Back Porch Book Chat: A casual, virtual conversation about books. Join us as we chat with book lovers like ourselves about a topic we all love! Our guest today is Bridgette Boudreaux from Tennessee. She chats with us about reading with her family, her work as a high school chemistry teacher, and more! Check out her bio after the interview for more about Bridgette. Interview conducted by Betsy.
Getting to Know Bridgette
Before we begin, tell us what beverage you’d like as we sit in our rocking chairs on this winter day: Sweet tea? Lemonade? La Croix? Ice water? This time of year, it’s getting cooler, so perhaps you’re thinking hot chocolate or chai or something else warm and cozy.
All the drinks!! I love all drinks (all the things you mentioned), but my favorite go-to drink right now is Boba tea! There is a new place that opened up just down the road from my house, and it is amazing. My new favorite flavor is brown sugar, and last week I had it hot for the first time and it was heavenly. So here is my order: a hot brown sugar black milk tea with boba and milk foam. I’ve never been extra when it came to drinks, but now I have an addiction.
Bridgette, I’ve never had that tea! Sounds interesting.
Bridgette, you and I have known each other a long time, but our Redeemed Reader community doesn’t know you as well. Tell us a bit about your family, your favorite ways to spend time together when everyone’s home, and your kids’ school.
Well, my husband and I have been married for 19 years, and we have three kids (ages 12, 9, and 7). I split my time between homeschooling my kiddos (Tuesday and Friday), teaching and working at their school, and leading a Bible study at my church. My husband is an elder at our local church, and he has a mountain bike riding habit that he enjoys at lest 2-3 times a week. We also teach kids’ Sunday School at our church together on a monthly rotation. My two oldest boys are also into bike riding and spend most of their time right now building trails in our backyard. My baby girl is into dolls and she has just discovered her love of reading! It has been an exciting time, as she always has a book with her.
As I mentioned above, I homeschool only two days a week because my kids attend a university-model school. This is our 9th year there and we love it. It is the perfect balance of at-home time, but with the accountability and expertise of a classroom teacher. This year is my first year there as a Chemistry teacher and it has been a huge blessing to be back in the classroom, but only part time!
When everyone is home you can find us in the living room either playing a board game or watching the latest mountain biking video on youtube. In the winter we love to crack nuts by the fire!
I love that picture of your daughter. It’s so fun when kids hit that reading phase!
Reading in the Midst of Real Life
Tell us, Bridgette, what books has your family particularly enjoyed this past year?
On one road trip this year we listened to James and the Giant Peach as a family. I simply love Roald Dahl, and the likability of his books knows no age! We laughed out loud at several parts and we all enjoyed listening to this book, even my husband who isn’t a huge fan of audio books.
We have also just read The Greatest Story Ever Told to our Sunday school class over the past few weeks and I was reminded why I love it so much. It is such a great overview of the Bible and does a great job highlighting God’s promises to His people. I got a few copies recently at a great price and I was so excited to give them away as gifts.
We obviously love books at Redeemed Reader, and we love passing along good tips for making reading happen in the midst of a busy school year. I know reading is important to you, too. Do you have any favorite tips or routines that work for your family when it comes to finding and reading good books? How do you juggle reading as a family (like listening to an audiobook) with multiple ages all listening together? What books have worked well for that?
As far as finding new books, I really depend on recommendations from friends and of course, reading reviews on Redeemed Reader. We have yet to read a starred book that we didn’t enjoy, and some of my son’s favorite books have come from this site. I get recommendations from my mom friends, and I am in a few FB groups that help with recommendations as well. One is a group of us that started out the year by picking a Tim Challies reading challenge. It has been a really fun group because we get to see what other Christian adults are reading.
My dad lives about 45 minutes from us, so the biggest tip for getting my kids to read is reminding everyone to grab a book before we leave. This year they have all discovered my Dad’s Calvin and Hobbes Anthology and have all spent so many hours reading at his house.
Last year I asked for an audible subscription* for Christmas, and this year I have loved having audio books always at the ready. We don’t really have a habit of going to the library right now, but we check out kindle and audio books from the library frequently.
Bridgette’s Experience in the Chemistry Classroom
You’re back in the classroom as an educator this year in addition to your role as home educator on the days when your kids are at home. Have you been able to work in any non-textbook reading in your science classes? Is that something you’re interested in or going to require of your students?
I really want to include a book in my future years at the school. This year I wasn’t really ready to make a recommendation, but I have been reading science books for pleasure. The Radium Girls might be one that I could have my students read in the future. I really enjoyed reading it this fall and it could show the kids how an educated public really is important. Packing for Mars was another book I read this fall. It was great, but I had to skip one whole chapter because it was inappropriate, and it would not be suitable for high school students. I think that in the spring semester and summer, I will spend time looking for a book that my students can read next year. I’m open to suggestions!
I’ve heard great things about The Radium Girls. It’s on my personal “to read” list!
Reading Challenges and Tracking Reading
Bridgette, I know you love a good planner and a good tracker. Do you use anything to track your family’s reading or your personal reading as a mom? Do you require your kids to keep track? Does their school?
For my own personal reading I have a tracker in my planner. With prepping for teaching a whole new class (that I’ve never taught before), I’ve fallen way behind on my challenge and really have just been reading for pleasure during school breaks. One of my kiddos has to read 60 minutes a week and turn in a tracker to school each week. It has been good accountability, even if I resented it at first.
Are you or your kids participating in any reading challenges during the year? I know you’ve done Tim Challies’s challenge previously—are you doing that again? What sort of tips do you have for readers who are interested in doing a reading challenge for 2020?
I did start out the year with joining Tim’s challenge (as I mentioned above), but my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January and she passed away in September. I had to learn this year that some seasons have more time for reading than others. Instead of being disappointed in my lack of reading this year, I needed to have grace with myself. Grieving Your Way Back to Peace by James White was really helpful to me two years ago when my godmother died, and I’ve just started Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy. In this season of grief it is better for me to read slowly so that I can meditate on what I’m reading than quickly just to check books off of a list.
For 2020, I know that I will have to be conservative in my goal setting. I still have a whole semester of Chemistry to study, plan, and teach. A lot of my reading time will be devoted to that. But, even though my number may be small, the Challies challenge is helpful because it has you choose different types of books that you may not naturally be bent towards. This can help you expand your horizons, or even discover a new genre or author you didn’t know you could love! With or without a challenge, this is good for all of us who long to be lifelong learners.
Any last words of encouragement for your fellow moms of busy school age kids as we seek to disciple our kids? Do you have any favorite Christian/biblical resources you use as a family?
Grace, grace, grace. In different seasons, our ability to read as much as we want to can come and go. Don’t beat yourself up! Just do what you can when you can.
Thank you, Bridgette, for sharing so personally with us! It’s such good encouragement to remember that different seasons of life will offer different opportunities and challenges.
Readers, don’t miss Bridgette’s “Momlife” guest post a couple of years ago where she reflected on her experience with the reading challenge. I took her suggestion to read a book for each of my vocations, and it was a great experience! And check out the other Back Porch Book Chat interviews.
When she isn’t reading books, Bridgette stays busy by serving at her church, homeschooling her kids part time, and working at their university model school as a high school chemistry teacher and the Technology Assistant. Bridgette is also one of the admins for a Facebook group for women that is for those diving into Tim Challies’s Reading Challenge. Bridgette is a long-time reader and supporter of Redeemed Reader–thank you, Bridgette!
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