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Book Review

365 Ways to Love Your Child

365 Ways to Love Your Child

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression,  “Actions speak louder than words”. Well, the book – 365 Ways to Love Your Child is just that – suggestions for memory-making moments (actions) that will warm your child’s heart.

365 Ways To Love Your Child

365 Ways To Love Your Child by Julie Lavender is a literal “how to” of making memories with your children.

Julie breaks down the 365 ways to love your child into categories to help you pinpoint ideas for different events.

With categories like:

  • when we’re outside
  • when we’re in the kitchen
  • when we’re running errands
  • when we’re vacationing
  • and more!

I love that she quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet, “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.” It really demonstrates the premise of her book – putting actions in play to express love to your children.

A Few of my Favorite Ways to Love Your Child

One of Julie’s 365 ways to love your child in the “when we’re vacationing” section talks about never passing up a photo booth opportunity.

This reminds me of a tradition we started recently of taking a family selfie everywhere we go.

We have taken them on:

  • camping trips
  • nature walks
  • amusement parks
  • cutting our Christmas tree
  • at the holidays
  • while shopping with masks on
  • when gathered with good friends
  • and so many more! 

As our kids have gotten older this is a tradition they have come to love!

Here are just a more few examples from Julie’s Book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child that stood out to me:

1. Create a new handprint craft each month and watch how the size of your child’s handprint changes over the years. A heaping handful of handprint art projects can be found online, from peacocks, to tress, smiling suns, elephants, angels and more.

2. Have a snowball fight in the comfort of your home with recycled sheets of paper. Let your child help wad up dozens of sheets of used paper into “snowball” sizes.

3. Decide together on a secret hand signal or motion that means “I love you.” It could be something as simple as touching your thumb quickly to your pinkie to resemble a quick kiss or folding one hand in the other to signify a mini hug. Us the signal with your child at various times of the day at home or in other locations.

4. Pull out your child’s baby book and retell the story of their birth or adoption. Share milestones and funny stories of infant and toddler days. 

More Books & Articles for Parents

Unconditional Love & Parenting from Starts At EightThings I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents from Starts At Eight. A practical guide for navigating some of the tough parenting moments you might not have thought of. A great parenting help for new and even more experienced parents!A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages - A Review from Starts At EightParenthood from Starts At Eight

Book Review: National Geographic History At A Glance

Book Review: National Geographic History At A Glance

We often say that history repeats itself. Which is something we try to avoid by learning from those who came before us. Some ways we can do this are by learning about the people, places, and movements in history through reading, discussions, videos, and museums.

National Geographic History at a Glance

National Geographic History at a Glance: Illustrated time lines from Prehistory to the Present Day {Disclaimer: I want to thank TLC Book Tours for supplying me with a copy of this book for me to review. While I received this free of charge in exchange for my review, my opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.}

At 416 pages with 300 color illustrations, including more than three dozen maps, this book is packed with information on everything from politics to religion, geography, technology, and more!

What’s Inside?

  1. Multi-tiered time lines, organized by topic and region.
  2. National Geographic at a Glance is divided into nine eras.
  3. It includes essays highlighting the major events and trends of each time period.
  4. As well as discussions on how certain empires, trade routes, wars and religions changes the world.

The Topics

  1. Politics & Power
  2. Geography & Environment
  3. Culture & Religion
  4. Science & Technology
  5. People & Society

The Regions

  1. The Americas
  2. Europe
  3. Middle East & Africa
  4. Asia & Oceania

The Eras

  1. The First Societies: Prehistory – 500 B.C.E.
  2. The Classical Age: 500 B.C.E. – 500 C.E
  3. Faith and Power: 500 – 1000
  4. Invasions and Advances: 1000 – 1500
  5. Converging Worlds: 1500 – 1750
  6. Empires and Revolutions: 1750 – 1900
  7. Global Conflict: 1900 – 1950
  8. Toward A New World Order: 1950 – 2000
  9. Globalization and Disruption: 2000 – Present

Thoughts on Using History at a Glance

The first thing that drew me to National Geographic History at a Glance is that it’s done chronologically. Over the past few years I have found that using timelines with my kids really helps us to better grasp the scope of things happening, how one thing leads to another, and where things fall in relation to each other.

The second thing I really like is all the regions are together on one page, in one timeline. This definitely helps to make connections between things going on across the globe during a specific time period.

The third big thing I love about this book is the categories each timeline is broken down into. This allows students to get a quick overview of the who, what, where, when, and sometimes even the why of a specific time period.

More History Resources

Timeline Based Middle School History {A Two Year American History Plan} from Starts At Eight is a two year plan (including resources) for teaching middle school history with a timeline as the spine.Simple to Implement US Geography from Starts At Eight. Geography doesn't have to be complicated or boring. Here are some tips to make it Simple to Implement US Geography in your homeschool. Using just a few resources you can make it fun and easy to learn US Geography.Teaching History Through Movies from Starts At Eight. Teaching History Through Movies is a great way to make history come alive. This landing page tells how we do this, where to get & what movies we are viewing. As we watch and find resources for movies I will add them here. American History, World History, Biographies and more!Fun With Geography: FREE World Geography Printables from Starts At Eight


Homeschooling High School with College in Mind

Homeschooling High School with College in Mind

Homeschooling High School instills fear in many who even think about tackling it. Having already graduated one of my children, and another graduating this year, I can tell you it is possible. You can even plan on homeschooling high school with college in mind! Yes college! Your homeschoolers have just as much of a chance at college (maybe even more so) as their public school counter parts!

