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Homeschooling, A Free Luxury Education

Cheaper By the Dozen is the true story of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, efficiency experts, and their 12 kids.
I've always wanted 24 kids because I wanted double the fun of Cheaper By the Dozen and other books like it, and because my mom's family had 9 and I didn't come across another more lively fun-loving family until 15 years later. My heart would start beating unbearably fast as we got within the last few miles of Gramma's house. I can be forgiven for thinking BIG FAMILIES = TONS OF FUN.

Other reasons I acquired along the way:

Because TV's and SUV's break down, but children are forever.

Even if I was going to be selfish, I would still rather have more kids than a new TV because children are far more sensible than Social Security for taking care of you in your old age. Do you want to raise adults or a subsistence check? I know people who can barely survive on their Social Security. Nobody but family and church is going to really care about you when you get old.

Yes, children can go bad and raise cain. But I'm still interested in growing a family of the best adults I can, not just following a cookie-cutter mold of work and sending my kids off to school because that's the way everyone does it and wondering what else there is to life.

Whenever I think of having 24 kids (which I would be just as happy to adopt), it was mainly the thought of giving them what I had always wanted as a child, freedom to hole up and read a book with nobody finding me, or running through fields and orchards, freedom not to be Ferris Bueller who doesn't know what to do with a day off, like change the world.

Whatever kids I do give birth to, though, I want to give birth to each in a different country. For purely practical reasons, mind you. So that each child has a second passport. Do you know how much it costs to get a second passport? Next to impossible. I could give each child this incredible gift and have a whole family full of free second passports, just by timing my trips. Wealthy (or just smart) Chinese do it all the time. They fly to the U.S. or Canada as close as possible to time to give birth. And to me, even if you were dirt poor, it still seems the best investment you could make for the price of a plane ticket and living as a tourist for a few months.

Because when I spare a moment from teaching all my Bible classes, I realize how fragile my freedom is with a passport that has to be renewed every 10 years, and I wonder if the government will ever make that renewal conditional on not saying controversial things, etc. If it's a government for the people, by the people, of the people, it seems to me the surest way of keeping it that way would be if everyone had second passports. Bureaucracy only gives you a good deal if there's competition and it's not a monopoly.

What would freak me out is if I had to renew my passport every 2 or 3 years. As my Dad once told me, my grandfather lived and traveled in a world without passports.

I want to have 24 kids, so that I will have truly taught 24 people.

I've taught Bible for years and years, and sometimes I feel everyone I've ever taught just blows in and out of my life. I know my contact with people is just one link in a support chain that God is sending them. I don't really worry about what they'll do with what I give them. That's between them and God, if I've spoken clearly, and kindly enough.

But it came to me recently that raising a large family (as "limited" as I used to think that was compared with a classroom of kids) is still the surest and fastest way to influence the most lives, because no matter how much you try to give the kids you teach, they're still out of your classroom in an hour.

On the other hand, fathers and mothers are often hero-worshipped by their kids when they're young and they have an awesome window of opportunity to teach and be imitated by their children. Instead this window goes unused by parents who drop their children off in pre-school and beyond, instead of giving them a one-to-one teacher-student ratio by doing it themselves at home. Many parents would love to teach their kids but have never watched anybody doing it differently than what they grew up thinking was "normal". They have no idea of the scope and ease of options available to them.

I know people who think you have to have tons of textbooks and, oh dear, how to choose and pay for them?

A Free Luxury Education

Even if you did nothing but snuggle with them every night and read them a book with popcorn, did you know you can just about go through all of history by reading heart-pounding biographies? Forget memorizing dates. You hear the name of a country and not only do you know where it is, you get goose-bumps thinking of all the forgotten people's lives that happened in that place. Approach it from that end, and it will be impossible NOT to remember the dates or at least the sequence of lives down through history.

You can teach literature that way, too. As you read your way down through history and popcorn every night, just pop the classics in at the appropriate chronological spots.

Science will come up naturally in the course of reading about all those inventors, astronomers, and their exciting lives as they struggled with their theories.

(For math, I'd stick to real life math problems like Ray's Arithmetics, though I was personally brought up on Saxon Math. In another book review below I excerpt Sudbury Valley's amazing story of normal students who regularly go through 6 years of math in 20 weeks.)

So there's your vocabulary, reading, spelling, literature, geography, science, and history in one snuggle session, not to mention life-long fuzzy feelings associated with education, hanging out with your family, and all that popcorn.

Even if they didn't read until they were twelve, I or a sibling would still have read them through all those books. But nobody can be exposed to exciting story after exciting story and not find a way to read the book Mommy put down.

Writing, typing, spelling, logic, communication, and persuasion will come as you help them learn to design their own websites, and watch them respond to comments.

Then, in the daytime you can go CAMPING or PLAY OUTSIDE (or take the subway to somewhere you can play outside) or design websites, or all of the above. NO MORE PUBLIC SCHOOL. It was all popcorn and snuggling at night.

In fact, this system is only too conducive to any traveling or adventures you want to do with with your children. If you've all gone somewhere to hike or play, adding a snuggle session in the afternoon is as simple as buying ice cream for everybody and digging out the book you all happen to be reading through. Add conversation or discussion as you wish. Quiz them on the vocabulary or spelling on the way home.

(And it wouldn't cost anything if you got all your books from the library. Talk about a free luxury education.)

But alas, usually children go to public school, and in Taiwan they go to cram class till bedtime, and have too much homework to snuggle and read at night, or design websites, or go play, or learn to cook mouthwatering meals to take to the poor.

I know one girl who studies into the morning to get scholarships to alleviate the family finances. And "gifted" students? They live for the score. Their giftedness is defined by having more "points" than the others in the group, which they got through having the sheer willpower to memorize dates as numbers for a test, not from knowing the stories like members of their family, not from having worlds of people in their heads, not from getting goosebumps when they hear the name of a country or a person, not from having a website that is read by thousands of people every day, not from having their own business and being able to feel financially free.

When these students get a free moment, their pummeled brains veg out in front of the TV, or they hope to wheedle time to play computer games. I read an article once that suggested children love video games because sometimes it's the only part of their life where they can enjoy control over something. Why not give them a life of controlling their own education? Get them started early making decisions and creating their own life. Or they'll just listen to the boss like they listened to the teacher, sleepwalking through jobs and life.

A child who learns by didactic methods knows a little, but most of what he knows is that if he remembers the right answer long enough to write it down, he will get a good grade and no one will punish him, and then he can go about his life.

-- From "Be Still My Soul" blog. Read the rest of the article here.

One snuggle session a day was my minimalist version of a free luxury education.

Personally, (besides taking all the time necessary to let them have fun putting together a one-dish meal that would feed us for the rest of the day) I would add Bible memorization via song.

Children can memorize and sing long before they can read and write. Think of a song you can't forget. Did you learn it by painfully memorizing it? Probably not.

So it is not inconceivable for the robust brain of a preschooler who's just taught himself to walk and talk (I mean try preventing a preschooler from learning to talk and walk in the normal course of life), it is not inconceivable for that preschooler to have most of the Bible memorized in song by the time they are three, certainly by five or seven. You would be giving your children a Bible in their heads, hundreds of memorized songs, a college vocabulary and a whole moral code on call by the of age five ... imagine the conversations they would be having.

Think of the difference this would make in our culture. Look at how a few ideas by Washington and Jefferson changed the world.

Memorizing the Bible doesn't mean they're going to act on it. But they have to have it on snap recall before they can respond automatically with it. At least it wouldn't be because they forgot it, and it would always be there for when they matured to different stages in their life where they could act on it; the appropriate verses would always be popping into their heads and giving them a chance to do the right thing.

The rest of childhood could be spent discussing the meaning and application of what they've memorized; and to make sure they don't lose their memory work, they can re-memorize the songs in successive languages until they're all grown up. A painless way to compare the grammar structures as it is only too easy to get the alternative-language Bible verses off the web and plug them into the original English song.

Here in Taiwan think how many parents send their children off to cram school to learn English with songs like "Hi, how are you, I'm fine ..." (which is a good song, but I mean in comparison with knowing the whole Bible by age 5, and in other languages by age 12).

I heard somewhere that the brain goes 90% unused. Also, brain trauma that damages your memory and speech, sometimes doesn't touch what you memorized in song.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

當 用 各 樣的 智 慧 、 把 基 督 的 道 理 、 豐 豐 富 富 的 存 在 心 裡 、 〔 或 作 當 把 基 督 的 道 理 豐 豐 富 富 的存 在 心 裡 以 各 樣 的 智 慧 〕 用 詩 章 、 頌 詞 、 靈 歌 、 彼 此 教 導 、 互 相 勸 戒 心 被 恩 感 歌 頌  神 。 (歌 羅 西 3:16)

Maybe God wanted us to have the Bible in our heads, so the Catholic church or the government could never take it away from us, a stroke could not erase it, and we could sing it all at the drop of a hat.

Yet, perhaps you feel children need more than a college vocabulary and morals to succeed in life. Fine, read them the biographies (true exciting stories, not dry history textbooks) of every single person who did anything down through history, and branch off from there. You'll get all your science as you follow each inventor through the struggles of his or her life. You'll get all your geography and social studies as you have the location and culture of every hero burned into your brain. Heroes or everyman, they all walked the edge between right and wrong, between standing up and giving in; to remember them is to honor their successes and avoid their mistakes.

You could probably line up at least 500 exciting true stories covering all of history, but if you're going to school you'll have no time to read them.

You'll have no time to read at least another 100 beloved classics (not to mention a nonexistent family life) as you stay up till midnight trying to memorize generic textbooks so you can beat the other students into a "better" high school where you can memorize more things in textbooks.

With my own family, in addition to the Bible memorization, I would probably try to get in 2 or 3 snuggle sessions per day during snack breaks between play, because I want to give them ample time to get through all those books before they're 12. After that, I'll be happy to let them take as many university correspondence courses for credit as they wish, so that by 16 they can go off to Bible school, and at least it won't be their academics keeping them from a foreign adventure, their own business, or the love of their life.

When you look at us, it's amazing how late we marry. I got married a few months ago. I was 22, and my husband was 27. 27 is considered a young age for a man to marry these days, even in certain Orthodox Jewish communities. Yet these same men are also told to never touch a woman with their little finger prior to marriage. The result? They suppress their natural and normal sexual desires not for a few years, but for 10, for 15 years. Does anyone really think it's healthy?

-- from "Domestic Felicity" blog. Read the rest of the article here.

.... Because the fact is we are telling young adults that sex is for marriage only - while at the same time telling them they are not ready for marriage...and encouraging them to postpone it for as long as possible. The encouragement to postpone marriage is a lot stronger in our society than the push for abstinence.

In the 50s, the abortion rate was lower by FAR. But teenagers were still having sex, and babies. And they weren't using more condoms, either. They were MARRIED teenagers. And their divorce rate wasn't any higher than ours. In fact, it was lower!

.... So when IS someone "ready for sex" and for marriage? When they finish high school? No, because they need to finish college first. When they finish college? No, because they need to be settled in their career first. When they get a job? No, because they need to save up for a house first. And don't forget finding their exact perfect soulmate, "finding themselves" enjoying their taste of "freedom", etc.

.... The purely intellectual concept that it is better to start a family when you are well off, educated, and settled, is no match for the biological mapping of our bodies. The desire for love and affection and sex and family is written on our very souls. We simply can't wait forever.

-- From "Be Still My Soul" blog. Read the rest of the article here.

....We tell them it's OK to date, but not in order to find a marital partner. Just to "make friends" and experience other people's personalities and have fun. We tell them to suppress nature, avoid love, avoid physical closeness, focus on their careers and on money, while at the same time yanking the rug of family closeness out from under them and expecting them to enjoy their single years - absolutely alone. We have no backup plan for love. Love isn't a factor in our ideology at all. We naively assume that dating won't lead to emotional closeness, and that this closeness won't lead to physical intimacy, and that this intimacy won't lead to children.

-- From "Be Still My Soul" blog. Read the rest of the article here.

.... Birth control isn't the answer, because it creates the illusion that there is such a thing as "safe sex". In reality, sex is rarely safe. Feelings are involved, diseases are passed, lives are changed forever. We act as though a pregnancy cannot occur this way, which is a lie. And when it does, it's an accident, a horrible mistake that just wasn't supposed to happen.

Abstinence isn't the answer either, because it fails to address basic human needs. It denies and tries to thwart nature, tries to postpone it for longer than is reasonable (or at least, reasonable for all but a measly 10% of the population - obviously this is not good enough!).

