Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Booklist: Living Books on WWII

As we continue with booklists I have put together over the years, today we turn to WWII.

Living Books on WWII

Adler, David A. Picture Book of Anne Frank. Adler’s biographies are decent picture book level introductions. Elementary.

Ambrose, Stephen. The Good Fight. Covers the major battles and movements of WWII in a page each with good writing. He also wrote Band of Brothers and books for adults which could be an option for high school. Elementary +.

Benary-Isbert, Margot. The Ark. Middle years.

Bishop, Claire. Ten and Twenty. Wonderful story. Upper elementary-middle.

Borden, Louise. Across the Blue Pacific, Greatest Skating Race, and Little Ships. Picture books. Elementary.

Bunting, Eve. Terrible Things. Elementary.

Chaconas, Doris. Pennies in a Jar. Elementary.

Coerr, Elizabeth. Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes. Re Japan. Elementary.

Commager, Henry Steele. Story of the Second World War. I like Commager’s books. I am not sure of the level of this one.

Deedy, Carmen. The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark.  Elementary.

Gallaz, Christophe. Rose Blanche. Elementary.

Hughes, Shirley. The Lion and the Unicorn. A Jewish boy in England. Elementary.

Hunter, Sara. Unbreakable Code. Elementary.

Johnson, Angela. Wind Flyers. Picture book. Elementary.

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Middle years.

Lutzer, Erwin. Hitler’s Cross. Hitler’s theology examined. Teens.

Marrin, Albert. A favorite author with a number of books on the war: Uprooted (on the Japanese in the US), The Airman’s War, Hitler, Victory in the pacific, A light in the darkness (re the holocaust), Overlord (re DDay), Secret armies (re code breakers). Teens

McSwigan, Marie. Snow Treasure. Wonderful book. Upper elementary-middle.

Miers, Earl Schenk. Men of Valor. An older author. Middle years (?).

Polacco, Patricia. Butterfly. Elementary.

Seredy, Kate. Chestry Oak. Upper elementary-middle.

Stevenson, James. Don’t You Know There’s a War On? Elementary.

Streatfield, Noel. When the Sirens Wailed. Middle years.

Tunis, John. Silence over Dunkerque. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. Another favorite author with a lot of books on WWI. He has many on specific battles and also The Long Escape (re children in Belgium),  The Uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, and That Denmark Might Live. Middle-teens.

Whelan, Gloria. After the Train and Summer of the War. Whelan has lots of good historical fiction. Middle years.

Booklist: Living Books on the 1920s & 1930s

As we continue with booklists I have put together over the years, today we turn to the period between the World Wars, roughly 1918-1940. 

Living Books on the 1920s and 1930s

The 1918 Spanish Flu 

Lasky, Kathryn. Marven of the Great North Woods. Elementary.

Marrin, Albert. Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. A favorite author. Middle-teens.

The Roaring Twenties

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. You can’t discuss the ’20s without Fitzgerald. Teens.

Hoobler, Dorothy. And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor : The Story of a Roaring ’20’s Girl. Middle years (?).

Prigger, Mary. Aunt Minnie McGranahan. Life in the 1920s. Elementary.

Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows. Not roarin’ but set in the ’20s. Middle years.

The 1930s, the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression

Brown, Fern. When Grandpa Wore Knickers. Life in the early 1930s. Elementary.

Burch, Robert.  Queenie Peavy. Elementary-middle.

Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time. Re the Dust Bowl. I loved this book. Teens.

Gates, Doris. Blue Willow. Life in the ’30s. Middle years.

Hoff, Syd. Scarface Al and His Uncle Sam. Easy reader. From the wonderful author of Danny and the Dinosaur. Elementary.

Lied, Kate. Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression. Elementary.

Marrin, Albert. FDR and the American Crisis and Years of Dust. A favorite author. For international history, also try his Stalin: Russia’s Man of Steel. Middle-teens.

Peck, Richard. Long Way from Chicago and Year Down Yonder. Historical fiction; life in the 1930s. Middle years.

Peterson, Jeanne. Don’t Forget Winona. Elementary.

Stanley, Jerry. Children of the Dust Bowl. Elementary-middle.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. The former is shorter and easier to read. Both are classics. Teens.

Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Middle years.

Turner, Ann. Dust for Dinner. Elementary.

Werstein, Irving. Shattered Decade 1929 and A Nation Fights Back. A favorite author. Middle-teens.

Aviation

Borden, Louise. Good-bye Charles Lindbergh. Elementary.

Dalgliesh, Alice. Ride on the Wind. Re the Spirit of St. Louis. Elementary.

Quackenbush, Robert. Clear the Cow Pasture. Re Amelia Earhart. Elementary.

Ransom, Candice. Fire in the Sky. Re the Hindenburg disaster (1937). Elementary-middle.

Wells, Rosemary. Wingwalker. Elementary.

Architecture/Building

Bunting, Eve. Pop’s Bridge. Re the Golden Gate. Elementary.

Clinton, Patrick. Story of the Empire State Building. From the Cornerstones of Freedom series (be sure to get the older books that begin “Story of . . .”). Elementary.

Movies on the 1930s:

We watched a number of movies relating to this period. The movie industry really took off in the ’30s so one can find both movies made in the ’30s and those set in the ’30s.

Gone with the Wind – Though set in the Civil War and Reconstruction, Margaret Mitchell’s classic was both a best-selling book and movie in the 1930s. I made my kids discuss why people living through the Depression might have been so attracted to this story.

Bonnie and Clyde – Enough humor and violence for my kids. A slightly older movie, it does not really show much nudity or blood but there are a couple of “adult” scenes and Bonnie and Clyde’s deaths at the end are vivid (though again not bloody). The movie does a good job of showing that crime does not pay though it also hints at why people supported outlaws like Bonnie and Clyde at the time.

The Untouchables – Criminal activity was booming in the ’30s. This movie tells the story of Scarface Al Capone and his capture.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? – We watched this a few years ago. It is the story of Homer’s Odysseus set in 1930s America. Humorous and and ultimately wholesome. I don’t remember how much adult content there was, not too much I think. Great soundtrack too.

The Grapes of Wrath – We didn’t want to take the time to read Steinbeck’s (long) classic but the classic movie covers a lot of the bases. My kids enjoyed it.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl – We watched this movie last time we studied this era, when my kids were much younger. I am not a fan of the American Girl franchise but I think this movie is one of their better pieces. When we watched it, our neighbor’s house across the street was being foreclosed on.

To see what people in the ’30s were watching (and for a more wholesome choice), try some Shirley Temple classics. The Little Colonel (set in post-Civil War south) is one of our favorites.

Happy reading (and watching)!

 

Booklist: Living Books on WWI

As we continue with booklists I have put together over the years, today we turn to the Great War, aka World War I.

Living Books on WWI

Buchan, John. The Thirty-Nine Steps. Not specifically about the war but a wonderful, don’t-miss fiction book. Middle-teens.

Granfield, Linda. Where Poppies Grow. Picture book. Elementary.

Harnett, Sonya. Silver Donkey. Set in France. Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert. The Yanks are Coming. Marrin’s books tend to tell all about an era and make good spines for older kids. Middle-teens.

McCutcheon, Patricia. Christmas in the Trenches. Elementary.

Mukerji, Dhan Gopal. Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. Middle years or a good read aloud for younger ones.

Reeder, Red. The Story of the First World War. Middle-teens.

Seredy, Kate. The Singing Tree. Hungarians. Middle years.

Vinton, Iris. Story of Edith Cavell. Re a British nurse. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. Over Here and Over ThereThe Lost Battalion, The Many Face of WWI and 1914-1918: WWI Told in Pictures. If you can find him, Werstein is a wonderful older author. Middle years-teens.

And some movies . . .

I’d also like to mention some movies set in this era. The Humphrey Bogart classic African Queen is set during WWI.

Sergeant York is a fabulous a WWI movie everyone should see.

While looking for things to watch, I also ran across the Young Indiana Jones series. There are apparently two seasons, one set before WWI and one during WWI. From the reviews I read they are high school level for both violence and adult situations. We haven’t watched them but they sounded good.

Nebby

Booklist: the Early 1900s

Today we are looking at books on the early 1900s up to World War I. Some of these topics overlap with my previous list on the late 1800s.

Living Books on the Early 1900s

China and the Boxer Rebellion

Preston, Diana. The Boxer Rebellion. Teens.

Silbey, David. The Great Game in China. Slightly shorter and more accessible than Preston’s book. Teens.

Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909)

Foster, Genevieve. Theodore Roosevelt. Foster’s books made wonderful spines for a wide range of ages. Elementary +.

Fritz, Jean. Bully for You Teddy Roosevelt. Elementary.

Kent, Zachary. The Story of the Rough Riders. Cornerstones of Freedom series. This series is good if you get the older books whose titles all begin “The Story of . . .” Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert. Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Modern America. Teens.

Disasters

Crew, Gary. Pig on the Titanic. Picture book. Elementary.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the San Francisco Earthquake. Cornerstones of Freedom series. This series is good if you get the older books whose titles all begin “The Story of . . .” Elementary-middle.

Women’s Suffrage

Fritz, Jean. You Want Women to Vote Lizzie Staunton. Elementary.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment. Cornerstones of Freedom series. This series is good if you get the older books whose titles all begin “The Story of . . .” Elementary-middle.

Wise, Winfred. Rebel in Petticoats. Middle years (?).

Woolridge, Connie. When Esther Morris Headed West. Elementary.

Immigration and Immigrants

Bartone, Elisa. Peppe the Lamplighter.  Elementary.

Bunting, Eve. Dreaming of America. Elementary.

Estes, Eleanor. The 100 Dresses. A Polish girl in Connecticut. Elementary-middle.

Forbes, Kathryn. Mama’s Bank Account. Norwegian immigrants in San Francisco. Elementary-middle years.

Judson, Clara Ingram. The Green Ginger Jar. A mystery set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Middle years.

Stein, R. Conrad. Story of Ellis Island. Cornerstones of Freedom series. Elementary.

Wells, Rosemary. Streets of Gold. Elementary.

Industry and Invention

Judson, Clara Ingram. Andrew Carnegie. Middle-teens.

Quackenbush, Robert. Along Came the Model T and Ahoy! Ahoy! Are You There? A Story of Alexander Graham Bell. Elementary.

Silverberg, Robert. Light for the World: Edison and the Power Industry. Teens.

Spier, Peter. Tin Lizzie. Elementary.

Yolen, Jane. My Brothers Flying Machine. Elementary.

Factory Life

The Lowell Mill Girls: Life in the Factory. Letters. Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert.  Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy. Marrin manages to tell quite a bit about the whole era. Middle-teens.

Paterson, Katherine Lyddie. Middle years.

Selden, Bernice. The Mill Girls. Middle years.

General Life

Steig, William. When Everybody Wore a Hat. Elementary.

Booklist: the Late 1800s, Pioneers and the West

In my ever-growing lists of living books we are now up to the late 1800s (i.e. post-Civil War). We are including in this period pioneers and the settlement of the west. Some topics which span the turn of the century, including industrialization and immigration, will be saved for the early 1900s list.

Living Books on the late 1800s

Reconstruction

Robinet, Harriette. Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule. Middle years.

Taylor, Mildred. The Land. Book 1 of the Logan family saga. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. This Wounded Land. Middle years-teens.

California Gold Rush

deClements, Barthe. Bite of the Gold Bug. Elementary.

Roop, Connie. California Gold Rush. Elementary.

The Pony Express (1860-1861)

Bulla, Clyde Robert. Riding the Pony Express. Elementary.

Coerr, Eleanor. Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express. Elementary.

Great Chicago Fire (1871)

Hoffer, Peter Charles. Seven Fires: The Urban Infernos that Reshaped America. Teens.

Quackenbush, Robert. They’ll be a hot time… Elementary.

NYC Blizzard of 1888

Stevens, Carla. Anna Grandpa and the Big Storm. Elementary.

Chicago World’s Fair (1893)

Lawson, Robert. The Great Wheel. Elementary.

Peck, Richard. Fair Weather. Middle years.

Blizzard of 1896

Bird, E.J. Blizzard of 1896. Middle years (?).

Spanish American War (1898)

Marrin, Albert. The Spanish-American War. Teens.

Werstein, Irving. 1898: Spanish American War. Middle-teens.

Presidents

Lomask, Milton. Andy Johnson (1865-1869). I really like this older author. Middle-teens.

