There’s so many great books out there; how do you know which ones to read? Brittany talks about some of the books she used to read in her classroom when she taught.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Ronni.
Ronni: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: So, the kids are either going back to school or maybe just getting back in the swing of things with homeschool, or I guess if you unschool maybe you’ve never taken time off, you’ve just been learning through everything. But I thought we would do an episode talking about some great books for our listeners to read, maybe by themselves, maybe with their parents, either way I would’ve.
Ronni: Great idea.
Brittany: There’s, that would be fun. So many great books. It was hard to narrow it down. And I tried to pick some that were specifically for around the age, like third grade and fourth grade. And I’ll kick it to you eventually, Ronni, so don’t worry about keeping that age limit. The reason I picked that age limit is because, as some of our listeners know, I used to teach third grade, so some of these books.
Ronni: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Brittany: Yeah, I taught at a private school in Utah actually. So there, I think one of them is, is probably near where you live. so I thought I’d picked some of the books that I got to talk about with my students back in the day. In fact, my students just turned 18, I feel. Oh my gosh. Very old. Yeah, they all just started college. So it feels like a very long time ago. But to start it off, I wanna talk about a book that I actually never knew of when I was a kid. I didn’t hear about it until I was a teacher. And it’s called The Trumpeter Swan. Have you ever read this book?
Ronni: It sounds familiar. It’s possible. I maybe read it in school, but I can’t remember it.
Brittany: Well, I will see if I can jog your memory. Maybe you have. So it is about a trumpeter swan, and that’s pretty much a swan that sounds exactly as the name sounds, so, that he kind of sounds like a trumpet. They, I don’t know, it’s not quacking or squawking. I dunno what you’d call that. What does, what does a trumpet do? Squeaks kind of.
Brittany: Trumpets. Yeah. Maybe that’s it. So that’s the sound these swans make. That’s how they talk to each other. And this is about a swan named Louie. And Louie can’t talk to the other trumpeter swans because he was born mute, so that means he can’t speak. And so he’s having a really hard time making friends with the other swans. But his father had promised him that someday he was gonna find a way for him to communicate. So Louie’s living a pretty lonely life, but he befriends a human who’s on vacation at his parents’ summer house. And he meets the swan. And at first, the swans are scared of him, but then he saves their eggs, like some of the baby eggs that hadn’t hatched yet from, I can’t remember what animal it was, but a scary animal. And so then he earns their trust. So, okay, he goes back home and Louie knows how to find his friend. I don’t know how, so I’m not gonna tell you how he knew how to fly from Canada to America to find his human friend, but he did. And he learns how to read and write as all swans do as we know, kidding. But that helps him communicate with humans. So he finds out he’s really, really smart. And so he’s able to talk to other humans by writing on his little blackboard. They give him a little, like one of those small little, I guess people don’t have blackboards anymore. Do they wipe off boards whiteboards?
Ronni: Whiteboards, yes.
Brittany: Whiteboards. Back in the day, it was a blackboard. Cause it was a chalkboard and you used to put chalk on it back in my day. So he starts learning. I said he starts learning how to talk. but then his dad is like, oh my goodness, I found this great way to get Louie to speak. And he breaks in with his, you know, he breaks the window with his beak in a music store and he steals a trumpet to give to Louie so that he can learn to use that to talk with other swans. And even though Louie thinks this is great, and this is one reason I love this book so much, he’s very concerned about how he stole from the store owner. ’cause he knows that stealing is wrong. And that was one thing that really stood out to me. I’m like, oh, well look at this. Good moral, good moral on. Yeah. So part of the reason, so the next thing he does, part of the reason he does it is so that he can repay the store owner. He decides he’s gonna get a job. So Louis starts taking all these jobs and eventually, he becomes a successful trumpet player in a jazz nightclub earning $500 a week. And he has this little bag that wraps around his little, neck with his money in it. and eventually, at the end of the story, he uses the trumpet to find the love of his life. A another swan named Serena. And they go off to their lake and everybody lives happily ever after. But it’s one of my, isn’t that sweet? That is. It’s one of my favorite kids’ books. And another reason I like it, and you’ll see that this is a theme with a lot of the books I talk about today, is that Louis’s really entrepreneurial, and that’s a big thing for us. We’ve talked about this a lot on here before. You know, Louis finds a way to be independent, to be self-sufficient and to make money and to do what he felt was right, which was to pay back the store owner, which is kind of a tragic part of the book. Nobody dies, but it’s a sad part of the book. I’ll let you guys figure out that part for yourselves. But he does find a way to repay the store owner. So those are the reasons I like that book. So for my next one, unless actually Ronni, let’s do it back and forth if you don’t mind me putting you on the spot, do you have a book you wanna, talk about and then you can kick it back to me?
