Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Curling up with a Kindle

It seems electronic book readers are finally catching on with book lovers. Amazon.com's Kindle was selling briskly for Christmas and expected by analysts to sell between 5 or 8 million of them in 2010. Competing devices such as the Nook and the Sony Reader are also a big hit, not to mention the coveted iPad with its iBooks app (or one could always use the Kindle app for iPad). E-readers are here to stay and will probably only get better with each generation of devices.

Mr. Edwards gave me the wi-fi version of the Kindle for Christmas, and I've been enjoying it immensely. Books abound in our house, yet I wasn't sure if I'd like e-books. It turns out that I do.

For classical homeschoolers especially, e-reading is a boon. We read a lot of old books. And they are almost all available in a plain-vanilla format for free on an e-reader. For pennies more they are often available with linked tables of contents and improved navigating.

Project Gutenberg has thousands of books available for free download in formats for the Kindle or other reading devices. Google Books has many titles that can be downloaded for free as pdf files and transferred to the Kindle. (Google Books sells e-books formatted for other readers, such as the Nook and Sony Reader or the iPad.)

Yesterday's Classics sells Kindle versions of many out-of-print and out-of-copyright books for a few bucks each, which are also available through the Kindle store at Amazon.com. Many of our school resource books are published by Yesterday's Classics, and often these books are not to be found in our local library. I found a Kindle e-book of Shakespeare's Complete Works for just $2.39 by Mobile Reference. Why pay for something that you could pick up in a free version? Mobile Reference did a very nice job with a Table of Contents, making it easy to jump to a particular play, or even act within a play.

Like it or not, e-readers will likely change the reading experience permanently. As I read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina a few weeks ago, I was able to click the so-called 5-way button a few times and instantly read the Oxford dictionary definition of a word. If that wasn't enough, another couple of clicks and I could pull up a Wikipedia page or Google search on the same word (provided I had access to a wireless network). Bookmark pages and highlight passages with just a few clicks. Use the qwerty buttons to write a note about something. Text too small? Change the font size. Multi-tasking? Turn on the text-to-speech function. (This computer voice--in male or female!--is not enabled on all books.)

My Kindle experience has been such a good one that I'm likely to switch to a Kindle subscription of the Wall Street Journal after my print subscription runs out. Newspapers like the Journal or the New York Times (and many others) are delivered wirelessly to the Kindle each morning before sun-up and the previous day's paper is stashed away in the archives. I'm currently testing the New York Times Kindle edition, which is organized just like the print edition, by section. Click through the front page articles, complete with black-and-white photography, or jump to the section list and thumb your way to your favorite pages.

The other night, tucked in bed reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, I caught myself reaching up to turn the page. Before I became a Kindle reader, I rolled my eyes at the Amazon marketing copy that talked-up how much the Kindle experience is like a real book. I begrudgingly admit that they're right.

I wish I could disclose that this review is monetized and somehow I am earning money if you shop through my links. I'm not that savvy. So click away. I promise I don't get a dime.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Start off the New Year Right

Books on Christianity and faith abound, but perhaps the best way to pursue a personal relationship with Christ is to read the Bible each day. Reading enough each day to get through the whole Bible in a year is even better.

It was through reading his Bible in a daily reading plan that President George W. Bush deepened his faith. Bush was new to Bible study when he joined a community Bible study in the mid-1980s.
"Soon I started to take the sessions more seriously. As I read the Bible, I was moved by the stories of Jesus' kindness to suffering strangers, His healing of the blind and crippled, and His ultimate act of sacrificial love when He was nailed to the cross. For Christmas that year, Don Evans gave me a Daily Bible, a verison split into 365 individual readings. I read it every morning and prayed to understand it more clearly. In time, my faith began to grow."
Bush goes on in his memoir Decision Points (p. 32-33) to describe how he journeyed from a tentative faith troubled by doubts to a more confident faith moved by God's love.

For several years I've enjoyed the Victory Bible Reading Plan, which takes the reader through the Bible chronologically. I highly recommend finding a plan that goes through Scripture chronologically, for it is a tremendous help in sorting out the context and meaning of the books of prophecy in the Old Testament as you read them along side the historical narratives.

Last year, however, I started reading the Bible with the M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. D. A. Carson's two-volume devotional set, For the Love of God Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, gives daily devotional commentary on the readings in the M'Cheyne plan. The Bible reading plan gives four selections from Scripture each day
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