We went to the library yesterday for a fun “Castles and Catapults” activity, and ended up finding a few books we had to bring home (of course!).
We are spending more time in our local library this summer than we ever have before. In addition to always finding books we want to check out, the Gwinnett Public Library System has put together a great list of interesting events at all of their branches, and they’ve done an amazing job with their Summer Reading Program (this year’s statewide theme is Build a Better World). Z, my 8-year-old, started the program last month, and we are so impressed with the variety of challenges (many that go beyond just reading, to get kids outside or thinking and working creatively), and the layout and ease-of-use of the program (kids earn online “badges” for completing tasks, and then visit a local branch to earn prizes). We have done a summer reading program every year for the last three or four years, and this one is our favorite by far.
So the books we picked up yesterday will count towards Z’s reading goal for the summer, but more importantly, they have him excited about cooking. He’s been a little obsessed with cooking shows lately (especially the Kids Baking Championship and Chopped Junior), and has been spending more time in the kitchen, learning and experimenting. So cookbooks were on our mind.
The Infographic food book (Eat Up: An Infographic Exploration of Food!) jumped out at us because of the nice illustrations and easily-digestible (yes, pun intended!) bits of information on everything from food history, farming and technology, fast food, nutrition, the environment, food marketing, global gastronomy, and more. I’m looking forward to sitting down and reading this one with him.
I was also excited to find the historical cooking books — Colonial Cooking, Civil War Cooking: The Union, and Pioneer Farm Cooking — because they marry our love of history with our love of food. Z started reading these as soon as we left the library, and has already picked out about eight recipes he’s ready to try (which means a trip to the grocery store today so that he can shop for ingredients). Finding these books then led to us discovering this wonderful You Tube channel all about colonial cooking. We watched five episodes last night, and are looking forward to watching more this weekend.
The last book we picked up was To Dare Mighty Things. It has nothing to do with food or cooking, but it is a short, illustrated book about Teddy Roosevelt (our favorite president), full of TR quotes, so we couldn’t resist.
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is seeing how things connect, and how our interests often lead us to new discoveries. Through homeschooling, it’s so easy to see the connections being made — between history and cooking, books that lead to shows that lead to hands-on practice that lead to other books, and even the connection between “subjects.”
An interest in cooking, for example, involves reading, research, shopping (math in action), hands-on food prep (math and science), and kitchen safety (an important life skill). Seeing this time and again with so many of our interests caused a shift in how I think about education and learning. I look at everything this way now, recognizing the connections between things, and how we really do learn every day from the world around us, especially when we make time to explore and pursue the things that we’re drawn to.
We went to the library yesterday for a fun summer activity, and came home with books, new ideas, plans for the weekend, interesting historical facts, a small, handmade catapult, great new topics for family discussions, and an awareness of new (to us) resources that we can explore together. I can’t wait to see where all of this might lead, and the connections and discoveries that we’ll make going forward.
I also can’t wait for our next library visit. There’s a “Making Fireworks in a Jar” class coming up next week that already has us thinking about the many books and videos we might dive into next.
Note: If you’re interested in participating in a Summer Reading Program, it’s not too late to start! Many local libraries and bookstores are hosting their own programs, so be sure to check them out. Here are a few to get you started: