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Shakespeare: life, theater and historical context

Here are some resources that weave together the life of the bard with the world he lived in, how the plays were produced, and what became of his second-best bed after he died. All of these resources cover pretty much the same material, the primary difference being the age of the intended audience. I have […]

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Ukraine: Lessons in Liberty and Compassion, Pt. 2

Last week, we began our Ukrainian series with a personal reflection from our executive assistant, Hayley.  Having recently visited orphans in Ukraine, Hayley gave us insight into their situation, which is only made more tenuous by the current political upheaval.  And most importantly, she gave us a detailed look at how we (and our kids!) […]

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Retro Reads: Lloyd Alexander’s Picture Books

In reading Lloyd Alexander’s picture books, I observe three things: 1) he is well-versed in a broad range of folklore traditions, 2) he loves cats, and 3) he’s a great storyteller. While his stories contain more Story than Truth, they are cleverly written and worth sharing. How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, illustrated by Judith Byron […]

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The Man with the Violin

 One ordinary Friday morning in January, a famous musician in disguise descended into the busy Metro station in Washington share the glory of his music with an unsuspecting public. Joshua Bell, a virtuoso violinist, played his priceless instrument with skill and passion. Hardly anyone noticed in the rush. A few children gazed curiously while […]

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Presidents Day–What the Hay?

There didn’t used to be a Presidents Day; instead, Americans observed Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Washington (Feb. 22) separately.  But since those two had thoughtfully arranged to be born in the same month, and achieve the rank of Best President, and we didn’t want to slight the other 42 (I guess)—why not just slide them […]

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Valentine’s Day

As Christians we are called to practice so many forms of love besides the romantic kind. Themes for Valentine’s Day can be broadened to emphasize kindness in all kinds of human relationships, from friendly to intimate. Whether or not chocolate is involved, it is worth taking time to enjoy expressing the unique gift of love […]

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Award-Winning Science Picture Books

The Animal Book: a Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest—and Most Surprising—Animals on Earth, by Steve Jenkins.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 208 pages.  Age/interest level: 6-up. Steve Jenkins has made a name for himself writing about specified corners of the animal kingdom (see our review of The Beetle Book) and illustrating them with […]

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A Quick Trip around the World

Maps, by Eleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.  Candlewick, 2013, 107 pages.  Age/interest level: 4-up You like maps?  We’ve got maps!  After a view of the whole world, followed by a political map of Europe, the fun begins: big, double-page spreads of each country, lavishly illustrated with folk-arty, idiosyncratic icons of flora, fauna, geographical features, local […]

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Nurturing a young reader’s literary tastes

Parents with avid readers often find themselves with a dilemma: after my child has read all the age-appropriate books, where do we go from here? Progression to the next reading level adds to the scramble at the bookstore or library. What author should I try next? How can I get my child interested in a […]

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Nostalgic Christmas Picture Books

Many of our cultural Christmas celebrations are just that–cultural, not biblical. That being said, we can be Christians and still enjoy many of our cultural celebrations for what they are: cultural celebrations. No doubt, our regular readers here are investing time and energy to teach the real Christmas story. And, no doubt, many of you […]

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Winter Tales

I live in a fairly mild climate.  Hardly has the first frost melted when cashiers and postal employees start saying, “I’m ready for spring.”  Come on, people!  It’s not like we have to chop our own wood and stoke our own leaky furnaces any more.  I like winter (within reason)—it gives land and trees a […]

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