Venezia, Mike. Venezia has a series of humorous books on the presidents. Elementary.

Pioneers & Pioneer Life

Avi. Prairie School. Elementary (?).

Brinks, Carol Ryrie. Caddie Woodlawn. Don’t miss the sequels too. Elementary-middle.

Bunting, Eve. Dandelions and  Train to Somewhere. Elementary. (re orphan trains). Lovely picture books. Elementary.

Cather, Willa. O Pioneers and My Antonia. I love Cather. Teens.

Caudill, Rebecca. Tree of Freedom. Elementary (?).

Coatsworth, Elizabeth. Sod House. Elementary.

Coerr, Eleanor. Josefina Story Quilt. Easy reader. Elementary.

DeFelice, Cynthia. Weasel (series). We listened to the first one and found it a little freaky so not for the timid child. Middle years.

Fleming, Alice. King of Prussia and a Peanut Butter Sandwich. Russian immigrants make their way to Kansas. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Cabin Faced West. Middle years.

Gregory, Kristiana. Legend of Jimmy Spoon. Middle years.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. Trouble at Otter Creek. Elementary.

Holm, Jennifer. Our Only May Amelia and Boston Jane (series). May Amelia is set in Washington state in 1899. Middle years.

Larson, Kirby. Hattie Big Sky (series). We loved these. Middle years.

MacLauchlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. Check out the rest in the series as well. Elementary-middle.

Rounds, Glen. Sod Houses on the Great Plains. Elementary.

Steele, William O. This favorite author has lots of books on pioneer and Native American life that will appeal to boys. Some are: Flaming ArrowsWinter DangerWestward Adventure, Buffalo Knife and Wilderness Journey. Middle years.

Stein, R. Conrad. Story of the Homestead Act. From the wonderful Cornerstones of history series. Look for the older books whose titles start “Story of” NOT the newer ones. Elementary.

Turner, Ann. Grasshopper Summer (A plague of locusts hits the prairie) and Dakota Dugout. Elementary.

Whelan, Gloria. Next Spring an Oriole. Easy reader. Elementary.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie (series). Little House in the Big Woods is a fairly easy read. Elementary-Middle.

Yates, Elizabeth. Carolina’s Courage. Elementary.

Cowboys and Such

Dewey, Ariane. Narrow Escapes of Davy Crockett. Tall tales. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Make way for Sam Houston. Elementary.

Holling, Holling C. The Book of Cowboys. Elementary.

Hurley, William. Dan Frontier. A Davy Crockett type character. Elementary.

James, Will. Smokey the Cow Horse. My librarian was very excited about this one. elementary (?).

Miers, Earl Schenck. Wild and Woolly West. A wonderful older author if you can find him. Middle years (?).

Marrin, Albert. Cowboys, Indians and Gunfighters and War Clouds in the West (re Native Americans and cavalrymen). Marrin is a favorite author.  Middle-teens.

Quackenbush, Robert. Quit Pulling My Leg. Re Davy Crockett. Elementary.

Rounds, Glen. Cowboys. Early elementary.

Silverberg, Robert, Ghost Towns of the American West. Teens.

Steele, William O. Story of Daniel Boone. Elementary (?).

Steig, Jeanne. Tales from Gizzard’s Grill. Poetic. Elementary.

Werstein, Irving. Marshall without a Gun. Middle years-teens.

General/Miscellaneous

Dalgliesh, Alice. Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Elementary.

Glubok, Shirley. Art of America in the Gilded Age. Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert. Saving the Buffalo. Middle years.

North, Sterling. Wolfling. Middle years.

Roop, Connie. Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie. Lighthouse keeper. Elementary.

Twain, Mark. Life on the Mississippi.  There is also an abridged version called The Boy’s Ambition. Middle-teens.

Whelan, Gloria. Wanigan. Life of a girl in timber country on Lake Huron in 1878. Middle years.

Yolen, Jane. Mary Celeste. Shipwreck in 1872. Elementary.

Happy reading!

Booklist: the Civil War

Today we are looking at books on the American Civil War (including the build-up to it).

Living Books on the Civil War

Adler, David. Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln, Picture book of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Picture Book of Harriet Tubman. Adler has a number of these picture book biographies. Elementary.

Arnold, James and Roberta Wiener. Various titles. These two have a series of books on specific years of the war. They are not truly living books but if you have a child who wants a lot of detail they are good. Elementary-middle.

civilwar10

Avi. Iron Thunder. Middle years.

Beatty, Patricia. Turn Homeward, Hanalee. Middle years.

Beller, Susan. Billy Yank and Johnny Reb: Soldiering in the Civil War. Not the nest living book but some of the kinds of details boys like. Elementary-middle.

Brown Paper School (pub.). Book of the American Civil War. Not a true living book but I do tend to like books from this publisher. It is a series of stories, anecdotes etc. on the Civil War including some hands-on crafts and recipes. The stories themselves are not bad and use characters to bring the time alive but it is not a continuous narrative. Elementary-middle.

Coit, Margaret. The Fight for Union. On the build-up to the war. Middle years.

Crane, Stephen. “The Red Badge of Courage.” Famous short story. Middle-teens.

Fleischman, Paul. Bull Run. Middle years. (My post on literary analysis of Bull Run is here.)

Foster: Genevieve. Abraham Lincoln’s World. Foster’s books always do a  good job covering an era and can be used for a wide range of ages. She also has a biography simply titled Abraham Lincoln. Elementary +.

Fradin, Dennis. Bound for the North Star. A collection of stories from the Underground Railroad. Middle years +.

Fritz, Jean. Just a few words, Mr Lincoln. Re the Gettysburg address. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Stonewall and Brady. Longer books from this prolific author. Middle years.

Gauch, Patricia. Thunder at Gettysburg. Elementary-middle.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. Abe Lincoln’s Birthday. Elementary.

Hunt, Irene. Across Five Aprils. Middle years.

Jerome, Kate. Civil War Sub: The Mystery of the Hunley. Easy reader. Elementary.

Kent, Zachary. The Story of John Brown’s Raid. From the Cornerstones of Freedom series. This is a great series as long as you get the older books that begin “Story of . . .” Elementary.

Marrin, Albert. A Volcano beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War against Slavery and Abraham Lincoln: Commander in Chief. One of my favorite authors for older grades. He also has books on Lee and Grant. Middle-teens.

McGovern, Ann. Runaway Slave. Elementary.

Monjo. Me and Willy and Pa (re Lincoln) and The Drinking Gourd (re the Underground Railroad). Elementary.

Moss, Marissa. Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds. Elementary.

Myers, Laurie. Escape by Night. Features Covenanters (yay!) but I am not sure they are portrayed accurately. Middle years.

Paulsen, Gary. Soldier’s Heart. Paulsen writes books boys like. Middle years.

Peck, Richard. River Between Us. Middle-teens.

Philbrick, Rodman. Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg. Middle years.

Polacco, Patricia. Pink and Say. Elementary.

Read, Thomas. Sheridan’s Ride. Loved this poetic account. Elementary.

Roop, Peter. Take Command, Captain Farragut. Elementary.

Sobol, Donald. Two Flags Flying. Tells the story of the war through characters on both sides. Could be a good spine for younger kids. Elementary.

Steele, William O. Perilous Road. Middle years.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Underground Railroad. Also from the Cornerstones of Freedom series (see Kent above). Elementary.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The book that started the war (according to Lincoln). Teens.

Turner, Ann. Abe Lincoln Remembers and Nettie’s Trip South. Elementary.

Venezia, Mike. Various. Venezia has a series of humorous but informative biographies of the presidents. Elementary.

Vinton, Iris. Story of Robert E. Lee. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. Abraham Lincoln vs Jefferson Davis. Middle years-teens.

Booklist: the Early 1800s

Last time I gave you the books we used on the American Revolution. This time we will look at books covering the period from the Revolution until the Civil War, so the very end of the 1700s and the early part of the 1800s.

Living Books on the Early 1800s

Adler, David. Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson, Picture book of Lewis and Clark and Picture Book of Sacagawea. Adler has a number of these picture book biographies. Elementary.

Avi. Hard Gold. 1859 Colorado gold rush. Middle years.

Avi. True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Historical fiction set in the 1830s. Middle years.

Bacheller, Irving. Light in the Clearing. This is one of my favorite books ever. Martin Van Buren is a minor character; it is mostly fiction. I am calling it high school age but there is nothing inappropriate in it so you could read it to young children. Teens.

