G.A. Henty and the Tradition of Adventure Writing for Boys
by Martin Cothran (Excerpted from an article at Memoria Press)
Henty is popular, I think, for several reasons. First, he wrote from a Christian perspective. His books not only assume the Christian world view, but contain occasional passages where the hero, always a young boy (usually, as G. K. Chesterton once pointed out, the same boy, only with a different name living in a different historical period), openly discusses his Christianity as it bears on some issue he happens to be dealing with in the story. His Christianity is definitely protestant in nature-a sort of broad pre-liberal conservative Anglicanism. It is protestant enough, for example, to take the form, on occasion, of a potshot at Catholicism-or, as in Under Drake's Flag, a more exhaustive anti-Catholicism that has the characters fighting against the Spanish Inquisition itself. But this (the anti-Catholicism) seems to be more a rarity than a common feature of his books, and on the whole, even Catholics would find little to object to and much to applaud in Henty's books.
Henty is also popular because of the kind of books he wrote: historical fiction for young adults. In fact, he thought of himself as writing for boys. Each book contains a preface which begins: "My dear Lads..." To homeschoolers, good historical fiction possesses a double benefit: with it, they can kill two birds (history and literature) with one stone. Good historical fiction is an ideal way to interest children in history. It alleviates the necessity of textbooks, which often leaves out the most important and interesting element of history: the story. While many textbooks do a good job appealing to the intellect, few adequately appeal to the imagination as well. Historical fiction does this; and good historical fiction does it well.
Another reason Henty is popular is because he is old. Homeschoolers know what many of us have known for years: that literature often improves with age (or seems to). Whereas modern literature for young people must march to the tune of political correctness, the only song sung by the old books was that of old-fashioned morality-the kind that most homeschoolers are striving for anyway. Michael Medved said recently (and others said it before him) that he doesn't let his children read any books that were published after about 1960. Generally speaking, that's a pretty good rule.
Seven Reasons I Teach With Historical Novels
by Tarry Lindquist, National Elementary Teacher of the Year
Due to copyright limitations we are only able to link to the above article.
Please click on the link above to read the article.
Christie Berry, Ed.D., has her Masters and Doctorate in Education, a certificate in Christian Counseling and is a licensed Ministerial Elder along with her husband, Richard "Satch" Berry, with Communities of Care. She has worked with local organizations such as Christian Home Educator's Fellowship of Alabama (CHEF), Enrichment Fellowship, Tennessee Valley Fellowship (TVF), and the Special Education Action Committee (SEAC). National organizations include National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network (Nathhan), Christian Homes and Special Kids (CHASK), and National Home Educator's Network (NHEN).
Reading With Your Ears
Audio books are an excellent resource for educators. When used with learners, audio books can help improve cognitive ability, language acquisition, and auditory processing. Books on tape increase interest and motivation in reading and expand interest in new genres. Using unabridged recorded books can provide accessibility to content area reading (content area reading includes reading for meaning in any of the core subjects) such as history and science as well as to reading in general for special needs students when they are used in methods appropriate to the individual needs of the child.
Listening to unabridged audio books while following along in the book improves language skills, auditory processing, and contributes to an increase in overall cognitive abilities. Recorded books help a student distinguish between written and spoken language and helps establish a link between them. The world of reading opens up to many students who discover this link or connection. Understanding the connection between the symbol on the page and the sound, is a key to unlocking language arts. Once unlocked, improvement in content area understanding, imagination, pronunciation and inflection, sentence structure, reading levels, vocabulary, and writing skills are consistently evident.
When a child hears the text dramatized by the reader, the result is a deep emotional reaction and involvement with the story. This relationship with the written word helps to develop emotional maturation and improved development of life skills. Better character identification allows students to enter imaginatively and empathetically into the experience of others, thereby developing abilities to decode and understand moral behavior, problem-solving and building relationships. Recorded books allow students to hear language, participate cognitively with the story, and create mental pictures of the spoken and read word. Books become a source of comfort, rather than distress, as reading becomes easier and leads to greater confidence and knowledge. As a result, communication skills, listening skills, and language development improve.
In a study by Boyle, Rosenberg, et al., they provide quantitative research that investigated the impact of audio textbooks on the learning of students with mild disabilities in grades 9-12. The results were that the students who used the audio books outperformed peers reading traditional textbooks on an outcome based evaluation.1 Hence, the use of audio books provides an increase in overall language and thinking skills as well as many other benefits.
Using audio books while reading along helps create a multi-sensory reading experience that encourages and improves reading ability, vocabulary, and fluency. Listening to language is an essential ingredient in building vocabulary, increasing reading fluency through modeling, and stimulating the imagination, as well as introducing story telling. By increasing language skills, audio books make reading accessible and more appealing. Students that have been intimidated by reading can now enjoy the written word.
The use of audio books helps to increase the variety of the student’s interest. Reading along with an audio book can peak the interest in reluctant readers, improve interest in reading and motivate delayed readers as well as include them in content area reading. Although not as good as parents reading to students as they read along, audio books provide a key component to listening and providing students with a read-along experience that sparks the interested in the listener/reader. Most of the reluctant or poor readers that had little to no motivation, due to their deficiency, have shown an increase in interest and motivation. Audio books also provide involvement in content area reading for those students that would not be able to maintain the level of reading involvement necessary in a text book. In the second part of an article written by Chenfeld and Haley, Haley shows how using tools that work for special needs students, specifically audio books, not only benefit the special needs students but also benefit "regular" students by improving interest, motivation, and improved test scores in content area reading.2
Regardless of individual students' learning abilities, emotional maturity, social backgrounds or interests, audio books can create an atmosphere which fosters a collective experience for the listeners. Recorded books go beyond different learning styles and levels, promoting total participation of a group in follow-up discussions, activities, and writing assignments. Students sharing their thoughts and responses to the audio book can add to each other's understanding, leading to an appreciation of other’s viewpoints. Additionally, unabridged audio books can:
introduce students to books above their reading level;
model good interpretive reading to improve thinking skills;
teach critical listening skills;
introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider;
introduce new vocabulary, proper names, and locales;
expose students to unfamiliar dialects, accents, Old English, and old fashioned literary styles;
provide a read-aloud model3
There's no better tool than unabridged audio books for children with special needs. Pronunciations, speech patterns, image correlation, and content comprehension are greatly improved by hearing at the same time as reading. Special needs students are excited to hear their first books - often understanding for the first time the joy of books. At the same time they are gaining a quick understanding of plot, main idea, setting, and they subconsciously understand narrative structure. Audio books provide you with an additional, cutting-edge language arts tool to stimulate improved comprehension regardless of different learning styles and individual needs or abilities.
Research shows that students with specific learning disabilities, such as Dyslexia, show greater improvement when using unabridged audio recordings while reading printed texts. Torgesen, et al.,4 compared the reading comprehension of students with learning disabilities reading printed texts with or without unabridged audio recordings. Reading comprehension was greater for students using the audio recordings. Additional research by Hecker, et al.,5 indicates that post-secondary students with attention disorders took reading rate and comprehension tests with and without the use of audio books and other reading software that reads the book verbatim and highlights the words as it reads. Results suggest that some students, specifically those with poor baseline reading skills, may read faster and comprehend better when using audio books or the software.
For students who find reading books problematic, or students who are not fluent in English, audio books allow exposure to text through aural interpretation and aural/visual connection. Low-functioning students often comprehend more easily by "reading with their ears" than struggling to decode text alone. Audio books offer the competent and avid reader, or gifted students, individualized learning opportunities and expand the volume of their reading.
There are many ways to use unabridged recorded books. To use audio books to expose the listener/reader to new material, genres, vocabulary, fluency modeling, or specific content area information, allow the child to listen to the recorded book as often as possible. It is not necessary to use the written text for the outcomes listed above. To use audio books to improve reading, language development, to access the printed word, and improve comprehension of written text, have the child read along with the unabridged recording. A chapter or two each day will provide the frequency, intensity and duration necessary to improve reading skills. It will be beneficial to use a place card or book mark to hold under the line being read or a word card to move along to highlight the word being read. A word card can be made easily by cutting a notch on the edge of the place card or book mark that will frame the word as the child moves the card along with the recording. A word card highlights the word being read and blocks out the other words to limit confusion, identify the specific word being read, and creates a relationship between the spoken and written word. Following along pointing to each word with a finger also provides a ‘highlighting’ effect.
Another option for audio books is to download e-books and use a text reader. Most computers have Microsoft’s text reader or you can download it from the internet. One of the best free text readers is Read Please a free online download that allows you to adjust the reading speed as well as the sound of the voice that is reading. The program highlights the word being read and provides the multi-sensory application necessary for print/word connection. There are also talking-books for the computer or Children’s Storybooks Online that provide a wonderful option for click-a-word talking books.
However audio books are used, they are an added bonus to the reading experience and improve learning, reading, language, understanding, interest, vocabulary, behavior, relationship, story telling, motivation, emotional development, fluency, comprehension…the list goes on and on. Of course, reading aloud with each other is the best way to share the reading experience; recorded books provide an alternative and allow the listeners to immerse themselves in the story without stumbling over the reading process itself. Verbatim, or unabridged recordings, are a must when reading along and give a wonderful source of a multi-sensory intervention not only for special learners, but all learners. Above all, keep reading with your ears!
1. Boyle, E. A., Rosenberg, M. S., Connelly, V. J., Washburn, S. G., Brinckerhoff, L. C., & Banerjee, M. (2003). Effects of audio texts on the acquisition of secondary-level content by students with mild disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 26(3), 203-214.
