YMB #74 Celebrate Books: A Conversation with Mary Wilson

I am joined today on the podcast by Mary Wilson, a homeschool mom and book lover who believes that fun should be an integral part of the homeschool day. In this episode Mary and I discuss the idea of celebrating books in big and small ways. We chat about some of Mary’s past book celebrations, how she got started, and why she thinks this is a unique and important way to introduce your kids to literature.

We also chat about how you can make book celebrations doable and bring a little bit of this kind of practice into a weekly Morning Time setting. Don’t miss this one!

YMB #74 Celebrate Books: A Conversation with Mary Wilson

Pam:

This is Your Morning Basket where we help you bring Truth, Goodness and Beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone and welcome to Episode 74 of the Your Morning Basket Podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. On today’s episode of the podcast, I get to interview Mary Wilson from celebrateabook.com. Mary is a good friend of mine and I have been watching her work with book celebrations for a couple of years now and I have to tell you what she’s doing looks like a ton of fun.

I wanted her to come on today to talk to us a little bit about why we would want to celebrate books, what she means by celebrating a book and then talk about ideas for big book celebrations, as well as ideas for small book celebrations that you could do every single week during your morning basket time because you can celebrate a book without going overboard as well. It was a really fun conversation. I think you’re going to enjoy it and we’ll get on with it right after this word from our sponsor.

Read Full Transcript

This episode of the Your Morning Basket Podcast is brought to you by the Traveling Through the Pages free summer reading program. Now, this summer reading program was designed by myself and my good friend Jessica Lawton who writes all the Morning Time plans for the Your Morning Basket Plus subscription. We came up with this reading program a few years ago in order to encourage kids to read widely across different genres through the summer and so we have a special packet that you can come and download absolutely free that has a passport that your kids can fill out as they read from our various reading suggestions and different genre ideas throughout the summer. Now, also in the packet is a downloadable certificate, some bookmarks for your kids, different reading ideas and little reading scavenger hunts, and also some celebration tickets where you can celebrate reading with your kids and the different milestones that they accomplished throughout the reading program. We give you some different ideas to use on those celebration tickets, things like taking your child to the coffee shop to discuss a book or getting a new book or going bowling or watching a movie as a family or even going out to breakfast with mom or dad. So it's more than rewarding your kids for reading, but instead, it's taking the time to celebrate their reading accomplishments for this summer. So you can find all of that at pambarnhill.com/summer-reading or by visiting the show notes for this episode of the podcast and we'll link you to the summer reading program there. It's absolutely free, and we hope you come enjoy it. And now, on with the podcast.

Pam:
Mary Wilson is a writer, speaker and mother to four kids ranging from elementary to high school. She believes that creativity, laughter and fun are the backbone of an engaging and inspiring homeschool. On her blog, maryhannawilson.com, Mary encourages families to embrace the freedom that comes with homeschooling, and has been sharing resources, tips and ideas online since 2015. She is also part of the Kindred Collective Online Conference team which provides a place of welcome and support for every mom and an easy to access online format. Most recently, Mary launched a brand new website called celebrateabook.com to encourage and support parents as they celebrate literature in little in big ways with their children and friends. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and four kids. She's an Enneagram 7, an extrovert and she enjoys traveling, tea, iced or hot, good conversations and books. Mary, welcome to the program.

Mary:
Thank you Pam, it's so exciting to be here.

Pam:
I am so excited to have you here. You are one of my very favorite people.

Mary:
I feel the same way.

Pam:
Yay, it's fun to have you on. So Mary and I have been online friends for a while, we were just talking about the fact that we have not got to meet in person yet.

Mary:
No, but it's going to happen.

Pam:
Yes. Yes, definitely going to happen before too much longer. It was supposed to happen this year, but we’re just not talking about that.

Mary:
So many things were supposed to happen, but we're not talking about that.

Pam:
Yeah, we're just not even going there. We're going to talk about good happy things today. So speaking of good, happy things. Start off by telling me a little bit about your family and your homeschool.

Mary:
All right. My husband and I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. We've been here for a few years now. It's a delightful place to homeschool and we have four children. My oldest, I have two girls that are 17 and 15 and then I have two boys who are 13 and 10. And with my oldest this year doing a little dual enrollment in college this is a year that I have technically, kids ranging from college to elementary school.

Pam:
Wow.

Mary:
Yeah, it's been interesting, and it's our last year with an elementary schooler. Just a little weird too.

Pam:
So you're entering into this transitional phase in your homeschool where you're going into territory that you just haven't ever been in before?

Mary:
Yeah, my oldest, poor thing. She's always teaching me new things.

Pam:
Yeah, I have one of those guinea pigs myself.

Mary:
Yeah, I guess we all do.

Pam:
Okay, so have you guys homeschooled from the very beginning?

Mary:
We have. The only child of mine who has any experience schooling is my second child who was there for seven or eight days at the start of this year but decided that homeschool was the better place for her.

Pam:
Oh good.

Mary:
That's it. We have an eight day school experience.

Pam:
We don't even have that so there you go. Well, one of the things I love about you, I get lost on your blog sometimes and you're probably chuckling behind the scenes because you see Pam Barnhill downloaded this, Pam Barnhill downloaded that, but I get lost over there with all the fun little things that you have. You're very passionate about making learning fun and using creativity in your homeschool. So talk to me about why you think that's so important.

Mary:
Well, I guess first, for the obvious reason, that it's just fun and who doesn't want to have a little fun? So to me, in this homeschooling journey with my family, I figured if we weren't having some fun, if we weren't enjoying it, then it was going to be a rough ride. So even though every moment can’t be fun, I mean, let's not kid about that, every moment every single day is not fun and games, but I did start to find that those fun moments, the ones that I sometimes had to be very purposeful about planning, are what carried us through the mundane, everyday activities when maybe things weren't quite so fun.

Pam:
Okay, can I stop you for a second? Because it's interesting to me that you said that because I would have thought that Mary Wilson was spontaneous fun all the time.

Mary:
Well, I am that too. But sometimes you have to be planned.

Pam:
So you're telling me you actually do go out of your way to plan fun that it's not all...?

Mary:
Oh yes.

Pam:
Okay.

Mary:
I'm a little bit of a closet type A to be quite honest. I don't think people think it about me because when you see things online in social media, you're seeing the fun that's happening. But what a lot of people don't see is behind that, what happens ahead of time for me to organize all of that. I mean, not everything, not a trip to Dunkin' Donuts, but adventures and field trips and book clubs and things like that. A lot of times, that fun has to be thought out a little bit as part of my planning.

Pam:
Okay, because I'm a person who does not naturally tend to fun and it's not that I don't enjoy fun. I like fun as much as the next person. But...sometimes my daughter, my oldest, she'll ask me like, "Mom, what's your spirit animal?" And I'm like, "I'm pretty sure it's a sloth." That's just me. I'm just not very outgoing and vivacious, but I think I sometimes have this false idea in my mind that if you're a fun person, you're just spontaneously fun all the time and you don't even have to think about it or work at it or anything like that, it just happens.

Mary:
No, and it's interesting you bring that up. You were talking about this transition time that I'm in. When my kids were all little and we were doing everything together, I think it was a lot easier to be spontaneously fun because it was just me and four little ones who just went around with me all the time and now, I think I'm almost forced to be even more so because I'm balancing so many schedules. So if we want to do something fun in our day, I want to make sure certain people are here and that we're not going to get interrupted by somebody's online class or something else going on. So it has taken a little more of a planning turn in the last few years for sure.

Pam:
Okay, so yeah, this is interesting. This gives me hope like it's completely okay.

Mary:
You can do it.

Pam:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So this brings me to the other question that came out of this little conversation. I told you we were going to go off in all kinds of different directions today. So you do have a kid now who is dual-enrolling, so you have been working on a transcript for a number of years already and then you have another one who is following close behind those footsteps. So do you ever feel guilty like you should… How do you balance this? "Oh my gosh, I have a kid who has to have these credits, these credits, these credits" with, "We need to do something fun." Do you ever feel frustrated? Guilty?

Mary:
Yes. I feel all the things that we all feel. There was a lot of transition time that really started around her seventh and eighth grade year and has continued and there are so many different things I've had to try. One was recognizing, and this was very sad on my mama's heart, but recognizing she was having a lot of her own fun, and I could support her in that, but she wasn't always part of our fun anymore. And it doesn't mean she's never part of our fun, but what was fun for her were these mentorship opportunities she was taking on and jobs and meeting friends at Starbucks and things like that. So it was hard, but I guess it was good practice to start letting them define their own fun a little bit within our homeschool because she does have credits to accomplish. So there are times that I'm really excited to watch a musical, "Oh, we're going to watch Phantom of the Opera." And she's like, "Yeah, but I have Spanish homework to do and I have ..."

So there was this tug of how are we going to make this work to still have family fun. But also, I was constantly feeling guilty on the flip side that my little one was not having all the fun everyone else had because now, I was constantly waiting for everyone else's schedules to work. And I had to finally say, "Okay, I'm going to also be allowed to have separate fun, good memories, interesting opportunities with my younger ones that my older ones just might not be able to come to with me," which was hard.

