6 Jun 2011

Random thinks I'm thunking

  1. I am very tired and I should be in bed, not thinking with you. Even if they are random thinks.

  2. I am reading Murakami's classic, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It is very good, but then I think all the books by this author - excepting maybe his non-fiction book about long-distance running - are terrific, so that's not saying much. I have just finished Fred Hollow's inspiring autobiography and The Road Home by Rose Tremain. I would recommend them both, but especially the latter. It was unputdownable.

  3. I am studying Acts using this book by Gordon Keddie. It is very good, and really makes me think. Which is pretty hard when you're tired and would rather be sleeping than thinking.

  4. I am inspired by Eve Anderson, retired headmistress of a PNEU school in Oxford. I have been watching the videos of her teaching narration, picture study and nature study over the last few days, and am relieved that I am not doing anything terribly different. I am keen to do more dry brush painting using the techniques she demonstrates.

  5. I am saddened by the things I read in this article about YA literature. My daughter will be the intended audience demographic for these books in only a few short years. I hope she never reads books like the ones I read about here.
    Now, whether you care if adolescents spend their time immersed in ugliness probably depends on your philosophical outlook. Reading about homicide doesn't turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won't make a kid break the honor code. But the calculus that many parents make is less crude than that: It has to do with a child's happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart. Entertainment does not merely gratify taste, after all, but creates it.

    If you think it matters what is inside a young person's mind, surely it is of consequence what he reads. This is an old dialectic—purity vs. despoliation, virtue vs. smut—but for families with teenagers, it is also everlastingly new. Adolescence is brief; it comes to each of us only once, so whether the debate has raged for eons doesn't, on a personal level, really signify.
    In our peaceful home our philosophy is encapsulated in this verse from Philippians:
    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things Philippians 4:8 NIV.
    This article makes me sad. What makes me sadder is to see the backlash it has caused this weekend amongst YA authors and specialists. Personally I agree with most of what Meghan Cox Gurdon writes. I might not be a YA specialist, but I am a mum, and an auntie, and a friend to many young people. Surely that counts for something.

    What do you think?

  6. I bought some books for Jemimah at the Borders closing down sale on Saturday. There has to be a silver lining, doesn't there? I picked up copies of The Nargun and the Stars by Patricia Wrightson, Avi's The Secret School, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Happy with all of these picks, oh yes I definitely am. Strange, isn't it that all the twaddle has already sold, and all the Newberry winners are just sitting there waiting for me! What does that say about the discernment of Melbourne's bargain shoppers?

  7. Speaking of great kids' books, Jemimah is reading Speedie by Colin Thiele having just finished Harriet the Spy. Her bedtime read-aloud is The Borrowers. We are both enthralled by this choice. I remember I was as a kid as well, but it is still good. Our super-dooperly-fantastic family read-alouds include the first of the Penderwick series, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy . This is definitely evidence that great living books are still being written! Hurrah for Jeanne Birdsall. (Great name...) As well we're reading Black Beauty, Calico Captive and Little Britches. Oh my, I am so blessed to be reading literature of this quality aloud to my family. I love being a homeschool mum!!

  8. I'm exceedingly impressed by Nadia Wheatley's new book, Playground - a compilation of Australian indigenous stories of childhood. I'm reading it right now, and will blog about it shortly. I can definitely anticipate being able to incorporate this fascinatingly original picture book into Jemimah's studies at some stage.

  9. Now that I've finished thinking out loud I'm going to take myself off to bed. What are your thinks that you're thunking about books? What are you reading? What appeals and what doesn't? What do you think about YA literature that includes such topics as kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings? What is pederasty anyhow? Come and talk to me! I love talking books. In case you didn't realise. You can talk about other stuff too, if you like. Actually I just like listening to you. Whatever it is you want to talk to me about...well, maybe except long distance running.


  1. I think you are very right, friend. Those readings don't satisfy taste but create it. I don't read about those things not even in adult books. They say that it is life, but if you read what I'm right now, Ideas Have Consequences, you'll agree that it is far from human to not have the sense of decency to keep those things private. I don't mean to deny them or hide them, or do evil in private, I believe not to be impudent showing a man on TV being slaughtered, or writing in a book what is pure gossip and unnecessary details so the ya is caught up on those instead of truly learning about life. Actually, this is all very inhuman, it shows us as beasts, impersonal, not respectful of privacy... You can read Life is So Good, and you'll read about many hard things with human decency and a civilized sentiment.

    My girls know what adultery is, they are 6 and 4, because we read about Joseph, but for that I never had to read them details or show them a video of a man or woman cheating, such as some reality shows.
    Wow, what a rant... but NO, NO, AND NO, books are to inspire ideas and to teach us, and the living books don't have those topics the way this cheap literature has them.
    I don't understand why they need these when we have Oliver Twist, for example.
    This is like sex or violence for grown ups, it SELLS, I guess. No different than junk food, idiotic TV. I don't know how they call it literacy...

  2. I'm thinking "Where did Jeanne find those Eve Anderson videos and why didn't she post a link? Now she's snoozing away though. Is there a way to wake her? Would that be rude?"

    Revolted is how I felt by the YA selection I most recently saw at B&N. The largest section was entitled 'Dark Romance.'

    Thankfully but sadly, the YA section in our library is housed on another floor from the children's selections. Just reading the titles would give one nightmares.

    Also sadly is that the Little Britches series is housed in the Adult section due to 'cowboy language.'

    Sweet dreams.

  3. I meant the topics are not dealt like in this propagandist manner so typical of our times, they are just after the money of the ya, not about shaping their character, or enriching it! It's also postmodern indoctrination, if you think about it.

  4. Yes, Richelle... I almost forgot!
    Where did she find those videos and why is she not sharing?
    Hmmmm.... let's go wake her up!

  5. Richele beat me to it: link us those videos, puhlease! :)

    And I completely agree with you: we had an experience recently, after my daughter's soon-to-be roommate shared her favorite book title, 'The Hunger Games'. I put a copy on hold for Olivia, who wanted to connect intellectually with her new friend, BEFORE I googled for the plot. As hard as it was, I had to say, "No way." When the entire plot of a novel written for YA's centers on gladiatorial fights to the death between children, I can find nothing high enough to redeem it. Add to this sensual romance, and I'd rather burn than borrow it. Sadly, it's a hit in both secular and libertarian Christian homes. I've seen close friends boast about how much they love it, how well it's written... :'((

  6. One YA book caused my son to have PTSD flashbacks. Some of it is wretched, but my kids devoured and talked meaningfully about "Child Called it" and the others in that series.

    Little Britches....liked these just changed the name of the black horse for obvious reasons. Penderwicks--I've loved every one and call them the "modern Melendy quartet" "Bud, not Buddy" is a lifetime favorite of my son. "Phantom Toolbooth" is so clever that even math-haters like myself love it! How about "Wheel on the School"

    Where are the PNEU videos? Those sound well worth it!

  7. thunking the same thang...where are the links to those videos?...thanks for all your wonderfully inspiring posts...I relish them!
    Butter Fly

  8. #5 makes me sad :( I am already finding it hard to find good reading material for my 8 year old. Most boys books for his age group is about farting, bums and really bad attitudes.

    We are learning the scripture (Phil4:8) as a family this month.

    Loved reading your random thoughts my friend xo

  9. Chortle...video post coming soon...

  10. I'm very excited about Playground. Can't wait to read your review :)

    I read some of 'that' YA fiction when I was a YA - it really isn't necessary, and is harmful. But young people do need someone willing to guide them to good and interesting book choices. I wasn't satisfied by the Janette Oke novels offered to me by well-meaning relatives, so off I went to the public library.

  11. We are doing "Emil and the Detectives." So far it is good.

    I am reading "In A Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson. (I believe it may be titled "Down Under" in Australia.) If you have read it, what did you think?

  12. I must of been out in nowhere land for a while because it was a bit of a shock to see what's on offer for YA fiction these days. Ackk~!!

    Totally appreciating Silvia's voice.

  13. just to give you all hope the books are out there none of us read rubbish and phill 4:8 is our gold standard have raised all to be avid readers some in uni now last just entering the ya bracket it can be done we have no tv so need lots extra books hints: pray, no really God answeres book prayers,
    accept you may have to buy mostly second hand
    use the internet for out of print books, print out really good ones it's not a book but you can snuggle on the couch with it we have a paper allowance just for this
    whenever you hear of a good book jot down the name
    teach you children to like many genre i.e. nature, history, cooking.gardening travel etc you still have to be very careful but now you have so many more books to read NEVER compromise, from what I see bad writing (this can be subject not just style, so romance, detective/murder, rude, magic etc.)
    is addictive better to read nothing than rubbish
    use inter=library loans they are very cheap and it's exciting to be told 'Your books are in'
    put in a purchase request at your library not only do you get the book but you're influencing the type of books avalible
    see it as an adventure you are going to discover all these books some old favorites some you alway wanted to read many you've never heard of and all the wonderful discussions you will have because if nothing else this stage is about sounding out what they think so you waht to give them good things to think about happy reading