So what do I think is the answer? The only thing that has ever been proven to actually work in real life. Young marriage.

.... I am not saying encourage young marriage, necessarily, and I'm definitely not saying push for it. I'm saying PREPARE your children for it, so they have that option. Give them the opportunity to understand how to be a husband or wife, to manage a house, to be a partner, to care for children... Give them a sense of confidence in their own capabilities, that they can deal with it.-- From "Be Still My Soul" blog. Read the rest of the article here.

To ask my sons and daughters to wait to get romantically involved until they've finished their academics at 16 or 18 is much more reasonable than asking them to wait till they're 24 or 26 or more like here in Taiwan (4 years of college and 2 years of mandatory military service after that) and how many broken relationships by then? Because no matter what you know is right, you are going to get crushes right and left from high school on.

(If they want not just the degrees, which they can get through distance learning, but the whole live-at-college experience, they're welcome to go when they're 20. But it won't be because they have to, and they'll be that much further along to knowing what they really want to study if they go.)

In summary:

From birth:

  • Bible memorized via song
  • a second passport (if at all possible)

After 5:

  • biographies and classics
  • languages (the Bible memorized by song in more languages)
  • gardening and cooking (the ability to raise their own food and cook mouth-watering meals)
  • write their own stories, create their own websites, give speeches

After 12:

  • university courses/degrees by correspondence

After 16:

  • Bible school, off to see the world, start their own business, fall in love
And through it all, tons of time to play, stare at the sky and dream.

Would I give this up for a job that maybe I don't even like, while my kids grew up in a different world from me, bonding with another crowd in an us-versus-them, students-versus-teachers, children-versus-adults artificial construct, sending them to college to play a while longer, maybe drinking or on drugs, with no vision of what difference they want their life to make in this world?

I don't want to resent my kids for my job, nor not know what to do with them on vacations, looking forward to them going back to school so I can get back to my "real" life.

If you do want to stay home, so as to get in all those snuggle sessions, stories, and adventures with your kids, while at the same time setting them free to pursue their dreams, while at the same time pursuing whatever dreams of yours are not represented by slaving at an office, well just so you know, the Bible completely backs you up in this, it's not like you have to feel guilty about not going to work for the feminist pseudo-dream ...

... encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:4, NASB)

I think the verse said "being subject to your own husbands" partly as opposed to being subject to someone else's husband as your boss at work.

(I think it's a common concept that whoever you spend the most time with, you fall in love with. Bonding is a survival mechanism, and it especially kicks into high gear between men and women. Granted, you're not going to cheat on your spouse just because you're working with somebody else. But the bonding clock
is ticking. You're building some kind of a relationship with somebody all the time.)

Sure, you could be your own boss, but the ratio of bosses to employees is 1 to what, I ask you. The only way to ensure that every woman is her own boss is the work-from-home revolution (see "What Business Can Learn From Open Source" which pretty much sums up my views on public schooling as well), right back to what the Bible was saying all along.

So, back to our subject, yes you could be a housewife who sits on the couch watching soap operas and eating bonbons all day, but it wouldn't be because God didn't give you permission to stay home with ample time and freedom to do something else, like give your children the best education money couldn't buy, or be your own boss.

Is your outside job keeping you from anything you would consider much more satisfying at home, like lots of fun with your husband, kids, snuggle-session homeschooling, and all those save the world schemes you now have time for? If you're still bored after all that, what happened to taking food to the poor and making connections with your neighbors? The best way to combat all that sex trafficking going on in Britain, is GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. Maybe all that stuff goes on under everyone's noses because they're away at work or in school. At least your house could be sanctuary to a few latchkey kids, while everyone else is away at a supposedly much more fun job.

I've spoken to a lot of working mothers, and very few have told me they do it because they just love their jobs. Most, almost without exception in fact, say they simply can't afford to stay home. I find that extremely sad, for those for whom it really is the case.

But a lot of the time, I just don't believe it. When a woman wearing 3 thousand in jewelry and an expensive suit, with a fresh manicure and perm says this to me, I find it hard to believe. When a neighbor living in a house which is bigger than ours says this to me, I find it hard to believe. The reality is, it is hard for many people. But also, we make choices in life. We choose the big house over time with our children. We choose the 2nd car, the retail wardrobe, the jewelry, the cosmetics, the dinners out, etc.

There seems to be this myth floating around that men used to be so oppressive they wouldn't allow their wives to work, that they were forced to stay home. In reality, most women stayed home back then for the same reason they go to work now: it's the societal expectation.

-- from Be Still My Soul blog. Read entire article here.

Here in the Asian culture, a lot of women go to work for sheer survival - to escape staying home with their mother-in-law. Not that I would have anything against a m-i-l but we can't both own the kitchen at the same time. Either she'd be taking it away from me or I'd be taking it away from her. It's like asking me to share my laptop with my boss. If a man really respects his wife's position as homemaker, he'll give her her own tools, one of which consists of a kitchen, and living space to be the queen in her own family. Although if there were not enough finances to have my home, I would gladly live in a tent to keep from ever ever ever becoming a debt-slave to a mortgage.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, NASB)

This wasn't just stated at the beginning of creation (Genesis 2:24). It wasn't just repeated by Jesus (Mark 10:7, Matthew 19:5). It's firmly established in the New Law of Christianity (Ephesians 5:31), in explaining how husbands are to love and cherish their wives, one of which is to give them their own mother-in-law-free domains. (Ephesians 5:31).

Please don't get me wrong, children are to take care of their parents when they are too old to take care of themselves. Also, daughters and mothers-in-law should cherish each other, but this is especially a case of where "good fences make good neighbors". You can only share yourself if you have a self to share. The two families should have many happy years of enjoying and helping each other, of "going to grandmother's house", showing your mother-in-law you enjoy her company and want your kids to have all the experience and love she can give them. There should be much going back and forth between the two houses. But they must be two families, not one.

I know a family where the son got married and his family never saw him again for several years. What if it was because the daughter-in-law was deathly afraid of losing her own family and went overboard? A son whose mother is dead is seen as an easier marriage here in Taiwan. See the pain that is caused from not knowing what boundaries you have a right to insist on? You shouldn't have to choose between having grandparents for your kids or your sanity.

