The book is filled with 17 essays by some of the most well known authors / thinkers of all time including Martin Luther King Jr., Carl Sagan, Amy Tan, and George Orwell. The essay are short, as essays are; but they are chalk full of conversation and controversy. They are excellent conversation starters. This is not just a great book for your older student, or any English student for that fact, but a great book for the whole family. Dinner conversation will never be the same.
On a funnier note, DD also had to choose an autobiography to read: Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time By Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang. I am not ready to endorse or complain about this book: DD picked it as her interest and she personally loved it, but I have not read it yet, but based on her suggestion, I have put it on my reading list. Clearly she got a lot out of the book, because now anytime we go near a Starbucks, I learn something new about its inception. Yesterday, when we stopped at a rest stop in Maine, I not only got my Venti Vanila Chai Hot with Skim milk, but I was also treated to a dissertation on the Starbucks logo. I think the baristas actually thought it was rather comical and were pretty impressed with her knowledge. I guess you have to be wary about what you encourage your children to read ; )
She has also devoured Beowulf. She enjoyed the copy she had which showed both the Old English and Modern English side by side, but she could not believe that the poem was 213 pages long. She felt that a poem by definition should not ever be that long. One Caveat for parents on this one: We did watch the movie after she finished reading the book. This movie is NOT for small children. It may be animated but it is graphic and has very strong sexual undertones and nudity. It was not what I expected at all.
So it looks like I have finally been able to encourage her to step out of her Clique reading and move into some meatier content. I even noticed that on the last visit to the library she pulled out Pride & Prejudice. And she is the process of planning a reading group for tweens. If you have any suggestions for a reading series for children 9-13, we appreciate any ideas.