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Category Archives: My Library

Wondering about the State of Children’s Literature…

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Wonder no more!

(These were all found in the one store.  I didn’t even have to try hard to find them.)

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Posted by on February 3, 2018 in My Library

 

Why Christians Should Read Shakespeare

Some people might wonder why we, as Christians, share Shakespeare’s plays with our children, when lots of other Christian homeschoolers avoid his plays like the plague.

First, let me start with a quote from Reverend Ralph Allan Smith (who has a much better article about why to read Shakespeare!).  “Next to the Bible, he [Shakespeare] is perhaps the most important textbook for Christian young people who are seeking wisdom to live for the glory of God.”  I agree with these words.

Reading Shakespeare gives us the opportunity to live lives that are not our own and to experience and ponder the consequences of different choices – the good, the bad and the ugly.  This experience is available in a lot of quality, older literature, but never so much as in Shakespeare’s stories.  Children need this experience of examining the sinful choices of others in light of God’s truth and wisdom, as much as they need to be familiar with good choices.

Shakespeare’s writing also presents us with a realistic image of fallen humanity and it’s not often a pretty picture.  Each character struggles with sin in the same way that we do and, at the end of most plays, the characters are judged accordingly.   Too often the characters I’ve found in Christian children’s literature are simply too ‘good’ to be relatable and able to teach.  Near perfect characters suggest to children that, in comparison, they are failures in their walk with Christ.

Shakespeare sets a high standard of literature for his readers, a standard not seen in modern books and rarely in books marketed for teens and young adults.  The vocabulary is impressive.  Shakespeare created numerous words and expressions that we still use today.  The written expression is beautiful.  The language is lofty, much like the language of the King James Bible which was written around the same time.  (There’s even a pondering among scholars that Shakespeare may have been involved in its writing).  Certainly, Shakespeare was a favoured writer in the court of King James at that time.

Finally, God’s truth, beauty and wisdom can be found in books other than the Bible and Christian literature.  Even pagan literature can contain God’s truth; the pagans just didn’t realise the value of what they held.  It’s not unlike when a baby gets hold of a book and mistakes it for a chew thing or a place to draw.  Their use of it doesn’t depreciate the value of the book in the right hands.  We just have to take it back from them.  Augustine referred to this as ‘plundering the Egyptians’.  Christians can find things of value in books that are written by non-Christians.  Shakespeare, however, was a practising Christian who knew his Bible better than most people.   Did you know that Shakespeare’s plays contain at least 1200 Biblical references and that many people believe it’s more than double that number?

Sadly, most people have only experienced Shakespeare’s plays in the classroom where they are too often torn apart and analysed piece by painful piece.  Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be experienced at the theatre.  If you’ve avoided his plays because you didn’t enjoy them at school, then you need to attend a family oriented performance of one of his plays.  Shakespeare’s plots are brilliant.

Winston Churchill said “The Bible and Shakespeare stand alone on the highest platform”.  I agree with Winston, as I agree with a number of America’s founding fathers.   “Jefferson was more struck by the moral truths he found in Shakespeare’s plays than by their linguistic skill. These plays, he was convinced, like all the great works of fiction, help “fix us in the principles and practices of virtue” and in “an abhorrence” of vice”.  Many a great Christian man read and loved Shakespeare.

If I was only permitted to own two books (heaven forbid!!), then I would definitely choose the Bible and a complete volume of Shakespeare’s writings.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2017 in Homeschooling Thoughts, Language, My Library

 

Books, Books and More Books

The new term has started and new terms always mean new books.

This is what we’ve been reading aloud this week:

The Arrival; Masada; Tesla vs Edison; Beginner’s Guide to Electricity and Magnetism; Heart of Darkness; David Livingstone; The Ship to Nowhere; and How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig. 

There’s nothing better than starting a new read aloud,

except maybe finishing a new read aloud

because that means you get to start another new read aloud.

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“The Arrival” is an ‘interesting’ book to read aloud.

It has absolutely no words in it.

But, it’s very cleverly done and you can ‘kind of’ read it aloud.

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We did it by taking turns ‘telling’ the story.

It wasn’t as easy as you might think.

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This wordless book isn’t meant for younger readers.

