26 May 2016

Substituting Aussie books in AO1

I thought that today we might have a chat about substituting books. The post is for Grace, who asked for it, and for Melissa, Tara, Becci , Agnes, Belinda, Kathleen and LouLou, who got excited about the idea. Grab that coffee, girls, and let's talk books.

Okay, firstly, I've spoken about substituting books before. That post is here, but Ambleside Online is written for Americans living in America, not Aussies living in Australia, and part of the curriculum just isn't relevant for those of us living over here. A certain amount of substitution has to take place, and this is what I want to chat about.


I'm going to start today by looking at AO1, since that's what you most wanted to hear about. If you like, we can continue on to other years after that. So let's take a look at the AO1 booklist as written. You'll find it here, but you might want to print out a copy to scribble on. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Okay, so you'll see that AO1 covers the years 55 BC to 1066 AD - a huge time period, basically overviewing the time from the invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar up until the...er...invasion of Britain by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Now, the history of Britain is really the history of Australia as well, so you're not going to mess much with the books under history, are you? Here they are cut and pasted:

Trial and Triumph, by Richard Hannula ($ K) [2] [3]An Island Story, by H.E. Marshall β Δ ($ K) Ω [4] (Kings and Queens Timeline Figures)* ** Fifty Famous Stories Retold, by James Baldwin, selected chapters β Δ ($ K) Ω Ω Κ [5]** *** Viking Tales, by Jennie Hall , ch 1-11β Δ ($) Ω [6]

Viking Tales is there mainly because the first discoverers of America were the Vikings. You could leave it out for this reason, or substitute, but I didn't. It's a really interesting book. Trial and Triumph is church history. You'll want to read this, unless you're Catholic, then you'll want to read this first and decide.

Next up is a group of books entitled American History Biography. Here are the books:

* Benjamin Franklin, by Ingri D'Aulaire ($)** George Washington, by Ingri D'Aulaire ($)*** Buffalo Bill, by Ingri D'Aulaire ($)

At first glance, people are inclined to leave these out of an Aussie AO, but I'd encourage you not to. Firstly, the D'Aulaire books are delightful, and are beautifully written. You might want to read them just for that. Secondly, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were really great men. They also happen to be American, but really, they're men important to world history, not just to America. You are going to want your kids to know about Ben and George sometime. Now, here's the rub. If you continue following my Australianised version of AO, you're going to discover that I leave out pretty much all American History, so if you want your kids to know these men, this is your chance. These books give your kids a delightful introduction to two men that they're going to need to know about. Leave them in. I leave in Buffalo Bill and Pocahontas, a free read by the same authors, too, because it is good for your kids to know these stories. You could substitute, if you want, but you'll struggle to find books as good as these, and most Aussie heroes you'll want to save for later years. Leaving the books out completely is an option. Do that if you want, but I wouldn't.

Next up is geography, where the scheduled book is Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C. Holling. You could substitute this for Alison Lester's Are We There Yet? if you want. It's a fabulous book, and a great intro to Aussie geography. The only problem you'll have with this book is that it's much shorter than Paddle, so you'll want to use it over maybe a term, not a whole year. You could do it in addition to Paddle, if you choose. That would be extra good. I didn't do that, but in hindsight, perhaps I should have done. I used it in AO0 instead. I chose to use Paddle to the Sea because it is beautiful, and I'd always wanted to know the Great Lakes myself, and this book teaches them to you. Paddle covers America, Canada, and even across the Atlantic to France, and it teaches it all so delightfully that I can't imagine leaving this book out. You can if you want, but don't tell me if you do. The two books used for physical geography, Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography, and Home Geography by Long are relevant for Australia, so you'll want to include both of those.

Are you still with me? Let's march onward to Natural History/Science.:

The Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock Δ ($), as scheduled in Nature Study; online.James Herriot's Treasury for Children, by James Herriot ($) [8]The Burgess Bird Book for Children, by Thornton Burgess β Δ ($) Ω Κ [9]

I have Comstock, and I use it all the time. This handbook is a cheat-sheet for mum. It's designed to make you look clevah in from of your clevah kids. The idea is this: You find that aphids have taken over the new spring buds on your roses, right? You're irritated by that and try to squash them all, but your kidlets are fascinated, and want to know all about them. You know nothing about aphids except that they suck all the loveliness out of your roses, so you sneak inside (pretend to be going in to collect an icecream container or something), and grab out your book. There on page 351 you'll find a nice big juicy section (heh) on aphids. Speed-read the section, grab up the container and rush back outside. You are now super clevah, and your kids are super impressed Win! There's even an experiment listed for the aphid. Sacrifice a bit of your rose, and bring it inside. You'll learn all sorts of stuff that turns nature study into science. All this comes from Comstock. You want it; you need it. There are lots of things we don't have in Oz that you'll find in the book, but there is plenty enough to make it a useful addition to your homeschool library.

I also list Nuri Mass's The Wonderland of Nature in my curriculum list for AO1, but in hindsight, this book would be better in AO3 or 4. Leave it to then.

James Herriot's book is super lovely. Read it, adore it. Don't forget to read the Christmas story at Christmas time. That's why it's not scheduled, so you can put it where it needs to go.

Which brings us to Burgess. If you look at the footnote for The Burgess Bird Book (You do all read the footnotes, don't you? You absolutely have to), you'll see that you're to do 6 birds per term based on the season and birds that frequent your geographical area. For those of us in Australia, there are almost no birds in this book that frequent our area, so it will be useless for us. What the footnote is telling us, though, is that we are to read about 18 birds that we should be able to find and see. The idea here is to start learning about the birds we know and love. We have no equivalent book to Burgess in Australia. This book is a possibility, but even though it was only published recently, it is not currently in print and is hard to find. I used a delightful book by C K Thompson, Old Bob's Birds, but all of you gals who have followed after me have bought up all the copies, so it's really expensive, and not worth inflated prices, in my opinion. Sometimes you can get hold of his other titles - snap them up if you see them, but I wouldn't pay more than $10.00. Failing that, Leslie Rees's books are good. You're looking for the ones starting The Story of... Again, don't pay more than ten or twelve dollars. Lyla Stevens wrote a beautiful book, Birds of Australia in Colour, which is still available on Abe. Today, at least! I'm inclined to think I would use this book as a spine, reading a bird a week, but read one of Thompson or Rees's books per term to do an in depth study of three over the year. Again let me remind you to study birds you see. Put a birdbath outside your kitchen window, too, and get to know your feathered neighbours! If you really can't find a book, just study your own birds using a field guide. That will do.

Moving right along to poetry

* A Child's Garden of Verses β by Robert Louis Stevenson; ($) Ω Κ [10]** Now We Are Six ($ K) and When We Were Very Young ($ K) by A.A. Milne (4-Volume Pooh Library: $)*** A Child's Book of Poems, by Gyo Fujikawa ($), OR The Oxford Book of Children's Verse, by Iona and Peter Opie ($), OR AO's free online collection of 200 Classic Children's Poems. (K)

You can use the recommendations at listed if you choose, but if you haven't already introduced your child to C K Dennis's A Book for Kids, you'll want to do that this year. I would substitute it for the third term anthologies. You really need to use this book while your kids are young.

I left all the literature and free reading titles as is, and added Australian titles to them. Generally my rule is one book in; one book out so as not to overburden my student, but in AO1, the amount of reading is light enough that a couple of extra books can be added without a problem. In fact, somewhere it says that the book load is deliberately light to allow parents to add their own favourites, but I can't find that right now. Anyhow, to literature - that is scheduled books that required narration after each reading - I added Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel Pedley, and The Way of the Whirlwind by Mary Durack. I also added Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs and Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall to the Free Reading list. I did not require narration of these two.

And that, I think might be that. I do hope that's what you are after, ladies, and I'm sure your coffee is cold by now. Have I left you with more questions than answers? Let me know what else I need to address.

Here's pne mpre photo of my beautiful girl. Wasn't she cute?



  1. I'd read some of those books even if I wasn't homeschooling! My, they grow up fast, don't they?

  2. Thank you for putting in that time for us Jeanne ♡

  3. I used Pannikin and Pinta for AO1 geography for one term, and that was great. Also a couple of Isham books for Tasmanian geography. I think I'll do it a little differently the next time around, though. I'm using Leslie Rees books alongside Wonderland of Nature for AO2 and on the whole I think that's working well. One Rees book per term and a WoN chapter every week or two. But that only worked because I snagged a copy of Australian Nature Stories - paying for the Rees books individually, including postage, would not have worked for me.

  4. Jeanne,
    Missed your writing got rather excited to find a post in my feedly and on this topic too. Nodding my way through, then thought of a bird book for you, Spotty the Bower Bird - ES Sorenson but realised it's too old for this group. Can't go wrong with Leslie Rees anyhow absolutely brilliant books.

  5. Oh, MY. These pics of J are just PRECIOUS!!!! I haven't even read your post yet, but seeing the first pic of J smiling at me as I opened my email was such a lovely surprise, Jeanne.

  6. Thank you Jeanne, this is great, and yes please, I would love you do do other years.

  7. Thank you so much Jeanne. I have AO3, AO2 and two AO0s. We only started this year so I am keen to make sure the Australian books are on our shelves when the younger two start! I am so grateful for the time you put in for other mums to benefit. My five year old son is listening to us read Storm Boy for my AO3 daughter, and he has requested it over and over again. He also made a connection with a page in Are We There Yet that featured a picture of two pelicans by the Coorong, and asked if that was Mr Percibal (as he calls him!) Our friends are meeting us for a kids book club discussion on Storm Boy in two weeks time.

  8. I found Are We There Yet? at our local library and loved it, and I'm not an Aussie :) But it made me want to recreate the trip with my family, which I'd never want to do with Paddle-to-the-Sea, LOL! We also really liked Top to Bottom Down Under by Ted Lewin:


  9. I am an American mama and AO diehard. We've graduated two children and have four to go, the youngest is five. THANK YOU FOR THIS! Certain books again and again have become drudgery to me, so I am actually excited to check out some Aussie substitution suggestions!


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