At the start of 2016, we decided to de-clutter our home. I noticed that since we began home educating, we had accumulated an unbelievable amount of junk! The drawers were overflowing, the books had no homes and the pen lids, my gosh, I’m certain they were breeding under the sofa. One day as I began my daily search for the latest thing I had ”put in a safe place” I decided enough was enough.
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I was tired going through half of our belongings each and every day. I’d heard about this ‘Kon Mari’ thing which promised to change your life forever through the life-changing magic of tidying up. I quickly went out and bought the book, I mean, it sounds perfect, right?
I was not disappointed.
We really did rid ourselves of sooooooo much unloved and unused stuff. Our house was more spacious, more practical and more importantly, it sparked a lot more joy! But it didn’t end there. Not only did going through this process changed our surroundings, but it also changed our mindset. No longer were I going to allow myself to hoard things “just because” or buy things on a whim.
“From now on,” I said confidently “I’m not allowing anything through that door unless it sparks joy”
It has been 9 months since then. Have I managed to do it?
Well, sort of.
I’ve certainly put a lot more thought into our purchases, but its still a working progress.
This brings me to my main purpose of this post. You see, I have a new secret love for beautifully illustrated books. I think the imagery may even be more important than the content! It doesn’t matter what the book is about, for me it’s all about the visuals. It is no good having a book full-to-the-brim of facts, information or stories if it will bore me to death by the fifth page. A book needs to be inviting. It needs to grab your interest without having shared a single word. A book should grab your attention and pull you further into its world of knowledgy goodness with every turn of the page. So, why should it be any different for the kids?
I was looking for survivors from the purge, searching for ones which could relate to our study “the coming of life”. There was nothing. Information books do not spark any joy for Zips, nor Bear, so they were discarded during Kon Mari. Zips preferred to use the internet for research, and just a simple mention of looking in one of these books was enough for him to loose interest for the day. I kept a couple of age appropriate ‘essentials’ with the idea that they ‘served a purpose’, however as I stared at their dusty, untouched covers I realised that they, in fact, did not serve any purpose at all. They hadn’t been brought off the bookshelf since I decided to keep them. I needed fresh materials.
Another trip to the library for us then.
We had started to use the library a lot more and borrow rather than purchase. This not only saved space but also money. We searched high and low, but we couldn’t find the right books. Nothing stood out. They weren’t special. We left with a bag full of books that we didn’t really read.
Except one. A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Guide for Travellers in the Mesozoic by Harry Gee and Luis V. Rey. Now, this book isn’t spectacular, but the illustrations are beautiful. The hand-drawn images are accompanied with sketches which sparked something in Zip. He liked them. He liked looking at them and talking about them. I would then pull out relevant bits of information and read it to him, encouraging him to explore further. This then led onto another, less interesting book, which began with a visual timeline of life. Zip spent a lot of time on just 2 pages of this book, looking at the various life forms which had inhabited the Earth so long ago. This was the beginning of my long and tiring search for beautifully illustrated information books.
I prowled the internet for weeks searching for the best books. It was exhausting! Everywhere I looked it seemed to be the same kind of thing. Then I found them. They were so beautiful. But at more than £10 a book they were way out of my price range. I didn’t want to buy yet another book to sit on our shelf, unloved and unused. Should I risk it? They were beautiful after all.
“I’ll check at the library!” I thought. “I’ll borrow them for first, before committing to buy. No-strings-attached.”
Well that didn’t go to plan. Out of the 5 books I had chosen not one was stocked in any of the libraries in my town. Not one! I was about to give up hope when I discovered something amazing. You can send a request to the library service asking them to purchase a book!!!! There was light at the end of the tunnel! I sent all six requests that night.
We then contracted the dreaded lergi, so visits to the library were put on hold for a few weeks. I totally forgot I had sent the suggestions.
I took Zips there today to return our books. As I walked in something beautiful caught my eye. I went over to take a closer look and there they were, sitting on the shelf with our name on them.
I felt like it was Christmas! I haven’t been as excited to open a book since I was 7 and I got Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone for my birthday.
I got them home and scanned them over. As I flicked through each page I realised this was not good.
The books were so amazing and beautiful, that I NEEDED to have these on our shelves permanently. Borrowing them from the library wasn’t going to cut it. My bank balance might be lower, but these books are worth every penny and will last a lifetime. They are the type of books that will be cherished and who knows, maybe one day they might be passed down to the next generation of our family.
So here they are, my first 5 joy sparking books for education.
Mapsby Alexsandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.
This book is so much fun. You can get engrossed on a page for a good half an hour looking at the illustrations. It takes you on a visual journey to explore each country showing food, culture, animals and more. There is also a cool activity Book which you can get to compliment the book. We will be incorporating this into our world studies.
Under Earth, Under Water by Alexsandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.
This book is so cool. It’s a half / half book. One half is dedicated to under Earth, and the other under Water. It’s so cool as each page is actually spread over 2 pages, making them huge with plenty to learn. It covers a massive variety of topics from electricity cables to the Earth’s core.
Story of Life: Evolution (Welcome to the Museum) by Katie Scott
This isn’t ‘a book’ as such, but is rather a HUGE and absolutely stunning fold-out timeline of evolution. Once open, you will have to move around to see all of the timeline. Great way to avoid the whole ”sitting down” thing whilst exploring a book.
Botanicum (Welcome To The Museum) by Katie Scott
Never have plants been so interesting. This book is FILLED with gorgeous and accurate pictures of all things botanical which get you asking ”Ouhh what’s this?”. Each picture is hand drawn then digitally coloured. Gorgeous book.
Animalium (Welcome to the Museum) by Katie Scott **CURRENTLY 50% OFF!!)
**CURRENTLY 50% OFF!!)
OK, so I’ve realised that I have a thing for Katie Scott. Her books are absolutely wonderful. I’m still awaiting this ones arrival although if it’s anything like the others it will be AMAZING.
Do you have any super-cool book recommendations? I’d love to find more!