  14. Any ideas for books to hand to my nearly 11 yr old son? He will read at least 3 hours per day, and I struggle to find worthwhile books.
    My 8yo daughter ditto.
    Butter Fly

  15. Well, Jeanne, I think I must be the voice of dissent. I worked as a Children's Librarian ~ & waded through an awful lot of YA fiction while cataloguing the stuff ~ & I read a lot as a teen too & here are my thinks.

    Firstly the teen years are years of angst anyway & YA fiction tends to reflect that. The inner world is one of dark & stormy turbulence & not terribly pretty & the books, read as metaphor & similie accurately reflect that so no, I don't tend to get all het about content as such. Some of it is bad literature & that does rile me but we've been feeding kids Lord of the Flies for years [set text in years 7/8 when I was in high school] & that really is a grubby, grotty little book! No redeeming qualities that I can see.

    Of the books listed I have actually read If I Stay & thought it very well written & as the article suggests a way of exploring that age old tension of growing up, seperating from mum & dad, becoming one's own person.

    Lastly one cannot realistically blame books for what is in oneself. We are concieved in sin & sinners we remain for all of our earthly life. Learning to identify the sin that attracts us, the sin that ensnares us, is one of the qualities of good literature ~ but not necessarily nice literature. Teens are not children & their literature tends to reflect this. Some 12 year olds will manage Catcher in the Rye very nicely; others not so well. A blanket bann seems to me to rather defeat the purpose of training a child to be discerning, to evaluate & to assess & displays a lack of confidence in our training ~ but then I'm a lit major & even my daughter questions what I consider suitable reading material for her. Not happy with Beowulf. Not one little bit.

  16. Ganeida, dear, I can always rely on you to balance an argument!!

    I agree with you about the angst inherent in YA years. I also agree that Lord of the Flies is a sordid book. I too read it as a school text!

    My question is whether it is helpful for teens to identify with characters in this way. I certainly do not search out books where the main protagonist is going through trauma - in fact I am likely to prefer the light and fluffy during times of stress!!

    I do not think I agree with kids who are indulging in self-harm finding characters that normalise that behaviour. I would prefer them seek medical and psychological help - and talking more with their mums!!

    Mind you, I won't be encouraging Jemimah to read LOTF either without guidance...if at all!!

    I can see another post coming up here...

  17. what rubbish "the teen years are years of angst" no angst here nor in most of the families of their friends these are wonderful years years of discovery excitment skill learning job taking money saving (and spending) hiking camping eating laughing reading light filled books groaning over assignments and exams house full of all their friends (none who smoke drink swear or are dark and negative) 150 kids at 18th birthday all amazing postive people . No I don't live in a bubble (6 YAin our family)what do all these YA have in common a personal relationship with Christ and purposeful parenting being taught to live in the light it's a choice the darkness is always there always has been for young people (remember cain and able) you teach them to be proactive and walk in the light and live according to scripture if it doesn't follow christ's instruction it doesn't matter who says how good it is or it's a classic etc. christ is the standard not man don't fall for the devil's lie about the teenage years they are wonderful blossoming times lots of hugs cures nearly everything!!and praise them teach them to come out into the light if they are sitting in darkness don't allow the enermy to steal them, pray for wisdom and ideas to show you the path out if that's where you are don't accept it

  18. How I love a good discussion!!!

  19. Anon: Temperment has something to do with whether or not you have angst ~ whether or not our kids have Christ. I've had a mix; the angst has produced deeper thinkers. Those who have walked closest with Christ have had more angst. And I must respectfully disagree about how you see dark & light also. Sensitive natures are often very aware of the darkness both in themselves & around themselves; that alone creates turmoil in some natures. I dislike blanket statements. Not all Christian teens are without angst either. Being a Christian is not a get out of jail free ticket

    Jeanne: yes, I agree perhaps not the best reading material for those on the edge, but a normal healthy personality should not be unduly harmed ~ but again, it depends on how you teach these things. Our children will have to live & work in a world where these things occur. If we have given them a strong Christian world view they are going to be perfectly capable of drawing their own conclusions.

    I seem to be prone to proposing unpopular opinions & don't wish to turn your blog into a debate so will now respectfully retire from the fray.


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