Grammar has a reputation of being dull and dry, but a turn-of-the-century classic, Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt (first published 1878), attempts to make it fun by turning learning the parts of speech into a game.
In the imaginary world of Grammar-Land, the parts of speech have been arguing about which of them is most important. They must come before Judge Grammar and explain themselves. The book is written with the “children of Schoolroom-shire” as the intended audience, and as each part of speech comes before the judge, he asks the children for help in understanding the parts of speech.
Because I love studying grammar, I think it goes without saying that I loved this book! I found it to be a delightful introduction for kids. The parts of speech have distinct and memorable personalities. I think my favorite was Little Article.
Admittedly, the plot is not a fascinating adventure. There is no disguising the fact that this book is teaching something. But, compared to other options, I think sitting and reading about Grammar-Land is an ideal way for my son to first be exposed to the parts of speech. With the worksheets that other homeschool parents have made (here and here), I see Grammar-Land as a delightful beginning grammar “curriculum” for my young son. Best of all, Grammar-land is available for free at Google Books. I’ll come back here and report when Raisin and I have read it together.
Fleas, Flies, and Friars: Children’s Poetry from the Middle Ages by Nicholas Orme (to be published March 2012, Cornell University Press) is something completely different from my normal reading, but I enjoyed it very much. It is part anthology of poetry that children learned and recited from 1200-1500 CE (translated from Middle English or Latin) and part a description (annotation) of how children lived and learned during those years.
At just over 100 pages, it is obviously just a brief glimpse into medieval children’s poetry and society. Yet, because the annotations are written with an informative but friendly tone, it was a pleasant read for me, a curious historian and admirer of poetry in general. Children in the Middle Ages learned standards of behavior from poetry, as well as experienced the to-be-expected pleasures of lullabies and nonsense rhymes. Poetic stories of Robin Hood were immensely popular, and poetic reminders of school learning (Latin grammar, for example) helped the young child study.
Although the volume is slim and I was not a reader familiar with the status or literature of children in the Middle Ages, I highly enjoyed it. In some respects, it reminded me how some things really haven’t changed. Given the songs I learned in elementary school for learning the parts of speech, the nonsense poetry ridiculing silly teachers, and the poetic stories I still read in picture books, I’m simply pleased poetry has continued to define childhood and that there is a lot more of it to enjoy!
Read as a digital review copy from the publisher via netgalley.
In Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dogs: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, Kitty Burns Florey sets out to tell why diagramming sentences is so much fun and the brief history of the art of diagramming sentences. To some extent, I felt Florey’s book was more memoir and humor than it was history. Yet, I highly enjoyed the brief tribute to diagramming because I was one who was fascinated by the month I spent in seventh grade learning to diagram. (more…)
I was looking for a nonfiction picture book for my son at the library the other day when I saw Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference by Lynne Truss. I enjoyed the grammar guide (Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation) by Lynne Truss so this caught my eye. If the grammar guide is too much for you, then this might be just right. (more…)