This is my very favorite bookshelf in our house. It’s completely full, so I don’t know what will happen the next time I get a really good book, but for now, almost all of my favorite books are here. There are a few missing titles, due to their placement on other shelves in the house (like Gone with the Wind), but, in general, this is “comfort reading” at its finest!
Our summer school theme this year is British Children’s Literature (OK, British and U.K. lit) and British history. I realize that my definition of literature and the true definition of literature may be different, but I want to make sure we have a good sampling of the well-known British authors. Here’s a list of books we’ll be reading, either as book basket selections, or read-alouds:
- Peter Pan
- The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit
- The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh
- A Bear Called Paddington
- Mary Poppins (the collection)
- The Story of Dr. Dolittle
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Borrowers
- The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book
- The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook
- Just So Stories
- The Jungle Book
- The Adventures of Robin Hood
- Treasure Island
- Wind in the Willows
- King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
- A Little Princess
- The Secret Garden
- The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka
- James and the Giant Peach
- A Child’s Garden of Verses
- Chronicles of Narnia Box Set
- J.R.R. Tolkien Box Set–(The Hobbit and the complete The Lord of the Rings)
We’ll also be using one book for our British history survey: Our Island Story. We’re going to have a lot of reading to do this summer…I can’t wait!
I mentioned Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly a while back, and I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. In short, if you’re a fan of fashion, or Queen Elizabeth II, or history, you’ll love this book!
It’s filled with beautiful pictures of fabrics:
And pictures that show the amazing detail that goes into every aspect of the Queen’s wardrobe:
There are also sketches created by Angela Kelly:
And some photos that can only be described as whimsical:
One of my favorite parts of the book is a picture of the Queen in what can only be described as a “casual” pose…as casual as you can be when you’re Queen, anyway!
Pictures aside, this book is full of information. You’ll learn what kind of fabrics are used, and during which season, and where the fabrics come from. Some of them are quite old! You’ll learn what the team of dressers actually does, and how they keep track of what the Queen has worn in the past.
There are also sections on hats and accessories, which are fascinating. And the care of the Queen’s wardrobe is also discussed, as is packing it up for a trip, big or small. No book about the Queen’s wardrobe would be complete with a section on her jewelry, and there is a nice representation of the different gemstones she favors in photographs. I was very interested to learn how the jewelry is presented to the Queen every day!
A big section of the book is naturally dedicated to the Diamond Jubilee wardrobe, as the subtitle suggests. Of course, the famous three outfits of the Jubilee weekend are shown, but so are less-known outfits, like the ones worn to the Royal Windsor Horse Show, the Sovereign’s Lunch, and the Royal Ascot. And the Queen’s “Bond Girl” dress from the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics is discussed in great detail!
Dressing the Queen is both beautiful and informative. It is practically unheard of for a member of the Queen’s staff to be given permission to write a book about his or her job, which makes this a very special, unique item, with a very unusual perspective. I highly recommend it!
St. Patrick’s Day, one of my five favorite holidays, is almost here! If you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are some fun things we’ve done in the past, plus a few Irish-themed dessert recipes!
And, a list of fun books to read around St. Patrick’s Day:
I hope to do a full review later, but for now, let me just say, if you love the Queen, or fashion, or both, you’ll want to pick it up. The pictures are amazing, and really show the amazing detail that goes into the Queen’s wardrobe, especially for those of us who have only seen her on TV or in print, but never in person!
As you may have noticed, this has been a very British year for our family. Starting in the summer, I began searching for and reading as many books about the monarchy as I could find. I prefer reading “authorized biographies,” especially for contemporary figures, so I focused on finding as many of those as possible. Many of them are out of print, but I was able to track down pretty much everything I was looking for in our library system. I did have a few more “scandalous” books on my list, too, but nothing that was intentionally negative about the royals, and only books written by respectable authors–nothing sensational. Other than general information on the monarchy, I started at about the time of Queen Victoria, and moved to the present day from there.
- King George V by Kenneth Rose
- Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy
- King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler
- King George VI by John Wheeler-Bennett
- Mountbatten by Philip Ziegler
- The Queen Mother by William Shawcross
- Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross
- Dressing the Queen by Angela Kelly
- We Two by Gillian Gill
- The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
- The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford
- Her Majesty: The Court of Queen Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman
- The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr
- Prince Philip by Philip Eade
- Philip and Elizabeth by Gyles Brandreth
- Jubilee! Queen Elizabeth II–60 Years on the Throne by the Editors of Life magazine
- Elizabeth: Reigning in Style by Jane Eastoe
- The Queen’s Jewels by Leslie Field
- Crown Jewels of Britain and Europe by Prince Michael of Greece
- The Queen’s Diamonds by Hugh Roberts (This book and the two that follow are the only ones I haven’t even looked at, as our library system doesn’t have them. I hope to see them eventually, though!)
- Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration by Caroline de Guitaut
- The Crown Jewels by Anna Keay
I didn’t finish reading all of them…there just wasn’t time. But I do intend to go back and finish the rest, because it’s so interesting to read about the history of Europe’s most prominent royal family!
