Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale


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I requested The Underground Abductor from the library as part of my quest to find interesting graphic novels for children.  I could not put this one down!  I didn’t know much about Harriet Tubman, but now I want to find some adult books to learn more.


Araminta Ross was born a slave, but she dreamed of freedom for herself and her family.  She escaped to the North and later, as Harriet Tubman, returned for her family.  In her journeys she led many others to freedom on the Underground Railroad, met Frederick Douglass and John Brown, and worked as a spy during the Civil War.  Harriet Tubman became a legend in her time, known as “General Moses” for her unequivocal success in leading her people to freedom.

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book!  Araminta (better known as Harriet Tubman) was an amazing young woman who was born into slavery in Maryland.  She worked hard and eventually made plans to secure her freedom.  When she found out that she was going to be sold and would not be able to buy her own freedom, she made the decision to run away to the North.  Harriet was successful and had started to settle into a new life, but when she heard about “The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850”, she knew that she had to get her family to freedom sooner rather than later.

Harriet made many trips into the South to bring her family (and many others) to freedom.  Because of a head injury she received as a child, Harriet suffered from narcolepsy and during these sleep episodes she would see visions from God.  These visions helped guide her on the many dangerous trips she took, and alerted her to dangers along the way.

Harriet also aided the North during the civil war, acting as nurse, spy and consultant.  During one particular episode, she helped lead about 800 slaves to freedom in one night, when she aided Colonel Montgomery and his Jayhawkers.

Amazingly, Harriet Tubman survived all of the dangers she faced throughout her life and eventually settled with her family in Auburn, New York.  Her dedication, drive, and courage are an amazing example to all of us.  When there is something worth fighting for, don’t give up.

I recommend this book to kids who enjoy graphic novels and would prefer to learn about history through that medium.  This particular book is best suited to elementary-age children up to teens.

Possible Objections:

  • Violence (though the illustrations are not graphic)

The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith


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I picked up The Unschooling Handbook at the library in the next town over when we made it into a day trip.  What can I say?  The most important feature to us in any community is the library.  We’re geeks.

They had a decent homeschooling section, and the topic of unschooling is mighty appealing to me.  I’d say we’re already half-way there with our relaxed way of doing school.  We keep holding onto a bit of guiding the kids’ learning though, because the idea of unschooling makes my husband panic.  Daddy is not a pretty sight when he panics about the kids’ schooling.  Usually lectures ensue.

If it were solely up to me, we would be unschoolers.  My views on how to guide the kids’ learning have changed as I’ve seen what my eldest son is capable of if I just leave him alone and let him pursue his own interests, at his own pace.  He reads voraciously.  I have no hope of keeping up with him or even keeping enough recommendations on hand.  Also, he is a bit of an obsessive learner, like I am.  If he gets on a topic that he’s interested in, he will explore it deeply until he is satisfied with the knowledge he’s attained.  He doesn’t like to divide his attention between a variety of topics throughout the day.  Some people just work that way.

For instance, he loves the Percy Jackson books.  This led to an exploration of all different ancient gods and myths.  His curiosity about ancient religions and mythology were spurred on by a series of novels which he found interesting.  That learning stint lasted at least a couple of months.

Now he has moved on to teaching himself JavaScript on Khan Academy.  I would never have suggested this avenue of learning, nor been able to teach it to him.  There is a benefit to allowing a child to pursue his/her own interests and letting their own curiosity set the pace.

So back to the book I’m reviewing.  The Unschooling Handbook is an excellent resource for anybody who wants to learn about unschooling, or who is already doing it themselves.  Not only is this a how-to of unschooling, but it includes a wealth of information from respondents to questions which the author disseminated.

Here is an outline of what you can find in the book:

  • Information on how to incorporate reading, writing, math, science, history, and the arts into unschooling
  • Discussion on practical matters–legal requirements, monetary and time limits, working with multiple children, support group info., how to cope with doubts & challenges, etc.
  • Lots of discussion on learning styles, educational philosophies, the parent’s role in unschooling, etc.
  • A ton of additional resource suggestions
  • Sample schedules or activity lists
  • Many anecdotes & observations from unschooling parents & children

I highly recommend this book to anybody who engages in unschooling or is considering that method.  I think the book would also be beneficial for parents who want to stick with a more conventional homeschooling method.  If nothing else–it may help them gain a bit more confidence in their child’s ability to learn and grow if allowed to blossom on their own timetable.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Unschooling would be helpful to all children: It’s not one particular way of learning: it’s learning at your own level, in your own interest, and at your own pace.  What child wouldn’t benefit from a learning experience like that?”  (p.207)

Multiplication & Division BINGO

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I love to find alternate ways for my kids to work on math.  If it’s fun, so much the better!  The boys and I frequently play Multiplication & Division BINGO to help them memorize and review their math facts.

We don’t play for prizes, but you could if you wanted to.  It’s such a simple, yet fun way to provide review for your kids.  It also doesn’t require you to come up with some super-fancy idea–that’s what I like!

The cards are double-sided, one being multiplication, the other division.  The fact cards are also double-sided.  It has more than enough little red markers, and also includes a large poster with all of the math facts.  Bonus–the set comes with enough playing cards for an entire class!

Do you use any resources like this in your kids’ schooling?  How does it work for you?

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