2. Chenfeld Mimi Brodsky | Haley Venina Carr
3. Johnson, Denise (2003), Audiobooks: Ear-resistable!
Reading Online, International Reading Association, 6(8)
available at www.readingonline.org
4. Torgesen, J. K., Dahlem, W. E., & Greenstein, J. (1987).
Using verbatim text recordings to enhance reading comprehension
in learning disabled adolescents. Learning
Disabilities Focus, 3(1), 30-38.
5. Hecker, L., Burns, L., & Elkind, J. (2002).
Benefits of assistive reading software for students with attention
disorders. Annals of Dyslexia, 52, 243-272.
Baskin, B., & Harris, K. (1995). Heard any good books lately?
The case for audiobooks in the secondary classroom.
Journal of Reading, 38(5), 372-376.
We’re going to start our look at learning styles by researching auditory learners. Why begin here? Is it because auditory learners are the best learners? Although I am tempted to answer yes because I am an auditory learner myself, the real answer is no. As we work through this series, we will see that there is no best learning style. The different types of learners just need to learn things in a different way. Once a child begins learning the way God created them to learn, they will be able to retain with greater ease what they have learned.
What Does This Learning Style Do?
An auditory learner remembers best what he has learned by hearing the information. An auditory learner:
• May read something out loud to himself to better understand it (he may not even realize that he spoke)
• Has a tendency to speak to books and movies when he is really involved with a story line
• Will replay conversations or lectures in his mind to recall something
• Hears the story in his mind when he reads
• Hears what others are saying even when he is not trying and may join the conversation
The best single question I have found for an older child or adult who is trying to determine their learning style is “How do you remember a phone number?” The answer for an auditory learner begins with “I say” or “I hear.”
What is This Learning Style’s Strength?
Although no learning style is the best, each one does have its own strengths. The strength of the auditory learner revolves around hearing. The auditory learner usually remembers things that they have heard, especially if it has been placed into a rhythm or pattern. Growing up as an auditory learner, I only had to hear a song once or twice to know it. I would even remember songs that I did not realize I knew because I had heard them somewhere. As long as there are few distractions, an auditory learner usually remembers directions given orally without needing to have them written down (this could be for travel, school or home).
What is This Learning Style’s Weakness?
An auditory learner’s weakness usually revolves around visual and kinesthetic activities. Auditory learners will learn some things by visual or kinesthetic means, but they usually do not remember the information best with these styles. Many times a person has a secondary learning style that is weaker than their dominant style, but more developed than the other learning style. Through observation, a person can usually determine his secondary learning style and his least favorite learning style.
Typically an auditory learner will have to be trained to be visually observant because this does not come naturally for him. Flashcards can actually be a hindrance to an auditory learner when used in the traditional way since flashcards are usually visual and not auditory. An auditory learner working with visual flash cards can be compared to an American with only limited knowledge of Spanish trying to communicate in a Spanish-speaking country. He may eventually understand and get the right answer, but it will take him longer to accomplish his goal.
I have seen an auditory learner experience difficulty understanding what is required of him when he reads his instructions quietly. However, when I ask him to read the instructions aloud to me, he usually understands without further explanation because he has now heard the information out loud.
What Are Some Ways to Help an Auditory Learner?
An auditory learner does very well with discussion. When I was in college, I would study with a friend of mine for hours before a test. We would go through our class notes and discuss everything. I made an “A” on every test. However, my friend would do very badly even though we studied the same information together. My friend, obviously, was not an auditory learner. Eventually, we had to stop studying together because it was not working for both of us. I did not know about learning styles at that point, but I did learn that I remembered information very well from discussion. It became my favorite way to study. If I could find a friend from a class to discuss the information with me, then I usually understood the information wonderfully. If a friend was not available, I would say the important information out loud to myself or make up a song with the information to help me remember it. My mother, who is also an auditory learner, used to record questions from the material she was trying to learn on a cassette player and play the tape back to herself to practice the information.
Any information that an auditory learner needs to remember will be learned better if the learner can hear the information. Young auditory learners usually learn phonics quickly when learning how to read. When learning spelling, they should practice spelling the words out loud. When learning multiplication, they could make up songs and rhythms for each number set. They will remember them much faster as a result. In science and history, they will remember what they have learned better if they can discuss it with others. Let the auditory learner be the “teacher” and teach you the information. This is a fun way to review information out loud.
If you, as the teacher, are not an auditory learner, you will have to consciously create discussion and verbal activity for your auditory student. Explain this to your auditory learner and teach her how to study for her learning style. She will find herself much more confident in her learning abilities. Talking and listening will usually be the key for an auditory learner to remember the information that she needs to learn.
Melissa Pinkley enjoys life with her husband, Wes. They learn a lot from their four children: Ben, Micah, Levi and Abigail. Homeschooling goes on 24/7 for the whole Pinkley family. They have been homeschooling for 6 years. The Lord is gracious and continues to help them follow Him.
This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct ’06 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit Home School Enrichment