Living Books for Catholic Schoolhouse – Year 2

We’ve been listening to Catholic Schoolhouse’s Year 2, Quarter 1 memory work and I love it.

Here is my two-weeks-in review: I love that it’s authentically Catholic. I love that the tunes are catchy. I love that it’s all laid out for me by the week and quarter. I love that my almost 3 year old has been walking around singing about Mesopotamia and recognized “South America” as one of the continents when he overheard a discussion about llamas living in South America. I love that my 5 year old who doesn’t normally enjoy memory work can already rattle off, “Plants pick up nutrients and water through their roots. They move up the stem through xylem and phloem. Then transpiration releases water through the leaves’ stomata.” (Edited to add that he remembered this while working in the yard with my husband, and explained how his new Pecan sapling was growing.) I love that my 7 year old is excited about the 1st conjugation of the Latin verb “to love” because the song is so catchy. This might sound silly and overly dramatic, but my children’s dignity as human beings requires that I expose them to a feast of subjects and ideas, even those which I might not prefer to teach or give as much attention to.This program is like a safety net to help with the gaps in the areas which my husband and I are not inclined to teach as well or as thoroughly.

I have both Living Memory by Andrew Campbell, an awesome resource which I recommend for poetry, hymns, and prose memory work AND I have the history rhyme line cards & timeline cards with RC History Volume 1. I really did TRY to use to contextualize memory work within our curriculum last school year. But the reality for me being that I live in a zoo in this season of life is that it just was. not. happening! In fact, after the first half of the school year, I threw the towel in on “classical memory work” because it was becoming too stressful. However, I think that memory work has its place, even if it’s not “in context,” and so, here we are, trying this again. I am hopeful that Catholic Schoolhouse is just what we need.

Here are the books I recommend for Year 2. Some of the books are applicable for the entire Year 2. In other cases, I will start with Week 1 and add to this post as I go along.


History & Saints Quarter 1:

Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories from Sophia Institute Press

I love the “living story” style of this book and the elegant black and white illustrations.

Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories

My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories 

I like the colorful and realistic illustrations as well as the way this stories stay true to the NRSV Catholic text. Prayers, quotes from the Saints, references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and activity suggestions make this one of my very favorite resources.

Famous Figures of Ancient Times – These are so much fun. For each person, there are two pages. First, there is a plain black and white one to color and then there is a beautifully pre-colored one.

History Week 1:

The Gilgamesh Trilogy by Ludmila Zeman is the perfect introduction to the Epic of Gilgamesh for children. There are three books in the series, which are linked below. The vibrant illustrations and accessible text make this the perfect introduction to ancient Mesopotamia and the Sumerians. Reading this sparked a discussion about we can recognize grains of truth within ancient religion but also how they were missing much of divine revelation. It is also helpful to show children that the desires of the hearts of these ancient peoples for eternal life point to the person and work of Jesus Christ, His defeat of sin and death, and the gift of eternal life.

Gilgamesh the King

The Revenge of Ishtar

The Last Quest of Gilgamesh 

History Week 2:

The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Ruth Heller

Tut’s Mummy: Lost and Found

Hands-On History! Ancient Egypt


First Encyclopedia of Science by Usborne

This encyclopedia is colorful and has excellent photographs. The page on plants corresponds nicely with the Botany section in CSH year 2, quarter 1.

Picture of First Encyclopedia of Science - IL

Lift the Flap First Questions and Answers: How do Flowers Grow?

Picture of Lift-the-flap First Questions and Answers How Do Flowers Grow?

Eyewitness Plant (DK Eyewitness Books)

Linnea’s Almanac

Linnea’s Windowsill Garden


The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith 

The Mass for Children

Picture Book of the Mass – Illustrated by the Masters


Sticker Picture Atlas of the World by Usborne

Picture of Sticker Picture Atlas of the World

Children’s Picture Atlas by Usborne

Picture of Children's Picture Atlas

Lift the Flap Picture Atlas by Usborne

This Atlas is so much fun. It includes a huge wall map with pictures of each nation’s flag. The flap for Argentina even has the cave painting of the hands which is featured in Catholic Schoolhouse Year 2, Quarter 1! My 7 year old daughter gasped when she pulled the flap up and recognized the image.

Picture of Lift-the-Flap Picture Atlas

Language Arts

The creative Ruth Heller books about various parts of speech (some of which are pictured below) have enticing illustrations and bring the study of grammar, a potentially boring subject, to life.


The Usborne Classical Music Reference Book has a display section on the Orchestra.

