Teaching Kids to Think by Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg

At first, I thought Teaching Kids to Think by Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg (Sourcebooks, March 2015) had a deceptive title. I had thought it would be  about helping kids learn and logic through academics. Rather, Teaching Kids to Think is focused on helping parents raise children that think through the basics of everyday survival and life, emphasizing confidence, independence, and thoughtfulness during the everyday simple (and not-so-simple) decisions of sociability in this world. Truly, this type of “thinking” is the basis of any success in academics!

After reading the book, I can only say that this The book that parents needs in order to help a child succeed in school, business, or everyday socialization. How can our kids learn to work in a workplace if the basics that Drs. Sweetland and Stolberg emphasize are not learned at a young age?

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Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster, 2003) is a fantastic portrait of a complex man. I have always loved Ben Franklin (ever since I read Ben and Me by Robert Lawlor as a child). Reading Isaacson’s biography helped me to see why I liked it him so much: he was, in general, a likeable man.

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The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

When the confident orphaned young American woman at the center of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (published 1881) receives a fortune, it seems she will be able to live her dream life of happiness. Yet, James’ portrait of Isabel Archer’s character, emotional development, and her choices is a complex one. As a relatively independent woman, Isabel is still restricted by the social and cultural restraints of being a woman in the mid-nineteenth century. As with my read of The Mill on the Floss (discussed last week), The Portrait of a Lady annoyed me because of the limited perspective Isabel Archer was able to embrace as a woman, and her story in general frustrated me because of what did and did not happen based on Isabel’s perceived “duty” as a woman.

Although I try to avoid spoilers below, there may be some thematic discussion that could “spoil” the novel for the particular reader.Continue Reading