I am a lover of children's books and for the past 20 years have worked as a publisher of classic and historical children's literature. I design curriculum for helping teachers and parents teach history, geography, and culture using the best children's books available. I attempt to follow the spirit and model of a Charlotte Mason Approach using "living books" at all levels. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simmons College in Boston and a graduate degree in Children's Literature from Simmons College as well.
During the soirée weekend, one of the guests remarked on how lovely it is to sit in an actual dining room to share a meal with friends. (Modern open floor plans often eliminate dining rooms.) It reminded me that ten years ago this month, I had the lifetime delight of renting a flat in Paris (with a dining room!) and enjoying a special time with a revolving cast of friends who came through and spent time with me in this amazing city! This post I had started a decade ago, but never finished, so I’m posting it today for a few reasons. The first is that, for a long time, we haven’t been able to gather around a table with friends, but now we can! So, I’m encouraging you to plan that dinner party you’ve been procrastinating on and give the beautiful gift of a meal around a table. You won’t regret it.
Secondly, with Easter celebrations approaching, both of the following dishes–Beef Bourguignon or Moules Crême FraÎche would make a wonderful Easter celebration. Both of these recipes are available in Around the World with Picturebooks Part IIin the French section. Or if that’s unavailable, you can follow Julia Child’s recipe for the Beef Bourguignon or any Moules à la marinière recipe for the mussels (but do thicken with crême fraÎche)! Bon appetite!
From April 2012: Well, as many of my readers know, I’ve been in Paris now for two full weeks, and this is the first morning we are taking a break from tourist sites. It is a dreary Paris day, with intermittent hail, consistent rain, and bracing wind that makes pounding the streets, cobblestone or not, not an inviting option today. We have stood in a number of long lines to see some fabulous sights, despite rain, and biting cold winds off the Seine. A highlight was the Robert Doisneau exhibit–a remarkable French photographer of last century who captured iconic images of French life–particularly the common man. Remarkably, despite having to wait a long time in the rain and cold for this exhibit, the girls have not complained and my traveling companions have been hearty and unflinching! There have been some truly remarkable highlights, but as cooking in Paris has been a long held dream, I’m stopping here.
My dream has been to have a flat where I could cook some traditional French dishes after shopping at the local farmer’s markets. I’ve been able to realize that now in the joy of cooking some fresh Coquilles St. Jacques, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Moules crème fraîche Normandie (my name for mussels cooked in crème fraîche from Normandy). My inspiration for the latter dish came from having had this marvelous dish after visiting Monet’s home in Giverny on a crisp October day last year, and then being given two special gifts. One was a dvd from my daughter, titled “Monet’s Table” after the book of the same name given me by a dear friend (see above). So now, with the aid of the local poissonnier (who sold me both gorgeous coquilles and moules), I have had the distinct pleasure of making them with authentic Normandy butter and crème fraîche. But don’t despair–you can now buy Normandy butter at Whole Foods. While I would not recommend making a habit of it, (it is so delicious it’s impossible to stop sampling it!) but for a special occasion it is truly wonderful! Served with crusty hot French bread with either of these two dishes will make for a worthy feast for a beautiful Easter. Joyeuses Pâques!
Rea & Julie’s Soirée Saturday, April 2, 2022 9 am–4:30 pm Location: The Monday Club–1815 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Early Bird price $125.00 (tickets purchased by March 26). Tickets purchased after March 26–$150.00
With over a half century of educational experience between them, Rea Berg and Julie Bogart bring together a passion for beauty, authenticity, and cultivating meaningful relationships with our families and communities through a journey of lifelong learning. They look forward to sharing a beautiful day with you at the historic Monday Club in San Luis Obispo.
• Growing Wise Kids: Beyond Tests, Teachers, and Textbooks by Julie Bogart • Teaching American History in a Time of Cultural and Historical Reckoning by Rea Berg
• How to Become Really Smart Reading Children’s Books by Rea Berg
• Read, Experience, Encounter: A Real Education by Julie Bogart
Rea Berg is the founder of Beautiful Feet Books which has been providing quality literature to parents and teachers for nearly four decades. She is responsible for bringing back into print the classic works of Genevieve Foster, the D’Aulaires, Mitsumaso Anno, Brinton Turkle, James Daugherty and many more. Her award-winning guides–Around the World with Picture Books, Around California with Children’s Books, Early American History Through Literature, Geography Through Literature, and many others have brought joy to the study of the humanities to countless teachers and students. Rea holds a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College in Boston. She resides in San Luis Obispo, California.
Julie Bogart is known for her commonsense parenting and education advice. She’s the author of the beloved book, The Brave Learner, which has brought joy and freedom to countless home educators. Her new book, Raising Critical Thinkers, offers parents a lifeline in navigating the complex digital world our kids are confronting. Julie’s also the creator of the award-winning, innovative online writing program called Brave Writer, now 22 years old, serving 191 countries. She home educated her five children who are globe-trotting adults. Today, Julie lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and can be found sipping a cup of tea while planning her next visit to one of her lifelong-learning kids.
Sessions: Teaching American History in a Time of Cultural and Historical Reckoning by Rea Berg In the grand arc of history, we have widely accepted narratives–those stories that give meaning and purpose to who we are as a people–our beliefs, customs, and traditions. In times of historical shift, those meta-arcs can be held up to a new light, new questioning, and reordering. If the grand arc has moral and ethical substance and weight, it will likely stand the test of time. Teaching America’s history during these times of reckoning is challenging. It can also be fascinating, providing the basis for helping ourselves and our students become better judges of human nature while avoiding judgmentalism. It can help us to better understand ourselves and others which ultimately leads to compassion and empathy.
Growing Wise Kids: Beyond Tests, Teachers, and Textbooks by Julie Bogart How can parents create a culture of thinking well at home? Should they teach their children their own beliefs? Should they protect their kids from the “wrong” ideas? How can parent help their kids sift through the firehose of information coming at them wherever they spend time—with friends, at school, at home, and streaming from their televisions and computers? In this session, Julie overturns the belief that traditional education is adequate for learning to think well. She will offer practical activities and helpful insights to support your kids in becoming discerning thinkers no matter where they are or who they meet.
Read, Experience, Encounter: A Real Education by Julie Bogart We’ve been told for years that as long as a child is an excellent reader, that child has everything they need for a robust education. But is that, in fact, true? Julie explores the limits of learning by book and opens the door to two more vital ways to grow a child’s intimacy with any subject they study or any hobby they undertake. Learn how to bring experiences to life and what to do when a child suddenly encounters a challenging viewpoint that upends what they thought they understood before.
How to Become Really Smart Reading Children’s Books by Rea Berg The wealth of beautiful children’s literature available to the modern parent is mind-boggling. Honestly, nearly everything you need to know can be found in a beautifully illustrated and lyrically written children’s book. There are so many children’s books that will make you laugh, cry, and inspire you to be a better person! Let’s look at some of these amazing books and the talented authors and illustrators that have given us the best books!
Important Details: This event is for women only. Only nursing babies six months and under will be allowed in the venue. Tickets are non-refundable, but transferable. We cannot issue refunds, but you are welcome to resell your ticket through social media or other avenues.
Taken at face value, the story of the Pilgrim Fathers has something of the mythic quality about it. The Pilgrims were a harassed people fleeing their homes under cover of darkness, betrayed by a ship’s captain, arrested, left to languish in prison, and separated from their families. Their eventual escape to Holland and their lives as immigrants presented economic, cultural, and social challenges. On their trans-Atlantic crossing to the New World, they suffered the wiles of unscrupulous investors, the near sinking of the Speedwell, the miseries of life “tween decks” for nine long weeks, and treacherous gales upon the sea that split their mast and nearly forced them back to England. Their troubles weren’t over once they reached the New World. There they suffered disease and death. Despite all of this, or perhaps because of all of this, the Pilgrim story echoes across the generations with hope in the midst of heartache, and with promise in the midst of pain.
