Banned Books Week sheds light on censorship in America

Don't let the censors win!

Every day across the nation, books are being challenged and removed from public and school libraries. Why challenge a book? The people trying to enforce this censorship truly believe they are doing it for all the right reasons. For the most part, to protect the children. Protect them from dangerous ideas, dangerous thoughts, dangerous information.

But what it really boils down to is, someone complains to the library because they feel that The Hunger Games (which never mentions race, although it describes Katniss as "olive skinned" and Rue as "dark skinned") is racist. And the librarian who receives this complaint has to take it seriously.

Review: Career Comeback by Lisa Johnson Mandell

A Book for Women in Career Transition

Lisa Johnson Mandell’s “Career Comeback” is a disorganized mixture of solid, dependable career advice and fluff disguised as career advice for female professionals either re-entering the workforce or changing careers. If I had to grade Lisa Johnson Mandell’s “Career Comeback” in terms of usefulness for career seekers, I would probably give “Career Comeback” a C+.


Here are the reasons for giving “Career Comeback” such a mediocre grade:


  1. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, “Career Comeback” is disorganized. It’s hard to find the useful information when you are reading through chapters devoted to beauty makeovers.
  2. Lisa Johnson Mandell spends WAY too much time weighing in on how to blog and how to social network. It’s not that Lisa Johnson Mandell’s advice about blogging is bad; it’s more that it’s irrelevant and unnecessary to a majority of her readers.
  3. Some of the chapter titles in “Career Comeback” fail to give the reader an idea of what the chapter is about. For example, the chapter “Reality Check” doesn’t give the reader enough information about what the book will be about, so it’s difficult to quickly peruse the book.
  4. Many of the examples in the book are poor. For example, the examples of women going through career changes in the book that Lisa Johnson Mandell mentions in “Career Comebcack” probably won’t resonate with most women. The most striking example is that of a twice-divorced single mom who eventually found her bliss by marrying a man in prison. It’s an interesting story, but the woman’s story is definitely more a cautionary tale than a model to live by.

From abandoned Walmart to bustling library

This story makes me happy on so many levels. Faced with an abandoned Walmart store, the town of McAllen, Texas built an award-winning library that has become a community hub, constantly abuzz with activity. For some reason, it seems particularly satisfying that an empty Walmart - the contemporary American temple to all things cheap and materialistic - should be converted to a popular library.

It all started when the town's Walmart store moved to a larger location down the road, leaving their previous location empty. This is one of the many ways in which Walmart has become a blight on our landscape: due to a confluence of several economic factors, when a Walmart decides to expand, instead of adding more space onto their existing buildings, they typically just build a new, larger facility just a mile or two away, leaving the old husk to weather and peel and look sad and empty and desolate. It has happened in my town, and I bet it has happened in your town, too. These empty buildings, whose square footage is often best expressed in acres, are difficult spaces to fill.

Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery: A Journey of Original Seeking

A book by David H. Albert

Unlike the wary, foreboding feelings that Miller’s For Your Own Good has inspired in me, David H. Albert’s Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery: A Journey of Original Seeking has been providing me with both delight and insight into the life my family and I have chosen. I think that both books are likely going to yield information that all caregivers could find to be very helpful—indeed, that both are probably must-reads!—but I’ve been reading Albert’s much more easily and would love to recommend it and talk about it with other parents, particularly those who are or who are interested in homeschooling.

One of the major drawbacks to homeschooling, you see—in fact, it’s the only drawback we regularly have—is the fact that the parents are “on” 24/7. Normally you don’t mind once you are used to it (and if you have been parenting your kids from birth at your side, you’re already used to it), but once in a while you do feel like you could use a little break, whether it’s a couple of hours with a babysitter or an overnight at grandma’s house, and that’s okay! It’s fun for your child, too, as long as the caregivers are safe and warm people.

Guns, Germs and Steel

Big questions answered.

As a teacher in Mexico I sometimes get asked by my students why the U.S. and Europe are so advanced while Mexico and Latin America have so many problems. What happened? Why is there such a gap in development between the two geopolitical (as opposed to geographical) halves of the continent?

Or, more specifically, why was it that Europeans colonized America and not the other way around? Why didn't the Aztecs or Mayans build clipper ships, sail to Europe and decimate the European population? This is the fundamental question posed by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel, although the book isn't limited to America, but is about the whole world.

Homeschooling does not have to be expensive!

But I sure can see why you would think so.

I would really like to dispel the myth that homeschooling is expensive. I’ve already written a lot about the other most common myths about homeschooling, but this is one of the biggest ones that seems to turn parents off. I understand why you think it’s so expensive. I know many homeschoolers who spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on curriculum. I know because they’re constantly trying to sell them to other homeschoolers when they are finished with them. These books are excessive and often not even what the parents wanted in the first place. Plus, you can check many of them out from the library!

Let me tell you right now: you can homeschool for free. Free.


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