• books,  the ethical life

    19th Century Children’s Literature and the Obsession with Self-Improvement

    White lies – those little lies one tells to be polite. Do you encourage your children to tell them? Do you let them claim a prior engagement to get out of an invitation? Do you let a child blame a parent to avoid insulting a friend? I’ve wondered about that…. my mom always told me I could use her as an excuse any time I needed, and I appreciated that, though I don’t think I did it much. My children have more hesitancy about telling falsehoods than I. They dislike the very idea. Charlotte May Young’s introduces the topic in her book Countess Kate. It is a children’s novel written…

  • Picture of the book Fever 1793, and the text "Learning through Literature: a guest blog post"
    books,  homeschooling

    Learning Through Literature: Epidemics in World History with Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson

    This guest post has been written by Yvie, who blogs at Homeschool On the Range. World history has been shaped by its epidemics…cholera, smallpox, influenza, yellow fever, the plague, and now coronavirus are just a few diseases that have swept entire nations.  What exactly is a pandemic, and how does it differ from an epidemic? In this literature-based unit study, Yvie Field, author at Homeschool On the Range, is taking middle and high schoolers on a thrilling ride through the major epidemics in world history.  You can assign the reading and classwork to one student, or read the book aloud and learn together as a family! Vocabulary Words miasma, bilious,…

  • Cover picture from A Flight of Angels
    Biblical history,  books

    Book Review: A Flight of Angels

    When you hear the word “angel” what do you find yourself thinking? Guardian angel? Angel of death? Messengers of God? Fallen angels? Heavenly beings? In the graphic novel A Flight of Angels the fate of an unconscious angel is in the hands of a young enslaved fawn. A variety of other magical creatures gather and share stories about who they believe angels are, before the angel’s fate is decided. It is a strange mix of stories, each representing something of the person who tells it and exploring one aspect of how people have envisioned angels. Unfortunately the book has tons of unnecessary nudity, as one of the story tellers is…

  • Picture of the author, Eileen Moynihan, and her poetry book A Posy of Wild Flowers

    Talking with author and poet Eileen Moynihan

    My questions are written without italics. Eileen Moynihan’s responses are in italics. How many books have you written? My latest book is my 6th children’s book and I have also done a collection of poetry for adults. I know you live in Ireland. Are any of the children’s books set in Ireland? Not specifically. Some of them could be in several countries. ‘Hattie and Jacques Love London’ is set in London, England and mentions Paris, France. My latest book, ‘A Posy of Wild Flowers’ has wild flowers found in Ireland and the U.K; but the flower names are also in Irish. Why did you decide to switch from stories to…

  • Picture of the book Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    books,  history,  homeschooling,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  politics

    Little House on the Prairie Books and the Problem of Messy History.

    It is a perennial questions in homeschool circles, whether one should read the Little House on the Prairie books with one’s kids or whether the racism in it makes those books ones that should be put aside. The books have the heroine’s mother saying “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” and one of them has the father engaging in blackface. I started reading the Little House books with my oldest child sometime before he turned six. I had forgotten about what they contained. We came to one of the first examples of racism in it and he said no way would he listen to the rest of the…

  • Biblical history,  books

    Book Review: Josiah and the Theocrats

    If the Bible was written by humans, would it not be susceptible to the same corruption that drives so much of human existence? Different groups of Christians will argue others have twisted it for political purposes, but what if the texts themselves arose from political purposes, and what if those purposes were neither noble nor loving? That’s one of the questions that seems to underly the plot of Josiah and the Theocrats. The book is set in 623 – 622 BCE, at the time of King Josiah of Judah. The book is written with a focus on Shaphan, the king’s secretary, charged with bringing a long-lost religious text forward to…

  • books,  geekiness

    images of giftedness in G. K. Chesterton

    I’m on a G. K. Chesterton binge right now, reading a variety of his books. Reading the books is a refreshing exercise. I have to concentrate on it. One cannot skim his books. Each sentence has such meaning and yet each gets more meaning from the sentences around it. That seems such an obvious thing to say. but it really I can read a paragraph or two and then sit and reflect upon what it means. I keep finding within Chesteron’s works descriptions about intellectual giftedness. Since the challenge of being a gifted adult is a topic of interest to me, I thought I’d share these passages with you. From the…

  • books

    Conversations to go with three great picture books

    I am loving that my youngest is excited about picture books. There was just a little while where she didn’t care much for us reading to her, and her brothers were into chapter books, but now she’s right back into picture books. Three of the books we read recently struck me as being really interesting. They all had some aspect in which the limits of what the characters know becomes apparent. It led to some interesting conversations. There were other things I liked about the books too, so I’m dusting off the old blog and writing about them. (There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through to…

  • books

    picture books as writing prompts

    I like to look for library books that are easy to expand and build off of. I like books that the can be turned into games, philosophy discussions, or writing prompts. The following are two that are easy to use for writing prompts for children. Links from the book titles are affiliate links. Unnatural Selections by Wallace Edwards This book contains a series of pictures showing fantastical mixed up creatures like a whalephant. For each two page spread there is a couplet about the featured creature, its name and what two or more animals it is based off of. The original animals are hidden (or not so hidden) within each…

  • books,  geekiness

    Superman Grounded: a comic book about despair and hope

    I’ve read two good blog posts recently on using children’s books to help counter the despair people feel about the world today. One is a post over at Steam Powered Classroom, where Gwyn speaks about how children’s books embody the best parts of humanity.  She writes that children’s books “serve as the proverbial angel on the shoulder, whispering in young ears stories of kindness, of struggle, of the human condition.” Then there’s a post at Books, Babies and Bows about sharing books about peace as a counter to the depressive nature of world news. I think back to what I wrote in August about struggling to be available for my…