Teaching My Baby To Read

Home » Classical Education » Inspired by Stanford’s SLE Program: A Reading List for Children Part 2

Inspired by Stanford’s SLE Program: A Reading List for Children Part 2

(Please note that this post has no official affiliation in any way shape or form with Stanford University. I am however, a Stanford and SLE alumna.)

In college I spent my first year at Stanford in the Structured Liberal Education program, which is perhaps the most rigorous curriculum in Classical Education a freshman can take. At 9 units a quarter, SLE is a year-long course where students immerse themselves in literature, philosophy, art, and the humanities. Ninety freshmen live in the same residence hall, eat dinner three times a week with their professors, write a ten page paper a week, and have a private SLE writing tutor to critique their work. There is even a resident SLE tutor to assist in the evening hours. At Stanford, “SLEeezers” are nerds among nerds!

This is the “SLE Inspired” reading list I’ve created for Bruce (age 6.5) that is inspired by the Winter syllabus from my freshman year in SLE. (For the Fall List, please see here.) I plan to read the books one by one with Bruce at bedtime, so that we can thoroughly discuss them over the next six months. In the future, I will review each book separately, so that I can share my thoughts on whether or not it is worthwhile checking out for your little one too. Some of these books I have purchased, and some we will check out from the library. I’d like to create a movie list too, but haven’t thought of any titles yet. I welcome your suggestions!

Learning Goals for Children

  • We are all capable of thinking our own thoughts and forming our own ideas. We do not need to be slaves to the thinking of others.
  • We are responsible for our own actions, and are accountable for our actions to our own conscious, our families, and our community. Many people in the world believe we are also accountable to God.

Texts for Children:

(An incomplete picture because they haven’t all arrived in the mail yet.)

Reviewed So Far:

We Asked for Nothing the Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca

Martin Luther A Man Who Changed the World

The Adventures of Martin Luther

Story of the World III

Dinotopia

The Kidnapped Prince

Rumi Whirling Dervish

Muslim Child

The Fly on the Ceiling, A Math Reader

Artemis Fowl

In God’s Garden

Don Quixote

The Actual 2012 SLE Booklist for Stanford Students:

  • Utopia, Moore
  • Prince, Machiavelli
  • Adventures in Unknown Interior of America, Devaca
  • Rameau’s Nephew & Other Works, Diderot
  • Don Quixote (New Trans Grossman), Cervantes
  • Confessions (Trans Pine-Coffin), Augustine
  • Rumi: Swallowing the Sun, Lewis
  • Discourse on Method & Meditations etc., Descartes
  • Divine Comedy (V1:Inferno), Dante
  • Freedom of a Christian, Luther
  • Interesting Narrative etc., Equiano
  • Second Treatise of Government, Locke

Additional Winter Quarter Texts from When I was in SLE:

  • The Decameron, Boccaccio
  • The Koran
  • The Analects of Confucius

Initial Thoughts 11/10/11:

The Winter SLE book list is very challenging to begin with, but finding kiddie versions of all of the texts took me a lot of effort and thought. Machiavelli for children? —Artemis Fowl. John Locke for children? —- Disc 4 of Story of the World #3. I was unable to think of anything that could recreate Dante for children. Thinking about nine circles of Hell really isn’t appropriate for kids, although I often think about the concept of purgatory while I’m at Chucky Cheese’s. The Candlewick edition of Cervantes looks amazing. I’m holding this one back for a Christmas present.

Looking at this picture brings to mind the question, What the heck am I thinking? Even though all of these books are for kids it seems like a motley and bizarre grouping of children’s literature. These are not your average books from a Scholastic book order. But maybe, just maybe therein lays the magic. This is a group of thoughts and ideas that is going to take regular bedtime read aloud to a whole new level of conversation. Let the reading begin!

Final Thoughts 6/3/12:

It’s been over six months, but the end is in sight on my SLE Inspired Reading List Part 2. When we started this journey back in November, Bruce was 6 and a half, and my daughter Jenna was still in a crib. It was easy to find time each night to snuggle up with Bruce and introduce him to some of the biggest ideas in the world. Together we learned to say “Moooz-lim” instead of “Muz-lim”, we read about the courage of Cabeza de Vaca, we were inspired by Rumi, and we contemplated the code of Dinotopia. Now Bruce is 7, Jenna is in a big-girl bed, and bedtime routines have shifted.

Add to this the honest but horrible conversation Bruce had with me a month ago “Mom, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but reading books with your mom is something you grow out of, like babies grow out of using bottles.” Go ahead and stab me in the heart why don’t you! Isn’t seven too young for a talk like that with your mommy?

The root cause is that Bruce is such a quick reader that when I read aloud to him it is way too slow. This is all my own doing, because if he was a typical first grade reader we would still be snuggled up reading Mary Pope Osborne together. Instead, I am banished to reading Clifford Visits the Hospital for the umpteen millionth time with Jenna at bedtime.

So now we are at the last book from this reading list, the Candlewick Illustrated Classic version of Don Quixote by Cervantes, adapted for children by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Riddell. I would love to say that Bruce and I are reading Don Quixote together, but the truth is that he is reading it by himself…usually in the bathroom. I don’t know what that means and am trying not to think about it.

I guess now would be a good idea to remind myself of my learning goals for this reading list, because it seems like we have reached them:

Learning Goals for Children

  • We are all capable of thinking our own thoughts and forming our own ideas. We do not need to be slaves to the thinking of others.
  • We are responsible for our own actions, and are accountable for our actions to our own conscious, our families, and our community. Many people in the world believe we are also accountable to God.

Amen!

P.S. The two books Bruce and I read about Martin Luther did not mention him having his great insight while sitting on the toilet. But remembering that bit of history makes ending this learning journey with my son reading Cervantes in the bathroom all the more fitting. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s