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Resource for New Books: Redeemed Reader (A Guest Post)



Do you have a voracious reader in your home? Does going to the library and sifting through all the new titles for young adults make your head spin? Does your reader beg for more current reads? I would like to introduce you to a resource our family has used for years - Redeemed Reader (RR). I first heard about RR from Dr. Donna Johnson at the Living Education Retreat.  Well, actually it was my teenage daughter, Katie, who heard her recommend RR. Immediately, Katie used the book reviews to scout out current books that she could trust and I was grateful as I  had no time to review/read all our school books AND keep up with all the new young adult fiction and nonfiction titles. So enjoy this guest post by the managing editor of RR, Betsy Farquhar. And check out some of her delicious recommendations, too!

Teaching from Peace,
Nancy

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ENRICHING THE FEAST 
by Betsy Farquhar

I was delighted to meet Nancy and hear her speak at our CM West Conference this fall. Imagine my surprise when, as I picked her brain for book recommendations, she mentioned Redeemed Reader as a source for some of her choices! It is an honor to introduce Redeemed Reader here on Sage Parnassus. Think of this post as your behind-the-scenes-tour of Redeemed Reader from a Charlotte Mason educator’s perspective (complete with book recommendations, of course!).

Redeemed Reader’s official goal is to “shine a gospel light on children’s literature so that Christian parents, educators, and the children they nurture may read in a more redeemed and redeeming way.” We believe passionately that we are placed in this time and place by the Lord’s sovereign hand, and we seek to shine a gospel light where we are. We are fascinated by the way literature, or Story, shows us the great Truth of Scripture, the nature of humanity and God’s work in the world. This is as true for classics like Cinderella and Othello as it is for newer titles like Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy or You Bring the Distant Near. All in all, we love Jesus and we love books. We could talk all day about both!


Because we believe both worldview (Truth) and literary artistry (Story) are important in a work of literature, we evaluate books on both of these categories. We assign each book an overall rating (out of 5) as well. It’s not enough to have a good “message” if the book is poorly written. When we “star” a book, it is a strong example in both categories, our “best of the best.”

We want to equip our fellow Christians to interact with the culture in which we find ourselves, so we might positively review a book with messy elements. Those messy elements (sexuality, language, violence, worldview themes) are part of this fallen world; their presence in a book isn’t automatically enough to discourage us from reading it. First, we want to see why those elements are in a book. Are they illustrating an evil character? Are they glorified and held up for kids to emulate? Are they part of a troubled world in which someone is seeking to bring about good? The reasons matter, and they help to determine when a book is worth reading, and when it’s not! For example, we thought Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire both worth reading despite their grittiness, but the latest by the same author, The Pearl Thief, glorifies a sexual coming of age that we felt wasn’t necessary. We often label these “messy” books “discussion starters” because we think they are particularly good at generating helpful and interesting discussions. We also offer “cautions” to help parents know if a book is a good fit for their family.

In a nutshell, we critique books from a Christian worldview: recently published gems that are worth reading, the occasional “retro read,” and contemporary “buzz books” (such as potential Newbery winners and popular authors such as Rick Riordan). Our primary focus is new books because there are already so many other excellent resources cataloging the older titles worth reading. We like to highlight spiritual materials for children and families (see our annual Bible review series). We also offer resources such as booklists and reflections on bookish ideas. Our hope is that Redeemed Reader better equips you to walk into Barnes and Noble or your local library and find great books for your children and families.



A Charlotte Mason educator will probably not find a “spine” text on our site for a particular course of study. But you will find enrichment for the feast; there are new, living books being published each year! And we help you discover them amidst a sea of twaddle. For instance, we love to recommend excellent narrative nonfiction resources such as Answering the Cry for Freedom (African Americans during the American Revolution), The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill (fascinating background on the Civil War), Devotion (African Americans during WWII), and Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White (a truly delightful biography). And there are so many wonderful picture book biographies that can embellish your history read aloud times. Just recently, we reviewed four biographies of “word shapers”: Shakespeare, Roget, Webster, and Newbery.


It’s hard to find current events covered in older, living books. You might be interested in reading and discussing with your teens books like Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson (racial tension from a Christian perspective), Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (a Muslim man’s conversion to Christianity), or Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee (a boy’s escape from North Korea). Check out our recent Ten True Stories for Teens for more ideas. 


Great contemporary literature exists, and we love to track it down. Historical fiction is alive and well; check out The Passion of Dolssa (Medieval era), Hattie Big Sky (pioneer days), and Breaking Stalin’s Nose (Stalin-era Russia). Realistic fiction like Save Me a Seat, Ghost, and Garvey’s Choice are terrific family reads with middle schoolers; all three of these titles deal with a middle schooler’s self awareness and identity in a non-preachy fashion. Perhaps your family enjoys fantasy; try When the Sea Turned to Silver, The Queen’s Thief series (a staff favorite), or Circus Mirandus. One of our biggest requests are books for boys, and we’ve reviewed a lot: Andrew Klavan and ND Wilson write great action-packed fantasy. Books like Tiger Boy, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, and Howard Wallace, P.I. are also enjoyable reads for middle grades boys.

There are too many more to name; we love picture books and easy readers, too, but that’s another post for another day. We’d love to have you stop by! Throw us some book recommendations, like our Facebook page for updates, or just browse our site.

Charlotte Mason’s feast metaphor is an apt one for education: we desire to set before our students just such a spread as most of us will soon enjoy on Thanksgiving.

Let Redeemed Reader help you enrich the feast!

Giveaway - The Cloud of Witness!


Hello, everyone!  Just a quick post to let you know that I am giving away 2 copies of The Cloud of Witness - A Daily Sequence of Great Thoughts From Many Minds Following the Christian Seasons. Presently, it is unavailable and out of print.

The Cloud was Charlotte Mason's gift to the graduates of her college.  It was such an inspiration to me that I had it reprinted by Riverbend Press a few years ago and now hundreds of people are reading through it together - just like the graduates of 100 years ago.

You can enter on Facebook or on Instagram.  Here's how:

On FB -
1. Like my page, Sage Parnassus.
2. Tag a friend in a comment. Each different tag is an additional entry.
3. Optional: For additional entry- Share the FB post with hashtag #sageparnassusgiveaway2

On IG - 
1. Follow me @sageparnassus
2. Tag a friend! Each different tag counts as an additional entry.
3. Optional: For additional entry- Repost the IG post with hashtag #sageparnassusgiveaway2


Drawing will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

More Cloud goodies:
-Like The Cloud of Witness FB page
-Read Gloaming, Advent, and the Tie That Binds (The Cloud of Witness Part 2)
-Read Why I Love the Cloud of Witness

Teaching from Peace,
Nancy



Parents Are Peacemakers (2 of 7)



 
The Arbour by Emanuel-Phillips Fox (1910)
           
      Welcome to the 2nd installment of the booklet, Parents Are Peacemakers! (See the 1st here.)  This section is still an introduction of sorts as it will help you and/or your group to begin thinking and focusing on what peace in the home might or might not look like.  Remember, these are intended to be 30 minute talks but you might be tempted to rush ahead to the main sections - please don't do that!  Take the time to think about the questions posed. And while this was written in 1944, it is still completely relevant to our time. Perhaps think about updated examples or situations as you go along. Oh, and I'd love to hear your feedback as you go through this. How are you using it?  Has it been effective?  Where has it led you or your group? Either leave a comment or send me an email at sageparnassus@gmail.com.

           Teaching from Peace,
           Nancy

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I.                    MAKING PEACE AT HOME.

Synopsis :     (1) Making and winning the Peace.
                   (2) Must be done at home.
                   (3) Different kinds of Homes (Discussion).
                   (4) When people are getting what they need, peace comes.
                   (5) Common needs (Discussion).
                   (6) The four needs (Questions).

1.       We often hear it said that “After we have won the war we must win the peace.” Already people are planning ahead, planning for education, for employment, for insurance; for feeding hungry Europe, for building up the cities. We leave these things to the leaders of the nations. All we can do is to read and listen and think, say a word here and there to approve or criticize. Yet we must “win the peace,” I must, you must, not just Mr. So and So, Minister for Such and Such, but you and I.

If we want to make a dress or to make a cake we find a pattern or a recipe. Where shall we find a recipe to follow if we wish to make peace? It is hard to find. A good recipe tells us what to use, how to use it. “Take such and such, mix --, bake in a -- oven, for so many minutes or hours.” If some good angel gave a recipe for peace he would say: -- “Take an ordinary family, mix it with love and understanding and bake it in your homes for every day of every year.”

2.     We talk about Housewives. It takes Househusbands and Housewives to make peace at home. Parents are the peacemakers of the world and if they fail then war must come whoever our rulers may be.
Let us think about homes and houses. Let us each think of a house, one we know well, where we like to go because it is happy and friendly and the young people and older ones get on well together.

3.       DISCUSSION: description of actual homes provided by the meeting, use them when going on with the talk.

Has anyone a home in their thoughts where things go wrong? Quarrels, nagging, sulks, temper, discomfort?  A broken home, one that is beginning to crack?

That family of which you told us –the children were noisy, all about the place – but they could be quiet when told. Mrs. X. gave a good tea, not just “Now Mary run round for the fish and chips,” at any moment of the evening. Mr. X was a bit tired after his work but he had his tea and his pipe and he and Tom mended the cycle together. They all seemed to be getting what they needed: Mr. X needed rest, his wife needed that chat with you, the children needed play and activity after school, Tom needed help, they all needed their tea and companionship. That other quarrelsome family – everyone wanted to have his own way and meant to get it too, no matter what the needs of others might be.

Then again, that  empty home to which Nancy returned after school was over, let herself in, gave herself tea, amused herself alone and put herself to bed. Father and Mother were both out at a cinema, two or three evenings a week, was it? Nancy was quite used to it. What a lonely place! Loneliness does not make peace, it makes a hungry heart and fear is round the corner.

4.       The peaceful home was the one where each member of the family was getting what he needed. What do people need? Let us think of that. There is a difference between what people want, what they would really like and what they really need. Certain things we all need, grown ups, children, everyone.

5.       DISCUSSION: group the suggestions into needs of body, needs of mind, e.g., food, warmth, healing – love, justice, hope, companionship, security, etc., etc.
A long list –do you notice that in a really happy home they all get attention? Not all at once, all the time, but each need gets answered, some time, in some way. We are in need and we feel a desire, we want something deeply, passionately –affection, notice, a friend, quiet, whatever it may be. Our needs are the ground of our human nature from which our thoughts, hopes, fears and joys grow up. Children are especially needy people. That is why Fathers and Mothers must be peacemakers, must give loving thought and care in order that the children may have their four great needs supplied – Leadership, Healing, Feeding, and Teaching.

QUESTIONS.

Parents Are Peacemakers (1 of 7)


Peace. Such an important topic for our homeschools and lives. I would like to share with you a little-known booklet titled Parents Are Peacemakers, Six Talks with Parents on Bringing Up Children by Charlotte Mason biographer, Essex Cholmondeley. Written in 1944, its purpose was to introduce parents to the PNEU and the  philosophy that shaped it. I think it offers practical help and examples  for those wanting more advice on bringing up children in a Charlotte Mason paradigm.  I will publish this little gem in seven installments, rolling them out as I transcribe them. A link to a google doc at the end of each post will make it convenient for printing.

The topics will include:

1. Notes for Those Who Conduct the Talks
2. Making Peace At Home
3. The First Need: Leadership
4. The Second Need: Healing
5. The Third Need: Feeding
6. The Fourth Need: Teaching
7. Christ's Way of Peace

This first, brief post is "Notes for Those Who Conduct the Talks" and contains excellent advice on how to run these sessions with  parents. My favorite bit is "be in the chair rather than in the pulpit" as the  facilitator. The advice found here is solid for anyone leading group meetings of any sort.

I hope you enjoy this series!  I think this booklet could be used with book discussion groups, in Sunday Schools, or just for the mom and dad looking for a more help with their parenting.

Teaching from Peace,
Nancy

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NOTES FOR THOSE WHO CONDUCT THE TALKS

                The attitude of all present, including those who conduct the meetings, should be one of finding out together what is best for children. The leader must have faith that the most “ordinary” father or mother has much to contribute. Be “in the chair” rather than “in the pulpit”; determine that each talk shall give real opportunity for meeting, mind to mind, experience shared. A sense of hostess-ship and hospitality is needed, giving a welcome, making everyone at ease, introducing them to ideas and thoughts courteously, keeping a happy orderliness in proceedings. A kindly sincerity encourages discussion and kindles initiative in individual listeners.

                Talk for about five to seven minutes, then get the parents to talk. Ask for examples and experiences from real life and use these when you continue. Keep the thread but let it be an elastic one, building up upon what the meeting gives you. In Talk VI, discussion would best be left until the end.

                Illustrations from real life are most important. If those given in the talks do not suit a particular audience, others should be chosen from personal experience of real children and real families (but not local ones). Every Leader must know her audience and give instances which will be normal and acceptable to them.

                Give the talks as a series. They lose their force if used separately. Together they form a unity; apart they present little fragments of the whole aspect of education which “bringing up” implies.

                Those who find these talks helpful should read the books of Charlotte Mason.  In them they will discover a constant source of wise counsel and inspiration concerning the whole life of a growing up person. “An Essay towards a Philosophy of Education” and all the  volumes of the “Home Education Series” can be obtained from the  Parents’ National Education Union, 171, Victoria Street, London, S.W. 1.

                I owe a debt of gratitude to Lady Reid for her encouraging co-operation and most kind advice while the Talks were being written.

E. Cholmondeley.

Whaddon House,
                Bruton, Somerset,
                                1944.

Google doc - Parents Are Peacemakers - Notes For Those Who Conduct The Talks (1 of 7)