Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Literature’

Since a number of you have read my article in this summer’s edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, “Crossing the Educational Rubicon: Charlotte Mason through High School” some questions have been posed to me since the article has variations from my Ancient History Through Literature Study Guide.  So I will clarify some things here as well as give you some things to be looking for as the upcoming school year unfolds.

First of all, the Ancient History Study Guide will stand quite well on its own, and there is no need to supplement or enhance unless you chose to do so.  Since my experience in teaching these various subject areas is always evolving and since the world of book publishing is continually changing, I often discover new jewels that can be added to a particular historical period that either weren’t available when I wrote the guide or I just didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to attempt them. Such is the case regarding the ancient period, as in the last few years countless titles have come out for young people on the various topics related to the classical world of ancient Sumer, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Also, I recently had the privilege of working with a wonderful and experienced teacher team-teaching this period to a class of high school girls!  That aroused a whole new level of research, interest, and delight in discovering the treasures of the ancients.  One work that was particularly meaningful was the Epic of Gilgamesh by Geraldine McCaughrean. McCaughrean–a British author, has been awarded the Whitbread Prize on the three occasions, as well as the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award.  As a contemporary children’s author you cannot attain a much higher level of honor and recognition for a body of work. So I recommend her highly and in the case of the Epic of Gilgamesh, she offers a wonderful way to introduce this historical work to your student in her book, Gilgamesh the Hero.

In the world of epic literature, Gilgamesh stands as the very first, and as a literary work offers a valuable way to introduce and learn the stages of the heroic quest (also referred to as the Hero’s Journey), a series of events that every heroic figure must go through to apotheosis or catharsis.  Once you’ve learned the hero’s quest you will never look at literature in the same way.  Indeed, analyzing heroic figures from the Bible takes on a richer and deeper meaning as well.  See my previous blog posting entitled “What is the Heroic Quest? under Ancient History.  So for those introducing this for the first time I recommend McCaughrean’s book or those teaching high school level can opt for a recent translation by David Ferry. Do preview before delving into this with your student.  Now, the exciting part is that in 3-4 weeks we will be offering a downloadable ebook with study notes for this epic which will make this approachable and user friendly.  So watch the blog for announcements.  We will also be working on notes for the Stanley Lombardo translations of both the Iliad and the Odyssey and making those available in the fall as well.  I will continue to post more on this topic in the coming days related to teaching this at the high school level and using the works of Edith Hamilton and Stanley Lombardo for those teaching at the high school level.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

For those of you who love the D’Aulaire biographies I think you’ll be interested to read the following article which concerns the New York Public Librarian who first established the children’s library in America–Anne Carroll Moore. While she was the inspiration for Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire to first write and illustrate children’s books, her relationship with another beloved author–E.B. White was less than amiable. After having urged him for years to write a children’s book, she became his most stalwart critic and literally banned Stuart Little from the NY Public Library. Interesting and distressing, but true. E.B. White’s ability to stand in the face of her unremitting resistance to his work is a lesson for all of us in staying true to your mission and vision. If he hadn’t, one of the world’s most priceless and beloved children’s tales–Charlotte’s Web, would never have been written. Here is the link:
The Lion and the Mouse (more…)

Read Full Post »

I’ve just returned from CHEA–which for those readers outside of California is the California Home Educators annual conference held in Pasadena.  I spoke there a number of times and had the delightful opportunity to connect with many of you and I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog so we can continue to keep in touch!  We talked and talked and talked some more about good books and it was wonderful to hear your stories about how good books have changed your lives!  One beautiful young mother came up and shared how hearing me talk about the power of good books a few years ago had totally changed the direction of her family’s home schooling journey and delightfully so.  They decided to scrap the textbooks and entered on the wonderful journey of literature!  Thank you, Monica for sharing!  Loretta persevered in her commitment to the power of literature over a traditional academic approach despite the often disparaging comments of friends–you know, the “What do you actually do for school?” “Well, we read great literature.”  “Oh . . . really–is that all?”  Loretta’s disparaging friends were quite surprised to find her literature rich son accepted to West Point where he is currently in his third year.  Many testimonials like this encouraged us to continue to press on sharing our passion and commitment to the canon of literature for its own sake.

