In our homeschool, our morning and evening baskets are a way to introduce a variety of content–in both fiction and non-fiction format–in a very relaxed and cozy setting. On any given day, both baskets are filled with everything from Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter to Life of Fred and Robert Frost poems. Atlases, maps, and history encyclopedias wait eagerly beside ABC books, Eric Carle stories, and a book of famous women explorers. Harry Potter rests against a tiny chemistry book and the Burgess animals share space with a guide to Rocky Mountain insects.
One of my great joys as a home educator is the task of filling these baskets each week. I glance over our upcoming lesson plans, ask my daughters what they’re curious about, and search for gems amongst the shelves of our local used bookstores. Every now and then, I’ll come across something truly exciting that I can’t wait to add to a basket, and the Flashes of Genius series by Luca Novelli was one of those finds.
The series features four books, each one a fictionalized, first-person narrative from the point of view of a notable scientist:
- Darwin and the True Story of the Dinosaurs
- Newton and the Antigravity Formula
- Einstein and the Time Machine
- Leonardo da Vinci and the Pen That Drew the Future
These books pack a lot of enlightening and entertaining details about each scientist and their contributions into a fairly quick read, and feature amusing illustrations to boot. There are also quite a few historical images in each book. We took our time casually reading through each volume in the series this first go-around. My six-year-old enjoyed the stories but I know a lot of the content was probably a bit over her head at this point. They would be great for middle-to-upper elementary kids, and even middle-schoolers, and would be fantastic to incorporate into science, STEM, or history units, so I look forward to adding them in again in the future.
Chicago Review Press puts out a lot of high-quality materials for homeschool, though I’d never happened upon their website until I was introduced to the Flashes of Genius series. After we started reading, I spent some time exploring what they have to offer and found myself making quite a wish list for next year’s baskets. Check out this link to their children’s nonfiction offerings and you’ll see what I mean! There’s a great series of books on Latino American, African American, Native American, Arab American, and Asian American history for children–I know I’ll be ordering all five of those for next year–all kinds of STEM activity books to choose from, and even a book full of Shakespeare activities.
Do you like to mix fiction and non-fiction in your morning basket? What are some of your favorites right now?
In the spirit of disclosure, I received free copies of the books in the Flashes of Genius series. I was not required to review them (but I was very excited to do so once we started reading them) and was not compensated for my review. See my full disclosure policy here.
(One more note: Some of the illustrations did remind me of the Where’s Waldo series as far as how female characters were drawn, and the Darwin book does suggest–but does not outwardly show–some nudity so if that’s something that your family is sensitive about, you may want to screen before you read together.)
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