Tagged: Reading

Great #BOOKTok


This 4 minute listen is an inspiring story about the work it takes to get better at reading. Oliver James ( https://www.tiktok.com/@oliverspeaks1) was willing to put himself out there to share his journey from illiteracy to becoming an avid reader. He compares it to exercise/fitness training. 

Even though I’m a visual art teacher, not a language arts teacher I encourage all my students to force themselves to read no matter how much they hate it or how difficult it is for them. Reading is the #1 way to learn. I’ve also begged parents to read to their kids. It’s a cycle; The more you do it, the better you get at it, the easier it is for you, the less you hate it, the less you hate it, the more you enjoy it… etc. etc 

I encourage all of you to listen and share Oliver’s story. Former students need to know that rather than be embarrassed by their poor reading skills and devaluing reading for their kids, they can overcome their deficits and then help their children’s teachers (you) help their children. Current students, esp. 6-12 need to recognize how much powerful and less gullible reading makes them and how valuable it is even if they think it’s boring or hard and as Oliver James says in this interview, it’s easier to learn and build skills when you’re in school than it will be as an adult.

And finally (and I need to do this myself, I’m not being an elitist, judgemental snob, I’ve become really lazy about this, honestly) WE ALL NEED to be disciplined about reading every day and promoting & encouraging reading with our students- even Art, Music, PE, & Math. Reading is learning. There’s very little other critical thinking like analysis, interpretation, synthesis and application without reading.

I bet it takes you less time to listen to this interview than it did to read this email. I DARE you to resolve to make reading matter.


Sharing your Classroom Lending-Library

Fellow Teachers,

This Summer I discovered a great new free app for organizing your classroom lending-library. I know, who has time? It actually doesn’t take a lot since it allows you to scans the book’s UPC code from your phone. 

Whether you’re interested in trying it for yourself or not, I ALSO wanted to use it to offer up 29 years of books about teaching, especially for any of you new to our profession. Browse the “Teacher Ed.” section of my classroom library at https://www.libib.com/u/maldog/l/1423153. Let me know what you’d like to do borrow and I’ll put it in your mailbox or the brown envelope to Dow City, or come on by the Art room and grab it yourself. 

Frankly, since we’re talking about 3 decades of Teacher/Ed, I might even be open to selling, trading or gifting some of them. (SOME of them).

Meanwhile, look at some of the other 16+ categories at www.libib.com/u/maldog, I have books on Art (obviously), Art Education (for K-5 teachers who want something), Photography, Graphic Design & Journalism (for Business or English/ELA types), Psychology, Philosophy, general Literature etc. etc. 

Just because I’m not an English/ELA or Reading teacher, I believe that literacy & reading make all our other disciplines possible and, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I want to do what I can to encourage and promote reading for kids. Hopefully my English/ELA colleagues will be okay with my sharing my extensive Comics & Graphic Novel categories with students!

Have a great Semester everybody; Happy “New Year!”

Check these books out


Cheesebread & Coffee’ are humor pieces from the Charter Oak-Ute NEWSpaper and Mapleton PRESS 2002-2008. Not political, not too religious.

Max Nix’ is a collection of poetry from 1985-2020. I know, poetry isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I’ve been told mine is short, approachable, relatable and keeps you reading.

‘Dear John’ is a series of reflections on the book of 1 John. Not exactly a devotional, not exactly a Bible study- somewhere in between. It deals with some current issues though, love and who is our brother?

Prophet, Priest & Pirate,’ 2004-2020 essays on politics & religion. Yep, more progressive than most voters in Iowa’s 4th District, but more moderate/conservative than most of the rest of the U.S. Basic thesis: Democrats can be Christian too, and while we’re at it- let’s be careful not to make either political party or their candidates into false idols.

This isn’t how things are supposed to be

It seems to me that on the one hand, we’ve become so tribal and collective in out thinking that criticism of any politician or party with whom we’ve identified ourselves becomes a personal “attack” impugning our own integrity- while at the same time, we’ve become so individualistic, that we refuse to take any corporate responsibility for injustices perpetrated by those politicians, parties, celebrities, groups, subcultures, etc. with witch we’ve identified ourselves.
Lets be clear, you don’t hate all law enforcement officers because you believe there’s systemic racism in our criminal justice system. Likewise, we get that you’re not a hateful Klan member even though you want to MAGA, be that as it may- as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I want my Facebook friends, family, and followers to know that I’m not accusing any of you of anything when I post, re-post or comment on what I do here, I’m sharing MY concerns and my perspectives. But I gotta tell ya, it does frighten and confound me that so many people I love, appreciate, and respect seem desensitized to what I perceive as corruption, injustice or threatening.
Maybe it’s my personality type that I both want what’s best for everyone and yet want to avoid conflict, but I often wish we had a three-party or multi-party system. Like while driving on the interstate; I with there were three lanes and not just two because the fast lane goes too fast for me but the slow lane goes too slow. I wish all my Republican friends would denounce and stand up to Trump without feeling like they were admitting to some heinous crime or denying all their other deeply help principles. Meanwhile I wish I could speak out for the progressive issues that align with my personal, political and religious convictions without people accusing me of being “Socialist” or trying to destroy America.
So there it is. In religion I believe that Jesus taught that His #1 priority is love. In history & government, I believe that the U.S. is exceptional because it was a republic dedicated to equality, basic human rights, and a participatory form of democracy through federalism intended to offer a process through which ALL people could acquire justice.
This isn’t how either America nor Christianity are supposed to work, friends. It’s instinctive to be defensive or to “fight” for what we believe is right. But we’re living in a time that requires us to be creatively maladjusted. When MLK said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.,” he was alluding to Leviticus 19: 1-2; 17-18; 33-34, Romans 12:17-21 and Matthew 5: 38-48.
Lefties will admonish me for not being tough enough against hate, but if I hate people who don’t believe they are being hateful- they’re only going to dig in their heels or feel like I’m the one doing the hating.
What’s the answer? Be humble and kind? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Don’t just repeat what your tribe/echo chambers recite to you but read for yourself?
Read Scripture for yourself. Ever read the book of Amos or 2nd Samuel? With all due respect to the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20) have you read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5)? Any of the Psalms?
Read many of America’s founding documents since high school Government class? I get that the Federalist Papers and the Constitution can be a little daunting (and dry), so how about the Declaration of Independence? The Gettysburg Address? The Bill of Rights? They’re all easy to find on your phone.
John Adams advocated for free universal public schools so that voters could read for themselves. Martin Luther encouraged broad, public education so that believers could read the Bible for themselves.
So, I’m sorry if I frustrate of offend you by my being frustrated or offended by things our government officials do which you don’t have a problem with, but it’s just because I love my country.