Sunday, January 29, 2017

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

Anita is a little girl growing up under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Its written like the diary of a pubescent girl and frankly focuses far too much on puberty to the point of annoyance.
The story of communist oppression, tyranny, and revolution in the Dominican Republic needs to be told. This book didn't do it.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

This book is a compelling, well-written, fictional story. The overarching theme for me is that when we harm others, we harm ourselves.
However,  I decided that it's one I wouldn't choose to use at school. While the book makes several important points, I think when talking about this topic with young people, I will choose an non-fiction section.
This is a heartbreaking topic and an important topic and I wouldn't want a young person to think, "this is just a story."
Still, to those who are familiar with the real history, this story has something to add to the way we think about these kinds of events.

Monday, January 16, 2017

First Women by Kate Andersen Brower

This book wasn't my favorite.  It's kind of like reading a gossip rag about these women who are put under a microscope. I just felt bad for them. It seems like a lot of them weren't married to very nice men. It's no wonder so many of them supported ERA.  But, like any gossip rag, it's difficult to know how accurate it is.
I'm happy to move on to another book.

Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea is a perfect film. I loved everything about it.  The art is gorgeous.  The music is beautiful.  The story is tender and sweet.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

God's Smuggler by John & Elizabeth Sherrill

This is a book I read right before Christmas 2016, but I keep thinking about it and wanted to at least note a couple of quotes that caught my attention from the book.

“I became aware of the slow wearing-down process the government was exerting on Christians. The effort seemed to be centered on the children. Leave the old folks alone, but wean the young people away from the Church. One of the first churches Nikola and I visited was a Roman Catholic one in a small village not far from Zagreb. I noticed that there was not a single person under twenty in the entire congregation, and I asked Nikola about it. In answer he introduced me to a peasant woman who had a ten-year-old son. “Tell Brother Andrew why Josif is not here,” said Nikola. “Why is my Josif not with me?” she asked. Her voice was bitter. “Because I am a peasant woman with no education. The teacher tells my son there is no God. The government tells my son there is no God. They say to my Josif, ‘Maybe your Mama tells you differently, but we know better, don’t we? You must remember that Mama has no education. We will humor her.’ So? My Josif is not with me. I am being humored.”
― Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler

But God is never defeated. Though he may be opposed, attacked, resisted, still the ultimate outcome can never be in doubt. Every day we see fresh proof that indeed all things, even evil ones-- work together for those who are called in his name. ~Brother Andrew

Friday, January 06, 2017

Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto

Weapons of Mass Instruction is a difficult book to read as an educator, but having been schooled in the public schools there's no question many of his points resonated. However,  I don't agree with every argument because I believe children take the reigns of their agency at varied stages and that it is the responsibility of adults to:

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Gospel instruction teaches us to write the words of God upon our hearts, to feast upon the word of God and to serve that feast to the children in our charge. And, I agree with the founders that character education is imperative. Children do not teach themselves or their peers correct principles in my experience. Also, I have found that the ability to study all knowledge in one changes everything and that combining the fire of truth and the fire of learning build something greater together.

Still, this is a book has great wisdom and many thoughts not just worth considering, but worth acting upon.

I've concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves. ~John Taylor Gatto

Thursday, January 05, 2017


Sisters ❤

The Boy on the Wooden Box

The Boy on the Wooden Box is the story of a man who, as a boy, was saved from Nazi death camps by Oscar Schindler.
This book handles a challenging topic in an age appropriate way, in my opinion.  Read in a classroom setting,  there's great opportunity for rich discussion about the topics of character, courage, and charity.

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.  ~The Talmud

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Come on Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody

A great story about a beat up horse that no one thinks much of and the beat up people he carries with him on his monumental journey to win the Triple Crown. Full of character building wisdom, Moody's writing has an optimistic Horatio Alger quality that makes this is a great read for almost anyone, especially those who love horses. I love this book.

A little bit about Tom Smith, Seabiscuit's friend and trainer HERE...

Monday, January 02, 2017

The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe

Last year I made a goal to read a great book each week. I almost made it. I didn't quite finish two on my list. This year I plan to repeat that goal and add a paragraph or so about the book.

The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe is my first book of 2017 and a short read. Wolfe sermonizes about the shallow evidence Darwin brought to his still shallow theory that is considered granite solid in public schools and much of the scientific community, but which falls apart when the smallest bit of logic is applied. Wolfe sites the time frame and the millennia which can't account for the evolution of human speech.

He is critical of the linguist Noam Chomsky as well and the assumptions he has presumed to pass as science for half a century.

In the end, he correctly assigns the followers of Darwin and Chomsky as religionists as he, an atheist, remains a man whose faith resides solely in himself.

To say that animals evolved into man is like saying that Carrara marble evolved into Michelangelo's David. ~Tom Wolfe

There's a great review of the book in the Financial Times HERE