As my youngest read to me today, I found myself reflecting on reading styles — and wondering how much they are a function of maturity, or personality, or ? My youngest is a chatty reader. Every page or two, she stops reading the text to offer commentary, study the pictures, ask questions, or flip back a few pages to check on a detail. “I like this book! You know I think I’ll read all the way through right now.” “Who are those children, Mommy? Are…Continue Reading “Chatty reading”

Do we think of democracy as the pinnacle — the culmination of long striving toward a fuller expression of human ideals — the summit of human progress? G.K. Chesterton, writing in 1925, points out that such a view may have it backwards: If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A…Continue Reading “G.K. Chesterton on “tired democracy””

M.I.T. professor Sherry Turkle has written two previous books on the subject of technology and its effects on humanity. Apparently The Second Self, published 26 years ago, presents a more sunny thesis that online exploration is beneficial to self-development. But Turkle’s new book, Alone Together, is a fascinating and at times devastating exploration of the question posed in its subtitle: “Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.” The first half of the book describes our interaction with robots: robotic toys like…Continue Reading “Alone Together”

“Was it a good book?” I asked my daughters this question after finishing The Ordinary Princess. The answer seemed obvious; though I read it to them on my Kindle (complete with some decent illustrations, but still without the attractions of actual ink and paper), they were completely captivated from beginning to end. “Lots of giggles!” exclaimed my warm-hearted 7-year-old. “And I almost cried at the end!” “It was great,” said my reflective 9-year-old. Last week I pondered princess tales of two varieties: the helpless princesses…Continue Reading “The Ordinary Princess”

In my study of growing up in a networked culture, I meet many children and teenagers who feel cast off. Some have parents with good intentions who simply work several jobs and have little time for their children. Some have endured divorce — sometimes multiple divorces — and float from one parent to another, not confident of their true home. Those lucky children who have intact families with stable incomes can experience other forms of abandonment. Busy parents are preoccupied, often by what is on…Continue Reading “Pathological — or “normal”?”

One never knows, but I’ve been thinking lately that I’m probably about halfway through my life. Maybe a little over. What do I have to show for it? I look back over my story so far and see an odd jumble of ingredients that don’t seem to have resolved themselves yet into a definite direction. If I were reading it in a book, some episodes would make me sad or worried, but nevertheless I like my story. I wouldn’t want to trade it for someone…Continue Reading “Poetry Friday: Finishing Well”

This afternoon, we finished Rosemary Sutcliff’s Wanderings of Odysseus. My second-grader squirmed with delight next to me, pumping her feet and clapping her hands over her mouth to smother the squeals at Odysseus’ return. My fourth-grader was silent and rapt. (This is despite the fact that when I asked them for words to describe the book, “bloody” was one they both offered…) There is something so satisfying about Odysseus’ multi-chapter homecoming. Concealed from his family and faithful servants by a beggar’s disguise until one by…Continue Reading “The Fair Penelope…”

True confession: I’ve never actually finished any of the Pooh books. I’ve tried more than once; most recently, I attempted Winnie the Pooh as a read-aloud. Failure again. But The Red House Mystery is one of A.A. Milne’s books for adults, written, one source explains, for his father, who loved mysteries. I found it an entertaining, witty read that maintained a light-hearted mood despite being a whodunit. In the office of an English country estate, a shot is heard, and a corpse is found. Just…Continue Reading “The Red House Mystery”

The other day I pulled open the kitchen drawer where I keep my Bible, and saw my old photocopy of this list. It’s a comparison between proud, unbroken people, and broken people. I’ve had it for years — it was given to me by a friend at our old church, where much was made (in talk) of the idea of brokenness. I pulled it out and read through it again. In all honesty, I don’t pan out all that well as a broken person. I…Continue Reading “Brokenness: The Heart God Revives”

We’ve been revisiting a read-aloud from a few years back: Rosemary Sutcliff’s┬áBlack Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad. I reviewed this book when my now-4th-grader was in first grade, and I feel pretty much the same as I did the first time. What struck me this time was what a strange position my choice of the classical approach to education puts me in at times. On the one hand, I’m pretty choosy about what my children watch on television or what movies they…Continue Reading “First Encounters with Homer”