We’ve been in a homeschool book club with four or five other families. It originally started out as a boys’ book club where they would read the books themselves, but reading abilities were all over the place and one little sister wanted to be involved so moms generally ended up reading the books out loud. Then this year another family was invited to join which has all girls save a 1-year-old boy so the “boys’ book club” club has evolved a bit. I think it’s been a good thing though. We have many more options for books if the children don’t have to be able to read them by themselves and we’ve had some really outstanding picks this year.
I think our family’s overall favorite was The Hobbit, but here are some of our other favorite books from this past year:
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin–I remember loving this book when I was about twelve. It’s a great mystery. Some others in our book club had a hard time keeping track of the 16 or so characters who have to solve a mystery in order to get some of old Mr. Westing’s fortune after he is apparently found dead in his mansion. We listened to it on audio though so that helped us keep everyone straight with the different voice inflections by the reader. Now I see that Raskin has written several other mysteries that I should read with the boys.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio–This was our last book club read for the year and brought about a lot of good discussion in our book club meeting. It’s about a 5th-grade boy with a severe facial deformity that is going to public school for the first time after being homeschooled, and just how that turns out. It’s broken down into sections that are told from different characters’ points of view, which I really liked, so at the end you weren’t wishing you could read the story again but from another perspective. I thought the author did a really great job of telling a very complete story, and brought up some really good points about friendship, acceptance, and not judging others on first impressions. I did have a hard time believing that Augie and his friends were just 5th-graders with all of their talk about dating and some of their behaviors. They felt a lot older to me, and all the social drama of public school really made me awfully glad I’m homeschooling! But we still liked the book!
Another book that we liked that wasn’t for book club was The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. Eben, an 11-year-old boys in 1920s Missouri, is fascinated by the Seven Wonders of the World. His pa challenges him to find seven wonders in his own small town and promises him a ride to Colorado on the train if he can find them. We loved reading about Eben and his quest to find the wonders that are right under his nose.
Lastly, also on our own, we’ve been enjoying the Green Knowe series by L. M. Boston. First we read The Children of Green Knowe together about a boy, Tolly, who goes to live with his grandmother and eventually comes to meet the other children that live on (or rather, haunt) the estate. I guess there are six or seven books in the series and the boys have read the few of them that our library has. We recently watched From Time to Time which is based on The Chimneys of Green Knowe, which is the one book we haven’t been able to find. In it Tolly is again at his grandmother’s during WWII and finds that he is able to move between centuries as easily as walking between rooms. He gets caught up in the Oldknow family’s drama and here too, there is a mystery to be solved. We must really like mysteries!
Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame wrote and directed it, and there are several familiar faces, most notably Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith. The boys really enjoyed it, but be forewarned that Tolly’s first encounter with a ghost was rather scary and there is a rather dramatic house fire at one point.