This book is 44th in The American Adventure Series and it's set in Seattle, Washington in 1939-1940. Some of the historical events include the increased use of media (radio dramas, comic books) for entertainment, the tension in America as WWII started, and the discrimination against Japanese-Americans in the time period.
I appreciate how the characters grow in each book, presenting realistic glimpses into what ordinary life was like in different time periods. In this book, Audrey struggles with being teased for her good grades and participation at school. She also has conflicting emotions about how a disabled girl is treated and also how to interact with the girl socially. Finding her place in her family, which seems to change as she grows, is also touched on in a heart-warming manner.
Along with learning more about the Depression than I was ever taught in school, my children learned great lessons on compassion and treating others with dignity and respect regardless of their lot in life. The children in the story meet a displaced teen and while they are reminded of the real dangers of riding the rails and the gathering places of groups of homeless people, a theme of genuine care for others is consistent. When a family is struggling to feed themselves, yet they yearn to help others in worse conditions, what can and should be done? This is one of the questions struggled with through this narrative.
As always, I give warning flags to any content which may be too intense for sensitive readers/listeners. This plot includes a teen retelling how his friend was killed by slipping down under a moving train when they were riding illegally (holding onto the outside of the cars). The description was not gorey, but it did include some suspense and evoked concern and sadness from my children. Since we've previously discussed the hazards of trains, I was able to navigate this section while reading it word-for-word to my kids. You may want to pre-read chapter 8 to decide whether you want to paraphrase or omit portions for a sensitive child.
I highly recommend this series as presenting history in an age-appropriate, engaging context with relevant and challenging moral dilemmas overcome by the characters in every book. They are great read-alouds as they keep both my youngest child and myself interested!
Discipling Your Children without a Bible Curriculum: Lifestyle of Teaching Kids to Practice the Presence of God
With countless curricula available and surrounded by Mrs. Jones's kids who can quote entire chapters or even books of the Bible from memory, sometimes I feel I'm not doing this "teaching" thing quite right. As a Christian, homeschooling, church-going mom, I've had many conversations over the years about how we should teach our children about the Lord and the Bible. I've laid hands on and leafed though pages (and even purchased) some amazing resources that are geared to enrich our understanding of and relationship with the Lord. But, can I let you in on a not-so-secret admission? That curricula is sitting on a shelf. Not being used. Am I doing something wrong here?
I don't think so. I came to faith by reading the Bible and lately, I've been concerned with my own spiritual and mental health state being bogged down by to-do lists and don't-do lists that seem to come at me from many sides: church suggestions and promotions, voices within the homeschool community, Christian books, literature, and online articles. While some of these suggestions are wonderful, they can also serve as distractions from listening for the still, small voice of Jesus in my own life. Many of the voices I listed are speaking at large audiences. Masses, even. They're geared to spread a message to multitudes (often about their own curricula, program, or current priority). Call me crazy, but I think God has an individualized, personal plan for each of our lives. Of course He does, you say. What does that have to do with curricula?
One of the many reasons we choose to homeschool is to provide an individualized learning experience for each of our children. Tailored to their needs and even interests at times. (I say "at times," my kids haven't been terribly interested in percentages, but I will teach them about it anyway!) I'm not indicating that Bible curricula are bad, poor, or a waste of time by any means, but I'm writing this article to encourage those who aren't using them.
There are so many ways to disciple our children. The following ideas don't cost any money, don't need to be scheduled, and are 100% customizable for what fits your families' needs best.
Read them the Word of God. It doesn't have to be every morning, every bedtime, or every afternoon during a time of rest. If you miss a day (or a week or a month) give yourself grace; Jesus offers it to you.
Answer their questions with eternity in mind. This is a lifestyle choice. This can become daily and there's no check-list, prep-time or quiz afterwards. When your kids hear about a pet dying and wonder whether animals go to Heaven, answer the best you can (it's fine to say you're not sure!) and tell them something you do know about Heaven from God's Word. When you're admiring a beautiful sunset, big-clumps of snow falling to the ground, or a fascinating plant or animal, talk to them about the Creator Who made such an exquisite world for us to live in. When you've caught a child in the middle or aftermath of an anger outburst, they may be full of questions (why did he get away with this? Why can't I...?), Slow down and remind them who they are. Children of God, forgiven by Jesus, loved by the Lord of the Universe, created with a purpose, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Tell them who they are so they can repent, rise up and take the right path next time. Answering their questions about sins of others, possible injustice, etc. is often more beneficial after the emotions have calmed and they've accepted their responsibility (if any) in the situation.
Link celebrations and struggles back to the bigger picture. This is similar to answering questions with eternity in mind, but it takes the matter one step further because the parent takes initiative to bring up spiritual matters without getting a que (question) from the child first. Weddings, the birth of a baby, the death of a loved one, individuals struggling with chronic or acute pain or handicaps, a challenging relationship or task, or reaching a long-awaited goal can all be seen in light of God's love, mercy, and care for us. It's not always easy, but we can model looking unto Jesus even in the midst of adversity and trials of life. There are so many unhealthy places people turn to when celebrating or struggling, show them how to navigate the highs and the lows resting in God's faithfulness.
Point out God's protection, provision, and divine intervention in daily activities. If you don't notice any of these yourself, you may need to pray and ask God to begin revealing them to you. That won't be enough, though, you'll also need to start looking for God's involvement in your daily life. You know He's there, so expect to see Him, and offer Him praise when you do.
Pray for your kids, in front of your kids, and with your kids. I don't pray for each of my kids by name daily. I wish I did sometimes, but in reality, I don't. So I'm not preaching that you have to. I tend to have a very private prayer life. I sway between chatting with God like a bestie to approaching Him with deep reverence. I think that's okay since I can do the same thing with elders I respect here on earth. We can have casual, light-hearted conversations or gut-level discussions. Both appropriate in my opinion. Sometimes I am angry with God and I tell Him so. I complain to Him and ugly cry to Him too. If David, a man after God's own heart, can be real with God when the going is tough, I can too. A wise pastor told me that Satan loves it when we give God the silent treatment. If we stop talking to God (or listening via His Word or Spirit) when we are struggling or when things are going great, it creates a vacuum for other voices to speak into. Some of these voices may be godly counsel from wise individuals, and others may very well be lies (some of the best lies are 90% true so you will swallow them). Pray in front of your kids sometimes so they can hear how your "usual" prayers are worded and learn from you how to communicate with the God they do not see. Pray with your kids, encouraging them to pray out loud if they are comfortable. Giving them suggestions when they are at a young age or during a difficult time is perfectly acceptable, but the goal is to encourage them to pray for their own situations, praises, and concerns in addition to you praying for them.
Wait, isn't this just another to-do list?
I sure hope you don't take it that way, as that's not how its meant to be. Please, don't think in your head, I'm going to start doing all these things tomorrow (or next week, etc)! Take them into consideration. Pray about them. Take one here or there and you may just find that they weave into your lifestyle and soon you're teaching your kids to practice the presence of God. Teach them to keep Christ in the forefront of their minds by tearing down the boundary between spiritual and ordinary. We live in a world where spiritual and physical co-exist, yet all too often we try to mentally separate the two.
Lifestyle (interwoven into day) vs. Habit (set time & task) One of my hesitations against using a curricula for Bible or even against requiring my kids to have a set time to read an assigned portion of the Bible is that it will become nothing more than a forced-habit, a check mark on a to-do list that they can fall right out of the habit of and let drop off the list once my authority is removed from the situation. I've experienced this in my own life. I was committed to reading through and emailing out the entire chronological KJV Bible in a couple of years. I was sharing it with others and while it was a worthy project, I found myself turning to the Word less often out of my own desire and more often out of a sense of obligation. After I completed the project, I went a few months without opening my Bible to read without prompting (such as for church, or to read/talk to the children about a passage). Now, I'm not saying I never require my kids to read God's Word, there are times when I do, but I tend to model the behavior and make suggestions more often than requiring reading. My kids aren't fasting from God's Word, my husband and I read the entire Bible to them regularly and my son who can read voluntarily reads his Bible.
