(Kids Corner) Three Great Rocking-Chair Picture Books

One great thing about having a little baby is the cuddling. Not to say that Raisin doesn’t cuddle with me every now and then, but Strawberry is just the right size for a sweet cuddle in my arms as we rock in the chair.

Many times when I try to read to Strawberry, she tries to grab the book and eat it. This is pretty normal, since seven months old is just the age of chewing on everything in site. But occasionally, as I mentioned before, Strawberry really loves to listen to my voice, cuddle into my arms, and listen to what I’m saying. A few of the books are favorites of mine for such moments because they are especially wonderfully for rocking back and forth in a rocking chair.Continue Reading

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick (published by Penguin 2007) is about far more than the arrival of the “pious” pilgrims in the New World in a ship named Mayflower. Rather, Philbrick’s tome delves deep in the history of the Plymouth Colony. The facts shared seem to be essential in understanding both the first years of cooperation with the natives (natives with names familiar to many, such as Squanto, Massasoit, and so forth) as well as the more unfamiliar subsequent conflicts as a part of King Philip’s War, which left the land mostly stripped of it’s native population, due to war deaths, enslavement from the English settlers, and land purchase from the settlers. Philbrick writes an engaging story that brought the tragedy of dissolving friendship and cooperation alive for me, four hundred years after it happened.Continue Reading

(Raisin Reads) Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

I have been looking forward to introducing my son to the favorite books of my childhood, and I’m delighted to find he is finally old enough to appreciate them!

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (originally published 1978) is a perfect chapter book for young readers. The chapters are less than five pages, the stories are compact and yet still inter-related, and the silliness factor meets the needs of a child. My son loved the time we spent reading these together, and as soon as we finished it, he took it from me and informed me he was going to read it again to himself. He is more than half way done.

As an adult, I still enjoyed it. It is silly and yet it does play off of realistic challenges: adults telling you to do things that seem impossible (going to take a note to a non-existent teacher), falling asleep when you should be awake, getting along with other kids, and overcoming stereotype, for example. I really enjoyed revisiting it as an adult. Continue Reading

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

In Frankenstein (originally published January 1818), Mary Shelley questions what makes one human, ultimately questioning the meaning of life. When Dr. Victor Frankenstein imbues his cadaverous monster with life, he has become a God-like creator, and his monster, a gigantic being with the ability to feel all emotions and use all of his senses, is his Adam.

Like Adam, Frankenstein’s creation must learn right and wrong. He also desires a mate so he will not be lonely. Unlike Adam, the creation has no creator guiding him: Frankenstein, and all other humans who see the creation, consider him a monster, simply because he is ugly. I don’t blame them: he was eight-feet tall and was created from cadavers, butcher’s meat, and scavenged body parts. The monster wasn’t exactly someone you’d want to sit across from at dinner.

Frankenstein was nothing like I imagined. Both Frankenstein and his monster were complex characters with multiple facets to them. I believed it would be a superficial horror story, with a monster tormenting the world.1 Rather, Frankenstein is a complex novel that introduces questions of humanity, acceptance, and scientific inquiry. Nearly two hundred years after it’s original publication, it is still highly relevant.Continue Reading

  1. Dare I compare Frankenstein to Dracula? “Silly” and “superficial” was my impression of the vampire story, although I’ll admit I’ve only read it once now.