The ‘reader’ needs some background knowledge about immigration.

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If you ever get a chance, borrow this book from the library, and have a look.

I was pleasantly surprised by the experience of ‘reading’ it.

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I picked it up because we are off to see a theatre production of the story

but it’d be a great book for studying refugees and immigration.

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Books also turned up in the mail this week.

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We’re exploring Israel, past and present, this term

so “Understanding the Holy Land” arrived.

I just hope it has a more balanced view than what we hear in the media.

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I also got a copy of my friend’s book, an adaptation of “The Faerie Queene”.

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I also got this book:  “Stealing From a Child”.

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I’ve already heard a lot of what the book has to say

but I wanted to buy the book anyway.

To support the cause.

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This past week, I also received a parcel from Living Books Press.

Isn’t it beautiful?!!  All bound up in brown paper and twine,

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complete with a wax seal.

How often do you receive beautiful books in a beautiful parcel.

This parcel was the first parcel I didn’t tear open in a hurry.

I actually left it unopened and took it with me to a friend’s house to show it to her.

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This is what was inside:  beautiful books to match beautiful wrappings.

Living Books Press is bringing old books back to print and I’m so excited.

There are a number of books that I’d love to read, but either can’t find or can’t afford the hefty price tags.

Living Books Press is going to change that.

The first book I ordered was “The Aussie Crusaders”.

I hadn’t actually intended to buy this book, but when I read the blurb and the sample,

I was hooked.

It also helped that it fit in with our Israelie focus this term.

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The books I’d planned to buy are these:  Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels.

A while ago, I read their sample pages and loved them.

I didn’t ‘need’ these books.  They don’t really fit with what we are studying at present.

But, I’ve thought about these books so often since then that I simply had to buy them.

They are brilliant!!  I can’t wait to read more.

There’s always space on the read aloud pile for another book!!

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Oh and here’s a little tidbit for you.

Did you know that the word orient comes from the Latin word ‘orientis’ which means east?

And, hence the word occident means west because it comes from the Latin word ‘occidens’.

Gosh!  We’re already learning things from these books and we haven’t even opened them yet!!!

Ah, books.  How can you not love them?!  🙂

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2017 in My Library

 

The Week That Was

Gosh, the weeks are just flying by.

I can’t believe it’s the holidays already!

This week, we spent a day with our favourite little people at Dreamworld.

(How do you get a 16 year old on a carousel?

Get a four year old to say ‘Pleeeeease’ in her sweet voice, with her head tilted to one side.)

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Isn’t this wee one sweet?!

Okay, so the ‘look’ is because I turned her hat sideways to get a cute photo.

She has an opinion now that she’s 18 months old.

Yes, that’s a book that Aunty Tracey bought her.

I’m pretty sure that Aunty Tracey has filled an entire bookshelf of books for her sweet little nieces.

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We did lots of things at Dreamworld that we hadn’t done before.

For the first time, we went to the shearing show.  It was worth the visit.

I wish that Dreamworld invested more time and money in entertainment and experiences like the shearing show,

rather than the thrill rides that only a limited group of people enjoy.

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We also saw the second tiger show.

We usually head to the morning session, where the tigers play in the pool.

But we heard that the afternoon show was different so we made a point of visiting.

It was different!

They demonstrated a number of skills that the tigers are trained to do that help with various things, like medical exams.

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Oh and just in case you are ever chased by a tiger…

don’t climb a tree.

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In the evenings this week, we’ve been watching the doco, “The War That Changed US”,

which was about Australia’s involvement in the first World War

and, in particular, how it affected the lives of several specific Australians.

The production was very well done.

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Of course, we’ve also been reading.

Yes, this is a picture book, but I bought it because the topic caught my attention.

I hadn’t even thought that graphs were ‘invented’.

Of course, they had to have been but it’s just something I hadn’t given a thought to.

So, I had to buy the book and find out more.

After reading it and becoming curious, we went and hunted for further info about William Playfair.

(See, there’s nothing wrong with picture books for teens if they move them to appropriate action.)

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We also read “The Language of Angels:  A Story about the Reinvention of Hebrew”.

Yet another topic that startled me and forced me to buy it.

Why did they need to reinvent Hebrew?

I didn’t know that Hebrew had been virtually lost.

