Meriadoc Homeschool Library

Did you ever go to the public library to try to borrow books to supplement your homeschool curriculum or for recreational reading? And all you and your children found were vampires, evolutionary propaganda, and books that were dumbed-down and unhelpful?

Or did you ever try to buy all of the books to support your literature or history or science curriculum, only to have your bank account scream “Ouch!”

Do you ever wonder where all the “good books” , as opposed to what Charlotte Mason called “twaddle”, have gone?

Did you ever wish that there could be a library fashioned especially for homeschoolers with their needs and desires in mind?

Your wish has come true. Meriadoc Homeschool Library, operated out of the Early home at 15707 Rill Lane in Houston, TX, is THE place for homeschoolers in the Clear Lake/Friendswood/Webster area to borrow books and curriculum for homeschooling with living books. Any homeschooling family is welcome to join Meriadoc Homeschool Library for a nominal yearly fee.

Meriadoc Homeschool Library has a collection of more than 3000 excellent, inspiring, living books. From fiction to science to history to mathematics, our books feature enthusiastic authors writing about subjects and characters that the author cares about and that come alive to your students as you read together in your homeschool. Sherry Early, the librarian and collector of all of these books, will encourage and assist member families as you make thought-provoking books the center of your educational journey.

If this simple focus on reading and reading aloud and a literature intensive approach to homeschooling appeals to you and your family, you can get more information about Meriadoc Homeschool Library on our webpage or you can email Sherry Early at

“A living book has more of the human touch. Usually only one author is writing, sharing his favorite subject with us. We pick up his enthusiasm for his subject as he writes affectionately about what he knows. These books are living in the sense that they are alive with ideas. Ideas give us something to ponder. It is better to ponder than to parrot.” ~Karen Andreola

“An entire book on one subject affords far more retention than a short paragraph in a textbook. Living books have facts in them just like any textbook would but they also feature people living through ocean exploration, wars, scientific discoveries, etc. When children read about people’s lives in a book they tend to care and become connected, then they hang on to the facts far better than they do when they read boring, lifeless entries in other types of books.” ~Catherine Levison

A Note from the Author Of Balboa, Swordsman and Conquistador

I just added this book to the Meriadoc Homeschool Library database at library thing. It’s a book I recently purchased from a lady who is selling her library, and when I opened the book, I found a lovely surprise: a typewritten letter to readers from the author, Felix Riesenberg, Jr. The letter is loose, written on notepaper with a letterhead at the top giving the author’s name and address in Sarasota, Florida. The typewritten letter is signed by the author. It reads in part:

“This book is the story of Balboa from his teens until after he and his men hacked, climbed and fought over rugged country from the Caribbean Sea to the then unknown Pacific. The discovery, made despite many obstacles, remains one of the most exciting and important events in all man’s history.”

Mr. Reisenberg died in 1962, so I feel as if I have a piece of history in my hands when I read his letter encouraging “young readers” to read about and emulate Balboa, who Riesenberg characterizes as bold, brave, and steadfast, as well as kind and beloved by his companions.

I’ve placed the letter in an envelope inside the front cover of my book. What a treasure!

New (Old) Books: 11/14/2014

I added the following classic books to the Meriadoc Homeschool Library database at librarything. None of these books is available in the entire Houston Public Library System.

Snipp, Snapp Snurr and the Reindeer by Maj Lindman. Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr are triplets who live in Sweden. In this episode of their picture book adventures, they meet a Laplander family and are rescued by a reindeer.

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Yellow Sled by Maj Lindman. The three boys work hard to save up the money to buy a yellow sled, but what will they do when a poor little boy wants the same sled that they have been working to earn?

Silver Chief: Dog of the North by Jack O’Brien. Set in the Canadian wilderness. Silver Chief, half dog and half wolf, becomes the helper and protector of Canadian Mountie Jim Thorpe. Published in 1933.

A City for Lincoln by John R. Tunis. Don Henderson first came to Springfield as basketball coach for the Wildcats, but now he’s running for mayor. Can Don and his supporters make Springfield into a city that will honor the name of its most famous citizen, Abraham Lincoln? First published in 1945.

Emmeline and her Daughters: The Pankhurst Suffragettes by Iris Noble. In this nonfiction history book, Emmeline Pankhurst and her genteel daughters Christabel, Sylvia, and Adela become fiery radicals in their campaign for women’s suffrage in England.

Hans Christian Andersen: Immortal Storyteller by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery. A fairly easy to read, third or fourth grade level, biography of the author of favorite Danish tales such as The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling. You can also check out several versions Mr. Andersen’s fairy tales to read along with this biography that shows where the tales came from—Hans Christian Andersen’s wonderful imagination.

Frederic Chopin: Son of Poland Later Years by Opal Wheeler. Ms. Wheeler’s series of books about famous composers is a treasure. In this one, Chopin moves to Vienna and then to Paris, but he never forgets his native country, Poland. Published in 1949.

Long Ago When I Was Young by E. Nesbit. Introduction by Noel Streatfeild and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. An short childhood autobiography of the author of such books as Five Children and It, The Treasure Seekers, and The Railway Children. These classic fiction books and others by E. Nesbit are also available at the Meriadoc Homeschool Library.

November 7th–Happy Birthday

b.1728 – James Cook, English captain, navigator, and cartographer (d. 1779) We have two books in Meriadoc Homeschool Library about Captain Cook:
For younger readers, we have Captain James Cook (Adventures in Discovery) by Ruth Harley.
For more advanced elementary readers, there’s the World Landmark book, Captain Cook Explores the South Seas by Newbery Award winning author Armstrong Sperry, who shared Captain Cook’s birthday, b.1897, d. 1976. Sperry’s Newbery Medal winning book was Call It Courage, the fictional story of Mafutu, a Pacific Islander boy who is afraid of the sea but must learn to face his fears. This book is also available for check out at Meriadoc Homeschool Library.

“I had been afraid that perhaps in Call It Courage, the concept of spiritual courage might be too adult for children, but the reception of this book has reaffirmed a belief I have long held: that children have imagination enough to grasp any idea, and respond to it, if it is put to them honestly and without a patronizing pat on the head.” ~Armstrong Sperry

b.1867 – Marie Curie, Polish chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1934).

b.1918 – Billy Graham, American evangelist and minister.

“Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ, and seek to follow Him every day. Don’t be swayed by the false values and goals of this world, but put Christ and His will first in everything you do.”

Astronomy 2014-2015

The astronomy study group will be led by Tim Early, a NASA engineer with a lifelong interest in astronomy. Students will be learning about the heavens that God made and how to observe the various objects in the night sky. The study group will be using an eclectic mix of curricula and living books to enrich their direct study of the heavens.

'How to photograph the moon' photo (c) 2010, Johan  J.Ingles-Le Nobel - license: schedule of topics to be covered:

Week 1: Earth’s Rotation, Day and Night

Week 2: The Reason for Seasons

Week 3: Ptolemy and the Greek Astronomers

Week 4: Observing the Moon: Facts and Phases

Week 5: Observing the Surface of the Moon, Lunar Eclipses

Week 6: Earth-centered and Sun-centered Models of the Universe

Week 7: Brahe’s and Galileo’s Observations

Week 8: Kepler and Newton, Laws of Planetary Motion

Week 9: Gravity

Week 10: The Solar System

Week 11: Mercury and Venus

Week 12: Mars and the Asteroid Belt

Week 13: Jupiter and Saturn

Week 14: Uranus and Neptune

Week 15: What Happened to Pluto?

Week 16: What Is a Star?

'Lassen Milky Way' photo (c) 2013, Josh Hawley - license: 17: The Sun Is a Star

Week 18: Light Waves and Forms

Week 20: Light and Energy

Week 20: The Milky Way Galaxy

Week 21: Constellations

Week 22: More Constellations

Week 23: Novae and Super-Novae

Week 24: Black Holes, Quasar, and Other Fancy Stuff

Week 25: Using Eyes, Binoculars and a Telescope to Observe the Heavens

Week 26: The Big Bang and the Expanding Universe

Week 27: The Scale of the Universe

Week 28: What Does It All Mean?

Week 29: Review and Observations

Week 30: Presentations

Week 31: Presentations

Week 32: Star Party

This syllabus is not yet firm. Tim will be making some changes and additions to it over the summer. Students will probably not be required to purchase a textbook for this study group. However, the assignments and the work required will, if completed, be adequate for a parent to assign high school science credit for this class. Students must be at least twelve years old by the first of September to participate in this study group.

Poetry and World Literature 2014-2015

We will start each class by reading and discussing a poem from the work of a selected poet. We will spend about a month on each of the poets we study, and you will be given resources to explore the work of the poet we are studying at home.

