A Game of Thrones Continues To Soar To New Heights

A Dance With Dragons – A Summary

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth novel within the 7 book series by George R.R Martin, and at the time of writing, itís the most recent release. In this guide, weíre going to cover some of the essential plot points that have occurred in this book, so without any further introduction, letís take a closer look.

Click here to get the A Dance with Dragons audiobook download free.

jon snowFirstly, we see a big change at the Wall – as Jon Snow becomes the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, while his close friend Samwell Tarley is set to become a Maester and leaves the Wall entirely. Later in the book, we discover a letter from Ramsay Snow addressed to Jon, which taunts him over how he crushed Stannis and his army – while demanding that Jon gives him the family of Stannis under penalty of death.

But Jon decides to seek revenge on Ramsay directly. As Jon sets to work with raising an army, asking for any volunteers who may help, he is brutally stabbed by members of the Night’s Watch, due to Jon’s decision to allow the wildlings passage over the wall..

Additionally, we learn more of Branís search for the Three Eye Crow – which has taken him into the dangerous location of ëbeyond the Wallí. During his journey, he comes across various challenges, before finally meeting the ëLast Greenseerí, who teaches Bran more about his astonishing abilities.

Back in the Free Cities, we discover Tyrion has smuggled himself away to Pentos, where he meets the Mother of Dragons. We also find that Arya Stark has managed to reach the guild of the Faceless Men in Braavos, and she quickly undergoes their training – where she learns to improve her senses, operating while deaf, blind, and more. She also completes her first assassination – perhaps a sign of things to come.

Finally, we learn more of Daenerys and her conquering of Meereen – as well as the troubles that come with being the new ruler of this brutal city.

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The Hottest Teen Series of 2015

fifty shades of greyWith 2015 drawing to a close, we thought we’d take a few minutes to look at what is, by far, the hottest teen series of the year.

This trilogy took the world by storm almost as soon as the first novel debuted back in the summer of 2011. Four years later, we’ve seen the release of the other two books in the series, and the first book developed into a movie, with two more already in production.

What is this series, you ask?

Yup, you guessed it: Fifty Shades of Grey.

Why Fifty Shades of Grey is Popular

With all of the hype, we wanted to take a step back and look at a few the reasons Fifty Shades of Grey became an overnight sensation that has lasted for 4 years now!

There’s a few ways to look at this question. For starters, let’s think about recent trends. The Fifty Shades series capitalizes on a growing trend among teens to look for alternative fiction. This is the “bad boy” genre, and by far the other most notable example was the incredible and enduring popularity of the Twilight series, which showed the dark side of love and lust mixed into the fantastical world of vampires and werewolves.

While Fifty Shades doesn’t have any of the fantasy creatures in it, it certainly appeals to the same emotional tone evoked by Twilight and other novels of the genre.

The question then becomes, why is this genre popular? Who really wants to read a novel that depicts sado-masochistic tendencies in horrible detail, with rape, love, and lust all tied together into what is, supposedly, a romantic drama and not a horror story?

Could it be a cry among teens to pull away from the establishment and rebel against their parents and society? Could it be a cry for help among a generation that feels lost and unable to take control of their own destinies, whether in a relationship or otherwise?

This is a big question, and one that unfortunately we cannot answer here.

Instead, we just want to point out that perhaps we should be thinking a little more carefully not just about the books teens are reading, but why they’re reading them, and what their choices might mean for us a society.

Get the books from Amazon, or download the Fifty Shades Freed mp3 at http://fiftyshadesofgreyaudiobooks.com/free-download.

Children’s Literature that Teaches Important Lessons

childrens booksWhen it comes to teaching our children, we often don’t utilize all of the opportunities we have in order to create the best learning environment for them.

One easy area to improve upon is to read with your children every night. While many parents already do this, they don’t always read the right kind of books.

Many children’s books are designed to be entertaining, but not necessarily informative.

Every Children’s Book Should Have a Lesson

The number 1 thing to keep in mind when selecting a book to read with your child is that every children’s book should have a lesson contained with it. Better yet if it fits into a broader plan you have for teaching your child fundamental principles about the world we live in.

