Read to Your Kids--You'll be so Glad you Did!

When Zoe was five and it was time for her to go to Kindergarten we were confronted with the stunning realization that there was no school for her to attend.  Non-military kids may pay $18,000 per year to attend a DODDS school, so that was out.  Japanese schools are vastly different from American schools and we wouldn’t have been able to talk to her teachers or read her homework, so that was out.  The one private international school was a little out of our budget and also had a full-day kindergarten, which I wasn’t comfortable with.  I found myself googling “how to homeschool” in July--one month before the school year began.  

I settled on a homeschool curriculum called Sonlight and have never turned back.  I was drawn by the fact that Sonlight offers teacher’s plans for every subject, every day.  All I have to do is open the binder and it tells me what to do all 36 weeks of each grade I need to teach.  I was also drawn by the fact that all of my necessary homeschool supplies would arrive in one box--handwriting paper, books, workbooks, science experiments, and more (very appealing to a new homeschool mom residing overseas). 

While I really appreciate the above things about Sonlight, what I love most is that it is a literature-based curriculum.  I have the privilege of reading excellent novels and true stories out loud to my kids everyday.  We have spent invaluable hours on the couch together absorbing rich stories.  The stories have shaped our conversations and my kids’ very lives. Reading together as a family is one our favorite things we do.  My kids truly beg for more every single day.  

I’m listing below our favorites from each year through the beginning of fifth grade.  Even if you don’t homeschool and never plan to--read to your kids!  You’ll be so blessed when you do. 


The Light at Tern Rock

The Hundred Dresses*

Twenty and Ten*

The Boxcar Children 


The Year of Miss Agnes

Homer Price

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Detectives in Togas*


The Twenty-One Balloons

Strawberry Girl*

The Little Riders*

Red Sails to Capri*

The Cricket in Times Square

The School Story


The Sign of the Beaver

The Witch of Blackbird Pond***

Johnny Tremain*

Calico Bush

Swift Rivers


Across Five Aprils*

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson


Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon


*These books especially impacted all of us. 

***Our favorite of all time.