Notes from Jan

Dragon Slayers Among Us

September 2, 2016

Few things I love more than reading a good book.  I’ll take even a not-so-good book over television.  Something happens when I crawl into a story, fiction or non.

It’s also one of my favorite activities with the Grands.  Reading together.  There are so many wonderful children’s books.  C.S. Lewis said,”A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s book in the slightest.”  Alas, there are those, as well.

Recently, Brandy Young, a second grade teacher in Texas, handed out a memo to parents of children in her incoming class.  Her note went viral.  In summary she said that there would be NO formally assigned homework this year.

There’s mounting evidence that there’s no significant benefit to homework before  students enter high school.  This young teacher went on to give the parents the following assignment:

“I ask you to spend your evening doing things that are proven to correlate with student success.  Eat dinner together as a family, read together,  play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

I hope it spreads like a Texas wildfire.

Nothing better to fan the flames, than to pick up a good book, perhaps a fairy tale, and read to a child or adult closest to you.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” G. K. Chesterton

Lets slay some.



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  • Reply Gail MacDonald September 2, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you for being such a voceferious reader, Janny! Have been thinking of these things as I prepare to share with
    young Moms. In retrospect, what matters most as we raise our children?—You have named some of the very best.
    Inspiring! Oh, yes, may this book spread like a wildfire. Our adult children still say it was those suppers around our table that they recall the most warmly–and they are really grown up now, with children nearly through college of their own!

  • Reply susan September 2, 2016 at 9:12 pm


  • Reply Valerie McCoy September 2, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    My Dad worked long, arduous hours… in a suit. He never missed dinner promptly at 5:30 p.m , and then grabbed his briefcase to return to his office until later in the evening.
    My Mom’s dinner rule for us was unwavering….no matter where you were you’d better be washed, presentable, and sitting at the kitchen table at 5:30. As my Dad sat down at the head of the table, the evening ritual began. Mom would pass the platter to my father (because he was the head of the house, Mom said) and he was to enjoy the first fork of the roast or pasta or soup. But he never did. He would smile, bless the food while reciting a Greek prayer (we all had to learn conversational Greek) and then serve us children the succulent ‘firsts’ of whatever was offered. My Mom never liked that. Deferring to my Dad was her way of teaching us that poppa was the breadwinner.
    Afterward, kisses for all as he left the table, pj’s and Ed Sullivan and Pearl Buck for me. My brother always hated to read……and sadly he still does. But for me, I hunkered down with pillows surrounding my bed ‘moat’ and began the unrivaled mystery of Pearl Buck’s journeys into foreign lands. I believe that my love for reading, journaling and spending the dinner hour with family traditions made me an inquisitive student who always had a story to tell without any homework assignments. My Mom thought I was bright but never appreciated the teachers’ notes sent home…”Valerie is a very inquisitive child, but she surely loves to talk.”
    Now come on, have you ever heard of a Greek gal who doesn’t like to talk?

  • Reply Valerie McCoy September 2, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Forgot to say how much you are loved, Jan!!

  • Reply wendy lane September 5, 2016 at 2:34 am

    One of my favorite memories with my children is cuddling on the couch reading to them…. One of our all time favorites was the entire “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” series! So, what are some of your favorite children’s books that would meet C.S.Lewis’s approval?! 🙂

  • Reply Polly Ann Brown September 11, 2016 at 12:59 am

    Oh! Reading to the grandchildren. It makes me feel secure — that all’s right with the world…well, or maybe not but that at least we can do something to make it a better place. This summer, reading with the kiddos has been especially rich. Started with Dr. Seuss’s “Yertle the Turtle” — while I am reading it to our eight- and five-year-old. The eleven-year-old who might feel she has outgrown Dr. Seuss for some reason comes running and cuddles up while I finish the book. The younger two leave. The older child sits quietly for a while, then points to Yertle the Turtle and says “He reminds me of Hitler.” Oh my! My sweet, sensitive, full-of-wonder-and-hope grandchild has this past year in school learned about Hitler. She tells me of a book she was required to read — about the Holocaust — says “I shouldn’t have had to read that until eighth grade,” and then says, “I cried.” And a window opened. Another book opened: Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place.” She had gotten a copy of it for Christmas and was reminded of it when I told her that when I am confronted with something as horrible as the Holocaust I like to balance it out by thinking about the good people who did or tried to do good things in the midst of it. So for a week or so she and I curled up in her bedroom to read the book. What a Grand experience. And there have been many other rich reading experiences.

    Thanks so much, Jan, for showing what may seem the ordinary of the everyday to be what it truly is: the miraculous.

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