The story of the Pilgrims is a story of persecution.
Convinced by their understanding of the scriptures that the state-mandated Church of England could not lead them into religious truth, the Pilgrims began meeting in secret. This infuriated King James, and he swore to make these Separatists “conform, or he would harry them out of the land!” Many were arrested and imprisoned. Even the young orphan William Bradford, who joined the Separatists at age 15, was harassed by his own family who threatened to disown him if he continued his association with Separatists. To them he calmly replied:
To keep a good conscience and walk in such a way as God has prescribed in his Word, is a thing which I must prefer before you all and above life itself. Wherefore since it is for a good Cause that I am likely to suffer the disasters which you lay before me, you have no cause to be either angry with me, or sorry for me. Yea, I am not only willing to part with everything that is dear to me in this world for this Cause, but I am thankful that God hath given me heart so to do, and will accept me so to suffer for him.”
It is remarkable that a teenaged boy could make such a proclamation, and yet, it was also predictive of his future. William Bradford did eventually lose nearly everything that was dear to him, excepting his faith. Bradford’s youthful bravado was the type of devotion that enabled the Pilgrims to endure persecution. Ultimately, King James did drive the Separatists out of England.
The story of the Pilgrims is a story of prison andpain.
The Separatists were Englishmen bound over generations by history, culture, and language to their land. Their attachment to the very soil of England and their English identity was deep and profound. Making the choice to leave was wrenching and traumatic. It was a painful choice that could only be rationalized by a new identity. They realized they were no longer just Englishmen, but Pilgrims and sojourners.
Added to the pain of leaving England, was the trauma of the heartbreaking separation of families. In 1608, when the Pilgrims secretly hired a ship to help them escape to Holland, unforeseen events conspired to separate the men from their wives and children. When the ship’s captain saw king’s soldiers approaching the families awaiting the ship on the beach, he panicked and sailed off with only the men aboard. The men were devastated as they watched their beloved wives and children hauled off by the king’s soldiers, completely helpless to do anything. Their pleas to the captain to let them off the ship went unheeded. On the shore, William Brewster was arrested once again and thrown back into prison. The homeless women and children had to find shelter with hospitable neighbors until arrangements could be made once again for the passage to Holland.
The distraught men who sailed to Holland were set upon by a gale that blew their ship mercilessly for a solid week. Given up for lost, the ship finally reached the shores of Norway and eventually Amsterdam. On landing, nineteen-year-old William Bradford was promptly arrested by Dutch authorities. They’d been “informed” by King James’s agent that Bradford was an escaped criminal. The falsehood was eventually cleared up, and Bradford was released as the religious refugee that he was.
The story of the Pilgrims is also a story of providence.
The Pilgrims delight in the freedom of religion they are able to enjoy in Holland. Life in the beautiful city of Leyden is peaceful and in some cases prosperous. Though the former landed gentry of England will never completely adjust to being tradesmen, carpenters, and craftsmen, they are grateful for provision. But for these Pilgrims, being sojourners and citizens of a heavenly kingdom, prosperity and provision is not enough. Fathers and mothers watch their children growing up in this prosperous city with little sense of the destiny they felt when they left all they loved to follow a higher calling. The Twelve-year truce between Holland and Spain is coming to an end, and English sons will soon be drafted into the Dutch army to fight against Spain. Circumstances, especially difficult ones, viewed through the eye of providence can bring perspective.
The Pilgrims choose to follow providence–a strong leading and sense that they are called to something higher. They call it a New Jerusalem in the New World and they begin to discuss, research and plan. The timid ones, those who rightly fear the very real dangers of the wilderness or the great length and hazards of the ocean voyage, are encouraged by none other than that former orphan boy, the man William Bradford. He replies:
All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties; and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages. It was granted the dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties many, but not invincible. For though there were many of them likely, yet they were not certain. It might be that sundry of the things feared might never befall; others, by provident care and the use of good means, might in a great measure be prevented; and all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might be either borne or overcome.”
Again, Bradford’s words prove prophetic. Through careful planning, many obstacles are overcome. But some cannot be foreseen and must be suffered through. That includes unscrupulous agents who at the last minute change the terms of their agreement, virtually assigning the Pilgrims to seven years of slavery in exchange for their passage to the New World. This they will not do. So, they must sell much-needed provisions in order to pay the port tax and leave England. Finally, at sea, the Speedwell begins to leak so badly both ships must return to port. Long delays and expenses ensue while the Speedwell is overhauled from stem to stern.
At last the ships depart, once and for all, they believe. But 300 miles out, the Speedwell begins to leak again so badly that the captain can barely keep her afloat. The disheartened Pilgrims return again to shore where the captain concludes the Speedwell is over-masted and unseaworthy. This was suspected to be treachery on the part of the captain and his crew, as they did not really want to sail to America. Now the Pilgrims must abandon one ship, consolidate as best they can on the Mayflower and leave passengers and provisions behind. Valuable time and money have been used up.
At sea, a North Atlantic gale blows up. The Pilgrims pray while the sailors delight in cursing the pious seafarers and their God. But when the main beam buckles under the violence of the storm, it is the Pilgrims who haul out a great iron jack-screw they had brought from Leyden, and fix the buckled beam.
Nine weeks later, on November 20, 1620, the Pilgrims sight land in Cape Cod. But before the Pilgrims can fully give thanks, the captain announces that the treacherous currents around Cape Cod may run the ship into deadly shoals. The Pilgrims pray once again and disaster is averted. As the men explore the land for a suitable habitation, the women and children remain aboard the Mayflower. Sadly, one day, Bradford returns to find his beloved wife Dorothy has fallen overboard and drown. Later, when the Pilgrims are finally able to come ashore and begin to build their shelters, the exposure and lack of provisions have devastating effects. Of the hundred Pilgrims who made the journey, only six or seven remain well enough to care for the sick. By the end of the year, half of the Pilgrims have died.
The saga of the Pilgrims is a saga of persecution, prison, and pain. But it is also a profound saga of perseverance, promise, and providence. By November of 1621, the colony has recovered such that William Bradford proclaims three days of “praise and thanksgiving to God for his mercies to the children of men.” Despite the profound pain, Bradford has the perspective to see God’s providence and provision.
If ever any people in these later Ages, were upheld by the Providence of God, after a more special manner than others, then we: and therefore are the more bound to celebrate the memory of His goodness, with everlasting thankfulness . . . So that when I seriously consider of things, I cannot but think that God hath a purpose to give that land, as an inheritance, to our nation.” –Edward Winslow, Good News from New England, 1623
Dear Readers, I’ve been happily working on a delightful project for the past six weeks to restore the Obadiah books to their original beauty. I’ve loved the Obadiah books since I had little ones in the house, and still have my original copies from 30 years ago, (when the hardbacks were only $3.95!). You may recognize the titles of Rachel and Obadiah and Obadiah the Bold as Beautiful Feet Books has had the privilege of publishing these for a number of years. But a few years ago, it was brought to our attention that the Turkle heirs were becoming concerned about the quality of their father’s works. This is due to the fact that often, with every subsequent printing, the further the edition gets from the original, the greater the deterioration. Serendipitously, the Turkle heirs, in conjunction with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Books, did an exhibit of Brinton Turkle’s work, and it was discovered that for three of the books—the two aforementioned and
Thy Friend, Obadiah that the majority of the original watercolors were available. Since I had an ongoing relationship with the director of the Eric Carle Museum, I suggested to her that Beautiful Feet Books reissue the Obadiah series using these original watercolors. While this is a labor-intensive project, it is just the sort of thing I love to do. In restoring the original beauty, integrity, and clarity of the artist’s work, I feel I have a small part in keeping a bit of history, literature, and art alive for another generation! So, you will see here some examples of the current state of the art with the beauty we have been able to restore.
