Since my son left his math book at the dentist’s office, pretty much all we’ve done in home school is a little spelling, a craft or two (you can pretend I didn’t say that if it makes you feel inadequate. You wouldn’t feel inadequate if you saw our crafts, though), and read The Odyssey retold for children by Geraldine McCaughrean.
Sometimes I read, and sometimes the kids read aloud. Kids who read silently far above grade level often don’t know how to read aloud, so this is a good exercise; and it also lets you get something done (like making lunch) while home schooling. It’s also a good way of finding out that your mostly-excellent reader has a few kinks to iron out, phonics-wise. (Translation: the kid wouldn’t know a schwa from a hole in the ground.)
Here’s a passage we just read from this very engaging retelling, to give you an idea of the style:
By the light of lightning bolts which rained down around him, Odysseus saw the frightened, colourless eyes of fishes, and the suckered arms of reaching squid. The waves that folded over him were shot through with eels and peppered with sharp barnacles and razorshells. The troughs that swallowed him were deeper and darker than Charybdis, and the currents beneath dragged him three times round the ocean like dead Hector was dragged three times round the walls of Troy.
Pretty good, eh? Nice and rhythmic for reading aloud, but not too complicated. At the end of one chapter, my six-year-old son asked his eight-year-old brother, “Do you think Odysseus will make it home? Mama, CAN I LOOK AHEAD?” and his brother said, “No, no, don’t find out! I don’t know either!” They haven’t been this excited since there was a dead mole in the sandbox.
Oh, and the illustrations in this book are wild and satisfying, too. There are a few naked women — Sirens and whatnot — so you will have to use your judgment. I didn’t want my son to be exposed to the unclothed female form, so when we got to that part, I just hid the book behind the baby, who, um, was nursing.
One final note: I love ancient Greece. I mean, I really, really love it. A few weeks ago, I asked the six-year-old if he wanted to read Bible stories or Greek myths. He chose Bible stories. And I tried to talk him out of it. Yes, I did. Obviously, I’m not warping him too badly — I mean, he did choose the Bible stories — but it looks like I have a few kinks of my own to iron out.