Book Chat

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Another month, another set of book reviews.  Fun, fun!

wellbehavedThe Well-Behaved Child: Discipline That Really Works!

Ah, John Rosemond – where do I begin? When my kids were very young, I enjoyed Rosemond’s columns in the local paper. He was practical and old-fashioned. I loved his thoughts on potty-training by 2: none of this “wait till the child shows signs of readiness” nonsense for me!

I mentioned liking him to a parent friend, who was horrified: she was a co-sleeping, “unschooling” type who I can now see would be his polar opposite.

A few years ago, I went to hear John speak at a local church, and while I still basically agreed with his thoughts, I found him a bit know-it-all-ish … a bit too “my way or the highway.”

So, I decided to read his newest book and see what I thought. I enjoyed this book overall; its parenting advice is basically that kids will misbehave, and when they do, they must suffer for it in a memorable way. Did your kid fail to listen when you told him to clean up his room? Then how about taking everything “fun” out of his room and insist he go there every night after dinner, only coming out to go to the bathroom, and go to bed 2 hours early for a month?

Harsh? Yeah, but that is the point: Rosemond contends that a consequence must be meaningful enough to create a lasting memory that the child doesn’t want to repeat by misbehaving. He also says that well-behaved kids are happy kids, while misbehaving kids are generally a more angry lot, and I have to agree with that – although part of me also thinks Rosemond never had to deal with a truly difficult child of his own.

I tend to think Rosemond errs on the side of justice over mercy a bit too much, but overall I back him, especially in this age of permissive parenting where kids are running the show in too many households.

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The Children's BlizzardThe Children’s Blizzard is a great example of how history should be taught.  David Laskin takes a horrendous blizzard which struck the Dakota territory on January 12, 1888, killing hundreds, and brings it to life.  He goes into much (sometimes honestly too much) detail about various families who survived the storm (or didn’t), the way weather reporting worked at the time (or didn’t), how the body actually dies from extreme cold, how the various forces of weather conspired to produce such a storm, and more.

The best parts of the book in my opinion were the personal stories – the schoolteacher who spent the night huddled in a haystack with several of her students after they were unable to find their way to a house – the boy who planned to stick with his classmates to seek shelter, only to turn back at the last minute because he realizes he’s forgotten his special perfume-bottle of water for erasing his chalkboard in the schoolhouse …

Some flaws with the book in my opinion were that Laskin attempts to introduce too many characters.  He then tries to pick up their stories again several pages later, and I found myself unable to keep track of most of the individuals throughout the book.  Also, as alluded to earlier, I could have done without some of the extreme detail about the weather service and highs/lows/various weather fronts.

All in all though, engaging and a book that will remind you again of how tough those pioneers were compared to most of us today.

Another similar book that I enjoyed – The Worst Hard Time about the dust bowl conditions in the US southwest in the early parts of the 20th century.

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The Long WinterIn keeping with the winter theme, The Long Winter has been on my mind lately. To me, it’s the most memorable of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series, with its vivid description of the winter of 1880-1881.  The first blizzard hit October 15, and I think it was May before the trains could finally resume their runs – devastating to the pioneers on the prairie.

I think it’s also been on my mind because the cooling weather this year reminds me of the 4.5 days the week before Christmas last year when our entire subdivision lost power after an ice storm, with temperatures way below zero at times.  The house got into the 40s, which I can testify is cold! I’d like to say it was cozy and pioneer-y, but really it was just awful.  We had 3 pets we were trying to keep alive (as well as ourselves), water to keep carrying out of the sump pump, etc.  We mainly lived in the (unfinished)  basement because it was warmer, but the only light there came from candles and flashlights.

Anyway.  I am beginning to read some of Long Winter each night after dinner to the kids.  I loved last night’s part because in the book, as now, it is a cool October and the girls have helped Pa pick all the green tomatoes now that the tomato  plants have died.  My youngest daughter and I just did that last night!

 

9 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. We moved to Colorado in 2006, in time for the worst winter in 100 years. (Yay me!) We were totally taken by surprise by a blizzard dumping almost 2 feet of snow 2 months after we got here, and the snow just kept coming and coming. I think we had almost 6 weeks where it didn’t get above freezing. I grew up where you barely needed a coat and am very cold-natured. It was awful. I couldn’t find my childhood set of Little House books (lost in the 2 moves we had made in 2 months), and I actually went to Borders and paid almost $50 for a new set! I think I was half-crazy by that point!! Anyway, all so I could read the Long Winter again. I loved that whole series and read all of the books over and over again. I particularly loved Farmer Boy, and the detailed descriptions of the food. In later years, I read a comment that Laura could probably remember so many details of food because food wasn’t plentiful when she was young. Of course, Farmer Boy is about her husband, so I don’t know if he remembered it so well, or if she just wrote about what would have been typical of a household at that time. In any case, I have spent many hours reading and re-reading those books. I have still never been able to interest my kids in them! They both read, but different topics.

  2. We’re big Little House fans around here! I’ve read some of them aloud, and others we’ve listened to through library audiobooks.

    The parenting book sounds like one that really makes you think. I think my favorite of the few parenting books I’ve read is ‘Boundaries with Kids.’

  3. I’ve always enjoyed John Rosemond’s advice, too. He’s usually right on target, although sometimes a little hard for me to follow through with.

  4. It was very fun hearing your background and thoughts about John Rosemond. I hadn’t heard of him or this book but chuckled at how your attitude towards him has changed slightly, and I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on his book!

    Thanks for sharing and linking up!

  5. I truly enjoyed Children’s Blizzard. I love the idea of starting to read the Long Winter aloud right now. Sadly, my kids are at stage where it’s easier to get them to do chores than read aloud!

  6. I really like the sound of the parenting book. I might need to check that author out!

    Thanks for sharing!

    -Ashley

  7. I haven’t read John Rosemond. I remember reading Dr. Dobson on parenting kids and he was kind of tough too, although maybe not that tough. I honestly think, looking back, that I was TOO tough, at least sometimes. We got great sons, but we eased up a bit on the third and he’s a joy, just like the others. I like reading The Long Winter when it gets very hot here – it makes me feel cooler, lol!

  8. That second book sounds interesting and somewhat morbid. We are reading the Little House series right now too, my boys really like it.

    I love your header picture!

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing your thoughts.