Lauren and I have been reading one of the newest releases, Tales from the Circle C Ranch. I also received a digital version of Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook to use for further study.
The Circle C Ranch books feature Andi Carter, an independent spirited tomboy growing up in California in the late 1800s. Circle C Beginnings books are intended for children ages 6-9, and the Circle C Adventures books are for children ages 9-14. Tales from Circle C Ranch is geared for ages 9-14 and spans the full time frame of both the Beginnings and Adventures books. The stories are not simply excerpts from the books but rather short tales from her life that have not already been told.
Each one of the eleven chapter in Tales from a Circle C Ranch is a stand-alone story about Andi Carter and her family. I decided that it would make a fun summer read-aloud for Lauren and I. According to the readability calculations I did, it's written at a third or fourth grade reading level, and Lauren probably could have read the book independently. By reading it aloud to her, I avoided any arguments (and grumpy feelings) about assigning a book to be read instead of letting her choose her own books during our school break.
Lauren's favorite chapter was "Virginia's Riding Lesson" in which twelve-year-old Andi teaches a friend from school how to ride a horse. I think Lauren liked it most because it was full of action and excitement. What started as a quiet outing on horseback turned into scary moments as their horses got caught up in racing along with a herd of wild horses. Another favorite was a chapter earlier in the book telling about the year that six-year-old Andi didn't have enough money to buy her mother a birthday gift.
I liked the way that each of these stories was engaging and interesting while still being age appropriate to read to Lauren. Even the stories towards the end of the book where Andi is older and her sister is courting are told in a refreshingly innocent manner. I also enjoyed having a collection of books where each story was completely separate from the others. We read a chapter while waiting at doctors' appointments one day, set the book aside while Lauren was sick, and then picked up without worrying if we had forgotten something from the chapter before.
Tales from the Circle C Ranch worked well for us, even though we hadn't known anything about Andi Carter until we picked up this book. Lauren, however, wished that we had read the other books in the series because the stories occasionally referred to events that had been chronicled in other Circle C books. She also now wishes that we could get the rest of the books in the series.
Although we haven't used the Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook yet, I'm very impressed. It was created by A Journey Through Learning, a lapbook company with other products we love. Each chapter of the Tales from the Circle C Ranch book has at least one corresponding activity in the lapbook with extensive historical information relating to the topic at hand. For instance, Andi has her picture taken in the chapter "Aunt Rebecca and the Hat" and the lapbook materials explain how photographs were taken in 1876. In addition to the historical readings, the lapbook contains mini-books to record information for each chapter. Lauren saw that I have these lapbook materials and has already requested that add it to our school schedule as soon as we start back in the fall.
Tales from the Circle C Ranch is 160 pages long and costs $7.99. The corresponding study guide and lap book costs $7 for a digital copy.