Monday, July 30, 2007

Two short books....

Abraham Lincoln the Great Emancipator by Augusta Stevenson:
This book is from the Childhood of famous Americans series for children. It was short and sweet. Interesting things about his life as a boy. He was strong, smart and brave. His mother and step mother played a huge part in his success from the beginning they believed in him and fought to make sure he got an education despite his father just wanting him to work on the farm.
Abraham Lincoln was a real American hero to me.

Four Perfect Pebbles a Holocaust Story by Lisa Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan:
This was an amazing true story about a family that survives the worst things bad people can do to other human being. Death Camps during World War II. The story really comes to life for me when I realize that the places and cities they are talking about I saw on my mission. I served in Celle for about 3 months. While we were there a gentlemen in our ward got permission to take us to Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp. (I am so glad he did this for us, I will never forget the experience and feeling). It is now a monument with pictures and the stories of the thousands of victims that were murdered during Hitlers rein. It is also a cemetery. I cried so hard and will never forget the things we saw and the places we walked around. There were mass graves and gas showers, bunk beds stacked three high where women and children were stuffed. Back then it was dirty stinky and had lice and sickness everywhere. No food but maybe some moldy bread. Sometimes no hope, yet so many Jews never gave up on their Faith and God.

Amazing is hard to believe it was real, yet it was. It is hard to believe that life goes on after something so terrible, yet it does and the little girl in the story, Marion, came to America, learned English, goes to school eventually gets married and has a family of her own. Marion has been giving talks and presentations at schools for the last 15 years and finally got her story in book form. She had to do a lot of research to put the pieces together from the worst 6 years of her life and she has been back to Germany and visited many of the places she thought she would never see again. Marion is an amazing person with a very strong spirit. I hope that if I ever have even the tiniest bit of trial in my life I can be as strong and stalwart as she.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

This is a retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast. It was pretty good. It starts from the beginning and tells of the families life in the city and loosing it all and moving to the country. She puts details about each of the sisters, they are nice sisters not mean sisters like some of the versions of this story. The father is nice and the Beast isn't as mean as Disney makes him. Beauty has a horse and she spends lots of time riding it and talking to it. She is kind of a tom boy.

I think it was very well written even if you have read and seen the story a hundred times. Whole Book

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dyslexia by Paula Wiltshire

This was a great book, finally I have found out why I do things a bit different then others. I am slightly dyslexic. I suspect my mom and two brothers and possibly my daughter all are.
If you tell me to turn right I will turn left unless I think really hard about it. If you ask me what time it is I also have to think really hard. If you were to give me a list of 10 words to memorize I would probably say forget it unless you had a really good reason to do it. Then I would have to think really hard.

Thinking really hard is how I cope with dyslexia. First I either remember something using colors or visually where it is located on the page or spot, or I remember a sound or a motion associated with whatever it is I am trying to remember. Instead of one step to remember something I usually have to put it through a series of things to get it to stick in the side of my brain that will remember it. If I am feeling lazy then it is hopeless but when I am on top of things I can be really smart.

This explains why I usually failed all tests that were just names and dates in college or not enough time to take it all through the process it takes to remember it with so many steps. Also explains why I like sports/physical things verses science/math.

When I was learning to read in kindergarten it took a little bit longer then most of the class but when I got it I had it for life. I am really bad at spelling because I look at the whole word as a picture not as individual letters. It was really a blessing that I learned German finally, dyslexic people really suck at foreign language. When I was little I loved music but could never get very far playing the piano because the teacher only wanted me to memorize each piece and play it without the sheet music in front of me, well visual learners don't do it that way, if only I had known...oh well it isn't too late to try again at the piano. (forget passing them off for the cute butterfly sticker).

I feel for others that have really serious Dyslexia, life can be confusing. Luckily there were great people to inspire us that were also Dyslexic, Leonardo da Vinci,
Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Hans Christian Andersen, Agatha Christie, Albert Einstein,
Woodrow Wilson, W.B. Yeats.

Dyslexic people process things a bit different in their brain. The left hemisphere specializes in Writing ,Symbols, Language, Reading , Sequences, Directions, Logic and structured thinking. The Right side is creativity, singing, music, spatial relationships, artistic expression, visualization, feelings and emotions, touch, intuition, fantasy and imagination. Many dyslexics find that they excel in what's known as "lateral thinking." That means the ability to look at situations from an unusual angle. This has been to my advantage many times but if I was asked to explain the process to someone else that is where it gets hard.

The book has some great ideas on Structured Multi sensory learning. Not just using one method of learning but may like seeing, hearing, saying and feeling. Kinesthetic methods are really important and fun. So instead of just doing a worksheet, a better way is playing a game or touching, saying, going somewhere or even jumping up and down while studying. This helps to remember what is being taught. Interesting...

And the biggest mystery of all has been solved...I love Spidergrams!!!! I learned them in 8th grade and have used this way of taking notes forever after, I thought it was just a weird thing and wondered why no one else did it with a passion like me...well it is because I am slightly dyslexic and this is how I keep track of life. Spidergrams are a series of small pictures and symbols with colors and all linked to the middle. Wow now I don't feel so very weird.

I don't think nondyslexic people will have much sympathy for my method of learning and life but for all the other side of the brain thinkers out there I have crossed into the zone of understanding diffrent but effective, just like them. I hope I can now find out more information on this subject and help my daughter find ways to cope with her brilliant mind so she can share it with others.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Incident at Hawk's Hill - A Novel by Allan W. Eckert

This book was based on factual events but dialog was added to help it move along and make it long enough to be a novel. It was very interesting. My sister Kim was excited about it and let me borrow it.
It is a book takes place around 1870. It is about a little boy around 6 or 7 years old. He likes animals and has a way of communicating with them better then people. He likes to imitate animals and he isn't afraid to get right down in the mud and dirt with them.
One day he gets lost and finds a Badger hole. He becomes friends with the poor lonely Badger that just lost her whole family. (I think that was the saddest part of the book and I cried). Well after a while he becomes a badger boy and then finally his family finds him. I think he was living and surviving with the Badger for 2 months. Pretty amazing. Great book and fun to read if you like nature/adventure.

Whole Book

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Interesting book about a girl that was home-schooled and she moved to Arizona. She starts going to high school (public school) for the first time. Her life "beats to a different drum". She doesn't care about being popular or fitting in. She just wants to help others and do her own thing. She doesn't care what people think about her.
Well eventually this boy named Leo becomes her friend. He tries to change her but realizes it isn't a good thing. She holds her own and is just happy being herself.
Interesting book. I guess it is WHOLE.

Home Ranch by Ralph Moody

This was of course a great book. I love the way this guy tells stories about his life when he was a little boy working on a Ranch. He has adventures and falls in love with a girl, innocent puppy love, and he learns about life the hard way when he was stuck in a sand storm and one time lost. I enjoyed his stories of taming a horse and teaching a girl how to do some trick riding.
Whole Book sequel to Little Britches and Man of the Family