How We Learn by Benedict Carey

I read How We Learn by Benedict Carey (Random House, September 2014) at much the same time as I read Born Reading, so I found the correlation between the two quite interesting. Both books were written for very different and unique reasons and for different audiences. But, since I’m a homeschooling mom, I found that I was an appropriate audience for both!

How We Learn is definitely a more technical book, with plenty of references to studies in learning techniques from the past 50 years and more. Nevertheless, Mr. Carey wrote with a familiar tone sometimes, with examples from his own life. These felt more like digressions to me (I honestly did not want to know about his college drug habit!) but overall, the book had a professional feel due to the research involved.

Concepts Mr. Carey covered include basic concepts on how memories form and how we forget, how we best hold on to things we want to learn, what to do about distractions and other difficulties to learning, and how to best tap in to the subconscious to retain learning. I found the most interesting and useful concepts to me as a homeschooling teacher and parent to young children were those about how getting wrong answers and actually forgetting concepts helps strengthen long-term retention. I am all the more eager to give my children “pre-tests” and provide a spiral method to learning and then eventually revisiting concepts.

I also found that it helped me approach the things my son has forgotten in a different way. When he’s forgotten and relearns it, he is more likely to retain it for longer!

In retrospect, the book has stayed with me. While the technical details have escaped me, the basic concepts of learning and forgetting have intrigued me as a teacher. I think it’s a valuable contribution to for the library of teachers and learners!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration.

Born Reading by Jason Boog

Born Reading by Jason Boog (Touchstone, September 2014) is the best go-to book for figuring out how to teach your child to love reading. I’ve read books before about encouraging your child’s literacy, and they have been great. But what Born Reading does is address the issue for the now generation: the generation of ipads and mobile phones. How does a parent encourage literacy when the number one method we have of getting through our days includes technology?
Continue Reading

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling (Algonquin Books, January 13, 2015) is a middle-grade nonfiction story about two young girls who sought to escape slavery in 1840s Washington, D.C.

Emily Edmonson was only 13 when she joined siblings and others on the small ship The Pearl in hopes to escape North. It was the most daring mass slave escape ever attempted, and it was tragically captured before it reached the safety of the North. The book captures the horrors of slavery from a unique perspective: that of a girl on the brink of freedom.Continue Reading