Yikes, I don't have a single book to discuss. I'm pretty sure I've written about every single book we're reading right now.
Oh here's an idea! Books we are writing!
I mentioned months ago that we began our History studies with family interviews. My grandmother's was so interesting that we kept going back with more questions. I had a vague desire to organize them eventually, but knew it probably would not happen. Then, my daughter's writing club leader (yes, you can all sigh with relief that I'm no longer solely responsible for teaching my children to write good (ha,ha?)). So! My daughter's writing teacher decided to have the girls participate in that November Novel Writing month thingy. My daughter decided to write a book about my grandmother's childhood. She grew up in the cotton fields of northwest Texas in the midst of the Dust Bowl.
This could be the most valuable project we've ever done. We have weekly sessions with my grandmother to chat about her childhood. Honestly, as Christmas approaches and our schedule fills, this could be something that got cut from the weekly routine. I'm so grateful to have a reason to bump it to the top of the priority list. I hope she enjoys it as well - we usually bring treats, just in case! My children get this rich first hand account of what it was like then (really, really awful). They get to know their great grandmother in a way they definitely wouldn't otherwise. And frankly, I do too. Finally, my daughter has to put a lot of research into creating the story. She has to think about it all from an entirely different perspective and become far more familiar with that time period than just breezing by it in a history text. I'm sure all you real writers out there know what I mean, but this was a revelation to me.
My son is working on a book of neighborhood trees. It's a pretty simple concept. I provided him with a spiral bound watercolor notebook. He finds leaves he likes. He traces the leaves and labels them. We paint one leaf as the tree appears in summer and one as it appears in autumn. I didn't expect much to come of this project, but it trains him to look. As we walk, he considers each tree - whether he can identify it and whether we have it in our notebook. As he traces, he has to be careful to notice the venation of each leaf. He points out the subtle differences in two similarly shaped leaves.
In both these projects, my children have no choice but to become actively involved in the subject. That's what it's all about, isn't it?