I used to blog every day. I used to dream up posts in the middle of the night that I was dying to share. I still do. The difference between now and four years ago is that my kids are older. At ten and six year olds, I don’t feel comfortable revealing details about their education with the wild world of the Internet. I already share enough general information in my weekly newspaper column.
However, the former K-4 teacher in me is dying to post about all of the new things I’m learning about Afterschooling, specifically about helping kids with dyslexia. Now that I’m also an author with a book coming out in fall of 2016, I have access to advanced review copies of middle grade and young adult books that I’d love to talk about too. So I’ve decided to keep blogging, but no longer mention my kids. Bruce and Jenna weren’t their real names anyway. 😉
Stay tuned for the next chapter of Teaching My Baby to Read. I still have some tricks up my sleeves!
No matter what your religious persuasion, you will probably agree with me that The Bible deals with some heavy stuff. Rape, war, incest, and genocide are in the same book that promotes grace and forgiveness. The way the text is presented varies wildly from Bible to Bible, especially when you consider the footnotes, annotations, and explanations the editors include. When I look at the “teen” Bible I read when I was an adolescent I’m disturbed that it taught me what to think, instead of how to query. That’s why I was so impressed with The CEB Student Bible. It’s not afraid to let teens think for themselves. It poses big questions, offers background information, and sets minds loose to pray and explore.
A great example of how The CEB Student Bible deals responsibly with “big” issues is in the Old Testament book of Hosea. Hosea opens up with God telling the prophet to marry a prostitute named Gomer, and this relationship is then used as a metaphor for how God’s people have been unfaithful. This is such a difficult passage to understand, and my women’s Bible study group really wrestled with it. Taken at face value, it seems very demeaning to Gomer. Who knows why Gomer became a prostitute in the first place? Maybe she was an orphan, or abused, or forced into temple prostitution by her father. Now she has to represent the sins of Israel and Judah? How unfair is that!
The CEB Student Bible had lots to say about Gomer, sexual infidelity, Baal and Idolatry, as well as injustice. It offered context that helped Hosea make sense. It also posed big questions teens struggle with. Is it fair for Gomer to stand for goodness or sinfulness? Is sexual purity the same as a person’s entire virtue? Are boys and girls talked about differently at school when it comes to sex? The CEB Student Bible didn’t offer easy answers, and I liked that about it a lot.
As a mom, I would feel fully confident giving The CEB Student Bible to my kids when they become teenagers someday. Thank you to Side Door Communications for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest opinions and review.
B is for Bear: A Natural Alphabet by Hannah Viano is a book that fuses science, nature, and art into one neat package. I thought it was brilliant. Unfortunately, my six-year-old daughter did not like it one bit. Sasquatch Books sent me a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
Viano takes the traditional format of an alphabet book and includes a word and a sentence for each letter. There’s just enough content that the former K-1 teacher in me thinks it could would be a great supplement for the Common Core State Standards. Vocabulary words such as “predators,” “scat,” and “investigate,” are sprinkled through the book, and the pictures provide great prompts for discussion.
I can definitely see B is for Bear being very welcome in a classroom environment. At home however, it would depend on the kid. My daughter thought it was boring, which really surprised me because she had previously enjoyed Viano’s book Arrow to Alaska. My daughter also thought it was too babyish, which I argued with her about, because this book isn’t babyish at all. There’s a lot of science!
Can’t please everyone, I guess. Pfffffft!
When I was lent an advanced review copy of the middle grade book Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, by Patrick Samphire, my ten-year-old son was thrilled. Secrets of the Dragon Tomb is Steampunk meets SciFi and sure to keep kids up past their bedtime saying “Just one more page!” I can’t share a full review because this book doesn’t come out until January 12, 2016, but here’s a little teaser curtsey of my son:
Cousins Edward and Fredrick live on 19th century British Mars and must stop the nefarious Sir Titus Dane from obtaining a water abacus that can be used to find an ancient dragon tomb full of powerful technology.
My favorite part was the environment. I really liked how Patrick described the unique wildlife on Mars such as crannybugs and bushbears. I also liked how it wasn’t all “high-techy” because you don’t often see books about Mars that aren’t futuristic. Secrets of the Dragon Tomb was steampunk like The Peculiar, which is one of my favorite genres because it is uncommon in MG reads.