One month into 2017 and my kids and I are having a blast with the SEA Homeschoolers’ Reading Challenge! My son and I are reading all new books for the challenge, for my daughter we are reading a mix of new books and rereading some favorites. Each month I will share what we have been reading as well as recommendations from other homeschooling families doing the challenge.

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Kinsey age 2

Annabelle and Aiden The Story of Life by JR Becker 

JR Becker will be at the SEA Homeschoolers Conference in June to read from this book and his new book that will be coming out in March! I can’t wait to get a signed copy!

Challenge #2 A fiction book that uses accurate science in the story.

This book introduces young children to Darwinian evolution through beautifully written lyrical verse and stunning illustrations. Drawing on the natural curiosity of young children JR Becker tackles a big question, “Where did we come from?”, in a fun child-friendly way while maintaining the academic integrity needed in science education. This entertaining, educational, and visually captivating book has become a favorite in our home, my daughter now calls Annabelle and Aiden her best friends.

5 stars

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Challenge#18 A book which takes place in more than one time period.

This exquisitely crafted story of a china rabbit as he passes through the lives of many people over many years is filled with joy and sadness. My children found Edward’s adventures to be both heartbreaking and inspiring, while I found Kate DiCamillo’s prose to be a wonderful jumping off point for a lesson on the importance of word choice in writing. Filled with lovely illustrations and a rollercoaster of emotions this is a book we are sure to read and discuss many times over the years.

5 stars

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Logan age 13

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Challenge #15 A fiction book with a social justice issue in the story.

Darrow, an 18-year-old boy, is a miner on the planet Mars. One day his wife is killed and he finds out his people are enslaved by the ruling class. Darrow finds himself in an eternal war against a society reminiscent of a Platonic caste system while training to fight for the very society he wants to destroy. The racism and socioeconomic divide parallel those of the real world while taking you on an exciting sci-fi adventure. This book is guaranteed to leave you wanting more.

5 stars

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Bonus Challenge #9 A book that you have never read, but is written by one of your favorite authors.

After reading Red Rising Pierce Brown became one of my favorite authors and I couldn’t wait to read Golden Son. This book continues to tell the story of Darrow as he fights a war against the society that has enslaved and oppressed his people. Having embedded himself in the ruling class with the goal of bringing them down from within, he draws strength from his own tragedy as he rages against the lies of the elite and hopes to bring freedom to all. I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds in the next book in this trilogy.

5 stars

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Kat Hutcheson adult

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Challenge #22 A biography.

This collection of personal essays that are dramatic, intense, and inspiring tells the story of Trevor Noah’s unique life in a captivating way interwoven with his signature humor. His tales of being born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother in apartheid South Africa, hidden away for most of his early years for the protection of himself and his family, and the joys and struggles of finding himself and freedom are told with honesty, intelligence, and wit. At it’s core is a story of his intense bond with his mother and how her unconditional love shaped the man he has become.

5 stars

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Bonus Challenge #12 A book which is based on a fairy tale or folklore.

The magic and wonder of fictional fairytale worlds are beautifully brought to life through Gaiman’s prose. This bittersweet story of Tristan Thorn’s adventures in the unexplored lands beyond a stone wall lead not only to fairies, magic, and a fallen star, but also to a journey of self discovery, acceptance, and love. A heartwarming tale that doesn’t feel the need for a traditional happily ever after ending tied up with a pretty bow, yet still leaves you closing the book with a smile. This book could easily mark off multiple challenges on my list, as Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. As with his other books, in Stardust Neil Gaiman crafts a story that draws you in and allows you to escape within its pages.

