Thursday, June 10, 2021

Homeschool High School World Literature Curriculum

Learning Language Arts Through Literature

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with Common Sense Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I'm continuing today with my homeschooling high school series. Today's post focuses on Language Arts. This was really a huge struggle for me, but I am ecstatic that I have finally settled on the Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL) curriculum from Common Sense Press that delves deep and provides us with exactly what we need to study language arts in high school.  

Quick Overview

Program: Learning Language Arts Through Literature: The Gold Book - World Literature
Subject(s): literacy, literature, world cultures, ELA
Religious Perspective: Explores World Religions through their literature
Format: Books
Grades: 9th - 12th
Language: English 
Price: $14.00 - $27.00

Homeschool Literature Curriculum

Finding a language arts curriculum that meets my expectations has always been a struggle. And once my middle kid started 9th grade, my stress level about this subject skyrocketed. UNTIL I learned about LLATL. I just wish that I had learned about it before we started 9th grade instead of a few months ago. 

This program is simple and easy to implement. Easy to teach AND easy for my student to get done on his own. I don't necessarily have to teach this subject. But I do because I love it.

LLATL - World Lit sample

Open-and-Go Curriculum

The program uses two main books: the text book which contains all the lessons, and A World Literature Anthology, with excerpts of (yep!) world literature. To complete the course, I ran up to my local Half-Price Book Store and purchased copies of The Odyssey by Homer, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I had to order No Fear Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare off of Amazon.

That's it. The textbook and anthology are the main materials my son needs. It's set up for a 5 daily lessons each week, but honestly, you can do as many as you want in a sitting. Sometimes we do one lesson in a day, and sometimes we push and do all five. I LOVE the versatility of it!

But what I love even more, is that this program explores literature from all over the world and throughout history. I've loved learning and exploring right alongside my kid. And when I'm excited about it, he enjoys it more and we have great discussions.

This course isn't designed to read just a few books in their entirety. Instead, it is like a smörgåsbord that presents amazing literary works from all over the globe. 

The text itself is divided up into 5 sections:
  1. Early Literature,
  2. Epic Poetry,
  3. Medieval - Renaissance,
  4. Enlightenment - Romanticism, and
  5. 20th Century.
Right now, we are in Epic Poetry, partially because we've so enjoyed exploring some of the new stuff. For example, we've all heard of haiku poetry, but neither one of us had ever heard of tanka poems. We spent some extra time with that. 

I am SO grateful that we homeschool because I don't feel pressured into getting it all done as quickly as possible. We can enjoy this and while we may go ahead and push the learning through the summer, if we don't finish until a few months into the new school year, we're okay with that.

What I Like BEST

I love the diversity and thoroughness of this curriculum. So far, we've read excerpts of Hindu hymns from the Rig Veda, the Epic of Gilgamesh (of course!), African proverbs, Japanese folktales, Aesop's fables, Zen parables, portions of the Bible, the Analects of Confucius, and even suras from the Koran.

Seriously, you can see why I like it and highly recommend it. Last week, I told you about the world cultures curriculum I'm planning for my elementary kid. Now, I'm sharing one for my high schooler!! Yay!

I just cannot stress enough how important it is to me for my kids to travel the world. And if we can't do it physically because of a pandemic, then we'll do it virtually through online programs and books. And curricula like this one from Common Sense Press is excellent. I recommend 100%!!

I also love that my 15yo kid actually LIKES it. This is not always the case with him. He struggles so much with dysgraphia that he automatically complains about any subject with written assignments (Hello? All of them?!). But he does enjoy these lessons.

Based on this experience, I do plan on using their other curricula for high school literature with my kid. Next year, we'll probably dive into British Literature as my kid loves all things British (including the accent).  

If your kids aren't old enough for high school, yet. Check out their other LLATL textbooks. They start with 1st grade.

So if you are homeschooling a high schooler (or preparing to do so in the fall), go and check out this curriculum.

The Discount 

If you're already convinced and off to buy it yourself, then here's a discount code for you! Get 15% off when you enter the code: Summer2021

It's valid through July 31st.

The Giveaway!

The winner gets to choose 1 Teacher/Student set from Learning Language Arts Through Literature or 1 Great Science Adventures!

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Learning Language Arts Through Literature

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

K - 8th Activity Guide from Smithsonian

This is so awesome! This week I saw that there is a new Smithsonian Education activity guide for kids available for download online.

Inspiration Nation is filled with inspiring stories, hands-on experiments, and art projects for students in K through 8th grade. The 40-page activity guide is bold, creative, and colorful, and portions of it are bilingual. 

It focuses on three main questions:

  1.  “How have you been inspired?,” 
  2. “How have others been inspired?,” 
  3. and “How can inspiration change the world?”

This resources is part of their Learning Lab collection, so when you download it, you'll have the option of taking a tour. If you've never used a Learning Lab, it's pretty fascinating. There is a tool bar that lets you do/read a variety of things including:

  • information about what you are seeing, i.e. a description and other details,
  • additional resources or interactives that the artist has uploaded to supplement the piece,
  • the option to add the piece to your own virtual collection (!),
  • the ability to bookmark it as one of your favorites,
  • the option to cite the source if you are doing research (it will create the citation for you in MLA, APA, or Chicago style),
  • and the ability to flag the source if you are especially impressed or concerned about it.
Overall, what a fabulous resource to keep your kids engaged and learning this summer in a really fun way!

Click here to get your free print-friendly PDF of “Inspiration Nation.”

Monday, June 7, 2021

Printables for Summer Fun Learning

Are you looking for fun activities to keep your kids busy, entertained, and learning this summer? Consider some of my bilingual printables! They're available in English and Spanish - you pick the language that best suits your needs. 

This year, I have some new activities for you, such as the Sandía Activity Pack and the 4th of July Book of Words. 

Older kids may prefer the Bilingual Travel Games for long road trips, or even the Magic Tree House pack of supplemental activities if they are just now reading the first three books in the series (in EITHER language!). 

Lots of fun activities to develop math, literacy, and fine motor skills!

Introduce vocabulary for celebrating the holiday.

Ways to extend the learning with this fun series of books!

If you are embarking on a family road trip, help boost your kids' English or Spanish vocabulary along the way with this bilingual packet of 10 travel-related games. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Special Discount Code from Spanish for You!

Summer is officially here in our household!

One kid has gone away to camp and another is taking college essay writing classes. What does your summer look like? Does it include language learning for your young ones?

If so, Spanish for You! wants to help. They are offering MommyMaestra readers a $5 coupon code that can be used in any of these ways:

You can't beat that! 

So don't wait. Take advantage of their kindness and go download some lessons! Just remember to use the discount code MommyMaestra5 at checkout! This coupon will be good through June 30th.

Happy learning!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Igniting Wonder for World Cultures with Picture Books

Beautiful Feet Books

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with Beautiful Feet Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I'm a planner. And when it comes to homeschooling, few things excite me as much as discovering new curricula that I think will delight my kids while teaching them valuable lessons. So while I currently have a preschooler, I'm already looking forward to Kindergarten curricula. And my most exciting discovery at the moment, is the Around the World with Picture Books literature pack from Beautiful Feet Books.

(Psst! Don't miss the GREAT giveaway and freebie at the end of this post!)

Quick Overview

ProgramAround the World with Picture Books Part 1 from Beautiful Feet Books
Subject(s): literacy, literature, world cultures, geography
Religious Perspective: Christian
Format: Books
Grades: K - 3rd
Language: English 
Price: $27.95 for the Teacher Guide up to $205.95 for all the materials (books included)

Charlotte Mason's Good Books

Beautiful Feet Books is a Charlotte Mason-inspired history and literature curriculum for homeschool families. (If you are new to homeschooling and don't know about the Charlotte Mason method, here's a post I wrote for a quick overview.)

I consider us to be an eclectic homeschool family drawing from various methods those aspects that inspire and engage us the most. What I love best about the Charlotte Mason approach is the use of living books instead of text books. Living books are those written by authors who are knowledgeable and passionate about a particular subject. They make history come alive for the reader and capture their imagination. I used these extensively with my older children and am now looking forward to using them with my youngest.

