Book Reviews

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How to Survive Homeschooling : A Self-Care Guide for Moms Who Lovingly Do Way Too Much

In this beautifully written narrative, Brooke Benoit shares with her readers the anguish, tears, fears, relief, triumph, and joy she experienced throughout her journey in homeschooling her children. Her sisterly and loving advice seem to spring straight from the bottom of her heart as she lays out her mistakes and struggles and realizations. Refreshingly raw and moving, this book is akin to having Brooke sitting right in front of you and chatting with you in person. It’s a much needed reminder for mothers to prioritize self care for themselves especially…

Genre: Homeschooling, Non-Fiction
Subjects: Homeschooling, Mother, Personal story, Self care

The Most Magnificent Thing

Ashley Spires takes the reader through the mind of a girl who loves to tinker and build things. As she works, readers witness her perseverance, frustration, and response to failure, but also a rebound. This book presents girls in engineering and shows that yes, girls can tinker and build too, and be good at it! Educators can read this book with young and older children alike, and adjust the discussions according to their level. Further extensions from this reading can possibly go into researching female engineers.

Genre: Fiction, Picture Books
Subjects: Engineering, Growth Mindset

Your Child’s Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them

Jenifer Fox lays out three areas in which you can learn how to discover your child’s strengths; Activity Strength, Relationship Strengths, and Learning Strengths. She started the Strength Movement in which education are tailored to be strength-based rather than ‘fixing’ children to improve test scores, etc. There is workbook-type guide at the end for readers to discover their children’s strengths in these three areas and learn how to apply them in learning. Great for home educators, so they can better customize their child’s education.

Genre: Education, Psychology
Subjects: Psychology

King of the Wind: Story of the Godolphin Arabian

A wonderfully woven story of the first Arabian horse that was brought to Europe, thereby establishing a lineage of prized Arabian horses used in races to this day. This story is based on some true aspect of history pertaining to the gifting of an Arabian horse to a French king. Henry brings the reader from Morocco, through the desert all the way to France and eventually England. Sham, the Arabian horse that was gifted to the King Louis XIV was accompanied by his faithful caretaker and companion, Agba, a deaf…

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Subjects: Equine, history

Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching

“It turns out that even believing you are smart—one of the fixed mindset messages—is damaging, as students with this fixed mindset are less willing to try more challenging work or subjects because they are afraid of slipping up and no longer being seen as smart.”

Genre: Education, Math, Teaching
Subjects: Homeschooling, Learning Disability, Math, math anxiety, Pedagogy

Teaching Minds : How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools

Schank is definitely a divergent thinker and this comes out in his innovative thoughts on the conventional system of education and his proposals for solutions. Instead of acquiring factual knowledge, he focuses on thinking. He proposes a high school program in which the students get a mentor in different areas and learn the ‘subjects’ in real life context instead of learning chemistry or physics just because. This book is an eye opener for those of us who grew up in the traditional educational system. He proposes what teaching should look…

Genre: Cognitive Science, Education, Teaching

Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance

One theory claims that creative impulses exist in all of us but are weakened by custom and social rules of behavior – a variation of the claim dating back to French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau that formal schooling inhibits rather than stimulates creativity.

Genre: Cognitive Science, Education, Neuroscience, Psychology
Subjects: Neuroscience

Rethinking School: How To Take Charge of Your Child’s Education

Western modernity has many upsides, but it also has a downside: it channels all students into the same developmental path. That’s not how people actually are. Some of us should not be railroaded into college. We should take alternative paths: toward being stonemasons, shepherds, brewers, artists, costume designers, diesel mechanics, landscapers, weavers, electricians, plumbers. All of these are professions that demand a high level of skill and a great deal of training. They can also pay very well. But the exit lanes that lead from our usual high-school-into-four-year-college interstate toward those alternative destinations are poorly marked, and (too often) littered with road blocks: chief among them, parental disappointment, and social stigma (vo tech as the “stupid” track).

