Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd (Random House, January 2013) is a volume about what makes nonfiction great. Using their own experiences as a writer of nonfiction (Tracy Kidder, bestselling author) and an editor of creative nonfiction (Richard Todd, Atlantic editor), the two friends provide a compelling tale of what makes good writing good, and what makes a good writer a good writer, covering everything from how to begin and how to structure a narrative to the more complicated specifics of memoirs, essays, style, and writing as job in today’s society. (more…)
This week’s Cybils’ focus is on babies! Since my baby is quickly getting old (she’ll be ten months old next week), I’m mourning the loss of a not-yet-crawling baby, but looking forward to coming months of a baby who is more interested in playing and reading with me! She obviously already loves books by the way she devours them (literally trying to eat them, which is of course perfectly age appropriate!). (more…)
Raisin and I are only done with a little more than 40 of the lessons for the Kindergarten language arts program Logic of English Foundations. However, he enjoys it so much that I feel it is time I discussed it briefly on this blog.
LoE Foundations is an “all in one” language arts for 4-6 year old homeschool teachers or classroom teachers. Beginning with phonics, Foundations teaches children to read, to write (both a manuscript and a cursive instructional workbook are available for the handwriting instruction), and to grasp the basics of spelling. So far, I have not encountered any grammatical instruction or lessons on the mechanics of writing but neither of those are typically included in a kindergarten level program, I don’t believe. The program is to have about 180 lessons. After the first 40, students have learned how to write the 26 lowercase letters of the alphabet and can successfully read a large number of words by sounding out the phonograms. (more…)
Yes, this is primarily a books blog, but I’m finding that I am using other media, be it ebooks, audio, video, or even digital and pocket-held games, more frequently. It may happen that I go a day without opening a physical book for myself, but I won’t pass a day without reading something, it just might be via my nook or an audiobook, etc.
As I begin my homeschool journey, I’ve been searching for apps to help me. But I am one of those people without Apple products, and many of the posts on apps for kids relate to iPad. Today I want to talk about the Reader app I’ve enjoyed the most. I use this for myself, not just for homeschooling! It’s my most essential app on my tablet! (more…)
Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (Ballantine Books, 2005) has the attractive subtitle of “Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading.” Given my love of reading classic and quality literature to my son, this sounded like it would be a perfect fit for me.
Once I began reading, however, I found that the Goldstone’s focus was on discussing children’s literature in a parent-child book group setting. Although I did enjoy reading their thoughts about the deeper meanings behind various classic children’s novels, stories, and poems, I was a bit disappointed in the book overall. I had hoped for something to inspire parents in reading to their children. Deconstructing Penguins did that to some extent. But at the same time it seemed to talk to the most unintelligent of parents. I would hope that most parents reading their children Mr. Popper’s Penguins are wise enough to know that it is more than just a story about penguins! Do parents and children really need a formal reading group to discuss the issues such classic novels address?
Maybe my bias is due to the fact that I did study literature in depth, searching for meanings and themes, as an English major. It seems obvious to me that as I read a classic children’s novel with my children (such as Charlotte’s Web, The Giver, or The Phantom Tollbooth) that I’d open a dialogue with my child about what the book is really about. On the other hand, my son is only four so I don’t yet do this very much: we read for the sake of enjoying a story. I don’t want to kill the love of literature and story.
All that said, discussing books in a group setting is a lot of fun. I am a part a book group and when I walk out of meetings I feel I better understand the books, besides the fact that it’s simply a lot of fun to talk about a book that I like. Deconstructing Penguins is a great book to help parents or teachers get a book group started for second to fifth graders. I loved how they assigned books to these young readers that may be considered by some as “too hard,” such as Animal Farm. The children appreciated the book and understood the deeper meanings. I’m a big believer in not dumbing down literature for kids.
In short, as a manual for leading a book group for upper elementary students, Deconstructing Penguins is an inspiring and helpful volume. For parents hoping to instill a love of learning in their young children, it may not be as helpful.