Tag Archives: books

Telling Lies – can Christians ever do this?

I’ve heard the question over when is it ok to lie a few times recently. Overall the answer is, never. Christians are call to the Truth because in that is freedom. But there are the difficult questions side of it. We know that many Catholics, including priests and religious lied to the Nazi soldiers so as to save the lives of Jews living hidden in their homes, monasteries and convents.

I can’t think of any New Testament examples of a ‘good lie’ but in the Old Testament two stories stand out. The most well known is the story of the Hebrew midwives Shiphnah and Puah who lied to Pharaoh to save the lives of Hebrew boy babies that Pharaoh wanted dead.

The second example is when Jeremiah lied to the enemies of King Zedekiah over the advice he had given the King.

In these cases the mitigation for the lie is those demanding the information had no right to it.

It’s not easy to negotiate these kinds of mitigation against the rule “You shall not do evil that good many come of it.” It is far too easy to buy into the idea of doing something – or better yet, not doing anything – so that the good we think will come of it, (usually for ourselves) can be achieved. We turn a blind eye – which is lying to ourselves, far too often.

Despite the constant call from Jesus to seek the truth, follow the truth and be truthful, it seems that Christians can be just as dishonest as any other people. What’s worse is the dishonesty has been deliberate and self serving and like so many lies has been handed down through the generations.

The fallout from this is seen in children’s literature, particularly historical novels or books and obviously in some communities as I’ve heard so many deeply erroneous statements about the Church from people phoning Catholic Answers. There have been people throughout the years who have tried to restate the truth but lies are often fondly held to.

Even with those who are able and willing to correct, particularly historical black legends and misrepresentations, it’s still a right faff having to check what the children are reading in case it’s dishonest. The biggest problem is in anti-Catholic misinformation and in Victorian/Edwardian books in the public domain there’s too much racism and social-Darwinism to wade past. I haven’t found as much anti-Antisemitism has I had begun to think I would thankfully. But I really don’t understand why Christian writers should be so relaxed in misinforming their readers.

There have been good, honest writers from the Catholic side who have challenged the shoddy standards of historical accuracy from other Christians who either twist, edit out or just plain lie about Catholic people and the Church over the years.

Catholic writers don’t seem to feel the need to avoid the genuine bad stuff that has happened over the 2000 years of the Church. I suspect this is rooted in the stories of our greatest saints. You can’t really study the life of St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Catherine of Sienna or St. Padre Pio among so many others, without having to learn about the sins of the Church members, popes, cardinals and people. It helps avoid whitewash and keeps things real, without the need to twist the truth out of all recognition.

Over all lying is a very bad thing and best avoided. If we ever do find ourselves in a position where the only honest recourse is a lie – well, God help us, because those who have found themselves in that position are almost always under the power of tyrannies.  But Christians have no business misrepresenting history or repeating lies just because they can’t be bothered to actually check out the truth.

F.Hodgson Burnett’s Lord Coombe, and my grandma.

burnettfetext04hdhcm10Frances Hodgson Burnett is perhaps better known for her children’s stories such as The Secret Garden  and Little Lord Fauntleroy, but her last novel is a fascinating insight into a world on a the cusp of war. Published in 1922 The Head of the House of Coombe follows the story of a neglected child Robin and her strangely enigmatic benefactor Lord Coombe. Robin’s mother is a selfish airhead while Coombe finds friendship with a chronically ill Duchess who has wisdom.

Coombe travels and observes, coming home to England to sit with the Duchess and discuss his observations. He is concerned, “…The very babes are born and bred and taught only that one thought may become an integral part of their being…that the world has but one reason for existence — that it may be conquered and ravaged by the country that gave them birth.”

The Duchess concurs as her own observations have been the same.

“In little schools — in large ones — in little churches and in imposing ones, their Faith is taught and preached….There exists for them no God who is not the modest henchman of their emperor…”

These words brought back memories of my gran. She was a good Irish woman of Limerick stock who was born in the 1881 and died in 1978. She spoke of the Potato Famine (1845 to 52) with such feeling I thought at first she was alive when it happened. But it was her parents and grandparents who saw it first hand. She married an Englishman who lost his arm in the First World War. She lost her little brother, aged 16, illegally out at the front. By the end of that war the age limitations were being ignored in the desperate bid to replace the dead as the war went on. Jack was killed on the last day of the war.

Gran had three sons, one of whom died of twisted bowel when he was six. Her oldest son grew up and was old enough to join the Engineering Corps in WWII. I was told he was part of the crew that entered Dachau and buried the piles and piles of bodies.

Gran never went to Mass. Her sister, whose fiance had been killed in WWI and had never married, came with us each week, but not Gran. I asked her why she didn’t come with us.

She told me she would never forgive the Church for it’s support of the wars. I was only a child and gran couldn’t explain things to me. I was much older before I began to get a sense of her pain. She died when I was 14. I was also too young and not educated enough to understand her sense of betrayal as Britain was so deeply culpable in the potato famine

Lord Coombes observations from the mind of FHB just brought it all back. He speaks of a culture in which churches and education are all soaked in an arrogance of nationalism that, from Coombe’s thinking, was inevitably leading to a terrible war. Hodgson Burnett is probably writing this with hindsight as the book was published in 1922, but I can’t help thinking there probably were some real life Coombe like people who saw where the culture was heading and may even have been Cassandra’s at court.

World War I was the war to end all wars. It was the war that was to teach mankind that something like that must never happen again. I am sure gran thought that in losing her little brother, her prospective brother-in-law and having a husband come home with one arm missing (he lost it in a canon wheel) that the price had been paid. More than paid.

She just couldn’t deal with the next war.

We have forgotten so much – my generation and our children. We don’t teach them what they could really do with knowing. But truth has a habit of finding a way. As more and more books are available in the public domain and people get to read those forgotten classics like Hodgson Burnett, Dorothy Sayers, among others as well as the non-fiction writings of people like Chesterton, Sheed, and Belloc,  we are beginning to clear our memories. I think something good must happen from that.

Book Basket; kids kindle and hardcopy reading.

books basketRonan got a Kindle for his birthday and he loves it. I love the fact that both he and Avila will spend quiet time reading, (Avila has my old Kindle) often with Profiterole and Cecily on their laps (Prof and Ces are the guinea pigs).

I had bought some books for the kids Kindles and a friend gave Ronan some money towards more books.

He has read the first two books in Meriol Trevors Letzenstein Chronicles. With the money from J N P I’ve  bought the third and fourth books in the series as he has requested.

He’s reading The Mitchells at the moment and says it’s good. I think I got it as a freebie some time ago.

Avila has been reading Alvin’s Secret Code and would like some more of those books. She’s reading aloud (to me) Children of the New Forest which is certainly stretching her vocabulary.

She’s also read Five Children and It

We don’t have a book basket this week but Ronan was reading St Francis of Assisi which is a book I bought for Alex for his Confirmation as he took that name.

Also they’ve been reading Marguerite Makes a Book

I do love the fact that both Ronan and Avila love to read. I hope I can encourage them to read good stuff and so grow with their reading. I don’t buy into the idea that all books are good and all screens are bad. That simply isn’t true. Neither do I believe that all old books are good and modern ones are bad. If that were the case Charlotte Mason would not have needed to warn parents against exposing their children to “twaddle”. It is sad that perhaps we can say the newer versions of twaddle are more poisonous than the old versions, but I think as parents we have to be cautious in all the stuff we expose our children to.

There’s plenty of really good books out there, especially once the children have hit a stage where they can read fluently.

Heleyna is reading some of the Oxford Owl books as part of her reading.

She loves it when Avila reads Winnie the Pooh and from me she always chooses Sheepford and Oxley (bk 1)  As Classical Academic Press are  promising bilingual versions I will hang on before buying more.

The other books she’s had out a few times is Our Lady of Guadalupe pop up book. She and her friends seem to love it.

Ronan has been reading the beautifully illustrated Gregor Mendel; the Friar Who Grew Peas

I like the way the children are able to mix happily between ebooks and hardcopy.

Meanwhile I am a Kindle only reader these days. I’ve just finished re-reading Marcus Grodi’s first novel How Firm and Foundation and I’m on to his next one Pillar and Bulwark I have the first one in hard copy but I’ve rebought it for Kindle and don’t mind as I know a lot of Marcus’ work is supporting those who in coming Home to the Catholic Church have lost everything; job home and sometimes a big chunk of their family and friends.

And for lighter reading I’m reading the Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz

I am also slowly pre-reading The Mystery of the Periodic Table with a view to planning some lessons around it.

Also reading A Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien

Iona is reading some Raffles books (in hardcopy) but the link is for the free ebooks

The Deacon brought me Holy Communion yesterday, and we gor talking about the joy of books

Book Basket

P1010995This weeks book basket has the following books:

Frog and Toad books. There’s a great story about frog and toad going sledging in the snow. Just right for all the snow we have here at the moment.

Diary of a Wombat This is a simple and funny little tale for the younger ones. Heleyna loves it and Avila often reads it to her.

Charlie Needs a Cloak. Another good winter story for Heleyna. It’s by the children’s favourite author Tomie DePaola.

Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery Just a lovely story with beautiful illustrations about a monk who has a bakery to help make the monastery make ends meet. Rona loves this story as he wants to be a baker.

Paintings First Discovery/Art

The 5000 Year old Puzzle

feature-prime._V386282737_I have given Avila my old Kindle, and have a Paperwhite for me now which is brilliant in all sorts of light from dark to bright sunlight. It’s a touch screen which I was unsure about at first because of my peripheral neuropathy. I wasn’t sure the screen would recognise my fingers but it’s been fine most of the time.

Keeping secrets in our house is nigh on impossible – (which I suppose is ok really because I don’t approve of secrets; they always end with biting someone) – but anyway, dear old Ronan has found out that he is getting a Kindle for his birthday.

At the moment he and Avila are sharing my old one.

She is reading E.Nesbit’s(opens list)  The Phoenix and the Carpet which I read to them as a read aloud some time ago. She also has Tom’s Midnight Garden for quick reading. She read it to me ages ago now.

Ronan is reading L. Frank Baum (opens list)  The Tin Woodman of Oz

What the adults are reading:

I am reading Les Miserables  which I read years ago and can’t remember well. Iona has seen the film and thinks we should go too.

I am also reading The Silmarillion which, like Les Mis I haven’t read for many years. Nice to go back to these things.

Al is reading Dorothy Sayers Strong Poison on the train as he goes to and from work.

Iona is reading Daphne du Maurier’s The King’s General. She’s a big Daphne Du Maurier fan.

Book Basket

P1010955I think the book basket this week might only be slightly changed next week. I am not pushing too hard on “personal reading” time but they do seem to just pick a book from the basket and sit with it for a quiet time.

The Usborne See Inside Your Body has been a long time favourite.  As they got Mr. Guts for Christmas it’s been revived as an interest.

Sir Cumference and Knights of the Round Table. A fun way to learn a few maths facts. Avila has taken to these books. I think they are a nice complement to the Life of Fred books they love so much.

The King’s Equal is short and easy to read. Nice relaxing book with some depth of story.

The Glorious Flight of Louis Bleriot across the English channel.

Uncle Chestnut Lovely whimsical stories based around our beloved G.K Chesterton. The book is a very slim paperback for the price. I must admit being taken about by how small the book was for such a price- but it is very well written. (perhaps it’s cheaper in the USA)

At night they are reading something different. The Roman Mysteries that they love so much have a set of mini stories and Ronan has just finished The Trumpeter of Krakow which he really enjoyed.

For read alouds Avila has just finised Kateri Tekakwitha and will read  Mates of the Kurlalong which her aunt has lent to her.

Ronan is reading Swallows and Amazons

I am finding that many books are available as ebooks from Bethlehem, Sophia and Ignatius press and are cheaper in dollars than in sterling. They are certainly cheaper in ebook than hard copy.

So, don’t tell him, but I’ve bought Ronan a kindle for his birthday (24th Feb). Between now and then I will get him a couple of books and I’ve already started loading it with free books. Amazon let you put together a wishlist so I’m building one for him as I go along.

I did spend quite some time looking at other ereaders before I caved to the Kindle again. But the advantage is that we can have the same book on up to five kindles which is brilliant for group reading times. I’ve decided to upgrade to a paperwhite and give Avila my kindle. She’s been asking for one almost more than Ronan.

Literature for Grade 4 (yr 5) (boy)

I am wondering if I should have some kind of book basket or box in which I lay out a number of books I would like the children to read together, alone or to each other. Not sure I need to as they seem to simply help themselves from the bookshelves without me needing to push it too much.

