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Waldorf Education Related Books and Publications
The Dragon Boy Donald Samson
There is a lot to love in this page-turner – a terrific story, very well written. But for me, the heart of The Dragon Boy is the relationship between the dragon, Star, and his young friend, the protagonist, Straw. Of course, the adventure literature cannon includes many memorable relationships between young heroes-to-be and their older, wiser mentors – a kind of device that can support the narrative, by providing context and backstory – but this one is particularly satisfying.
Adolescence can be confusing; it’s a busy time developmentally. For many of us, just having someone to talk to can help with the overwhelming uncertainty we face during this period. Straw is an orphan, an outsider, but in some ways he’s a classic example of a misunderstood young person; he has an independent streak, but he also deeply yearns for acceptance. He has a developing awareness of himself, of his place in the world, and an inner determination he can’t quite make sense of or explain, which compels him to be near Star. The dragon is a bit of a mystery himself: revered, terrifying, and handled with utmost caution and strict adherence to routine, yet bestowing peace and prosperity simply by virtue of residing idly in the kingdom. There’s a bit of a disconnect between what his caretakers understand about him and what Straw perceives, and as the relationship between the boy and the dragon deepens, Star reveals more of his wise and loving nature. Star is both mentor and friend to the boy, a source of great comfort and knowledge, almost grandfatherly. And for his part, the boy brings out the dragon’s spirit and benevolence. For the reader, the simplicity is endearing and a joy: they truly enjoy one another’s company, and have the easy banter of close friends.
Children ages 9 to 12 will especially appreciate this book; the characters are wholly believable and (mostly) likable, and the story engrossing. I found the dialogue among the young people to be strikingly authentic, and it is often very funny. All around, a great read, and you’ll be happy there’s a sequel!Available at AWSNA's Books&More Review by Lauren Ciborski
The Dragon of Two Hearts Donald Samson
The second volume in The Star Trilogy will not disappoint! Like its predecessor, The Dragon of Two Hearts amply showcases the author’s considerable gift for narrative pacing and naturalistic dialogue. There is also an abundance of compelling characters and side stories that fill out the primary storyline nicely.
The plot is more complex than the first installation, chronicling a troubling and ambiguous arrangement brokered between a menacing dragon and the citizens of a terrorized kingdom. Now an adult and known as Michael, our protagonist is an accomplished knight, albeit a somewhat unconventional one, with prodigious skills and razor-sharp instincts. Like his younger self, he’s bright, resourceful, confident, witty, and ambitious; but he also wrestles with doubt, and has to call upon his deepest reserves of courage to face his colossal task. His knightly prowess is balanced by a touching naivety when it comes to social clues, especially with regard to the Princess who enters the drama, and his life. Here again his portrayal is so convincing – his nature is easy to identify with, and he’s extremely likable.
The themes are a little dark: mystery and intrigue, shifting alliances, tainted motives – but all are skillfully delivered, in a manner appropriate for younger readers. The suspense held me through to the climatic final chapters, even after I started to work out the central riddle! Available at AWSNA's Books&More Review by Lauren Ciborski
The Dragon, the Blade and the Thread Donald Samson
As parents, we think we know what is best for our kids. It can’t be helped – I suspect it comes from bearing full responsibility for their needs and wellbeing during infancy. But we learn as much from our children as they do from us, maybe more, and the curve is both long and steep. Raising a child involves learning to let go; most of us figure out, eventually, that children will make up their own minds, and if we support them in their interests and pursuits, and help them to follow their chosen paths, they are more likely to be happy in life.
The third and final installation of The Star Trilogy is something of a family saga, this one including the endearing luck dragon Star. The father-son dynamic is captivating; Corin, the son of Michael and his wife the Queen, is nearing adulthood and his interests aren’t aligned with his father’s expectations. The two appear dissimilar in almost every way, a cause of consternation for Michael. Corin feels his father’s disappointment deeply, and withdraws. Fortunately, Michael makes a bit of a transformation, and realizes he’s underestimated his son, and overlooked his talent and potential.
The narrative includes a diverse cast of interesting characters, and plenty of plot twists and action. The final chapters are gripping – with the family standing together against formidable odds. A perfect conclusion to this thought-provoking, heart-warming, and riveting series!Available at AWSNA's Books&More Review by Lauren Ciborski
Liputto: stories of Gnomes and Trolls; Jakob Streit
When I was in grade school, my handwork teacher told our class that at night, gnomes came and worked on our projects – as a means to explain why our scarves were longer or potholders had more colors than when we last worked on them. I'm not sure whether I thought my teacher was being honest, or whether I simply accepted her explanation, knowing full well it was she who had done the work. Children can accept something as true, even when they know it doesn't make sense. Invisible things and beings can be useful devices to explain things to children, precisely because they have this capacity to understand without the need for airtight, logical proof. I wouldn't advocate always responding with a story about a gnome or a fairy; kids grow out of that – at a certain point it won't work anymore, and the truth will have to do. But stories give parents a way to talk about things that are complicated, or just too lengthy to explain. And it's more fun for the children.
