The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Baker Book House Review by Christine Field, Karen Houston , Lesley Wotton, & Teri Lucas

Character Counts
Edited by Os Guinness

Are you committed to instilling Godly character in your children? I am always looking for ways to expose my brood to the lives and stories of others and this book is a great tool for that instruction.

You can study the definition of discouragement and look for Bible verses that admonish us to be persons of courage. Then you can read the stories of people whose lives embodied courage. This little volume profiles George Washington, William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Mr. Guinness' introduction gives us a glimpse into his heart and his concern for the seeming absence of men of character in modern society. Then he lets the lives of these great men speak for themselves.

Do you want your child to know what character means, what it costs, and what it looks like when it is lived out? Expose them to the lives of people who made a difference. This little book is a great starting point.

-- Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

One Wintry Night
By Ruth Bell Graham

A youth suddenly gets caught in a winter storm, falls, and cannot make his way back home. He discovers a nearby farm. The storm's fury forces him to remain, and while whipping snow and winds rage on fiercely outside, the injured boy remains snugly inside the warm cabin, being fed and ministered to by his neighbor. She shares with Zeb and with us the wondrous story of creation, man's first home in Eden sorrowfully lost, the first joyous Christmas, Christ's passion, His forgiveness, and our redemption. God's wonderful plan is beautifully woven into 11 brief, gentle chapters for children aged four to 12, appropriate for holiday reading or bedtime stories throughout the year. Richard Jesse Watson won a Parents' Choice Award for Illustration in a previous book. He spent four years preparing illustrations for this oversized volume. They are distinctively warm - an enticing backdrop for the real Christmas message.

This book was a Christmas gift to our daughter in the anticipation she will share it with her children when they are old enough to read short, simple chapter books. It makes an attractive, heartfelt addition to your child's holiday, reminding us all why we celebrate Christmas and whose birthday it is. It has added significance in that Ruth Bell Graham has written five books or so, but we do not know how many more we will enjoy from her hand.

-- Product review by: Karen Houston, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Science and the Bible
By Donald B. Deyoung

Science and the Bible is more then your typical science book; it also really digs in and teaches about the Bible. Each lesson starts out with a theme, Bible verse, and a list of materials needed. For example, in the Invisible Army chapter, we not only learned about copper plating, but also about Elisha and how he could see the invisible army of the Lord. We read together 2 Kings 6:17 in which Elisha prayed, "O Lord open his eyes so he may see" and then we talked about how the Lord protected Elisha and his servant. You may ask yourself, "Well, how does that tie into copper plating?" This is where a simple experiment came in! We took some copper pennies, vinegar, paper clips, and a small bowl. We put the pennies, paper clips and vinegar into the bowl and then wrote down our hypothesis. We waited, and then about a half hour later - VOILA! The paper clip had turned the same color as the pennies! My children were thrilled, and so was mom. We learned about copper plating and how atoms transfer freely between these two materials along with an acidic acid. We also learned about how the Lord protects us with armies that we do not see. What a blessing this book has been - you could do a devotional and a science class at the same time! (Cross-curricular learning!) I really believe that Science and the Bible would be a valuable asset to any homeschooler's library.

-- Product Review by: Lesley Wotton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Smart Listening For Couples (Strengthen Your Marriage with Loving Communication)

By Nancy Van Pelt
Fleming H. Revell a division of Baker Book House
P. O. Box 6287
Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

Smart Listening for Couples is the culmination of 19 years of work in teaching family life seminars and 10 years in the pastoral ministry. One would think that living together day by day would bring about improved communication for most couples, but just the opposite seems true in today's world. The book opens by citing a survey taken from Redbook Magazine . In the survey, 730 marriage counselors state that the number one cause of marital breakdown is "poor communication or the lack of meaningful communication." In fact, the first 5 issues out of the top 10 which result in a marital break-up were communication related!

Reading through the chapter on bonding you will learn the 12 steps of intimacy and will be amazed at how many are rushed through in the world's dating scene (perhaps, for many Christians as well). I, in particular, needed to read the "4 minute formula" for beginning and ending each day. The pitter-patter of little feet on the staircase sends my mind off and running to the day's activities before my eyes are even open! The section on "listening bloopers" also hit me hard. My husband is naturally a quieter personality than me, so I often find it difficult to really focus in and listen to what he is saying.

What about your body language? What are you not saying, but conveying? What is your "arguing style?" Your mate's? How can you reach the mate who resists any attempt at intimacy, or the one who just doesn't want to talk? Would you really like to learn more about the inner-most thoughts of the person you are married to? to experience the intimacy God intended for your marriage? Smart Listening for Couples addresses these issues in a non-threatening way. I guess you could say that it is a "labor of love." Most of us could stand to improve our communication skills, why not begin with the most important relationship of all? Who knows, you just might find it spilling over into other relationships as well.

Smart Listening for Couples cannot be read through lightly, moreover, it should be read by both partners in a marriage. It would definitely be one of those books that I would be inclined to include as a "pre-wedding" gift to the bride and groom to be. Just given the differences in the communication needs of both men and women makes for enlightening reading, not to mention the changes that take place shortly after the honeymoon which leave many a young bride asking, "Do you still love me?"...and as the age old saying around here goes, "Well, I married you didn't I?"

-- Review Submitted by: Teri Lucas, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine