My son’s favorite phrase this month is “That’s not fair!” I’ve made an extra effort to try to help him understand why we have certain rules. And after reading this young adult nonfiction account of some people who said “No! This is not fair!”, I felt like I have some solid examples I can give him of just what truly is “not fair” in the world.
In People Who Said No (Annick Press, 2013), Laura Scandiffio outlines a few of the people in history who made a difference by standing up for what was wrong. Some chapters felt like miniature biographies of people I’d heard of but never before studied in depth. Included were Hans and Sophie, two young adults who took a stand against Hitler’s rise; Helen Suzman, the lone politician in South Africa who spoke out against Apartheid; the people of Egypt who mounted a mostly peaceful protest against their leader; and many more. (more…)
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough (Houghton Mifflin, 2012) is a volume exploring why certain children succeed, despite the odds. He focuses on the children who are most struggling. Some of them succeed, by going to college and becoming successful, contributing members of society. What in their personality allowed them to overcome their past and succeed?
I really appreciated Tough’s research and the inspiring stories he shared. He argued that while learning letters and numbers and other “kindergarten ready” facts are helpful, what really helps children succeed in their lives is learning to deal with the frustrations of life (which he called developing “grit”), developing determination, and learning to improve and put forth extra effort when you make mistakes. He looked at schools full of well-to-do children from wealthy families, and he found that many did not know how to work. He also looked at students from poor, underprivileged families and found that some of them had developed grit and determination.
Education, he argues, is not just about book learning but about life learning and overcoming. There is a lesson to me in this as I teach my young son at home. I hope that I can exemplify to my kids the grit, determination, and confidence necessary to success in life. Tough’s book was not surprising or groundbreaking to me, but it did inspire me in my home education goals.
Friday nights are “fun night” for our family. Usually, this means we watch a family/kid friendly movie. Recently, now that Raisin is five, we’re branching out to board games. (When the favorite board game was Candy Land, I really did not like that option every week.) Today, Raisin requested that we read books together.
Yes, my five-year-old son wanted to spend an hour and a half reading with me. This is why I did my 1000 books project with him, and why I’m doing it all over again with my baby. Reading together as a family truly is fun. I’ve grown my son into what I am certain will be a life-long reader.
Here are some of the books we enjoyed. (more…)
Ariel Bradley: Spy for General Washington by Lynda Durrant (Vanita Books, 2013) is a historical fiction early chapter book based on a real experience. Since Raisin and I are learning about American history this year, I decided it would be a perfect choice for reading aloud together during our school time.
In many ways, Ariel Bradley’s story is a fun and exciting one. Ariel is a young boy, with two brothers who are a part of General Washington’s army. He wishes he could be brave, but his life is still at home. When his brothers come to visit, though, they have a special mission for him to perform for General Washington himself! As Ariel acts like a country bumpkin and stumbles in to the British war camp, he knows he can be a spy for General Washington and do his own part to help the country.
I liked the story. It showed how a child helped in the war effort. It showed my son the different way someone could help the Patriot cause. As we read, we looked up unfamiliar words and talked about what Ariel Bradley was doing. Raisin was very excited to see General Washington, and I believe he enjoyed the suspense of what would happen next.
It’s been a few weeks since we finished and Raisin tells me now that he does not remember it. I know he liked it, but apparently the story was not a memorable on. There are many historical fiction stories based on real events that relate to the American Revolutionary War. This may not have been the strongest choice out there, but Raisin and I did enjoy it when we read it. We found it to be a fine book to tie in to our American history studies.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher via netgalley.com.
William Shakespeare’s plays have abundant evidence of the influences on the man behind the words. Shakespeare obviously was familiar with the world and especially human nature. I’ve read that he did not get some geographic facts correct, but in general, he seems to have been pretty well rounded. Just read a play and you can see it! I’ve often read commentary on how various concepts appear in his plays. But I never before considered the impact of The Book of Common Prayer on his plays.
Shakespeare’s Common Prayers by Daniel Swift (Oxford University Press, 2012) is a deep examination of how The Book of Common Prayer impacts the phrases and themes in Shakespeare’s plays. Mr Swift takes a few of Shakespeare’s plays almost line by line in examining the impact that the liturgy of the Church of England may have had on the playwright. Reading his examination made me think, “Wow! Why didn’t we notice this before?” (more…)