The Importance of Being Awestruck

The GiverTwo things interested me this past week.

The first was that, In anticipation for the movie release last week, I have been re-reading Lois Lowry’s book The Giver. The book was originally written, as are most of Lowry’s books, for a young adult audience, but the concepts it introduces are so profound, The Giver is on my list of books everyone should read, even adults.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I don’t want to give spoilers for either the movie or the book, but the basic premise of the story is that of a utopian society in which there is nothing but “Sameness.” The organization of the society is such that people are not much more than drones with nothing but mildly pleasant memories of their pasts. There is no concept of a history beyond what currently exists. Because of this, there is no emotional pain. But there is no real joy either.

I don’t want to be too metaphysical here, but the book really made me think about the pain of being human and the joy of being alive that offsets that pain. [Read more…]

Top 10 Books on High School Reading Lists

The summer is almost over, but there is still time to get in some valuable summertime reading.

Several years ago, the Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature conducted a study about the most commonly read books in ninth through twelfth grade in public schools, Catholic schools, and in non-parochial independent schools. Surprisingly, the lists for all types of schools were remarkably similar. Many private schools have required summer reading lists, but if you are still looking for some good titles, you may want to start with the ten most commonly read books in private high schools. These titles include a great deal of Shakespeare and time-honored classics such as Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The ten most commonly assigned books in independent schools are as follows: [Read more…]

Father Daughter Bonding Over Books

readingpromisecoverI want to share an inspiring story about a father who read aloud to his daughter every single day for over eight years as an encouragement to continue to read aloud to our children, no matter what their age.

Although we never went to the extreme this father-daughter pair did in our commitment to reading together as a family, we read books aloud to each other whenever we traveled as well as had family times where we would share books aloud or listen to them on audios.

Jim Brozina, a single father and elementary school librarian was reading Beverly Cleary’s Dear Mr. Henshaw aloud to his fourth grade daughter Kathy when she decided to finish the book herself. That was the end of their reading aloud together.

But when his youngest daughter Kristen reached fourth grade, Jim came up with a plan to keep reading together. He proposed “The Streak”—a challenge to see if they could read together 100 bedtimes in a row. So, on November 11, 1997, they began their reading streak with The Tin Woodsman of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

When The Streak reached 100, they both wanted to continue and Kristen urged her father to keep going and try to reach 1,000 nights. [Read more…]

New book – FREE for Mother’s Day

Seeing Angels in Marble_thumbThe great Irish poet William Butler Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Isn’t that what we all aspire to in homeschooling our children—lighting “fires” in their minds and hearts?

But how can your homeschooling “light a fire” in your children’s hearts and minds if you don’t have a real grasp of who each child is, what makes them light up, what their strengths, weaknesses, interests and aversions are?

With our brand new Unconventional Homeschooling Guide, you can learn who your children really are and what motivates them. And to celebrate it’s release, you can get it FREE on Mother’s Day weekend. [Read more…]

eBook Evolution


So many homeschoolers I talk with have told me they would like to write e-books that sometimes I wonder why there aren’t thousands and thousands of books being produced by homeschooling parents and kids. Maybe because nobody knows how to create an e-book. [Read more…]

25 Ways to Talk So Kids Will Listen

conversationTrying to communicate with your children can be a  a hair-pulling exercise. And it’s a crucial skill for homeschooling parents because, unlike our public school counterparts, we are with our children 24/7 which presents an amazing number of opportunities for communication misunderstandings. For that reason I highly recommend the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. It has saved my sanity (and my children’s sanity) many times. It’s a cool little book that breaks down communication with children into a series of best practices with a cartoon format that’s fun to read.

I was looking something up on Google this morning and noticed that someone has compiled the suggestions in the book into a list of “25 Ways to Talk So Kids Will Listen.” I’m not sure exactly who wrote the original article because it’s been posted on the internet a dozen or so times with no attribution, but I think it was originally on Dr. Sears’ website and you can see the original list here.

It is worth repeating, so here ya go! [Read more…]

Daring Greatly in a “Not Enough” Culture

Dare_GreatlyI’ve been reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. My assessment—it’s worthwhile reading, but certainly not worth all the hype it’s been given by Oprah and the media. Most of it is just common sense that she’s backed up by research and built a following around because of her popular TED talks.

But before those of you who love Brene Brown skewer me for my opinions, I’d like to share a little of what she says about shame-based parenting, which I thought was excellent.

Last year I wrote about an incident at Costco where I watched a mother try to shame her little boy into compliance. He was four and having trouble balancing the flimsy cup Costco gives you for soda. So, naturally, being a four year old with a flimsy cup and a wiggly body, he spilled his drink.

[Read more…]