But people make up their own rules as they go along, not knowing exactly what it is they have a right to expect (based on eternal principles that don't shift with the times, which God made clear from the beginning to save time and anguish).

Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands, walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10-11)

It is a crying shame to not allow a new bride her own home, and make her wait many years till she is old and must torture a future daughter-in-law to keep a territory.

New mothers, not able to stay home and raise their own children, having to wait till they are grandmothers to raise a daughter-in-law's kids, a daughter-in-law who may resent the grandmother for telling her what to do with her children.

You don't get your own kitchen. You have to wait until you are old and can take it away from your daughter-in-law.

You don't get your own kids. You have to wait till you are a grandmother to raise your daughter-in-law's.

I realize it's not that bad. In an emergency, if the family was starving, living hand to mouth working in the fields, it's not a sin for the stronger wife to work by her husband's side in the field while the weaker grandmother watches the kids and homeschools them with her years of experience.

But life should aspire to the ideal not the emergency. If the Creator painted marriage as starting a NEW family, not merely making the old one bigger, we should search out his reasons.

At least modern Asia only has to deal with an in-house mother-in-law and not a bevy of back-biting multiple wives and concubines, smoking opium, playing mah-jhong and plotting. No wonder they embraced feminism, not knowing the higher standard that "feminism" stepped down from.

As you read these delicious quotes from G.K. Chesterton, remember he was speaking from England where they not only had no concubines but most likely no mother-in-laws in the house.

And he was pleading with women not to give up this freedom of being a queen in their own home with time and resources to change the world, time and resources to raise their kids with nobody (no mother-in-laws, no multiple wives) nobody but their husbands telling them what to do, not to give up this freedom in order to sit in a cubicle and become a wage-slave, while somebody else raised their kids:
But the main point is that the world outside the home is now under a rigid discipline and routine and it is only inside the home that there is really a place for individuality and liberty. Anyone stepping out of the front-door is obliged to step into a procession, all going the same way and to a great extent even obliged to wear the same uniform. Business, especially big business, is now organized like an army... But anyhow, it is obvious that a hundred clerks in a bank or a hundred waitresses in a teashop are more regimented and under rule than the same individuals when each has gone back to his or her own dwelling or lodging ...

-- The Drift From Domesticity, Brave New Family, G. K. Chesterton

If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colourless and of small import to the soul, then, as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

-- The Emancipation of Domesticity, Brave New Family, G. K. Chesterton

I doubt whether mothers could escape from motherhood into Socialism. But the advocates of Birth Control seem to want some of them to escape from it into capitalism. They seem to express a sympathy with those who prefer "the right to earn outside the home" or (in other words) the right to be a wage-slave and work under the orders of a total stranger because he happens to be a richer man. By what conceivable contortions of twisted thought this ever came to be considered a freer condition than that of companionship with the man she has herself freely accepted, I never could for the life of me make out.... I can easily believe that there are some people who do prefer working in a factory to working in a family; for there are always some people who prefer slavery to freedom, and who especially prefer being governed to governing someone else. But I think their quarrel with motherhood is not like mine, a quarrel with inhuman conditions, but simply a quarrel with life. Given an attempt to escape from the nature of things, and I can well believe that it might lead at last to something like the "nursery school for our children staffed by other mothers and single women of expert training."

I will add nothing to that ghastly picture, beyond speculating pleasantly about the world in which women cannot manage their own children but can manage each other's. But I think it indicates an abyss between natural and unnatural arrangements ....

-- Social Reform Versus Birth Control, G. K. Chesterton

The actual effect of this theory is that one harassed person has to look after a hundred children, instead of one normal person looking after a normal number of them. Normally that normal person is urged by a natural force, which costs nothing and does not require a salary; the force of natural affection for his young, which exists even among the animals. If you cut off that natural force, and substitute a paid bureaucracy, you are like a fool who should pay men to turn the wheel of his mill, because he refused to use wind or water which he could get for nothing. You are like a lunatic who should carefully water his garden with a watering-can, while holding up an umbrella to keep off the rain.

-- The Drift from Domesticity, Brave New Family, G. K. Chesterton

To give you more confidence, consider Sudbury Valley, a real school where the students can do whatever they want, figure out what they want to study all on their own, and most of the time teach themselves:
It starts with someone, or several persons, who decide they want to learn something specific -- say, algebra, or French, or physics, or spelling, or pottery. A lot of times, they figure out how to do it on their own. They find a book, or a computer program, or they watch someone else. When that happens, it isn't a class. It's just plain learning....

Most of the time, kids at school figure out what they want to learn and how to learn it all on their own. They don't use classes all that much.

-- excerpted from Free At Last by Daniel Greenberg
But when they do use classes, they go find a teacher to make an appointment with. Read the chapter on how they do classes at their school. Their students often learn six years of math in 20 weeks. Most of their students teach themselves to read without help:

In fact, no one at school bothers much about reading. Only a few kids seek any help at all when they decide to learn. Each child seems to have their own method. Some learn from being read to, memorizing the stories and then ultimately reading them. Some learn from cereal boxes, others from game instructions, others from street signs. Some teach themselves letter sounds, others syllables, others whole words. To be honest about it, we rarely know how they do it, and they rarely can tell us. One day I asked a child who had just become a reader, "How did you learn to read?" His answer: "It was easy. I learned 'in.' I leaned 'out.' And then I knew how to read."

- excerpted from Free At Last by Daniel Greenberg

This is what happened with my little sister who has Down's Syndrome.

Yes, within weeks of bringing her home from the hospital my mom was reading to her. Yes, she saw and heard us reading and teaching a lot. Yes, she destroyed a lot of our beloved children's books, still waiting in a drawer after all these years to be patched up. I looked at a few phonics pages with her. But we never really bothered to sit down and teach her to read regularly. My mom remembers one time saying, "Why don't we teach your dollies to read?" with our Alpha-phonics book. After that my little sister taught her dollies Alphaphonics day in and day out all by herself, and today she can read almost any paragraph you show her, not to mention reading her favorite books over and over for hours.

My completely normal brother on the other hand, who was painfully dragged through several chapters of Alpha-phonics by me (when I was very young and thought it was the phonics that was important regardless of the fun factor), to this day doesn't pick up books for fun.

By the time my next brother got old enough to really be taught, my mom had more time to read to him, and I don't remember forcing phonics with him. Today as an adult he loves to both read and do.
I guess it's worth repeating. At Sudbury Valley, not one child has ever been forced, pushed, urged, cajoled, or bribed into learning how to read. We have had no dyslexia. None of our graduates are real or functional illiterates. Some eight year olds are, some ten year olds are, even an occasional twelve year old. But by the time they leave, they are indistinguishable. No one who meets our older students could ever guess the age at which they first learned to read or write.

- excerpted from Chapter 5 in Free At Last by Daniel Greenberg

More schools like Sudbury Valley - lots of addresses and websites to browse!

Babysteps to making the world a better place:

1. Buy Free at Last, and read your favorite chapters to whoever you're dying to read them to.

2. Donate the book to your library, and/or volunteer-read this book to kids to open their minds to what they can do with their own future kids.

4. Excerpt your favorite paragraphs on your web-site and pop them into relevant discussions on the net whenever possible, with a link to where to buy, of course.

5. You can do this with any of your favorite world-changing books.

6. Try homeschooling.

Someone once asked me, "Why homeschool?" "No tests!" I said brightly, then more seriously, "You can choose any textbook you want. In a classroom you have 40 kids all following the same book. At home, it's one kid with 40 different textbooks to choose from." "What if you run into something you don't understand," she asked. "I would have asked my dad or my mom or found somebody who could tell me," I said.

Related Posts:

Why, Lord Willing, I Will Never Send My Children To Daycare

And 'Rithmetic

Chapter 1 And 'Rithmetic from Free At Last by Daniel Greenberg

Sitting before me were a dozen boys and girls, aged nine to twelve. A week earlier, they had asked me to teach them arithmetic. They wanted to learn to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and all the rest.

"You don't really want to do this," I said, when they first approached me.

"We do, we are sure we do," was their answer.

"You don't really," I persisted. Your neighborhood friends, your parents, your relatives probably want you to, but you yourselves would much rather be playing or doing something else."

"We know what we want, and we want to learn arithmetic. Teach us, and we'll prove it. We'll do all the homework, and work as hard as we can."

I had to yield then, skeptically. I knew that arithmetic took six years to teach in regular schools, and I was sure their interest would flag after a few months. But I had no choice. They had pressed hard, and I was cornered.

I was in for a surprise.

My biggest problem was a textbook to use as a guide. I had been involved in developing the "new math," and I had come to hate it. Back then when we were working on it -- young academicians of the Kennedy post-sputnik era -- we had few doubts. We were filled with the beauty of abstract logic, set theory, number theory, and all the other exotic games mathematicians had played for millenia. I think that if we had set out to design an agricultural course for working farmers, we would have begun with organic chemistry, genetics, and microbiology. Lucky for the world's hungry people that we weren't asked.

I had come to hate the pretensions and abstruseness of the "new math." Not one in a hundred math teachers knew what it was about, not one in a thousand pupils. People need arithmetic for reckoning; they want to know how to use the tools. That's what my students wanted now.

I found a book in our library, perfectly suited to the job at hand. It was a math primer written in 1898. Small and thick, it was brimming with thousands of exercises, meant to train young minds to perform the basic tasks accurately and swiftly.

Class began -- on time. That was part of the deal. "You say you are serious?" I had asked, challenging them; "then I expect to see you in the room on time -- 11:00AM sharp, every Tuesday and Thursday. If you are five minutes late, no class. If you blow two classes --no more teaching." "It's a deal," they had said, with a glint of pleasure in their eyes.

Basic addition took two classes. They learned to add everything -- long thing columns, short fat columns, long fat columns. They did dozens of exercises. Subtraction took another two classes. It might have taken one, but "borrowing" needed some extra explanation.

On to multiplication, and the tables. Everyone had to memorize the tables. Each person was quizzed again and again in class. Then the rules. Then the practice.

They were high, all of them. Sailing along, mastering all the techniques and algorithms, they could feel the material entering their bones. Hundreds and hundreds of exercises, class quizzes, oral tests, pounded the material into their heads.

Still they continued to come, all of them. They helped each other when they had to, to keep the class moving. the twelve year olds and the nine year olds, the lions and the lambs, sat peacefully together in harmonious cooperation -- no teasing, no shame.

Division -- long division. fractions. Decimals. Percentages. Square roots.

They came at 11:00 sharp, stayed half an hour, and left with homework. They came back next time with all the homework done. All of them.

In twenty weeks, after twenty contact hours, they had covered it all. Six years' worth. Every one of them knew the material cold.

We celebrated the end of the classes with a rousing party. It wasn't the first time, and wasn't to be the last, that I was amazed at the success of our own cherished theories. They had worked here, with a vengeance.

Perhaps I should have been prepared for what happened, for what seemed to me to be a miracle. A week after it was all over, I talked to Alan White, who had been an elementary math specialist for years in the public schools and knew all the latest and best pedagogical methods.

I told him the story of my class.

He was not surprised.

"Why not?" I asked, amazed at his response. I was still reeling from the pace and thoroughness with which my "dirty dozen" had learned.

"Because everyone knows," he answered, "that the subject matter itself isn't that hard. What's hard, virtually impossible, is beating it into the heads of youngsters who hate every step. The only way we have a ghost of a chance is to hammer away at the stuff bit by bit every day for years. Even then it does not work. Most of the sixth graders are mathematical illiterates. Give me a kid who wants to learn the stuff -- well, twenty hours or so makes sense."

I guess it does. It's never taken much more than that ever since.

Related Posts:

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Why, Lord willing, I will never send my kids to daycare

Delightful Discipline, Goodgame's reminisces of growing up in a Polish-American family, was so funny I read the book aloud to my family even in restaurants.

Here's an excerpt and some of my thoughts after ...

At the age of four, I experienced another example of mother's discipline which left her mark on me.

For being a good boy, mother rewarded me with a trip to the local Woolworth store and the privilege of selecting one ten cent toy. I am of the opinion that more parental authority has been lost in Woolworth dime stores than probably any other public structure. (Not that Woolworth is the chief offender; any modern shopping center will provide equal opportunity for rebellion.)

Mother deposited me at the toy counter under strict orders to remain there awaiting her return. Actually, wild hippos couldn't have enticed me from those treasures. My serious meditations were abruptly violated by a small boy and his mother. This mannerless male shoved me rudely aside and began grabbing toys wholesale. His mother pleaded for moderation, but to no avail. I was shocked by his behavior, yet fascinated by the amount of plunder it produced.

