Professor Astro Cat: our current obsession. 

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As a mom of extreme outlier, I struggle to find fun, colorful and INFORMATIVE children’s books for my kids.

A few weeks ago the Scientist casually asked me about black holes, gravitational waves and Einstein’s work. Easy enough task, right? While researching the topics and trying to simplify the language, I put “quantum physics for 5 year olds” and stumbled upon Dr. Dominic Walliman’s TEDxEastVan video Quantum Physics for 7 Year Olds. 5, 7…close enough. 

That lead me to his YouTube channel and I stayed up all night perusing the videos. 

That, in term, lead me to Amazon where I bough all the children’s books he wrote. Oops, that wasn’t the plan, I only wanted to purchase one, but kept slipping and falling onto the “buy” button. Repeatedly. 

Today we read Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventures. My wiggly kid who is NEVER still and is ALWAYS moving…sat still, barely breathing, with his eyes wide open for 2 hours. It a miracle!!!!

I share our read-aloud wiggly struggles and strategies to improve the experience here
Now please excuse me while I go out and patiently wait for our fabulous UPS driver by the road!  He is delivering these today: 

Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventures

Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System

Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space

Professor Astro Cat’s Human Body Odyssey

What are your favorite children’s books? Bonus points if your gifted or 2e learner is mesmerized by them. 

Favorite Books Of 2017

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Up until a year ago, given the choice between fiction and non-fiction, I would pick fiction in 10 out of 10 cases. Something changed on New Year’s eve 2017. What happened a year ago?

We officially started homeschooling our twice exceptional son.

Term twice exceptional (or 2e) often refers to intellectually gifted children who also have some form of disability or learning differences. So double the challenge, double the fun.

As a self-proclaimed research junkie, I NEEDED to have more information, so I turned to books, Amazon, library, friends, Facebook groups and trusted web sites. I read this article and down the rabbit hole I went.  Over the half of the books I’ve read this year are non-fiction.

Out of 75+ books I’ve read in 2017 these ten stood out the most:

  1. The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star by Tom Clynes  confirmed my suspicions that our 5-year-old is highly gifted and that turning to non-traditional parenting choices was the right thing to do for our family, despite all the sighs and well intended advice we received.
  2. The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett I picked up this book after seeing Jacob Barnett’s Forget What You Know TED Talk. Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. But his story is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. Surrounded by experts at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. His parents knew that they had to make a change.
  3. Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson  Inspiring, heartbreaking and uplifting, this book made me feel like I’m not alone. We have an outside-of-box kid too, and I found myself tearfully relating to Sally’s story and making mental notes for the future. Nathan’s perspective was unique and eye-opening. I highly recommend this wonderful book!
  4.  The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre Thought provoking summary and analysis of the research showing that boys and men lag well behind girls and women in school achievement.
  5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown  At the end of the day I often find myself exhausted, but looking back at the day I realize that nothing important was accomplished.  “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance?” Greg McKeown inquires in his book. He offers a simple but profound idea: that we accomplish more when we are more selective about where we direct our efforts. This book was essential (hehe) for me in 2017, with all the changes and new projects.
  6. Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic  Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii,‎ Leslie Baker Housman   Preschoolers easily grasp ideas behind fractions,  number lines, geometry and algebra elements. I see 3, 4 and 5 year olds exploring difficult concepts and taking on the challenges. Silly kids, they weren’t told yet that they hate math!
    Kids love the challenge of games. Why not use this attribute and incorporate games into learning? Instead of using endless worksheets and tests, give them problems to solve.According to Piaget’s theory, “children acquire mathematical knowledge…by constructing them from the inside, in interaction with the environment,” in other words, given the chance to explore and experiment, they will use their knowledge to  invent new ways to find solutions, explore patterns and make connections.  Let’s make math fun!
  7.  The Martian and Artemis by Andy Weir
    Andy Weir’s unique writing style, humor, meticulous research come together in well thought out, interesting, well paced page-turners. Once I picked up his books, I couldn’t put them down. Sleep? Who needs sleep, sleep is for the weak!
  8.  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. Such a beautiful and gripping story. This is one of those books that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.
  9.  Maisie Dobbs  After reading the first novel, I was very excited to find out that Jacqueline Winspear published thirteen books in the series.  A quick, light mystery with an engaging main character set in England in 1929. I would love to see this as  a TV show!
  10. Wonder by R. J. Palacio  August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
    Oh, what a wonderful book!!!! Well-written, touching, emotional and meaningful, this book become 2017 favorite instantly. We read it 4 (four!!!!) time. Our peculiar son fell in love with main character. I think he identifies with Auggie. You see, our eldest is 5 years old and since he was 18 months old we kept saying “His brain just works differently”. He absorbs every bit of information and remembers it FOR-E-VER, his vocabulary surprises and amazes us every day, he skipped 2 grades already, he adores everybody he meets. He is also very sensitive, VERY intense, VERY unpredictable. Parenting him is not easy, traditional parenting did not work with him and only deepened his anxiety. 80% of the time he can pass for a neurotypical kid, so when the atypical behavior kicks in, it is usually attributed to him being “spoiled” or “coddled.”
    **********SPOILER ALERT**********
    This book also helped us deal with a loss similar to that of August’s family. Loss of a beloved pet was (and still is) incredibly painful, and Daisy’s storyline helped our kids understand and cope with the devastating loss of a four-legged family member.

