Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Attention Homeschoolers

...or, really, anyone who has children that read. I was just thinking in terms of myself, and my plans to homeschool.

This website, 13 Stars Publishing, has a children's version of Thomas Paine's Common Sense. I will definitely be ordering this for future use, and am excited to see he has plans to publish other "gateway documents" as well.

Some will argue that we do our children a disservice by "dumbing down" these works. I disagree. I might be inclined to believe that, if you are talking about giving a "dumbed down" version to a much older kid (read: late teens) or an adult. But in the case of giving younger children something they can understand, to whet their appetites, I am all for something like this.

I can personally attest to the success of this idea. When I was a child, I had a very large set of classic literature adapted for children. I adored those books, and read them over and over and over until the covers fell off and the pages began to fall out. Dickens, Twain, Dumas, Melville, Cooper, Hugo...I firmly believe that those little books were responsible for sparking the passion that to this day I have for classic literature. In my teens and early twenties I reread each of those books in their original form, and was delighted to find additional plot twists and characters that had been left out of the minis for the sake of brevity. My favorite of them all was and still is The Count of Monte Cristo. So grateful am I to those little books, that I still have my coverless kids' version of it.

In the words of the publisher:

"Deciding to write this adaptation created a lot of consternation for me. There was the purist part of myself that recoiled in horror at the thought of touching a single word of a historic document. But it was the educator half of me that successfully argued (and believed) that introducing students at a young age to our historic source documents could lead to a lifelong love of history and involvement. But this isn’t easy to do. Most documents are inaccessible for a variety of reasons. How great would it be for students to read and live history at an early age, then delve even deeper as their understanding grew. I felt a “gateway” document was needed to make this happen. This is what educators do; they supply a lot of help at first, eventually removing help as the student gets more independent. So, hence this book: my need to find ways for my students, and students everywhere, to love American History as much as I do."

Two minds with but a single thought.

Thank you, 13 Stars. We are soon to become loyal customers and vocal supporters.


Aunt Julia said...

i had pretty much the same experience, and i just love those books. That is also the kind of love and passion which i hope to pass on to my kids.
Nice blog too.

Jamie said...

Thank you for the website. I'm saving it. We have just about decided to homeschool(99.5% sure as of today!)...and I want to accumulate all the resources I can. Glad to know you will be doing it as well. I respect your opinion and will be asking it often as our children get older!

mommy said...

Aunt Julia - thanks! I'm sure there are lots of others out there with the same experience you and I had. I'd love to see even more people adapt even more books in that way. I just think it's so vital to provide those types of springboard.

Jamie, thank you so much. It's humbling to think you would ask my opinion about anything homeschool related, since you are the actual teacher after all, and have a sister who is a homeschool extraordinaire with several years already under her belt. I feel so nervous and scared about it, truth be known! I'm certain I'll be asking your opinion at least as often as you ask mine, and I'm sure we'll have plenty of stories to swap as time goes on!