Thursday, April 1, 2021

Junior Great Books Table of Contents and Overlap in Stories

We discovered Junior Great Books when my daughter Callie took a homeschool co-op course around 5th grade. Now I'm in love with them and try to buy up all of them. Some of them we consume and are not in love with, so we pass them on. Some we save and I hope to teach my own Junior Great Books class at the co-op someday :-) Here you can find the Table of Contents for the books we have read:


Series 2, First Semester (1992) (selling in upcoming homeschool used book sale)

The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter

How the Camel Got His Hump by Rudyard Kipling

Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest, and Piglet Has a Bath by A.A. Milne

Arap Sang and the Cranes (African folktale as told by Humphrey Harman)

Blue Moose by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Anancy and Dog and Puss and Friendship (West Indian folktale as told by James Berry)

Jack and the Beanstalk (English folktale as told by Joseph Jacobs)

The Magic Listening Cap (Japanese folktale as told by Yoshiko Uchida)

The Jackal and the Partridge (Punjabi folktale as told by Flora Annie Steel)

Nail Soup (Swedish folktale as told by Linda Rahm)

The Apple of Contentment by Howard Pyle


Series 4, First Semester  (1992) (planned for 2021/2022 school year)

Thank You, M'am by Langston Hughes

The Water-Horse of Barra (Scottish folktale as told by Winifred Finlay)

The Story of Wang Li by Elizabeth Coatsworth

The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling

Vasilissa the Beautiful (Russian folktale as told by Post Wheeler)

Cedric by Tove Jansson

Fresh by Philippa Pearce

The Enchanted Sticks by Steven J. Myers

Wisdom's Wages and Folly's Pay by Howard Pyle

Mr. Singer's Nicknames by James Kruss

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Chapters 1, 2, 5, 6) by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Chapters 7, 8, 11, 12) by Lewis Carroll



Series 4, Book One (2014)

The Theme of Trust

Thank You, M'am by Langston Hughes

Crow Call by Lois Lowry

Fresh by Philippa Pearce


The Theme of Resourcefulness

Shrewd Todie and Lyzer the Miser (Ukranian folktale as told by Isaac Bashevis Singer)

On Sand Island by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

The Green Man by Gail E. Haley


The Theme of Communication

Song of Hope by Peggy Duffy

Jean Labadie's Big Black Dog (French-Canadian folktale as told by Natalie Savage Carlson)

Thunder, Elephant, and Dorobo (African folktale as told by Humprey Harman)


Series 5, First Semester (1992)

This is the one we were introduced to years ago at the homeschool co-op. Probably my favorite.

Charles by Shirley Jackson

Ghost Cat by Donna Hill

Turquoise Horse by Gerald Hausman

Maurice's Room by Paula Fox

Barbie by Gary Soto

Lenny's Red-Letter Day by Bernard Ashley

The Prince and the Goose Girl by Elinor Mordaunt

Tramp by Malcolm Carrick

Alberic the Wise by Norton Juster

Podhu and Aruwa (African folktale as told by Humphrey Harman)

The Invisible Child by Tove Jansson

The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell


Series 5, Book One (2006) (selling in upcoming homeschool used book sale)

The No-Guitar Blues by Gary Soto

Kaddo's Wall (West African folktale as told by Harold Courlander and George Herzog)

Turquoise Horse by Gerald Hausman

A Game of Catch by Richard Wilbur

Oliver Hyde's Dishcloth Concert by Richard Kennedy

The Hundred-Dollar Bill by Rose Wilder Lane

The Invisible Child by Tove Jansson

In the Time of the Drums (Gullah folktale as told by Kim L. Siegelson)

Learning the Game by Franciso Jimenez

The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell



Series 5, Book Two (2006)

Charles by Shirley Jackson

A Bad Road for Cats by Cynthia Ryland

Podhu and Aruwa (African folktale as told by Humphrey Harman)