Barsotti, Joan. Grandmother’s Bell and the Wagon Train (set in 1849). Elementary.

Bohner, Charles.  Bold Journey: West with Lewis and Clark. Middle-teens.

Carr, Mary Jane. Children of the Covered Wagon. Middle years (?).

Commager, Henry Steele. The Great Constitution. I was really pleased with this older book. I would say the level is middle school but you could use in late elementary or early high school.

d’Aulaire, Ingrid and Edgar. George Washington. Elementary.

Davis, Louise Littleton. Snowball Fight in the White House. Re Andrew Jackson. Easy reader.

Fleischman, Paul. Path of the Pale Horse. Re Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in the 1790s. Middle years (?).

Fleming, Candace. A Big Cheese for the White House. A giant wheel of cheese is given to President Jefferson. Elementary.

Foster: Genevieve. Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801. Foster’s books always do a  good job covering an era and can be used for a wide range of ages. Elementary +.

Fradin, Dennis. Duel! Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Great Little Madison and Make Way for Sam Houston. Longer books from this prolific author. Middle years.

Fritz, Jean. Shh We’re Writing the Constitution. Fritz has a number of these short books. Elementary.

George, Jean Craighead. Ice Whale. Japanese whaling. Middle years.

Guerber, Helen. Story of the Great Republic. A good older spine book. Elementary.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. Mary’s Star (re orphans in Virginia in the 1780s) and For Ma and Pa on the Oregon Trail. Elementary.

History Channel. The Presidents. A video series on the presidents that is helpful if you are not studying each one individually. The first 5 presidents are covered in 45 minutes so you can tell it is not in-depth but does mention major events in their terms. All ages.

Kelly, Regina Zimmerman. Miss Jefferson in Paris. Middle years.

Knight, David. The Whiskey Rebellion. Middle years.

Latham, Jean Lee. Carry on Mr. Bowditch. A young man growing up in the nautical world in New England. Middle years.

Lindop, Edmond. George Washington and the First Balloon Flight. Elementary.

Lomask, Milton. John Qunicy Adams and This Slender Reed (re James K. Polk). Middle years.

Marrin, Albert. George Washington and the Founding of a Nation and 1812: The War Nobody Won and Old Hickory: Andrew Jackson and the American People. One of my favorite authors for older grades. Middle-teens. See also the end of his Sea Rovers re the Barbary pirates in Jefferson’s day.

Marshall, H.E. This Country of Ours. A good spine book for this era. Elementary +.

Martin, Patricia Miles. James Madison. Middle years.

McKissack, Patricia. Amistad. Picture book version of the story of this famous slave ship. Elementary.

Meader, Stephen. Whaler Round the Horn. Re whaling. Middle years.

Monjo. Slater’s Mill. Elementary.

Myers, Laurie. Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale. Elementary.

O’Dell, Scott. Streams to River. Re Sacagawea. Middle years.

Peterson, Helen Stone. Abigail Adams: Dear Partner. Elementary.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Revenge of the Whale. Re whaling. Middle years (?).

Quackenbush, Robert. James Madison & Dolly Madison and Their Times and Who Let Muddy Boots into the White House (re Andrew Jackson). Elementary.

Redmond, Shirley. Lewis and Clark: a Prairie Dog for the President. Easy reader.

Richards, Norman. Story of Old Ironsides (The story of the USS Constitution) and The Story of the Alamo. From the Cornerstones of Freedom series. This is a great series as long as you get the older books that begin “Story of . . .” Elementary.

Roop, Connie. California Gold Rush. Elementary.

Schiel, Katy. The Whiskey Rebellion. Not the nest living book but it is hard to find books on this topic. Elementary-middle.

Siegel, Beatrice. George and Martha Washington at Home in New York. Might be a little dry. Middle years.

Sperry, Armstrong. All Set Sail. Re whaling. Middle years-teens (?).

Spier, Peter. Erie Canal. Elementary.

Stanley, Diane. The True Adventures of Daniel Hall. Re Whaling. Elementary.

Steele, William O. Andy Jackson’s Water Well and We Were There on the Oregon Trail. Elementary.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Oregon Trail. Also from the Cornerstones of Freedom series (see Richards above). Elementary.

Steinberg, Alfred. James Madison. Middle years.

Sterne, Emma. Long Black Schooner. Re the Amistad. Middle years.

Venezia, Mike. Various. Venezia has a series of humorous but informative biographies of the presidents. Elementary.

Vinton, Iris. We were there with Jean Lafitte. Re the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans. Middle years (?).

Widdemer, Mabel.  James Monroe: Good Neighbor Boy. Middle years.

Young, Stanley. Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too! Middle years.

Inoculating Our Children (Ideas, not Measles)

Dear Reader,

This is part of an ongoing series in search of a reformed philosophy theology of education. You can find all the posts here.

At some time or another most Christian parents are faced with the question: Do I expose my children to some particular evil idea or shield them from it? Of course the immediate answer will depend upon the specifics, not least of which is the age of the child. But, since life-long isolation is an impossibility, there will be a point at which the child has to know what’s out there, from homosexuality to abortion, from the very real temptations to fornication to just plain bad theology. Sometimes these things come into our lives unexpectedly. But occasionally, we are given time to prepare and introduce ideas in a thoughtful way.

In two books I have read recently, I have come across the same model for introducing wrong ideas. It may be called the inoculation or immunization approach. In A Reformed Christian Perspective on Education (Grand Rapid: ChapBooks Press, 2011) Donald Oppewal presents a model for exposing students in a Christian school to “bad influences”:

“Seeing the classroom as an immunization center would seem to be more productive . . . The better strategy would be to plan deliberately controlled exposure to bad influences, after the manner of inoculations . . .  Applied to the classroom, the inoculation strategy would require tat the teacher expose the students to carefully controlled doese of ideas, lanuage and life styles that are not ideally Christian. . . . the teacher himself/herself can use the devil’s advocate method, and thus insure that the point-of-view gets an adequate hearing.” (p. 236)

Chap Bettis addresses parents in his book The Disciple-Making Parent (Diamond Hill Publishing, 2016). He refers to a study by psychologist William McGuire which showed, through a series of studies, that “[a] person can best handle an assault on something he believes to be true if he hears the arguments against it in a safe environment” (p. 213). Just as Jesus warned his disciples that there would be attacks to come, so we need to prepare our children by letting them know what challenges will come their way. In practical terms, this means letting them know what arguments they will hear.

Nebby 

Defining Education

Dear Reader,

This post is part of an ongoing series in search of a reformed Christian philosophy theology of education. Read all the posts here.

I hope soon to give you a post which pulls together all the threads we have been following and begins to truly answer the question “What is reformed Christian education?”  It seems a little late in the game to define education but I am going to do so nonetheless in preparation for that post.

“Education”  is a word which seems to absorb new meanings and ideas. This is in fact due to the nature of education itself. It is very hard to address just one part of a person. Those who seek to educate tend to find themselves dealing with issues which may not strictly fall under that heading, from diet to discipline.

When I speak of what education should be in a  reformed Christian context, I am thinking of education in a very narrow sense — I am talking about what we might term schooling, education as the imparting of intellectual knowledge. So when I begin to lay out for you principles for reformed Christian education, know that these are about our kids’ minds — what we put into them, how it gets there, why we bother doing it at all, and what the end game is.

Having said which, our children are more than mind. They are bodies and souls and hearts as well (Mark 12:30). The Bible never speaks of people as being easily divisible into their parts. We cannot believe one thing and do another or love contrary to our convictions. The person is a whole. This is precisely why education tends to be so expansive. You can’t teach a hungry child. Or one that is emotionally traumatized. Or tired. (Nor, I will argue elsewhere, can you do much for one whose soul is dead in sin.) So our schools start offering free lunches and breakfasts. And then they offer counseling for children and their families and lessons on birth control and other controversial topics because they know that they can’t teach children when the rest of their lives is out of control.

Nor can you teach a child who is misbehaving. Education cannot be separated from discipline. We need some level of obedience before we can teach. Education, ideally, also produces correct behavior. Knowledge in the Bible is practical and leads to changed behavior.

All of which is to say that when I speak of reformed Christian education, I am speaking primarily in a very narrow sense of how we build up our children’s minds while acknowledging that we cannot divide the person into parts and that intellectual progress is linked to their physical and emotional states and that discipline must both come before and follow out of education.