It's a relationship with the Lord I choose to foster, not a disciplined religious life.
I once explained to my son like this: Do you know George Washington? He responded that he knew who he was. Exactly. You can read about George Washington, study his life, artifacts from the time frame, and interview people who are experts on his biography. That is knowing about George Washington. I could force you to read 100 books on the first president and you'd know a LOT about him. But you still wouldn't know him. If you want to get to know someone, you have to spend time with them. Even though Jesus is no longer walking the earth in physical form, His Holy Spirit and Word are alive and rich. I don't want my kids to be able to quote the book of James, but to fail to willingly turn to the Scriptures when they are trying to make a hard decision. I don't want my kids to pray as eloquently a Paul in church, but fail to hit their knees or raise their hands in intercession and worship at their homes. I don't want my kids to perform acceptably in a church program or answer apologetic and creation science questions in a curricula but fail to see and serve the lost, hungry, and lonely in the world.
Church programs and religious curricula aren't bad if the messages they send are Truth. My kids attend some church programs and I do hope to casually use one of the Bible curricula we own someday because it is a solid way to reinforce teaching for your kids. However, if you feel like you can't keep up, remember that Jesus taught his disciples by walking with them, talking to them, sharing meals with them, going on a boat with them, praying with them, sharing God's Word with them, showing them mercy and justice and loving them. Deuteronomy 6 gives examples of how parents should teach their children: by talking to them when sitting, walking, lying and rising. Basically, as you go about life, doing the things you do every day- teach your kids to remember, respect, and love the Lord.
On a final note, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence is a short book that tells the inspiring effects of one man's efforts to keep the Lord at the forefront of his thoughts no matter what his activity or circumstance happens to be. I'm not promoting that anyone uses this book as the standard of how to live their life- that's what the Bible is for! Just thought I'd share if someone were wondering where the phrase "practice the presence of God" originated.
These are excellent fictional history books to get any elementary or middle school boy or girl interested in American History. I enjoy reading them aloud to my pre-k through 4th grade sons. These books are wonderful if read in order, but they can be enjoyed out of order or by just reading a single book if one in particular fits a topic you're interested in. They paint a good picture of what life may have been like during different significant events in the history of our nation. This book in particular is dealing with WWI, which was then referred to as "The Great War."
This book is #33 in The American Adventure Series. Set in the early 1900s in Minneapolis, MN, this book discusses the effects of the gramophone, particularly the introduction of ragtime music to family homes. John Philip Sousa, famous musician and composer of "Stars and Stripes Forever" is quoted and discussed as the main characters are boys who participate in band and look up to his example. Some of the character issues addressed in this book include adjusting to being a blended family (having a step-parent), how to respond when friends become jealous or unkind toward us, how to be mindful of others needs, and exercising self-control and discipline to meet a goal despite unhealthy peer pressures.
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I am not much of a blog reader. There's only a couple I check on occasion:
Love this girl's writing... feels like she's a long distance friend. Well, her sister is my long-distance friend, so that probably helps. Either way, what an inspiration and encouragement- you just need to check out some of the places life has taken Leah and be strengthened and inspired by the love that oozes (yes, oooozes) from her heart for Jesus, His people and His creation!
If you like nummy recipes, or have special dietary needs (or both!) check it out. ALL of her recipes are Vegan, and many can be made gluten-free. I stumbled upon it when searching for dairy/egg free treats to make for my kiddo and have gotten hooked on several recipes. Okay, "hooked on" doesn't portray it well enough. How about "addicted to"? That's more fitting. Will definitely be going back for more!