Posted on 23 Comments

OC Seminar

Hello dear Readers!

WOW!  What a wonderful time I had with all of those who attended the Orange County Literature Seminar on Saturday.  I’m not quite sure if I should enjoy myself as much as I do, since I am supposed to be working, but every time I have the opportunity to be with young, intelligent, and devoted mothers like yourselves, I come away feeling so encouraged, energized, and blessed to be able to do what I do.  Thank you to each one of you that made that group the special gathering it was and for carving time in your busy schedules to attend.  I always learn so much during the literature analysis lunch hour, as I appreciate your astute evaluations of the books as well as your unique and individual perspectives.

One thing I regret was that while I had asked you to bring a children’s book to share with the group,  it completely slipped my mind and the day was suddenly over!  So I’d like to do some postings on those “neglected” books if you’d like to share them with me.  That way, we can extend our discussion a little more and get to know each other a little better!

Also, I would really appreciate if you could post a comment here on your reactions to the seminar–what you found most helpful, inspiring etc.  Also ways in which you’d like to see the seminar improved, enhanced, etc.  Also, if there was a topic you’d like to explore a bit more, I would be happy to do so here in the blog.  Courtney posted a request for what a typical home school day (with a rich literature base) looks like for me, so I intend to post on that in the next few days.  So again, thank you so much for coming, for sharing your lives and for being such warm and gracious listeners!

23 thoughts on “OC Seminar

  1. I will start by sharing some books in which we absolutely love. First, I want to mention is The Brambly hedge series. Brambly Hedge is a series of beautifully illustrated books for children written by Jill Barklem.The Brambly Hedge series is based around a community of self-sufficient mice who live together in the tranquil surroundings of the English countryside. The books are written and illustrated by Jill Barklem. The first four books follow a seasonal pattern of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The latter four books follow the adventures of The Secret Staircase, The High Hills, Sea Story and Poppy’s Babies. The art work is fabulous! Here are the titles.
    * Spring Story (1980)
    * Summer Story (1980)
    * Autumn Story (1980)
    * Winter Story (1980)
    * The Secret Staircase (1983)
    * The High Hills (1986)
    * Sea Story (1990)
    * Poppy’s Babies (1994)
    * “A Year In Brambly Hedge” (2010)

    Secondly, I have to mention. The Heroes for Young Readers series by Ywam publishing . These books introduce younger children (5-10) to the lives of Christian heroes! They have especially been inspiring for my son!
    The are 20 titles:

    * Gladys Aylward: Daring to Trust
    * Nats Saint: Heavenbound
    * Eric Liddell: Running for a Higher Prize
    * George Müller: Faith to Feed Ten Thousand
    * Corrie ten Boom: Shining in the Darkness
    * Amy Carmichael: Rescuing the Children
    * Mary Slessor: Courage in Africa
    * William Carey: Bearer of Good News
    * Betty Greene: Flying High
    * Hudson Taylor: Friend of China
    * Adoniram Judson: A Grand Purpose
    * David Livingstone: Courageous Explorer
    * Cameron Townsend: Planting God’s Word
    * Jim Elliot: A Light for God
    * Jonathan Goforth: Never Give Up
    *Lottie Moon: A Generous Offering
    *Loren Cunningham: Making God Known
    *C.S. Lewis: The Man Who Gave Us Narnia
    *Brother Andrew: Taking Bibles to the World
    *Ida Scudder: Healing in India

    O my gosh I learned so much and was so encouraged! I just loved hearing about all the wonderful books there are out there! I loved how you said that good literature creates passion for our kids! I had never heard it put that way before! It makes sense. Today my kids and I started notebooks. It was our first time! Alyssa(1st grade) and Mycah(preschool) loved it! I especially appreciated hearing info for my children’ s age. (2, 4 and 6) the reason being that is where I am at. Also, the info. shared on what we have to look forward to in the years to come! Thank you for sharing your passion and inspiring me to raise my family to love good literature and focus on what is important! I am planning on using more of your recommendations, as well as the students guides for school! I will be keeping an eye out for your sample daily schedule! Thanks again!!

    1. Thank you Denyse for these wonderful recommendations! I have read biographies of many of those you listed on the YWAM bio list, but had not heard of the Brambly Hedge series! They look lovely. You may not know that many of them are out of print, but I was able to find 2 to purchase and they are on their way to me! I look forward to this lovely discovery! Thank you. I so enjoyed meeting you and having you participate in the seminar.

