Book Chat

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intensityAs a mom with three kids in the “gifted” program at school (quotes because I use the term loosely; I’m under no illusion that I’m raising the world’s next Einsteins), I’m always on the lookout for books exploring various traits exhibited by such kids.

Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults was great!  It’s really a compilation of articles by various authors, and especially highlights works inspired by the late psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski, who I regret is no longer with us.  He posited that gifted individuals have various “overexcitabilities” to a much greater degree than the general population.  The overexcitabilities he noted were psychomotor (a surplus of energy), sensual (enhanced sensory and aesthetic pleasures), intellectual (intensified activity of the mind), imaginational (free play of the imagination), and emotional (intensified feelings and emotions).

As I read through the book, it felt like I was reading a family history, because each member of our family has “overexcitabilities” in at least one of these areas.  And while intensity/passion/whatever you want to call it can be a true gift, it’s also exhausting to live with on a daily basis.

One thing I liked about Dabrowski’s writings is that he viewed these “overexcitabilities” as positive features, not as pathological or negative features – as many teachers, sadly, do.

“Parenting a gifted child is like living in a theme park full of thrill rides.  Sometimes you smile.  Sometimes you gasp.  Sometimes you scream.  Sometimes you laugh.  Sometimes you gaze in wonder and astonishment.  Sometimes you’re frozen in your seat.  Sometimes you’re proud.  And sometimes, the ride is so nerve-wracking, you can’t do anything but cry.”

In this book, you’ll learn more about the noted overexcitabilities and how they express themselves in gifted children, as well as in adults.  You’ll also learn parenting and teaching tips to use with the more-intense child.  There are even sections on overexcitabilities throughout life and how individuals with these traits may change throughout the years.

The book is packed with great quotes:  “Their excitement is viewed as excessive, their high energy as hyperactivity, their persistence as nagging, their questioning as undermining authority, their imagination as not paying attention, their passion as being disruptive, their strong emotions and sensitivity as immaturity, their creativity and self-directedness as oppositional. They stand out from the norm. But then again, what is normal?”

Although scholarly in tone, the book is still fairly easy to read.  Recommended for all those who are – or who know – someone experiencing life “in a higher key.”

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hannaAnd now, because I like to give you a little something for everyone, Jungle Jack’s Wackiest, Wildest, Weirdest Animals in the World.

I was excited to read this book, as my girls all love animals. I was not disappointed. The book is large in size and features big, colorful photos of the animals described.  I kept the book in the kitchen and read about one animal each night after dinner.  The kids really enjoyed learning facts about these animals and seeing the photos.  Each page/animal can easily be read and discussed in 5 minutes.

I was surprised that this seemingly secular book was published by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson.  However, there are a few references to “God really made this animal weird …” and so forth.

The DVD in the front of the book seemed like a bit of an afterthought and did not coordinate with the book.  My girls did enjoy watching it, as it featured humorous vignettes of Jack Hanna interacting with animals.  Buy the book for its own value – not for the DVD.

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Rabbit HillIt’s summer, and that means I am reading a classic of some type or other to the girls.  In summers past it’s been Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost (both by Indiana author Gene Stratton Porter), or Tom Sawyer.

This year, I started with Rabbit Hill and its sequel, The Tough Winter, both by Robert Lawson.  Rabbit Hill won the Newbery medal for best children’s book of the year in 1945, and I remember Mrs. Baughman, my gr. 3/4 teacher, reading it to our class.  I read it as a child as well.

The book is great for us because it features animals and gives them human qualities.  The caretakers at the house near the animals are kind to the creatures, feeding them, etc.  It really makes you stop and think – how will the rabbits, mice, yes even MOLES in your yard/garden feel about the actions you take? (and if this seems odd to you, you must not have emotional overexcitabilities :)).

It’s all well-written, full of big words not often encountered today in books for kids.  And challenging kids with higher-level vocabulary that they won’t necessarily know, but can understand in context, is one of my favorite teaching tools.  I can’t tell you how many times one of the kids would ask, “What’s that” regarding a word and we’d then have a great discussion.

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50thingsThrow Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life was a book I saw being given away on a blog, and I thought it would be right up my alley.  I try to lead a well-organized, unclutter life – but it’s a struggle every day.  The former teacher in me wants to keep everything “just in case,” and with three kids besides, there is just always stuff around.

So, I generally like books like this, which try to help make de-cluttering less painful.  I liked this one at first – Blanke did a good job taking me room by room, encouraging me to throw out 50 things (and a big pile of magazines only counts as 1 thing!).

However, the second half of the book was about “mental decluttering,” and she lost me there.  If I wanted to read about letting go of negative thoughts, etc. I would read a different book.  I can see that her angle makes the book unique; it just wasn’t that interesting to me.

If you want to become more organized and less cluttered, my all-time favorite book to recommend isIt’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh – perfection!

Any book reviews you can share?

4 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. ALL of your books sound extremely fascinating to me!! I wouldn’t even know which one to start with. They are each intriguing in their own way.

    Love your Nightstand and thanks for sharing!

  2. I’ve not heard of Rabbit Hill, but Freckles and the Limberlost books were some of the first books I remember reading, and I would love to revisit them some day.

  3. Oooh– I’m really, really interested in the first book you mention here. My kids most definitely have their individual overexcitabilities. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Love that first book. Too bad children aren’t seen as individuals with potential to be molded and trained, not as problems to be medicated! I am currently reading David Copperfield, and Emma.

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