Picture of Classical Music Reference Book - IR


Books for Catholic Schoolhouse

After deliberation, prayer, research, and waffling, I finally decided to test out Catholic Schoolhouse. It is a program similar to Classical Conversations, but designed specifically for Catholic families. It can be used in a co-op setting or at home. We will start out by using it at home, since there is not a co-op in our area (yet). I am going to create a series of posts outlining books for each year & subject. We are going to start with Year 2: Creation – 1500 AD & use it as our spine to supplement with living books.

year 2 bundle program use

I also have my eye on TAN Books’ forthcoming audio drama CD’s called “The Story of Civilization.”  Pre-orders are now being taken for Volume 1: The Ancient World (From the Dawn of History to the Conversion of Constantine). I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to have a Catholic option for a “Story of the World” style program!

TAN also has acclaimed audio dramatizations (and text versions) of both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, which I would love to purchase to accompany our curriculum.

Stay tuned!


Usborne Books for Classical Conversations – Cycle 2 – Organized by Subject & Level

Usborne Books for Classical Conversations: 

Cycle 2

 Organized by Subject & Level


Pre-K & Kindergarten +

 Ages 3-6

Picture of Wipe-Clean Castle Activities Age 4 and up

 Age 4 and up

 Age 5 and up

Age 5 and up 

Picture of Sticker Dressing Explorers Age 5 and up

Picture of Sticker Dressing First World War IR Age 5 and up

Picture of Sticker Dressing Second World War Age 5 and up

 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade +

In addition to the titles above:

  Age 8 and up

Picture of Encyclopedia of World History - IL (CV) (Reduced Format) Age 8 and up

Picture of Living Long Ago (C/V)   Ages 7-9

Picture of Medieval World - IL Age 8 and up

Picture of Slot-Together Castle with an Usborne Book Age 6 and up
   Age 7 and up

Age 8 and up

Picture of Where's Will? Ages 7-11 years

Picture of Shakespeare Gift Collection Age 7 and up

Picture of See Inside Exploration and Discovery - IR Age 7 and up

Picture of Historical Sticker Dolly Dressing Victorian Fashion IR Age 6 and up

Picture of First World War Sticker Book IRAge 8 and up

Picture of First World War Cards  Cards – Age 6 and up

Picture of Second World War Cards Cards – Age 6 and up

Picture of Story of the Second World War, The - IR Age 7 and up

Picture of Sticker Dolly Dressing Wartime Fashion IR Age 6 and up

Picture of Clothes and Fashion Sticker Book Age 6 and up

Clothes & Fashion Sticker Book covers ancient through modern times and includes historical facts along with the stickers and illustrations.

Grades 4 and up

Picture of World of Shakespeare Reference Book Age 10 and up

Picture of World of Shakespeare Age 11 and up

Picture of Stories From Shakespeare Age 12 and up

Picture of First World War, The (Anniversary Edition) - IR, YR3 Age 9 and up

Picture of World Wars - IL (CV) Age 10 and up


Pre-K and Kindergarten +

 Age 3 and up

 Age 4 and up

Picture of My First Reference Book About Our World - IR Age 4 and up

Picture of Look Inside Our World Age 5 and up


1st, 2nd, 3rd grade +

 Age 6 and up

  Age 6 and up

Picture of See Inside Planet Earth - IR Age 7 and up

 Grade 4 and Up

Picture of Geography Encyclopedia - IL (Reduced Format) Age 9 and up


Pre-K & Kindergarten +

 Age 3 and up

 Age 4 and up

1st through 3rd Grade

 Age 6 and up

Picture of Astronomy - IR Age 6 and up

 Age 7 and up

     (See Inside: The Universe presents evolutionary theories)

 Age 7 and up

Picture of Story of Astronomy and Space, The - IR Age 8 and up

Picture of Astronomy & Space, Book of - IL Age 8 and up

Picture of Astronomy and Space Reference Book - IR Age 8 and up

Picture of Astronomy - IL (Discovery) Age 8 and up

Picture of First Encyclopedia of Science - IL Age 8 and up

4th Grade and Up

Picture of Science Encyclopedia - IL (CV) Age 9 and up


1st through 5th Grade + 

 Age 6 and up

Picture of Illustrated Elementary Math Dictionary - IR Age 8 and up

6th Grade and Up

Picture of Illustrated Dictionary of Math - IR Age 12 and up


 Ages 4 and up


1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade +

Picture of Lift-the-Flap Art - IR Age 6 and up

 Age 6 and up

Picture of Famous Paintings Cards for Age 6 and up

4th Grade and Up

Picture of Famous Paintings, Book of - IL Age 9 and up

Picture of Famous Artists, Book of - IL Age 10 and up

Reference Collection

Picture of Internet-linked Reference Collection (3) Age 8 and up

Master List of Usborne CC2

12 Perfect Books to Teach Weather + Seasons in Early Childhood

Young children love to learn about weather and seasons, and they are fascinated by the changes that each new season brings. As an adult, the changing seasons make me nostalgic and I find increasing enjoyment in the quintessential foods, smells, sights, celebrations and activities of each one.