Genre: Education, Homeschooling, Non-Fiction
Subjects: education system, Homeschooling

How We Learn

The harder we have to work to retrieve a memory, the greater the subsequent spike in retrieval and storage strength (learning). The Bjorks call this principle desirable difficulty, and its importance will become apparent in the coming pages.

Genre: Cognitive Science, Education, Non-Fiction, Psychology, Teaching
Subjects: Cognitive Science, Learning, Neuroscience

A Faraway Island

Imagine yourself a child, and you are sent away to another country on your own, or with your younger sibling, who can get on your nerves sometimes, while your parents remain behind in the country where you were born and raised. You are told that it would only be 6 months before you are reunited with your parents, and you put all your hopes into a future together, in America, escaping growing persecution of the Nazis in annexed Austria. Thor really threw one event after another to her character, which…

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Subjects: Europe, Jews, Nazi occupation, Sweden, World War II

The Green Glass Sea

Dewey Kerrigan is the daughter of a scientist who works with the government during the World War II years. From St. Louis, Dewey was put on a train to Lamy, New Mexico, to next be transported to the ‘Hill’ where her father was. Working for the government, her father is one of the scientists involved in the top secret project that should win the war. Having such a close relationship with her Papa, Dewey is happy in ‘The Hill’, and according to him, “I’ve never seen her happier.” Part of…

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Subjects: atomic bomb, Los Alamos, New Mexico, World War II

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home

Classical education is, above all, systematic – in direct contrast to the scattered, unorganized nature of so much secondary education. Rigorous, systematic study has two purposes. Rigorous study develops virtue in the student: the ability to act in accordance to what one knows to be right. Virtuous men or women can force themselves to do what they know is right, even when it runs against their inclinations. Classical education continually asks a student to focus now on what is immediately pleasurable (another half hour of TV or computer game, for example) but on the steps needed to reach a future goal-mastery of vital academic skills.

Genre: Education, Teaching
Subjects: Classical Education, Homeschooling

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Taken together, all of these studies suggest that the path to a life of meaning and significance isn’t to “live in the present” as so many spiritual gurus have advised. It is to integrate our perspectives on time into a coherent whole, one that helps us comprehend who we are and why we’re here.

Genre: Education, Leadership, Parenting, Psychology, Teaching

Mieko and the Fifth Treasure

Written by the author of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, this book features Mieko, a young budding calligrapher whose hand was injured in the bombing of Nagasaki. As she struggles physically without the full use of her hand for daily things, she also struggles emotionally without the use of her fully functioning artistic hand. Coerr takes us on a journey of finding the fifth treasure in Mieko’s heart as she learns to reconcile her reality and expectations. This book is a good accompaniment in the study of history pertaining…

Genre: Fiction
Subjects: atomic bomb, Japan

Parent Talk

Chick Moorman, an inspirational speaker with over 40 years experience as an educator and parent divided this book into 11 chapters. Each chapter deals with the many ways a parent can address a situation such that it builds the child’s self esteem, gives the child a feeling of responsibility, equips the child with problem solving abilities, diffuses conflicts, strengthens and builds family relationships, and eradicates remarks that can hinder a complete emotional growth of a child. Replete with examples.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Parenting, Psychology

A Qur’aanic Odyssey: Towards Juz Amma

In this book, Umm Muhemmed gives a beautiful peek into the family life of a mother who sacrificed her own career pursuit by taking a break, in order to focus on Quran memorization of her two children and herself. Ibrahim, a typical five year old boy who is also imaginative, active, and curious, embarks on the journey of Quran memorization. As is the norm with most young children who start to memorize, his journey begins with the memorization of the last Juz in the Quran, Juz Amma (Juz 30).  What…

Genre: Non-Fiction, Parenting, Religious, Teaching
Subjects: Hifdh, Quran

Disciplining Without Disrespecting

From disciplining toddlers to teens, Grandma Jeddah shares her wise advice and tips for Muslim parents in her e-book Discipline Without Disrespecting. A mother of 11 children, grandmother of 13, and over 30 years of teaching in Al Madinah School in Los Angeles, Grandma Jeddah has years of experience with children. In this e-book, she has compiled parenting tips and advice from the Quran and Sunnah and also various parenting books, as well as advice with regards to special needs children. Grandma Jeddah includes this troubleshooting chapter, which moves beyond…