Liputto is this kind of gnome my handwork teacher was talking about. The stories of his discoveries and exploits are really touching – mostly in so far as he's interested in children, and in helping them. He's a very thoughtful character, and I love the way the author gives us a window into his inner life – his curiosity, uncertainty, fear, and courage. I especially like an early episode, in which Liputto rescues two children who are lost on a mountain picking flowers for their mother's birthday; Liputto, who is wearing an invisibility hat and isn't supposed to reveal himself to humans, decides to take off his hat so that he can show them the way home. He doesn't say anything, but gestures and points, and when the children figure out where they are going, he disappears. Rules are important, but sometimes one needs to disregard them. Available at AWSNA's Books&More Review by Lauren Ciborski
Master teacher Betty Staley brings us into the world of the Waldorf twelfth grader through the Russian Literature main lesson. She touches upon Akhmatova, Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, and Sakharov, giving biographical glimpses and citing significant passages from their writings. The history, geography, religion, and myths of Russia are also considered. The particular developmentally recognized qualities of a student at this stage of his/her life stand as a backdrop to the content and show the purpose of studying about the Russian soul at this particular time. Book Review by John Wulsin
Money Can Heal: Evolving Our Consciousness
An important new book by Siegfried Finser tells the story of the Rudolf Steiner Foundation and its innovations in social finance. Book Review by Ronald Koetzsch, PhD
(includes The Bee who lost his Buzz, Pumpkin Crow, and Lucy Goose and the Half-egg); Reg Down
Where would we be without friends? A true friend loves us through good times and bad, appreciates us for who we are, and forgives us our foibles and fears. We learn a lot from friends, and the sharing of wisdom and experience can bridge all kinds of social and cultural divides.
The stories in this collection aptly capture the spirit of friendship, and are perfect for pre-schoolers just discovering what being a friend is all about. Tiptoes and her friends are always there for one another, whatever the problem that needs solving, with kindness, encouragement, and a helping hand.
And they are funny! For a young child with a cultivated imagination, the idea of a tangled octopus or a crow with his head stuck in a pumpkin will likely provoke good natured laughter – children know funny when they see it. We enjoy these stories a lot, a few at a time or the whole book in one sitting. My daughter would love to live in an acorn and sleep on feathers, just like Tiptoes. I enjoy the interludes wherein Tiptoes describes how fireflies came to be, or why butterflies and flowers are similar; she's like the perfect parent, ready with an imaginative and compelling answer to any “why...?” When I can't come up with an adequate response, I borrow or modify. Or simply summon the characters to transform stubbornness into cooperation: a cue to “flutter along like a fairy” works like a charm to get us out of the house, and “what would a growing mouse do with your breakfast?” will usually result in its being eaten. For any parent of a pre-school-aged child, this book is a must-have! Available at AWSNA's Books&More Review by Lauren Ciborski
Hawthorne Valley Harvest edited by William Ward
From grade one through grade twelve, the annual class play is an essential feature of the life of every Waldorf class. The play is often the defining event of the year, the event most clearly remembered and most often referred to, long after much else of what happened is lost to memory. William Ward, a longtime class teacher at the Hawthorne Valley School in Harlemville, New York, was an enthusiastic advocate of the Waldorf class play. Ward understood the importance of the class play for the chil- dren, their teacher, and for the broader community. He wrote many plays for his classes over the years. Book Review by Ronald Koetzsch, PhD
Tiptap the Gnome and other tales; Lucia Grosse
There is something so sweet and funny about these little poems and paintings; one story includes an illustration of a snowman frowning, because the sun is shining and he is melting – and it always makes my daughter laugh. The collection was produced for the author's grandchildren, and the stories have a “home-made” quality, personalized and unique. Without knowing, you could almost tell; you can just imagine a grandma describing the adventures of a runaway balloon to a grandchild, disappointed at having let it go in the wind. Or coaxing a little one off to sleep with promises of terrific dreams of a magic house with dancing dinnerware. I really enjoy a book that feels so authentic and from the heart. Available at AWSNA's Books&More Review by Lauren Ciborski
The Dandelion's Cousin; Gertrude Teutsch
Children love to explore the outdoors, and observe plant-life closely. They collect leaves and pine cones, and they love learning about the life-cycle of plants, watching seeds sprout, flowers bloom, fruit ripen. Little ones are also interested in their own development, of course. I've noticed that children seem to have a greater capacity to absorb details than, say, the average non-scientist parent, so it's great when you find a book that has enough depth to satisfy the most curious among them. The Dandelion's Cousin is a necessary addition to the library of any such budding observer of natural phenomena, especially the horticultural variety. The illustrations are amazing – extraordinarily exacting, more akin to what you'd expect in a reference work. But there's a story here as well, and it too is precise and rich in details, following the harethistle through the various stages of growth. This book is a real treasure. Available at AWSNA's Books&More Review by Lauren Ciborski
Interview with author Stephen Sagarin Read more The Wonder of Childhood December 12, 2011
"Working as a class teacher at City of Lakes Waldorf School was the most rewarding work I've ever done," Utne said. Read more Southwest Minneapolis Patch May 16, 2011
Summer, Come Back
An ideal summer is one that gives a child these essentials: self-constructed activities; alone time; dreamy time; connection to nature. Kim John Payne's new book is called "Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids." Chicago Tribune May 28, 2010
Congratulations! Dragon Boy, Book 1, written by Donald Samson, has been awarded First Place (Gold) in the Moonbeam Best First Books category. The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading.Read more September 2009
Organizational Integrity: How to Apply the Wisdom of the Body to Develop Healthy Organizations by Torin Finser reviewed in Renewal Magazine by Ronald Koetzsch, PhD
reviewed by John Lanigan for Philosphy Now
PEN/Faulkner Award Winner: Kate Christensen (PDF) June 13, 2008
Whittle Your Ears
Poems, Songs, and Plays for Children By Barbara Dawson Betteridge
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