Let's say your children want to read Swiss Family Robinson. The first thing we do when beginning a book is to determine the time in history the story takes place. We ask ourselves how long ago that was, what else was going on at that time and then maybe place a marker on our timeline. The second thing is to determine the location. Where in the world did the Robinson family come from? Where did their ship wreck? Marking these places on a map gives the children a sense of geography. They always want to see where this is in relation to where we live and ask how far away that is or how long would it take us to get there...by car, by plane, by boat. If your children are older, you can take this even farther with social studies of the other location. If the location in the story changes, as in the travels of the Ingalls family in the Little House series, we will of course follow their travels on our map.
The Swiss Family Robinson is loaded with vocabulary words. This lends itself to word study and spelling. It is also loaded with the names of animals and plants and the uses and habitats of each. There are also many, many character lessons in this classic.
Currently, we are reading the Jungle Doctor series. Because there are so many volumes (19, I believe) in the series, we have had ample opportunity for African culture study. Many tribal words are used in these books which have given my young ones an introduction to a foreign language. We have even caught ourselves using some of the words of exclamation around the house. Because the books are based on actual happenings in the life of a true man, we have also enjoyed researching the doctor's life as he truly lived.
Even if you do not homeschool your children, I encourage you to get a little more involved with your reading. Try to ask the children more questions, get more involved with the story. The rewards are great.
Thank you to Carol for today's guest blog post. Carol J. Alexander is a freelance writer in the Everything Home with Carol--Homeschooling, Homesteading, Homemaking.of Virginia. Married for almost 25 years, she's homeschooled her six children for 17. You can read more of her writings on her blog