Until next time,

Nebby

Education and the Covenant Child

Dear Reader,

This post is part of an ongoing series in search of a reformed Christian philosophy theology of education. Find all the posts here.

In recent weeks, we have been discussing common grace as affects our understanding of education (see this post and this one). Specifically, I have spent some time trying to answer the question: How shall we educate non-believing children? Are they capable of true education, of receiving that which is good and true and beautiful?

But I do not want to neglect the children of believers. Most of the children in our homeschools and Christian schools are going to come from professing families. As such, they are what we call covenant children. That is, they are considered from birth (and before) to be part of God’s covenant community.

When speaking of those who are clearly unregenerate, of whom we have no evidence of salvation (yet), I argued that education forms part of the call that goes out to all humanity (Matt. 22:14) and presents to them God’s general revelation by which He may be known (Rom. 1:19-20). But what of believers then, those who already have received the call? How does education benefit them?

This is my thesis: Education is a piece of sanctification.

In previous posts, I hope I have shown that children are not a separate category. They are fully persons. Education does not prepare them for a life which they will have later nor does God wait to work in them. Conversely, education is not confined to childhood,  though I do believe children are especially adapted to learn (read all these arguments here.)

We have also discussed what kind of goal we should have for education and argued that we need long-term goals which look not merely to the next stage of life but even beyond this life, goals which serve God’s greater plan.  These goals should focus first and foremost on the individual, not the society (while acknowledging that in God’s economy there is no conflict between the two; see this post and this one).

To these ideas, let me add one more: Man is fallen in all his faculties (WCF IV:II) and needs to be regenerated in all his faculties (WCF XIII:II). We could give various lists of what constitutes the “faculties,” but I like this one: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5; all biblical quotes are from the ESV unless otherwise noted) or the New Testament version: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mk. 12:30). The biblical view is not one which chops man up into pieces. The body is not divorced from the spirit nor the mind from the heart such that one can think one thing and do another or keep one’s soul pristine while sullying one’s body. Still, there is some idea here that we do have different aspects. As reformed people, we believe all the parts of the person are fallen and in need of redemption.

Education is a term that has been used in many ways and our tendency these days is  to think of it broadly. Even secular teachers are expected to shape not just the intellect but the character. For Christian parents as well discipline and education are closely entwined. These are not bad tendencies but what I want to address today particularly is the mind, while acknowledging that it does not function apart from the emotions or the body.

I’d like to get at this topic by looking at the word “mind” as it is used in the New Testament. We have already seen that both Old and New Testaments command us to love God with our minds. Our minds can be either for God or against Him (Matt. 16:23; Rom. 8:5-7). There is ample evidence that they are often against (Matt. 16:23= Mk. 8:33; Tit. 1:15). A fallen mind, one in opposition to its Creator, is a curse and the result of sin (Rom. 1:28). But there is hope — when Jesus comes healing people, it is not just bodies that are restored but minds (Lk. 8:35). It is He who opens men’s minds to receive wisdom (Lk. 24:45; cf. Hebr. 8:10; 10:16) or who hardens them (2 Cor. 3:14;  4:4). There is evidence of some level of restoration in this life as Christians we are called to have changed minds, not minds of futility and sin (Eph. 2:3; 4:17; cf. Col. 1:21). Mind is a characteristic of God Himself (Rom. 11:34) and we are to share His mind and to be of one mind (1 Cor. 1:10; 2:16; Phil. 1:27; 2:2,5).  And above all there is this:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

The pattern here should be familiar: We are called to a high standard. Sin corrupts our minds so that we cannot meet the standard set in God’s law. But God Himself restores the minds of His people. As Christians we are called to use these restored minds for the good of the Church (1 Cor. 1:10; 2:16; Phil. 1:27; 2:2,5) and for the furtherance of the things of God (Rom. 12:2) and for worship (1 Cor. 14:15). In other words, the same process of fall and redemption applies to our minds as it does to the rest of our persons.

This then is the goal of education in the life of the believer: the renewal, through the power of the Holy Spirit, of the mind to the end that the Church may be built up and God glorified. That renewal is what we call sanctification. It will not be complete in this life, but, through the power of Christ, it is possible to make real progress.

Nebby