Last year, I shared a list of books we’d be using in “Christmas School.” Some of those books won’t be repeated this year (especially anything American Santa heavy), as the theme is different, and I’ve also added a few books, mainly to go along with this year’s focus on Christmas in England:
- Letters from Father Christmas–Yes, it’s a Santa book, but it’s also something of a Tolkien classic, and quite timely, as Turkey and Bunny have both recently read The Hobbit.
- A Child’s Christmas in Wales–This classic will be added to our permanent collection.
- The Christmas Bird–I haven’t been able to determine if this legend originated in England, or if it’s just popular there, but robins at Christmastime appear to be a British custom.
- An Edwardian Christmas–This is a tiny little picture book, but the pictures are beautiful, and show what Christmas was like in England at that time.
- The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems
- Father Christmas and the Donkey
- Victorian Christmas–Technically, this book is about Christmas in America, but it shows how England influenced American Christmas celebrations, so decided to include it.
- Christmas in England
- A Christmas Carol–A classic that’s been in our family library for years, but is especially appropriate for this year’s English Christmas theme…it will be our main read-aloud.
- A Christmas Dinner–Another Christmas book by Charles Dickens
- The Jolly Christmas Postman–Another Santa book, but the Jolly Postman seems to be very popular in England, so it must be included.
- Christmas in the Trenches–This book was already in our library, but as it focuses on the temporary truce between British and German soldiers during WWI, it has a special place in school this year.
- The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book–While this anthology has stories from all over the world, it’s printed by a British publisher, so I thought it fit the year’s theme.
- The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit–Not written by Beatrix Potter herself, but inspired by her farm.
- How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas–Even though this series is about the origin of the Santa stories, I really like the books. This one focuses primarily on the Puritans in America, as well as the English Parliament’s interference with Christmas celebrations.
- Christmas in Williamsburg–This is another book that focuses on Christmas in America, but we’ll specifically looking at the colonial period, when America was still under British rule.
We’ll also be using our book basket time to read all of the other many Christmas books we love!
Last year, I posted a list of books we read for our “Christmas in American History” unit. I decided to re-organize that list of books, removing some that we don’t normally read, and adding a few new ones for this year. Later, I’ll be creating a seperate list, which will contain the books we’re using this year for “Christmas in England,” but won’t necessarily use on a yearly basis.
- Jotham’s Journey (This and the following two books are part of an Advent series by Arnold Ytreeide–we read one of them out loud each year)
- Bartholomew’s Passage
- Tabitha’s Travels
- The Jesse Tree Kit (This is our other daily religion read-aloud for the Advent season–each day has a short narration as well as a corresponding Bible passage to read.)
- The Very First Christmas
- Three Wise Women of Christmas
- The Visit of the Wise Men
- Fear Not, Joseph!
- The Crippled Lamb
- From Heaven Above
- The First Christmas
- Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
- Lucia, Saint of Light
Christmas in America
- Christmas in Williamsburg
- Felicity’s Surprise
- A Surprise for Caroline
- Josefina’s Surprise
- Kirsten’s Surprise
- Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury
- Addy’s Surprise
- Samantha’s Surprise
- O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi
- Kit’s Surprise
- An Orange for Frankie
- The Carpenter’s Gift
- Molly’s Surprise
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- The Day Before Christmas
- Degas and the Little Dancer
- The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet
- The Nutcracker
- Nutcracker and Mouse King and the Tale of the Nutcracker
Book Basket Books–(These are any Christmas books we happened to have in the house, some from past “Christmas Around the World” units, and some from previous curriculum, or just for fun!)
- The Family Under the Bridge
- The Light at Tern Rock
- A Christmas Carol (This is a wonderful edition, with beautiful illustrations, and a bonus short story!)
- Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker
- Christmas in the Trenches
- The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories
- The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book
- Too Many Tamales
- The Twelve Days of Christmas (There are many lovely, illustrated versions of this song out there, but this one is my favorite)
- A Child’s Christmas in Wales
- The Autobiography of Santa Claus (This and the following book, although Santa focused, are actually great stories, so I make them available for Turkey and Bunny to read during the Christmas season.)
- How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
- A Pioneer Christmas
Winter Books (As long as winter begins during the Christmas season, I’ll include the books we always read on the first day of winter)
Last year, I shared a list of books that we were reading in our Thanksgiving studies. That list has been updated, to include four additional books I’ve added for this year:
- P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet
- Balloons over Broadway–A true story about a puppeteer in the Macy’s Parade.
- Sarah Gives Thanks–Based on the story of Sarah Josepha Hale (author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), who petitioned President Lincoln to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving.
- Over the River and Through the Wood
Plus a few craft books that we’ve used the last several years, and a few others that I’d like to try, but I never thought to include:
- Great Colonial America Projects You Can Build Yourself
- Colonial Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in the New World
- Colonial Days
- Easy Make and Learn Projects: Colonial America
- More Than Moccasins: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life
I’m looking forward to this year’s “Thanksgiving School”…it’s one of my favorite units every year!