Out of the Best Books, Classics We Studied: Jan. 2019

Can we celebrate?! January is over!!! I’ve decided the best thing about January (beside it being the anniversary month that I had a home birth, of my second daughter) is that it’s a great month for reading. Not much else is going on, so reading is much easier to do during this seemingly dreary time. I’ve been making about one night a week a time we just gather around the table or in the family or living room to read instead of watching a movie.

Here’s what we read/learned from this month. I’m listing the books we’ve been learning from for our homeschool. These are the books we either finished, or we started reading and are still reading from. The big long ones I didn’t necessarily read every single word cover to cover, but I am gleaning from.

The one above, about Mr. Rogers, is for my son’s Mastering Knighthood group. Every month the boys read about a heroic man. January’s theme is Mr. Rogers. So I found this book It’s the story of a newspaper reporter’s relationship, mostly by phone and mail, with Mr. Rogers. I read it aloud to the younger kids during kitchen cleaning. Some of the parts are a little boring for the kids so then I skip a bit and summarize. I’ve learned that Mr. Rogers was great friends with Henri Nouwen, a minister and writer, and Van Cliburn. It’s really cool that the headings for each chapter use a font made from Mr. Roger’s handwriting. I love the different scenes of human nature that play out. I’m liking it a lot more than the kids, probably because it was written for adults.

Come Follow Me– we are reading this study guide at church and for “homechurching.” See my posts here for what I’m learning.

We finished the Book of Mormon as a family and now we started it over. I love the peace and protection that comes from applying its principles.

I read most of this in December, but I’m still copying my favorite quotes into my reading journal. It has so many gems!


Reading a book about cooking every so often keeps me inspired to be in the kitchen. This is an amazing book by a chef who worked at Chez Panisse. So interesting! I love the illustrations!

Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews

This is for Quest, a class for homeschool teens, to help my teen son and me understand worldviews. It’s very biased towards Biblical Christianity but I suppose it’s the best book out there to represent so many worldviews at once.

I skimmed this one after watching the movie it was based on last month. I will check it out again next year and finish it for Christmas. I was hoping it would show Dickens’ sources of inspiration for A Christmas Carol. So far I haven’t found where the author mentions that.

Many homeschool mornings we listen to a chapter of this to help my teen boys who are studying the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for seminary this year. I love learning these stories! I haven’t been super consistent though so when we finish I’m going to start over.


This one is for Quest again. I had never read anything about the Dalai Lama. It’s fascinating to read about his life and teachings.


The Giver (Graphic Novel) (Giver Quartet)

For Quest. I blogged about it here, with the simulation we did for it.


The Chosen: A Novel

Again, for Quest. I had read it years ago so I reviewed the plot for our discussion. It has so many themes to discuss: father/son relationships, tradition vs. current times, scholar phase, healing, eyesight, Judaism, the study of psychology, friendship, how to parent. It’s not a “fun” read, just like the Giver isn’t fun, but it’s a must-read for everyone, for sure!

A friend reached out to me when I was venting to her about something and she felt prompted to tell me about the above book. I already owned it, having taken the class that goes with it over 14 years ago, so I unearthed it.  I’m also listening to the audios. My friend and I are doing one thought pattern a week. The author, James Cox, has a gift for connecting the dots of how to actually be Christlike. So, so, good, grand, and great!!!

It took only 2 car rides to our homeschool group (commonwealth) day to listen to the above book on CD. Then the sequel took another 2 car rides. (We drive 90 min. each way to meet with our homeschool peeps. It’s totally worth it!) I got the whole collection of Narnia stories on CD by Focus on the Family for Christmas. It is dramatized, with different voices and lots of beautiful music. This has been such a great follow-up to reading Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Radio Theatre)

This one is for my book club. I’m excited that someone besides me picked a book I like. I am skimming it and capturing what nuggets I can. I started reading it years ago and mentioned it here on the blog but never finished so I’m excited to go more into it and discuss it with other women in person!

The World According to Narnia: Christian Meaning in C. S. Lewis's Beloved Chronicles by [Rogers, Jonathan]

I love studying the symbolism of the Narnia books. I’m reading the corresponding chapters that go with the Narnia stories we listen to in the car on Thursday nights when I’m snuggled in bed after our commonwealth day.

I’m bribing my two practice scholars to read the two Uncle Eric WW books for their Hero Project LEMI class. So far they haven’t felt motivated to read it so I’m reading the first one aloud. I’m hoping they pick it up on their own soon. It’s so important to learn about the non-glorified side of war from a Vietnam War vet himself. The two practice scholars also read Children of the Dust Bowl, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Dream Giver for their Hero class.

This one is for the parents’ meeting of the commonwealth. I couldn’t attend that night and didn’t find the book on YouTube until after the fact anyway so I’m catching up by listening and reading. So amazing!

Now for the picture books I read, mostly to the 9 year old. I’ve resolved to read more picture books to the older kids too, a picture book a day. These are the ones I remember for January:

Beautiful art and poetry. Ahh, makes me want to go to the beach.

My husband came home late one night and read the whole thing. My daughter pored over it one morning. Fun!

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas

This is the true story of Junius G. Groves, a Kansas potato farmer. So inspiring, a true rags to riches story.

The above book is amazing! So much to pore over on every page, for older kids, 9 and up. Recently published, so it includes inventions from 2017. Some things I learned from reading The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramos were in here, like Sophia, of AI fame.

I love the above story, even though I’m not Jewish and it’s about Hanukkah. It shows the power of family tradition, remembering what happened, and honoring our elders. I read it and the one below because I love letting the holidays of December linger into January. The one below is a sweet story of healing that comes from the friendship of a child.

What did you read in January or are continuing to read in February? I would love to hear! Please comment below.

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