Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering options to make education work for families. We have a full hybrid program for grades pre-12, which means part-time classroom and part-time home instruction with a 4 day option for middle school and a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Teaching Integrity through Literature

character trait book

Happy Thursday! This month as we consider opportunities to demonstrate our integrous spirits, Dr. Bleisch joins us again with her list of books specific to teaching Integrity.  

We learned last week that:

“Integrity is having the inner strength to be truthful and trustworthy, acting justly and honorably, and being consistent in words and actions. Our catch phrase: Tell the truth. Keep your word.”

Take a look below for this month’s set of books then visit our library or den, and enjoy! You can also click on the links below to see where you can purchase these items.


Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton (J PB BURTON; Curriculum)

Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers — the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity. For ages 3 and up.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf , by B.G. Hennessy

A bored and lonely shepherd boy has an idea of how to make something happen. He shouts that a wolf is after his sheep, and all the town comes running to help. A retelling of the timeless fable, with clever illustrations. For ages 3 and up.

The Empty Pot, by Demi (Curriculum)

A long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom. The Emperor loved flowers, too. When it was time to choose an heir, he gave a flower seed to each child in the kingdom. “Whoever can show me their best in a year’s time,” he proclaimed, “shall succeed me to the throne!” Ping plants his seed and tends it every day. But month after month passes, and nothing grows. When spring comes, Ping must go to the Emperor with nothing but an empty pot. For ages 4 and up.

A Day’s Work, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler

Francisco tells a little lie when he tries to get work for his grandfather, but learns the value of honesty when his grandfather’s integrity is noticed by his boss and rewarded with more work. A powerful story, beautifully illustrated. For ages 4 and up.

Princess K.I.M. and the Lie that Grew, by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Kim wants the kids at her new school to like her, so she tells a lie. She says her name is really “K.I.M.”–for “Katherine Isabella Marguerite”–and that she comes from a royal family!  Soon all the students know there is a princess in the school. Kim wears her golden tiara from dance class and a big fancy ring she won at the arcade. Her lie grows and grows. When a classmate invites her to a birthday party, Kim says she can’t go because her grandmother is coming to visit. But she had told the kids her grandmother was a queen. Now they all want to meet the queen. For ages 5 and up.

Princess Kim and Too Much Truth, by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Although she’s always been called Princess at home, Kim is not a real princess, so she decides “From now on, no matter what, I’m only going to tell the truth!” At home, she tells her Dad that the pancakes are rubbery and Grandma that her new necklace looks like the slimy rocks at the bottom of the fish tank. At school, she’s just as honest…until she learns what too much truth can do. For ages 5 and up.

Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (J FIC NAY)

When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it’s love at first sight—and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much and has a gun—and abuses his dogs. So when Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty’s secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd’s anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his? Newbery Medal winner. On the list for Intermediate Battle of the Books. For ages 8 and up.

Native American Heroes: Osceola, Tecumseh, and Cochise, by Ann Mcgovern

Biographies of three Native Americans who fought valiantly for their land and their people. These true stories are emotionally gripping, and the theme of broken treaties resonates throughout. The narrative is supplemented by black-and-white original source materials (i.e. photographs, maps, portraits, a newspaper article). Ann McGovern handles delicate topics, such as violence and racism, expertly for young readers. Should spark interesting conversations about integrity. For ages 9 and up.

Little Britches: Father and I were Ranchers, by Ralph Moody (J FIC MOO)

Ralph Moody was eight years old in 1906 when his father left the wool mill of East Rochester, New Hampshire to become a rancher in Colorado. Through Ralph’s eyes we experience the pleasures and perils of ranching in Colorado early in the twentieth century. Ralph’s adventures equip him to take his father’s place when it becomes necessary. Auctions and roundups, family picnics, irrigation wars, tornadoes and windstorms give authentic color to Little Britches. In Chapter 4, “My Character House,” Ralph learns a hard lesson about lying. For ages 10 and up. On the Must Reads list.

Sun and Spoon, by Kevin Henkes (J FIC HEN)

It’s been only two months since Spoon Gilmore’s grandmother died, but already he’s worried that he’ll forget her. He needs something of Gran’s, something that matters, something special to remind him of her. But Spoon’s little sister, Joanie, is always following him, demanding attention. If Spoon had more time to think, perhaps he wouldn’t have done what he did…  A heartfelt story about learning to cope with loss, written in an understated style. For ages 10 and up.

Nothing but the Truth, by Avi

In this thought-provoking examination of freedom, patriotism, and respect, ninth-grader Philip Malloy is kept from joining the track team by his failing grades in English class. Convinced that the teacher just doesn’t like him, Philip concocts a plan to get transferred out of her class. Breaking the school’s policy of silence during the national anthem, he hums along, and ends up in a crisis at the center of the nation’s attention. A Newbery Honor book. For ages 14 and up.

Thank you, Dr. Bleisch, for your guidance in our literature selection this month! We look forward to our next set of character trait books!



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