As his read aloud at the moment he is reading Swallows and Amazons

Both Ronan and Avila are reading the Roman Mysteries that Iona’s friend gave them.  This series has really caught their imagination and seems to be teaching them some genuine historical stuff.

Both of them are allowed quiet night time reading in bed.

There are some quick picture books for older children that Ronan has taken to such as Gregor Mendel; the Friar Who Grew Peas, which looks set to be harder to get hold of since when I bought it. Why are so many of the good books so hard to obtain but rubbish gets massive print runs? One of life’s little mysteries.

Don’t get into the idea that by Grade 4 they have grown out of picture books. There are many very well written and beautifully illustrated books that have something to offer for all ages and are ideal for mixed age groups of children. This book about Mendel goes into some detail about his genetic experiments with good illustrations for getting to grips with the science involved.

Another recent read-together that was good for all three of them was The Little Ships: A Story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk.

Ronan has nearly finished reading me the Usborne adaptation of Don Quixote.

For Greek Lit which is recommended for this grade I have D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths (Another find at Wigtown)

The Children’s Homer

and

Archimedes and the Door of Science

Galen and the Gateway to medicine

I also want to revisit The Fairyland of Science.

I’m a bit disappointed that he hasn’t really taken to the Narnia books. I might leave it and try again later on in the academic year and have a go with the Hobbit.

He’s been doing some chilled on the sofa time with Archie’s War and he’s taken to the Usborne books Story of Painting and Story of Inventions

He’ll probably read more Michael Morpurgo as well. So far we haven’t stumbled on anything bad with his stuff, Obviously some books are more suitable for older children so he wont be reading them yet.

As you can see there’s a mixture here, some easy reading and some that will stretch him a little harder.

I’m sure there will be more as the year goes on.

Reading for the Year of Faith: Kindle and hard copy.

Bible: Why not treat yourself to a good translation such as the RSV-CE, (Ignatius or Navarre.) or a Knox if you can get hold of one. Commit to doing just a little Bible study each day. Ignatius Press publish a whole lot of good Bibles commentaries and stuff

I’ve got the Dairies of St. Faustina and although I’ve read them before I’m going through them again. Her understanding of the signs of the times, of suffering and of service are wonderful: like little lights along the road.

I’m also reading St. John of the Cross The Dark Night of the Soul. For me at least, this takes long slow reading. It’s so packed that reading it in bleurgh times doesn’t cut it.

The End of the Present World And the Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjin now in English. This was a book that St. Therese the Little Flower recommended.

The Father’s Know Best by Jimmy Akin. Understanding what the early Fathers of the Church wrote and taught is a great insight into the development of doctrine, and how She handled persecution.

At a time when America is facing a wholesale onslaught  over religious freedom, which is an intrinsic human right,  I think it would be worth reading the stories of St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) companions. (She’s one of our family saints so obviously I love her a lot.) If you have the brain power (which sadly I don’t) you could try reading her philosophical work, or get hold of some wonderful Alice von Hildebrand books and lectures. EWTN audio archives still hold the series she did about the life and work of her husband Deitrich. His escape from the Nazi’s and his writings are all amazing.

For children the Vision Books are great and for religious freedom and persecution the stories of St. Edmund Campion and St. Thomas More. Also the story of St Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal given in the time when France was persecuting Catholics viciously.

How’s that for starters? Don’t spend the next year reading twaddle. Life’s too short for that. Fill up your heart, soul and mind with something worthwhile- even in fiction.

Book Review, Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy.

I have just finished The Cross, the last of the Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy by the award winning author Sigrid Undset. I think the kudos for a beautifully rendered translation goes to Tina Nunnally.  When I blogged about books that are true and therefore speak to us in harmony with natural law,  I was still reading Unset. She shows a profound grasp of human life, love and struggle. She writes from the viewpoint and soul of Kristen as a child, young girl in love, wife and mother of seven sons and mistress of a great house to her old age and the final realisation of her life and struggle, brought about by a sudden opportunity to make an astonishing act of mercy.

Undset’s deep understanding of human nature and the consequences of choices and actions make all the characters of the book very real and believable.

Kristen’s relationship with her saintly father Lavrans and the more difficult relationship with her mother is drawn sympathetically while avoiding  saccharine and vinegar in her description of Kristin’s parents.

Undset’s deep knowledge of history also shines in this story. There are no glaring historical errors to irritate the reader. In fact, there are some details that ring so true that they left me saying “Ah so that’s it!”

While the story is placed in fourteenth century Norway, it has a timeless quality to it, most probably because of the depth of the characters and the fact that human nature has changed little, if at all. I love the complexity of Kristin’s life, love and faith. She commits some truly awful sins, and has to wrestle with her conscience, pride and guilt over them.

Life is way too short to spend reading what Miss Charlotte would call “twaddle” and too short indeed to read trash, so why not make every moment count by reading something good for the heart, mind and soul. This trilogy is it.

A more eloquent review is here: Under Her Heart: Motherhood in Kristen Lavransdatter.

This set of books will be read again (I hope) by me.

 

Books that are true and true books.

What is a true story? It isn’t just a story about something that happened. A true story should be more than that; deeper and more solid. Truth isn’t simply a set of facts, it includes what those facts mean and how they relate to natural law.

As persons we are made to resonate with the natural law. In some ways our observance of the laws of nature are like a shadow, a type, of how we observe natural law. The most common metaphorical example of this is to say that a person who decides he wants to break the law of gravity and jumps off a building, will demonstrate the law of gravity, rather than break it. The law of gravity will break him. As it is with the laws of nature, so it is with natural law. When we decide we can break the natural law, to do as we want, we so often demonstrate it, in how it breaks us.

We don’t need to have studied philosophy or read the Summa to understand the basics of natural law. The law is written on our hearts (CCC 1954+), that i,s we can know it through reason and I suppose we could even argue we know it instinctively.

That’s not to say we all automatically know the whole Truth and the complete moral law;  no, that we have to seek in order to find. We are promised that should we seek it, we will find it. The Church has always taught that we must follow our conscience and that we are obliged to form that conscience. As parents we are the primary educators of our children, so we are to help them form their consciences.

Stories can help us do that.