What books grabbed your heart and stayed with you in 2017? Share in the comments! 2018 is almost here and I NEED more, more, more reading material! Always.

 

2017 in books

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Non-fiction

  1. The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star
  2. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
  3. Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
  4. Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson
  5. A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students (The Templeton National Report on Acceleration, Volumes 1 and 2)
  6. It’s OK to Go up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids
  7.  It’s Ok Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids  
  8.  The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (The Out-of-Sync Child Series) by Carol Kranowitz and Lucy Jane Miller
  9.  Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their potential by Peg Dawson ,‎ Richard Guare
  10.  How Children Learn by John Holt
  11.  How Children Fail by John Holt
  12.  They’re Your Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate by Sam Sorbo
  13.  The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D. 
  14.  Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne,‎ Lisa M. Ross
  15.  No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury
  16.  Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie  
  17.  Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande 
  18.  Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
  19.  The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings 
  20. The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre 
  21.  Bright Not Broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and Autism by Diane M. Kennedy,‎ Rebecca S. Banks,‎ Temple Grandin
  22.  The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed by Temple Grandin,‎ Richard Panek
  23. The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius by Gail Saltz M.D. 
  24.  Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii,‎ Leslie Baker Housman 
  25.  Let’s Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together and Enjoy It by Denise Gaskins
  26.  Burn Math Class: And Reinvent Mathematics for Yourself by Jason Wilkes 
  27. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  28. What is Unschooling?: Living and Learning without Schoolby Pam Laricchia
  29.  Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  30. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath,‎ Dan Heath
  31.  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  32.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  33.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
  34.  The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett

 

 

Fiction

  1.  Sandstorm (Sigma Force) by James Rollins
  2.  Map Of Bones (Sigma Force) by James Rollins
  3.  Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  4.  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  5.  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  6.  The Circle by Dave Eggers
  7.  The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
  8. Storm Front (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
  9.  Fool Moon (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
  10.  Grave Peril (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher 
  11.  Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  12.  Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  13.  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  14. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
  15.  Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs) by Jacqueline Winspear
  16.  Pardonable Lies: (Maisie Dobbs Novels) by Jacqueline Winspear
  17.  The Dinner by Herman Koch
  18. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  19. In the Woods by Tana French
  20.  The Likeness by Tana French
  21.  Faithful Place by Tana French
  22.  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  23.  Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
  24.  The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
  25.  Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  26.  Beartown by Fredrik Backman
  27.  The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
  28.  Artemis by Andy Weir
  29. The Trouble Begins: A Box of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-3 (The Bad Beginning; The Reptile Room; The Wide Window) by Lemony Snicket,‎ Brett Helquist
  30. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  31. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
  32.  I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Read-alouds with kids

  1.  Wonder R. J. Palacio
  2. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  3.  The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  4.  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  5.  The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  6.  The Trumpet Of the Swan by E. B. White
  7.   Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  8.  Mister Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  9. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
  10.  Mary Poppins by Dr. P. L. Travers
  11.  Charlie And the Chocolate Factory by R. Dahl
  12. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
  13.  James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  14.  The BFG by Roald Dahl
  15.   Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car by Ian Fleming (author), David Tennant (narrator)
  16.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce (author) David Tennant (Narrator)
  17.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race against Time Cottrell Boyce (Author),‎ David Tennant (Narrator)
  18.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang over the Moon by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Author),‎ David Tennant (Narrator)