Believe it or not, when I first thought about homeschooling, I was very, very drawn to the idea of unit studies, particularly literature-based unit studies. I have always loved children’s literature, WAY before I had kids, and I could easily imagine myself reading a book and using it as a springboard for any number of explorations.
I guess that’s also kind of unschooly, but I knew I wanted a modicum of structure and planning, because I know me and my kids and I know that without it, things tend to fall apart.
Anyway, I have long admired the IDEA of Five in a Row (FIAR), a popular elementary curriculum offering studies in a range fields based on well-loved children’s literature. But I have also known for just about as long that I would probably never jump in and do it.
As inclined as I am in a Charlotte Mason direction, I find I enjoy separating out the different subjects, so we all know what we’re doing at any given time. And I don’t mind that the math isn’t related to the history, or whatever; not everything has to be connected for the kids because, as I read everywhere, the kids are smart enough to figure out the connections for themselves.
But one thing I really, REALLY like about FIAR is the books! Specifically, the lists of books. You can see all the FIAR books listed here. First, because the books are all classics, but not tread-to-death: in fact, most of them I haven’t read, which is also part of the attraction, because face it, parents get sick of the same-old more quickly than kids.
There are a few things I don’t like about the lists. I don’t entirely love how US-slanted they are (there’s not a single British book on the Volume 1 booklist), but I figure we’re getting the Brits in with our chapter books (we just started A Little Princess, but our last non-Little House chapter book was Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and the next may be Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes). There’s also a very Christian book, Tomie de Paola’s The Clown of God, which I have left on the list because a) I figure the kids won’t understand the references anyway, b) it looks like a beautiful book with an honest death scene, which you already know I approve of, and c) I don’t think it will hurt them to hear Christian stories any more than reading Greek mythology will turn them into pagans.
So I created a printable book list to track our progress through our “FIAR” summer reading. There’s a chart, in three different formats, and miniature book covers you can cut out and stick on the chart when you’re finished reading the corresponding book (there are 19 altogether). There are also flags and extra book covers you can stick onto a world map to integrate a geography component into your reading.
It doesn’t have to be just a SUMMER reading list, by the way! I have included several cut-out titles you can use, including one for each season, so you can start whenever you want. I’m giving myself until the end of the Jewish month of Av to finish all 19 books: we’re at the beginning of Iyar now, so that’s almost four months. Piece of cake, right? We’ll see…
- Download this and other printable PDFs from my General Studies printables page here.
- For Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) printables, including weekly parsha copywork, click here.
As always, if you use this printable, post here with a link or just leave a comment to let me know!