Then, it’s on to World Literature. Students will be encouraged/required to read forty books over the course of the school year. Don’t be alarmed or discouraged by that number. The number and the requirement came from a book called The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Ms Miller writes:

“Ten books or twenty books are not enough to instill a love of reading in students. They must choose and read many books for themselves in order to catch the reading bug. By setting the requirement as high as I do, I ensure that students must have a book going on constantly. . . . I know this approach works because I have never had a student who reached the forty book mark stop there. Students continue to read even after the requirement is met. Some students are not confident that they will be able to reach this goal, but I assure them that they can.”

Students will be choosing their own books to read in required categories, and each week one or two students will be asked to tell the group about what they are reading. No book reports, other than these oral presentations, will be required, but students can write about their reading adventures for writing class if they want to do so.

These are the genre requirements for the forty books:

Poetry books: 2
Realistic or historical fiction: 5
Fantasy or science fiction: 5
Science and technology informational books: 5
History or geography informational books: 5
Biography, autobiography or memoir: 3
Books around the world: 1 book from or about each inhabited continent plus a book about the Arctic or Antarctic for a total of 7 books. These can be fiction or nonfiction.
Chapter books of your own choosing: 8, fiction or nonfiction.

We will set aside at least 15 minutes in class for uninterrupted free reading. Students should also set aside one hour per day at home for assigned and pleasure reading. Parent and student should both be reading something during this hour each day. Keep a record of what you read on your reading record page.

If geography class is the highlight of the day, Poetry and World Literature class will be pure fun, a time for “awakening the inner reader in every child.”

World Geography 2014-2015

This study group/class will be the centerpiece of the entire year’s curriculum. As students explore the world together, continent by continent, country by country, they will not only learn facts about each nation of the world, cities and capitals, food and cultural activities, they will also learn to pray for the peoples of the world and to apply the gospel to world issues and to the needs of the world’s peoples.

We will be meeting for thirty-three Tuesdays, so thirty-two weeks of intensive geography. The countries of Latin America will be covered in Spanish class, so if your student is taking Spanish 1, those countries will be reviewed at the end of the year. The proposed schedule for learning about the rest of the world (outside of the United States) is as follows:

Week 1: Maps and Globes, introduction to geographical terms
Week 2: The Arctic and Antarctic
Week 3: Pacific Islands (Oceania)
Week 4: Australia
Week 5: Australia and New Zealand
Week 6: Japan
Week 7: Korea
Week 8: China
Week 9: China and bordering countries
Week 10: India
Week 11: India and bordering countries
Week 12: Southeast Asia
Week 13: Iraq and Iran
Week 14: Middle East
Week 15: Egypt and Northern Africa
Week 16: Nigeria and Western Africa
Week 17: Kenya and East Africa
Week 18: South Africa
Week 19: Turkey and the Former Soviet Republics
Week 20: Russia and the Former Soviet Republics
Week 21: Poland and Eastern Europe
Week 22: France
Week 23: Spain and Western Europe
Week 24: Germany
Week 25: Great Britain (United Kingdom) and Ireland
Week 26: Scandinavia
Week 27: Canada
Week 28: Mexico
Week 29: Central America
Week 30: Venezuela
Week 31: Brazil
Week 32: Argentina
Week 33: The Caribbean

For this class students will need:
an up-to-date children’s atlas of the world, ANY world atlas, which can be borrowed from Meriadoc Homeschool Library.
a copy of Window on the World: When We Pray God Works by Daphne Spraggett and Jill Johnstone OR Operation World by Jason Mandryk. Students will be encouraged to pray for the countries and people groups of the world as we study different locations and areas of the world.
a loose-leaf notebook in which to keep maps, reports, and other information about each part of the world that we study.

Assignments will include:

Study and trace assigned geographical area for the week. Learn important cities, rivers, mountains, and other features. Be prepared to draw and label in class on Tuesday.

Keep a card file of geography vocabulary, and study words and definitions each week.

Read at least one picture book related to the geographic area we are studying, aloud to a primary or preschool student each week. Ideas for picture books are in the document Picture Book Around the World, a document that will be provided to each student. Keep a record of picture books read aloud on a Picture Book Read Aloud record page.

Other assignments may include watching videos about the countries we study, making foods or playing games from the countries, reading fiction and nonfiction books about the countries and geographical areas, writing reports and completing worksheets related to the areas we are studying. At the end of the year students should be able to draw or at least label a map of the world with the countries and their capitals labeled.