Ronni: Oh, sure. I was just trying to run through my head some of the books that I really liked reading when I was that age.
Brittany: I put her on the spot, guys. I did not prepare her for this.
Ronni: That’s totally fine. But I seem to have an affinity for her, meaning that I seem to really like historical books and historical fiction. And so when I think back about all the books that I loved when I was younger, they were things like Little House in the Prairie Series.
Brittany: I’m glad you said that one because I’ve tried to put that Okay. And I’ve never read it, so I couldn’t really talk a whole lot.
Ronni: You haven’t? I’ve read the whole series.
Brittany: Oh, wonderful.
Ronni: So, yeah, those books, or Little Women was a big one for me. Yes. I grew up in a Family of Only Sisters, so I really liked Little Women because it was all girls too.
Brittany: I loved that book. And I think there’s a lot of good lessons in that book too, because it’s all about, you know, family. Do you wanna tell a little bit of what, little women’s about?
Ronni: Sure, so one of the reasons why I loved Little Women is it was just telling the story of, you know, these girls, their lives and it was during the Civil War, so their dad was off fighting and so they were home alone with their mom. But it tells not only how they are, you know, dealing with the world that’s happening around them, but you know, they’re getting letters about that. Their dad was wounded. They’re worried about how they’re gonna have money. Joe, who is the main character at one point goes and sells.
Brittany: Would you short for Josephine?
Ronni: Yes, so short for Josephine, she goes and sells her hair because, at the time, I guess they wouldn’t make jewelry pieces out of hair. I know that sounds very strange now, but at the time of the 1860s, that was a thing. So to sell your hair, especially if you have very nice hair, you could earn some money. And also at that time, short hair on women was very strange. So it would be very strange for a woman to decide to sell her hair because then she would have short hair. And that was considered very ugly at the time. So I remember at one point she goes and sells her hair so that she can have money to give her mom to be able to take care of their dad who had been wounded. That’s right. And there were a lot of other little things like the youngest girl, oh, I’m blanking on her name. I think it was Amy.
Brittany: After Amy.
Ronni: Amy was the youngest. And at one point, Amy, you know, she was young. She cared about frivolous things. And I guess at school, what was popular at the time was everyone brought limes to school. That’s, again, this sounds so strange, but if you think about it in a historical sense, the things that they cared about may have been limes. Whereas we might care, or kids now might care about Pokemon cards.
Brittany: And kids, when we were kids, cared about something else different. It just changes.
Ronni: But at that time, Amy cared about bringing limes to school because I guess all the girls traded them. And so she had gotten a little bit of money that she wasn’t really supposed to have but had been given to her. She was supposed to save it up for something important, but she went and spent it on limes and then gave them to her friends. But the teacher got mad at her and the teacher threw out all the lives and she was so distraught and upset and she ended up getting, it was this whole thing and the parents took her out of school. Anyways, it was a much bigger deal. But the point is that’s the whole book, just talking about these little elements. And it was this, kind of snapshot into time in the 1860s. Most of the time we only talk about, oh, the Civil War happening then. And we forget about all the stuff that was happening just in the regular, every day, you know, civilian lives. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I liked it so much.