Pam:
Yeah, and I think we could do a whole podcast about that.

Mary:
Oh we could. That's a whole other topic.

Pam:
Yeah. Yeah. Because I think there are a lot of mamas who are struggling with that one out there. So okay, well, one of the ways that Mary has fun in her homeschool, and the reason we're chatting today is this whole idea of celebrating books with kid book clubs. I know this is a podcast about Morning Time, and we promised we're going to make it relevant. But we're also going to spend a little time today talking about the “all out” idea of celebrating books with kids book clubs. So tell me a little bit about where this idea came from.

Mary:
Okay. So this again started at that transition time. My daughter was ... My oldest was in seventh grade and of course, we're a homeschool family so we love books. It's a key part of our homeschooling, read alouds, independent readings we're always in the books, and she was getting to the point where I wanted to dig in deeper. I wanted to do a little more with it, but I just couldn't picture her and I sitting there...she was ready to read books that the other kids weren't reading and so I started thinking, "Well, we'll do a book club. We'll just invite some other friends over and maybe we could all meet at Starbucks and discuss a book." And that was actually the original idea that we would just invite five or six of her friends, go to a coffee shop, and discuss literature every month so that she wasn't just sitting at home talking with me. But of course, it evolved.

Pam:
Took on a life of its own.

Mary:
Yes. So when I mentioned it to two or three friends and they were like, "Absolutely, let's do this." So we picked some book titles, and the first one was one of The Hunger Games series books, it was Catching Fire and the stars just aligned and it was October, and I was actually going to dress up as Effie Trinket for Halloween because Hunger Games which was very popular that year and that's a character I've always loved. And I don't always dress up for Halloween, but she just seemed like that would be really fun and my friend who was hosting the first book club called me and said, "What do you think if I make some themed food?" I was going to make a cornucopia filled with bread from Pita's Bakery and some other things and suddenly, the snowball started down the hill and I said, "Well, I was dressing up as Effie Trinket for Halloween. What if I came to the book club as Effie Trinket?” Well, that was it. I mean, as soon as I said that, the ideas started flowing.

We decided to just go all out, all the ideas we could think of and so we did. I showed up at this book club dressed in my blonde wig, full Effie Trinket costume, and the girls had a blast. They had little...like the parachutes that dropped the medicine down into the arena, waiting for them with a white balloon and cornucopia food, and I got this idea to bring a big glass bowl. And after they took their snacks. For everything they took, they had to write their name on a strip of paper as their tessera. I think it's called in a book, and they had to put it in a bowl. And so when we were discussing, I would pull out the name of a tribute to have to answer the question so we had a blast. And at that point, this idea of a book club celebration was born because we had so much fun that we were like, "We should do this." The girls loved it.

Pam:
Okay, so first of all, I have a 14 year old girl in my house right now who would think this is the best thing ever. So there you go. And secondly, if you would like to see pictures of this particular event and read more about all of the things that they did there, we'll put a link to that. There is actually a blog post on Mary's blog where you can go and read about it.

Mary:
Yes.

Pam:
Okay, so you start these book celebrations with this Hunger Game celebration which apparently was a really big hit and then did you start doing other books?

Mary:
We did. I want to say that every month was not over the top. I mean, when you go to my blog, of course, you're going to see the pictures of the ones that we really got into. There were moms who were not as comfortable with these ideas and so there are book clubs where we just had a really great snack and discussed the book and it was still a blast, but some of our most memorable events were the ones like The Green Ember is another one and that one was really fun because I had two book clubs that month. My boys were in a book club for The Green Ember and my second daughter was in a book club for The Green Ember that month, and it was interesting the different directions we took with those book clubs because the boys was all about battling, rabbits with swords. We had a Morgan Blackbird piñata that we attacked with our swords and we made badges with different symbols from the book. So it was all about battling and the girls, it was all about the mended wood. And we made stained glass images and everything was very beautiful and peaceful and it was just fun to see one book come alive in two very different ways.

Pam:
Yeah, I could totally see that. Okay, so the first thing I'm hearing you say is it is great fun to do these over the top celebrations, but it's also just as meaningful to have a snack and a conversation. So Mamas, as you're sitting out there listening to this and you're feeling like, "Oh, this sounds like so much fun. I want to try one of these." You don't have to try one of these every single month to have a really good book club.

Mary:
No. Yeah, definitely. I mean, you could kick off with it, or once a quarter, maybe one in December, that kind of thing. Yeah, it's definitely not something you have to do every time for it to be just as much fun.

Pam:
Okay. So why do you think this is a great way for kids to talk about books?

Mary:
Book Club in general?

Pam:
Yeah, just book club in general and even some of the ... Even the idea of...well, let's talk about this for just a second. You and I had had a conversation a couple months ago as we were discussing having you on the podcast as a guest. And we were talking about different books that you might do these kinds of celebrations for and you were very quick to tell me, "These are not book parties. These are book celebrations." So tell me about what's the difference and tell me about some of the tougher books that you've done these for.

Mary:
Yeah, a party I guess stirs up certain kinds of images and you think, "Oh, well, you could never have a party for The Scarlet Letter." And that wasn't true. We did have a book club celebration for The Scarlet Letter because what we're doing is we're celebrating the literature. So it might be that we're drawing out certain themes, certain historical figures. We have done where we're recognizing and celebrating their life and their contribution to society. So there's so many different ways you can celebrate the literature in front of you that doesn't always necessarily feel like the word party fits because sometimes there's tough literature we read. That doesn't mean we can't celebrate it in some memorable way if we want to.

Pam:
Can you give me an example?

Mary:
Well, The Scarlet Letter was one that we did. Let me see if I can think of ...

Pam:
Well, how did you celebrate that book without it being a party?

Mary:
Well, it just didn't feel like the type of book...we didn't do costumes for that one and all that kind of stuff. We just had a very red theme for it, and got together to really appreciate the time period. So that one I guess you just didn't see as much decoration and as much costume which I think is something that people think of when they've read some of my blog posts. That one was just much more of a gathering around this...I'm trying to remember, it was a year and a half ago...this female character, and talking about the importance of that as women and in that literature. So it was a lot more of the discussion than it was just necessarily lots of frivolity I guess.

Pam:
Okay. So back to my original question then: What do you think the book club atmosphere, this idea of getting together with friends and celebrating books and talking about books with your peers and not just your siblings or your mom, why do you think that's a good way for kids to talk about books?

Mary:
Yeah. That was something that was one of my main motivations is...I just felt like having more of a variety of opinions included in the discussion would really help lay the foundation for literary analysis which sounds so big and scary, but really isn't. It's just talking about what an author is doing in a book to create certain effects for the reader and having a book club gave us a space where it was a little more comfortable, it was a fun atmosphere, but we really were laying the foundation for solid literary analysis when it was required in a more formal setting in high school and college and really laying a foundation where discussing books is part of life. I'm really hoping, I talk to my kids a lot about, "One day, you can look at the adult library book club list and join a book club there or form one with your friends." I've actually heard my oldest daughter mention that before that she's going to get together with some friends to talk about this book they read and I thought, "Yeah, because we're laying that foundation that this is part of life, discussing great stories and what they mean to us and to the people around us."

Pam:
Yeah. I love that so much and you're laying a foundation for the continuation of reading. I think by making it a social thing and people get together and watch movies, why in the world shouldn't people get together and read books?

Mary:
Yes.

Pam:
Yeah, so just the idea that we're going to continue to do this after the time, when it's all about ... When reading is all about, "Well, I'm going to read this for a class and then I'm going to sit down and answer these questions and take a test on it and be done with it. Well, most of us are not taking classes after we leave school." So then it's like, "If that was the only thing reading was for, we're not going to continue." But if reading is about reading something and then getting together with a group of friends to discuss it, we can do that throughout our entire lives.

Mary:
And they see me participate in book clubs. So I just think exactly what you're saying. Reading isn't just a class we're taking in school.

Pam:
Right. Right. So how do you get everyone who is attending involved with the discussion? Do you ever have problems with that? Have you struggled?

Mary:
Yeah. Teenagers are teenagers everywhere and you'll have certain ones ... I mean, elementary schoolers tend to be a little easier. I'm making generalizations here, but they haven't hit that awkward, "What if I say the wrong thing?" And so with teenagers, I think it's really important from the get go to start with an atmosphere of...you'll have to continually emphasize with them, "There are no right or wrong answers here. We're having a discussion. So you're welcome to an opinion. We might ask you, What made you think of that? or, Where was that in the book? But there's not a right or wrong answer.”

I also started to get much better at asking good follow up questions to get the kids thinking beyond that initial, "I like that. I didn't like that.” Good discussion questions will help with that, discussion questions that probe a little deeper than just a surface answer. For different book clubs, we would come up with maybe different ways that I would "call on" a person or the discussion leader would. Like, The Hunger Games pulling a name out of the tribute. It made it kind of fun. There's one guide that is The Crossover, it's a basketball theme, so, having a basketball and passing the basketball.

We also did that...The Lord of the Flies. We had a conch shell. So just like in the book where you had to be holding a conch shell to talk, we brought this symbol from the book that also became a great symbol of discussion like, "Could you pass the conch shell to the person across from you? And they're gonna answer this next question." And, just trying to make that safe environment and sometimes, yeah, you had to call on someone and draw them out a little bit.

Pam:
Oh, I love that idea of pulling something from the book because it just, it makes it so much more memorable and really brings the story to life for the kids.

Mary:
Yeah.

Pam:
Okay, so let's talk a little bit about your book club guides. I want to start with that and then I want to talk about how moms can use the guides. Maybe we have some listeners who are interested in starting a book club. And then also, how can we take those guides and adapt them to a Morning Time setting if we don't want to start a book club? So tell me a little bit about the Celebrate a Book guides and what they're going to include and how they're going to help moms.

Mary:
Okay. Well, one of the challenges of course when we decided to do book clubs and celebrate literature with themed events to decoration and food and games was coming up with the ideas. And I did learn that that is something that comes to me naturally. I can read a book and as I'm reading, ideas are literally just coming into my head, like, that would be perfect. And it might be from having done this. I mean, my oldest is about to be a senior and we started this in her seventh grade year. So I realized for a lot of parents, the challenge was coming up with the creative idea to draw out the book. A lot of people were willing to do it, they would love to do it, but weren't quite sure how to do it with some of their books.

So, my goal behind the guides was to give parents all of the ideas and there are a lot of ideas in each guide. There are too many ideas, which I say in the guide. There's decoration ideas, there's food and snack ideas. There's game and craft ideas in there as well as different activities that you can do. And by throwing a lot of ideas into the guide, it's my hope, not that parents would look at it and think, "I can't do all this," but that they would look at it and see so many options that they know they can find one, two or three that will work for their situation. So it's not about doing them all. It's about looking through and picking the ones that will work for your particular group of kids or your Morning Time or wherever you're implementing a celebration with a book with your kids.

Pam:
Yeah. And I think that's one of the things, you mentioned earlier about The Green Ember is that you had the group of boys and for them, it was all about the rabbits with swords and the battles and for the girls, it was more crafty and quiet and things like that. And so going through, Mary actually sent me a copy of her Green Ember Celebrate a Book guide and it's all in there, but the idea is you're not going to do all of it, you're just going to choose the ones that are going to work best for your particular kids. I mean, I have one who unequivocally does not like to craft at all. So I would never choose a craft for that particular kid because I know him and I know that that's how he is.

Mary:
Right. Yeah. Yeah. And I also included in the guides...while you can find discussions from a variety of sources, from websites, scholastic books, your curriculum, I wanted parents to have everything they needed in one place. So in every guide are 10 discussion questions that I wrote after reading the book that I thought would create good discussion for groups to have. And I didn't put 10 in there because I think that you're going to get to 10 every time. There were book clubs, especially when my kids are younger that we maybe got to five great questions, and it felt really good and we just ended it there. And there were other times where the discussion veered off course and we ended up discussing all sorts of things for a much longer time. But I put in 10 because it felt like a good amount that you could pull from and find questions that you thought would engage your kids.

Pam:
Yeah, so I think, like the activities, different questions are going to engage different children and so you have a good selection to choose from. And what I love about these questions, and I wanted to bring this up because you were talking about earlier how you had learned over the years how to ask the questions that kept the kids talking and I'm like, "Okay, nobody wants to have to take five years to learn how to do this." My kids are going to be gone. So, Mary's done it for us.

Mary:
Right.

Pam:
She has the skill. And they really are these open ended questions that allow for deeper discussion than you might think about just standing there in the moment trying to come up with a question.

Mary:
I'm glad to hear that because that was my goal.

Pam:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay, so we have the Celebrate a Book guides. Tell me a little bit about the titles you have coming out.

Mary:
Okay. So, The Green Ember we have discussed. Another one I mentioned is The Crossover. This is a great book. It's in free verse poetry and it's about basketball about twin brothers, such a fun title. Wednesday Wars is another one by Gary Schmidt. It's an excellent book about a middle school boy and of course, you know I had to write The Hunger Games since it was my first book club. I wanted to put that out there for everyone as well.

Pam:
And you know there's a new Hunger Games book coming out.

Mary:
Right. I know great timing!

Pam:
Yeah, by the time this airs, I think I got an update ... Yeah, I got an update from Amazon today that it was shipping like somewhere in the week of the 21st, 22nd somewhere around in there.

Mary:
It's almost like Suzanne Collins knew. And she timed it for me.

Pam:
That Mary Wilson is going to be releasing a Celebrate a Book guide and so we're going to have this book come out at the same time.

Mary:
That's right. And right now working on The Hobbit so that will be another one.

Pam:
Cannot wait for that one and we're going to have a Hunger Games party as well, but yeah, I think that one's going to be ...

Mary:
I'd like see you dressed up as Effie there Pam.

Pam:
I am not going to get to be Effie at my house. Olivia is going to get to be Effie.

Mary:
Oh I love that.

Pam:
Yeah, it will not be me and so I'll have to ... I really do have more of the personality of Katniss except, I always tell people that if the zombie apocalypse happened, I would just have to sacrifice myself for my children because I would not last long anyway. So I don't know who I'm going to be.

Mary:
Not going into the arena, right?

Pam:
No. I'm going to have to figure it out, but yeah, we'll just see who I ended up being. Okay, back to the topic here. We're getting way off topic, but it's so much fun. I mean, that's what's great about this kind of stuff is thinking about what can we do with this and making such wonderful memories for our kids. So I want to start a book club. What kind of steps should I take to do this?

Mary:
That is a great question.

Pam:
Yeah, how can I choose books? How do I get some people?

Mary:
And I will mention, I actually, this is all fresh in my mind because I just wrote a guide that will be available that literally walks through all the steps, that holds your hand through it. But what I do encourage parents to start with is a vision for book club because that's really going to affect things. One of my goals was friends for my seventh grade daughter. So for me, I wanted to invite girls her age to the book club. This wasn't a 'family's, bring all the ages together' which I think would be brilliant and I've seen people do that. But you need to know your goals. So who are you looking to include? A few multi-age kids to all come together? Are you looking for specifically friends for a certain age in your house? That kind of thing. And, have an idea. Is this going to meet once a month? That kind of stuff, so that you can start extending some invitations. And I would tell parents who maybe are feeling a little intimidated by it, just start with one or two other friends. It doesn't have to be a group of 10 immediately.

Just like mine did, it can slowly grow along the way and once you have an idea of what you want to do, and who might be involved. I started with two friends and planned it with them and then we extended the invitation out to others. So we had already picked the titles, but when you're looking for books, again, oh my gosh, we're homeschoolers, we know that there's just too much literature than you could ever read in your lifetime, but we used what was dictated by our curriculum. That actually worked pretty simply for us that we for the most part were picking books that went with our curriculum that year.

Occasionally, we veered off for something fun like The Hunger Games or something to really kick off with a great party at the start of the year, but I've had friends who they picked like two titles for each month, and they let the kids vote. So the parents were having a little control, but the kids also felt like they had a little control. So if you want to read science fiction, put out there two different science fiction books and let them vote on which one they want to read. And they did that at the kickoff meeting. So there's lots of places that parents can find book title ideas, ask your librarian. I mean, there's lots of great options out there to be able to pick your titles and then you're going to decide with your friends, How often do you want to meet? Where do you want to meet?

We rotated houses, but I also included, don't forget about alternative locations. There were times we met on a picnic blanket outside of a museum and then we actually toured a museum that the display fit what we read about in the book. One time, just being honest, all the moms were tired, nobody really felt like planning, and we met at Starbucks over Frappuccinos and the girls loved it. So I think having that nice variety also helps, but having an idea at the beginning of mapping out at least who's in charge of each month, then they can be thinking about their location as their month gets closer.

Pam:
Okay, so what I'm hearing you say and what I want to really emphasize for people is a party, a celebration that's more like a party a couple of times a year is fun or even once a quarter is fun or God love you if you want to do it once a month, do it. But it does not have to be that way every single month and so you're probably not going to be able to maintain that amount of intensity and excitement every single month. So those off months where you're just meeting at a coffee shop or even meeting at someone's house and having dinner or having dessert or whatever it is you want to do and just discussing the book, that is more than enough. And so when we're talking about doing a book club, we're not talking about maintaining the same level of celebration all the time.

Mary:
Absolutely. You'll find your own rhythm as you're going.

Pam:
Yeah, and I think that's a great idea. All right, so what about the mom who's like, "I kind of love these ideas, but I got a toddler here or I have a bunch of kids and they go across the wide range of ages or ... We're not getting out and doing book club. We kind of need to stay a little more insulated, but I like the idea of doing some of this stuff in my Morning Time." So what suggestions do you have for the mom who wants to do this with her kids, but worries it's too much to take on and she wants to keep it closer to home?

Mary:
Yeah, I think that is actually an excellent idea and Morning Time is a wonderful place to do it because for a lot of us, that's when we're reading a good read aloud book. We're diving into literature with our kids in Morning Time. So for me, we've actually done this in our Morning Time. We did this with Wednesday Wars. I like to pull a little idea, maybe once a week that celebrates the book in our Morning Time just as a family.

Mary:
So for example, in Wednesday Wars, Holling Hoodhood is his name, he has to dust the chalk, you know the old erasers where you have to bang out the chalk? He had to bang out the chalk erasers and he was doing it outside and the chalk dust went up and in the window of the classroom and it sprinkled on top of all these cream puffs that were laying there fresh out of the oven. So of course, when they deliver them to the group that's going to eat the cream puffs, they're chalky and they're nasty. So the night before, I went out to the bakery at the grocery store, and I got some cream puffs and I put a little sprinkled sugar on them and the next day during Morning Time we enjoyed cream puffs with powdered sugar on them, "chalk dust" as we were reading our book and it was simple. Oh, and I put on the little tin from the grocery store, I put Goldman's Bakery instead. I just put a little sign on it. That was the bakery in the book. So it was just a simple way to celebrate the book we were reading in the morning, have a fun time together, but it didn't have to be something huge and involved.

Pam:
Okay, so when you first started telling this story, which I think is a fabulous story and a wonderful thing to do, you were like, "And the night before ..." I'm like, "Oh my gosh, she's going to tell me she made cream puffs."

Mary:
Oh no.

Pam:
I love that it was, "I went out to the grocery store."

Mary:
One thing I don't do is bake.

Pam:
And I'm sure there are some people out there who bake cream puffs and do a great job.

Mary:
Oh absolutely. And I would like to invite them to my book club.

Pam:
Yes.

Mary:
I'll plan it if they will bake the cream puffs.

Pam:
I mean, seriously, that's all it takes is to go out and buy ... It's okay to buy the already made cream puffs.

Mary:
And honestly, that's what gave me the idea for the guides. The hard part, I mean, we have so many things going on and if you've got a toddler and a baby, there's not always the brain space to think ahead. "Oh, I should get cream puffs. That would be really fun." But if you have a guide that has all the ideas in it for you for the month, all you have to do is look through and be like, "Oh, I could handle these three."

Pam:
This is one I could do.

Mary:
Yeah. And then do one a week during your Morning Time.

Pam:
Yeah. Yeah, my brain is whirling here. I could see having book club Fridays in Morning Time where you're going to do one of the activities from the guides. I'm all about getting the guides and not making it up on my own. That's just too much work, so thank you Mary...and serving one of the food items.

Mary:
Yes.

Pam:
There are so many food items. I'm looking at The Green Ember guide right here and "Green Ember Jello" or "Cloud Mountain Marshmallows." I mean, my kids would be all over that and we could snack on that while we discuss one of the questions that's in here and they would just absolutely love it and it would be so easy for us to do.

Mary:
Yes. And since we're looking in the guide, something else, if you wanted to avoid the food thing, maybe that doesn't work for your family for lots of different reasons. There was an idea in there also about playing battle music. So maybe when you're kicking off the book, playing some music in your Morning Time and talking about that and what kind of book might this be as we're hearing the music. So it can be lots of different things. It's whatever works for your Morning Time and your kids.

Pam:
Right. Right. If you don't want to bring the food in, then doing something else to set that atmosphere. So yeah, I love it. I love it. Okay. So, if I want to do a book club, as I'm thinking about the books that are in my curriculum this year that I might want to do a book club with, if Mary doesn't have a guide for them, what are the basics that I need to come up with?

Mary:
Oh, that's a great question. One of the things I've learned by doing this for several years is as you're reading the book, sometimes it'll be obvious, there will be food in the book that that's a really quick, easy one if they're eating anything in the book. Thinking about the setting, if there's any way you can recreate the setting, even with something as simple as "Welcome to..." and then the name of the town or wherever the book is taking place. Another thing to pay attention to draw out some ideas and I'll use The Green Ember as an example, even though there is a guide for that one, is the characters in the book. So when I'm thinking of ideas, not only the plot, but also thinking, "Okay, these are rabbits." So maybe we could come up with rabbit food or something to do with rabbits. It doesn't have to necessarily be a plot thing. I'm trying to think, "You could bring down some stuffed rabbits and sit them at the table." Things like that, where you're also drawing out the characters in the story that you could use something that they're doing or the type of character. I know in Poppy, the book Poppy by Avi?

Pam:
Yes.

Mary:
Yeah, oh my gosh, we loved Poppy. We had, there's a...is it hedgehog, Ereth. Is he the hedgehog?

Pam:
Oh, it's been so long since we're read it I don't remember.

Mary:
I know and I apologize if I'm wrong, but I believe it's Ereth. We took a pear and we put toothpicks in it with grapes to make a hedgehog. So thinking about if there's animals in the book you could do something with or simple things like that. So there's lots of different directions you can take it as you're reading a book. But it does help if you go into the book with that mindset and you're reading and looking for something. You'd be surprised how it will start to come to you.

Pam:
So going beyond the plot and looking at setting and characters, those are going to be other places to get ideas. And then what about coming up with your own questions?

Mary:
That's just something that takes practice.

Pam:
Okay.

Mary:
Now, if you don't want to write them yourself, like I said, if you go into Google and you typed the name of your book and then write the words discussion questions, you'll find sources like scholastic books and lots of other places have great questions. I would just look at them and look for ones that again, are open-ended that don't feel to a kid like they have a right answer.

Pam:
Okay, yeah, yeah. So we're not talking here about, "When they went over the mountain, how many flowers did they bring back?" Yeah, we're really trying to get them to dig a little deeper and discuss at some of the different things that happened in the book. So all very, very good ideas and I'd love, you were talking about bringing the rabbits, the stuffed rabbits for The Green Ember and I was thinking, there are a lot of things that like a three year old or a four year old or even a five year old maybe couldn't do in The Green Ember guide. But then doing the things like bringing in the stuffed rabbits and listening to the music, and even taking a swipe at the piñata, those little kids, that allows them to be part of it.

Mary:
Yes.

Pam:
So if you're doing something like...they're not necessarily going to remember it on down the road, but if you're doing something like this in your family Morning Time, one simple activity a week, for the four or five weeks that it takes you to read this book, those little kids are going to be able to be part of that. There are ways for them to be part of it as well.

Mary:
Yes. To include the whole family because we're homeschoolers.

Pam:
And that's what we do and that's what Morning Time is about is bringing the whole family together.

Mary:
That's what we do, that's right. That's right.

Pam:
Yeah, love it. Okay, Mary, tell us where we can find these wonderful book club guides so we can all get started planning our book clubs.

Mary:
Great. So the website is celebrateabook.com and if you head over there, you're going to find the guides, book club planners if you need them and actually, we were just talking about where do you get questions because I know that's an issue. One of the things available is also a one page with about 15 questions you can ask of any book that go through setting character, the writing, that kind of thing. That way you can have that and if there's a book you're doing that you don't have a curriculum guide for or there isn't a Celebrate a Book guide for yet, you can just pull that list of any questions and use them for any book. So you'll find that over at celebrateabook.com also.

Pam:
Awesome, awesome. And do you have a resource for us that we could get? You mentioned the Getting Started Guide.

Mary:
Yes. I have a book club planner. I'm finishing it up so I'm not 100% sure of everything that will be in it. So it's going to be a surprise to all of us, but it will walk you through the process of how to plan a book club and then have some planning sheets in there to help you lay out your year.

Pam:
Awesome, awesome. So such a great resource whether you're doing that book club, I love the fact about talking about the goals so whether you're doing that book club so your kid can get out and meet other kids their age and discuss and socialize. Or you're using this for your entire family in your Morning Time. Both ways work. So, so many good ideas here Mary. Thank you so much for coming and joining us today.

Mary:
Oh, I enjoyed this so much. Thank you for having me.

Pam:
And there you have it. Now, if you would like resources for this episode of the podcast, the downloads including the full transcripts, action items for you, links to any of the books or resources that Mary and I chatted about on today's episode, you can find them on the show notes and those are at pambarnhill.com/ymb74. Now, this episode is our very last episode of our Spring season heading out from now, we're going to take a little hiatus through the month of June, but never fear, we will be back. We will be back again on July 14th with a wonderful interview with the lovely Rea Berg from Beautiful Feet Books. Rea and I are going to be chatting about studying history using literature and it was a really fun conversation that you are not going to want to miss.

