Defy the doldrums of school required summer reading assignments

June 24, 2013

Who doesn’t like to eavesdrop on the lives of others? Who doesn’t like to travel to new places? Who doesn’t like to learn about the past? Biographies tap into a child’s inquisitiveness and showcase information that could easily be in an encyclopedia (but how enjoyable is it to read an encyclopedia? Who is satisfied with living one life? Books free us from the limitations of having just one life with one point of view; books allow us to see beyond the horizon of our own circumstance.

Keeping in the mood of summer being a reading vacation, here are 2 biographies that defy the doldrums of school required summer reading assignments.

On the Beam of Light (Jennifer Berne, ages 6-9), goes beyond the usual chronicling that recall Einstein’s development as a scientist and his influence on the world as we understand it. This book allows up to glimpse a genuine person who was late to talk, loved ice cream and who was fascinated by light beams, books, numbers and sugar dissolving in tea.

Becoming Ben Franklin (Russell Freedman, ages 10 and up) is another example of a biography that allows us to know Ben Franklin through his own words. This is a hard to put down look at a life that forever changed our nation and “helped give birth to a new kind of nation.”

Turn Summer Reading into a reading vacation not a reading assignment.

June 20, 2013

Research indicates that children lose ground academically during the summer months unless they use the skills they learn in school throughout the year.  Note the following: ~ By sixth grade, 80% of the achievement gap is the result of the summer slides between kindergarten and sixth grade. ~ Low-income students lose about three months of […]


Teacher Training’s Low Grade

June 19, 2013

“The National Council on Teacher Quality has long promoted over-hauling U.S. teacher preparation” says a recent article in the WSJ.  Here is their recent study: http://coe.unm.edu/research/usnwr-nctq.html Following up on my previous musing on the Common Core’s lack of professional development being a prime cause of poor student performance, the Council’s report said that “fewer than one […]


The Common Core Standards and reality collide.

June 15, 2013

Who’s Minding the Schools, (NYT) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/the-common-core-whos-minding-the-schools.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 exposed some of the problems implementing the Core standards and offers a valuable perspective. The current partisan political climate in the US is not helpful to understand the benefits, merits and detriments of the Core. In addition, the Common Core is essentially “an invisible empire, with no public office, no […]


Does reading fiction make you a better person?

June 2, 2013

“Does Fiction Civilize Us?” — http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/does-great-literature-make-us-better/—caused me to ponder what is the purpose of reading literature? Most of us assume that exposure to challenging works of literary fiction is good for us. Does reading about Anna Karenina, the good folk of Middlemarch and Marcel and his friends expand our imaginations and refine our moral and social […]


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