"Rupert," the mother sniffed, "don't you think you've quite enough toys?"

He never gave her the courtesy of a reply as he continued to rip toys off the counter and fling them into her out-stretched shopping bag.

"Rupert, dearest," she pleaded, "unless you come with me this very instant, I shall be forced to speak to your father." Rupert merely glared and kept on grabbing. "Now, Rupert," she cautioned, "perhaps father shall be so upset with your conduct that he might even be forced to spank-"

She never finished. At the very mention of the word "spank," Rupert went into instant insanity. With a screech he hurled himself head-long to the floor, kicking and thrashing like a snake in a lawn mower. He was magnificent!

Rupert's mother immediately dropped to his stricken side, sobbing apologies for having hurt his finer sensibilities. All sorts of desserts and bribes were promised if he'd only stop screaming and be a good boy. Rupert's recovery was as remarkable as his affliction. He hopped to his feet and filled the shopping bag, then dragged mother to the candy counter. At the time, I thought their togetherness, each attached to the shopping bag between them, was pure tenderness.

Rupert's theatrics were not wasted, as I was inspired to use the same act on my mother. It seemed most logical that she would be too embarrassed to punish me in public, especially in the presence of strangers. The walk home would also work to my advantage, allowing time to cool her ardor. Besides, unlike Rupert, I would only request one additional toy. I was positive that mother would reward such unselfishness.

I went into action. From the vast array of toys I selected two, a blue Model A car and a red World War I German Fokker airplane. My expectations were so great that I forgot mother's command to stay at the toy counter and I sought her out in the "no man's land" of women's wear. "Mommie," I gushed, "these are the toys I want."

"Junior," she reminded, "why didn't you wait for me at the toy counter?"

"I'm sorry," I explained, "but I just wanted these toys."

"Well, all right," mother replied, "give me the one you want and take the other back and wait for me there like I told you."

I was apprehensive at mother's blindnesss to my needs, but with the success of Rupert still music in my ears I pressed on. "But, Mommie," I begged, "I've been such a good boy, can't I have two toys?"

"Do what I told you," she said firmly.

A small group of spectators began to collect and I gathered courage from their presence. The moment of truth had come, I stood my ground.

"If words fail to move you," mother warned, "I might have to spank ..."

Spank! The magic word, and like Rupert I responded on cue. With a shriek I dropped to the floor, noting with satisfaction the startled expression on mother's face. I had just begun to thrash when I felt her tender hands lifting me to my feet. "It worked!" I thought, as I helpfully turned toward the direction of the cash register. Then, all came crashing down as mother re-wrote the ending. Her actions were shockingly swift and professionally pure as she stripped my short pants to my ankles and upended me over her knee. In this woefully exposed position, I received personal tutoring.
"Lesson one," she spoke as her hand descended, "if words won't move you, something else will."

I immediately took this lesson to heart and elsewhere.

"Lesson two," she continued, "whenever you cry for something, you won't get it."

Both of us were now warming up to the subject at hand.

"Lesson three," she concluded, "toys are not worth crying over, so I shall provide you with something worthy of your tears."

I cried, honestly and unashamedly, with mother's full approval. Lessons reinforced, she set me upright, restoring my pants to their former honor, which now barely covered my embarrassments. I looked to the crowd for some shred of sympathy, but I stood alone. Even Rupert would have disowned me for the way I had botched the job.

"Take one toy back," mother gently reminded me.

I recognized this as a command, not a request, but rebellion dies hard, even in a four-year-old. I gave it one final shot. "Mommie, I pleaded, "can't I have both toys since you've already spanked me for them?"

A ripple of admiration came from the crowd, but my mother was not to be intimidated. "Junior," she explained, "one toy is yours for being good, you earned that toy. But for the other toy you were naughty, and I'm not going to give you a toy for being bad."

A wave of praise burst forth from the multitude. Even Solomon would have been impressed at mother's wisdom. "Now be a good boy and take one toy back," mother urged.

In full view of the admiring throng, I obeyed. We left Woolworth's together. With one hand I held my toy, the other clutched my mother. Somehow I knew as never before how much she loved me.

Even today, when I enter a dime store, memories of my mother's firmness tickle my heart, especially if the Ruperts are still practicing their profession. For who else but a real mother could have taught her son a million-dollar lesson in a dime store?

from Chapter Three: Woolworth Wail-out

Sapphireslinger again:

This is why, Lord willing, I will never send my children to daycare. Sending them to pick up every other kid's bad habits at an age when they have little objective judgment, and to be haphazardly disciplined by people to whom daycare is a job and not a family?!

I hope my children will eventually go into the world as lights, but can't they have a childhood immersed in good stuff first?

The way you're trained to find counterfeit money is by learning the good money by heart so that when anything is the least bit off, it stands out from a mile away.

I have heard all sorts of nonsense excuses for sending children to public school, including that they'd be a "light in the darkness" for the other, less spiritual children. That's a heavy expectation indeed, for someone who probably can't even tie thier own shoes.

The sad fact is that most parents spend less than 1 hour a day of quality time with their school-aged children. We expect them to learn OUR values in 1 hour a day, and hold them responsible if they don't. Yet at the same time, we expect them to be exposed to the attitudes, philosophies, curriculums and beliefs of people who may think the exact opposite from us for 6 or more hours per day - and not absorb any of it!

Read the rest of "Be Still My Soul"'s article here.

There is a time to shelter and a time to transition, but I don't think preschool is the time to send them out as little lights into the world. Don't you remember being little and not able to step back objectively until you reached a certain age?

From the time they begin walking I will teach them to be as independent as possible in everything except dealing with peer pressure and a deluge of bad attitudes before their judgment has firmed up into the more abstract logic stage.

From the time they can speak I will be asking them, "Now, how would you answer this and this?" and showing them how to put their answers into words on paper, and in speeches, and on websites.

But to make it mandatory that they spend eight hours a day in a public school immersed in peer pressure with no time for their own dreams or learning to take charge of their own education?? They'll get enough feedback from their neighbors, friends, relatives, and the comments people leave on their websites. But it will be meaningful feedback, peer pressure with breathing space; not the visceral response of the pack in the classroom and on the track, where logic means nothing but being trapped in a mind that either fears or bows to the latest popularity.