Here are two examples.

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, is a now classic children’s novel, famous for the easy to read way in which it deals with complex scientific topics.

The story follows a little girl who goes on a journey to attempt to find her father, a physicist who mysteriously disappears. Along the way, she discovers some of the basics about relatively and theoretical physics, including the hypothesis of time travel via worm holes, etc.

While no child would be expected to master these concepts, and indeed the book doesn’t go into a lot of detail on the “science” behind all of it, the premise is clear, and begin’s to prepare a child’s mind for scientific questioning about the world, and how that questioning can lead to remarkable answers.

Get the full book from GoodReads or download the mp3 from audiobooksforkids.org.

Chronicles of Narnia

On the other end of the spectrum is the Chronicles of Narnia, or The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe series, by CS Lewis. While many educators disapprove of this book because of its clear Christian underpinnings, the broader point it makes isn’t really about Christ or religion.

On the contrary, the book teaches morality, leadership, and responsibility, and how to solve problems and make decisions when presented with a number of unknowns, in an environment that isn’t always familiar.

Get the full book from GoodReads or download the mp3 from audiobooksforkids.org.

Think About Your Child’s Education

Regardless of which books you choose to read with your child, the point I want to make is simply that before you pick up the newest copy of a popular kid’s book at the store, think about what message or lessons that book includes with it.

What lessons do you want to be teaching your child, and how can developing a love of literature and learning help to instill those lessons?

That’s the real purpose of children’s literature.


Can Lord of the Rings Be in High School Curriculum?

jrr tolkien quoteAs the hype over the final Hobbit movie begins to fade and the original Lord of the Rings movies are now cinematic history, some educators are wondering if its appropriate to introduce Tolkien into high school classrooms across the country.

The thought is not without precedent, as there are a number of educational models that encourage students to pursue their own interests within some loosely established guidelines (think Montessori, for one example), but the issue here isn’t whether the books are appropriate for a high school level reader – certainly they are, as that demographic forms the largest set of the fantasy series’ fan base – but whether or not the books are valuable enough to merit inclusion in a high school English curriculum.

Defining Literature in the Modern Age

There are a few ways you might think about this question. The first is whether or not we should consider Tolkien’s works “high literature.”

Literature, as an art form, is somewhat loosely defined. While there are obvious works that fall into the status of art literature without question, including a range stretching from Heller’s Catch-22 to Morrison’s Beloved, there is not any clear rule about when a book is and is not “worthy” of being considered great literature.

Not only that, but sometimes the perspectives change with time. Dickens was a magazine writer in his day, and published many works through a series of subscription papers, hardly the mark of high literature, and yet he is read by every student in American high schools.

Could you imagine a David Baldacci novel, or John Grisham novel being taught in schools? Probably not, and the same goes for many other contemporary populist writers.

Similarly, Joyce’s Ulysses, by today’s standards, is very obviously high literature, and thought it isn’t generally taught in high schools because of its complexity, no one denies the appropriate label of high art. And yet, when it was published, it was considered scandalous.

Thus, why wouldn’t The Lord of the Rings be appropriate? It is filled with allegories, metaphors, and complex literary styles. How is it different than any other work we read, just because it happened to be made into a blockbuster film, which by the way, is true of most books these days.

Learn More

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Improving the Quality of Science Education in Our Schools

michaelbodaekerHave you seen this TED Talk? If not, it’s a must watch!

In it, tech entrepreneur Michale Bodekaer lays out a blueprint for how we can dramatically improve the quality of science education in schools across the country (and the world) without increasing costs.

He argues that the core of any sound science curriculum necessarily involves engaging the student and sparking a genuine interest in the topic. The problem with current science and math programs are that they focus too heavily on abstract representations of concepts, without ever applying them to real world problems.

Students, on the other hand, are commonly interested in problems that we actually face, whether as individuals, communities, organizations, or societies.

Bridging this gap, and giving real world merit to the principles and knowledge of the classroom, could radically transform how our students think about science, and the careers and subjects they choose to pursue in greater detail when they become adults.

That, in turn, will affect our society’s ability to continually improve upon our technology, and innovate in ways we had never before imagined!