Tuesday, June 26, 2012

book talk

thanks for weighing in.  Josh and I actually discussed this on our long drive and decided at this point it was more about making sure our kids had the tools to make good reading decisions.  We thought it would be particularly beneficial to tell them about the books we choose NOT to read and WHY NOT.  I've had several of those opportunities lately.
We also talked about the difference between (to use DeMille's terms) whole, bent, and broken.  I realized that what was bothering me about a specific book that I was thinking of was not what actually happened in the book, but the fact that it was subtly portrayed as perfectly acceptable.

And for the record - I did not let Hannah read Ender's Game!  Josh did and I found out after the fact.  I wouldn't have let her read it that young.    ;-)

We all have different limits when it comes to books and movies.  I just struggle, sometimes, and wondered if anyone has rules of thumb that they use.  Now that Hannah is 14, I'm thinking most anything is not really off limits - she just has to use her own judgment.


For some reason I got lost and got into Around the World in 80 Days and so didn't read the actual book club book.  sorry.  I'll join in on the 80 Days discussion (one of my favorite books...but my kids say I say that about all books I read).  Ha! 

So, as for Kelly's question (though she and I kind of talked about it a little bit ago).....  It's funny because I was surprised when Kelly told me she had her daughter read Ender's Game but was unsure about Hunger Games.  When for me it was a lot easier to have my son read Hunger Games than to read Ender's Game.  He read both and liked both...but they were introduced in flipped order.  I agree with Kami and actually stear clear of modern adult fiction books because most of them (if not all) seem to push my boundaries. 

I once had a friend tell me about a book and rated it. "It's definitely PG-13,"  she said.  I thought that was funny.  I think even our children are going to rate books differently than we might.  I think it's not so much "a magical age" as it is "per child."  I know my girls will definitely not be reading some of the books John has read at his same age because he has a maturity level beyond where they are.  And, another thing to consider is the way in which the material is presented and the purpose of why it's presented.  YOU know when it's put in there just to be there and not really as a major part of the purpose of the book. 

Oh, and one other thing...how many times did you read a book, or start a book, and think, "Woah!  That was not a good book to read.  I shouldn't have read that" or "I'm not going to continue because it's too much for me"??  Our children are going to have that same experience with the books they read.  There comes a point when parents don't "allow" their children to read so much as teach their children to listen to their own conscience of what is right and wrong in their reading.  They will make mistakes.  We may expose them too soon to some concepts (i.e. WWII harshness) and then regret it.   But overall, if we are always providing them with good reading lists and materials from an early age, they will gravitate toward that which is good. 

My ever so readily given opinoin on that topic.  :-) 

Monday, June 25, 2012


Read Wings of Heroes for the second time.  I'd forgotten that I'd read it already, until I got a chapter into it, and then I decided to keep going.

Granted, this book is not as hilarious as some of Peck's other books.  However, one thing that I was enjoying about it was the nostalgic look at the 40s during WWII.  I was particularly moved by the Dad and his conversation with the neighbor who lost a son in WWI.  As Kami said, the repercussions of war echo throughout generations.

Another favorite theme was the idea of people looking out for each other and their families.  Small examples such as blackout watch armband that gets made for Scooter (who they know will undoubtedly be tagging along) and the neighbors bringing over a dessert made with all their sugar ration when Bill comes home on leave reminded me that those sorts of thoughtful gestures are what make family out of a community - and it's such a beautiful, desireable thing!  I think that quality is growing more absent in our lives.

TJEd for Teens--Outstanding!

I finished reading TJEd for Teens and we had our teen book club discussing it. Can I say, if I had read this book while I was a teen, it would have changed my life. I wanted to read classics, but I didn't know how to go about accomplishing it. This book not only motivates us to read difficult books, but has a book list and a pattern for doing so. I HIGHLY recommend it. :)

Also, a very helpful article to reading hard books is here and is called The Secret Code for Cracking Tough Books and Reading Above Your Level by Ryan Holiday. I'm trying out his pattern today. 