4 stars

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Sarah at Wonderful Meep age 16

Fruits Basket Vol 1 (Collector’s Edition) by NatsukiTakaya

Challenge #13 A book originally written in a foreign language (Japanese)

This was definitely one of my favorite things that I’ve read this year so far! I watched the anime last year, and have wanted to read the manga for ages. I am very pleased with it so far. The manga goes into a bit more detail than the anime had, so it’s almost like reading an entirely new story sometimes. Which is wonderful, as I simply adore all of the characters and never want to have to leave their world! The collector’s edition also has updated artwork, and is absolutely gorgeous!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Challenge #18 A book that takes place in more than one time period

Because of all the negativity I was hearing about it online, I was a little hesitant to read this (which is why it’s taken me so long to finally decide to read it). However I was pleasantly surprised! It wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t have the same special feel to it as the original Harry Potter books have, but I still had fun reading it. I suspect that the reason it doesn’t feel as magical, however, is because it’s just a script, and that viewing it live on stage would be an entirely different experience!

Zenith (The Andromeda Saga #1) by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Challenge #17 A book by someone famous for something other than writing books. (Sasha Alsberg is famous for her booktube YouTube channel)

I am a fan of Sasha Alsberg’s YouTube channel (abookutopia), so I was very excited to read the book that she’d written! I don’t have a lot to say about it, as it isn’t the finished book, however so far it seems rather promising! And that’s saying something, as I’m really not that big a fan of science fiction. The writing was very beautiful, and I found the characters intriguing, and so I am very much looking forward to the full book’s release later this year!

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Christina Keller adult

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Bonus Challenge #11 A book about an immigrant or refugee.

Audacity uses language in an emotional, powerful way. We both felt the protagonist was well written. Clara wants things many of us take for granted. She suffers greatly but it is her fortitude that inspired me. We have gained in some ways, but still have so much to gain and have forgotten the fight our grandmothers had to get basic human rights. There are many places where those rights do not exist in today’s world and where they are on the line again in our own country. I love the way the story takes place in both Eastern Europe and the US and how it is based on real life events. The author includes a brief biography and interview with Clara’s children and grandchildren. I think this was an important book to share the history of unions and immigration.

5 stars

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Blair adult

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence

Challenge #3 and Bonus Challenge #11 A book set in a place you would love to travel to, but have never been; & A book about an immigrant or refugee.

This book is set in Kenya. It is a place I would love to travel to comment, and I am in fact traveling to this year. That is how I came to be reading this. I was looking for books to read about Kenya, and this one came up in the search. We are not traveling to the world’s largest refugee camp, but I decided to read it anyway. I really liked this book. It tells the story of nine different refugees, the lives that intersect with theirs, the struggles that they have, and how they came to be refugees. I am thinking that this would be a good book for the teen book club next year. It really highlights a lot of issues about how people come to leave what their home and the challenges they face when they do. It puts a human face on this struggle that I think is really important at this time in our history.

5 stars

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Challenge #12 A book from a genre you don’t normally read.

I don’t normally read books written in poetic form. We read this book for the teen book club, and it is surpassed everything I had hoped for it. It is an excellent story. The poetic form and structure actually enhance the story. It’s really interesting to see how Crowder uses poetic structure and techniques to emphasize certain points.. I found it fascinating to read a book that used an old-fashioned form for a modern retelling of 100-year-old story.

5 stars

King’s Dark Tidings trilogy books 1 and 2 by Kel Kade

Challenge #7 A book with a non-human main character. At least I’m pretty sure he’s not a human. I think he is a mage even though Kade hasn’t given that away yet.

My guilty pleasure with reading is fantasy. I love magic. I love non-human characters. These books did not disappoint. I actually heard them in audiobook format first. I liked them so well I bought the books and read them too. When I get tired and need to relax, TV does not do it for me. Good fantasy novels do. For some reason, when I am reading fantasy, I can turn my brain off and just get into the book and not think about anything else. The author does something really interesting with this story. The hero Reznak has no failings. He is perfect in everything he does. Somehow it works. It is a different characterization of any heroic character I’ve ever read. He was trained in seclusion and raised to follow a specific code, which he does follow to the letter. It makes him a little robotic in the way he behaves. It’s interesting to see the other characters ascribe feelings and emotions to his motives when there are none. It is interesting to see how people think they know what  is motivating other people when they don’t have any idea. It’s something people IRL do all the time. It was kind of interesting to see it highlighted like this.

5 stars

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