According to the magazine Practical Homeschooling, homeschoolers now account for 20% of library checkouts. This statistic seems accurate to me. At Mille Lacs, we have about 8 regular homeschool families. They seem to check out more items and visit our programs more than other families attending public school, especially during the school year. For this reason, I put together a program this January that incorporated some American History and some library skills.
The impetus for the program was a collection of 40 poster-sized copies of famous American works of art. Picturing America is the name of the program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. By taking the posters, we agree to provide some programming related to them.
Although we met for 1 and 1/2 hours, we really only got through 5 of the pictures. The first that we looked at was of George Washington. The 15 attendees to the program and 4 parents looked in the library for a fact about our first President. Children searched the Internet, encyclopedias, almanacs and biographies. All were able to come up with something. We studied his famous portrait by Gilbert Stuart. Paul Revere was another famous subject. We looked at John Singleton Copley's portrait of this silversmith/patriot and then read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem "Paul Revere's Ride".
Two different landscapes helped to show the changes in America. from a rural to an industrial society. We compared and contrasted a "View from Mount Holyoke" by Thomas Cole (1836) with "American Landscape" (1930--a scene from the Ford motor plant near Detroit) by Charles Sheeler. The Migration Series #57 by Jacob Lawrence (1940 -41) was the final poster we looked at. We found a book in the ECRL library that showed the entire 60 paintings and also told the story of how blacks left the south around the time of World War I to come up to northern cities.
It was great fun working with the homeschool children. I think they enjoy the paintings and also being able to be around other children. I hope to have 3 more of these programs this spring and also try to incorporate more library skills in addition to showing children these classic American works of art.