Holling Clancy Holling’s books seem to be a staple for the homeschooling library, and ours is no exception. The girls and I have enjoyed several of Holling’s books over the years, especially Paddle to the Sea and Pagoo. (The title character of the latter book served as the namesake for not one, not two, but three hermit crabs who were cherished members of our family for a couple of years. Ah, Pagoo, Pagooess, and Pagooie, we knew ye well!)
I had tucked Tree in the Trail aside to await the right moment, and the other day I decided that moment is now. It’s the story of a cottonwood tree that takes root along what would later become the Santa Fe trail. Our recent cross-country tripapalooza took us right along sections of that very trail, and the scenery in the book is now very meaningful to my kids!
We are only four chapters in, but so far all of us are loving it. I actually got choked up when the Indian brave who saved the tree as a sapling came back to visit it on horseback later. The girls were transfixed by the idea that there was a time when "horseback" didn’t exist, a time when people didn’t know about riding horses. Sure, we’ve read other books about horseless cultures, but you don’t really think about about the absence of riding animals when you’re immersed in tales of what the characters ARE doing. It was a great light-bulb moment for the kids, especially Rose (my horse fanatic), another making-real of knowledge that had been merely dry fact before. Which is the best, the very best, thing about reading with my children: seeing those lights come on, and basking in their warm glow.