I ran across an interesting article today about African American homeschoolers. It was written by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, and it contained some very enlightening statistics, including the following:
What does this mean for parents of African American school children? Dr. Kunjufu thinks homeschool is an ideal solution to these problems. At home, parents can teach children morals and values that are often neglected by the public schools. If a child struggles in math, his parents can spend extra time on that subject. If a child has been turned off to books in the past, her parents can renew her interest by choosing books about topics she's already interested in. Homeschooling presents all kinds of opportunities for parents to make sure their children are properly educated and treated with respect, firmness, and unconditional love.
Abilene Tucker is a Depression-era child who has been riding the rails with her father--until she hurts her leg as it dangles off the side of a boxcar. Her father sends her to the town of Manifest, Kansas, for safekeeping, and while she's there she meets a wonderful cast of characters. The story switches back and forth between 1918 and 1936, two very interesting times in American history.
Abilene and her new friends try to solve some small town mysteries through spying on people, talking to them, and scouring old 1918 copies of the Manifest Herald. Along the way, Abilene gains a profound new respect for her father and his friends, and she even helps some of the older people in the town to recover from their great losses of the past.
This book won the Newbery in 2011, and I think it's a fantastic book for teaching literature to children. It contains all kinds of literary devices (symbolism, metaphors, allusions, foreshadowing), and it also introduces young readers to some fascinating history: the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, World War I, orphan trains. Seen through the eyes of a child, these world events still retain their tragedy, but you realize that life goes on. Even in the midst of war and economic disaster, there are still tree houses to repair and adults to spy on. And if you're kind and helpful, there are always people to love who will love you right back.
Because I think this is such a wonderful novel for teaching literature, I'm working on a Tolman Hall lit guide for it. It will be available in early October.
This morning Amazon announced its new Kindle MatchBook program, which offers discounted/free Kindle versions of print books. In other words, when you buy a print book from Amazon, you can purchase the electronic version of the same book for $2.99, $1.99, $.99, or free, depending on the author's and publisher's preference.
For me, I figure if you've already bought one of my books and you'd just enjoy the flexibility of being able to read it on your Kindle when you want, you should get it for free. So be one of the first to take advantage of the new MatchBook program. If you haven't read Sister WhoDat yet, get both versions for the price of the paperback (currently $8.96). The second book in the series is due out at the end of next month.
I'm impressed with the way Amazon keeps making book buying and publishing easier and easier for both readers and writers. It makes me wonder what else is in the works.