Lenny's Red-Letter Day by Bernard Ashley

Barbie by Gary Soto

Ghost Cat by Donna Hill

Lucky Boy by Philippa Pearce

Maurice's Room by Paula Fox

The Prince and the Goose Girl by Elinor Mordaunt

The Bermuda Triangle by Tim Wynne-Jones


Series 7 (1992) (for grades 6-8) (planned for 2021/2022 school year)

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I Just Kept on Smiling by Simon Burt

At Her Father's and Her Mother's Place by Natalya Baranskaya

The White Circle by John Bell Clayton

The Zodiacs by Jay Neugeboren

End of the Game by Julio Cortazar

The Cat and the Coffee Drinkers by Max Steele

The Diary of a Young Girl (from Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl) (was assigned this book to read when I was 12 in 7th grade and it rocked my world)

The Secret Lion by Alberto Alvaro Rios

Day of the Butterfly by Alice Munro (read stories by this author in junior college in my 20s and loved her)

A Christmas Carol (Staves 1-2) by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol (Staves 3-5) by Charles Dickens

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Our Reading Box



What Our Box Contains

Bob Books

Explode the Code workbooks

Hooked on Phonics

Reading Pathways

Sing Spell Write

Sounds & Symbols Early Phonics Storybook from Calvert School (when we did virtual school)

Books to read aloud together

Alphabet Books

A Was Once an Apple Pie by Edward Lear

Alphabears: An ABC Book by Kathleen Hague

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin and John Archambault

I Spy: An Alphabet in Art by Lucy Micklethwait

On Market Street by Arnold Lobel


Other Resources

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (my family did not like this one, but many seem to enjoy it)

Highlights Magazine


Also Check Out:

The New Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Read-Aloud Revival by Sarah Mackenzie

Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt


Friday, March 5, 2021

What is a Homeschooling Mommybot?

Once upon a time, an internet troll called me a mommybot. I can't even remember what I had posted that prompted them to call me that (rest assured I'll find it in my old journals and update this post). Instead of taking offense, I started a blog to share our fun experiences and resources and hopefully provide some inspiration to others. 

And here on this blog you will always get authentic, real, messy. Just as maybe you are watching me and thinking, "Wow, I could never read aloud to my kids an hour a day; that Kerrie McLoughlin is amazing; and she finds time to write articles and books!" 😂 ... realize that I am also watching other moms and thinking the same kinds of things*. We all have different strengths God has given to us! Always remember this:


What is a mommybot? 


A mommybot can be defined as "a perfect suburban wife and mother. Mommybots can often be found driving about in SUVs, escorting their perfect kids to soccer games, ballet, piano lessons, and private school. When not occupied in this way, a mommybot can be spotted within one of several natural habitats including, but not limited to, its kitchen, Starbucks, the yoga studio and the PTA meeting."

To me, a homeschooling mommybot is someone who is making sacrifices for her children, which is a beautiful thing. I don't think there's any "perfect" about it though, and perfect is unattainable anyway. Perfect is a facade. I prefer real and authentic, even if it's messy sometimes.

Her kids may or may not be involved in a lot of activities (it really can change depending on the kid and their interests). My homeschooling mom friend Jill teaches yoga, so she can be found in a yoga studio sometimes. Yes, most of us have been spotted at Starbucks. No PTA meetings, but yes on co-op committee meetings and planning meetings. She may work outside or inside the home, or she may not. 

We are all different. And that is a very good thing. Because when we all come together (homeschooling or not) in the spirit of kindness and support, we create really amazing families who will hopefully go out and change the world for the better.


*Things I think about other moms:

  • I wish I could decorate like she does.
  • I wish I cared about how to use herbs and spices appropriately.
  • I wish I prioritized things like how to do makeup and dress so that I match.
  • I really need to make sure my kids know (fill in the blank) for their future but I just don't know when the find the time.

