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Lighting Their Fires: How Parents and Teachers Can Raise Extraordinary Kids in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World
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Lighting Their Fires: How Parents and Teachers Can Raise Extraordinary Kids in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  577 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire shares his proven methods for creating compassionate children

During twenty-five years of teaching at Hobart Elementary School in inner city Los Angeles, Rafe Esquith has helped thousands of children maximize their potential—and became the only teacher in history to receive the president's National M
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 29th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published August 25th 2009)
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Dec 22, 2013 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
All Esquith's books are basically the same, because he's describing the same things in different ways. But the thing he's describing is so good, it's worth hearing again and again: he teaches kids the value of persistence, diligence, integrity, self-control, and the arts. He tells story about his kids and how capable, mature, and successful they are as a result of these lessons.

The lessons for parents and kids:
* punctuality,
* use time valuably,
* care about and learn from the past,
* repeat an
Lighting Their Fires: Raising Children in a Mixed-Up, Muddled Up, Shook Up World by Rafe Esquith is basically as the title promises a guide to upbringing children to be all they can be. I don't have children, but I interact with children on a daily basis, as a student teacher. (I haven't dropped out of the program yet, thank goodness!) Rafe uses baseball to structure his book instead of chapters, there are innings. Anecdotes are used to further illustrate his point. Also each chapter includes a ...more
Sep 25, 2009 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The central theme of the book is that students aren't born extraordinary - they become that way. It takes more than natural smarts and skills to be successful - it takes work on the parts of parents and teachers to ignite in children the drive and determination needed to become more than mediocre.

I liked how the anecdotes, advice and examples were woven around the story of a night at a ballgame with a small group of students. The students learned so many things during their experience and the au
Rafe Esquith sets out to prove to us that he is the best teacher ever, and this book is basically about all the wonderful things he does for students over and above a regular school day in the classroom. Maybe he'd needs to re-read his sections on humility.

Basically his advice boils down to teaching children how to behave, turning off the television, and making sure they have music lessons.

He uses the innings of a baseball game--that, of course, he took students to on his own time--as the frame
Jan 04, 2013 Debby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reviews I read before starting this book tended to note how judgmental the author seems to be, but if that's so, well, then so am I. Perhaps I simply share his values. I, too, bemoan the lack of courtesy, difficulty in delaying gratification, and non-stop attachment to screens (whether it be TV, video games, or whatever) that I see in today's youth and, unfortunately these days, more widely in society. The cautionary tales he told did not surprise me in the least.

I've read his other books ab
Ugh. This book didn't do it for me. There were two things I liked about it: Firstly, he described a hierarchy of what motivates people to do things and I liked his part about how we want to get our kids to do things for intrinsic reasons and not just to avoid punishment or for a reward. And the second thing I (kind of) liked was that he gave a few specific book, movie, game recommendations on how to use those to teach life lessons to your kids. But his voice and tone did not work for me - he's a ...more
May 24, 2011 di rated it liked it
Esquith's final book, written more as advice for parents than his former memoirs. I found this book to be quite repetitive of the real new ideas, just another spin on the others. I did get a sense of superiority from Esquith in this book that I forgave him for in the other books--at times he portrays as the world going to pot around him. As if the only person in society left with any decency is him (& his students, because of him.) Oddly enough, he includes quite a long section o ...more
Felt compelled to read this as an educator and I haven't read his earlier work. Although I'm impressed by what he has accomplished and how far his students have come, it saddens me that we need a book like this to teach us how to parent our children, how to encourage our youth and how to "light their fires." His tips and advice are not rocket science - it's mostly common sense values. What does it say about our society that we need to have a how-to book that talks about the importance of teachin ...more
Rebecca Saxon
I've heard Rafe Esquith speak and he's definitely an inspirational speaker. His book is pretty well written with relatively engaging stories carefully structured around a baseball game.

Overall I think he makes some useful points that are great to remember when parenting, even if I think there's too much harping on about the dangers of TV while holding up "classic" Hollywood cinema as a good teaching tool.