Fascinating stuff.

Because of this picture book, we now have a biography on Eliezer Ben Yehuda coming

and plans to watch several documentaries on him as well.

Never doubt the value of a good quality picture book.

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We’re also reading this book called “Red Madness:  How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat”;

another book that piqued my interest and simply had to be read.

Have you heard of Pellagra before?  I hadn’t.

It’s a devastating disease of deficiency

and all the way through the first chapters of the book,

you are kept wondering, “What on earth causes it?”

Suffice it to say, if you are studying nutrition,

this would be a good book to add to your booklist.

Nope, I’m not going to tell you what causes Pellagra.

You’ll have to find out for yourself.  🙂

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Oh and this darling book…

I bought “The Snatchabook” for my nieces

and it was almost a disaster.

When I started pre-reading it, I thought, “Oh boy, this is going to scare the girls half to death”,

but I kept reading and was simply delighted with the ending.

So I gave it to the girls with the warning that they can’t give up half way through,

they have to read to the end.

They did and they loved it.

Then, of course, since I loved the book so much, I had to go and buy another copy for myself to keep.

Yep, I’m weird like that.  🙂

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In my own reading, I finished reading “Married to a Bedouin” this week.

It’s about a New Zealand tourist who falls in love with a Bedouin man, who lives in a cave in Petra,

and decides to marry him.

It was a GREAT read.  I highly recommend it.

It caused me to put Petra, Jordan, on my dream list of places to visit.

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Oh and my friend Sarah’s book just went live on Amazon recently.

She adapted Edmund Spencer’s “The Faerie Queene” into prose to make it more accessible.

But, at the same time, she kept true to the plot and language and created an adaptation that is well suited to teens.

I wasn’t actually expecting my boys to enjoy it.

I mean, a book with the words “fairy” and “queen” in the title isn’t usually high on a boy’s list of ‘must reads’.

But it was full of medieval battles, bold knights and evil to be defeated.

If you love Christian allegories, you’ll love “The Faerie Queene”.

My boys thoroughly enjoyed it…and so did I.

Having read Sarah’s adaptation, now I feel like I have the confidence to go forth and try reading Spencer’s original.

Yep, I definitely recommend Sarah’s adaptation of “The Faerie Queene”.

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We also went to the movies this week.

We saw the Emoji movie.

What can I say?

Meh.

Yes, the poo jokes were amusing.

Yes, the commentary about social media was spot on.

But, all up, this movie was pretty mediocre.

It reminded me of “Inside Out”, only the setting was inside a phone instead of inside a head.

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I scored some great shopping bargains this week.

I’m not usually in the stores enough to stumble across bargains like these

but I was certainly lucky this day.

We found this huge Lego set on a clearance sale for 50% off!!

It’s being stashed away for Christmas for a certain Lego lover.

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I also found an Usborne Picture Book Gift Set for 50% off an already bargain price.

My nieces will be getting these books.

Usborne books are great

and I always give the girls books for special events.

Okay, let’s be honest.

I don’t need an event to buy my nieces books

and they know who their literary fairy godmother is.  🙂

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Yes, we did some schoolish stuff too.

The highlight would have to be our soldering lesson.

We’re working through Jaycar’s “Short Circuits” volumes

and we’ve come to the part where you need to learn to solder.

Thankfully, Grandad knows how so we, of course, went to Grandma and Grandad’s house for that lesson.

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I got Dad to show me how to solder as well and I was simply terrible at it.

It’s not as easy as it looks.

You need steady hands to hold both items in the one small location until the solder has melted

and I do not have those steady hands.

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This is how Brayden’s circuit board turned out.

You can see his shonky first attempts

and his improvement.

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And what did all this soldering make?

Two alternating flashing lights.

Hey, we were thankful that it worked at all!

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In the mail this week, I received the book, “Seven Myths About Education”.

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You should check out some of her Daisy Christodoulou’s presentations.

This was one of my favourites as it gives a bit of an overview of what she believes.

She also gives the opposition a run for their money in this debate about whether facts should be taught in schools in this modern age.

Well, that was my week; a bit of a hodge podge.

I wonder what next week will hold.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2017 in Family Life, Homeschooling Days, My Library