How to Keep a Book Journal (Readers Journal) and Booklists Galore! #readalouds



ANYBODY can keep a book journal. For example, my mom will be 71 years old this May and I just ordered a book journal for her off of Amazon for $20 and had it sent to her house as a surprise. She retired and was going through books like tissues, and then she would share her thoughts when we saw her. I am keeping a log of what I'm sending her to read from my house and also what I'm getting for her from the library, but some of them really spoke to her, and I wanted her to write down her thoughts for me, her daughter and only child, and also for her five grandchildren.

(Update: The book journal felt like a job to my mom, and I can understand why. It had two pages to fill for each book you read, and I wouldn't want a job like that either. I like my free-form spiral notebook better, and it's cheaper)

I have a fat folder of book ideas with my homeschooling things, but I wanted a place to keep all my thoughts about what I had read. And I wanted that for my kids as well, because I was watching my kids go through books and wanted to track all that they read and get their thoughts down. 

A quick timeout

Where do I get all the books? Mostly two places: the library, of course. And if it's something I know I'll read and my mother will read and then also probably all of my kids might read and/or also my husband, I'll hit Thrift Books and just buy a used paperback copy. They are normally under $5 and then shipping is 99 cents unless you go over $35, which I frequently do, and then it's free. I've done with this with To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, some HG Wells, Laura Vanderkam nonfiction books for myself, The Lottery, Junior Great Books, and so many more.

Where do I put all the books? Well, I declutter often and get rid of things that are not as important to me as books. Books serve as my tchotchkes (chach-keys).

If you're like me, you have an abundance of spiral notebooks and notebook paper. You can create your book journal using notebook paper and a nice binder if you like. I might do that in the future. For now, I just grabbed an old half-used spiral notebook, marked it as my territory (see photo above), and now it lives most of the time in my "Go Bag." 

You Need a "Go Bag"

My "Go Bag" is the bag I keep by the back door for any potential downtime while I'm out or in, always stocked with pens, pencils, Post-It notes, books to read, my book journal, a legal pad, snacks, Chapstick, etc. In the summertime, it's the bag I grab when I head out the door to sit by the backyard swimming pool. I usually also take it to church because my husband likes to chat after with his friends, and sometimes I will also do that, but often I'll go to the car and sneak in 15 minutes of precious reading time. I might also read aloud to the kids at this time from a book about saints.

So How Do I Use my Book Journal?

Here's how. I just create a page for each book that's in my life right now (including read-alouds to the kids) and highlight the book title. It's going to be a huge mess since I don't know how many pages I'm going to need for each book, but life is messy and there you go. I'm just looking for something to refer back to. What vocab words did we learn? What cool life tips do I not want to forget? What are some cool quotes that spoke to us?





The Reading Rabbit Hole (see you in about a week!)

Read-Aloud Revival Booklists

Brave Writer Booklist for ages 8-10 (the resource that goes with each book is called Dart if you'd like to download that and print it out)

Brave Writer Booklist for ages 13-14 (the resource that goes with each book is called Boomerang if you'd like to download that and print it out)

Brave Writer Booklist for grades 3-6 (the resource that goes with each book is called Arrow if you'd like to download that and print it out)

Pam Barnhill of Your Morning Basket (at my house it's Afternoon Basket!) — How to teach multiple ages multiple subjects at the same time using fabulous books and other resources

Modern Mrs. Darcy's Extensive Reading Lists

Books, Zoos, and Parenting Too Reading List 2021: 70 Books for a Brand-New Year

Thrift Books for fantastic used books shipped to your door (you can create a wish list!)

The Kerrie Show's Summer Reading Lists

Mary Hanna Wilson's Summer Reading Picks for Mom

The Homeschool Sisters Summer 2017 Poolside Professional Development Picks

The Homeschool Sisters Summer 2018 Poolside Professional Development Picks

The Homeschool Sisters Summer 2019 Poolside Professional Development Picks


Please comment below with your favorite book lists. I'd love to include them in the post! I've also found that going on social media and asking for recommendations from friends and strangers is a great way to find new books to read for you and for your homeschool!

