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Good Books

A few weeks ago I read this statement from a fellow homeschooling blogger, "We have a big stack of Mike Venezia books from the library at the moment and I don’t have to “make” the kids read them; they just do (quite often when they are supposed to be doing something else." This intrigued me. Mike Venezia is the author of several series of books, among them, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists and Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers. We've been busy painting and composing here so I have been feeling like a little art and music history might be in order. And here was an endorsement about books that are so good they magnetically attract children away from other tasks. I had to check them out.

So, I went to the library, the big library, and found the skinny art section. Two books on photography, one on origami, and...and that was all. I did the next best thing, grabbed up my free Amazon coupons and Lauren helped me decide which ten books to order. "No Picasso. No Warhol. No Jackson Pollock. I only like realistic paintings!" We fired off that order via the internet and yesterday, the Bleeping Mail Lady, (named by Stuart because of her preference of horn over doorbell) honked the arrival of our package.

The children dashed in with the box and pouted because they couldn't open it until they finished up their last bits of science and writing. Fifteen minutes later, they pounced on the box.

Unfortunately, I forgot to make cleaning up the living room part of the precursor to opening the box, so they laid down in the midst of their school books and their doll house toys and began to read. A hush settled over the room. I was the only one making any noise and that was because I was reading Rembrant aloud to Charlie. The whole thing. He wanted to know if the people in The Night Watch were real; he wanted to count all the dogs in the paintings. He wanted to match the cartoon people to their counterparts in the real paintings. Then he wanted to get down because we had read for a long time.

Claire picked up the book on Grandma Moses. After a minute or two, she said, "Mama! Her paintings look like the pictures in the Will Moses book that we have!" She studied the paintings for another minute and then ran down the hall and came back with the Will Moses book and laid the two books side by side and matched similar parts of several paintings. She laid on her belly for a long time looking.


Lauren read them all. She read through chore time and wandered away from the table after dinner to read some more. She wants me to order the rest of the series. And there are even more series on the presidents and inventors and scientists!

Our candlelight question last night...Which artist did you enjoy studying the most and why? The conversation included realism, pointillism, impressionism, Cassatt, Homer ("The way he paints the sea, Mama, it's so real!") and Saurat...until Stuart said it was late and we needed to get to bed. When I went to wake up children this morning, I found two or three already awake and immersed in another art book.

The books are a mix of the artist's works, silly cartoons, and a brief history of the artist's life. Everything on the pages is appropriate for children. Run to your library and search for these. Hopefully, you live closer to a well-stocked library that we do but, if not, these are well worth adding to your personal collection.


40winkzzz said…
Ack!- I posted my comment about 20 minutes too soon, or I could have had it on THIS post, where it actually would belong! Oh well. I'm so glad I had a part in helping your kids learn about art history!

We still have our stack of Venezia books from the library and the kids are still enjoying looking at them, but their current craze is the big huge bin of Nancy Drew books that we were just given last week. (Although Spaz doesn't want anyone to know that he is reading "girl" books.) They are staying up way too late and staying in bed way too long in the morning reading. Isn't it great when kids do that? :-)
ValleyGirl said…
Your children will undoubtedly be the most highly educated children in the neighbourhood! This SO impresses me!! I LOVE when my girls are completely engrossed in something worthwhile and educational.
I am so excited to read this. I have 5 of these books on my Rainbow Resource wish list waiting to be ordered as soon as we have enough in our paypal account. Thanks for this post and for sharing how much your kids are enjoying them:-).
I'm always on the prowl for new books for the kids, and especially ones that capture their attention and leave them wanting more. Thanks for the endorsement.

Mama JJ said…
Thanks for the heads-up!
Sarah said…
Sunshine is really into Will Moses right now. And I have Granny's big book about Grandma Moses. I'm trying to get Sunshine to try her hand at more of that style of drawing. I'll look for these books, but am doubtful they are in our tiny library.

Elise said…
Wow- thank you for sharing this! We just checked out a big book of Grandma Moses' work, and each painting had detailed info about the painting. We've enjoyed it as a family- and now I'm so excited to look for these! If our library doesn't have them, I, too, have Amazon coupons! ;)
Mary@notbefore7 said…
How ironic...I was just going through one of my hoemschool catalogs...Galloping the Globe curriculum in fact I think. I like to type their recommendations in to see what I can get from the library! I came across this series and it looked amazing! I can't wait to check it out. So glad your kids liked it!

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