If it's social interaction you want, I'd rather take them for six months to horseback across Mongolia letting them bounce their ideas off people they meet along the way.

Imagine a girl going through a rough time in public school, thinking the world begins and ends with her classmates. I can't think of a better way to extricate her from such an artificial hell than to send her, say, horseback riding across Mongolia for half a year. Now imagine her coming back to the same school and peers. Now, how much is she going to take seriously what they say? How much distance, aka perspective, will she have acquired that she can now hold their influence at arms' length and have a firm self at her center.

(But how could you send her to Mongolia if she is locked into the inflexible school year schedule and the rat race of test scores?)

Remember the movie Castaway, how Tom Hanks was so much more aware and in control of himself after having been temporarily blasted out of the rat race?

That is what I want to give my children with homeschooling: Distance, and the ability to recognize the off-kilter without my saying a word, because they were immersed in a world of good and love and respect and sharpened minds... during their early formative years, when they need to first know love, before they know what love is not.

So yes, I want to give my children both more shelter and yet more freedom and responsibility than the average public school. I want to give them both a happier childhood and a wiser maturity. I do not want the wasted life of Ferris Bueller-come-Clinton for my children.

All of the following famous people were educated at home, and it didn't seem to hurt their world-changing abilities any:

Generals 上將
Stonewall Jackson 托馬斯*傑克遜
Robert E. Lee 羅伯特·李
Douglas MacArthur 道格拉斯·麥克阿瑟
George Patten

Inventors 發明家
Alexander Graham Bell 亞歷山大· 格拉漢姆 · 貝爾
Thomas Edison 托馬斯·愛迪生
Orville and Wilbur Wright 萊特兄弟

Painters 畫家
Claude Monet 克勞德·莫奈
Andrew Wyeth 安德魯·魏斯

Preachers 傳道者
John Wesley 約翰·衛斯理

Scientists 科學家
George Washington Carver 喬治·華盛頓·卡佛
Pierre Curie 皮埃尔·居里
Albert Einstein 愛因斯坦

U.S. Presidents USA 總統
George Washington 喬治·華盛頓
John Quincy Adams 約翰·昆西·亞當斯
William Henry Harrison 威廉·亨利·哈里森
Abraham Lincoln 亞伯拉罕·林肯
James Madison 詹姆斯·麥迪遜
Franklin Delano Roosevelt 富蘭克林·德拉諾·羅斯福
Woodrow Wilson 伍德羅·威爾遜

World Statesmen 政治家
Winston Churchill 溫斯頓·丘吉爾
Benjamin Franklin 本傑明·富蘭克林
Patrick Henry 帕特里克·亨利
William Penn

Writers 作者
Hans Christian Anderson
Pearl Buck 賽珍珠
Agatha Christie 阿加莎·克里斯蒂
Charles Dickens 查爾斯·狄更斯
C. S. Lewis C·S·路易斯
George Bernard Shaw 蕭伯納

Others 其他
Charlie Chaplin, actor 查理·卓别林
George Rogers Clark, explorer 喬治·羅傑茲·克拉克
Andrew Carnagie, industrialist

-- a partial list from Home-Style Teaching by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

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Beloved Books (when I was 1 - 3 years old)

As soon as I could sit up, my mom would prop me up next to her on the sofa and putting a magazine in my lap she would look at her magazine while I looked at mine.

When I was three, my dad memorized scripture with me in his study and read me Curious George and Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book.

Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book

Curious George Rides a Bike

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You are here: beloved books (1 - 3 years old)
beloved books (4 - 7 years old)
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beloved books (10 - 12 years old)
beloved books (13 - 14 years old)
beloved books (15 - 30 years old)
books (30 years old to present)
books I want to read

Beloved Books (when I was 4 - 7 years old)

Me reading Childcraft, my brother and dad

When I was 4 - 7 years old, we were living in Kaohsiung Taiwan for the first time, which helps in remembering what books I liked then. Besides, most of them were given to me by a missionary family who went back to the States a year and a half after we got there.

These books were my first love. I read them all to my mom as she worked in the kitchen, reading myself hoarse, and she, being a complete newbie to homeschooling, was just so relieved I was reading that she seldom asked me to do kitchen work, which is why to this day I'm a fair cook, but something always gets in the way of cooking.

Here is the approximate order I read them in:

(Where available, hyperlinked titles will take you to the book's page on where you can read it online for FREE with many options for reading/downloading the book: plain text, html sometimes with the original illustrations, a Plucker version for your cell phone, and sometimes an audio version, etc.)

1. Friendly Village: Round About - 1950s First Grade Reader
2. Friendly Village: If I Were Going - 1950s Third Grade Primer

Stories of Alice and Jerry and an entrancing Norman Rockwell way of life, stuck in my head as pseudo memories. These are the only books on this page I don't remember reading to my mom.

Friendly Village

If I Were Going

3. The Magic Faraway Tree books
and Adventures of The Wishing Chair - Enid Blyton.

Read them all to my mom.

Adventures of the Wishing Chair

Folk of the Faraway Tree

4. But the Chronicles of Narnia 纳尼亚故事集 eclipsed everything else.

In Prince Caspian, I still remember misreading "applause" as "applesauce" (something like "They gave him a great round of applesauce.") and my mom laughing.

Another set of covers (these I used to own):

Some other favorite covers:

Too bad there isn't a whole set of covers by Christian Birmingham as this so captures the feeling of what I read:

5. The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet - Eleanor Cameron

6. Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet - Eleanor Cameron

Read them both to my Mom.

Wonderful Flight to Mushroom Planet and Stowaway to Mushroom Planet

7. The Forgotten Door - Key Alexander

Read it to my mom.

The Forgotten Door

8. Blondie and Dagwood - Chic Young

I briefly took piano lessons at the home of a nearby friend of the family but I particularly remember devouring her extensive stash of Blondie and Dagwood comics, and I was noticing clothes (when Blondie couldn't decide what to wear). I never read those comics again, so they're an encapsulated bit of nostalgia for me.

I also saw Gone With the Wind and a really psychedelic cartoon of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh at this house. GWTW and Little Orphan Annie were my favorite movies at this age.

9. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 綠 野 仙 蹤 (Frank Baum, illus. John R. Neill)

I enthusiastically read The Wizard of Oz to my Dad at the breakfast table and he had to stop me from following him all over the house with it. A year later when we returned to the States I was bitterly disappointed in what my eight-year-old self considered that imposter of a movie starring Judy Garland. It was the black and white version and nothing like I had imagined in my head or the pictures in the books.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz9. Old Yeller 老 黃 狗 - Fred Gipson

Read it to my mom and cried.

Old Yeller

I don't remember when I first read these next two books but this is the soonest we would have gotten them, and they were favorites growing up:

Make Way For Ducklings 讓路給小鴨子 - Robert McCloskey

Nursery Rhymes by Douglas Gorsline

Deeply nostalgic. Beautiful line drawings.

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You are here: beloved books (4 - 7 years old)
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beloved books (13 - 14 years old)
beloved books (15 - 30 years old)
books (30 years old to present)
books I want to read

Beloved Books (when I was 8 - 9 years old)

We went back to the States for two years when I was 8 and 9 and I promptly found the rest of the Oz books in the library. It was very hard to find English books in Taiwan and I hadn't been old enough to take the bus alone to the bookstore, so the U.S. was book paradise.

We traveled with my dad around the eastern United States raising support to come back to Taiwan, and staying in people's homes was bliss. The first thing I said in every home was "Where are your books?" and you didn't see me anymore. I was immersed in other worlds while absorbing the atmosphere of the homes we stayed in. It was a glorious childhood.

We hadn't had a TV in Taiwan, and now we were watching cartoons at Gramma's. However, very early on when I was eight, on one of those perpetual car trips up and down the Eastern seaboard, I remember crying in the back seat as I heard my dad telling my mom we weren't going to watch TV anymore (except for "Discovery" and "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" it turned out). This was perhaps just as well, considering that my favorite TV shows at the time were "The A-Team", "Dungeons and Dragons", and "The Dukes of Hazzard". +/-

But books gave me that same movie feel inside my head, and here are the books that have stuck in my head as pseudo memories:

(Where available, hyperlinked titles will take you to the book's page on where you can read it online for FREE. Scroll down that page and you'll see many options for reading/downloading the book: plain text, html sometimes with the original illustrations, a Plucker version for your cell phone, and sometimes an audio version, etc.)

The Oz Books by L. Frank Baum
e-book and audio

Some covers I especially remember reading to my mom, in no particular order:

Glenda of Oz and Ozma of Oz
Scarecrow of Oz and Road to Oz
Tik Tok of Oz and Road to Oz

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh 尼姆的秘密 by Robert C. O'Brian
Read it to my parents.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Robin Hood 囉 賓 漢 by Howard Pyle

Robin Hood

Heidi 海蒂 by Johanna Spyri
ebook and audio


Heidi's valley today ... +/-

We were homeschooled, and when we were staying with my paternal Gramma down in St. Petersberg, Florida, my dad got the key to the empty church building during the week and my mom would pick a classroom to teach us in. I still remember stretching out with my homework on the preschooler's bright yellow and orange shag carpet and the church smell of halls and empty classrooms. It was like having our own secret clubhouse. Outside was a huge Florida field with a lone spanish tree with spanish moss hanging down and we would take breaks and eat tuna fish sandwiches out there. Of course every spare minute I got was spent raiding the church library and I know I read at least this next book there:

Black Beauty 黑骏by Anna Sewell
e-book and audio

Black Beauty

Little Women 小婦人 by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
e-book and audio

Jo marries Professor Bhaer and they have a family/school of their own.

Little Men

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

(true story mostly, and I adored the cover art by Trina Schart Hyman)

Caddie Woodlawn

Daniel Boone (a true story)

I don't remember which biography of his I read, except that it was fairly complete and adult, so this is the closest picture to what the book made me feel like that I can find.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
(true story mostly)

Read the whole set to my mom and 15 years later I read them all to my dad, and with various English students through the years.

Little Britches by Ralph Moody (a true story)

Little Britches

The Hardy Boys by Leslie Macfarlane aka. Franklin W. Dixon +/-

Leslie McFarlane had a reputation for versatility -- at various points in his career he was an editor at Maclean's, a screenwriter, producer and director for the National Film Board of Canada, head of the TV drama script department at CBC, and a Hollywood scriptwriter (for Bonanza).
It is his Hardy Boys work, however, that stands out as his most endearing legacy. As one of a stable of ghostwriters writing under the pen name of Franklin W. Dixon, McFarlane is widely credited for creating the literary style and characters' personalities that served as the template for the series, and he also served as its most prolific author, writing 20 books in the 58-volume series.
"I was about 10 years old when I discovered the Hardy Boys books on my dad's bookshelves, and began reading them," recalls son Brian McFarlane. "One day I asked him why he was interested in reading kids books and he told me he didn't read them, he wrote them! 'But don't tell your friends that I write that nonsense,' he told me. I don't think he had any idea of the huge impact those books had on young people and how it hooked so many of them on reading."
"He considered the Hardy Boys books hack work but he nonetheless approached his work as a pro," says daughter Norah Perez. "He had a funny relationship with those books: he never got any fan letters, no feedback from the Syndicate, no notice of sales figures. Some times he vowed he'd never write another Hardy Boys book. At the end of his life he said to us: 'You know, I think people are only going to remember me for those [*] books.'"
"It's the diaries, though, that I find most fascinating," continues Perez. "The daily entries not only include intimate family revelations, but also record my father's personal, professional and financial struggles before, during and after the Great Depression, through the Second World War and the postwar years."

At that age, my imagination was so vivid I was putting myself into the stories I read as a shadowy extra character. I read as many as I could get my hands on.

Hardy Boys

Rascal 小 浣 熊 by Sterling North (a true story)


Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery

Trixie scorned dresses, wore jeans and had her hair cut short like a boy's. I never wanted to be like her sartorially (Ozma already had my heart) but years later I went "A-ha!" when wondering how women got brainwashed out of beautiful clothes and into men's work clothes. Not that I held Trixie responsible but she was indicative of that mindset.

Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery

Child Abuse in the Classroom by Phyllis Schafly

Read this to my parents. It's why lots of people homeschool.
Child Abuse in the Classroom

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beloved books (1 - 3 years old)
beloved books (4 - 7 years old)
You are here: beloved books (8 - 9 years old)
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beloved books (15 - 30 years old)
books (30 years old to present)
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