Summer Term 2012’s Assigned Reading – Simply Convivial

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Term’s Topics

  • Artist: Degas
  • Composer: Vivaldi
  • History Period: Mesopotamia & Ancient Civilizations

My Reading Students:

  • Hans: almost-9-years-old, 4th grade, proficient reader

  • Jaeger: 7-years-old, 2nd grade, proficient reader

Their Oral Reports:

I had each boy come to me with his assigned or selected books and answer “What was it about?” (“It was about…”) and “What did you like about it?” (“I liked it because…”). It’s formulaic, but it’s a good place to begin.

Assigned Books

Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari

My Notes: Library book. I checked out several art and story books about Degas from the library, and each student had to choose at least 1 to read. Hans chose this picture book as the one he wanted to tell about.

Hans: “It was about a ballerina who accidentally took Degas’ painting bag and then she had to run through town to catch him. It also had information about other impressionists like Cassett & Monet. I liked it because it showed some of Degas’, Cassett’s, & Monet’s paintings.”

Degas and the Dance by Susan Goldman Rubin

My Notes: Library book. This is a large-sized children’s picture book that tells, in narrative form, about Degas painting ballerinas, with some information about impressionism and how paintings are made and a biographical sketch of Degas at the end. It is the book Jaeger chose to narrate.

Jaeger: “It showed some of the paintings that Degas made. The book told about the paintings.”

Anna Marie’s Gift by Janice Shefelman

My Notes: Library book. I also checked out several books relating to Vivaldi, and each of the boys had to pick one to read and narrate. Hans chose this short, large-print chapter book.

Hans: “It was about a little girl whose father died. Before he died, he gave her a violin. She went to Vivaldi’s orphanage in Venice, but then one of the other people threw her violin into the canal out of jealousy. They went looking through the canals and found it. I liked it because it described Venice’s buildings and canals.”

Vivaldi’s Invisible Orchestra by Stephen Costanza

My Notes: Library book. This short picture book was the book Jaeger chose. Ilse loved this book, but it appears Jaeger was not as big of a fan.

Jaeger: “It didn’t really say much about Vivaldi, but it had the Four Seasons in it. The people who played his music were orphan girls at an orphanage. I didn’t really have any reason to like it.”

Heroes by Don Nardo

My Notes: Library book.

Hans: “It was about Theseus, Gilgamesh, and other mythic heroes. I liked it because it also had quotes from the people who found the stories on clay tablets.”

Ancient Civilizations: Mesopotamia by Colin Hynson

My Notes: Library book. This was a typical cultural geography book, not a living book. But the boys enjoy the photos and pictures from these sorts of books, and usually flip through them reading the captions on photos. The ones I found for this term were short and picture-heavy, and about all there was for ancient civilizations, so I made them assigned reading for Hans.

Hans: “It had pictures of ruins of Ur and Uruk and other biblical and ancient places. I liked it because it had the names of the kings of who ruled the cities and the dates they lived, like Sargon.”

Sumerians by Elaine Landau

My Notes: Library book. This wasn’t bad, and wasn’t good, either. But it was the only book on Sumer I could find. It was short and basic.

Hans: “This book was about how the Sumerians lived, about some of their kings, and their main cities, and the battles they fought, and their pictures they drew on clay. I liked it because the battle formations were interesting and it showed how they used an archer shooting from behind a soldier with a shield to win their battles.”

Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean

My Notes: Own. A retelling of the ancient story that is cleaned up and subtle enough — without being totally bowdlerized — for me, but I’d recommend other parents preread and decide on the appropriateness of it for their own children.

Hans: “It was about Gilgamesh and Enkidu and some of their adventures and how Gilgamesh looked for the secret to immortality, but then a snake took it away. The people who told this story believe that is why snakes shed their skins. I liked it because it told how they killed the bull of heaven and went to the cedar forest to kill the giant and get cedar for Uruk.”

Jaeger: “It was about Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I liked the part when they went and fought the god of the cedar woods. They killed him and then they made a temple to the sun god, since they believed the sun god had helped them.”

Kingdoms and Empires: The Rise, Fall, and Rescue of the Jewish Nation by John Drane

My Notes: Own. This book tells the story of Israel through the rebuilding of the temple. It’s not completely narrative; it has call-out boxes and large illustrations with detailed captions. It’s more in the vein of Eyewitness books, though it does have a narrative tale it’s telling. Jaeger particularly enjoys these sorts of books and pours over them again and again.

Hans: “It was about some of the Jews’ kings, how they lived, and about the Assyrians who attacked them, and the Jews’ prophets. I liked it because of the interesting pictures. It told they were taken into captivity and got out again and how Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem.”

Jaeger: “It was about the Assyrians taking the people of Judah for slaves. I liked it because it was also about people that preached to the people who didn’t believe in God.”

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