I also am striving to raise global citizens who can interact with any person of any background from anywhere in the world. So when I discovered that Beautiful Feet Books has several literature packs that explore world cultures, I was ecstatic! 

Beautiful Feet Books

A Literature Approach

My favorite way to teach young children is through reading, reading, and reading more great books. And that's exactly what Beautiful Feet Books provides. 

I chose to receive Around the World with Picture Books Part 1, which covers Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. The Asian books dive into China, Japan, Thailand, and India. And the African books explore Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana.

The complete set comes with 17 books, a teacher's guide, and a composition book. Included in the 17 books is an atlas that I've been dying to buy for years, but my big kids were just too old for it. I'm so excited to have my hands on it. More about it below...

BUT if you are on a budget, you can also purchase JUST the teacher's guide ($27.95) and then request all the books from your local library. They probably already have most of them, and if not, would surely be happy to order them for you.

Beautiful Feet Books

The Teacher's Guide

Oh. My. 

That's exactly what I thought when I saw the teacher's guide. Seriously, it's remarkable. It's beautifully done. The full-color guide walks you through each of the 70 lessons and provides lots of extra activities and resources to explore, including artworks, nature connections, recipes, and more.

The guide goes from one country to the next until all 11 countries have been explored. As your student completes the art assignments, they should cut and paste them into the notebook (which, by the way, is imported from Japan and specifically designed for beginning writers). Many of these will be the reproducible maps and drawings found in the back of the guide that your child will color in with colored pencils or watercolors. So the pages of the notebook will mostly contain these pieces of art, with minimal writing. Instead, the lesson encourage oral presentations and dialogue with your children to foster a deep connection both with the subject matter and between parent and child.

The Books

And the picture books have been carefully curated to best represent each country. I love the authenticity of each one and the glimpses of culture that they contain. Some have no words, such as Anno's China, which has only illustrations (the back of the book has descriptions of each scene). Each page is full of activity, a collection of snapshots of daily life in China.

Personally, I love that someone has done all the legwork for me and that I don't have to take time to go and search for books for each country and then try to find them in my library, bookstore, or online. Having it all put together saves me time, which I simply don't have to spare. And the guide makes it possible for me to simply open and teach. I can grab it, look it over, then sit down with my youngest and the book(s) of the day.

Beautiful Feet Books

What You'll Need

As I mentioned above, this is a literature-based program. The box that arrives supplies almost everything, but you'll also need the following:
  • colored pencils
  • set of watercolors
  • paintbrushes
  • watercolor paper
You may have all of these already. But I really appreciate that there's not a ton of stuff I have to buy to use this program. 

There's also ingredients for the recipes, but that's certainly up to you if you want to make your own, buy it (if you live near restaurants that serve the dishes), or decide to skip some all together. 

One of the great things about this program is that it very flexible and the guide simply provides you with ways to explore and build on the books being read.

My youngest was there for the unboxing and immediately grabbed the book Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. He was enthralled (to my delight!) by all the illustrations. And we've even read some of the books already at his insistence. Totally okay. We read the same books over and over again. So it'll be fun when we add the activities from the guide - that will give the books a fresh slant. 

If this sounds like type of program you're interested in using with your elementary student, go take a look at their product page for more information!

The Freebie

Beautiful Feet Books is giving away the free eBook, 5 Ways to Know If A Book Is Worth Sharing With Your Kids by Josh Berg. To get your copy, sign up here.

The Giveaway

Don't miss this generous giveaway! TEN (10!) winners will receive $100 in store credit to use at Beautiful Feet Books!

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz

The following is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Hey, friends! Do you follow Lucky Diaz? From The Lucky Band? I first wrote about him and his band just over two years ago when I discovered his fantastic music video for his single Pan Dulce! 

I'm a big fan simply because I LOVE his bilingual music and I think it's engaging for kids, too. (Check out his YouTube channel here.)

Well, tomorrow, Lucky is launching his first children's book, Paletero Man (aff link), and I was lucky to get my hands on an advanced copy! Y'all. It is so colorful and fun to read. I've read it (more than once) to my 3yo and he (being a paleta junkie) adores it.