Some stories stick with us. The great old fairy stories that the Grimm brothers have made famous, are steeped in old pagan memories but also in basic human truths. We see that beauty is in itself something of goodness, and that it is more than skin deep (Beauty and the Beast). We see sacrifice, love, courage, honour played out against, fear, envy, hatred and murderous intent, without being preached at in any way.

A true story is much more than a factual story.  True stories resonate with us, because we want truth really. The reason that Tolkien’s books remain so popular are because they have that truth. The little men show courage and strength that speaks to us in a way that even Gandalf’s great battle with evil and consequent “whiteness” doesn’t.

I can’t help believing that Tolkien and Lewis will be read long after Rowling and the agenda driven Pullman are forgotten.

One of the most popular kinds of books and TV programmes are based around murder. So many people have read of Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and Miss Marple,  the wonderful Peter Wimsey, Dr. Thorndyke and the ever beloved Fr. Brown. Some the attraction is undoubtedly in the “who dunnit” solve the puzzle, following the clues, but the root of the enjoyment comes from the moral certainty that murder is wrong, no matter how much the victim may have seemed to deserve it. Murder stories have almost the same sense as the traditional fairy stories were good and evil are clearly seen, even when the characters are flawed and complicated, like real people.

I am aware that there have been attempts by writers (for TV mainly I think) to turn the natural law on it’s head and have stories that make out murder to be fine, but I not aware they have been popular. That’s a sign of hope, that even in our post-Christian, post-traditonal-pagan (bring back old paganism!) culture we haven’t completely lost touch with ourselves.

When the Wolves Came; Fr. Francis Pfeifer dodges the bullets of the drug pushers

I’ve been cleaning and tidying and listening to Al Kresta’s interview with Fr. Francis Ted Pfiefer OM whose memoir When the Wolves Came is to be made into a DVD.

He faced the powerful and violent drug cartels of Mexico and tried to continue to serve the people he had been sent to shepherd. He admits he was very much afraid and having been shot at went to kneel before Our Blessed Mother in the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Crying with fear he said he needed an immediate answer. Could he leave? Instead of God giving him permission to get away and find somewhere safer to live, Our Blessed Mother asked him to stay and trust her Son.

In his interview with Al Kresta he mentions in passing that as he was also a trained paramedic he had delivered most of the children of his parish.

Kindle UK book

It is good to see the stories of some of our brave priests being told. I can’t get the book just yet, but if any of you read it let me know what you think.

Osler’s Web by Hillary Johnson Review

Osler’s Web; Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic. (My copy has a plain cover rather than the rather disturbing -but accurate one shown here)

Here is a book that shines a light on what medicine is playing at with people severely sick with ME, called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome just to laugh at “tired women”. If you want an insight into how 21st Century medicine can make medieval hedge witches look like well trained professionals, this is the book. Ms Johnson spent a long ten years researching and writing this thick tome of evidence with little commentary from herself, as she lets the facts speak for themselves.

From 1984 to 1994 Johnson follows the unfolding stories of the doctors and scientists who tried to get answers for the patients whose lives were being devastated by this disease.

The inside of the Centre’s for Disease Control is not that surprising. There’s a lot of status quo pen pushers and people who do not want interesting times to happen to them. They will ignore, shift responsibility and generally muck about rather than do anything worthwhile. The CDC is well known for being very late to every disease and having little control on anything. So the fact that the CDC were so out to lunch over the outbreaks of ME across America isn’t surprising. The fact that the NIH are not better is also not surprising (I worked for the NHS remember).

What was shocking was the utter maliciousness of staff there, especially Stephen Straus whose vindictiveness was irrational. (He died in 2007, Kyrie Eleison) This man’s single-minded misogyny and total lack of integrity caused so much damage to the research and care of patients and shockingly because he was a “big gun” his lack of scientific rigour or basic honesty leaves patients without care still.

Walter Gunn who had worked hard retired from the corrupt CDC before his time, “his resignation testament to the agency’s continued negligence in the the realm of the disease as well as Congress’s failure to regulate the agency.” (p 556)

A 1992 survey conducted by clinical psychologist Leonard Jason of DePaul University suggested that close to 40% of CFS patients eventually dropped out of mainstream medicine altogether. Brutalised by their reception in doctors’ examining rooms, they ceased consulting doctors, preferring instead to wait out their disease away from the medical profession’s unhelpful counsel. (p584)

The fact that this survey is so accurate and still true today is an indictment of the medical profession. As an ex-nurse I am utterly ashamed that seriously ill people can be treated like this and nothing is done to stop it. Another psychiatrist named Goodrich was married to a wife, also a psychiatrist,  with serious ME.  He was troubled by the callous responses doctors gave his wife. I know what she has gone through because I have received those responses from arrogant self serving medics who see the dx “Fibromyalgia and ME” and immediately act like I’m a non-person, disposable.

Goodrich was angry enough and realistic and courageous enough to stand up for patients with ME. He pointed out that AIDS patients had suffered the same pompous refusal to accept their situation – especially children with AIDs – as ME sufferers at that time. While AIDs had to be faced as it killed it’s patients fairly quickly and fairly often, he thought ME wasn’t killing enough people even though the suicide rate was so high, so the medics were too thick to see it’s devastation. Goodrich added,

A case can be made that CFS is a worse disease than AIDs at least for the 50% of cases that are severe, since the patients’ lives are totally disrupted by pain, mental confusion, physical weakness and other[symptoms)…Such patients often envy AIDS patients who can anticipate eventual relief of symptoms through death.” (p.585).

Johnson compares the shoddy standards of the CDC over ME/cfs and the doors shut in the faces of service veterans struggling with what came to be known as Gulf War Syndrome.

Apart from the rare cancers like Burkitt’s and some others, deaths from ME were mainly due to suicide in those first years. Johnson notes that it was the deaths, especially high profile deaths with AIDS that finally forced the CDC to take note.

More than 20 years down the line we are more aware that people are dying of ME and it’s related symptoms, especially heart failure and stroke. But still the professionals are not catching up.

When the book Emerging Infections was published, Johnson notes, it was made clear by its scientist authors that the CDC was nowhere near ready (and some might add or willing) to face emerging new or renewed infections. Surveillance measures even for listed diseases were pretty poor.

The heroes of this story are real doctors like Dan Peterson and Paul Cheney who were on the front lines of the Tahoe outbreak. Dr David Bell who watched young children and teens have their health and lives ripped away from them. Elaine deFreitas who discovered the virus clues and whose protocol the CDC utterly refused to follow, so that her work was not replicated and proved.

This Review is worth reading

Home Education Literature plans for grades k to 4

Here is a list of some of the books we have read or intend to read. I’ve marked the ones I read to them as read alouds. Many of those will be personal reading books for the children in the future. Audio is marked as audio. Read alouds and audio are for a mixed age audience. I’ll undoubtedly be writing more about what we read as the next academic year goes on.

KINDERGARTEN (year 1)

All these books are read aloud books as most K aged children can’t read at this level yet. They are important for teaching listening skills and building vocabulary and reasoning skills. All the more reason for avoiding the disneyfied versions of things like Winnie the Pooh

Trawl second hand bookshops and charity shops, unless you are lucky enough to have easy acess to Wigtown. Get the old Postman Pat books. The new ones are so badly written, that they could make your eyes bleed! Children are nowhere near as dim as some of the “new” adapted versions would have us believe. Charlotte Mason warned against twaddle and I’ve come across some really sugary stuff form her day, but even those don’t quite plumb the depths of grammatical horribleness as the new versions of Postman Pat and Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie The Pooh The real ones by A A Milne.

Alfie and Annie Rose Shirley Hughes is a wonderful writer and illustrator.

The Dairy of a Wombat (activities)

Little Pear (I don’t have this yet, but intend to get it)

The Blue Fairy Book Andrew Lang audio Lit2Go

All things Amy Steedman here as well

Aesop’s fables and audio Lit2Go

Brother William’s Year A beautiful little book on the life of a monastary.

Granfather’s Journey

All things Tomie DePaola.

For Heleyna to read herself we will be using the printed up and online version of the Starfall books, the Oxford Reading Tree books (not as phonic based as the newer ones I believe) and Step Into Reading Books I’ve accumulated over the years as well as the free online Oxford Owl books.

(Ignore the grades for these books. Even Avila who has some mild dyslexic tenancies was reading Step into Reading level 5 books like the Trojan Horse by grade 1.  And the ORT years and ages are not very useful as guides either). Having said that the grades I have put books into are just a basic guide. Your children will be different and their interests may be different.

GRADE 1 (yr 2)

26 Fairmount Ave series by T DePaola (self read)

The Secret Garden  (read aloud) (free ebook)

The Pheonix and the Carpet   (read aloud) (free ebook)

Stranger Moon  audio

The Chronicles of Narnia read along with audio

The Happy Prince and other Stories which includes my favourite The Selfish Giant. We have a hardcopy of this. (self read)

Martin’s Mice and the Hodgeheg by Dick King Smith (self read)

the Little Ships; A story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk.

GRADE 2 (yr 3)

Wise Guy; the Life and Philosophy of Socrates Good intro for children.

The Arabian Nights Andrew Lang

Little House in the Big Wood Laura Ingalls Wilder (copywrite free if you live in  Canada)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (no we wont be watching the movie which I hear is nothing like the book). (self read)

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis. and sharing with her brother the other Narnia stories following them from Readings From Under the Grapevine.

The Little Duke Charlotte Yonge (free ebook)

Mary Poppins

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz

GRADE 3 (yr 4)

Emil and the Detectives

St Ignatius and the Company of Jesus

Tom’s Midnight Garden

The Sword in the Stone

Francis of the Seven Seas (I know Seton has it down as G 6 but Ronan wanted to read it now so he is)

Gregor Mendel, The Friar who grew peas Good science picture book with the story of Fr Mendel and his genetic discovery and experiementation with peas.

Usborne Classics (adaption) Don Quixote

Adolphus Tips Michael Morpurgo (An Iona find in a charity shop)

GRADE 4 (yr 5)

Captain’s Courageous Rudyard Kipling

Around the World in 80 Days Jules Verne audio from Lit2Go

The Call of the Wild Jack London audio from Lit2Go

The Children of the New Forest Frederick Marryat

Famous Men of Greece Charles Haaren (I have the mobi version as I bought the Yesterday’s Classics set a last year)

The Cat of Bubastes G. A. Henty

On Henty – I-ve read he should be treated with caution. He wrote fiction more than he wrote “historical” apparently, and the place I found the info did a short overview of his book on the fall of Jerusalem showing the problems. He is also well known as writing some anti-Catholic anhistorical stuff too – so I am going to either pre-read (God give me a 28 hr day) or avoid. There’s plenty of other stuff out there.

The Lost World Arthur Conan Doyle

Swallows and Amazons (which I bought in Wigtown the Book Town of Scotland)

Mystery of the Roman Ransom

The Children’s Homer (I picked up a lovely hardcopy of this in Wigtown).

The Canterville Ghost Oscar Wilde

More Narnia books.

MIXED BAG

Frog and Toad

The Ink Garden of Br Theophane along with Magic in the Margins and Marguerite Makes a Book are beautiful ways to get children interested in manuscript and book making before printing. There are basic recipes for the inks and the books themselves are so well illustrated you’ll have plenty of inspiration. Activity sheet (opens pdf)

What’s Your Angle Pythagoras?

I love just about all the Picture books I’ve ever bought and have a lot that I hope to buy eventually. They are books for relaxing with and suit all three of them pretty well. Avila is lovely at sitting with younger children and reading to them and these books are ideal for that.

Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery

Other books I might think of getting for free reading>

Inkheart                                                                   The Hundred and One Dalmations

The Borrowers

READ ALOUDS (if I have voice – audio if not)

The Secret Garden (I’ve read this to them before but Avila has requested it again) Also by Frances Hodgeson Burnett Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess

E.Nesbit books

pre-school book list

Charlie Needs a Cloak,

Peace At Last by Jill Murphy I also recommend Whatever Next and the Large Family books.

Dear Zoo

Owl Babies

We’re going on a bear hunt

Patrick Patron saint of Ireland

Fin McCoul and just about anything simple by Tomie DePaola.

The Gruffalo and The Gruffolo’s Child

Alfie and Annie Rose books by Shirley Hughes

Mog and the Granny Judith Kerr

The Story About Ping

Frog and Toad

Winnie the Pooh stories, and poem books like Now We Are Six and For the Very Young (the real ones by A A Milne - the others are awful) Also I advise you shop around as some of the stories and poem can be found free online. We are fortunate that we have some very old copies from my dim and distant past. You can also get Kindle versions.