Here's some of the main points I found useful to remember:
- give your kids a backpack filled
Adriane Devries
Oct 02, 2014 Adriane Devries rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
Tragedy is not merely a sad ending; it is a sad ending that should have been wonderful.

So says Rafe Esquith of all students who are not given access to a true education, and he’s not talking merely math and grammar. In his little experimental classroom in an urban school in California, he has been shaping the lives of young people for decades. The world has stood up to notice. How, with the usual limited resources of an impoverished district, is he able to take ordinary, underperforming students
An incredible author who has brought out the best in many students shares his opinions about what leads to success. I can't help but think that a driving force in the kids success is having an adult who truly believes in them and will walk the extra miles with them. I like that he doesn't coddle any of these kids - he meets them where they are at and pushes them forward if they are willing. At some points the author can be quite judgmental, but if you can get past that, this book is well worth r ...more
Stanley Wang
May 12, 2014 Stanley Wang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esquith's advice to parents (and teachers) is practical, sound, and things I agree with 100%, and his examples taken from the baseball game he takes his "young scholars" is nicely illustrative, as is his interwoven stories of his students throughout his teaching history. The only real negative for me was that it was a little TOO obvious, and maybe lacking some insight that would be expected from his decades of teaching excellence. Of course, this might just be because I come from a teaching back ...more
May 28, 2014 Joe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read Rafe's other books and really enjoyed them. This one just didn't do it for me. As an educator I've enjoyed reading his past work with my teacher hat on aiming to improve the quality of my craft in the classroom. This book is more written for parents, though. And I don't have children. There were long passages in here that bordered on old-man-yelling-at-kids-to-get-off-his-lawn. I almost entirely agree with his points, but bitching and moaning about tv watching isn't really what I'm loo ...more
Aug 20, 2015 Helena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book actually made me question our decision to homeschool, because it made me wonder if I am depriving our kids of the opportunity to be taught by brilliant and inspirational teachers. And then I realized--probably not. I completed my master's degree, and in all those years of schooling, I can think of four teachers/professors whom I think back on as really outstanding people who made a difference in my life--and one of them wasn't even a teacher of mine. So instead I decided to let this bo ...more
Aug 05, 2016 Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My mom gave me this book after she received a copy from her principal. She thought it might be interesting for a teacher....who is also a parent! The book was divided up into different "innings" which I thought was clever and then he interwove examples with his students attending a Dodgers game. Overall, I thought the chapters were really well-done. It didn't take me long to begin with my own children to see if they are living out the different skills that are discussed in each chapter. For exam ...more
Dec 25, 2009 Anita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christmas day was a good day to finish this consistently clear and useful book. Rafe Esquith is obviously writing from his own personal beliefs (level 6) and couldn't have helped us see his mission already in progress any better. Though, better still, he invited us to do the same.

There were times when I was reading though these easily digested pieces of advice that I thought, "Wow. Maybe he's just Type A and likes kids who are Type A." That could be the case now and then, but since his heart is
May 28, 2011 Jenna rated it it was amazing
I'm a softie when it comes to inspirational stories for teachers as I am studying to be one. I was given this book by a random stranger on a plane, so how could I give it any less than five stars!? That aside, it is a wonderful book, full of ideas that are easily within the reach of the average person. This is not a go out and buy this product that will make it all better kind of solution, but rather a philosophy of education that makes sense.

The arts are usually one of the first programs to go
Lighting Their Fires is, as Esquith says in his acknowledgments, about substance over style. I have little doubt that Rafe Esquith is a fantastic teacher. Reading this book gave me great ideas for some things to tackle with my fifth grader next year (specifically, some Shakespeare) and affirmed many of my parenting tenets. The reason it earns only three stars is that I didn't feel like I really learned as much from this book as I would have liked.

I think that is true, in large part, because this
Written by an award winning teacher. The book is written for parents. He talked about such things as teaching kids: time management, following through with things, importance of learning a musical instrument, the evils of watching too much tv, not being selfish, being humble etc. Many good things to think about. But with all of his "ideas" for parents I did often wonder if he has children of his own not just his students. That's all I'll say about that. Lol. He gave many ideas of movies and book ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
This was a fantastic book. The author uses many methods to help shape the character of his students, from teaching music and play rehearsals to the lessons within the books and movies they see. Parents should read this to get what students see and do and what he gleans from it. There are so many books and movies recommended for various reasons along with the simple life lessons the students see while at a major league baseball game. I highly recommend this book.
This is a quick read that focuses on what you can do to raise great kids using the framework of a baseball game. This author has taught for many years, and seems to be doing great things with his students. He intersperses what is happening at the game he attended with his students with other anecdotes about previous students. Definitely an easy read with some common sense ideas that are fairly easy to implement.
Nov 29, 2010 Wendi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, applicable tips for helping your child become all that s/he can be. One good tip Rafe includes is to teach child a musical instrument and also to learn yourself. Learning to play an instrument teaches self-discipline, listening (to yourself play as well as the other musicians around you), time management, and a few other things. The listening part really perked me up because I suck at that and so does my big kid, and surprise, we don't play musical instruments. But we can listen the heck o ...more
Jul 26, 2014 Michelle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this one. I was able to look past the author's preachy examples, but I had to stop reading when he described a student's parent as an "illegal alien." Authors and teachers should choose their words more carefully. Plus, this book was filled with baseball stories and analogies. Ugh. Mix it up, please.
Amber Thomas
May 26, 2014 Amber Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was feeling burned out, and then Rafe gave me some perspective. His desire to educate kids to be better than they ever thought possible reminds me what I'm really in the schools for: not test scores, not endorsing bad behavior, but being the best human we can possibly be.
Chris Aylott
Superteacher Rafe Esquith uses a baseball game as the framework for a meditation on ways to inspire and teach kids. I like his methods and subscribe to his metaphorical newsletter -- he preaches a potent combination of enthusiasm and high expectations for both scholarship and behavior.

I'm not so nuts about his dismissal of television and video games as worthwhile entertainment. I'd be the first to agree that Americans could benefit from less television and better video games... but I also see th
Aug 21, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it
Mr. Esquith reminds me of a few fundamental ideas that important to remember as a teacher. One being that the important lessons in life may not come from a curriculum or set of standards that teachers are required to teach.
Feb 24, 2016 Courtney rated it really liked it
Plenty of good stuff in here. Most of the values discussed are those that we're trying to instil in our daughter, but it was interesting reading the rationale behind some of them. Highly recommended to parents of school-aged children.
Sep 25, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Those familiar with Rafe Esquith will recognize much of the content in this book. But his advice is so valuable it certainly does not hurt to be repeatedly. The clever thing about this book is the layout. Esquith, a devoted baseball fan, tells the story of bringing five of his students to a Dodgers game. Each chapter revolves around one of the nine innings and highlights relates lessons associated with each stage of the game. His primary focus is teaching children to be of strong moral character ...more
Jul 30, 2015 Larissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick enjoyable read about some of the important lessons to teach kids. I wish it included a recommended reading/viewing list to easily look at all the books/movies/plays mentioned through out the book.
Jun 30, 2010 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rafe's first two books inspired many things I use in the classroom. This one is directed more towards parents, but don't waste your time. "There Are No Shortcuts" and "Teach Like your Hair is on Fire" are both much better.

I saw one of his Hobart Shakespearean plays last year, and it was nothing short of spectacular. However, it was disappointing to learn he doesn't follow his own advice about being religiously neutral as a public school teacher. It was pretty obvious that he promotes an anti-Ch
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“Most children, even very bright ones, need constant review and practice to truly own a concept in grammar, math or science. In schools today, on paper it may appear that kids are learning skills, but in reality they are only renting them, soon to forget what they've learned over the weekend or summer vacation.” 12 likes
“These days, many well-meaning school districts bring together teachers, coaches, curriculum supervisors, and a cast of thousands to determine what skills your child needs to be successful. Once these "standards" have been established, pacing plans are then drawn up to make sure that each particular skill is taught at the same rate and in the same way to all children. This is, of course, absurd. It gets even worse when one considers the very real fact that nothing of value is learned permanently by a child in a day or two.” 8 likes
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