

Basically, we had two circles of students: an inner circle (the discussers), and an outer circle (the observers). I set a timer for ten minutes and allow the inner circle to discuss the assigned reading using open-ended questions like the ones on my conversation placemat.

The outer group has one person in the inner circle that they focus on to assess their participation in the discussion. I printed the first sheet of this resource for them to use as a scale for assessment.

What ends up happening is that the inner group focuses harder on having an excellent conversation because they know that they're being watched. The outer group focuses on listening well because they know that they'll have to assess the inner group.

Once the timer is done, the inner group is quiet, and the outer group tells their partner what they did well and what the most interesting addition to the conversation that they heard. They also get an opportunity to share what they would have added to the conversation.

Then everyone switches places, the timer is set for another ten minutes, and another conversation starts. This has been such a great way to deepen conversations and whet the appetite for more. I've found they don't want to stop discussing once they've tasted good discussion,

Here are some other options for socratic discussions:

British Literature

There are so many great books in the line up for Challenge II. Some of them can be daunting though, so I love having some of these fun abridged versions that help students get the idea of the story before tackling it.

Movies are also a fun way to enjoy the books, however, I believe that this is only a good option after you've read the book! As these stories get more "adult" you should always check out the movie's reviews before watching it with the whole family!

Worldview Literature Guides

I love the Worldview Guides from Canon Press. I have a couple that walk through the books we read this year:

Another one of my favorite thinkers is Peter Leithart. He has some excellent resources for Jane Austin novels including a glimpse into the morals written into the stories, and a biography of the author herself. Leithart's writing challenges me to think at a deeper level. I love that.

Biology

As a Challenge director, this seminar requires the most expensive supplies. Thankfully, our community has had a few years of Challenge II classes to build up a good stash of the basics to build off of. The labs are all done in community, so if you're not a director, you don't need any of this.

We opted for one microscope that connects to a computer for logging our work.

The other microscope is basic without the extra features, but it does the job well.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, getting the perfect specimen on a slide is nearly impossible. I love having these prepared slides for backup.

I like to use Carolina Biological Supply company for my specimens and tools for dissection.

Reasoning

Logic

In Challenge II, students take on Advanced Formal Logic and begin to apply the skills they've been learning to actual writings. One of the challenges they face is finding good articles that express the types of syllogisms they're studying. Here are some great options:

Plato's Dialogues

In the second semester, students read through and discuss Plato's dialogue: Crito. Basically, Socrates has been convicted of polluting the minds of youth in the previous dialogue, Apology. While he's in prison awaiting his execution, Crito, his good friend, shows up to try to convince him to escape and save his life. It's a really fascinating discussion.

As far as this goes, I've found that the more of Socrates dialogues I've read, the more they build on one another. They're short and pretty easy to understand (surprisingly). This is a fun seminar which yields great discussion.

There are so many great branches of study in Challenge II. I look forward to digging into them again with my next round of students.

Looking for resources from another level?

Challenge A

Challenge B

Challenge I

Challenge II

Challenge III

Challenge IV

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations | Printables

Free Summer Reading Tracker for CC Students

By on April 15, 2019

As we're wrapping up the school year, I generally start looking at what's coming next and looking at how to keep the learning going. We've participated in many summer reading programs over the years with our local library, and that got me thinking about new fun ways to track our reading. Combining my love of coloring and bullet journals, I came up with these fun printables for you to use as a summer reading tracker for your CC students (moms too)!!

summer reading tracker

Why Summer Reading?

I always dream of keeping the learning going over the summer. I dream of getting school accomplished in the mornings and playing in the afternoons. As good as that sounds to me, the uncertainty of the summer nearly always cancels my plans. Truthfully, I'm thankful for this. It is important to live a full life with friends and family.

So summer reading is really one of the best ways to continue pursuing learning while loving those around us. Getting a head start on the CC book list also helps to take some of the burden off the reading load in the school year as a Classical Conversations Challenge student. (Pro tip...the books are listed in the CC catalog in the order in which they're read throughout the year).

summer reading tracker

Summer Reading Tracker

Really, these could serve as an anytime reading tracker, but I'm hoping that they will motivate me and my kids to pursue some of the books that we'll discuss in the next school year over the summer.

Last summer, I read some of the books with my kids and took notes as we read so that we could remember what we read. It was so helpful for my youngest who was entering Challenge A. I like to prepare my new to Challenge students to ease the transition. She listened to the books again during the school year on Audible. It worked really well!

summer reading tracker

So this summer I wanted to continue our reading progress with a fun summer reading tracker. I've gone through the Challenge program reading list and created a coloring sheet of sorts to color along as you make progress in the book.

I printed them on full sheet sticker labels and then cut out each book. This way we can add the sticker to our bullet journal and track our progress as we go.

summer reading tracker

Free Summer Reading Tracker Printable Download

Okay friends...let's get serious here for a second. This download includes 70 images:

  • 6 Challenge big picture stickers to track how many of the books you've completed

64 book covers :

  • 10 books in Challenge A
  • 5 books in Challenge B
  • 19 books in Challenge I (with two optional reads - The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Old Fashioned Girl - check with your tutor on those)
  • 18 books in Challenge II
  • 5 books in Challenge III
  • 5 books in Challenge IV

The stickers are about 2 ½" X 3" and each one is numbered based on the number of chapters in the book. If a particular book happens to not have chapters, like The Old Man and the Sea, I've numbered it based on the number of pages in the book.

The only restriction on this download is that you don't make some kind of legalistic activity out of these! If you find you want to color the designs in a different order than numbered, DO IT! Enjoy it! There is no right way to use this!

reading tracker for bujo

End of Year Gifts

I'm so excited about these fun little treasures that they're going to be my end of year gifts for my Challenge I class! I found some cute journals at Costco and some washi tape on sale at Hobby Lobby.

I'll print off the pages that feature the Challenge II book covers (um....there are 18 books to read in Challenge II), and gift them some inspiration for getting a head start on next year's reading.

end of year gift

These would also be fun to gift your kids with a set of new markers or colored pencils to encourage them on finishing the year strong.

So what are you waiting for?! Download your fun summer reading trackers for your CC students and get busy reading!

summer reading tracker free download

Happy reading, coloring, and bullet journaling!

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