Book Recommendations, Parenting

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Twenty-six years ago, my husband’s co-worker recommended a fictionalized juvenile biography. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Latham became an immediate favorite. I read it to our sons and insisted my husband read it during his bus ride to work.

As a child, Nathanial Bowditch constantly overcame obstacles pursuing an education. As an adult, he faced danger sailing internationally after the American Revolution.

However, I believe the life lessons flowing seamlessly from the narrative were the reasons for the book’s impact. Serving others, duty, self-directed learning, perseverance, perspective, the value of teaching, the non-academic benefits of education, and patience with people of different talents were learned, and later, modeled by Nathanial as he struggled from childhood through adulthood.

I’m just like a chair you stumble over in the dark,” Elizabeth said. “It isn’t the chair’s fault, but you kick it anyway.

Nat blinked. “What are you talking about?”

Your brain. It’s too fast. So you stumble on other people’s dumbness. And—you want to kick something.

But you shouldn’t because even if people are dumb, they aren’t chairs are they?”

… He always remembered how she said, “Your brain—it’s too fast.” He would bite back his impatience.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, Jean Latham

Any book recommendations?

Book Recommendations, Winter

Winter Book Flood

Icelanders read the night away on Christmas Eve. (See Here for Christmas Book Flood) Our family never read the night away, but one winter, we did read the day away. My youngest still remembers the book I read aloud in its entirety—Trapped by the Winter Storm. Coincidentally, that son now lives near the setting of this favorite.

If I had children at home these days, I would officially declare a Winter Book Flood. What would I read aloud? Below are my favorites in order of difficulty.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Brave Irene by William Steig, Winter Story, and The Secret Staircase, both by Jill Barklem.

The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson, Trapped by the Winter Storm by Aileen Fisher, The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Prairie School by Lois Lenski, and Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. As a bonus, the first two teach about animals’ winter needs while the remainder teach history.

Giving myself “permission” to read the day away was a great winter gift.

Ready to declare a Winter Book Flood?

Book Recommendations, Homeschooling

One-Word Summaries

I wish I had read Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning by Rick Wormeli before I homeschooled. (See my favorite technique Here)

My second favorite technique is One-Word Summaries, which is not easy as many writers have noted.

I have made this (letter) longer because I have not had time to make it shorter.*

Pascal Translated from French

A One-Word Summary is simply choosing one word to summarize the lesson’s topic and explaining the choice. This method also works with favorite books, Scripture passages, best friends, trips.

Choosing requires processing an experience.  Eliminating excess words gets to the heart of a matter.

My husband chose “honor” to describe last year’s trip to Oklahoma.We traveled to honor an inheritance and the man who left it to me.

Explaining solidifies the understanding. We treated my uncle’s possessions and wishes with respect. We did our best to make sure his desires were satisfied.

Which one word summarizes your childhood? Your parenting? Your homeschooling experience?

*Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain—among others—have used variations of Pascal’s statement.

Book Recommendations, Homeschooling, Memories, Parenting

Memory: Prime 1 and Prime 2

When I play a concentration game, why I do I remember the first card I turn over? Always.

Why does the first day of vacation stand out from the rest? Why do I remember my first child’s milestones better than his siblings? Or my first vegetable garden when I was newly married?

I learned the answer after my boys were in college. I discovered Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning by Rick Wormeli. 

Research proves that we remember best what we experience first, and we remember second best what we experience last—also known as Prime 1 and Prime 2. That is why pastors, teachers, and motivational speakers begin and end with memorable scripture passages or examples.

Along the way, I should have started and ended lessons with my major points. Even more, now I should begin and end my day with what is most important.

What is your Prime 1 and Prime 2?

Book Recommendations, Christmas, Winter

Jolabokaflod: Christmas Book Flood

Books are not only treasured as Christmas presents in Iceland, they are also given in abundance. For Icelanders, the holiday season begins with the delivery of Bokitidindi, the catalog of the new books published in Iceland that year.  Citizens pour over the catalog for their Christmas selections.

After the books are exchanged on Christmas Eve, everyone snuggles down with hot cocoa and reads the night away. The occasion is called Jolabokaflod which translates roughly to Christmas Book Flood.

The closest our family came to a Jolabokaflod was when my husband unwrapped a Field of Dreams DVD one Christmas Eve and all five us piled into our queen bed to watch it. A favorite memory. Books with hot cocoa would have been even better.

Of all the things I wish I had known—before my children were grown and scattered— Jolabokaflod is probably the most fun and bonding. Christmas Eve is too full with our established traditions, but I would have declared another day,  perhaps New Year’s Book Flood.

Interested in a new tradition?