In the meantime the Your Morning Basket Podcast team is going to be taking a much needed break to spend a little extra time with our family this summer and hey, we have a special shout out to our podcast engineer, one Mr. E. Vencel who is graduating from high school this year. So congratulations, Mr. Vencel, we appreciate all the hard work you do for us on the podcast. We'll be back again in July. Until then, keep seeking Truth, Goodness and Beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Book Celebrations in Morning Time

Part of the benefit of homeschooling is the opportunity we have to make learning fun. Sometimes that can be a spontaneous outing, but oftentimes it must be carefully planned to ensure that we make time for those things that create memories around family and learning.

Allowing kids to participate in book clubs begins to develop the skills of literary analysis in a non threatening and enjoyable way. And, book clubs send the message that books are something to be enjoyed over your whole lifetime and not just for school.

Starting a book club doesn’t have to be hard but having a vision and knowing what you hope to get out of it is important for managing expectations and moving forward with confidence. A book club meeting can be as simple or as “over the top” as you and your book club members choose. The main point is to celebrate the literature, create memories, and engage in thoughtful discussion. The book club atmosphere can be accomplished at the end of a book as a group celebration, or at home during Morning Time as you read a book together as a family.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [3:26] Meet Mary
  • [6:44] Mary discusses her passion for making learning fun
  • [10:25] balancing fun and getting work done in your homeschool
  • [13:01] how book celebrations started
  • [19:16] the difference between book celebrations and a book party
  • [21:48] book celebrations lay the foundation for literary analysis
  • [24:35] getting everyone involved in discussion
  • [27:11] Mary explains Celebrate a Book guides
  • [34:00] how to start a kids book club
  • [38:40] making book club happen in Morning Time
  • [43:40] the basics for doing my own book celebrations
  • [46:08] creating discussion questions and getting little ones involved

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Thanks for your reviews

  • Best podcast for homeschooling/variety of topics
    by Bethetal from United States

    I love this podcast for so many reasons. (1) Pam is friendly, funny, humble and kind (2) She covers a multitude of topics (one at a time)- I have learned about nature notebooks, classical music study, narration, living books, Shakespeare and so much more. Whenever I have a question about a new (to me)HS term or practice, I come here to listen to Pam interview someone about it. Her interviewees have all been all-in on their respective areas of interest/expertise and I love the way she interviews/asks questions to really let the guests shine as they speak. I have changed the structure of my homeschool, found books for my kids and me, purchased materials, and found inspiration due to this podcast and I can’t recommend it enough! This podcast has shaped my homeschool in so many positive ways, most of which I probably can’t even articulate yet, as the changes have been done inside of me. Thanks, Pam!

  • Great!!!
    by Eloblah from United States

    I love the variety of things that are talked about on this show for homeschooling - things that I would never even think about including or doing - with easy ways to do them. Very much recommend this podcast

  • New home schooling mom
    by A prit from United States

    I am listening to the past episodes and loving it. This podcast has helped me develop my own homeschool. So many ideas!! I love morning time so much, we do a nightly family time so my husband and public school attending son. We do all the things instead of watching tv, playing ps4, and YouTube. My kids hang around me every evening asking if we are doing family time. I can tell they love it but don’t want to admit it.

  • Morning Time Magic!
    by DrewSteadman from United States

    I am so excited Pam is back to her morning time focus for 2020. Our homeschool has been shaped by the rich ideas and practical wisdom shared here.

  • Yay! Morning time is back!
    by Homeschooler in Germany from United States

    I was so happy and excited to learn that Pam is shifting her focus back to Morning Time for 2020! I’ve missed the morning time exclusive podcast and can’t wait to hear her back in my earbuds.

  • So excited for 2020!
    by JCrutchf from United States

    I absolutely LOVE this podcast and was so disappointed when I realized you were not actively producing it! I’m NOW relieved to know there is a whole year of episodes ahead! I’m beginning my homeschool journey with 4 little ones very close in age and my style falls somewhere in the Classical and Charlotte Mason. I found your podcast by chance via Instagram recommendation as I was doing research on “morning menus.” Your content is beautifully philosophical but at a level most parents will be able to grasp and appreciate. Filled with truth, beauty, and goodness! Your episodes fill me up and leave me feeling inspired personally and in regards to my children’s education. Everything is so good! Please don’t stop producing ever again! I’ll be grateful forever!

  • So glad Your Morning is back!!!
    by alissajohn2020 from United States

    So glad to have the morning basket podcast back! Thank you for bringing it back!!

  • So good I ran out of gas.
    by JoanieHummel from United States

    This podcast is awesome! It was recommended to me a few years ago by a very wise and experienced homeschool mom but I didn’t start listening until I saw it come up a few more times on Facebook, recommended in various groups (in particular, episode number 41). I wish I had picked it up years ago! So much great information, I’m learning so much! Be careful though, I was so interested listening to this podcast that I didn’t notice how low my gas tank was getting! I ran out of gas and as I write this review I’m stranded on the side of the road waiting for a friend to come rescue me! Happy listening!

  • Knowledge Goldmine
    by A.J. Edwards from United States

    I’ve just been eating up every episode of this brilliant podcast over the past few months. The guests are stellar and Pam’s interview style is wonderful. She gets each guest to the meat and potatoes of their topic but it’s anything but a plain meal. This is a feast for the homeschool mom’s mind. I know I’ll be revisiting many of my favorite episodes again and again. Feeling so inspired by each guest!

  • Myths and fairytale truths for homeschoolers
    by Allierhn from United States

    Mind blown! I’m listening to the myth podcast and it’s absolutely perfect. It is answering so many questions I’ve struggled with my whole life. It helps me to view our curriculum and informs my teaching so much more.

  • Super Helpful!
    by Jennlee C from United States

    I can’t speak highly enough about this podcast. It has been a huge inspiration and a practical help to my homeschool! Thank you so much Pam Barnhill and everyone else who contributes to this. It has been an amazing blessing to me and my children… And possibly generations to come!

  • Practical Inspiration
    by Mamato3activeboys from Australia

    Not only am I inspired by each episode of this podcast but I have actually put so many of the ideas into practice in our own morning time. Such a huge help as I seek to inspire my non-stop boys to truth, goodness and beauty. We are now memorising poetry as they jump on the trampoline and they love Shakespeare. That's a parenting win in my book!

  • So many great ideas!
    by Parent 98765 from Malaysia

    Thank you, Pam! I’m now bursting with inspiration and can’t wait to start our 2019 school year with a strong morning time routine.

  • Joy
    by Ancon76 from United States

    My heart is enriched and I can’t wait to learn more.

  • Just what I was looking for!
    by Joey5176 from United States

    I was looking for morning basket ideas—simple ones. These podcasts are giving me a picture of a good morning basket.

  • Wow!! What amazing nuggets of knowledge
    by HeRo84 from United States

    This is truly life changing information for me as a homeschool mother. Thank you Pam for this amazing series.

  • Love it!
    by s chenvmv from United States

    I love all of Pam’s podcast but this one is prob my favorite. I love to listen to all her guest and see the different ways a morning time can be done

  • Excellent
    by W.A., R.A. Hall from United States

    Love this!

  • Love, love, love this show
    by SarahPMiller from United States

    And I'm not even a homeschooling mother! But I've created a Morning Time for my children nonetheless, and I wouldn't have been inspired to do it -- nor could I have done it -- without this podcast. It's my favorite, and I get something out of every single episode.

  • Wonderful resource!
    by honebubble from United States

    This podcast has changed what I thought I could offer my children, my family and myself... I never would have believed that it would be possible to live a life as so many people actually do. Thank you for these tools and for what you do to help women, teachers, moms and all those on this path. You are amazing and I just can’t get enough, each episode teaches me so much!! Thank you again!

  • A wonderful podcast!
    by NoName2018 from Canada

    Great ideas and interesting guests - thanks Pam!!

  • Insightful, Inspiring, Life-Giving Podcast
    by Mackenziechester from United States

    I love this podcast. It has turned cleaning my kitchen into a really valuable part of my day. There are great tips here for gathering your family together and finding ways to share the things you are passionate about but can never quite find the time to fit in to a typical school day. So many ideas, so many varied topics. Great, inspiring guests. Life-changing podcast. Thanks so much for sharing these ideas!

  • Such great choices of guests
    by andinic from United Kingdom

    This podcast is inspirational for your homeschool plans. Pam Barnhill has a delightful interviewing style and her guests share their insights and enthusiasm for their topics. Among my favourites are the episodes with Cindy Rollins, and Angelina Stanford. Don’t miss this encouraging podcast!

  • Great
    by WifeyKayla from United States

    Some great interviews and very helpful for figuring out the flow of our mornings.

  • Interesting ideas
    by Lisa1932 from Canada

    Just started this podcast. There are some very interesting ideas here on how to create quality time with your children, learning together and focusing on the things that are most important in life. Great hearing other moms' stories too.

  • WARNING: This podcast will revolutionize your homeschool!
    by JoysTeacher from United States

    Honestly, I started listening to this podcast because I had run out of other homeschool podcasts to listen. I really didn't think we needed a morning time! I homeschool one teen daughter and I thought the concept was too "baby" for us. WOW! I was completely wrong!! We needed a morning time, and it has changed the climate and the productivity of our homeschool. The habit was so important to us, we still do morning time when we are one break. (And neither of us is a "morning" person). Pam is an talented interviewer and will not waste your time (her time is precious, too)!