Brittany: I love that. That’s a really good take on it. And you made me think about the book, which I haven’t thought about. I read it, I think third or fourth grade, and I loved it. I didn’t have only sisters, but I have a lot of them how many? I don’t even know. I have four sisters. I think maybe five. I can’t, I have 10 kids in my family and I lose count. Oh wow. I don’t know. So my next book that I was gonna talk about might be, I think I was maybe fifth or sixth grade when I started it. But I think some of our listeners are around that age. And it might be more appealing to girls than boys, but I am a girl, so it is what I read, babysitters Club. Oh yeah. And I loved wasn’t the, I loved it because I was fascinated with the idea of making money. So I didn’t get it, my parents didn’t give us allowance or anything in our house. It was very much like you’re expected to, you know, pitch in. Like that is just what we do. So I loved this idea of allowance, but my parents didn’t gimme that. So I was like, you know what? I’m gonna learn how to be the best babysitter ever. And the story, the book is about that. It’s, I think it’s five girls get together and they decide. So what happens is one day one of the girls’ moms tries to get a babysitter and she can’t get it. And she thinks like, man, I wish there was an easier way to find a babysitter. And the main character, Christie, she gets this great idea. She goes, oh, you know, I’m gonna innovate what’s around now. I’m gonna find a way to make babysitting easier. So what they do is they get together after schools on a certain day of the week and they say like, okay, if you need a babysitter for the week, we’ll be around from like it’s like a call center. Like we’ll be here from like noon to 2:00 PM or whatever it is. And you can call and we’ll connect you with a really good babysitter who knows what they’re doing. So they start this business and they end up making a ton of money and they’re able to, you know, do things and it’s about their group of friends and their families. But I just loved the way that they were able to be entrepreneurial. And I started my own babysitter’s business.
Ronni: I Did.
Brittany: Not with other people because.
Ronni: I was a solo entrepreneur.
Brittany: But I grew up in a neighborhood and in a church where everybody had a lot of kids. And so it was really easy for me to find babysitting jobs. And I cleaned up Ronni, I made a lot.
Ronni: Did how I’m. Oh, I couldn’t believe it. I wish there was a babysitter club here because I would be, make it so much easier for me to hire sitters. ’cause even now as a mom, it’s hard for me sometimes to find babysitters.
Brittany: And you wanna do something, you know, I know they have these online like apps and stuff, but I always, I mean, I don’t even have kids, but I don’t think I would leave my kids with a babysitter. I didn’t know. Some people do and that’s great. But this was cool ’cause you know, you knew who you were leaving your kids with, but Ronni, if you wanna do one more book and then kick it back over to me and we’ll close this up.
Ronni: Okay, so the other book or books that I was thinking of that I like to read a lot, not only was it, you know, Prairie Time and Civil War Time, but, book World War II, I was also really fascinated by, and I remember reading a lot of books about, like The Hiding Place. Do you know The Hiding Place?
Brittany: No, I’ve never heard of that.
Ronni: I think I had to read it in school, but then I was fascinated by it. I’m trying to remember the full story. But she was, a lady living, somewhere in Europe, I can’t remember which country, but they were hiding Jews, in their house. You know, they had built a hiding place in their house, similar to the story of Anne Frank. But it was a different story. but just really being, becoming aware of what was happening during that time period. That was another really fascinating time. There’s another story I wanna, I’m blanking on the name, if I remember it later, I’ll jump in with it. but it was another story about how children during that time, which I didn’t know before I read the book, were sent to the countryside. So a lot of kids were just sent away where it was safer, I guess, to talk about it a little bit in The Lion, the Witch in the Wardrobe.
Brittany: Yes, that’s what I was thinking. Yeah.
Ronni: It’s in that book, which is another great book by the way, or Great series. But whichever book that I had read, it was, oh, searching for Shona or something, I think is what it was called. But it was, some kids are getting sent away to the countryside and there’s two girls and they meet each other and for some reason, they decide that it would be fun if they switched identities. So all they had to do was switch the little tag that was clipped onto them. And then they ended up going to different places in the countryside. So one of the kids went to the other person’s, you know, aunt and uncle, or I can’t remember the specifics, but, so they switched identities and then they’re living out during the war, these alternate identities pretending they’re the other person. But then, you know, years pass, and then they end up going back to what’s left of their families. And like, they’re both completely changed and they’re both, you know, trying to, it was something where the two identities were like completely different, right? One was rich, one was poor, or something like that. But, I remember that one a lot too. So I like that time period as well.
That’s fun. I’m glad you and I have very, like, we kind of different categories of books because I always forget about historical fiction. I like to read that now, but I when I think about when I was a kid, I don’t know that I read a lot of historical fiction. So I’m glad we had kind of the two different perspectives on that. Well that is, we only said four books. There are an infinite amount of books that we could have said, but we will end it there and you know, tell us what books you’re reading. I would love to know what books all the kids are reading these days. I sounded really old saying that, but that’s okay. So we’ll wrap it up there. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. And we will talk to you next time.