Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Author Highlight: Amanda Hocking

Usually when I highlight an author, I have read several books by him/her. Not this time. I heard about Amanda Hocking's story a few weeks ago. And its a pretty awesome story. You can learn more about her from her blog here. She has self published several books through Amazon Kindle. She has been wildly successful. Its not only her success that led me to write this post about her though. Last night, I read her book Hollowland. I stayed up way too late to finish reading it, so that was a clear indication of its worth.

Amanda Hocking tells a great story. Her characters are interesting, and I care about what happens to them. I am excited to read more of her books. If you enjoy young adult fantasy, you will enjoy Amanda Hocking's books.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

The real truth about this post: I am not done with this book. In fact, I've only made it to page 25. It's an interesting book, and I like what Godin has to say so far. I am excited to read the rest, but I am personally frustrated with Godin. Here's why: he completely ignored a big part of this book's information when he wrote the last book of his that I reviewed: Stop Stealing Dreams. He is talking about innovators and early adopters and how to hook them and bring them on board with products. I can tell that he understands this when it comes to business and products. He just missed the entire point when he switched to writing about education. You see, when it comes to education most of the innovators and early adopters are homeschoolers. And in his book about education, Seth Godin marginalizes homeschoolers. He ignores their strengths and the fact that most homeschoolers are actively looking for options when it comes to education and repeatedly pushes them aside by suggesting that homeschooling is impractical. Yet, the only people who are in a position to make the changes he outlines in his book right now are homeschoolers. We have already opted out of a system that makes change frustratingly slow. Homeschoolers are the exactly the people that, according to his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin should be embracing and connecting with when it comes to education. His ideas about the place and purpose of libraries in the future lines up with another book called Instead of Education by John Holt, a homeschooling proponent. I would guess its unlikely that Seth Godin knows about this book that was originally published in 1976 because it was written for homeschoolers and like minded individuals at the time that were looking for alternatives to traditional schooling. And yet, Holt's book talks about the future of libraries in much the same way Godin does.

Homeschoolers are so invested in education that they regularly read about it, go to classes to help them improve their teaching, and pay for educational supplies. When a new idea or way of approaching education comes along, homeschoolers are in the unique position of being able to try it out quickly. We often approach teaching as coaches, seeking out resources and the best of the educational options for our children. We are informed about education. All of these things signal that we are the innovators and early adopters that Godin's book Purple Cow suggests should be found and encouraged when starting something new. And yet, Godin uses his book on education to point out what he sees as the reasons why he isn't talking to homeschoolers at all. I think he missed the boat.

With that said, I would recommend both of these books to friends, family, and anyone else. They are both full of information that can be helpful and interesting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

There are few things that I enjoy more than free books. So when I heard that Seth Godin was offering his book free, I checked it out right away. His book is written as a series of essays, and he says right at the beginning that part of his intention is to get people talking about education. I liked most of what he had to say. His perspective on comparing our test scores to other countries has definitely changed how I react when I hear that the United States is behind other countries on test scores. As a homeschooling mom, I have thought a lot about education and what it should look like. I have done a lot of reading about education and come to my own conclusions about what the aim of my children's education should be. A number of my thoughts line up with things that Seth Godin has to say, but I also found some of his thoughts to be new ones.

I think that Seth Godin has a curious blind spot about homeschooling for a person so interested in innovating education. He states several times that a homeschooling parent will make mistakes that a seasoned teacher will be able to avoid, but he ignores the fact that a homeschooling parent is more seasoned than many teachers by the time they have a child for ten or fifteen years. All teachers have to start somewhere, and in public school you don't always have a choice if you have a first year teacher. Seth Godin posits that teachers need to fill a coaching role, locating resources and getting students interested. Who is more energetic and creative in finding resources and getting kids interested in learning than their own concerned, invested parent? In fact, homeschooling is the only place that I know of that many of the creative ideas in this book are being put into action right now. As a homeschooling parent, I can get started immediately on changing my child's education. I realize that Seth Godin is hoping to energize a revolution in the school system, but I think he is hurting his cause by marginalizing the homeschool option. Even though I don't agree with Godin about all his ideas, I got a lot out of his book and I highly recommend it.

You should read this book. People that care about children, are part of the education system, or help pay for our education system should read Stop Stealing Dreams and start talking about education.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poetry Bee: Rekindling the Lost Art of Recitation

When I was a young girl, I fell in love with poetry. I read it quite a bit, and I wrote some of my own poetry. I didn't memorize poems myself, but I was in awe of those that did. I remember reading books in which the characters memorized quite long poems and wishing that this practice still existed. I knew a few people that had memorized poetry, but they were the minority.

Earlier this year our family joined a poetry club as part of our homeschooling experience. I have seen my children grow and make connections through memorizing poems and reciting them. I have been privileged to learn and memorize poetry along with my children. We have begun to recognize specific poets in other venues, and we have learned a lot of new vocabulary. The biggest benefit of poetry in their lives has been somewhat intangible. My children and I "own" these poems because they have become a part of us. This wonderful benefit is not a part of most modern curriculum, but it can be. The book Poetry Bee: Rekindling the Lost Art of Recitation lays out a plan for setting up a memorization group in your school, homeschool, community, or home. It also has a great collection of poems to enjoy reading or memorizing. I recommend this book to all parents, teachers, and other people interested in poetry.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Night Circus

I recently read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I had been hearing about this book from several places, but wasn't really sure what to expect. It was a delightful read, with a unique magic system and intriguing twists. The night circus is more than just a circus, it is a venue for a contest between those that can really perform magic. This book is part love story, part tragedy, and part fantastic magic.

I look forward to more books by Morgenstern, because she has crafted this book beautifully. If you enjoy fantasy based on tweaking the rules of our world you will love this book. If you enjoy love stories, especially those with complexity, you will want to read The Night Circus.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Update 3

I'm behind, but I am still writing. I am still spending about the same amount of time each day on writing, and my actual number of words written is slowing down. But...I have still written more this month than I normally write. I can actually see this book coming together and becoming what I want it to be. I am very excited about how the book is coming together. Because this is a nonfiction project I am having to slow down to make some decisions and do some research. My word count is 30000 which puts me about a day and a half behind where I should be on my word count.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Update 2

It's another week. I didn't do quite as well this week at staying on top of my writing. Earlier this week, I was starting to think maybe I didn't have as much to say on my topic as I originally thought. However, with effort and a fair amount of slogging through the writing process, I was able to end Sunday the 13th of November with 21,674 words. The end goal for the 13th day of the month is 21,671 words so I have three extra words. I am ecstatic! I am actually doing it, and I made it through the first slump. I even have a plan for tomorrow...