Dinosaurs Love Underpants just for fun. Although Scholastic Press have some activities to go with it!

Usborne Fairy Tales (these are not the traditional ones but updated versions. The girls like them and they are a fairly good introduction)

The Wemmicks stories – You are Special and other stories You Are Spec Audio

Audio; The Queen and the Cats about St. Helena

Home Education, Living Literature – because Charlotte Mason is still my heroine.

Obviously when it comes to children reading and being read to grades are a very vague guide. For example Ronan has been reading St Ignatius without too many problems – apart from the Spanish names – but it isn’t on Seton until much later (I discovered by accident t’other day). While I am a great believer in giving children books to read that expand their vocabulary and stretch them a bit, I don’t advocate making reading so hard it puts them off.  I think there’s a place for “page candy” as well (in small doses) – although I can’t think of any the children are reading at the moment.

(Grade 3-4) Ronan is reading (to me) Tom’s Midnight Garden  (from my Kindle) and St Ignatius Loyola.

Avila is reading Why? by Tomie DePaola which she has nearly finished. Once she has I will buy For the Duration which both she and Ronan have been looking forward too. I think she’ll probably get to read it first.

Avila will also be reading The Weight of the Mass and Take it to the Queen.

Ronan and Avila are allowed to read in bed now.

Ronan is reading T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone which Iona picked up from a charity shop.

Avila has been reading mainly picture books each night – lots of Tomie dePaola and other stuff.

I’ve been printing off comics from Treasure Chest of Fact and Fun for them both as well. This has gone down better than I expected. The only complaint so far has been the type quality sometimes.  I’ve got some copies of Fairy Tale Parade  (I didn’t get them from the site linked but hopefully that site works ok) as well which now we have a cheap to run laser printer I am printing selected stories from.

They have been listening to Stranger Moon from Ancient Faith Radio’s Under the Grapevine. We have all the Narnia books downloaded as well as some other stories. It’s lovely stuff and has been a God-send now that I can’t read out loud for any length of time. Heleyna’s favourite is the story of St. Helena and the Cats. There’s also that lovely Wemmick story – we have the book from a friend.

Other books the children have been reading or will be reading over the next few weeks are:

The Librarian Who Measured The Earth for the little ones history.

Wise Guy about Socrates.

This beautiful book Angel in teh Waters to go with a little project we are doing on human fetal development.

Iona is reading Anne Fran’s Short Stories lent by a friend. Anne wrote them when she was a teenager and Iona reckons she was very wise for her age. Then she will read The Flight of the Falcon by Daphne De Maurier 

I am still reading Osler’s Web which I very much recommend. It’s a brilliantly researched and written expose of the sheer corruption, egos and narcisistic personalities as well as the heroic and genuine care and hard work done by reserchers and medics into the mystery of ME which was named Chronic Fatique Syndrome in a deliberate and frankly malicious attempt to prevent patient care.

Check out my Amazon Store (no, I am not making any money on this) for other books we either have or wish to have that I think I worth reading.

Home Education: Lent reading and soul scrubbing; and a Freebie

Lent is under way and we are plunging into the Lent term.

They will be listening to Glory Stories, which they love. I want Ronan to have a good saint book to read beside his Tom’s Midnight Garden. I think I’m going to get him to read Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus.

Avila will be reading some of the St Joseph books - we have a pile of them. (Some are better written than others)

There are also good LENTERN RESOURCES at That Resource Site. You might also like my new resource for the older ones and maybe even for you. THE SEVEN LAST WORDS. I am afraid it was a bit of a struggle to write, so please forgive me if there are bits in it that are a bit – how shall I put this? – fibro foggy. Perhaps you can offer up any irritation it gives you :)

Heleyna is still working through My First Bible Stories and she too will have some St Joseph Picture book stories and perhaps Amy Steedman stories such as In God’s Garden.

MY LENT READING

I am reading A Song For Nagasaki by Paul Glynn. It is the story of Dr Takashi Nagai, his journey from Shinto, through atheism to the Catholic faith, via Pascal and the beauty of Japanese poetry. But it is also the story of a man who risked so much and suffered so much to help the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War.

You can get a good overview of the amazing life of Dr Nagai from Fr. Serephim HERE and HERE.

home education: reading week

As there is so much to organise for Christmas, we are spending this week reading and cooking.

The children are continuing their music lessons every day and then there are stories.

Ronan is reading Emil and the Detectives and Avila is reading What a Year from the 26 Fairmount Ave books.

Heleyna is reading Oxford Reading Tree stage 1+ books and the books on more.starfall and Starfall.

I have also just downloaded a free geography – maps and flags game called Seterra which has proved fun.

Read Alouds this week:

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie de Paola (This book seems really difficult to get hold of these days.)

From my Kindle

The Pheonix and the Carpet

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (bought when Yesterday’s Classics were doing a massive deal). It’s not the real story of Santa Claus, but it’s a fun tale nevertheless.

My personal reading at the moment is Theophilos by Michael O’Brien

and Dorothy L Sayers Unpleasentness at the Bellona Club – but I can’t remember where I found it online.

I am sure there will be more, around all the cooking, prep and stuff and I’ll update if there is.

My Amazon store and Baldwin Project deal

I have made an Amazon store, which I suppose is anything but distributist of me, but then I suppose you could say it’s a bit like a corner store in cyber space.

Go and have a look at LIVING BOOKS, NO TWADDLE (Hopefully) To be honest I am not expecting to make much money from this, but as I am setting it out as a sort o curriculum I hope some one will find it useful. I’m still updating it so keep an eye on it.

I am presently setting up a separate blog with curriculum details that will include freebies and other stuff. It’s not ready to launch, and as things are busy right now, probably wont be for a while – but I’ll let you know when it’s done.

Meanwhile, if you want to spend your hard earned cash usefully, there is this lovely offer at the Baldwin Project where you get 200+ ebooks for under $100.

Enjoy.

Timeless Approaches to Prayer by Paul Northam

My friend Paul has written a book called Timeless Approaches to Prayer. Go and have a look.

It’s mainly aimed at young people as part of the Youth Series by Grove publishing. But it’s a short straight forward book that I think has something for young people of any age – even mine.

For one thing, it doesn’t assume that just because you are a Christian that you automatically know how to pray. Even the Apostles had to ask Jesus to teach them how to go about prayer, and that’s how we got the Our Father.

Take a look and leave him a message of support. :)

Kindle up on Jimmy Akin and C.S.Lewis

I listen to Catholic Answers quite a bit, and I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Jimmy Akin has an amazing talent as an apologist. He always answers questions clearly, so that even when I’m scrubbing the loo I can get what he’s on about. He has a BLOG and he has a number of books which look very interesting.

I have bought the Kindle edition of The Father’s Know Best which is a good read and not too dense for people like me to understand. As the teachings, writings and activities of the Church Fathers can, and indeed has, filled many volumes this is a short overview but a good one and to help get more depth he has set up The Fathers Know Best website where you will find videos answering various questions and myths surrounding the Father’s.

If that’s not enough Akin for you then he has started his own podcast series in which he answers questions sent in.  They are also available on itunes.

When you plug the Kindle into the computer via the usb you will see three folders marked Documents, Audio and Music. The documents are for books obviously. The audio will take audio books and other mp3 files, so I drop and drag or save directly the files I want to listen to into that. It means you can see what you are listening to and are able to pause, rewind or fast forward as you like.

If you drop the files into music you can listen and read at the same time, but the files are played in the order you dropped them and there’s no way of controlling them once they start.

I have wondered if I could use the music folder for read alouds for the children where they can read and listen to the book at the same time.

That brings me to the C.S. Lewis audio.

First of all there is this fantastic freebie being offered from Ancient Faith Radio. Mp3 recordings of all the Narnia books being read. (h/t Freely Educate) you might also like their podcasts from an Orthodox pov.

If that’s not enough C.S.Lewis for you there is All About C.S.Lewis podcasts to pack into your Kindle (or mp3 player) (h/t Freebie of the Day) These podcasts look at many of the books of C.S.Lewis.

I also recommend the wonderful insights of Peter Kreeft who has free lectures on his site covering Lewis’s writings. I particularly recommend his lecture on “‘Till We Have Faces” and I really do recommend reading the book (although I can’t seem to find a Kindle edition unfortunately)

So there you go. Quite a bit there for all ages. (I think Dr. Kreeft is particularly good for young adults)

Enjoy

home education book basket and kindle

I’m sorting out some holiday read alouds and self-reading books for the children, as well as some audio books for long journey’s ans days out.

Light up Your Brain has some lovely tales such as The Velveteen Rabbit and The Emperors New Clothes. There are a couple of Beatrix Potter stories too – but I really don’t like her stuff so can’t face it on long journey’s. (Yes I am a very bad home eductor).

Heleyna has asked for Dinosaurs Love Underpants and Chicken Lickin’ She is reading Can You See Me and some Starfall books

Avila is reading Danny’s Secret Fox and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Ronan is finishing off Detectives in Togas with me reading some and him reading some so we can finish before the end of term.  He is also reading a tatty old copy of Usborne’s Mysteries of the Unknown.

Finally, what is on my Kindle? Lots of stuff.

If you plug the Kindle into your computer and open the files you will see you have three files folders; documents where all the books go, music where apparently you can store and listen to music while you read. I haven’t tried that. I’m not sure I can read that well with something like that going on- but if it works for you, it’s a nice little feature.

Finally there’s a folder marked audible. This is where you can put mp3s and audio books. The speakers on the Kindle are pretty good considering and there’s an audio jack hole at the bottom.

Jimmy Akin has started his own podcasting which you can get with itunes. You can also download Catholic Answers with lots of Akin wisdom and knowledge.

The first Outline of Sanity podcast is available. The Distributist Review also has a list of distributist authors and their books, some of which are free.

I am not 100% sure of what I think of The Distributist Review, but there are some good articles.

And I have tons of  Cath Lab to listen to so that I can get my head around Science and Ethics and all that jazz.

Book wise I have just finished reading The Necromancers by R H Benson and I am reading his biography titled “Hugh” written by his brother. It’s a gentle story but it is clear that the brothers did not really understand each other. They come across as a loving but strangely separate family. Their father became Archbishop of Cambury in 1883 and was succeeded by the famous Archbishop Temple.

I enjoyed the Necromancers. It’s an easier read than “Come Rack, Come Rope,” which was the first of his books I ever read.

The Necromancers delves into the world of spiritualism that was so fashioable among certain people in those days. I think it was spiritualism that caused poor old Conan Doyle to loose his way somewhat (the Cottingely Fairies springs to mind.) Benson looks hard at the underbelly of this “light entertainment” and shows the very real damage that messing with that sort of stuff can cause. It’s a ghost story with a strangely even handed approach, treating the psychology od the situation, rather than ecto-plasm.

I recommend Lord of the World by Benson which is a piece of disturbingly accurate prophecy of the ‘future’.

Could Public Domain books improve literacy levels?

John Taylor Gatto has said that before compulsory education was introduced, under the Prussian model, in America, literacy levels were something like 95%.

Something I read recently about the nineteenth century and the law said that in England (and I am assuming Scotland and Wales were much the same) literacy levels improved exponentially from 1830 through to compulsory education. By 1900 the levels were already dropping drastically.

I remember being told by a tutor, and I have since read this elsewhere, that St Thomas Aquinas wrote his Summa  for school children aged around 14 -15. Now it is difficult for Master’s students to get to grips with. The pompous idea that medieval people were ignorant and we are so enlightened is patently untrue.

But there have been some interesting developments. The age of the computer has given many of us access to all sorts of books, radio programs and podcasts that are high quality and mind stretching stuff. Many of the books that are so easy to access these days are in the public domain and with no copyright they are free for all readers.

Certainly homeschool families and curriculum planners have made the very best of these old books to offer a huge range of high quality, practically free books for children’s learning.

There are many of what Miss Mason called “living books”.  Those are books written by a single author with a flow and joy to them that group written disjointed textbooks written today simply cannot match.

Traditional fairy stories – Andrew Lang’s extensive collection for example – give children a wider language base as well as retaining the the deep set natural law of morality found in both old pagan and early Judao-Christian myth and storytelling.

I know that many parents (especially of those of the home ed variety it seems) have a belief that all books published prior to around 1960 are good and those published after that date are bad. More worrying imho, are those parents who have decided the differential between good and bad is simply this; books are good, technology is bad.  I actually saw a blog entry where the mother stated that no book had ever harmed a child. She should visit our local library some time and see if she can say the same after that!