The story is based on Lucky’s Los Angeles diverse neighborhood and Latinx culture. But, honestly? It reminded me of the Dallas neighborhood and community where I grew up. And I suspect that Hispanic families across the country may recognize the neighborhood in this book.

In this story, a young boy is melting on the hottest day of the year and goes in search of relief by looking for Paletero José and his cart of many flavors (and colors!). But once he finds el paletero, he discovers he has lost all his money along the way! What's a boy to do??

The books is written in English with Spanish sprinkled in here and there. 

What I love best about the book is how colorful it is. The illustrations by Micah Player are fabulous and capture the story line perfectly.

An Exclusive Song

Of course, Lucky couldn't resist composing a new song to celebrate the release of his children's book. Like all of his music, it makes you want to get up and dance. (It's irresistible to kids!)

You can listen to it here on the HarperCollins website.

Free Reading Comprehension Questions

And because I find it impossible to resist, I put together these reading comprehension questions for you to use with this sweet book. Just click below to get your free copy.


In addition to the new book, The Lucky Band will release an album of original songs on June 25th called Crayon Kids. I can tell you that it's just as big a toe-tapper as his other albums. Your little one's body can't help but move to the lively beats!

Thanks for all the great resources, Lucky!

Friday, May 28, 2021

INTEGRATE: Faith & Science Curriculum Supplement


The following is a sponsored post with BioLogos. All thoughts and opinions are mine. 

High school science has been weighing heavily on my mind. Why? Because I currently have two children in high school - one homeschooled and the other in a private school. The 9th grader is being homeschooled. And for his freshman year, we've been doing biology. I agonized for months over a curriculum because I just couldn't find one that fit us. I wish I'd known about INTEGRATE from BioLogos a year ago.

Before going further, I want to note here that MommyMaestra shares homeschool resources for families of all faiths. This particular faith/science program has a Christian perspective.

Quick Overview

Program: BioLogos INTEGRATE
Subject(s): The intersection of science and religion
Religious Perspective: Christian
Format: Digital Download  (Curriculum SUPPLEMENT)
Grades: 8th - 12th (some can work for 6th grade and up)
Language: English (but I have encouraged them to consider making it also available in Spanish)
Price: 29.99 per unit or 249.99 for all 15 units

I have used a variety of curricula over the years, both secular and from a Christian perspective. I've always been of the opinion that religion is taught at home and not in the classroom because it is such a deeply personal decision. 

And the reality is that all the curricula that I have seen try to force you to choose between scientific and religious beliefs. None seek to embrace both.

For those of you looking for a resource that helps you teach biology from both a scientific and Christian worldview, INTEGRATE may be what you are seeking.

A Curriculum Supplement

INTEGRATE is NOT a complete curriculum. Instead, it is designed to be used alongside a biology text, such as Miller & Levine, Campbell, Novare, or Apologia. Or you can use it as a standalone resource, an elective class, in my opinion, that may be described as Religious Studies and dives into how it is possible to believe in both science and God. 

The program has 15 units total. At the moment, only 5 are available. This is a NEW program, and the remaining 10 are being rolled out as each one is completed. The complete program is expected to be done by mid October.

Each unit explores a topic that is often a source of struggle for Christian families. BUT the program fosters a safe space for students to explore the nature of science, cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, and other topics through the lens of biblical faith. For example, it teaches the scientific consensus on the age of the Earth, evolution, and climate change, yet is sensitive to the fact that Christians differ in their opinions. The units are very well done both in terms of substance and organization. They are designed to ask hard questions for deep reflection and serious conversations between students and teachers. 

And most importantly, they may be used by anyone. You don't need a background in science or theology to use it. The lesson plans are laid out for you with all the resources.

The Layout

The units that I've seen are organized into a series of modules: 
  1. Meet highlights Christian scientists who work in fields related to the topic in question.
  2. Grow focuses on a Christian virtue and includes guided Scripture reading and reflection questions.
  3. Engage is an activity related to the intersection of science and faith
  4. Experience is a hands-on science-related activity
  5. Integrate is the final activity when you put it all together
Some of the units build on what was learned in previous ones. But you don't necessarily have to use them in order. Actually, you can pull whichever unit pairs well with your current science lessons.