Here at Starts At Eight I have TONS of Help for Homeschooling High School! You can check it out by clicking on the picture below!

You will find things like:

Homeschooling High School with College in Mind

Now I have another great resource for homeschooling high school to share with you! It’s a book written by a fellow homeschooler, Betsy Sproger, called Homeschooling High School with College in Mind: 2nd Edition.  {I received a copy of Homeschooling High School with College in Mind: 2nd Edition in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions below are mine and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

About Betsy

Betsy Sproger, from BJ’s Homeschool, homeschooled her 2E daughter all the way from preschool through high school – including homeschooling high school with college in mind. Her daughter was admitted to each of the colleges on her list, and was pleased to get into an ivy and also a tier two U, with scholarship offers at each. She is now studying at her top choice University.

About Homeschooling High School with College in Mind: 2nd Edition

Homeschooling High School with College in Mind: 2nd Edition outlines 10 easy-to-do steps for getting your homeschooled teen into college. PLUS this 2nd Edition has 7 new chapters (They are the ones in bold below)!

The 2nd edition has help for the Common Application, SAT/ACT Prep, and College Scholarships and more, includownding:

The 17 Chapters include:

Chapter 1 – How to Start Homeschooling if you are a Newbie
Chapter 2 – 101 Reasons to Homeschool High School
Chapter 3 – Researching and Getting Started
Chapter 4 – Planning High School and Making a 4 Year Plan
Chapter 5 – Choosing Your High School Curriculum
Chapter 6 – Three Ways to High School Credit
Chapter 7 – Making Your Teen’s Transcripts
Chapter 8 – 100 High School Electives
Chapter 9 – Making Homemade Courses
Chapter 10 – Writing a Winning College Essay
Chapter 11 – Course Descriptions and Reference Letters
Chapter 12 – The Common Application – Your GUIDE
Chapter 13 – Preparing Your Teen for College Writing
Chapter 14 – Dealing with College Testing SAT/ACT
Chapter 15 – Top Sources for College Scholarships
Chapter 16 – Dealing with “Those Questions” from Others
Chapter 17 – Don’t Forget the FUN!

In the Appendix you will find 12 downloadable high school homeschool planning printables such as a Curriculum Planning Sheet, Sample Transcript, Community Service Log, PLUS a transcript form for you to just fill in. The kind of transcript form that the colleges are used to seeing!

What I LOVE About Homeschooling High School with College in Mind

This new edition printed version is now in color! And who doesn’t love a little color in their lives!

But seriously, what I Love About Homeschooling High School with College in Mind is that it gives you actionable things to do along the way. From your choice of courses your student completes to keeping records, how to calculate credit and more! It is an affordable and manageable quick reference to help you plan and navigate Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.

As you see in the photo above Betsy offers THREE Ways to High School Credit! I LOVE that she is not putting people in a box or telling us there is only ONE right way to navigate high school. I find this to be a really important piece of what she offers.

We were recently in a colleges admissions office where the counselor did nothing but push my daughter towards forging a path solely to a 4 year degree. Unfortunately that only made her not respect or listen to anything the woman had to say because it was all done with a “4 year degree slant”. Thus I really appreciated the fact that Betsy offered options, even on a path to college.

List of Summer Reading for Moms

List of Summer Reading for Moms

I am an avid reader. Not only do I love to read, but I have worked to instill a love of reading in my children. I have participated in many books clubs over the years, both for myself and with my daughters. Even when I was in high school, summer was the time to read. During the summer I could read what I wanted because I wasn’t tied to the constraints of the school year.  As a homeschooling mom I often spend time reading the books my children are reading. Now that summer is here I have some great summer reading for moms that I would love to share with you!

This List of Summer Reading for Moms is a collection of books for mom to enjoy during the (hopefully) lazy days of summer. It is a collection of books I have read and enjoyed throughout the years.

Throughout my years of blogging I have done many book reviews. My time spent reviewing books as a Litfuse Blogger introduced me to so many fabulous books that I might not have otherwise read. Now that summer is here I encourage you to take time for you, time for mom. If you are an avid reader like me, you might just enjoy this List of Summer Reading for Moms that I have compiled!

My Newest Summer Reading Find!

What are Love Inspired Books?

“Love Inspired is an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises that is focused on Christian Fiction. The original and largest body of works under the “Love Inspired” name is the romance novels.

Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical represent a branching of the romance genre to a more particular theme and setting.

A number of books have been released as Love Inspired Special releases sometimes containing the listing of Love Inspired Classics or going under different brands.

In total more than 762 books comprise the Love Inspired brand.” – Wikipedia

Love Inspired Books

This was the first time I have read any of the Love Inspired books. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I have to say that I really enjoyed them and here are some of the reasons why:

  • short, easy reads make them great for sitting at appointments, or in between the kids needing something
  • small, compact books make them easy to transport WITHOUT being an e-book
  • divided into themes making it easy to stick to something you love
  • inexpensive to buy


Love Inspired Books

Disclaimer: I want to thank Litfuse Publicity for supplying me with copies of these book for review. While I received these free of charge in exchange for my review, my opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.

1. The Rancher’s Secret Child by Brenda Minton

After meeting the son he never knew he had, Marcus Palermo’s simple life turns upside down. Complicating things further is Lissa Hart, the boy’s lovely guardian. She’ll help him become a parent—but falling for a gruff cowboy is not in her plans. Will she realize her future lies in Bluebonnet Springs with the rugged rancher?

2. The Wedding Quilt Bride by Marta Perry

The single mom’s second chance…To become one of the Brides of Lost Creek! Widow Rebecca Mast returns to her Amish community with her son and a dream—to own a quilt shop. Carpenter Daniel King is determined to help Rebecca and revive their childhood friendship. But as he bonds with her son, Rebecca’s afraid the secret she’s been keeping will be revealed. Can Daniel convince Rebecca he’s a man she can trust—and love?

3. Bound By Duty by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Suspense)

The Military K-9 Unit series continues: Her serial killer brother’s escaped—and it’s single mom Zoe Sullivan who’s under suspicion! Sgt. Linc Colson trusts two things: his instincts and his Rottweiler K-9 partner, Star—and certainly not the pretty face he’s assigned to monitor. He’s done everything to keep her from getting under his skin—now he must stop those who want to put her six feet under.

4. Primary Suspect by Laura Scott (Love Inspired Suspense)

A Callahan Confidential story: When fire investigator Mitch Callahan is attacked at a crime scene, he’s shocked to uncover the body of a slain ex-girlfriend—and realize someone’s framing him for murder. Widowed ER nurse Dana Petrie believes Mitch is innocent, and not just because he makes her feel alive again after tragedy marred her past. But is she willing to risk everything only to love and lose again?

Summer Reading for Moms – The List

As I started scrolling through all the wonderful books I have had the chance to review, I was surprised how many non-fiction books there were too! For that reason I am going to split this list up by fiction and non-fiction titles that I have loved!

Summer Reading for Moms – Fiction

Just 18 Summers – If you read anything this summer THIS IS THE ONE TO READ! Such an amazing, heart string pulling story that will call to your sense of motherhood and having quality relationships with your children. “In the end what it has all meant for me is a feeling of renewed intent to be purposeful and wise about the choices that I make. to stop for the little things, put down the distractions, turn on the timer, thus being engaged and fully present with my loved ones around me.”

Just 18 Summers from Starts At Eight

Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn Trilogy – This Postcards From Misty Harbor Inn trilogy gets 5 stars from me! If you want something on the human relationship level, with just a small amount of drama, set in a beautiful, historic place, then this is the series for you!

In the Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn Series Caroline, Gracie and Sam gather for a vacation where they spent the summers as children, and follows their adventures as they fulfill their mother’s dream of opening a bed and breakfast on the historic and charming island of Nantucket.

Love Arrives in Pieces – You have to give yourself permission to heal, and Brokenness can be beautiful, are just two of the encouraging sentiments found in this latest book, Love Arrives in Pieces, by Betsy St. Amant.

Becky Wade’s Porter Family Series – The Porter Family Series is a true testament to strength, love, and the power of relationships. Each one of the books centers around a different Porter family member but still incorporates the others into the story. I love how you get to follow an entire family through many years, getting intimate with each of the characters along the way.

Daughters of Fortune Trilogy – These really appealed to my love of historical fiction. Susan May Warren does a fantastic job of placing you right into the time period, you are enveloped by the sights, sounds, and nuances of the time and place!

Summer Reading for Mom – Non-Fiction

This List of Summer Reading for Moms is a collection of books for mom to enjoy during the (hopefully) lazy days of summer. It is a collection of books I have read and enjoyed throughout the years.

Things I Wish I Had Know Before We Became Parents – While many of the early chapters in this book deal with early parenting struggles, as the book goes on it delves into important topics for parenting as the years go on. I particularly found the chapter on parents needing to apologize to be a great one! I have found myself in this position with my own children.

The 10 Myths of Teen Dating – Practical Advice for Parents – “Many parents believe they are providing the rich life for their children with hyperfocus on a single activity. But what they are really providing is the busy life.”

Are You an Easy to Listen to Parent? – “Using 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Todd Cartmell, I am transforming not only the way I interact with my children, but the way I go about correcting their behavior over the long haul.”

No More Perfect Kids – I highly recommend No More Perfect Kids to any parent! It has helped, if even in small ways, me to think differently and therefore to love and react differently with my children. This is something I feel great about because I know they deserve to be loved for who they are and where they are at, and it is often easy to get caught up in ours or societies expectations.

If you read any of the books from this List of Summer Reading for Moms be sure to stop in and leave me a comment! I would love to hear what you thought!

More Summer Reading Suggestions

Middle School Summer Activities Inspired by Great YA Books! Think summer bucket list! Think field trips! Think fantastic fiction to inspire it all! That's what this is! Read a great book, adventure out onan awesome related field trip, make an inspired craft or project! Screen free summer fun at its best!FREE Printable Reading Logs from Starts At Eight. Looking for a cute printable book log? These FREE Printable Book Logs can be printed as a full page for kids or adjusted for your bullet journal.

The Melody of the Soul Book Review

The Melody of the Soul Book Review

What Nazi officer Horst Engel reveals might stop Anna Zadok’s music forever – meet them both in this new novel, Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma set during WWII.

The Melody of the Soul Book Review from Starts At Eight

About The Melody of the Soul

Anna has one chance for survival-and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy.

It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe-a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.

Purchase a copy: The Melody of the Soul

Disclaimer: I want to thank Liz Tolsma and Litfuse Publicity for supplying me with a copy of this book for me to review. While I received this free of charge in exchange for my review, my opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

About Liz Tolsma

Best-selling novelist Liz Tolsma is the author of several World War II novels and prairie romance novellas. She also works as a freelance editor. She lives in a semirural area of Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters. Her son serves with the US Marines. All of their chidlren came to them through international adoption. Her other passions include walking, gardening, camping, and reading.

Find out more about Liz on her website:

What I Thought

I LOVE historical fiction, and I have never read anything by Liz Tolsma, but I have to say I will happily read more in the future! In The Melody of the Soul, Liz does an impeccable job with historical details, bringing the WWII time period to life in an poignant and achingly real way!

The characters in this book have depth. They are good and bad, have strengths and weaknesses, and suffer real life experience of love and loss. Your heart will hurt at the knowledge that these atrocities really happened. Nazi rule happened, the concentration camps happened, and some even rose from the ashes of these tragedies. This book covers all of that, offering a light in the midst of darkness.

The Melody of the Soul Giveaway and Facebook Live

Travel back in time to 1943 and meet Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian and concert violinist whose career is ended because of Nazi occupation in Prague. Don’t miss the new historical novel, The Melody of the Soul, by Liz Tolsma. Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Officer Horst Engel, quartered in Anna’s flat and dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Join Liz Tolsma and other bookworms for a Facebook Live event on February 6, plus enter to win Liz’s prize pack giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6. The winner will be announced at Liz’s Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Seeds of Hope Book Review

Seeds of Hope Book Review

Seeds of Hope is the first book in the Harvest of Hope Series by Barbara Cameron. While I don’t read a ton of Amish fiction, I find I am most drawn to the ones that bring in English life too. There is something about the contrast between the two that I enjoy.

Seeds of Hope Book Review from Starts At Eight

About Seeds of Hope

A heartwarming tale of discovering love right in front of you

Miriam Troyer has had a secret crush on Mark Byler since they were teenagers. She knows they can never have a relationship: Mark is a big-city attorney—an Englischer—and Miriam loves her quiet way of life in her Amish community. But when Mark unexpectedly shows up in Paradise, Pennsylvania, Miriam realizes it’s going to get a lot harder to hide her feelings.

Even though Mark always loved visiting his grandfather’s farm as a boy, he’s convinced the Amish life is not for him. But when he suddenly finds himself out of a job and without direction, Mark heads back to the farm just in time to help with the harvest. Coming for a visit and coming to stay, however, are two very different things.

Everything changes when Mark sees that Miriam, the girl he remembers from his youth, has grown into the kind of faith-filled woman he wants in his future. Could life in this simple world be right for Mark after all? Has Miriam finally found her happily ever after? True love sprouts from seeds of hope.

Purchase a copy of Seeds of Hope

Disclaimer: I want to thank Barbara Cameron and Litfuse Publicity for supplying me with a copy of this book for me to review. While I received this free of charge in exchange for my review, my opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

About Barbara Cameron

Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the best-selling author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award.

Her books have been nominated for Carol Awards and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award from RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love chapter. Three of her fiction stories were made into HBO/Cinemax movies.

Barbara resides in Jacksonville, Florida.

Why does she write Amish series?I’ve been intrigued by the Amish and feel I’ve learned a lot about spirituality and God’s will in our lives since I first visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I’ve returned there often since then to visit friends. An Old Order Amish friend reads my manuscripts to check for authenticity before publication.

What I Thought

Seeds of Hope is the beginning to a new series by Barbara Cameron called Harvest of Hope.

I find it so intriguing and engaging when an Amish novel contains a blend of the Plain life and English living, in fact, that seems to be the only Amish fiction I am drawn too!

In Seeds of Hope, author Barbara Cameron set up a good contrast between the two lifestyles, contrasting big city life with the Amish with things like air conditioning. The whole scene with Miriam and Mark and the “fancy Englisch car” was so well written. Oh how he started to realize all he took for granted in his big city life!

Mark found himself in a situation that he never envisioned for himself. Having been put out of his big law practice gave him time and space to move in another direction. While he was technically Amish and had spent many summers in Paradise, Pennsylvania helping his grandfather, he was raised English because his father chose to leave the plain life. I felt this brought more plausibility to the story line of him coming back and realizing how much he appreciated and felt at home in the Amish community.

Could life in this simple world be worth living? Will he and Miriam find a place in each other’s lives?

Other Book Reviews

Mars With Venus Rising Book Review
One Thousand Gifts Devotional Review
“BRAT” in a Children’s Book?
Book Review ~ Dewey the Library Cat
Engaging Adventure Stories Featuring Girls

Engaging Adventure Stories Featuring Girls

While I don’t like to put things in boy and girl categories, the reality is that this naturally occurs in our everyday lives. We often view boys as the tough, rugged, adventurous ones (and often read adventure stories featuring boys), and girls are viewed as more dainty –  having tea parties and playing with dolls. But how great is it when we can find something that breaks the mold and shows our children they can do and be anything!

Engaging Adventure Stories Featuring Girls: Check out these reprinted books from the 1900s that give a glimpse into life back then and adventure for girls! Combine history, adventure, and girls to help make learning more fun! Includes FREE Printables

About a year and a half ago my youngest daughter and I started particpating in a book club called Mighty Girls where all the books we read are books that feature a strong female character. This is a great way to build up our girls and show them how strong they can be and open up their world to the many things they can accomplish themselves!

More recently I was introduced to a grouping of historical adventure stories that feature girls from Aunt Claire Presents, published by Laboratory Books! These are already published books from the 1900s being brought to life again for our daughters (and sons) to enjoy!

{Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Automobile Girls at Newport and Grace Harlowe’s Freshman Year at High School for review and was compensated for my time in writing this review.  All opinions are my honest thoughts and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.

“Beginning around 1910, American publishers issued dozens of inexpensive hardcover series for girls—school adventures, outdoor and scouting adventures, and adventures centered around exciting new technologies, like the automobile and moving pictures.”

What Aunt Claire has done is select the adventure stories she finds to be the most fun and historically interesting. She then republishes them with new cover art (cover art, I might add, that is so fun and appealing!) What we thought was pretty cool though is that the original cover art is on the hardcover book underneath the dust jacket that contains the new cover art! So you get the best of the new and the history of the old!

Aunt Claire Presents, published by Laboratory Books Cover Art

Using Historical Adventure Stories for Homeschool History Studies

It is no secret that I LOVE using historical fiction for history studies in our homeschool. What I am enjoying about these republished books from Aunt Claire Presents is that they are super fun adventure stories that feature girls!

I often pick books based on a historical time period or event we are studying in our homeschool. This method, while more fun than just straight textbooks, still leaves my daughter knowing (and feeling) as though she is “doing schoolwork”. With these books I simply set them out for her to read. She actually chose Grace Harlowe’s Freshman Year at High School all on her own when she needed to read a historical fiction book as a part of her English curriculum!

The Aunt Claire Presents Adventure Stories:

Books out now:

  1. Vol. 1: The Automobile Girls at Newport by Laura Dent Cran – In this book, you will meet Ruth, Barbara, Mollie, and Grace, the four explorers who take to the road in Ruth’s bright red car, affectionately called Mr. A. Bubble. They are heading for Newport, Rhode Island, a resort town famous for mansions and millionaires.
  2. Vol. 2: Grace Harlowe’s Freshman Year at High School by Jessie Graham Flower, A.M. – In this book, you will meet Grace ― confident and athletic, a natural leader and a true friend. Then there’s the new girl, Anne―quiet, smart, and quite determined to win the freshman academic prize. There’s also Nora, who’s funny and sharp, and Jessica, who is rather good at detective work. And then of course there’s the mean girl, Miriam, who’s not about to let Anne take her place at the head of the class.

Books to be published in the Spring of 2018:

  1. Vol. 3: The Girl Aviators and the Phantom Airship by Margaret Burnham – In this book, you will meet Peggy Prescott and her brother Roy, two orphans who drop out of school and spend every last dollar they have to fulfill their father’s dying wish—to construct a new type of aeroplane, better and more reliable than any other. With the help of their best friends Jess and Jimsy, can they get their Golden Butterfly in the air and win the $5,000 Young Aviator’s Prize before the scheming banker Simon Harding forecloses on their aunt’s farm? Or will Simon’s son Fanning carry off the prize with the Phantom Airship he’s constructing in secret with his unsavory helpers?
  2. Vol. 4: Grace Harlowe’s Sophomore Year at High School by Jessie Graham Flower, A.M.

Extending the Adventure Stories Learning

At the beginning of each one of the Aunt Claire Presents, published by Laboratory Books you will find an illustrated introduction that gives historical background and context to the story you are about to read. It’s like a combination of your lovable granny telling you a story and an encyclopedia providing you period images and details!

Vintage image from The Automobile Girls at Newport from Aunt Claire Presents, published by Laboratory Books.

Another great learning resource can be found on the Aunt Claire Presents. There you will find Writing Prompts and Discussion Questions for each one of the books. These are a great way to help us homeschool moms extend the learning!

One more thing we found useful was to keep a vocabulary list. Since these books were written in the 1900s there were terms that my daughter was unsure of. For instance, “mam’s flat”, refers to where she lived, or the term suffragettes which refers to a woman seeking the right to vote through organized protest. I had her write down the words as she went so we could talk about them and come up with a definition she could understand.

Learning About the Packard Automobile featured in The Automobile Girls at Newport

Beyond reading the illustrated introduction and using the Writing Prompts and Discussion questions, let me show you how we dug deeper and learned a little more history!

The bright red car known as Mr. A Bubble in The Automobile Girls at Newport is a Packard Touring car. We found this video that shows one up close and personal and talks a little bit about it.

Then I created printables (see the images below and right click and save as to print them for yourself) related to the Packard Touring Car for my daughter.

The first one is a Packard Touring Car Coloring Sheet:

Packard Touring Car Coloring Sheet from Starts At Eight

The second is for those of you that notebook and would want your student to be able to add some details they learned about the Packard Touring Car. It is a Packard Touring Car Notebooking Page:

Packard Touring Car Notebooking Page from Starts At Eight

All in all these engaging adventure stories from Aunt Claire Presents make fun read alouds or read on your own books for girls ages 9-13, as well as allow us homeschooling moms to “sneak in” a little history learning too!

Other Books for Girls

10 Glitzy Chapter Books for Girls from Starts At EightFavorite Books For Girls

Teaching History through the Women in History

Teaching History through the Women in History

I have two daughters. I want them to know they can do or be anything they set their minds to. We have tried many ways in which to teach history in our homeschool. I suddenly realized it might be cool (and relevant) to teach history via Women in History. This offers me the chance to show my girls how smart, strong, independent and influential that woman can be and have been in our history.

Teaching History Through The Women in History from Starts At Eight. Teaching History through the Women in History is a wonderful way to learn about important pieces of history as well as showcasing important women! This is a collection of books, websites, and printables to round out a history study based on women!

Last year I used the Who Was Biographies to teach my then 5th grader history. I loved being able to see a specific time period or event through the eyes of the person. Be sure to check out the Who Was Series Biographies post to grab your FREE Printable Notebooking Pages. They are perfect to use along with studying women in history.

Using the Who Was Series Biographies for Homeschool History {With FREE Printable Notebook Pages} from Starts At Eight

Another way we are working with history these days is through the use of a timeline. You can check out our Timeline Based Middle School American History to get an idea of how it works. Or just purchase this gorgeous Record of Timeline Notebook/Binder to create your own history timeline.

Timeline Based Middle School History {A Two Year American History Plan} from Starts At Eight is a two year plan (including resources) for teaching middle school history with a timeline as the spine.

Women in History Resources

Book Resources

Rad American Women A-Z

Like all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet—but instead of “A is for Apple”, A is for Angela—as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta, who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

And the list of great women continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds.

The Women Who Changed The Course of History

This Book Contains the Fundamental History, Early Influences, Life Changing Events, & Lasting Impact of Historical Figures such as Eve, Cleopatra, Isabel the Catholic, Marie Curie, Winnie Mandela, Benazir Bhutto, Juana Azurduy and Many Others!

The body of knowledge around this subject is so extensive that Dominique Atkinson has skillfully compressed thousands of books, scriptures and teachings of these historical figures into this easy to read book. Of each of these Great Women, you will learn who they were, where they came from, who influenced them, the fundamental turning points in their lives, and what where their lasting contributions to the world.

DK Amazing Women

From world leaders to explorers to writers, artists, and performers, discover more than 40 women who changed the world and celebrate them! This book is perfect for 9–11 year olds who are reading independently, or as a simple get the facts and go reader for older kids.

{Disclosure: I was given this book for free to review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post a positive review. Your experience may vary. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

DK 100 Women Who Made History

From super scientists like Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin to clued-up creatives like Emily Dickinson and J.K. Rowling to leading ladies like Joan of Arc and Eleanor Roosevelt, profiles explore the lives of each woman in detail, and photography and quirky “bobble-head” illustrations present history in a new and fun way. Kids can put each woman’s story into context with “what came before…” and “what came after…” panels showing the things that influenced and were influenced by each woman.

DK Eyewitness First Ladies

From Martha Washington to America’s newest first lady, Melania Trump, meet the 46 exceptional women who left their mark on the White House. See how the role of the First Lady has evolved from being a gracious hostess to encompassing humanitarian work and even policy making. This book is filled with amazing facts, full-color photographs of personal mementos, family pictures, and campaign memorabilia.

{Many thanks again to DK Publishing for providing this book to us for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Who Was Series Biographies

Women in History Who Was Books – Read Who Was Biographies about great women such as Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama and more! Also be sure to grab these FREE Printable Notebooking Pages for your kids to record what they are learning!

Web Resources for Women in History

  1. A list of Women Achievers – Explore an online list of over 30 women of achievement.
  2. National Women’s History Project – The National Women’s History Project recognizes and celebrates the diverse and historic accomplishments of women by providing informational services and educational and promotional materials.


Check out these FREE and low cost printable worksheets and unit studies to enhance the learning!

  1. Women in History Worksheets from
  2. Historic Women World Leaders – A Make a Match Worksheet
  3. Women’s History Month Worksheets
True to You Book Review

True to You Book Review

True to You is the first book in Becky Wade’s new Bradford Sisters Romance Series. I was so excited to get my hands on this one as I LOVED her Porter series so much!

True to You Book Review from Start At Eight

About True to You

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Purchase a copy of True to You

Disclaimer: I want to thank Becky Wade and Litfuse Publicity for supplying me with a copy of this book for me to review. While I received this free of charge in exchange for my review, my opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

About Becky Wade

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and an INSPY Award.

Porter Series by Beck Wade

  1. Undeniably Yours 
  2. Meant to Be Mine
  3. A Love Like Ours
  4. Her One and Only

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

What I Thought

I have to say that Becky did not disappoint with True to to You! She has once again created characters that are deep and knowable. Nora is bookish and into history, something I can really relate to. I would love to live in the library and little historical town she created. I laughed, and cried, and was pleasantly surprised by where the story takes you. The relationship between Nora and her sisters, Willow and Brooke, leaves you excited for the other books in the series to come out so you can get to know them better too!

Review of Lost and Found by Kendra Fletcher

Review of Lost and Found by Kendra Fletcher

I have the distinct pleasure of knowing Kendra Fletcher in real life, as an acquaintance at the very least. Both she and husband Fletch are refreshingly open and real, with tons of real life experience to share with the world. Lost and Found is the true story of their lives, a very trying period in their lives, where they are knocked down, only to be picked up by a living relationship with God.

A Book Review: Lost and Found from Starts At Eight. Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace is the moving true story of how Kendra Fletcher and her husband were knocked down so they could be lifted up. Open, raw, and real.

Lost and Found

The “right” homeschooling philosophy. The “right” brand of theology. The “right” meal-planning, home-managing, keep-it-all-together parenting.

About Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace

Kendra Fletcher, homeschooling mom of eight, had it all “right,” until it all fell apart. In the course of eighteen months, Kendra found her baby in a coma, ran over her five-year-old, and nearly lost her eight-year-old to a septic ruptured appendix. Lost and Found is the story of how God used those events to transform her family’s self-righteous religion into freedom in Christ.

{Disclaimer: I want to thank Kendra Fletcher and Litfuse Publicity for supplying me with a copy of this book for me to review. While I received this free of charge in exchange for my review, my opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

Fletcher’s debut book is the gripping true story of how God used suffering to save her family from empty religion. As wave after wave of crisis hit, the Fletchers discovered that getting religion “right” wasn’t a good substitute for a living relationship with a loving God. Through their suffering, they learned about misplaced identities and false hope, and they threw themselves wholly into the arms of Jesus—where they found the grace they needed.

Fletcher, a well-known writer and conference speaker in Christian homeschooling circles, addresses the quiet legalism that so easily infiltrates Christian communities and exposes the dangers of focusing our hopes on the “right” ways of worship, work, and family life. More than a memoir, Lost and Found invites all of us to give up the things that hold us in bondage and find our value, worth, significance, hope, and identity in Christ alone.

Purchase a copy of Lost and Found by Kendra Fletcher

What I Thought

I shuddered for Kendra as I read some of her raw words. I wondered how so many former church “friends” would feel about her words.  I have lived in that world of judgement and glass houses. How hard it must have been for her to truly lay it on the line and talk about the very real, legalistic wave of Christians we have in our world. Unfortunately, in my life I have seen way more of that than I have of the version of Christian Kendra and Fletch strive to be. We need more examples like them in our world.

This was a quick read. One that causes you to pause and think about your motivations, your actions, and how they effect not only you, but those around you.  If you want to see a good example of a Christian who is striving to live a life through Jesus instead of places lists of do’s and don’ts on religion, pick up this book and let Kendra put up some food for thought for you.

Want to Know More?

Want to know more? Want to know what happened after Lost & Found? As of right now there won’t be a sequel, but Kendra is series right on her blog “that will tell the rest of the story and what has transpired since we found Mighty Joe in a coma, I ran over Annesley, and Caroline’s very sick appendix ruptured.” Click here for more information.

More Book Reviews

Book Review: 13 Reasons Why
Mars With Venus Rising Book Review
The Melody of the Soul Book Review
365 Ways to Love Your Child
Growing Peace & Learning About African Culture ~ A Unit Study

Growing Peace & Learning About African Culture ~ A Unit Study

While we are limited in our travel resources, we have found ways to journey to different places from inside our home. Through books, videos, websites, and projects we are able to peek into, and experience a little bit of various cultures from all over the world. We are currently Learning About African Culture in our homeschool.

Growing Peace & Learning About African Culture: A Unit Study from Starts At Eight

About Growing Peace

Growing Peace – A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony by Richard Sobol
I received Growing Peace in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions below are mine and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.

Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony

On the morning of September 11, 2001, J. J. Keki, a Ugandan musician and coffee farmer, was in New York, about to visit the World Trade Center. Instead, J.J. witnessed the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. He came away from this event with strong emotions about religious conflict. Why should people be enemies because of their religions?

Back home in his village, J.J. was determined to find a way for people who held different religious beliefs to work together. He saw that the neighborhood children, from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian families, played with one another without a care about religion. Why not enlist their parents, all coffee farmers like himself, in a cooperative venture around a shared goal? Together they would grow, harvest, and sell their coffee. At the same time, they would bridge religious differences to work and live together peacefully.

Here is a rare and timely story of hope, economic cooperation, and religious harmony from an often struggling part of the world. From J.J.’s vision, his community has achieved what many people strive for: a growing peace.

An Interview with author Richard Sobol 

A Few Facts About Uganda 

  • Uganda, twice the size of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered on the west by Congo, on the north by the Sudan, on the east by Kenya, and on the south by Tanzania and Rwanda. The country, which lies across the equator, is divided into three main areas—swampy lowlands, a fertile plateau with wooded hills, and a desert region. Lake Victoria forms part of the southern border.
  • There is a rule in Uganda regarding cutting of trees. The Rule is, if you cut one tree, then you will need to plant three trees.
  • Uganda was referred to as the pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill because of its magnificence.
  • Nearly 50% of the population in Uganda is under the age of 14. With such a low age, it is the world’s youngest country.
  • If you are presented with a meal of pan fried grasshoppers in Uganda, consider yourself a special guest because it is one of the favorite treats in the country!
  • There are more than 3,000 different groups of indigenous people living in Africa. They have their own language and culture.
  • Major Industries: sugar, brewing, tobacco, cotton textiles; cement, steel production Agricultural Products: coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, cut flowers; beef, goat meat, milk, poultry
  • Natural Resources: copper, cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land
  • Major Exports: coffee, fish and fish products, tea, cotton, flowers, horticultural products; gold Major Imports: capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical supplies; cereals
  • Currency: Ugandan shilling (UGX)

Resources for Learning About Africa

Here are some great resources for learning about African culture and geography.

World Geography Scavenger Hunt Printable: Africa from Starts At Eight

Check out more great Children’s Books About Africa. Books are a great way for kids to begin learning about African culture, as told through stories and pictures of the people themselves. This list includes both picture books and non-fiction books to round out your study!

Children's Books About Africa from Starts At Eight. Use this list of Children's Books About Africa to immerse your children in the daily life, culture, and history of Africa.

Also Check Out

Once Upon A Time in Japan: Exploring Japanese Culture Through Books from Starts At EightChildren's Books About Japan from Starts At EightMega List (60+) of Children's Books for Black History Month from Starts At Eight

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Current Sponsors:

MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsor Include:

Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin,  Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty,  Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

MCBD’s CoHost Team:

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Connect with MCBD:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Website : Facebook : Twitter


Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents

Given that I have been a parent for over seventeen years now you might think this book comes a little late for me, alas it does not. While I think Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents is a must read for ALL expecting parents, there is also value to be had from those of us that have already been parenting awhile.

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents from Starts At Eight. A practical guide for navigating some of the tough parenting moments you might not have thought of. A great parenting help for new and even more experienced parents!

While many of the early chapters in this book deal with early parenting struggles, as the book goes on it delves into important topics for parenting as the years go on. I particularly found the chapter on parents needing to apologize to be a great one! I have found myself in this position with my own children.

This chapter covers two big areas:

1. What should I apologize for?

  • unkind things you say or do directly to your children
  • taking out your own frustration on your children with harsh, loud words, which deliver critical, condemning messages
  • failing to listen or pay attention when a child is talking to you
  • wrongly punishing due to inadequate fact gathering
  • excessive punishment

2. Steps for learning to apologize.

  • Accept responsibility for your own actions
  • Know your actions affect others.
  • There are always rules in life.
  • Apologies will restore friendships.
  • We must learn to speak our apologies in a way that is meaningful to the person we offended.

This just scratches the surface of the solid, practical advice offered up in this book!

About Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents

From one of my favorite authors, Gary Chapman, comes a new book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents.  {I recently received this book for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

In this book Gary Chapman and Shannon Warden share wisdom gained from raising their own children and from the many families they’ve counseled through the years. They explore numerous topics like how children change your life, how to accept your child’s uniqueness, potty training (yes!), why kids need boundaries (starting as infants), the importance of modeling, why social skills are as important as academic skills, and why emotional health is critical.

Check out the chapters!

  • Children are Expensive
  • No Two Children Are Alike
  • That Potty Training is No Laughing Matter
  • That Children Need Boundaries
  • Children’s Emotional Health is a Important as Physical Health
  • Children are Greatly Influenced by Our Model
  • Sometimes Parents Need to Apologize
  • Social Skills are as Important as Academic Skills
  • That Parents are Responsible for their Child’s Education
  • Marriage DO NOT Thrive on Autopilot
  • Children Can Bring You Great Joy

Even though there are hints of Christianity (references to church, Christian schools, etc.), this book is mostly a secular book and does not contain any scriptural references or recommendations based on the Bible. I really appreciate this because I feel by leaving many of those references out, parents who do not share a specific religous belief will be more open to reading and hearing the important words of wisdom and actionable items to becoming a better parent that are shared in this book.

About the Authors

Dr. Gary Chapman is an author, speaker, and counselor who has a passion for people and helping them form lasting relationships. He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages® and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary travels the world presenting seminars and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations. He and his wife have two children and several grandchildren.

Dr. Shannon Warden is an assistant teaching professor at Wake Forest University where she teaches in the graduate counseling program. She is also the director of counseling and director of women’s ministries at Triad Baptist Church in Kernersville, NC. As a professional counselor, Shannon has counseled children, families, young adults, women, and couples since 1998 and has served as an assistant to Dr. Gary Chapman since 2003. She and her husband have three children.

Other Books By Gary Chapman

A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages - A Review from Starts At EightCurriculum Review: Discovering the 5 Love Languages At School from Starts At EightGrowing Up Social - Kids & Screen Time from Starts At Eight

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