  • Excellent!
    by Jodylleigh from United States

    I'm really enjoying the ideas and tips Pam bring up in this podcast!

  • Truly an inspiration!
    by Soaring2him from United States

    I have started a morning basket just because of listening to this podcast. Pam sold me on the beauty of having a morning basket. I love all of the ideas I've gleaned from listening and I've implemented many of the ideas I have heard about through this podcast. It's really helped simplify some things in our homeschool day!

  • Easy to listen too, incredibly practical
    by HarrisFamily0323 from United States

    I really enjoy Your Morning Basket. Pam is a great host and I have taken away many practical ideas and had many unrealistic expectations corrected. I don't listen to all the episodes, but the ones I've thought were pertinent to my needs and have been able to apply something helpful to our homeschool. Thanks Pam!

  • So helpful for this new homeschooling mom
    by klund08 from United States

    I'm planning our first homeschool year and have really enjoyed this podcast! The interviews are great and I enjoy hearing from different homeschooling moms and how things work in their family. I'm excited to start Morning Time with my kids!

  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6 & 8 year old children and you responded with a warm response. I then began to listen to every podcast you have (all 3!) and I have been so very inspired and encouraged in so many ways that it would take up too much time here to explain it all. This Morning Basket podcast is really a light for me and my children as not only are they the recipients of our mornings of gathering but so am I. I have learned so much from your guests (and you!) and have been able to take tips/ideas to add to what my own mornings look like. We truly have experienced Truth, Goodness and Beauty. God certainly has chosen you for this type of work and serving to others. Thank you for what you do!

  • Thanks Pam!
    by BraveMomma from United States

    So many great ideas every single week! Thanks!

  • Truth, goodness, and beauty
    by I'm Sonny from United States

    Need I say more? I am deeply grateful for this profound and practical resource as we seek to surround our children in the truth, in goodness, and in things beautiful. I leave feeling encouraged, refreshed, determined and equipped.

  • Very encouraging
    by .....hk..... from United States

    So helpful with recommendations for new things to do in morning time.

  • A wonderful podcast full of useful tips!
    by Klarnold79 from United States

    I have listened to almost every episode over the last few months on my morning runs and they have made me look forward to running! I have learned so much and have been inspired to add truth, goodness and beauty to our homeschool days. Thank you so much!!

  • Wow! Talk about a solid series!
    by KastenbauerFamily from United States

    Each episode is fabulous alone, and when you've been listening for a while, they all continue to be full of new information!

  • Hope for the weary
    by MomToTheMasses from United States

    I enjoy the variety of topics covered as well as Pam's cheerful personality. Thank you for being a cup of cold water for so many homeschool mamas.

  • Great guests and host
    by My Life as a Rinnagade from United States

    I love the people Pam has on and all the great morning time tips! Thanks for a wonderful show :).

  • Mamma of Five
    by Mamma of Five from United States

    The ideas, information and encouragment that Pam shares through the different guests and talking about the purpose and practice of Your Morning Basket has been a huge blessing to our family. Helped me to practically see how to bring truth, beauty, and goodness to our day.

  • Great Homeschool Resource
    by KS Becky R from United States

    I have just started listening and am gaining so much knowledge and practical advice. I can't wait to keep listening to more.

  • Really great!
    by BeeGerW from United States

    I love hearing all these ideas!

  • californiafamily
    by californiafamily from United States

    I absolutely love Your Morning Basket podcasts. Pam interviews excellent people & so far, I've incorporated information from each podcast & have purchased many items that the interviewee's suggest. I think all families could benefit from this even if they don't homeschool! Thank you so much!

  • Love Pam's podcasts
    by Flourishing Mama from United States

    There are many homeschool related podcasts that I enjoy, both for their content and the host. But I must say that Pam Barnhill's podcasts are top-notch for the following reasons: 1) the content is both relevant AND in-depth, 2) she NEVER interrupts the guest speakers with incessant (annoying) "uh huhs," "ummms," and such, 3) she provides multiple lists and links to supplemental materials that are really useful and interesting, and 4) she shares forms she's created even though she could make you pay for them. She has a gift for tapping in to the issues homeschool moms are REALLY dealing with. Thanks Pam. Keep up the good work!

  • First Things First
    by Lukenoah from United States

    Every episode inspires me to start my day bringing my children the true the good and the beautiful through our family time.

  • So helpful!
    by jofcrich from Australia

    Every time I see that I have a new podcast from Pam Barnhill I know it's going to be good. Every one I have listened to (which is all of them!) have helped, inspired and encouraged me in some way or another. Pam is so good at summarising what her interviewee has just spoken about; a great knack which helps me distill the main ideas from all that good conversation. I really like that she always has links to whatever is discussed so that I can go back to it in the future and find what I need.

  • Great resource
    by Ejs0928 from United States

    Such a help for a new homeschooler. Highly recommend that you check it out if you'd like to learn more about starting your day with morning time.

  • Amazing!
    by CDefnall from United States

    This podcast is filled with great information to help you take full advantage of morning time or all together time in your homeschool. It also has great tips for extending your child education whether they are in public or private school as well. We all want to aid our kids in thier success and no matter if you are a homeschool parent or a public/private school teacher this podcast will enlighten you and provide valuable information you to to better help your students.

  • Inspiring and enlightening
    by spycej from United States

    One of my favorite podcasts and I love and subscribe to all of Pam's podcasts. Thank you for the fabulous interviews.

  • Must-Listen for Homeschooling Moms
    by DaffodilSocks from United States

    This podcast has revolutionized how I homeschool my young children. A must-listen.

  • One of my favorites
    by FaithAZ from United States

    Love Pam and all of her podcasts - can't wait for new episodes!

  • Great Ideas
    by Hiphooray from United States

    Just found this podcast and have been listening to them over the summer break. Pam is a great host and has fun guests and together they bring a lot of inspiration to the concept of morning time in homeschool. Thanks for the great resource!!

  • TaraVos
    by TaraVos from United States

    I would not be exaggerating if I said that I have learned so much from this practical, encouraging podcast that has changed our homeschool. Thank you Pam!

  • Lots of useful information
    by Kristizy from United States

    This podcast does a great job finding guests who give a ton of practical help to make morning time enjoyable and educational for everyone. I always feel reenergized after listening to any of Pam Barnhill's podcasts.

  • <3!!!
    by Momo35556 from United States

    I love this podcast! So helpful and encouraging.

  • Lovely & Inspiring
    by kashley75 from United States

    Thank you so much for this podcast!

  • Such a wealth of information!
    by Jeaine6 from United States

    There is so much wonderful information to be found in these podcasts. I can go about my daily chores and fill my homeschool mom cup simultaneously! They allow me to look at areas of our hs that need improvement or just need new life and feel encouraged while I'm listening. Thank you!!

  • Encouraging & inspiring
    by God's Ranch Hand from United States

    So thankful for this podcast! I look forward to listening to each episode when it comes out.

  • Homeschool Professional Development!
    by Jo.W.17 from Canada

    As a new-ish homeschooling mama, I've found this podcast super encouraging and helpful. I would highly recommend it!

  • So Helpful!
    by KGMom2Four from United States

    I love the practical application that comes from this podcast! Thanks!

  • A Lovely Show!
    by Webseitler from United States

    This podcast has become my most favorite podcast on the subject of homeschooling. The topics discussed often go right to the heart of why I'm doing what I'm doing in our home--and God has really used the great advice shared in this show to help me be a more confident (and calmer!) teacher. Thank you, Pam, for creating such a great program! Already looking forward to next season.

  • Awesome homeschooling resource!
    by Liddleladie81 from United States

    This podcast has absolutely changed my perspective on homeschooling, in a great way! All of the guests have been wonderful and I leave each episode feeling both sad that it is already over, and encouraged and excited to figure out how I can use what I’ve learned! It has a great flow to it, very light but meaningful, informative, encouraging….I could go on and on! Absolutely LOVE this podcast! Thanks to all involved!

  • Great hosts!
    by Homeschool_chat from United States

    I always look forward to this podcast!

  • Practical, helpful & concise tips
    by sproutnchic from United States

    This podcast continues to help. I appreciate the Pam Barnhill's professional, organized, yet warm interviewing style of some well-picked guests.

  • So refreshing and helpful
    by a. borealis from United States

    I've really appreciated the depth and breadth of Pam's look into Morning Time and also the practical ideas and tools to make it work. It is so inspiring! It helps me think through my own Circle Time, realizing what an opporunity I have. There are so many great ideas for additions and tweaking my approach. I am loving it.

  • Awesome!
    by Apples20091 from United States

    This podcast has been so helpful and packed full of practical ideas to use with my children!! Some of the episodes I have listened to more than once!!

  • Encouraging and Motivating!
    by Cat11223 from United States

    Pam makes this morning time concept so attainable! She gives great ideas but simple ways to begin. These tips and recommendations reach far beyond just morning time and are benefiting our entire homeschool and family life!

