Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's on your shelf?

“To George F. Babbitt, as to most prosperous citizens of Zenith, his motor car
was poetry and tragedy, love and heroism. The office was his pirate ship but the
car his perilous excursion ashore.”

I love this excerpt from Sinclair Lewis’s novel, Babbitt. In two sentences the reader is rich with insight into George Babbitt’s character. The same can be said about someone’s bookshelf. A bookshelf is personality soup. Because restraint is not often used to describe my personality, I have more than one bookshelf. However, the books lining my desk are the ones I use most. Here is a literary portrait of my personality.

Moving from left to right, let's start with Reverend Senkbeil's indispensable text, Where in the World is God. The devotions are clear, strong and clearly reveal Christ as Savior and Healer. We are saved by God's grace through His Son's sacrifice. That's more than personality; it's the truth that guides life.

  • Subjects Matter: This is the best text for all teachers. The subtitle reveals everything you need to know: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading. As a high school English teacher I know many students struggle with reading. If we can model, teach and allow our students to experience various reading strategies they will become better students. My mantra is that since all teachers require students to read we all need to help them. This text is succinct and offers strategies that don't take weeks to figure out. If you teach or if you want to help your children read, buy this text. Better yet, borrow it from me.

  • The Book Thief: This is certainly the best fiction I have read in years. It's marketed as a young adult novel but I used it as my summer reading assignment for both of my AP classes. How could a novel narrated by Death who describes a story of a young girl abandoned by her mother shortly after her brother dies and then hides a Jew in Nazi Germany be engaging, riveting and endearing? By page 20 you'll understand. Compassion. Welcome to my world.

  • The Trivium: This is a fascinating discussion of language and the arts of logic, grammar and rhetoric. The original copyright date is 1937 and it has not lost it's intrigue. I'm intrigued with our use of language. Texting, technology and other evils are eroding the power and use of our language and that's disconcerting. However, this book is a challenging read that offers hope for users and students aware enough to care about the English language.

  • Why I am a Lutheran by Daniel Preus. I have used, studied, read and recommended this book so often, I feel like a forgetful grandfather. "Franky, did I tell you about this book that you must read?" "Yes, Gramps...plenty of times." Preus' text focuses on and shares the hub of our Lutheran faith: Christ at the center. The forgiveness of sins, salvation and our eternal hope we have in this life is clearly revealed in Preus' text.

  • Luther's Small Catechism: I've consulted this book with every chapel I've given. I'm not one to simply get up in front of the school and speak from the top of my head. Sharing God's Word is more important than that.

  • Expository Composition: Discovering Your Voice - teacher's edition. I'm not one to blindly follow teacher's editions. I rely more on my 24 years of experience than a teacher's edition. However, this is an intriguing text. It offers plenty of interesting approaches to each unit. It's important to keep learning, even in my archaic state, and this text helps me out.

  • God's Word: AAT - I like this translation. It's clear and my wife is related to the translator, Dr. William Beck.

  • The Fire and The Staff: by Klemet Preus. A church's practice reflects its doctrine. Preus proffers an engaging discussion on why this is important. What a church practices it believes and vice versa. That's not bad, however, sometimes it is. Read it and find out why.
  • Walther's Law and Gospel: The clearest book that discusses the important distinction between Law and Gospel. This impacts our faith, life, chapel messages, child rearing. This isn't simply a fascinating one-time read. Walther's clarity is a new blessing with every read. Every Lutheran teacher, principal and parent should read this book. A faculty study would be an even great idea.
  • Linking Teacher Evaluation and Student Learning: This is the thin blue book. Too often we toss young or ineffective teachers into classrooms and let them figure it out on their own. There must be something we can do to accelerate the learning curve. This text goes beyond the stop in and drop in teacher evaluation that occurs in most schools. It provides concrete methods and ideas to help young and ineffective teachers learn how to effectively challenge and educate students.

Snap a photo of your bookshelf, send it to my LHSA e-mail address, craft a short explanation if you like and share your personality with Blog Nation.


Andrew Fluegge said...

My bookshelf is coming, I just have to make one first.

JBrandt said...

So not only do I have to wait for you to craft a blog post, now I have to wait for your carpentry skills to surface? Yipes