A Passel of Books on Parenting

I recently realized that I had accumulated a sizeable backlog of parenting books on my TBR shelf, so I embarked on a mini-course of professional development. I usually try to mix up my reading across genres, but sometimes concentrated focus on one topic is instructive and worthwhile. Reading a bunch of parenting books in a row helped me to evaluate the books in light of each other, and also gave me a good list of really good ideas to try out on my guinea pigs children.

Love & Respect in the Family offers a helpful framework for thinking about how parents and children interact in families and how to foster a healthy atmosphere of communication, love, and respect.  I like how the author identifies the different unspoken goals parents and kids have in relating, and how we as adults can build a calm and supportive household environment, and help our kids to grow spiritually and in their ability to communicate and live in community with others.

A big strength of the book is the exhortations to parents.  The reminders that we, as the adults, set the tone in our homes, and are responsible for our reactions even if our kids are being disrespectful or sinning, is very, very helpful.  I thought the advice in the book was realistic and practical as well as being scripturally sound and inspiring.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind is a really interesting and readable book on child development and neuroscience, but apart from that I recommend it for it’s excellent and, dare I say, game changing ideas for how to talk to your kids about how they can take control of their thoughts and emotions and learn to react and communicate better.

I tried this with Hannah with excellent results.  She’s eight, and the explanation of how our brains have two levels and she can use her “upstairs brain” to help her control her “downstairs brain” rather than flipping her lid has been so helpful for her.  I’ve seen an incredible improvement in her ability to calm herself down and handle her emotions.

Again, like so many things, this comes down to “change your thoughts” but the presentation in The Whole-Brain Child is really excellent.  I thought it was helpful that at the end of each chapter the authors tie the concept in to how parents can use it too.  Certainly we can all use tactical ideas for how to change our attitudes, improve our self-control, and communicate more effectively.

Written in the 1800s but still fresh and compelling, H. Clay Trumbull’s very helpful Hints on Child Training casts a great vision for a coherent philosophy/theology of parenting.  If you’re looking for something that balances vision with practical suggestions, this book would be a great choice.

I thought Trumbull’s book was an unusually coherent presentation of how to cultivate a calm, loving, supportive environment balanced with how to help children be self-disciplined, respectful, and courteous.  The section on helping kids learn to be courteous rather than just well-mannered, and the detailed thoughts on how to make bedtimes smooth and soothing for kids AND parents were excellent.  I also appreciated how Trumbull, himself a father of eight, held parents to a high standard without being flippant or condescending about the very real struggles of parenting.

Hints on Child Training is an excellent book, highly recommended, well worth owning, and it’s only 99 cents on Kindle so quite affordable!

I didn’t agree with everything in Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, but overall I found it to be an incredibly helpful reference on the different developmental stages of boys and parenting boys in general.  The authors offer a lot of great practical guidance for how to interpret and handle boys in various stages, things to watch out for, and ways to encourage boys and equip them for adulthood.  At some points in the book I felt a little panic because the authors described some attitudes and actions as foregone conclusions, but overall the tone of the book was helpful and hopeful.

Because we have three girls and one boy, I feel like it’s important for me to know how to treat Jack differently and parent him effectively and lovingly, and Wild Things gave me a lot of great tools for doing so.

The first half of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting was very helpful.  I found the author’s premise that parenting problems often stem from the parent’s need to self-regulate as much as from problems with the children insightful.  That’s a great point, and quite true, at least in my experience.  When I’m calm, the kids are calm(er), but when I’m stressed and tired and hungry and distracted, they get wound up too.  The first half of the book offers a lot of great insights into how parents can cultivate calm and defuse situations, as well as how to help kids learn to deal with big emotions and intensity in a positive way.

The second half of the book was less helpful, at least for me. I found I disagreed with many of the author’s opinions and conclusions about children, her thoughts on what the goals of parenting ought to be, and so forth.  I thought she threw the baby out with the bathwater a lot, and was reminded that our underlying philosophy and theology really do impact our practical decisions in life.

I’d recommend the first half of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, but I think you could probably stop at around page 100 and be none the worse for it.