Genre: Parenting, Psychology

Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students

Pope welcomes her readers to Faircrest High, a high school located in a wealthy California suburb which has the lowest dropout rate in the state, small class sizes, and high quality teachers. She shadows five students recommended by the faculty as successful and outstanding students, and discovers how the pursuit of grades in the school system strips students of integrity and induces unnecessary stress and hostility. Is the school system producing future generation with solid admirable values, or is it just producing students who just ‘do school’ at the expense…

Genre: Education, Non-Fiction

The Power of Play

The book is divided into three parts. The first part talks about how play has degenerated in today’s modern world, and how our society has succumbed to technology’s ‘toys’ thereby abandoning the natural environment that is our worldly playground. The second part expounds on the role of play in learning and development, and in the last section, Elkind ends the book with some lighthearted parenting tips.

Genre: Education, Non-Fiction, Parenting, Psychology, Teaching

Is College Worth It?

College should be a choice for some, depending on educational prowess, opportunity, and financial considerations. For those individuals, only a certain number of colleges are appropriate, and of those colleges, only a few degrees are worth choosing. College is neither a panacea nor a carte blanche. Better high schools, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs should take the place of overpriced and underperforming colleges and universities. Online education, particularly MOOCs (massive online open courses) should take the place of inefficient brick-and-mortar colleges, making education of all types less expensive and more accessible.

Genre: Education, Non-Fiction

The Power of Different : The Link Between Disorder and Genius

One theory for why brain differences are so common among human being as a species is described by David Dobbs in his article ” The Science of Success” in The Atlantic. Dobb summarizes the work of child psychiatrist Tom Boyce, who coined a “dandelion and orchid” theory of human behavior. Boyce’s research suggests that, neurologically speaking, there are two sorts of people – “dandelions,” who flourish in any environment, and “orchids”, who have much narrower requirements. While orchids are much more difficult to grow, when they thrive, they do so beautifully and far more extraordinary results.

Genre: Education, Parenting, Psychology
Subjects: Neuroscience

Learning Disabilities: What Are They?

First of all, learning disabilities don’t mean that someone is stupid or has mental retardation. Hopefully, I made myself clear on this point, but rest assured: This point is important, and I state it over and over in the book. Perhaps, it will sink in. Second, there are many types of learning disabilities. There is dyslexia, dysnomia, dyscalculia, and a host of others, which I discuss in great length. You need to know what kind of learning disability you child has before you can help him or her.

Genre: Education, Parenting, Teaching
Subjects: Learning Disability, Neuroscience

The Whole-Brain Child

A great book full of scientific explanations to back up 12 key strategies in nurturing a child’s emotional intelligence through understanding the two hemispheres of the brain. The authors simplify the strategies so parents can use the proposed lingo with their children according to their age level.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Parenting, Psychology
Subjects: Neuroscience

How to Talk So Kids Can Learn At Home and In School

A must-have resource for educators! Replete with examples of situations in which to use the different techniques mentioned, in illustrations.

Genre: Education, Non-Fiction, Teaching
Illustrated by Kimberly Ann Coe

Jingu: The Hidden Princess

A good historical-based account to accompany the study of Ancient Japan. The book tells of a how Princess Jingu came to be Empress Jingu in 4th century Japan where the Japanese writing system was not yet in existence until she came to power.

Genre: Fiction, History
Illustrated by Xiaojun Li

The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain

Dyslexia, or the dyslexic processing style, isn’t just a barrier to learning how to read and spell; it’s also a reflection of an entirely different pattern of brain organization and information processing – one that predisposes a person to important abilities along with the well-known challenges.

Genre: Education, Non-Fiction, Psychology, Science, Teaching

Out of My Mind

“Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes-each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.”

Genre: Fiction