Current Homeschooling Mommybot Read-Alouds and Independent Reading Winter 2021

Welcome to the Winter 2021 edition of Current Read-Alouds. If you're not familiar with Read-Aloud Revival or Pam Barnhill (morning basket) or Brave Writer, simply click on the links 😉 I also read to the kids from our Afternoon Basket (because we can't all get going early enough to call it a Morning Basket 😂), which currently includes Story of the World Volume 1, The Gift of the Magi (oh, the vocab words!), and Reading 7 for Young Catholics, among a few other things, like this one:



Scroll down to find out who is hearing which book!


To Kill a Mockingbird is a book I never read and always wanted to. Reading aloud really helps hold everyone's attention. This one is being read to Michael, who is a junior in high school and is about to turn 18. He is reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to himself.

My Antonia is also a book I never slowed down enough to read while I was busying myself in my 20s with Jackie Collins novels (I can't even imagine reading her now!). This one is being read to Callie, who is a freshman in high school and just turned 16. Sidenote: Our little Callie has a reading problem, so please pray for her 🙏 (just kidding!) ... I'm thrilled that she is reading so voraciously after not reading at all for so many years! Her book list is too extensive to list here and needs its own post.

Esperanza Rising is a book I read to my oldest son Joel, who will be 20 this summer and now I'm reading it to 13-year-old Eva. A classic, and we learn Spanish as well, as we put the word on paper and on the bulletin board to practice as a family at dinnertime. (I told my mom about it yesterday and now she wants to read it; she also recommends American Dirt for everyone older to read.)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is what I'm reading to 11-year-old Samuel, and he loves the adventure and the humor.

Honorable mention because he's still in my kid 😉: Joel is plowing through books this winter since he's not doing lawn care. He's read Lone Survivor, Into the Fire, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Hunger Games), and Fearless. He likes hero stories and always has. He's moved from Percy Jackson and Hunger Games and Maze Runner into real-life hero stories.

And, because kids are more likely to pick up reading if their parents or someone close to them are also readers, this is what I'm working on right now. I discovered Laura Vanderkam through the Organize365 podcast with Lisa Woodruff (of Sunday Basket fame; conversely, the Sunday Basket has rocked my world as well). If I ever see Laura or Lisa out and about in the world, I might start screaming and crying like a 1960s Beatles fan. It will be embarrassing for all involved, trust me.


I also keep a Book Journal, which you can read more about here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

3 Printable Activities to Encourage a Growth Mindset

Looking for a non-screen activity to do with your child that’s still education? We’ve got you covered!

The world is a turbulent place, so it’s more important than ever to encourage them to effectively solve

problems and adapt to change. 


No one likes their kids to feel discouraged (especially in school and life), but being challenged is an

important part of growth. To help you teach problem-solving in the comfort of your own home, the

folks at Tommy John created three printable activities to help kids develop a growth mindset. 


These printable activities act as a useful resource for helping teach your kids to be more self-aware

and confident. The best part is that they’re easy to do anytime, whether it’s driving in the car or at the

dinner table. The more quality time you spend at home with your kids, the more opportunities you’ll

have for teachable moments. Let’s get started! 


  1. Goal Setting Worksheet


Kids should be encouraged to set aspirational goals, however as a parent it’s important to teach them

how to set SMART micro-goals. Setting “SMART goals” lays the foundation for helping them build a

growth mindset because they can break down their larger goals into attainable smaller ones. 


  1. Growth Mindset Conversation Cube

In the same way kids practice their vocabulary, simple written exercises can help them develop a

growth mindset. Have kids create their own “conversation cube” with question prompts that spark

conversation. These questions are designed to help them unpack frustrations and struggles they

faced in order to communicate their feelings and practice positive self-talk. 


  1. Emotion Grid Exercise

Their last activity is a writing exercise geared at helping kids sit down and try to reflect on negative

and positive emotions. By writing down when and why they felt these emotions, they are able to

identify what emotionally affects them and find appropriate ways to moderate these feelings. 


We hope these three printable activities help your child navigate the turbulent time they are in.

Download all the printables below. For detailed instructions on using the worksheets check out

Tommy John’s post here