      1. Brambly hedge is lovely! I was unaware some are out of print! That must be why I am having trouble getting them! I have been trying to collect them for some time now! That makes them even more valuable! Thanks for that! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

  2. Hi Rea,
    I truly enjoyed my time spent with you on Saturday. It was like no other homeschool event I’ve been to. I felt like I was back in school with one of my favorite professors. These are the types of seminars that I wish could go on for days because they feed my soul and my mind. My wish is to have a two day seminar (or longer) with you where you can expand on what you shared with us on Saturday. My favorite parts were when you taught me/us about looking deeper into the literature, looking for the framed narrative, and the heroic tones, etc.
    As a mom of an avid reader, I also appreciate the recommended books list. There are so many books that are great, but I can’t read them all, so I appreciate trusted people like yourself who have done that work for me.
    It would be really great to have the names of the books that you read while you were compiling your information about the D’Aulaires and others. That insight into the lives of the authors/illustrators I find really fascinating.
    Thanks again for making the trek down to Orange County. We will remember it fondly Rea!
    Dawn Chimenti

    1. Thank you, Dawn for your kind words. I am working on a post to answer your question regarding the author information, so stay tuned for that! I love that you felt “back in school with one of your favorite professors!” I had those kind of professors in school as well, and always dreamed of being able to make a subject come alive the way they did, so your words meant a lot to me. Thank you!

    2. Thank you again Rea! I think I have the beginning of my Christmas list, if I can wait that long.

  3. Silly comment coming– When I saw your title I thought it meant obsessive compulsive seminar. 🙂

  4. I LOVED meeting you! You put on a great seminar and reminded me how to be a lover of great children’s books! You have helped so many of us “homeschool moms” bring history alive through all of your book suggestions! I would love to see the breakdown of American history like the breakdown you gave us at the seminar of medieval literature ……I look forward to any of your seminars or suggested book readings!

    1. Maybe next time I come we can do American history. That would be a blast!

  5. one more thing….
    I would also love it if “Your Story Hour” had the historical dates of when the audio stories took place…IT would REally help our timelines!!!!

    1. Hi Kellie,
      I so enjoyed meeting you as well! Faye had told me about you and your home design business! She said you are an amazingly talented lady! Regarding the Story Hour tapes, we don’t publish those, but I’m thinking maybe the company themselves may have a timeline to help you out. You can link to their site here. Let me know if you find what you’re looking for! Hope to see you again some time! Cheers!

  6. Miss Rea-

    You have a gift and it was such a pleasure to get to listen to your perspective and years of figuring this all out. My favorite part of the seminar is hearing you talk about the books that you and your family have loved and how important great literature is for our children’s minds AND souls. When one wanders the libraries of our current day, the shelves are quite full of emptiness. Most of the books are not connected to history, empathy or anything significant other than a sticky sweet plot that is “simple” so that children will understand. It was so refreshing to hear you share how important it is for children to read quality literature, and that we should have our kids reading books that we ourselves would want to read.

    Another highlight – hearing you share about some of the great men and women of history and the books that impacted them. It is always a great reminder for me to have perspective on not only who my children are right now, but also who they will one day be. I loved that.

    My only feedback is that some of the other portions of the seminar were pretty far ahead of where we are right now (having a preschooler and 1st grader), but I know that the information will benefit me when we are further down the road. Perhaps, though, seminars could be more specific to primary or secondary? Just a thought, although, it is lovely as is too.

    I agree with Kellie – it would be fabulous to hear you share about your history timeline and the way you have incorporated books in that.

    Once again, thank you for sharing your gift. It is a huge blessing to many of us mommies who are in the trenches.


  7. Rea-

    What a wonderful discussion! Once again, thank you so much for the seminar. I just love the idea of teaching my children this way and I am hopeful that they won’t grow up hating history.

    It’s hard to say which part I loved the most because it was all so good. If I had to choose, I think the the first 2-3 hours were my favorite–the part on what makes a good book, the 10 Seminal Reasons to Teach History through Literature, and the walk you took us through Medieval history. I have to say that I’m surprised how much I got out of the literary analysis. I find myself looking at my children’s books differently. If there is one thing I would have liked more of, it is more time for question and answer and discussion.

    As for books, I still feel like I have more questions than answers. But one author I’m surprised I don’t hear more people mention for little ones is Bill Peet. He wrote The Caboose Who Got Loose, Ella the Elephant, Kermit the Hermit, and more. All his books are in verse and often 45+ pages, but so engaging my kids will always sit through them. They are great for that “moral imagination” you talked about because the main character always has a “conversion” at the end. They usually start out discontent or selfish or mean in some way and in the end they change. He also does his own illustrations which are wonderful. And since you love to learn about authors, he has a memoir that even kids could read:

    As for my questions, I have a few books I would like to get your thoughts on:
    – A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer
    – Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer
    – The history books by H. E. Marshall– Our Island Story, This Country of Ours, etc. (I mention her because her books are used on Ambleside–the Charlotte Mason curriculum website).
    – I was also curious about some of the other books by Genevieve Foster. I was looking up her books on my library’s catalog yesterday and noticed some other titles they had: Birthdays of Independence, The Year of the Pilgrims, The Year of Independence, etc.

    Also, I feel like I need to get over the idea that history needs to be exhaustive. I’m sure it’s a result of my own “progressive” education and learning history as a social science. I’m slowly breaking free of this, but any help you may have is welcome.