Happy Reading!

On the Wings of Heroes

Hey, surprise, surprise.  I did read our book!  It was fun, I almost finished it in one afternoon while the kids played at our local community pool.  It's that short.  Richard Peck is a fabulous author and while this story didn't have the depth of some of his other books (really it was too short to have that depth) and it didn't really have a major climax to the story, it was still very good.

I loved how he tied in multiple wars into the basically WWII story and how war's effects don't remain just the length of a war, but whole lifetimes.  I liked how especially Scooter, the main character's friend, comes to question whether the sacrifices they (soldiers, citizens, families) were making are truly worth it, without ever giving an answer to that question.

On a different note, it made me think of how hard these 6-8th grade kids worked to help collect things for the war effort and how in some ways, I really wish my children had the opportunity to contribute to something that was worthwhile, and learn to work--physically.  (Yes, I know Andrea that many of the things they collected in WWII was actually not useful, but they thought it was, so it meant something anyway.)  Anyway, I was just thinking about physical labor because the last weekend we spent all Saturday digging dirt and doing yard work, and it is actually kind of nice to feel so physically tired and see the work you've accomplished.  Not that I would want to do that everyday, but really, my kids will basically have few, if ever, the need for that kind of work. And I think that's unfortunate.

And really, that's all I have to say, except that I love his teacher that took over the class.  :)

Monday, June 11, 2012


So I would like to read our book this month, however the libraries here in Houston are LAME!!!!  Seriously, our whole library is about the size as the children's section in Provo.  Granted the Provo library is nice, but it's worse than our one in IL and the one we had in hick-town Farmington NM.  I went with a list of 14 books to get, and came out with 0.  Literally, they didn't have any of them.  Sigh.  I did request it, so hopefully it comes by the end of the month.

In other news, I think it's really hard to decide what is appropriate or not, in context of the Sharon Shinn book and younger readers.  I read Dune and Ender's Game in 6th grade, and I definitely think I was too young for those then.  I also remember looking up in the dictionary what a eunuch was in 6th grade, cause I read it in a Louis L'Amour.  I don't know, in some ways it's helpful to learn some things in that sort of a way, especially if in the story it portrays it (like incest) as something terrible.  I read the Safe-keeper's Daughter, but I didn't remember that side story at all.  This isn't really helpful, is it?

As far as adult reading goes, I just read an adult fantasy last fall, and I was shocked because a lot of reviews had it as a good read for teenage readers, and it wasn't good for anyone!  Just my opinion.  It dealt with rape, and it dealt with it in such a way that wasn't necessary to the story, useful, appropriate...I don't really know how to explain what I'm trying to say except that I think it was mostly in there for titillation rather than any other purpose.  On the other hand, I wouldn't be against reading a book with a rape in it if it had some learning purpose, and dealt with it in a sensitive, meaningful way, and if it didn't go into too much detail of the actual event.  Those are my random thoughts.  Now off to sew I go!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Kami, take Peter and the Starcatchers off the list.  It was so lame-o that I didn't finish.  I almost never put down a book before I finish.  It catered to what is traditionally considered "boy humor" and was low on plot development and the writing was overblown.

Kelly, that is such a hard question!!  In my family I'm considered the prude, but whenever I say I won't watch this or that, or read this or that, my family always points out that Dirty Dancing is one of my 3 favorite movies, and that I keep The Road Home--a book about the Vietnam war that is loaded with swearing and alcohol abuse.  And the kicker is that I plan on encouraging all of my kids to read it--when they are in 11th grade or so.  There is just no magic way to decide if the worth of something outweighs the drawbacks of it sometimes.  Then again, sometimes it is obvious that something has no worth (Twilight) but sometimes it isn't that easy.  And also, sometimes we have our pet things that we like to read about, watch movies about, and if a movie deals with that subject matter we tend to overlook other problems (Dirty Dancing--it has dancing, yes, but it also deals with class conflict, one of my favorite movie and book themes).

The opposite is also true--there are things I can't handle (violence) so even if a movie has a really, really fantastic theme if it is violent I can't watch it.  That's why I haven't read Hunger Games.  I'm not saying people shouldn't read it, I'm just saying I have a hard time with violence so I haven't read it.  Maybe it is great--like the Vietnam book I love--and the good/thoughtful parts make it worth reading.

Since, clearly, I have nothing of significance to tell you, I'll stop talking now.  Just wanted to let you know that I hear you--not easy.

Welcome Back Everyone!

I haven't checked this post in awhile...it's fun to see that we might actually be back...until the next round of babies comes, of course!

I second Valerie's recommendation, Do Hard Things!  LOVE IT and would love to discuss it with intelligent people.  :-)

And, off topic a bit but it goes along with Kelly's book recommendation.  Have any of you seen Temple Grandin?!?!  FABULOUS movie that I HIGHLY recommend for the watching.  I'll read Kelly's recommendation.

I like the list as is, Kami.  Thanks!

Happy Reading!


Do Hard Things

I just read Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris. I LOVED IT! It's targeted at teens (and I have 2 1/2 of those) but it is a good read for all of us. I'm going to read it aloud to my children during Art time and hope some of it sticks. I wish I had a book like this when I was a teen. It talks about becoming more than a teenager, raising self expectations, choosing to do hard things and fighting complacency. I took the advice to do something out of my comfort zone, and I made a wreath for my front door (waay out of my comfort zone!). It felt good to feel stretched.

In a similar vein, I am partway through TJed for Teens. We're hosting a teen book club on that book this month. Both are exhilarating and motivating reads.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Out of My Mind

While the post title is a fitting description of my life right now, it's also the title of a book that I just finished.  Kami, you might want to add it to your list for your daughter.  The author, Sharon Draper, has written an interesting novel from the perspective of an 11-year old with cerebral palsy.  She can't walk, she can't talk, but she has a lot of things going on in her head.  I read it (finished with a few tears), and have passed it on to my daughters to read (ages 14 & 12).  I might even see if my 9 year old son will read it.
If nothing else, it is a great way to introduce the idea that people who look or act different on the outside are still PEOPLE with feelings and thoughts that MATTER.  

A second book that I read was called "The Safe-Keeper's Daughter", by Sharon Shinn.  I liked it.  I think there are more, which I'm going to read.  My 12 year old daughter read it first.  I told her to tell me if there was anything bad.  She didn't say anything.  Then I read it.  There wasn't anything bad per se - like no bad words or sex scenes, but there were a couple of illegitimate children running around and no one seemed to think that was unusual.  So that's my caveat in terms of recommending it to children.  Oh.  And there was a girl that the secret keep finds out is pregnant by her father - and her mother does nothing to protect her.  Although it was a very minor side-story, it is kind of heavy subject matter.  I'm going to have to chat with my daughter about that book I guess.  Sigh.

Which leads me to a question I'd like to talk about.  How do you determine how much is too much and at what age?  I have sat in Relief Society book-clubs and been utterly shocked at some of the reading material that some women will read and recommend for the RS sisters to read.  So obviously people have different ideas of what's appropriate and tolerable.  On the other hand, I think that being exposed to moderate amounts of evil in literature is what helps you define and make judgments without having to be personally exposed.  The scriptures have a lot of bad things happening in them - it's just not all spelled out.  Then, too, there's always the question of language - when do you let kids read books with swear words and how much swearing is too much?  I just feel like those guidelines are so fluid and I never know if I'm being way over-protective or too lenient, or just right!


Friday, June 1, 2012


So, I just finished On the Wings of Heroes and Uprising.  I'll post more when I've had time to process a little bit.  But On the Wings of Heroes is a solid choice for this group.  Good night!