  • So many ideas!
    by Speterson781 from United States

    This podcast is full of amazing ideas to grab my kids attention first thing in the morning. I love listening to Pam and her guests. Pam asks such great questions of her guests!

  • A Favorite for Homeschool Encouragement!
    by JamesDWitmer from United States

    I have been so encouraged by Pam's podcasts on Morning Time. She walks you through many of the wonderful activities that you can choose to include in your homeschooling, and also the details about how to do it! It has truly been a blessing. Thanks Pam!

  • Perfect for the Homeschool Mom
    by JoshJamie from United States

    I just stumbled upon the "Your Morning Basket" podcast this weekend. I have already listened to 2 episodes, and they are wonderful - perfect for the homeschool mom. I am going to share this on my Periscope channel tomorrow. So great!! Jamie @OurLittleSchoolhouse.

  • SongsofJubilee
    by SongsofJubilee from United States

    I love the idea of a morning basket, and this podcast has helped me learn a lot about the different ways it can look! I love all the different subjects she discusses within it!

  • Love it!
    by Ekrasovec7 from United States

    This podcast has been such a blessing to me! Informational and insightful, it opens a window into how other families incorporate morning time into their day, as well as what they fill it with. This has completely changed the rhythm and content of our days for the better. Our whole family has fallen in love with morning time! Thank you!!

  • So encouraging!
    by A Merry Heart from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast! It has been so encouraging as I begin to implement Morning Time with my 5 girls. I have listened to them all & can't wait for more!

  • This podcast has changed our homeschool
    by Momof4athome from United States

    Pam has relieved some of the pressure to "get it all in". We now begin our day with the good true and beautiful in an almost effortless way and are all enjoying our time together before the "serious" subjects! Yay for the morning basket! Her guests are all lovely people you would want to have over for tea. I love this podcast.

  • Refreshing
    by Bless-Us-3 from Canada

    I am loving this podcast. I just stumbled across it after hearing the recommendation over at Read Aloud Revival. I have been wanting to start 'Morning Time' for a year now so this is giving me direction and so many wonderful and helpful tips and suggestions. I love Pam's enthusiasm and personality.

  • So helpful and inspiring!
    by KSR1 from United States

    I was lucky enough to find YMB and Pam’s other podcast, Homeschool Snapshots, when I started my first year of homeschool this year. These 2 podcasts have been SO helpful to me with getting ideas for morning time and the rest of our homeschool day. I am very grateful for the excellent work Pam has done on both of these podcasts, and I hope they continue for many more years!

  • Inspiring
    by Jaranda98 from United States

    This podcast was inspiring and encouraging. It was a good blend of practical and theoretical and exactly what this tired homeschool mom needed to hear today to rejuvenate.

  • An inspiring and encouraging podcast
    by Kellibird1111 from United States

    Very well done! I really enjoyed listening! Very practical and informative.

  • Honey for the Homeschooling Heart
    by SuperNOVAmom from United States

    Pam lays out a feast of homeschooling topics that are relevant, helpful, and validating. The show is well organized and her interviews are clearly well thought out. In addition, Ms. Barnhill's relaxed and warm personality puts one at ease. It's like going to your favorite homeschool conference without leaving home!

  • I love this podcast, great content!
    by Sara V from United States

    These podcasts helped transform our homeschooling!

  • Great parenting resource
    by sullivanjessicak from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast. The show is well organized with great guests and helpful information.

  • Thank you!
    by Nasiatel from United States

    I'm so happy that I found your podcast, it has truly blessed our homeschool life!

  • Wonderful help in my homeschool
    by BT and Jessica from United States

    This is a great resource for all homeschoolers (and I would say any educator). I am challenged to make sure I am giving my children truth, beauty and virtue through the morning ritual of our morning time. I’ve learned of new books to share with my children, how to incorporate fine arts, good habits for our day… I could go on and on. Pam asks great questions and has wonderful guests.

  • Top Notch
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Excellent inspiration and tips for homeschoolers! I have learned so much from this podcast.

  • Great Morning Time tips!
    by redhedcatie from United States

    I have gotten SO many practical tips from this podcast! A must listen for homeschoolers!

  • So Inspiring!
    by Frau Linds from United States

    Another home-run podcast! Pam has a knack for inspiring great things in your homeschool! And the wonderful thing is she doesn't leave you with the "lofty ideal," but offers practical tips, aids, etc. all while encouraging you the whole way. Each interview is professionally done and such a joy to listen to! Thanks, Pam, for putting your heart into this! 🙂

  • Wonderful!
    by Kellybireta from United States

    Like having a cup of coffee with a friend. So helpful and informative.

  • Excellent practical advise!
    by Foxycook from United States

    Really enjoying this so far!

  • Very encouraging!
    by WMGardener from United States

    This was been a great podcast about Morning Time! How encouraging and informative to hear from other homeschool moms who are in the midst of it all!

  • A great resource!
    by gejake from United States

    Very inspiring and informative as I begin my homeschooling journey

  • Love This Podcast
    by Earthmuffins from United States

    I have finally had opportunity to listen to this podcast and regret not doing it sooner!!! Very informative and encouraging.

  • Full of Goodness, Truth and Beauty
    by CJMance from United States

    This is such an inspiration to get the beautiful ritual of morning time established. Thank you Pam!

  • Great Podcast!
    by Greggtrisha from United States

    I'm so excited about this podcast! My kids range from ages 4 - 11, and I've been needing to reduce my workload a bit. I'm using the fantastic things I'm learning here to combine all my kids together for read-alouds, Bible time, memorization, and some other fun things. Thanks so much, Pam! I love your other podcast as well!

  • Treasure
    by TasmanianBec from Australia

    I am so glad I found this podcast. Morning Basket / Circle Time / Morning Time - lots of interviews with families who make this part of their day a treasure for years to come. Just getting started homeschooling, and this is going to help shape our days. Thanks Pam.

  • Jeannie in Ohio
    by Jeannie in Ohio from United States

    Loving learning about how so many families are using Morning Time in their homes!

  • Wonderful ideas for creating your best morning time.
    by Flowerpetal2 from Australia

    The ideas presented here are wonderful, it's great to hear how different families put together their morning time and how we can all make this a rich but simple time of beauty in our schooling days.

  • Excellent Host
    by meghanlou from United States

    Pam Barnhill is a truly excellent host and producer of podcasts. They are a pleasure to listen to, full of applicable and inspirational content. Unlike other podcasts in this genre, which are produced at home, Pam's podcasts never make me cringe because of awkward pauses or bad sound quality. Another of Pam's strengths is her ability to reflectively listen and summarize what she's heard from her guests in a way that wraps up the different segments of her interviews. Well done, Pam!

  • Helpful and fun!
    by HornGal88 from United States

    We’re just starting out with morning time and this podcast has been an invaluable source of inspiration and ideas. Keep up the good work!

  • LOVE IT!
    by sassercj from United States

    I’m always counting down the days until the next podcast…one of the best homeschooling podcasts out there!

  • Among the Best I’ve Heard
    by More Like Mary from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie so when I say that this is among the best, that’s really a compliment! Pam is an excellent interviewer. She re-states main ideas and summarizes information in a way that is helpful and not condescending. She asked poignant questions and stays on topic. Her guests are phenomenal and I’ve learned so much from each episode. So far, this podcast is “big picture” homeschooling talk with lots of tips for implementing lofty ideals into daily life. The perfect combination. I will be looking forward to many more of these!

  • Gave me the tools I needed!
    by Momofmany:) from United States

    This podcast is amazing. (I am spoiled now; the quality alone is superb!) I have listened to the four current episodes several times and now understand "morning time" in a way I never have before-- in particular, the schole part. I've longed for restful learning for ten years, and now I have tools to actually do it. Our whole family has benefitted so much. Thank you, Pam!!

  • What’s important
    by sncstraub from United States

    Pam Barnhill’s new podcast on Morning Time is a great help to those of us who are homeschooling. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far, but it’s wonderfully encouraging to hear Cindy Rollins’ talking through her own experiences with Morning Time. I’m looking forward to listening to more episodes with others who are focusing their schools on the important things - the true, good, and beautiful.

  • New listener and hooked!
    by Bytesofmemory from United States

    I just started listening to the first podcast this morning and I am completely hooked on this podcast. I took the advice in the first podcast and just started with morning time. Instead of trying to “give birth to an adult” morning time I just started doing something and will add things in as this becomes a habit. Thanks for the wonderful tool!! I am now off to listen to episode 2!!

  • Great!
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Encouragement for homeschool.

  • A Gift to the Homeschool Community
    by HGPII from United States

    This podcast is so well done, informative, and just what the homeschooling moms needs. It includes achievable, sound suggestions as well as an abundant dose of inspiration. I can’t wait to revamp my Morning Time and watch the results!

  • Encouraging and informative!
    by sarahdempsen from United States

    I have enjoyed Your Morning Basket from its first episode! I am a second generation homeschooler and just started our own family's homeschooling journey. Thanks to YMB, I implemented our "circle time" starting our second week of school and it has been such a blessing to me already even its very simple form of prayer, Psalm, Mother Goose, and then read-aloud time with my kindergartner. My 2 and 4 year olds also love it and it encourages me to include things in our day that might get left out, like nursery rhymes and simple children's songs! Thanks to Pam and YMB I feel like I am starting out with a great centering tool and routine that can be expanded and adapted as we grow!

  • A great resource!
    by Bookgirl630 from United States

    Your Morning Basket Podcast is a great resource for to help implement morning time into your homeschool day. I have enjoyed every episode so far.

  • Thank you for wonderful bonus at the end!
    by Caj312 from United States

    I just discovered this show and listened to the first 4 episodes. All were inspiring and I loved the useful links at the end of the show that help me improve my homeschool days! Well done and I look forward to the next episode.

  • One of my VERY favorites
    by Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventure from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, but YMB ranks among my very, very favorites. If you’re a homeschooling mother, or a mom who wants to connect with your children and show them truth, goodness and beauty, this is a must listen. Kudos, Pam, on a another amazing podcast series.

  • Timely
    by AggieRudy3 from United States

    I’ve been trying to figure out morning time on my own, but Pam with this podcast has figuratively sat down with me and explained how to get things going. I’m so glad to have this resource at the beginning of my family's homeschool journey! The Basket Bonuses have also been so helpful.

  • Thanks!
    by heyh2 from United States

    Thanks for the new podcast. Loving it!

  • Wonderful podcast with practical advice
    by Victorzvaliant from United States

    Thank you Pam for a great podcast, I am really enjoying it. I always come away inspired and with ideas I can use!

  • Changed our Homeschool Morning routine
    by HeatherinSC from United States

    I have been listening to the Your Morning Basket podcasts recently and Pam's blog writings about creating morning time traditions with your children and I feel like it has made a huge positive difference in our homeschool. I love Pam's ideas for creating a restful learning environment and focusing on truth, goodness, and beauty as we begin our day together. I listen to these podcasts over and over and take notes!

  • Excellent for homeschooling veterans and newbies
    by ASnow512 from United States

    I'm very new to homeschooling and I'm still deciding if our family will pursue that path. This podcast has been such a wealth of information and a wonderful encouragement!

  • Inspiring and Uplifting
    by vabjohnson from United States

    I was immediately inspired to create a more cohesive structure to our homeschool mornings. This podcast is full of helpful suggestions to make morning time meaninful for every type of homeschooling family. I've already implemented many of the wonderful suggestions and I can already see the benefits! An absoulte must for the homeschooling family!

  • Bringing Joy
    by Louisiana Mommy T from United States

    What an amazing podcast! This podcast has wonderful suggestions for bringing joy to (or back to) your homeschool. Everything is doable and enjoyable for the children and parents alike. Keep up the wonderful work!

  • Great podcast!
    by corew50 from United States

    This is our first year of homeschooling and I am really enjoying the concept of morning time. It is a sweet way to start our day together and this podcast has been amazing! Enjoyable, super practical, and filled with lots of creative ideas. Thanks for creating it.

  • Inspiring, yet practical
    by mamato3cs from United States

    Pam's Your Morning Basket podcast is one not to be missed! She and her guests inspire and spur me on to do great things in our homeschool, but it's not just adding more to my to-do list. There are practical suggestions for how to make morning time a refreshing and vital part of our day.

  • Super Helpful & Encouraging
    by Sanibel4ever from United States

    I have been homeschooling for a many years. I like that I can count on Pam to make to make it worth my while (and my short amount of time!) for a listen. As always, practical info I can start using right away.

  • Great Poscast
    by Sarah B R from United States

    Love Pam's interviews. I learn much from each poscast!

  • A Joy to Listen to!
    by Cude 🙂 from United States

    I am thoroughly enjoying this new podcast! I love to listen to people who encourage me on my homeschooling journey and I have added Your Morning Basket to my list.

  • JUST what I needed!!!
    by Foodie in Training from United States

    This is our first year homeschooling (Kinder) and this podcast has been INCREDIBLY helpful and a GREAT source of information!!! I cannot wait for more to come! <3 THANK YOU!!!!

  • Practical - worth a listen!
    by Bloggerific! from United States

    As a homeschooling mom of 6, my free time is limited. But I always come away with some practical, useful tips from Pam Barnhill. I love to listen if I’m alone in the car (rare these days!).

  • Well done [FIRST NAME]
    by MattMcWilliams from United States

    WOW… Your Morning Basket Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Pam. Keep bringing it.

  • Inspiring and refreshing!
    by BugTurner from United States

    What a great podcast. At first I was dubious whether you could have an entire podcast series about homeschooling using morning time, but now that I have listened to two of them, I see where Pam is going with this. It is affirming for me in what I am trying to do in our homeschool, and at the same time inspires me in ways to improve and refine our time together as a homeschooling family. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to simplify their homeschool efforts while simultaneously enriching their family's experience!

  • Brilliant
    by SHTirm from United Kingdom

    I absolutely love it. Ever since I read about morning time, I wanted to know more. This podcast clearly explains what to do and how to do it. Episode with Cindy Rollins was brilliant. It gives you the overall idea of morning time practice, as she is doing it for 27 years. Andrew Pudewa in second episodes shared some insights about memorisation, which really makes so much sense. Pam asks clear questions and then repeats the main points in answer, which is very helpful, especially for new homeschooling mums. Overall this programme has everything one can ask for to get inspired and motivated. Thanks very much for putting so much effort. Well done.

  • Excellent!
    by RC5476 from United States

    I have really appreciated everything Pam Barnhill puts out. I have been introduced to so many great homeschoolers and their resources through The Homeschool Snapshots podcast, and I love that she is digging deeper into a great homeschooling practice on her new show, Morning Basket. It is definitely on my Must Listen list each week!

  • Bring the best you to your homeschool
    by mystiewinckler from United States

    Our Morning Time is the best part of our homeschool, and Pam’s podcast helps us learn how to make it even better and encourages us to pursue the true, good, and beautiful still more. So helpful!

  • Inspiring!
    by Mamato8 from United States

    I've only recently found out about Morning Baskets, after 14 years of homeschooling. What a find! And now to have these podcasts to help guide me along on my new journey! I've been sharing this like crazy, and my morning routine is fabulous now! Thank You!

  • Education to Educate
    by Isaac in St Louis from United States

    I have gained so much from these first two early podcasts. I am grateful to you, Pam. Thank you for offering this as we strive to fulfill our sacred duty and privilege to give our children an education. Please continue. I see such great things coming from this. I rank this up their with Circe’s offerings.

  • Wonderful
    by BGTwinsMom from United States

    When you're on the homeschool "circuit" it's easy to become one of Andrew Pudewa's groupies. So the excitement level for Pam's newest podcast doubled when I opened it on my iPhone and saw Andrew's name. I was remiss in not reviewing her first segment. Pam is a wonderful interviewer and has the ability to make conversation with her guests based on their answers and move seamlessly to her following questions. That is not easy to do. Highly recommend this to parents who Homeschool. Encouraging, motivating, and validating.

  • So Inspiring!
    by bethenyn from United States

    So inspiring! This podcast is what I needed to get our homeschool off to a great start this year. I will not miss an episode.

  • Inspiring and thought provoking!
    by Pascualamb from United States

    I've always thought memory work was so important in my 8 years as a teacher in a high school setting. I often required memorization and was criticized for this requirement. I recently decided to homeschool my children and this podcast was so affirming to me. I am glad to be able to follow my instincts as a teacher and give my kids what they deserve! Thank you for this wonderful podcast that inspired me to make memory work an important part of my homeschool.

  • Affirming & helpful
    by BOLDturquoise from United States

    I knew I would enjoy this podcast but I didn't know that I would LOVE it! As our family has moved more and more towards a simplified homeschool method, this podcast is just the thing to reaffirm our choices and continuously inspire us with new ideas. I can't wait for each new episode!

  • Inspiring
    by Amongst Lovely Things from United States

    This is just the kind of podcast I need to breathe life into my homeschool year. I’m so grateful for this new show, and Pam is a talented host. I won’t miss an episode!

  • Delightful...a Must Listen
    by 1coltsfamily from United States

    While I have heard Cindy Rollins speak about morning time before, I was pleasantly surprised to glean many new nuggets of wisdom that I can incorporate right away into our morning time. I always enjoy listening to Pam and find her questions spot on! The podcast is a wonderful balance of inspiration and practical tips. Can't wait for the next one!

  • Your Morning Basket
    by inakamama from Australia

    So lovely and inspiring! Looking forward to more...

  • Helpful & inspiring!
    by starlingsfive from United States

    A great resource for homeschool moms and so well put-together. Full of useful information, not fluff. Pam has a wonderful conversation style that keeps the show moving at a steady pace. I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next one!

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