“Bailey was talking so fast he forgot to stutter, he forget to scratch his head and clean his fingernails with his teeth. He was away in a mystery, lo“Bailey was talking so fast he forgot to stutter, he forget to scratch his head and clean his fingernails with his teeth. He was away in a mystery, locked in the enigma that young Southern Black boys start to unravel, start to try to unravel, from seven years old to death. The humorless puzzle of inequality and hate. His experience raised the question of worth and values, of aggressive inferiority and aggressive arrogance.”
This is a controversial book at the secondary school level because some of the situations Angelou recounts are heavy for teenagers to read. But just because these situations are heavy and however inappropriate they may be, let’s not pretend that teenagers are oblivious to or, unfortunately, for some, immune to the inappropriateness. I think we have to give them more credit than that.
Controversy aside, I find that Maya Angelou’s words can lend beauty to the ugliest of circumstances.
On dealing with disgusting perversions some adults inflict upon unsuspecting kids: “Children’s talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.”
Reflecting on a dentist who refused to serve her on account of her skin color: “It seemed terribly unfair to have a toothache and a headache and have to bear at the same time the heavy burden of Blackness.”
Sharing what it is like being one of a handful of African American students in a predominantly white school: “The white kids had better vocabulary that I and, what was more appalling, less fear than in the classrooms…even when they were wrong they were wrong aggressively, while I had to be certain about all my facts before I dared to call attention to myself.”
On the inequality of skewed expectations: “The white kids were going to have a chance to become Galileos and Madam Curies and Edisons and Gauguins, and our boys (the girls weren’t even in on it) would try to be Jesse Owens and Joe Louises.”
On her father being born with the cards stacked against him: “How maddening it was to have been born in a cotton field with aspirations of grandeur.” ...more
If you ever find yourself wishing that your life was better, then maybe you should read this book to remind you that your life could be a whole lot woIf you ever find yourself wishing that your life was better, then maybe you should read this book to remind you that your life could be a whole lot worse. It is amazing to think that millions upon millions of kids are trained to carry guns and kill innocent people just because of some greedy, vicious "leaders" who care nothing about decency and humanity. I know the United States tries to help those in need, but how I wish we could help more the people who need it the most. It is so sad to think that some countries are more focused on training their kids to shoot guns than to read books....more
As a kid, I admired Michael J. Fox for his role as a likable, honest and funny star of “Family Ties.” I didn’t realize it then, but I was witnessing oAs a kid, I admired Michael J. Fox for his role as a likable, honest and funny star of “Family Ties.” I didn’t realize it then, but I was witnessing one of America’s last true role models as it entered a more modern era of surprisingly low standards among celebrity lessons geared toward the youth.
As a teenager, I admired Michael J. Fox for his role as an adventurous, humorous, modest, skateboarding, guitar-playing, girl-getting famous actor in his “Back to the Future” trilogy of movies. I didn’t realize it then, but it was impossible to be as cool in real life as he acted in the movies.
Now, as an adult, I find my admiration for Michael J. Fox stronger than ever - but my reasons why have dramatically changed. I now realize that Fox’s current role as a gutsy, courageous and determined champion of hope for millions of people stricken with neurological degenerative diseases far exceeds any of the many Emmy- and Oscar-worthy acting performances upon which he laid claim to his fame.
Fox’s book is broken up into four topics vital to his purpose: work, politics, faith and work.
In the work section, he reflects about the adjustments he had to make to continue acting despite the immense difficulties introduced by Parkinson’s. He shares how, on a family vacation to France, Lance Armstrong’s family first saved his life and then helped show him how to build a fundraising foundation - which eventually became the Michael J. Fox Foundation. In addressing the initial advisors of the MFJ Foundation, Fox himself told them, “I need you to help me go out of business,” referring to the group’s overriding goal of finding a Parkinson’s cure faster than it took for America to land a man on the moon upon JFK’s visionary call to action.
In the politics section, he shares his incredible journey to legalize stem cell research vital to the cause of finding a cure (“For Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and juvenile diabetes sufferers, the ink on that veto represents life blood”). Fox used inspiration from former Superman actor Christopher Reeve – himself paralyzed in a horse-riding accident that eventually cost him his life – with the following challenge: “Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool, or you go out in the ocean.” (Fox joked that Reeve didn’t warn him about the sharks scouring the deep end!) Fox shared just how low notoriously-controversial radio politician Rush Limbaugh could go to hinder Fox’s fight for a cure. Fox talked about one of many of President Bush’s embarrassing legacies in blocking stem cell research and the frustration that followed.
In the faith section, Fox discusses his take on religious beliefs and describes his inner strengths that get him through every day. He talked about some unlikely friendships, including that with a former Bishop, which helped solidify Fox’s beliefs in his beliefs. I really enjoyed Fox's open-minded and true-to-life perspective of faith.
In the family section, Fox shared a number of humorous, heartbreaking and hopeful stories about his own family. I personally loved his account of the day he taught his son, Sam, to ride a bike on a baseball field. He talked about a soulful family road trip. He detailed the highs and lows and pitfalls of parenting and the lessons that he’s learned if he could do it all over again. He even addressed the idea of regret: “Had the sweeping changes I had instituted – sobriety, a reordering of priorities – come too late? Was there enough of me left to be the man I had never, until now, known that I could be?”
This isn’t just a book. It’s a way of living. Reading “Always Looking Up” won’t just inform you about the ravages of Parkinson’s disease or Fox’s challenges in battling them as he continues fighting for a cure. It won’t just make you laugh one page or cry the next. It won’t just make you mad at ignorant, closed-minded politicians and proud of persistent open-minded heroes. It will make you want to live a more meaningful life. Fox sees the world through a symbolic pair of glasses Zig Ziglar would be proud of and any human could benefit from donning for a day. My sincere hope is that the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has raised more than $200 million toward research for a cure – more than any other private foundation - will soon go out of business, thereby toppling Parkinson’s disease forever. I doubt I’ll be invited, but I want Fox to make good on his dream of dancing at each of his children’s weddings.
Do you like spending time on your personal computer? If so, be sure to thank Steve Wozniak. If it weren't for him, there wouldn't be a personal computDo you like spending time on your personal computer? If so, be sure to thank Steve Wozniak. If it weren't for him, there wouldn't be a personal computer like the ones that millions upon millions of people use today! This book, "iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon," is Mr. Wozniak's autobiography. It tells the story about how he went from being a self-proclaimed nerdy kid with no confidence and no girlfriends to inventing a number of world-changing inventions (including the Apple Computer!) and becoming one of the richest men on the planet! Mr. Wozniak proves that it pays to be smart!
Mr. Wozniak said one of the reasons why he wrote this autobiography was to give advice to: "Kids who feel they're outside the norm. Kids who feel it in themselves to design things, invent things, engineer things. Change the way people do things." Mr. Wozniak stresses that people need to have confidence in their abilities and to follow their heart no matter what "doubters" say. This world we live in has a way of discouraging
Caution: this book is for higher-level readers. I would recommend this book to high school and college students, and professionals already in the work force. If you are an advanced 8th grade student with a very strong interest in math, engineering and inventing things, then perhaps you will enjoy Mr. Wozniak's life story, as well. Personally, I had a difficult time understanding a lot of Mr. Wozniak's stories about how he invented things like phone-interference boxes, calculators and computers. However, it was easy to appreciate Mr. Wozniak's brilliance. He's obviously light years ahead of other people in his field. He set a new standard in computers and his inventions have single-handedly changed the world for the better. (312 pages)...more
Mitch Albom has written a book for the ages; all ages. This story was a masterpiece of both life and death; sweet and bitter; laughable and depressingMitch Albom has written a book for the ages; all ages. This story was a masterpiece of both life and death; sweet and bitter; laughable and depressing; hopeful and barren. Aging has its benefits of experience, wisdom and the broadening of horizons. However, any pluses can feel overshadowed at the loss of independence. While I hope to live a long and full life, I don't look forward to the day where I have to count on anyone to drive for daily errands, dress me or worse. Morrie lived with a straight-forwardness that was both endearing and enlightening. Age isn't something to be afraid of, but something to be cherished as part of the process. ...more
If only every teenager would read and embrace this story, I wonder if it would change the instant-gratification, me-me-me society that has evolved oveIf only every teenager would read and embrace this story, I wonder if it would change the instant-gratification, me-me-me society that has evolved over the last 50 years? Of course, this novel is a staple in any Holocaust lesson planning. In a world in which so few teenagers (or adults, for that matter) seem to stop and give thanks for what they have (instead chirping about what they want or complaining about what they don't have), Anne Frank faced the most unfair of cruelties with a certain strength and grace that crushes nearly any "problem" kids or adults face. Many Holocaust books or movies make you think, "Why?! Why did this happen?!" This story makes me think, "How? How did Anne Frank find the strength to keep her head and record her thoughts during such an unbelievably difficult time?" In a world desperate for heroes and tired (though indelibly enamored by) spoiled athletes, stories like this are once-in-a-lifetime. Hats off to Anne Frank. She had dreams of becoming famous and, although it was for reasons she never would have imagined, at least that part of her dream became true. I appreciate how this story makes my students of all learning levels and backgrounds rethink what they thought they knew about sacrifices and challenges, and even gets some students thinking about how they can use their lives to make a positive difference for others....more