The Key to Your Child’s Heart, by Gary Smalley, didn’t stick out to me as being particularly noteworthy in the sea of parenting books.  Most of the topics covered are covered better elsewhere, and on a few topics (such as punishment) I found I disagreed strongly with Smalley’s conclusions.

One point I did take away from the book, though, was Smalley’s encouragement to really communicate with children about their own goals before pushing them into activities.  In some sense, kids aren’t equipped to make decisions about spending their time (“Long division is not in line with my goals” probably shouldn’t carry water) but in other areas it’s useful to talk this through with your kids.  Smalley gives the example of playing a musical instrument.  He suggests asking the child, “From zero to ten, how good do you want to be?”  That way, if the child really wants to be a concert pianist, you can support that goal, but if she just wants to be able to play Heart and Soul you won’t waste as much time, money, and energy on it.

My mom, who has her masters degree in gifted education, recommended Jim Delisle’s books on gifted kids and although When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answersis really geared toward teachers in a classroom setting I did find it a helpful source for conversation starters.  After reading this book I feel even more respect for teachers who handle rooms full of gifted kids of different types and levels, and was glad that I only have to focus on my three scholars for now!  If you’re reading it from a parenting perspective, the book does have several great ideas for how to talk to your kids about things like perfectionism and goal setting.

 

What great parenting books have you been reading?  Have you had any parenting breakthroughs or epiphanies lately?

 

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The Worst Hard Time

Prior to reading The Worst Hard Time I didn’t know a lot of detail about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  I mean, I had historical knowledge about it, but I didn’t know the details and the personal stories that really drive home what something was like.

The stories in The Worst Hard Time are staggering.  I was astounded by how bad things were, and the depths that people dropped to in order to survive.  I can’t imagine the horror of watching my children starve and only having boiled tumbleweed to feed them, or not having a single paycheck for an entire decade and not having any options for getting out.

In a different twist, I listened to this book in audio form rather than reading it.  I didn’t mind it, and it was a good way to redeem time that I otherwise would just listen to random music (washing dishes, taking walks after the kids are in bed, driving by myself in the car, etc) but wow, it was so slow.  It took forever to get through the book, when I could probably have read it in a couple of hours.  Also the guy reading had a very annoying way of pronouncing “bison” and “drought.”  But I’m thinking that checking audio books out from the library (our library has an app so I can listen from my phone rather than with CDs) might be a good option for random times.

At any rate, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl was a worthwhile read (apart from some unnecessary profanity I could have done without) and I’d recommend it as a good source of historical depth.  Reading this book would be helpful to understanding the Roaring 20s and the Depression, and will make you grateful for your blessings for certain!

 

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The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife is a fascinating novel based on the life of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley.  I had read of some of the included events previously in Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.  I completely despised Hemingway after reading that book, and I can’t say that my opinion of him improved at all after reading The Paris Wife.

In fact, I should admit up front that I deeply and viscerally loathe Ernest Hemingway (as a person that is, as a writer he’s great and all) based on reading these two books.  He tried to make himself feel better about his failings by pretending that he didn’t have a choice and that the normal constraints of real life, morality, and basic concern for others didn’t apply to him because of his (presumed) genius.  Give me a break.

I spent a bit of time thinking this over as I read, actually, because you can find all sorts of articles about how artists (writers particularly) are prone to megalomania and are awful to their loved ones and are suicidal and are outside of the norms of human behavior.  Some would have you believe that this is a sign of artistic genius.  My conclusion is that plenty of brilliant people through the ages have NOT been overcome by a supposed inability to function within society nor have they felt required to go about ruining other people’s lives.  The question is not whether or not these people are geniuses, but rather whether or not they are grounded in any authority outside of themselves.

Artists (perhaps particularly writers) are people who look at life deeply and experience it deeply, this is true.  And, it strikes me, engaging in a lot of that sort of thinking is pretty dangerous if you don’t have an externally oriented value system or heirarchy.  With only yourself as your standard, it stands to reason that a lot of deep scrutiny of life could cause you to implode.  As Nietsche famously discovered, if God is dead only nihilism remains.  And if you’re really a nihilist, well, there isn’t anything to live for really.

Musings about literary madness and hating Hemingway aside, I really did enjoy most of The Paris Wife, at least until the end when things went sour.  It’s certainly far, far more enjoyable than A Moveable Feast.  I can’t quite decide if I recommend it, but if you’re interested in the interwar literary scene or Bohemian Paris I think you’d like the book.

If you’ve read The Paris Wife, what did you think?  If you read that and A Moveable Feast, which did you like better?

 

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Holy is the Day

Holy Is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present is Carolyn Weber’s follow-up to her conversion memoir Surprised by Oxford.  The second volume covers Weber’s gaining tenure, deciding to leave full-time teaching, and difficult childbirth/pregnancy issues that gave her insight into finding the holy in everyday life and, as she writes, “the need to keep converting, to keep turning toward God.”

I was a little disappointed to see fewer of the literary references that I loved in her first book, but there are still some in this second volume.  I also wished she would have developed the idea of a reflective spiritual life being like a reflective academic life more fully.  One of the things I loved about her first book was the way Weber wrote about how who she was as a reader and a thinker influenced her journey to faith.  I assume that’s still in play as she walks in faith now, but it wasn’t so much a focus in the second book.

Still, I enjoyed Holy Is the Day and would recommend it.  I like Weber’s writing style and insights and look forward to reading more from her in the future.

 

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The Paradox of Choice

While The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less articulated some insightful concepts and contained some helpful hints, I probably would have preferred to read the highlights in an article rather than in a book-length treatise.  That being the case, I’ll boil it down for you.  If you’re truly interested and want to know more you can check out the book, but otherwise you can mull over the information without cutting into your reading time.

Schwartz surveys a lot of research pointing to the fact that modern Westerners are swamped with choices that actually leave us immobilized and hampered rather than increasing our freedom or well-being.  In fact, it seems we all have a threshold after which additional choices just weigh us down.  I know I find this to be true in my own life, and am often bogged down researching far too long or taking too long to make decisions because there are so many options.

Schwartz identifies two types of people–maximizers and satisficers–and demonstrates that maximizers tend to lose in the face of our current glut of choices since a maximizer often can’t let go of a decision until he or she is certain that the solution is the best.  A satisficer, on the other hand may have a high standard, but once that standard is met, he or she is happy to walk away from all of the other, possibly more perfect, solutions.  Schwartz says we all have areas where we maximize and areas where we satisfice, and that we should work to automate or satisfice more of our choices wherever possible so that we free up our brains to work on problems that are most important to us, where maximizing may be called for.

“With fewer options and more constraints,” Schwartz writes, “there would be less self-doubt, less of an effort to justify decisions, more satisfaction, and less second-guessing of decisions once made.”

Reading The Paradox of Choice did make me more aware of my own irritation with “the tyranny of small decisions.”  For example, I like to do all of my grocery shopping at Costco because I don’t have to go as often (to feed my family of six requires Costco-sized packages anyway) and there are fewer choices.  Regular grocery stores drain me and make me feel resentful of the time I waste trolling up and down aisles looking at 417 versions of every single thing.  I started to think about ways I could apply that insight to other types of decisions and activities as well, which was likewise helpful.

Again, the book was perhaps a bit more detailed than I really needed, but I did find the concepts interesting and thought provoking.

Do you tend to be a maximizer or a satisficer in most things?  If you tend one way, have you managed to change to the other in any areas?

 

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The Wandering Falcon

Jamil Ahmad’s novel The Wandering Falcon is a layered depiction of the ambiguity of life in the harsh but beautiful region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The book builds on the tradition of storytelling to weave stories of multiple characters and families together, with characters from previous sections looping back into later stories.  The common link is a boy who becomes known as The Wandering Falcon, moving between groups and families and always looking out for his own interests.

In addition to using the characters to mirror the terrain, the individual and family stories also parallel the political tensions of the region, with shifting loyalties and changing enemies as the nomads of the area are a pawn between outside powers.

Ultimately I felt like the story lacked much in the way of redemption or conclusion, but that might be on purpose again as a reflection of the realities of life in that region.

If you’re interested in learning about other cultures, this book would be a good one to add to your list.  It’s a short book, but a layered and nuanced one.

 

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Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages

In The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference, Shaunti Feldhahn looks at research taken from couples in highly happy, moderately happy, so-so, and unhappy marriages, and finds interesting trends in the data that may prove helpful if you’d like to get or stay in the highly happy category with your own marriage.

