Sunday, April 11, 2010

Story Starter Idea #5

A film student decides to make a documentary about the memories of his ailing grandfather.
(from The Writer's Book of Matches)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another Journey to the Center of the Earth

I recently finished reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' book At the Earth's Core.  It took me on a similar, yet different, kind of journey than Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth that I enjoyed so much a few years ago.

Burroughs deals much more with life in the center of the earth and the relationships between the humans of the outer world and the creatures of the inner world.  True, the story is as fantastical as can be with giant beasts and battles at every turn, but it certainly keeps your interest.

I must note that this book was written from an evolutionary standpoint.  In the inner world, the humans are subservient to the Mahers, or giant lizards.  There is also some mild mature themes such as the outer-earth human choosing a mate from the inner-earth and the mention of the way they dress (or half-dress).  These are handled rather delicately and are not over-exaggerated.

This book would probably be for high school and up.  Some of the battles are gruesome, and the Mahers have very disturbing temple practices.  It is a good page turner, but almost reads more like a modern CG movie script.  The ending could be viewed as genius or unsatisfactory, depending upon how you look at it.  In other words, the conflict is left unresolved.

Genre:  Science fiction
Rating: ***
Possible Objectionable Content:  evolutionary themes, mildly sensual themes, violence
Reading Level:  high school and up

Download for Free:  At the Earth's Core

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Story Starter Idea #4

An eccentric old lady has a collection of Popsicle sticks.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


When I first heard the title of this book, it made me think of the wispy little spiders with long legs.  But I assure you, this book has nothing to do with spiders.  It is the story of an orphan girl through the letters she writes to her secret benefactor.  The orphan girl calls her benefactor Daddy-Long-Legs because all she has ever seen of him is his shadow with really long legs.  It is a delightful story with a twist at the end.  Perfect reading for middle school and up.  A true classic.

Genre:  orphanage life, college life, romance, correspondence 
Rating: ***** (five stars)
Possible Objectionable Content:  The main character is very independent and can get a little defiant at times.
Reading Level:  Middle school and up

Download for free:  Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Story Starter Idea #3

Two college engineering students invent something that could radically change the world.
(from The Writer's Book of Matches)

Email me your stories at

Friday, April 2, 2010

Project Ideas for Teaching British Literature

Teaching British Literature is a challenge, but it can also be a lot of fun.  If you want ideas for fun student projects (useful for home school or traditional classroom), check out these links at Suite 101.

Macbeth Project Ideas
Beowulf Project Ideas

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rudyard Kipling's "Rikki Tikki Tavi"

Rudyard Kipling is known for his books, short stories, and poems mostly dealing with life in India.  Often animals are main characters in his writings.  One of Kipling's beloved short stories is "Rikki Tikki Tavi".  Rikki Tikki is a mongoose who is very brave and becomes a hero when he stands against a deadly cobra.

Content Advisory:  Because Kipling writes of India, there are often references to the gods and idols worshiped in that country.

Read the short story here:

Listen To Rikki Tikki Tavi -- This is an excellent reading of the short story.  Perfect for younger children to listen to.

There is also a classic cartoon made from the story.  You can order it from using this link.

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Story Starter Idea #2

A little girl's teddy bear starts talking to her about the weather.

This story starter would make an excellent children's book.  Try to find someone you know (even a little brother or sister) to illustrate the book for you.  Email your work to

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Download a Jane Austen Library

Few names in classic literature are as well-recognized as Jane Austen.  You can download her most popular books here:

Pride and Prejudice
A family of sisters put up with their mother's obsessive matchmaking.  Humorous, moral, and heart-warming.
Sense and Sensibility
Another family of sisters learn what truly makes for happy marriages.  Themes of sisterly love, devotion, and good sense.
A spoiled rich girl learns matchmaking only ends in disappointment and heart-ache.  Teaches humility, forbearance, and kindness. 
Northanger Abbey
A bookworm girl learns that life is not like the horror books she reads.  Promotes level-headedness, fairness, and goodness.

I have read these four titles by Austen and they are all a fascinating look into the manners and life of 19th century  English life.  They are not objectionable in any way, any imprudent or sinful actions have consequences.  They will appeal mostly to teenage girls and women of all ages.

If you would rather order a printed copy of the books, you can do so here:
 Pride and Prejudice
Sense And Sensibility
Emma (Modern Library Classics)
Northanger Abbey (Vintage Classics)

Check Out Ambleside Online

Ambleside Online is a jewel of an educational library, especially for homeschoolers.  Using Charlotte Mason's approach to education, they suggest hundreds of books to study, read, and enjoy.  Categorized into years, it is easy to find a book for the grade level you desire.

The biggest downside to this website is that there are very few reviews of the books they suggest.  Over the next several months, I plan on reading and reviewing some of the recommended reading from this site.  Check out their site and keep checking back here to see what new reviews are up.

Your Imput is Important

As I am reviewing books and posting useful educational tips and information, I would like to know what your questions are.  Is there a book that you would specifically like reviewed?  Do you have a favorite classic author and would like to read more books like their's?  I will research and do what I can for you for these questions or others.  Leave a comment or email me at

Story Starter Idea #1

"I don't know what to write about!!!"  Have you heard that lament either from yourself or someone you teach?  Often it is helpful to have a story starter, an idea to get your creative juices flowing.  At least a few times a week I will post story starter ideas.  Send your story to for a chance to have it published on this blog.

"You will be careful now, won't you?" her mother warned.  The girl nodded quickly and rushed off into the woods.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

I have chosen a very special book for my first review.  Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham received the Newbery Medal, and it well deserves it.

Based on the true life story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a young boy who was self-educated, this book details his journey from boyhood to manhood.  Bowditch was best know for writing the "Sailor's Bible" (The American Practical Navigator).

This book contains nothing objectionable whatsoever and is a wonderful read for middle school and up.  The fast-pace of the story also makes it wonderful for reading aloud.  Boys will probably find this book more interesting than girls, due to the nature of the sea adventures, but I enjoyed this very much myself as a young teen girl.

Genre:  Biography, nautical, adventure
Rating: ***** (five stars)
Possible Objectionable Content:  None
Reading Level:  Middle School and up

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Welcome One, Welcome All!!!

The purpose of this new blog is to provide resources and ideas for anyone who wants to learn.  You may be a homeschooling mom, an avid reader, or a curious visitor.  Coming soon you will find book reviews, links to free ebooks, writing ideas and tips, and a plethora of other interesting tidbits.  Keep coming back, you never know what useful item you will pick up.