Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Reading

gratuitous photo of the kids "reading".

As a teacher, I always look forward to summer... to sleeping in, to days at the beach, and mostly to being able to read as much as I want. I'm the type of reader who gets consumed by books. I'll read until my head is aching and my stomach grumbling. I think I lost a few pounds reading the Harry Potter series; I was so engrossed in the books I forgot to eat!

As a mom, I don't get to sleep in anymore, in any season, and a day at the beach requires waaaay too much equipment (plus I'm terrified of one of them drowning in a rip tide.) But reading, yes, I did get to read a lot this summer.  I even overcame my hatred of "e-books" and read a few on an old Kindle.

I started with The Hunger Games trilogy- I may have been the last human to read that series, or maybe it just seemed that way.  Although diverting, I found that the violence level was too high for my taste.  Avoxx's?... shudder.  So Katniss did not end up being my new Harry Potter.

Next on the Kindle was Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Wonderful, eye opening book about our misconceptions about children, childhood and teaching/parenting.  I need to re-read it and take notes, that's how much it opened my eyes to some of my habits as a teacher and parent.  As a person with a degree in Child Development, it brought me back to my studies as an undergraduate.  Humans are just amazing creatures, and children the most fascinating (to me).  I was reminded of why I found studying them so incredible. And in the (many) years since I graduated developmental researchers have learned so much more about how humans acquire language, morality and racial identity.  If you are a parent, teacher or coach, this is a must read!

The funny thing about a Kindle is that it enables dabbling.  So I read pieces of some Ethiopian history books and bits of a couple of forgettable novels. Kind of like browsing the books stacked on my bedside table, without having to carry 10 books around with me.

Right now I'm reading a book I should have read 15 years ago, and still can't believe I didn't. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen is a remarkable book with a terrible title. It has prompted me to compose a thousand (thankfully unpublished) Facebook posts beginning with "Can you believe...!" or "Did you know that...?!"  I think I would have lost more than a few friends for my overly enthusiastic history lessons.

But seriously, did you know that Woodrow Wilson was openly racist and segregated the Federal Government? (which had been de-segregated by Lincoln!?) Did you know that some of the first "discoverers" of the Americas were African sailors?

This book is blowing my mind, over and over again.

I was motivated to start writing this blog to research, preserve and compose history for my son.  I wanted to create a resource for my children, and for other adoptive or trans-racial families, to give the gift of Ethiopian/African history.  "Lies" has convinced me even more of the importance of this.  Daniel  is certainly not going to learn Ethiopian history in school, and he is more likely to be given the same watered down (and sometimes just wrong!), "preserve the status quo", devoid of ideas and passion version of American History that most of us learned.

As we were going through the security check at the Addis Ababa airport, one of the guards, a young man, questioned Daniel somewhat sharply in Amharic and then spoke to me.  He said, "Take care of him! He is one of the Lions of Africa you know!"  I assured him and pulled Daniel closer to me.  I wish I could go back to that man. I wish I could sit with him for a few hours. I would question him about his country's history and culture. I would ask him to write down for Daniel the key things he needs to know about his heritage, his language, his history.  I wish I could reassure him that I would do everything in my power to raise my children as Lions of Africa.

James Loewen- if you are reading this, please do me a favor... can you write a "Lies my Social Studies Teacher told me about Africa" book. Thanks. :)

Here are a couple of wonderful children's books we picked up this summer:

There are just two more weeks before school begins! Any books to recommend?


  1. You can find books at

  2. Lies my teacher told me was one of my favorite books years ago. but i don't remember any of the things you mentioned from it, so i have to go back and re-read it! the chapter that sticks in my mind the most was about Helen Keller being a socialist advocate. awesome!


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