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Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl
Review by Monique Marchilli-Barker
Mariah Bruehl is a parent with over a decade of experience in the field of education. After making the decision to leave her job and stay home, she set out to supplement her daughter’s education by providing meaningful experiences that nurtured their sense of wonder. Mariah gathered these experiences that she developed with and for her children and began the award-winning Playful Learning website as a resource for parents. Now these activities are beautifully presented in her book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder.
This book is well organized and offers simple, inspiring, and engaging activities for children ages 4-8. The activities are organized by subject matter and each section begins with an overview of children’s developmental stages for that particular discipline. You will find suggestions for staying “one step ahead”, resources for supporting and expanding the activities, and free printables. There are also tips on organizing materials and creating inviting playful spaces.
If you are looking for ways to connect with your child, nurture your child’s natural curiosity, or to provide meaningful learning experiences, you will find this book to be a valuable resource!
Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias by Jane Velez-Mitchell
Review by Beverly Fox Martin
Jane Velez-Mitchell’s non-fictional book details the relationship of Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander gone horrifically awry. It puts every piece of this tragic puzzle in place, chronologically, and adds all the missing pieces as well. It succinctly explains to the reader the childhood backgrounds, the needs, the deeds and misdeeds, the yearnings, and motivations of two young adults and, most importantly, why they clicked, fell apart, yet continued to interact well past their “spoil date.” Travis met a gruesome and undeserved death at the hands of Jodi. Yet, he had signed his own death certificate – in multiples….How did that happen? How could he fail to see his demise pending? Why and how could Jodi justify taking his life? Ms. Velez-Mitchell explains it all in her detailed recounting. The reader need not buy any other book about this crime. Hopefully, tragedies such as this one can be averted by knowing oneself and also by discerning others’ inclinations and capabilities….
Today I went to the Friends of Topsham Public Library’s book sale and bought a banned book! I purchased Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for my niece and nephew. It was banned in many places but went on to win many awards including the Caldecott Medal. There have been many criticisms leveled at the book: that it is too dark and frightening, that it promotes witchcraft and elements of the supernatural, that it glorifies Max’s anger and ‘inappropriate’ behavior, that depriving a child food as punishment could scare a child, one psychologist even went as far to say that it would psychologically damage children. Sendak portrayed children as they are: mischievous and sulky and angry and scared and sometimes alone, and for this his books have been embraced by generations. I am also a big fan of the novel adaptation by Dave Eggers and the movie (directed by Spike Jonze) that inspired it, which I think are more aimed at adults who loved the book as children.
It’s amazing to me that the most frequently challenged book(s) of the last decade was the Harry Potter series. The complaints ranged from it being anti-family and violent to accusations of occultism and Satanism. I’m not usually a series person, but this is one of the few that I read to the end. What was great about this series is that I started by reading this to my kids and by the end of the series, they were reading it to me! Many educators have noted that this page-turning series increased literacy among children and adults, and some studies showed that it had a positive effect on kids’ moral values–that Harry Potter taught them about valuing their friendships and doing the right thing.
A recently re-read To Kill at Mockingbird as I really like the film adaptation and it had been years since I read the book. This book is often challenged with reasons cited as “offensive language” and “racism”. However, I think it is a true reflection of life at the time and its themes and events still have a lot to teach us in this day and age.