    How do you teach kids to choose good books? It’s easy for me to choose good books for them, but I’ve gotten t the point where I don’t even want to take them to Barnes and Noble or even the library sometimes because they are drawn to the Dora and the Spiderman books. Now these aren’t the books that get read very much, but they are the books they want to bring home. A good friend of mine was sharing the same frustration that even though she has exposed her children to nothing but the best literature that when she takes them to the library, the books they want to get are the Star Wars books. And what do you do when a child is resistant about reading a certain book?

    I’m sorry this is so long. Thank you in advance!


  8. Denyse,

    Thanks for the Brambly Hedge recommendation. I am so getting some of these for my daughter.


    1. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

  9. That was a fun day! The thing I liked the most was the small group setting: you didn’t need a mic, I could nurse in the back of the room (all the babies were so good!), lunch was brought in and we were just learning all day. You are so inspiring and interesting.
    You gave me a lot to think about. I get so worried that my children aren’t learning enough and it was great to be reminded about the value of good literature. Thank you for the book recommendations. I am so glad I went.


  10. Rea
    I read Christopher Columbus with my 9 year old Olivia last night. It tells of the kindness by the monks and priests to Columbus and his young boy who were forced to beg for food in wore torn Spain. With the monks he found a haven to strength himself and a cloister to plan his voyage. After war , the priests sent a good word to Queen Isabella . She consented supplying the ships, Nina , Pinta and Santa Maria. The night before the his famous journey across the Atlantic Columbus prayed at the church for a safe journey , while his men with hands on the Bible prayed vowing to obey their captains’ command.
    I had never been told this part of the story from the books I read as a child and our public schools are certainly not exposing my children to the fullness of the story. Your recommended books tell of Western civilations roots and why America remains the worlds’ last best
    hope. Our countrys’ sense of purpose and exceptionalism has long been characterized thru our leaders and explorers. Americans have long had hope and persistance. It is largely an untold story in our textbooks now. Your efforts with OC literature seminars are much appreciated,

    Paul and Rhonda Blaze

    1. So glad you enjoyed Columbus. If you’d like to read another book on Columbus for adults I would recommend Christopher Columbus, Mariner by Samuel Eliot Morrison. I think you’d really enjoy it, and it would expand on much that the d’Aulaire’s included in their wonderful text! Thanks for commenting!

  11. Goodmorning Rea!!!

    I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed coming down to Orange County to hear your wisdom on literature. It was not only inspiring to me, it left me with the guidance to create a better learning enviroment for my children. They love to read and to be read to and now I know what direction our homeschool days will go. Literature being our main focus!!!

    You are an amazing woman!!!! I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! Your passion for literature, good literature, has opened my eyes to what our purpose as parents is to be for our young children growing up in a world of gagets.

    I believe that you are bringing back to us parents what should have never been replaced which is great books!!!!!

    May you be blessed for your courage to remain who God has made you to be and to pass on your knowledge, without hesitation, the love of learning new and wonderful things.

    Blessing to you and yours always, Carey

  12. Hi Rea,

    I enjoyed the seminar you had in OC. I would love a weekend version! When you passed around the finished notebooks done by your children, I didn’t get to see the large high school volume. Where do you find notebooks like that? And can you add pages to it if you run out? I’m sure this is silly to be asking, but I would love to know how you have done it. I may just end up using a 3 ring binder. Is there any reason that you did not choose a 3 ring binder?

    Thanks for the details!


    1. Hi Susan,
      Those notebooks are actually sketch books we got from the art supply store. They have about 200 pages so it isn’t likely you’d need to add pages. The 3 ring binder doesn’t give the same effect of a student made book. The art book works to help the student want to include only their best work, neatest penmanship, and most delightful drawings!

  13. Hi Rea:

    It was such a delight to attend your seminar. The analysis of literature was enlightening. My family has been thoroughly enjoying the Ancient History Guide and books. They are learning so much. My daughter has been enterested in horses and is enjoying that Guide and books as well as being mentored once a month by a friend who herself owns horses.
    Your way of expressing your joy of literature gives so many mothers like myself new excitement and interest as to continue this ‘learning through literature’ approach. Thank you for your enthusiasum.
    Unfortunately, I had to leave about an hour early to attend a wedding and missed the section on notebooking which I sooo wanted to see. Hopefully, you will speak in the area again for me to glean from you in this area. Do you have some quick words of advice in this area?

    1. Hi Dena,
      Well, some quick words of advice on notebooking would be: try to be consistent, (work on it at least 2-3 times a week), have students be creative with it (decorative borders, attractive stickers, colored papers, watercolors, etc.), and reserve it for the student’s best work generally. Now that said, students won’t always be at the top of their game each and every entry. But try to instill in them a pride of ownership in their work, so that they will feel that this notebook is an expression of them, their creativity, and their growing knowledge of the topic area. Always make a point to have your children share it with interested grandparents, aunts and uncles, and so on. Have them read from it at the dinner table and give them opportunities to be creative in ways that they can enlarge and expand on it as well.

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