A lot of the findings are not actually that surprising but might be game changers if we actually act on them.  For example, it turns out that no matter how happy a relationship is, the vast majority of spouses want the best for their husband or wife, but less than half of us believe that to be true.  Highly happy couples give each other the benefit of the doubt and always act as though the other person has their best in mind, even if he or she hurt feelings or dropped the ball.

That was helpful for me, as was the many ways that highly happy couples apparently change their thoughts to think positively no matter what the circumstances.  Highly happy couples choose to think the best of the other person, replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and are quick to give credit to and feel grateful for their spouses.  In fact, Feldhahn found, someone’s happiness in his or her marriage actually has FAR more to do with his or her perceptions than with any “empirically accurate list of the spouse’s contributions or failures.”

I’m always amazed at how many things come back to habits and changing our thoughts–taking every thought captive, etc–in education, in parenting, in life, and, it turns out, in marriage.

I found The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages to be a helpful and worthwhile read.  It was quick and practical–you won’t get theory or theology or vision here, it’s not the scope–and gave me several good take-aways to think about and implement.  I’d recommend it.

 

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A Place of Greater Safety

In A Place of Greater Safety, two time Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel weaves a compelling and well-paced novel around three historical characters from the French Revolution.  Mantel’s excellent style combines incredible attention to detail with unusual ability to craft complex characters.  This book, which is one of her earlier works, is not quite as tightly crafted as Wolf Hall, but you can see the ability getting there.

The novel is structured around three major revolutionary figures–Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins–so if you know a bit about the French Revolution you will have a good feel for what is coming.  However, it’s much to Mantel’s credit that even though I knew good and well what to expect I still felt the tension and pacing of the story.  At the beginning I found it difficult to keep track of the large cast of characters (this is something Mantel got better at in her later novels) even with a detailed character chart in the front of the book.  As the story went on it grew easier to sort everyone out, but be prepared to find the first section a bit confusing.  It’s worth it to stick it out though, as I think the book overall deepened my understanding of the time period and events surrounding the French Revolution.

This is particularly helpful to me as we’re studying the American Revolution just now in our homeschool, and will wind up our year with the French Revolution and end of the 1700s in a few months.  I find it so interesting to think about differences between major revolutions and what happens when the previously powerless have to rule.

If you’re interested in history or just love a really detailed novel with deep character development, I’d recommend A Place of Greater Safety.

 

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First Quarter in Books, 2014

Time flies when you’re reading good books.  Below are short reviews of the 32 books I read in the first quarter of 2014, as well as links to the 22 chapter books I read out loud to the kids, or because the kids were reading them.  The title links are to my longer reviews, and my favorites are starred.

Fiction

  • The Lowland – This book was well-written overall, but had some weaknesses that left me wondering why it was short-listed for the Booker Prize last year.
  • *State of Wonder - An astonishing novel: well written, inventive, and thought-provoking.
  • The Three Musketeers - A novel that suffers from ponderous pacing at times, but is enjoyable enough to understand why it’s a classic.
  • Sarum - An INSANELY long novel about the history of England that is really more like a series of loosely linked novellas and which would have been far, far better as a series than one gargantuan tome.
  • I Capture the Castle - A sweet and lively love story that manages to avoid pitfalls common to YA and romance.  So it’s not really YA or romance, just an enjoyable novel set in 1930s England.  And you know how I feel about books set in England.
  • A Long Way Down - Also set in England, but very, very different from I Capture the Castle, this book is a hilariously funny story about a group of people who intend to commit suicide.  It works though.  (Note language caveat in longer post)

Education/Parenting

  • Writing With Ease – this book gives an excellent apologetic for teaching writing with a classical/Charlotte Mason approach, and then walks through how to teach writing through fourth grade, day by day, week by week.
  • Distracted – Not really about education, but with educational applications, Distracted looks at how our ability (or lack thereof) to pay attention impacts our lives, learning, and culture.
  • I Thought it Was Just Me - This is really not a book about parenting, but so many of my takeaways were parenting-related that I thought I’d categorize it this way.  Primarily the book is about communication and the way we dispense and receive shame messages.  I found the ideas so applicable to things I’m trying to teach my kids as they get older, but really they are helpful in other family relationships, friendships, and work interactions as well.

Time/Life

  • *Say Goodbye to Survival Mode - Excellent, thoughtful, practical advice easily tailored to your personal situation, this is one of my new favorite life management books.
  • The In-Between – Excellent concept, unfortunately delivered in a mediocre fashion.  You can skip this one.
  • David and Goliath – Another good concept not well executed.  You can skip this one too.
  • The Myth of Multitasking - If you still think multitasking is a good idea, or if you know it isn’t but can’t seem to stop, this book is for you.
  • The Fred Factor - A very fast read about how to bring excellence to your work.
  • Fred 2.0 - I can’t for the life of me think of a reason why you should read this book, unless you are stuck somewhere with basically no alternative.  A sad follow-up.
  • A Million Little Ways - Such a helpful book on balancing dreams with life and finding ways to glorify God with your gifts in every season of life.
  • What’s Happening to Home? - A sort of outdated examination of the blurring lines between work and life that fails to offer many prescriptions for the problem.
  • Balanced - This book is very helpful and packed with ideas for how to balance work and life if you’re a parent.  Although it would be even more useful to you if you are a writer who also homeschools, there are plenty of take-aways for other jobs and situations.
  • Notes From a Blue Bike - A thoughtful and nuanced approach to bringing your real life in line with your dreams/goals/life vision.  The book is very well-written and helpful.
  • Do the Work - A super fast read that delivers a kick in the pants for people who need motivation to, you know, do the work.
  • Time Warrior - Also short and hyperbolic, Time Warrior does have some helpful hint for time management and making life work.

History/Travel

  • The Telling Room – A fun and funny book about Spain, storytelling, and cheese.  Not for reading on an empty stomach, but highly recommended for all other times.
  • Queen Isabella - Alison Weir always delivers a fascinating and highly readable history, and this is no exception.  Recommended for British history fans.
  • The Pagan Lord - Bernard Cornwell is another of my favorite historical fiction authors, and his latest Saxon Chronicles story is excellent as you would expect.

Faith

  • The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness - Great insight on 1 Corinthians 3-4 from Tim Keller, highly recommended especially for people who have a tendency toward people pleasing.
  • Grace for the Good Girl - A female-focused take on combatting the good girl identity, also described as “the try hard life.”

Cooking/Health

Memoir

  • The Necklace - Not very well written, but a highly engaging story of a group of women who pooled their funds to share a diamond necklace and gained friendships and motivation for life changes in the bargain.
  • Surprised by Oxford - What I liked best about this conversion memoir was the excellent setting and seeing how God meets people exactly where they are with exactly the message and medium they need to hear the Gospel.
  • In the Midst of Life - Part memoir and part philosophical treatise on palliative care and end of life issues, this book is thought-provoking and illuminating.

With/For Kids

This year I started doing something different and logging chapter books–with criteria that they generally be over 100 pages and a true chapter book rather than picture books–that I either read out loud to the kids or read so as to discuss them with kids who read them too.

What is the best book you read in the first quarter of this year?

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March Read-Alouds

It’s that time again! Below are the chapter books I read aloud to the kids, or read because the kids like me to discuss what they read on their own sometimes. To refresh, my criteria for counting these books is that they be longer (about 100 pages or more) and not strictly picture books. We read aloud tons of picture books and shorter volumes in the course of our school days and for fun, but these review roundups are just for the longer ones.

We absolutely LOVED Tuesdays at the Castle, Jessica Day George’s inventive and captivating book about a plucky princess and her mysteriously metamorphosing castle.  The story includes much adventure, bravery, siblings who get along and help each other, a villain who is bad but not sinister, and of course the great idea of a castle that has a personality and can change itself and its architecture at will.  We found this book enormously entertaining and well written, and were delighted to find out that the author has written a series of which this is the first.  If you’re looking for a book to give to an elementary schooler who is an independent reader, or for a chapter book to read aloud to that age group, I’d highly recommend Tuesdays at the Castle.

