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Books We Read, Literature, Uncategorized

What’s in Our Morning Basket?

We have had a very different year than we have ever had in the past and it has taken me a little while to learn to love the year I am with.   But we finally seem settled into aspects of our new routine.

That meant that this month we finally found our Morning Basket groove and have started a more consistent habit of reading together.

Our October Morning Basket continues to include a little of this and a little of that and we like the variety.  Of course, I started a Morning Basket Pinterest Board so I can collect ideas.  You can follow me there, or on pinterest in general, and explore new titles as well!

Check out what was in our Homeschool Morning Basket for literature this October.

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Books We Read, Homeschooling, Literature, Poetry

Most Beautiful, Imaginative Art and Poetry Books Ever

Our family has a favorite modern day artist. His mind-bending, beautiful images take us on an exciting trip into the surreal every time we view them.  His artwork stimulates our imagination and leaves us wondering how it is created so perfectly.

Meet: Rob Gonsalves

Rob is a Canadian artist who creates illusions in his art that will intrigue every viewer.  You can find him on facebook and you can find his images in several places online.  Our favorite place to view his artwork is in the four picture books he has illustrated.

Art and Poetry come together in these beautiful books by Rob Gonsalves.

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Book Clubs, Books We Read, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Literature List for Our 7th and 8th Grade Book Club

We made it!

Our school year has wrapped up and with the exception of a few loose ends in math, we are relishing our free time.

Of course, my free time includes time spent reflecting on our completed school year.  It’s important for me to re-evaluate choices that didn’t work, while also celebrating our successful ones.

One of my favorite successful endeavors this year was the creation of a monthly Boomerang Book Club.

{This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks for your support of Notbefore7.}

Our title – The Boomerang Book Club – was derived from my use of the Boomerang Book Guides at Brave Writer, which I used to guide our discussions.   The Boomerang Book Guides are designed for book titles appropriate for grades 7-10.  Unlike the Arrow Guides, for grades 3-6, the Boomerang Guides contain “Think Piece Questions” at the end for reflection and discussion.  Forming a book club for my daughter in the Boomerang book titles was an opportunity to discuss these questions.

(NOTE: The guides also provide weekly copywork passages with grammar and literature discussions included related to the passages.  For more information, check out the Brave Writer website.)


What began as a simple idea to chat about books at Starbucks with my oldest daughter and her friends turned into memorable monthly #partyschool experience.  I have no doubt that our experiences together carried us beyond reading comprehension into developing reading connections that won’t quickly be forgotten.

My daughter will have such fond memories of her 7th grade “literature class” including memorable quotes, silly discussions, and delicious food.

And from a purely academic perspective, when I look back over our book choices this year it adds up to a pretty awesome list of literature.  So without further ado, here are the monthly selections we enjoyed during our 7th and 8th grade girls book club this year:

September: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

I purposefully kicked off our book club with a title that most of the girls have read and loved. I wanted our first book club to revolve around a book that they would be familiar with and excited to discuss.

This is also the title that created the first #partyschool experience thanks to the creative host mom!

October: Little Women by Lousia May Alcott.

Interestingly enough, the little women in our book club were not very excited about the Little Women in the book. There were a few girls who LOVED the book and had read it before, but most of them weren’t very fond of Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy.

November: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.

Having never read this book myself, I was so thrilled to have the chance to experience this classic. Not only is the story one that transcends time, but the author has a unique story as she wrote this book while in high school. It was published after her graduation, but the majority was written during the year she received a “D” in creative writing in her high school class.

This book discussion included another #partyschool atmosphere and was followed by the movie.

December:  Short Stories.

I selected four short stories for this month with the idea that we could read 1-2 each week and then meet together for a Christmas party and brief discussion.  All four of these stories were accessable online.

The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant – another well known story about pride.
Two Kinds by Amy Tan – great introduction to Amy Tan and a discussion of the mother/daughter relationship.
Gift of the Magi by O’Henry – a classic, especially around the Christmas season.
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – some of the moms remembered reading this in their school experience, although I never had.  It is a pretty shocking story and worthy of discussion.

Short stories should be an important part of a middle and high school literature study, so I was glad to include a few in our monthly selections.

January: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.

I have found memories of Anne from my own middle school years. Sadly, my daughter did not share my love for her, though we had a fantastic #partyschool book club. Some of my favorite quotes came from this book and we all enjoyed sharing them at our tea party.

February: Lord of the Flies by William Holding.

A classic.  This book is a great title to read and explore the use of symbolism as it is heavily used in this book. While many read this in high school, and that is certainly appropriate, it did work for our 7th and 8th grade girls group.

They found it a strange story, as it is. But we had a great #partyschool book club (not yet on the blog) and even tried to meet around the fire pit, but the smoke got in the way.

March: What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau.

