The Week In Books, No. 42

On Heather L.’s recommendation, I read Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey
by Alison Weir, and greatly enjoyed it. The novel is an exceptionally well-researched book about Lady Jane Grey, who was reluctantly Queen of England for eight short days between Henry VIII’s children Edward and Mary. The time period is fascinating, and Weir did an excellent job of presenting the culture and customs of the era in the midst of telling the story. She used many of Jane Grey’s own writings in the dialog, which lends credence to the book and gives depth to the portrayal of the characters.

I would recommend this book, and plan to read others by the same author (I think I may have read her book on the children of Henry VIII already, a few years ago, but I’m not positive.)

Finally I finished A Chance to Die,
which is Elisabeth Elliot’s biography of Amy Carmichael. I found it a bit dry at points, but overall it was informative and instructive. I was a little surprised at some of the points Elliot made about Carmichael, such as how AC loved the lighter skinned Indian babies best, and how AC was dictatorial and often wrong on pretty major points (like husbands and wives living together).

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind
by Jessie Wise is a first and second grade language/English/grammar curriculum geared toward home-schoolers. It’s completely scripted, which gave me some insight into how one might teach concepts like narration, but I thought the scripting would get annoying after a while. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with scripting, I think I’m just not the kind of person who can deal with it. The lessons are very short, and actually I would think you could start them with a three or four year old with no problem. Of course, compared to most schools, this book is way over the 1st and 2nd grade levels. As I recall, most of my first grade class didn’t even know the alphabet at the beginning of the year. Anyway, I don’t think I’ll use this book when the time comes. I’d rather use real art and better literature and poetry. That said, it was still interesting to read the book and get a feel for the author’s particular teaching style. I also liked this quote from her introduction:

I believe we underestimate what children are capable of learning. Our ideas are influenced by the school model, which aims most of its instruction at what it considers to be the largest population – the “average child.” But when we teach to the average, we train our children to be…average. Instead, we can grow children who exceed the average by exposing them to above-average content – as long as that content is taught patiently, frequently, and consistently, and is reviewed often.

It’s probably really annoying to homeschooling moms when moms whose kids aren’t old enough for school yet review homeschool materials. I’m sorry. 🙂

Currently Reading:
Psalms, Ezekiel, Mark, Romans
“Jane Eyre” (out loud to Hannah and sometimes Jack when he’s available)
“Heaven at Home” by Ginger Plowman
“Local Flavors” by Deborah Madison

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