In addition, you'll find that each unit begins with a unit summary, list of learning outcomes, estimated teaching time, scope and sequence, co-requisite science, alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and unit vocabulary. And at the end of each one, there is a glossary of relevant terms, as well as access to the extensive INTEGRATE glossary.

And ALL the resources - lesson plan, video links, printable downloads - are included in the PDFs, which are between 35 and 50 pages long.

My favorite unit so far, is Unit 15: Biodiversity & Conservation. It delves into the question of where we stand on the topic of conserving the life on our planet. There's just so much goodness in this packet! And it provides the scripture verses that help us to look at the topic from God's point of view instead of society's.

What I think of it

I will straight up tell you that I love the program. We used Miller & Levine Biology with my homeschooled 9th grader this year because that's what my oldest had used her freshman year in private school and loved it. It's a secular curriculum. I wish that I had had INTEGRATE when we started. But I'm looking forward to using it this summer. 

Why? Because I love science. I study science to know God better. My faith is strengthened as I learn about creation. I see evidence of God over and over again when I study science. And I want to pass on this worldview to my children. 

I'm tired and frustrated of society telling me that I have to choose between God and science, because I don't. They aren't EITHER/OR. They are AND in my heart. One is perfect and the other isn't. That's okay. Because the whole point of science is to constantly learn and change with the discovery of new information. It leads to greater understanding. And it leads me to greater love as I marvel at the beauty and intricacy of life on this planet that has, without a doubt, a master designer.

And I love that INTEGRATE is a bridge helping us to study both and find the relationships between the two.

A special discount for MommyMaestra readers

BioLogos has kindly set up a discount code for MommyMaestra readers. Just enter the discount code: mommy40 to receive 40% off all units/bundles through July 15!

If you'd like to know more and/or see all the topics that are covered by this program, explore their website yourself!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

2021 Free Bilingual Reading Logs


Summer is upon us. And for us, that means trips to the library and bookstore.

Summer is an opportunity to maintain or even develop your child's literacy skills. So try to make it fun. I have a new set of free reading logs for you to use. They're pretty versatile to meet your needs. Inside you'll find:

  • 3 different designs so you can track by:
    1) # of minutes read,
    2) # of pages read,
    3) OR # of books read,
  • ALL of the logs are available in full color or black-and-white,
  • AND they are available in English and Spanish.
You choose which one works best for your kid(s).

You can find them free in my TpT store OR if you are subscribed to my monthly newsletter, keep an eye out for them to arrive in your inbox by next week.

Happy reading!

¡A leer!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Evan-Moor Sale


This is the time of year when tons of great sales start. Most of the big education companies are marking down products right and left and if you are paying attention, then you can get some GREAT deals! Such as Evan-Moor's sale.

Evan-Moor remains one of my favorite resources. I used it regularly with my older kids when they were younger and I plan to use them again when my 3yo is old enough. 

Here's a review I did several years ago of some of their geography materials. But I've also used their spelling, science, reading, social studies books. Probably a few others. 

90% off is a remarkable opportunity for you. As I write this, they have geography, language, and literacy centers for less than $7. These normally retail for $24 - $27. 

They also have classroom kits for $34 to $37. They normal sell for up to $350! I know. Get out! Don't wait! Go take a look and see if these are right for you.

Happy savings!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Exploring Primary Sources Website

For those of you with older children who are studying civics, I wanted to be sure to share with you the new site from iCivics. 

Exploring Primary Sources gives educators free, high-quality primary source teaching tools. And it allows students to research and examine primary resources directly rather than reading textbook accounts or narratives. 

This site gives students a chance to:
  • Discover innovative, free products from iCivics and their partners that offer interactive, engaging learning experiences with primary sources
  • Build their knowledge, skills and confidence to teach with primary sources with this collection of professional development videos
  • Simplify lesson planning with this curated collection of high-quality primary source tools
This site is really important for teachers and students in middle school and high school. But there are sections dedicated to students in K through 5th.

The cool thing is that the materials and lessons appear to be presented in an engaging format using games and other interactives to teach kids.

AP teachers (homeschool & traditional) should especially find this site of interest because there is a tool devoted to DBQs (Document Based Questions), which are part of AP U.S. History exams. The tool takes students through these 4 steps:
  1. Rate the document for usefulness and determine perspective.
  2. Identify and analyze the text and visual elements that assist with answering the questions.
  3. Address the supporting questions in your own words.
  4. Summarize your findings as a response to the Big Question.
I love this resource because as the mother of a rising sophomore, this is a tool that I can use in our civics and history lessons for the next three years. 

And the fact that this is published by iCivics (who I've been using for a couple of years now) has my complete trust.

This whole site is packed full of teaching resources. I encourage you to go and check out the new Primary Sources website for yourself.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Art History Kids Summer Open House


Do you know about Art History Kids? This fabulous company introduces kids to art, invites them to come to their own conclusions, and encourages them to tap into their own individual creativity as they make art.

I've been a subscriber of their newsletter for a long time now. They have some really great resources that they sell in their online shop. Specifically, they create incredible art history studies that help children delve into art and the lives of artists. 

They'll be hosting their free, online Summer Camp in The Studio Open House this June 1st through 3rd.

According to their newsletter, they'll be "taking a vicarious virtual vacation through three sensational works of art! We'll explore works by...

🦋 Frida Kahlo in Mexico

📷 Ansel Adams in the US National Parks

🇲🇦 and Henri Matisse's art in Morocco

No special art supplies are necessary… just watch the videos each day with your kids (or relax and have a coffee break while they watch) and then set out some simple supplies for them to create some amazing art of their own!

These mini-lessons are little pieces of the actual lessons we've done in The Studio membership... and you get to try them out for free!⁣⁣"

This is best geared for children in elementary and middle school.

If you'd like to sign your child up for this event, here's the invite where you can register.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Cicadas! Brood X Emergence 2021

Pmjacoby, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Brood X emergence has begun! 

Have you heard all the hype about the 17-year cicadas? Let me quickly explain...

Cicadas come in two different types: annual cicadas and periodical cicadas. The annual ones come out every year and are seen throughout the United States. But the periodical cicadas are unique in that they remain underground for 13 or 17 years and then emerge en masse

These periodical cicadas are only found here in the United States (weird, right?). And there are groups of them that emerge all at the same time. Actually, there are roughly 15 known groups that are recognized and monitored by scientists. These groups are called Broods and each brood is assigned a Roman Numeral for identification. These emergences are only found in the eastern and central U.S. 

And when I say emerge, what I mean to say is EMERGE. Because literally trillions of them come out all at the same time and they seem to just cover everything around them like some sort of plague. Ha. But not so much a plague because for some animals it is more like winning the lotto. All sorts of animals feast during the cicada emergence including snakes, skunks, owls, bats, songbirds, turtles, frogs, foxes... I mean everything. Watch this excellent video from BBC Earth:

A few hours before I sat down to write this, the first cicadas from Brood X have started to emerge from the ground. 

I wanted to share a few cicada resources with you in case this is something you'll be studying with your kids. And if you actually live in a place where this years emergence is happening...I'm jealous!

Cicada Biology & Emergences

First, I wrote this more detailed article about cicadas (specifically, periodical cicadas) for Woo! Jr. It comes with free printable activity sheets for you to use. Lots of fun in this one. I'm especially proud of it. 

Cicada Day

Second, I happened upon this hilarious, but oh-so-fun-and-educational webpage from Purdue University. Seriously, those entomology people are crazy creative and have fantastic sense of humor. It's titled, Digital Bug Bowl 2021: Cicada Day. And you'll find great videos embedded, including how to make an origami cicada and how to make cicada cookies (using cricket powder!). Oh. My. Gosh. It's crazy fun!

Books About Cicadas

And last, here are some fantastic children's books on cicadas for you to check out of the library or buy at your local bookstore, OR you can just click on the links below to purchase from Amazon using my affiliate links. 

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