This title was entirely new to me.  It is one of the reason that I love referring to the list of Boomerang titles because Julie at Bravewriter does such a great job of mixing classic literature with modern titles.

I think this was one of my favorite books this year.  It is a unique coming of age story that combines elements of family history (father from Mexico) and modern life as a child in America in a tale woven through two time periods.  I highly recommend this one for this age group.

April: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

A classic piece of literature that opens up a thoughtful discussion about life as a teenage girl as well as important historical events.  While I had read this book in school as a teenager, I enjoyed it so much more as an adult.  The insights into a teenage girl’s mind were delightful to read on the other side of that time period.

The girls in the group had a difficult time making it through this one.  It isn’t a story, but it is very much reading the scattered thoughts of a teenager in her diary.  We had a discussion that included some thoughts about a true journal vs. a story told through a created journal.  This title worked well in our book club.

May: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

(We used the “Shakespeare Made Easy” version that included a modern translation next to the original work.)

I wanted to build a strong foundation for a future understanding of Shakespeare in our house, so we began looking at his plays a little earlier than the traditional public school plan.

This title was requested by one of the girls in the book club and I was inclined to oblige any requests!  Student interest is always helpful to learning and discussion.

Rather than have a traditional book discussion, we acted out five scenes from the book while we were together.   It’s amazing what a few scarves and swords can do for simple costuming!   After working through a few scenes, we enjoyed the movie version of this film with Leonardo DiCaprio.

That sums it up!  A fantastic year of challenging and fun literature.

As for next year, we will continue to use the Boomerang Book Guides at home and as one source of questions for our book club discussions.   I can’t wait to begin picking titles for our next school year!

(NotBefore7 is an affiliate with Brave Writer and uses the curriculum in our own homeschool.  I am happy to share our various uses here and do earn a small commission if you purchase through one of my links.  NotBefore7 is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Books We Read, Homeschooling, Literature

What did we read this week? Our Homeschool Week in Books.

homeschool week books

(FYI: I periscope – @notbefore7 – every Saturday to share these books.  You can find the one for this list here.!)

So what did we read this week?


(How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous is one that we read a little each day.)

Our read-aloud chapter books:

Geography, Antarctica Focus:


Fun and Learning, General Literature:

Crunch Munch is a book of the sounds that animals make while eating. It would be a good example of onomatopoeia if you needed one!

Cork and Fuzz is the first book series that my 6 year old is delighted with. He waits for them to come in at the library and then reads them right away!

What do you do with an idea? is a cute story about letting your idea take shape regardless of the opinions of others.

Some Bugs is a picture book nominee for the North Carolina children’s book award.

We love the Bats and the Froggy book series!

So what are you reading?

(NotBefore7 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Books We Read, Homeschooling, Literature

Our Homeschool Week in Books?

(FYI: I periscope – @notbefore7 – every Saturday to share these books.  You can find the one for this list here.!)

So what did we read this week?


(How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous is FANTASTIC.  Interesting.  Informative. We read a little each day.)

Non-fiction Picture Books (Colonial Focus):

Our read-aloud chapter books:

(I adore all of the books in the Great Illustrated Classics series.)

Geography, Antarctica Focus:

(This book wasn’t only about Antarctic Animals, but had two sections specifically on them.)


(This book was unique in that every poem was written in both English and Spanish.)

Fun and Learning, Winter Theme:

Fun and Learning, General Literature:

(You’ll notice that this section has a lot of books this week, but I had a sick six-year old so we did quite a bit of reading on the sofa.)

So what are you reading?

Books We Read, Homeschooling, Literature

Our Homeschool Week in Books – February 8

(FYI: I periscope – @notbefore7 – every Saturday to share these books.  You can find the one for this list here!)

So what did we read this week?

Non-fiction: reading a little each day:

(How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous is FANTASTIC.  Interesting.  Informative.)

Geography: Antarctica Focus:

Our read-aloud chapter books:

(We just started, Courage Has No Color, and it is FANTASTIC. All four of my kids are enjoying the book and it has been a platform for some excellent discussions)

Vocabulary: reviewing and adding a few words each week:


(Both of these poetry books are fantastic. I found them at the library, but have added both to my amazon wish list. You can view my periscope to learn more.)

For Fun and learning – winter theme:

Toys Meet Snow is a picture book based on the characters from the Toys Go Out series. Toys Go Out, Toy Dance Party, and Toys Come Home are hysterically funny stories with delightful characters.  The reading level has makes them perfect for kids entering the stage of chapter book reading.

For fun and learning:

Books the Kids read on Their Own:

(The GameKnight999 series is based on a character in minecraft. I can not speak to the content or writing, but the reluctant reader in this house has read them over and over. She doesn’t put them down.)

A little fairy tale viewing: Draw Me a Story, season 2 (Draw Me a Story – free on amazon prime)

Have a great weekend!

(NotBefore7 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to