The Sign of the Beaver is a FANTASTIC book about a young boy in the wilderness of pre-Revolutionary War Maine who befriends an Indian boy and learns about how to take care of himself and how to judge people by their character rather than their heritage.  I would highly recommend it for boys or girls of elementary age, and maybe even older–I enjoyed it tremendously myself and Hannah read it three times before reluctantly agreeing to return it to the library.  The story is great, the characters are well done, and the action and themes are well matched.  This is a great story that also has historical and literary merit.

Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos is a really fun version of the life of Ben Franklin.  The story is told through the eyes of Franklin’s pet mouse, so while many familiar tales of the biography are included, they are all told as though the mouse was more involved.  So it’s not quite a history book, but if you’ve read about Ben Franklin in other sources you’d probably enjoy this tale.  The text is quite simple and the book is punctuated with fabulous line drawings by Robert Lawson, so it’s well suited for a reader who is just beginning to be comfortable with chapter books, or for a read aloud to younger children.

I collect compilations of Mother Goose, folk tales, and fairy tales, because I think they are so foundational to to understanding literature.  We try to read some of these every day.  It’s always interesting to read how different collections retell the same or similar stories and be reminded of ways that these have influenced other books.  This month we finished reading The Random House Book of Fairy Tales, a collection of 19 tales including some common ones and a few less common.  It makes a great read-aloud because while the stories are pretty long (the whole book is about 200 pages long) they are sprinkled with great illustrations by Diane Goode, who illustrated several of our favorite picture books like Alligator Boy, Christmas In The Country, and When I Was Young in the Mountains.  If you’re looking for a fairy tale read aloud that is a little more involved than a picture book but a little more accessible than the Andrew Lang fairy books, The Random House Book of Fairy Tales would be a good choice.

The Saturdays is a funny story about four siblings who decide to pool their allowances so they can each do something big and memorable in turn.  Because it’s set in the late 1940s/early 1950s timeframe, the kids are allowed out alone in New York City to visit art exhibits, the circus, and so forth.  They have adventures and get into scrapes and set fires and whatnot, all while being a good example of how siblings can also be friends.  We all enjoyed this story, and laughed out loud quite a bit.  We’re happy that it’s the first in a series, and we’re looking forward to reading the other stories in the quartet.

Hannah and I (separately) read Lois Lenski’s Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison in the course of learning about the French and Indian Wars, and we had a really great discussion about the different ways that colonial captives reacted to their time in Native American tribes.  Unlike the main character in Calico Captive (reviewed last month), the little girl in Indian Captive chose to stay with the tribe that adopted her, and she never returned to life as a colonist.  Both books were based on true stories of real women, so we talked about the factors that made each girl choose differently.

When we studied Phillis Wheatley, Hannah and I read Freedom’s Pen: A Story Based on the Life of Freed Slave and Author Phillis Wheatley.  The book conveyed historical information well, and gave a good sense of Wheatley’s faith and the awkwardness of her position as a slave yet being treated sort of as part of her owners’ family.  It was an interesting time as far as consciousness about slavery was concerned–with many white people at that time not believing that African slaves could be taught to read or even had souls–and the book was sensitive to the contradictions facing slaveholders who were also people of faith.  I was astounded to think of Wheatley’s gifts.  Brought to America as a seven-year-old, Wheatley learned English, learned to read and write, read extensively in difficult classics, and then wrote her own poetry by the age of 12.  More amazing was the way that God used her gifts to change people’s minds about slavery.  I’d recommend this book for elementary readers who are studying the Revolutionary War time period, because it gives a different perspective than most history books but is also engaging as a story.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate tells the story of a funny eleven year old girl living in rural Texas at the turn of the twentieth century.  As the only girl in a family with seven children, Calpurnia is pretty scrappy, and when her grandfather, a Civil War veteran and amateur naturalist, gets her interested in science, the ladylike activities of making lace and planning to be a debutante become even less appealing.  The rapid changes of the time period (telephones, automobiles, etc) parallel the questions of how Calpurnia will find her way in the world.  Hannah and I had a good talk about how girls can be scientists and go to college but still need to know how to cook and do laundry (and boys do too!) and how sharpening skills of observation can be helpful for several occupations Hannah is considering, namely being a scientist, detective, and writer.

What great books have you been reading aloud or with your kids?  I’m always looking for recommendations!

 

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