Friday, January 13, 2006

Castle Books, part 1

Today, we finally started delving into our Castle books -- this is going to be such a fun unit! Because we pore over EVERY picture, and read EVERY word, we only got through three castle books today:

  1. Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Medieval Castle (Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen) What a great introduction to castles using Ms. Frizzle and Arnold, classic characters from the Magic School Bus shows. In almost a comic book style, you learn lots of great information about types of castles, period clothing, who did what and when, and how to defend a castle under seige. A great introductory book for my kids because they so enjoy all the Magic School Bus books and videos.
  2. A Medieval Castle (Inside Story) (Fianoa MacDonald, illustrated by Mark Bergin) This is one of those very detailed, cut-away books where you can see inside and outside at the same time. The information is solid and heavily factual, but the littles didn't mind too much as they pored over the illustrations while I read. There is so much to see in each highly detailed picture. This book also tells quite a bit about the people who would have lived in or near the castle and has a great graphic of the castle's Chapel. The author used Richard the Lionhearted's castle, Chateau Gaillard, in France to explain the many details.
  3. Mystery History of a Medieval Castle (Jim Pipe) -- unfortunately this one seems to be OOP. Now, we spent a LONG time on this one! It's got puzzles, questions and a mystery all within it's information packed pages. The basic mystery is to find the assasin based on answers to questions every few pages or so. The questions follow the reading, so it's a bit of reading comprehension at the same time. There are other questions, not related to the mystery, that make you really think -- could people sneak into a castle, how important was the Church in medieval times, is cleaning up after a banquet easy? Very provocative questions that really made my kids THINK. With this book, the kids learn lots without knowing they're learning (I LOVE books that can do that!). The only problem I had with this book was the following about the Church:
    "Medieval people believe that they can't get through life without help from God or magical forces, so most obey the Church's strict rules about how to lead
    their lives."

Well that pretty much slams the Church! You'd never know the Church took care of the poor, homeless, widows, orphans, aged and infirmed. If it weren't for the Church, there wouldn't have been hospitals, universities, books, charity.... It was a very teachable moment!

Monday, we'll read some more Castle books and share our experience.

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