Lee’s Homeschool Reading List (3)

Go away, I'm reading Purrnest Hemingway." | Cat reading, Cat books, Cats

So… Mr. and Mrs. Bean want to make a trip to Europe, and they’re trusting their animals to run the farm while they’re away. Taking the responsibility seriously, Freddy the Pig and his friends decide they need to set up a farm animals’ bank… and then a farm animals’ republic.

And from that point on, things get very, very gnarly.

Freddy the Politician (Freddy the Pig): Brooks, Walter R., Wiese, Kurt: 9781468313727: Amazon.com: Books

Ages 12 and Up: Freddy the Politician, by Walter R. Brooks

Young children enjoy the Freddy books for the stories and the characters. We adults who read them enjoy the subtle humor.

I’d never read this one before. Written in 1939, we have a tale of electoral chicanery, voter manipulation, clever tricks played with the citizenship–hey! This is hitting way too close to home!

In light of some of the stress our country has been put through in just the past few years, Freddy the Politician might lend itself to fruitful discussions with teen-age readers. Really, this is not your typical Freddy book. Some of the mischief Brooks envisioned in 1939 seems to have taken some 80 years to come to fruition. Brooks’ fantasy is today’s headline nooze.

I haven’t yet finished reading this rather shocking book, so I can’t spoil it for you. Suffice it to say I have no idea at all how this is going to turn out! Mr. Brooks, you’re way ahead of me.

‘The Sword in the Stone: True Story’ (2017)

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I like to post this essay now and then because we need a hero like King Arthur, blessed by God and able to win impossible victories to deliver us from our pagan enemies.

The Sword in the Stone: True Story

It’s been some years since I came to this conclusion, that the sword in the stone was a true story. It’s become very vivid to me now. Yes, it could have happened that way. In my mind’s eye, I can very clearly see the stunned expressions on the faces of the Sarmatian cavalrymen, veterans and youngsters alike, when they see this nobody, this young man out of nowhere, pull out the sword that they’ve been worshiping, flourish it over his head for everyone to see, and call upon them to rise up against the invaders of their country.

No one does a thing like that without God’s guidance.

see him! I see him on a great horse galloping, leading a desperate uphill charge that will break the pagans’ shield-wall and insure the future of Britain as a Christian land.

It’d make quite a novel.

Memory Lane: Geography Lessons

1950s World map vintage world travel map wall map school map. $19.95, via  Etsy. | Wall maps, World map, Travel maps

Out sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Thomas, used to teach us geography by handing out lists of places that we never heard of, which we were to locate on a map and write some general description of where they were.

I found Tannu Tuva right away, knowing from my stamp collecting album that it nestled somewhere on top of Mongolia. But Heligoland? Where the dickens was Heligoland? No one could find it! We began to suspect Mr. Thomas of introducing made-up fictional places into the list.

But no–he hadn’t done that. Heligoland turned out to be a real place: an island in–yup!–the Heligoland Bight. Which connects with the North Sea. I very much doubt there’s anybody who was in that class who has forgotten where Heligoland is.

This exercise kind of grew on me. I came to take pleasure in exotic names of faraway places. My friends marveled at my knowledge of capital cities (“How the heck did he know the capital of Malta?”). All this stuff, all over the world. Salt deserts of Persia. Tien Shan Mountains. Great Slave Lake. Elephant Island. The White Sea.

How cool is all this stuff? Maps still fascinate me.

But I think I’m talking about a bygone time.

‘How Bad Should Your Bad Guys Be?’ (2017)

Image result for images of richard iii

If he’s really worse than Shakespeare’s Richard III, or Iago, your villain’s got problems–which will be passed on to both the writer and the reader.

How Bad Should Your Bad Guys Be?

Well, okay, how many of us have to worry whether the villains we make up are credible? Oh, but many people do like to try their hand had writing a story, so these tips may not come amiss. And fiction can sometimes help us to understand what we see and hear in real life.

My villains all have something in common–they justify themselves to themselves. The elasticity of this approach is limitless. Even Stalin, Mao, or Hitler could have used it, and very likely did.

P.S.–I don’t believe Richard was anywhere near the villain Shakespeare made him out to be. He’s a great example of what happens when your enemies win and get to write the history.


‘Are We Really Talking “Christian Fiction”?’ (2018)

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What makes “Christian fiction” Christian? Is it just a convenient marketing term, or does it have a real meaning?

Are We Really Talking ‘Christian Fiction’?

You’ll be interested in the comments by Nadine and Unknowable.

BTW, getting a super-early start hasn’t helped me in the least. Neither have key words. I’m not going to bother with them anymore.

I’ve Got a Title!

I’ve got a title for the new book I’ve just started writing–Let Shut the Doors of Heaven. How’s that? I can always change it, but at least now it gives me a destination toward which to guide the story.

As for The Wind from Heaven, I have no idea what’s holding up its release–but it’ll be worth waiting for.

Meanwhile, blog traffic here is down to a trickle, I don’t know why, using key words has had no effect whatsoever, and I now have to work twice as hard to get only half the results.

Let me know what you think of my title. Does it say “Pick me up and read me”?

Why Won’t Kids Read?

Amazon.com: Mabinogion (Everyman's Library) (9780460872973): Jones, Gwyn,  Jones, Thomas: Books

This is a huge topic, but I’m going to confine myself to a single anecdote.

One day, substitute teaching for a third-grade class, I found the regular teacher had left me a bit short of lesson plans. I would have to fill the time somehow. So I told the class, “If you can pay attention, I’ll tell you some stories you haven’t heard before–stories of knights, and King Arthur, and monsters, and other worlds–everything that once made life so interesting. And I think you’ll like them.”

I told them stories from The Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh legends compiled some 800 years ago, although the stories themselves are surely older than that. All right, I edited out the saucier parts. But I kept the adventure, the humor, and the marvels–and next thing we knew, the day was all but done. The children loved those stories!

The point is, the most powerful motivation for reading is a lively desire to find out something. To know the story. To learn how to do something. For amusement, escape, comfort, enlightenment. It’s all written down–in books. Stuff you never dreamed existed. Things to set your imagination on fire. Any kind of story that you want to hear, any kind of information that you need to acquire. It’s all in books.

If you like reading, you’ll read. And the more you read, the easier it is.

They throw a lot of boring books at you in school; I’ve been there, I know. I plodded through those, but on my own time, sought out the books I really wanted to read, and read them.

Too many children have never experienced the pleasure, the fun of reading. And I think that’s what they have to get hooked on.

That’s where to begin. Read aloud to little kids, and they’ll eventually want to read themselves. But you do have to begin at home, well before they go to school.

Don’t leave them at the mercy of the social media.