Actually, the book basket is already filled as you can see by the picture in the side bar. The book basket is that basket which holds the books we read during our favorite time of day, Tea Time. I'm really the only one who drinks tea, but we usually have a snack. The snack is often something sweet, which is part of the draw, but truthfully, I also think it's the quiet that lures the kids. We have so much hustle and bustle around here on a regular basis that this short, quiet time of the day that is set aside for just listening (and chewing!) is a highlight. Tea Time works the best when Beany is taking his nap, but, his naps are becoming more sporadic since he is getting older, so I don't let that dictate whether, or when, we have Tea Time. If he's awake, I give him a pile of toys on the floor and we do the best we can. Some days, when we read a picture book, he will sit on my lap and listen. Most of the time though, he's too wiggly to sit so I rely on toys to keep him occupied.
Besides the snack and the good literature and the quiet, the other special thing about Tea Time is that it marks the end of our "school day". The kids have been on a schedule since they woke up and this quiet end to our day marks the end of scheduled time. We have dinner at about the same time each evening, and if there are sports practices those are at a certain time, but for the most part the kids are free to play once tea time is over.
I'm a big advocate of free time for kids, especially when they are outside. During the summer months my kids play outside all the time. It is not something I have to force on them, it is something they enjoy. They come up with elaborate games, look for bugs, climb the trees, and just enjoy the freedom to be kids. It reminds me of my childhood when it was common to see bunches of kids playing outside all the time. I don't see that as much anymore and I wonder where all the kids are. (One day, we met a neighbor from down the street for the first time. He said, "Oh, you're the family with all the kids!" We only have 5 kids, but I think it seems like there are many more than that because they are always playing outside when people drive by.)
Back to the book basket... In years past I have tried different methods of filling this basket. We've done author studies and themes. I've tried changing the books weekly, monthly and quarterly. Any way we've done it, I always seem to be changing books at the last minute, running to the library in search of books about our next theme, and totally forgetting to update the blog with what we are reading. This year, I'm trying a different approach. As I do every year, I purchased some new books to add to our school library and those will go into the book basket first. I also went through our bookshelves and pulled out a few of the books we haven't read in a very long time, or the books that were read by Night Owl years ago, but the others haven't seen yet. There is no theme or particular author, it is just more of a hodge podge of literature that I want the kids to hear and read. I will begin with this basket load, and when we finish all the books here, refill it with more. There is a mixture of picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, and some poetry. Several of the new picture books are written by one of my favorite children's authors, Jan Brett. Many of the others are Geography related. We will be hitting geography hard this year, with Jetter working on United States Geography and Social Butterfly working on World Geography. I decided we needed to add to the Geography shelves in our school room.
You can see the books in our basket over on the sidebar. Just click on them to learn more about them.