Finally, I’ll close with a quote from Brinton Turkle that resonates beautifully with the vision I have for children’s literature and the goal we strive for at Beautiful Feet Books.
In writing, I use all sorts of tricks to capture the attention of my young audience: suspense, humor and even charm, when I can muster it. But no matter how successfully I may entertain, I am really up to something else: subversion. My abilities are implacably lined up against the hypocrisy, materialism, and brutality that so pervade our society. As my readers leave childhood behind, I hope that they will carry with them an appreciation for such alternatives as integrity, mutual respect, kindness and reverence for life. These alternatives are in my books, and I pray that exposure to them will play a part in the construction of a better tomorrow.
Thank you to all the friends and literature lovers who have waited patiently for this new study to be available! It has been quite a labor of love, and it is my fond hope that you and your students will have as many happy, enriching, and rewarding times with it, as I have!
So . . . Here goes! Around the World with Picture Books Part I is designed to be a notebook approach to world cultures and geography for the primary student. (Part II will cover South America and Europe and is slated for Winter/Spring 2018). Using beloved children’s books, this guide includes nature study, folk tales, fables, art, poetry, history, and gentle Socratic questions to prompt discussion and discovery.Geographic elements include country maps and flags for students to cut out, paint, or color. The beautifully illustrated Maps by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński acts as the spine of the study and there will be few students that don’t love geography after encountering this work. Beautiful drawings of indigenous animals are included for each country, and will familiarize students with some remarkable creatures, cultivating respect and wonder for the natural world. As the student compiles these elements in a journal, he creates a memorable keepsake recording of all he is learning.
Part One covers Asia, Antarctica, Australia, and Africa.In Asia, we explore China, Japan, Thailand, and India.In Africa, we visit Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana. Each country visited includes additional picture book suggestions as well as biography and history recommendations.Chapters conclude with a fun foray into the cuisine of the country with recipes, photos, and links to create a memorable evening experiencing unique culinary creations from around the world—a perfect time for students to relate to family and friends all that they’ve learned.
All of the books chosen for this study are either classic works, award-winning books, or newer selections that have achieved some critical acclaim. As a primary-level study, the book notes presented here are simple and straightforward with comprehension questions designed to enhance and draw out some of the subtleties or nuances of the books.Most selections included in this guide can stand quite well on their own.The best literature tends to inspire the student’s interest and curiosity to bubble up naturally and often notes are not necessary.
Children take to the study of nature with keen interest and delight.The animals featured in this guide were chosen for their appeal to primary students. Helpful websites and links are included for each animal.Researching a few remarkable facts about each of the creatures will help cultivate a child’s sense of wonder at the marvels of the natural world; allow time to ponder the spectacles of perfect symmetry, function, and design.Even the tiniest creature reveals something marvelous about the mind of the Creator and should inspire awe and reverence.
The notebooks that are included in the Around the World with Picturebooks Pack have been specially chosen for the quality they will bring to your student’s journaling experience.Imported from Japan, the Tsubame Fools Note Book is made from acid-free paper that is beautifully smooth to the touch, does not bleed through, and is lined for beginning writers but can accommodate a student working on cursive as well. With a sewn binding, this notebook lays perfectly flat wherever it is opened, significantly facilitating all the writing and pasting work in the course.
Finally, Around the World with Picture Books Part I goes to the press in just a few days, as we make all the final touches! The good news is that we have a download available now of the first two chapters—China and Japan. This includes all the lessons, geography, history and biography connections, art connections and nature studies. We expect the guide to be available by the third week of September. So check our website at http://www.bfbooks.com and let us know how you like the study! Happy travels!
Rea Berg is passionate about children's books and has been republishing classic and historical children's literature for the last 30 years through her company Beautiful Feet Books. She also designs guides for teaching elementary and secondary students history using award-winning classic and historic literature. She holds both an undergraduate degree in English from Simmons College, Boston as well as a graduate degree in children's literature.