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.

Semper discentes – always learning together.


Teaching Courage through Literature

We learned last week that: Courage means attempting difficult things that are worthwhile and facing difficulties and challenges with determination to do the right thing even when others don’t. Catchphrase: Dare to be different!”

Dr. Bleisch is back with us with her literature selections for this month’s character trait with a special highlight on Harriet Tubman:

“Harriet Tubman is a shining example of courage. From age six, Harriet was forced to work hard jobs and was treated harshly by her owner. Finally she ran away and made it to the North, leaving her family behind. But she wanted to lead others to liberty. She became a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, making the dangerous passage again and again to rescue more than 300 slaves. During the Civil War, she led Union troops on secret spy missions behind enemy lines. Harriet’s courage and selfless service is an inspiration to people around the world.”

Your SLOCA Library has several biographies of Harriet Tubman that are suitable for children:

For the titles below, visit our library or den or click on the links to purchase them online.

The Frightened Little Owl, by Mark Ezra (J PB EZR)

Although afraid to fly, Little Owl leaves the safety of her nest and takes flight to look for her missing mother. After searching here and there, she finds that her mother has been watching over her all the time.

The Dandelion Seed, by Joseph Anthony, illustrated by Cris Arbo

A little dandelion seed won’t let go because it’s afraid of the world. Soon, the winds blow it free and it learns that the world is full of challenge, wonder, and beauty. Eventually, it lands, grows, and casts its own seeds. Finally, it finds itself reassuring one scared little seed that the sun, the wind, and the rain will take care of it. This beautifully simple book teaches about seeds, cycles, and courage. Winner of the Publishers Association Award for Picture Books in 1998.  Preschool and up.

Peep: A Little Book About Taking a Leap, by Maria Van Lieshout

Out on an outing, a little chick is afraid to hop off the steep curb when his sisters and mother do. He shows a range of emotions, from terror and nervousness to anger. When he finally takes the leap, he’s overjoyed. Preschool and up.

Thunder Cake, by Patricia Pollacco

One of our favorite authors tells the story of how her grandma–her Babushka–helped her overcome her fear of thunder when she was a little girl. Her grandmother’s compassionate and creative response turns a frightening thunderstorm into an adventure and ultimately . . . a celebration! Preschool and up.

Mirette on the High Wire, by Emily McCully

In 19th century Paris, a quiet, sad-faced man arrives at the boardinghouse of the widow Gateau. When the widow’s daughter, Mirette, sees him walking on air in their courtyard, she begs him to teach her his craft. As she learns how to balance on the wire, overcoming countless falls on the hard cobblestones, he gets his own nerve back, performs, and shows Paris that he is still the Great Bellini, master performer on the high-wire. Watercolors sweep over the rooftops of nineteenth-century Paris and into a gallant world of acrobats, jugglers, mimes, and actors. Caldecott Medal in 1993. Preschool and up.

Ramona the Brave, by Beverly Cleary (J FIC CLE)

Determined to be brave, six-year-old Ramona Quimby has to deal with starting first grade, her mother’s new job, and a teacher who does not understand how hard it is for Ramona to grow up. For ages 6 and up.

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick (J PB RYA)

Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were two of the most admired and respected women of all time. They were also good friends. This picture book illuminates the true story of a thrilling night when they made history together. On a brisk and cloudless evening in April 1933, Amelia and Eleanor did the unprecedented. They slipped away from a White House dinner, commandeered an Eastern Air Transport plane, and took off on a glorious night flight, still dressed in their glamorous evening gowns. This picture book celebrates the pioneering spirit of two friends whose passion for life gave them the courage to defy convention. For ages 7 and up.

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, by Brenda Woods. (J FIC WOO)

Saint is an eleven-year old boy with confidence as big as his name is long. A budding musician, he earns money playing his clarinet for tourists in New Orleans, and his best friend is a stray dog named Shadow. At first, Saint is sure that Hurricane Katrina will be just like the last storm–no big deal. But then the storm changes course. When the city is ordered to evacuate, his mother remains at her post at the hospital, and Saint refuses to leave without Shadow. When the storm hits, Saint and Shadow take shelter with an elderly neighbor. They all climb up to the attic as the water rises, and rises… and soon it’s up to Saint to save them all. On the list for Intermediate Battle of the Books. For ages 11 and up.

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (J FIC STE)

This unforgettable adventure captures the thrill of a sea voyage and a treasure hunt, through the eyes of its teenage protagonist, Jim Hawkins. Going through a deceased tenant’s belongings, an innkeeper and her son a find a pirate’s treasure map. Jim is excited to go along on the expedition to uncover the pirates’ hoard. But is Jim man enough to face a storm at sea, a mutiny, and the dawning realization that his trusted friend and mentor may be a ruthless enemy? The best and most influential of all the pirate stories. For ages 11 and up.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary Schmidt (J FIC SCH)

Turner Buckminster has been in Phippsburg, Maine for just a few hours, but he already hates the place. No one in town will let him forget that he’s a minister’s son, and his father demands that he starts acting like one. But then Turner meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a smart and sassy girl from a poor nearby island community founded by former slaves. Turner defies everyone’s disapproval to spend time with Lizzie, which opens up a whole new world to him, filled with the mystery and wonder of Maine’s rocky coast. The elders of Phippsburg plan to build a lucrative hotel to attract the tourist trade. But first, everyone on Lizzie’s island must be removed—by force, if necessary. As Turner finds the courage to stand up to the townspeople, and to his father, he also finds new compassion and new maturity. A sensitively written historical novel, based on the true story of a community’s destruction. For ages 14 and up.

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane (FIC CRA)

In the spring of 1863, while engaged in the fierce battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia, a young Union soldier comes to grips with his conflicting emotions about war, and comes to manhood and a sense of peace. This is a powerful psychological study of a young soldier’s struggle with the horrors of war. Crane realistically describes the moment-by-moment riot of emotions experienced by men under fire. First published in 1895, when Crane was only 21, this is considered to be the first great ‘modern’ novel of war by an American, and is arguably the finest novel of the Civil War. For mature teens and up.


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