I expect geography class to be the highlight of the day.

Writing and Grammar 2014-2015

We will probably be using Easy Grammar Plus for the grammar component of this study group session and a variety of writing curricula and ideas for the writing section. I (Sherry) do not like IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing), although I have borrowed some ideas from that curriculum. We will also be using some ideas from Circe Institute’s (Andrew Kern) The Lost Tools of Writing and from Jensen’s Format Writing.

However, the best way to learn to write well, and to learn to enjoy writing, is to write, and write, and write some more. Students will write one essay or report or other piece of work per week. Choose a topic, preferably a topic that interests the student, on Tuesday during class. Outline or plan on Wednesday. Write on Thursday. Revise and edit with parent on Friday. Complete final paper on Monday. Every week. By the end of the school year students will have produced about thirty pieces of writing, and their writing will have improved immensely.

Spanish I 2014-2015

'11 Spanish Words for DRINKING STRAW' photo (c) 2013, - license: Beginning Spanish 1 we will be using a workbook text called Breaking the Spanish Barrier, Level 1 by John Connor. This text consists of ten introductory “first step” lessons plus 12 full lessons. We will take five weeks to cover the first ten steps, and then we will use the remainder of the year to study the twelve lessons in the rest of the workbook.

Students will learn Spanish grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and cultural history as we we practice the language together in class and in various ways at home. Students will be required to complete written Spanish assignments for the week and spend at least one hour per day of vocabulary practice, listening, or speaking the target language.

Some resources:
Conjuguemos is a website designed to help students practice vocabulary words and verb conjugations.

Destinos, a Spanish television series, teaches speaking, listening, and comprehension skills in Spanish. This telenovela, or Spanish soap opera, immerses students in everyday situations with native speakers and introduces the cultures, accents, and dialects of Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico.

The video or audio Beginner Spanish Course at The Spanish Blog costs only $5.99 and would be a good home supplement for our Spanish learning adventure.

Breaking the Spanish Barrier is also available in an interactive ibook for the Apple iPad.

Math Tutoring 2014-2015

If the classes make (at least 3-5 students), we will be providing tutoring for Saxon Math 8/7 and for Saxon Algebra 1 during the school year 2014-2015.

Tim Early (BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin) will be tutoring students who are prepared to study Saxon Algebra 1. Students should have successfully completed Saxon Algebra 1/2 or another pre-algebra textbook to participate in this study group. Students will be asked to complete four assigned lessons each week in the latest edition of Saxon Algebra 1. Either the student or the parent should check each lesson against the Saxon Algebra 1 Solutions Manual or Answer Key (preferably the solutions manual), and the student should do all corrections before class on Tuesday. Tuesday class time will be spent answering student questions and previewing the lessons to be completed during the coming week.

Tests can be completed at home and brought to class (one test per week in addition to the four lessons) or on-site at Meriadoc Homeschool Tutoring, either before or after classes on Tuesdays. Mr. Early will grade the tests and return them to the parent for the parent to assign a grade to his or her student.

Sherry Early (MLIS from the University of Texas, Austin) will be tutoring students who are prepared to study in the Saxon 8/7 with Pre-Algebra textbook. If your student completed Saxon 7/6 or another seventh grade level math textbook successfully, then he or she should be prepared to begin Saxon 8/7. This information comes from the publishers of the Saxon curriculum:

Math 87 is the first of the pre-algebra texts, is very comprehensive, and should not be skipped. If a student does well in Math 87 (consistently scoring 85% or better on the cumulative tests) he can go directly into Algebra 1. However students who struggle in Math 87 should then take Algebra ½ for more practice in the fundamental skills of pre-algebra. The goal is to send a strong student into algebra 1. Students who stumble into algebra 1 tend to struggle throughout high school in math, whereas students who enter algebra 1 well prepared tend to do well all the way through high school math.

Students will be asked to complete four assigned lessons each week in the latest edition of Saxon 8/7. Either the student or the parent should check each lesson against the Saxon Algebra 8/7 Solutions Manual or Answer Key (preferably the solutions manual), and the student should do all corrections before class on Tuesday. Tuesday class time will be spent answering student questions and previewing the lessons to be completed during the coming week.

Tests can be completed at home and brought to class (one test per week in addition to the four lessons) or on-site at Meriadoc Homeschool Tutoring, either before or after classes on Tuesdays. Mrs. Early will grade the tests and return them to the parent for the parent to assign a grade to his or her student.