I don’t buy into any of these views. Some old books are excellent. Some are awful or as Charlotte Mason noted (writing before 1925 remember) “twaddle”. Some modern writers are dreadful and some, such as Tomie de Paola, Michael Morpurgo and others are excellent.

We are using more and more free public domain books, as there are collections made available that are conveniently tailored for learning.  Favourite sites are HERITAGE HISTORY and THE BALDWIN PROJECT. None of the books in these collections have been dumbed down to treat children as though they have never acquired language and couldn’t possibly work through long words.

I don’t know whether these free books could help increase children’s language skills and learning; although I have certainly seen evidence of it in my own family, but there is no doubt that something has gone wrong in general with children’s books today. The level of language for “teen novels” is appallingly low and that’s before you get into the banal to nasty plot lines.  The difference between the beautifully written A.A.Milne stories of Winnie-the-Pooh and the utterly naff “disney” versions is stark. Children deserve better than that surely.

Home Education; Book Basket

I have been adding books to the left sidebar to show which books we have been reading here.

But I thought I would add a post for weekly books, both hard copy and online, that we are reading.

Ronan (grade 2 year 3 age 8)  is working through The King of the Golden City. Although it is the study edition, he is just reading it, and we discuss aspects as he goes along. He likes to work out the allegories for himself. He’s been reading some Enyd Blyton books a fellow HE mum lent us, on and off as well.

Avila (grade K year 1 age 6) is reading The Ice Mummy, a Step Into Reading 4 book, which has led to her reading to Ronan because he’s as fascinated by the story as she is. It’s well written with lots of photos of Otzi and the work done to discover more about him. She is also reading an easier book (lent by K) called Best Friends by Brian Ogdan. They story is based around a school classroom where the teacher takes what is happening to the children and relates it to a Bible story.

Heleyna (age 3 nearly 4) is reading the Starfall books and has fallen in love with Zac the Rat.  We are still doing quite a bit of the More.Starfall stuff too. There are new additions to this website which are very useful.

I have printed off the first four readers for Heleyna, so she has a hard copy to read from too.

The Read Alouds this week (from last week) are the Amy Steedman Nursery Book of Bible Stories from the newly vamped Heritage History Site.  I reading Arabella Buckley’s The Fairyland of Science and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book from the Baldwin Classics collection.

I am reading the Vision Books for Lent (some of them). Yes, I know they are children’s books, but that’s about my level this Lent; and anyway, it’s good to read ahead, so I know what the children will be reading. I’ve read St Dominic which is a nice, straight forward story of what the saint did and with some good history around it to put his work in context. There’s a bit in the story, I think, is mistakenly attributed to St. Dominic, when it is really about his contemporary St. Francis of Assisi. Beebe attributes the prophetic dream Pope Innocent III had about someone rebuilding the Church, and holding it up, to be about Dominic, but it was recorded as being about Francis. There’s some famous artwork showing the dream with Francis holding up the Basilica at Rome.  Other than that, however, the book is very good. She even touches on the Lateran Council.

Now I am reading Louis de Wohl’s Saint Joan, which he writes with his usual gusto and attention to fine historical detail. I’ve never read anything much about the Maid d’Orleans before, and I am very interested in why God was so upfront in His saving od France then, and ensuring the Dauphin was crowned. I have some thoughts on it, but I’ll finish the book first and read more about her.

Meanwhile the flower in the attic, Iona is reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

So, that’s our basket this week.

Reading and Listening Week. Mon

Just before half term I am having a reading week. We try and get one of these in once a term or so. Instead of the usual lessons we get out all the books that might otherwise not get enough attention and listen to stories online as well. There’s lots of good stuff. Here’s a selection from today:

Books and stories we are reading and listening to this week:

Famous Men of the Middle Ages chapters 4 and 5 Attila the Hun and Genseric the Vandal. This is to build on the rather rushed and shortened chapters we have reached in Story of the World Vol 1.

From the Cat in the Hat Learning Library: Oh Say Can You Seed and Inside Your Outsides.

Usborne Books: The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Usborne little Greek Myths book.

Tomie de Poala: Old Befana -even though it’s for Christmas the children requested it. Charlie Needs a Cloak - great for the younger ones. The Cloud Book.

Ronan is reading from the 26 Fairmount Ave series On My Way.

Owl Babies which you can read and watch in British Sign Language too.

My friend K has done reading weeks with her children too. She suggested we make a tree with each leaf having the title of a book or story they have read or listened too. Seems less boring than my little list so we’ll set about that tomorrow :)

This weeks books for home education

These are some of the books we have been reading this week.

The Librarian who measured the earth is a beautifully illustrated story of the life of the difficult to pronounce Eratosthenes who after some difficulty with camels found a better way and managed to pretty accurately work out the circumference of the earth.

Nicely written, and with the maths explained in such as way that I think makes it easy to grasp.

We love it.

We have also read Grandfather’s Journey which is quite a short but moving tale of a Japanese man who travels from Japan to America and back to Japan where the Second World War keeps him.

Ronan is still reading Here We All Are the second of the 26 Fairmount Ave books by the ever wonderful Tomie dePaola. We have been using some Youtube vids with this story (it’s amazing what you can find on Youtube) so the children have heard Tomie’s famous cousin Morton Downey Sr the tenor.

Heleyna loves having her Peppa Pig book and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt read with her and she plays bear hunts with her friend, which can involve rather a lot of toddler shrieking. (ouch).

We had a couple of fairly quiet days the end of this week so more stories could be read such as The Story About Ping which comes with a great CD that offers a couple of Chinese greetings, some basic info on Chinese culture and a couple of songs. I think it’s good and I recommend it.

Home education: new books

I always keep an eye on bookshops and curriculums for ideas for books for the children and with some careful planning I can often get books off Amazon for less than £3 – you know those books that cost a penny but the p&p is £2.76 or some such.

I also love AdoremusBooks where I think the prices are reasonable even with shipping and I get the parcel usually about 10 days after ordering which is pretty fast. Faster than some books I’ve ordered from UK shops.

Anyway I have received three new books in the last couple of days. A Story of Beethoven is a lovely book simply written and illustrated with black and white drawings. It’s just right for Ronan and Avila enjoys listening to it. As he was a pupil of Haydn it has gone well with this months Classics for Kids programs. Nature in a Nutshell for Kids is set out Spring to Winter with very straightforward little experiments to do for each season.

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