Here are 12 14 (updated!) books which have helped our children become more aware of the weather and seasons around them, as well as the differences in climate between our region and the locations depicted in their books:


1. January Brings the Snow: A Book of Months by Sara Coleridge, paintings by Jenni Oliver

January Snow

This books brings Sara Coleridge’s classic poem to life with beautiful, timeless paintings. It teaches the months of the year and changing seasons with lovely verse and art.

2. The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen


This richly illustrated book takes children on a tour of farm life through the months of the year,  depicting the changing landscape and life cycles of animals and other creatures.

3. Linnea’s Almanac by Cristina Bjork, pictures by Lena Anderson

Join Linnea as she explores the birds and plants around her apartment home. She gives gardening advice for each month of the year,  bird profiles, and pictures of her own adventures. This book has little projects and generous information throughout, but is presented in a natural story format so as to inspire and engage children to become naturalists in their own settings. We have enjoyed the May flower press activity.


4. Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie

Toot and Puddle are best friends who prove that opposites indeed attract and that true friendship survives time and distance. One friend prefers to stay home, while the other wants to see the world. The friends exchange letters through the passing months and changing seasons. Holly Hobbie’s illustrations are whimsical and yet realistic in their portrayal of nature around and across the pond.

5. Sunshine and Snowballs by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Charlotte Cooke

This book is written in rhyming verse and has bright and richly colorful illustrations which depict different types of weather from all four seasons.

6. Little Cloud by Eric Carle

I have loved Eric Carle books ever since I received The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a preschooler. This book inspires wonder rather than teaching facts about clouds. It’s the kind of book which will make you want to take your children outside to stare up at the clouds and imagine animals & pirate ships.

7. The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola

Tomie de Paola’s The Cloud Book teaches ten different types of clouds and how to predict the weather.

8. A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla

We happen to have the original 1960 edition of this book and I love it. The illustrations are very simple – black, white, red, green, and a mix of red + green to make brown. It teaches about the life cycle of an apple tree through each season of the year and shows how the weather affects the tree’s growth and fruitfulness.

9. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

You need to own this book, especially if you live in a place where it rarely snows. Your children will learn what it’s like to play in the snow and what will happen if they try to save the snow for later by bringing it inside. You can even use this book as inspiration for a science experiment. Pull an ice cube out of the freezer and place on a plate. Observe how long it takes to melt. Or if you’re like me and creative science experiments don’t come naturally to you, check out Usborne’s Science with Water for more ideas.

Picture of Science With Water

10. The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss, Pictures by Marc Simont

My children love the simple black and white illustrations which highlight the yellow flower marking the beginning of spring. This book teaches about animal hibernation in winter and the transition from winter to spring. We have enjoyed canvassing our yard for signs of spring after reading this book.

11. Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River by Gertrude Crampton, pictures by Tibor Gergely


Besides the life lessons about contentment & humility which Scuffy teaches us, the storyline of this book teaches children about the changes which occur between winter and spring. Children can see the effects of melting snow and springtime rains as the river floods.

12. Play with Me by Marie Hall Ets

This lovely story told in the first person teaches children about the patience and gentleness required to truly enjoy the natural world. The simple sketches inspire the imagination and the repetition of verse enthralls little minds. My normally rambunctious two year old will sit still and wide-eyed as I read this story to him. It’s a perfect story for spring and summer.

13. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

Image result

This book is one of my very favorites for preschool and Kindergarten. Following the  story of one expressive little house who is curious about the world changing and developing around her, she ultimately finds the most joy living in the country where she can watch the changing times of day and seasons of the year. This one could really extend well to older ages too, as it gently explores the growth of cities and the changing landscape from an agrarian society to an industrialized economy.

14. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

I won’t even try to improve on this perfect description from

“Thus begins a lyrical journey through the days and weeks, the months, and the changing seasons in the life of one New Englander and his family. The oxcart man packs his goods – the wool from his sheep, the shawl his wife made, the mittens his daughter knitted, and the linen they wove. He packs the birch brooms his son carved, and even a bag of goose feathers from the barnyard geese.

He travels over hills, through valleys, by streams, past farms and villages. At Portsmouth Market he sells his goods, one by one – even his beloved ox. Then, with his pockets full of coins, he wanders through the market, buying provisions for his family, and returns to his home. And the cycle begins again.”

Which pieces of children’s literature would you add to the list?

What are your children’s favorite books about weather and the changing seasons?