So here’s another all-time favorite for summer reading, family read-aloud, character building books.  This one is particularly dear to my heart because it offers fathers a sure bet for a read-aloud experience they will look forward to each night!  Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers is the powerful true story of young Ralph Moody, who in 1906 moves from New Hampshire to Colorado with his family.  Through young Ralph’s eyes we experience the hair-raising adventures of a passionate, impetuous young boy as he and his father attempt to carve out a ranching life amidst the perils of tornadoes, water wars, flash floods, and grinding poverty.  Ralph’s perspective offers a lens into the character of a father committed to raising Ralph to be honest at his core. The tender pathos of their conversations, the father’s profound strength when faced with overwhelming difficulties and his devotion to his son all offer lessons rare in our day.

The sequel to Little Britches is Man of the Family.  Following this there are 5 more titles in the series.  Every family should experience the wonder of these books at some time in the life of their family.  We are currently reading Man of the Family to our daughters aged 10 and 15.  They love them and beg for more most nights (excepting the ones where we don’t get to read-aloud time till after 9 or 10 pm!  Well, it is summer after all!).  For our family, this is probably the third time over the years reading this series and repeated readings only increases our devotion. If you’ve enjoyed these books with your family, please let us know your thoughts and how these books impacted you.

Read Full Post »

Hi!  My name is Rebecca and I’m Rea’s eldest daughter.  As she’s been busy with lots of projects she’s asked me to write some guest entries for her book blog.  As a bibliophile myself, I am happy to jump in!  I have my own blog over at http://scottybecca.wordpress.com where I write about my life in Scotland, books I love, and anything else that piques my interest.

I am excited to be doing a series of entries over the next few weeks on some of my favorite summer reads – ranging from picture books to literary classics.  Today we get to explore the world of picture books, an area that holds a special place in my heart. One should never outgrow a good picture book – the beauty of a simply crafted story accompanied by creative illustrations, these are books for all ages.

The Obadiah Books by Brinton Turkle: Thy Friend, Obadiah, Obadiah the Bold, and Rachel and Obadiah

These books were staples of my childhood, bringing alive a time and place far from my experience.  Set during the height of the whaling age these stories feature the Starbuck family, Quakers living on Nantucket amidst all the hustle and bustle of a vibrant shipping port community.  Obadiah, the youngest son, is the main protagonist and he’s very much a classically mischievious boy.  Brinton Turkle wrote and illustrated each of these books with a specific purpose in mind: “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.”  As a child, I never suspected these stories of being subversive – they were just good stories that worked into my small brain the ideas of kindness and generosity and courage.  The best stories are like that – they teach great lessons without being didactic.

Illustration from Obadiah the Bold

Turkel’s illustrations are so charming and I can remember looking at each detail as a child.  Although these were often read aloud to me, I also loved reading them myself, making them perfect for summer.

Wilfrid Gordon Mcdonal Partridge by Mem Fox was a newer discovery for me and I loved it from the first time I saw it.  How could I not?  The illustrations of delightfully rumpled children living in realistically messy houses are charming.

Illustration from Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

I remember hoping that the story was good enough to justify such great illustrations and was delighted to discover that the story is a treasure.  Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, who isn’t very old, is best friends with Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, who is very old.  In his heroic attempt to help Miss Nancy find her “lost” memory, Wilfrid has all sorts of adventures and the story beautifully illustrates the friendships that can exist across all ages.  Charming, whimsical, and moving, this is one of my all-time favorites.

The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola

Another later discovery, this book is a bit heart-wrenching.  The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola is based on an old Italian legend about a clown who offers the Christ Child the gift of his talent and the miracle that follows.  Much like the story of the widow’s mite it’s a good reminder that the best gift one can give is the gift of self.  I am also taken with the illustrations which seem to me to model those of stained glass windows.

Illustration from the Clown of God

As a side note, I love this book but do recognize that the ending can be upsetting.  Please preview it before sharing it with especially sensitive children.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen is a great bedtime story.  It’s as quiet as a wintery night and speaks of the special relationship between a young child and her father.  Expansive illustrations play well with the sparse text giving the story a bigness that is uncommon in a children’s book.

Illustration from Owl Moon

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into some of my favorite picture books.  I will be back with more and in the mean time, please share your favorite picture books.  I would love to hear about what you’ve been reading, what books you loved as a child, and even what books you’re planning on reading this summer.  I’m sure the other readers would love to hear too – so share your thoughts.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: