My Random Act of Kindness for YOU - A GIVEAWAY!!! {March of Kindness 3/24}

Please - only enter this giveaway if you really, truly want this book!Thanks.

When my oldest was about 2 1/2 years old, we began making bi-weekly trips to the library. One trip to our local library in North Hollywood, and one trip to the "big, fancy library" in downtown Los Angeles. Since he was so little at the time, library trips were usually composed of him running through the stacks, stopping every once in a while to look at a book that he deemed interesting just by looking at its spine. I didn't have time to browse for just the right book. So, I learned the Dewey Decimal System by heart and would steer him toward the section I was interested in the most on that particular visit. I began choosing MY books the same way he did - which spine looked most interesting. Hey - I found a lot of really great books that way!

See why we went to this library? THIS is the inside!!!

Los Angeles Central Library

On one trip, I decided to hit the downtown library's basement where they kept all of the books on teaching and learning. As I was trying to keep up with my zooming little one, I saw a book with a bright yellow spine. I grabbed it without even looking at the title. After we had left the library and were on the subway heading toward the San Fernando Valley, Mr. Zoomy fell asleep. I pulled the book out from the bag filled with Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry books and read the title, How Children Learn by John Caldwell Holt. "Hmm..." I thought to myself, "Sounds interesting." By the time we got off the train, I was hooked!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with John Holt, here's a very short explanation: John Holt was a teacher and a researcher. He was a fifth grade teacher in private schools for many years. Since he had friends and relatives with very young children, he began to notice the huge difference in attitude toward learning between his 10 year old students and the toddlers he was around. The young children were bold and never seemed to mind making mistakes - they just tried again. They were eager to learn by observing the people and the world around them. Conversely, the fifth graders were withdrawn and self-conscious of the possible errors they might make. Holt decided to study how and why children went from being bold explorers to timid and self-protecting pre-adolescents in an attempt to find a better way to educate. He and another teacher, Bill Hull took on a project where one would teach while the other observed - day in and day out - to see what teaching strategies worked and, when they failed, why. Holt ended up writing three books with his 11 years of observation: How Children Fail, How Children Learn, and Learning All the Time.

My RAOK to you, my readers, is a giveaway of How Children Learn. I LOVE this book! I think that, rather than putting some "just-in-case" formula samples in those free diaper bags they send new parents home from the hospital with, they should put a copy of this book. Every new teaching student needs a copy, too, along with anyone who works with children or has any say in education policies. In this book, Hold described his observations of children learning naturally. He explains his theories behind the tantrums of two-year-olds,why we should let children decide what they need to learn, and the importance of fantasy play and games for children. John Holt was a huge advocate for unschooling - some say he was the father of the homeschooling/unschooling movement. He founded "Growing Without Schooling",a homeschooling magazine.

To learn more about John Holt, start HERE.

Oh, geez... I just can't explain it well! This guy is my hero!!! As a mom and a student teacher, his writings hold special meaning to me. He just plain makes sense. Here are a few excerpts from the book:

"...All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words - Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple - or more difficult. Difficult, because to trust children we must trust ourselves - and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted."
"...It is only in the presence of loving, respectful, trusting adults like Millicent Shinn or Glenda Bissex that children will learn all they are capable of learning, or reveal to us what they are learning ... Of two ways of looking at children now growing in fashion - seeing them as monsters of evil who must be beaten into submission, or as little two-legged walking computers whom we can program into geniuses, it is hard to know which is worse, and will do more harm. I write this book to oppose them both."
"... This book did not change, as I hoped it might, the way schools deal with children. I said, trust them to learn. The schools would not trust them, and even if they had wanted to, the great majority of the public would not have let them. Their reasons boil down to these: (1) Children are no good; they won't learn unless we make them. (2) The world is no good; children must be broken to it. (3) I had to put up with it; why shouldn't they? To people who think this way, I don't know what to say. Telling them about the real learning of real children only makes them cling to their theories about the badness and stupidity of children more stubbornly and angrily than ever. Why do they do this? Because it gives them a license to act like tyrants and to feel like saints."
And finally,

"...In this chapter I will say something very simple, that may not often have been said before. Children use fantasy not to get out of, but to get into, the real world."
*** Edit: I wrote this post at 3am, so I forgot to add something very important about this book. It's a very easy read! This is not full of technical mumbo-jumbo and theories. It's just a guy writing about what he's observed and his reflections of those observations. You could open this book at any page, read for 5 minutes, and take something away from it to think about. It goes kind of like this: "Today I was watching a two-year-old do _____. First she tried this way, then she tried that way. When she got frustrated and near tear, I thought I could help her out by doing ____." Then, after the story, he will explain why what he did (or didn't do) was the right or wrong thing and why he thinks so. He never tells you what you should or shouldn't do - only suggests!

The book will be used. I am sorry about that, but I have some very good reasons. First and foremost - this is reusing at its best! I could never understand why someone would insist on a brand new book when you could get one that was almost-new and not cut down trees or spend an arm and a leg. Second, The company I buy from, Better World Books, gives a major portion of their profits to literacy initiatives. And, finally, you may be wondering about whether my choosing used books to save a tree vs. using trucks, etc. to transport said books halfway across the country, right? Well, Better World Books works with a consulting company to actually make sure that the carbon imprint of shipping is the lowest possible. Check it out here. **Being a used book store, I may not be able to get it through them. Right now, they only have one copy. So, if you're the winner, don't be disappointed if the book doesn't come from them. I'll find another store with similar interests as Better World Books.

So, how do you enter? I'm not going to ask that you follow, like, subscribe to, or share my blog. If you like what I write, I hope you will. But, this is a random act of kindness and I want nothing in return except the knowledge that I've been able to share this book with someone else.

WIN: One slightly used copy (see above paragraph if you skipped down to the bottom!) of John Caldwell Holt's How Children Learn. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway ends Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm, EDT. Winner will be notified via a blog post and email and will have 48 hours from the time the notification email has been sent to contact me or a new winner will be chosen.

Mandatory Entry:
Promise that, when you're through reading this book, you'll pass it on to someone else (a new parent, a teacher, anyone who might benefit from its message.) Just leave me a comment with your promise and a way to contact you.

Extra entries (these will be fun - I promise!)
Answer any or all of these questions. There are no right or wrong answers. PLEASE - keep your answers nice. There's no need to get nasty! I will delete any comments/entries that have a "them's fightin' words" ring to them. 

Please leave the number of the question you're answering in the comment, too, along with a way to contact you.
  1. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?

  2. If you could be any age again for a week, what age would you choose and why?

  3. Were you a sneaky child or teen? (Share a good story if you want!)

  4. Share your favorite quote! (Don't forget to say who said it!)

  5.  What vegetable do you most resemble?

The fine print: This is a giveaway that I am hosting on my own. I accept no liability. You enter at your own risk - reading this book may alter your opinions on raising children ans education You've been warned!

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