Book review – Lit Stitch

Lit Stitch is a book of patterns for cross-stitchers. All the patterns are literary themed. The best part of the book are the different pattern designs included. I’m definitely going to make at least three of them. One of the patterns that I’m planning to cross-stitch is the pride rainbow bookmark. By reading this book, I learned a new way to finish bookmarks and now it’s time to try making my very first one.

We have several books of different cross-stitch patterns and designs. Some are themed, like Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch, complete with designs based on Frida Kahlo and Hillary Clinton.

One I particularly recommend is Do-It-Yourself Stitch People. It’s excellent for teaching yourself to create custom cross-stitch portraits. Those portraits are, in turn, excellent for giving as presents.

And hey, isn’t the holiday season coming up in a few months?


As always, catch us on social media or comment below. If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email librarians@duncanville.com.

Homeschooling, distance learning, and COVID-19

When my daughter’s school went to online learning, I felt the irony in my bones. As a child, I was homeschooled and assumed I would homeschool my own children. That had not happened, for various reasons, and my daughter thrived in first a public, then a charter school. And now… now she was learning at home.

It quickly became clear to me that homeschooling and distance learning were not the same, though many people used the term homeschooling for both. In distance learning, the school was still running the show, and in our situation the lessons seemed to rely heavily on online learning and worksheets. In homeschooling, the parent is in charge, and the curricula vary widely and wildly. I watched as the families of the United States learned the paradox of home versus classroom settings; with one or two students and none of the structure and social interactions of in-person school, the time required to finish assigned work shrinks. Through the still magical internet, I learned about the experiences of parents all over the US as their schools tried to adjust to the new situation, with varying degrees of success.

Summer passed by as normally as it could for the kiddos, while the adults goggled at the enormity of the local COVID-19 case numbers and the schools grappled with what to do in the fall. More and more parents with means, faced with the prospect of an indefinite length of distance learning, turned their eyes toward the possibility of homeschooling. Everyone faced what seemed like impossible decisions.

Staying in school

For those who stay in school, resources are available to help them navigate the system. You, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica (2018) gives an overview of educational options and suggestions as to how to decide what is best and what steps to take going forward. Education a la Carte: Choosing the Best Schooling Options For Your Child by Kevin Leman (2017)and Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer (2019) also discusses educational options and strategies to make things work best for your family, in whatever situation you find yourselves.

For those now tasked with distance learning, books like How to Tutor Your Own Child by Marina Koestler Ruben (2011) and Help Your Kids With Study Skills: A Unique Step-By-Step Visual Guide by Carol Vorderman (2016) may be helpful for parents helping their children at home. While written for college students, Cal Newport’s How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less (2007) may be helpful for high school students as well. And of course, A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done by Jennifer Shannon (2017) may help high school students keep themselves on task.

While the local school districts are sailing new waters as they cope with the switch to distance learning, some public schools have existed as distance learning only options for several years. The Texas Education Agency lists public schools that are part of the Texas Virtual School Network at https://txvsn.org/OLS-Campuses.

The world of homeschooling 

With as many reasons for homeschooling as there are families who homeschool, there is no universal homeschool experience. My own homeschooling experience was fairly isolated, as my parents were conservative Christians who didn’t have money for things like homeschool co-ops. I spent much of my free time reading and…well, I became a history major and then a librarian! Others talk of spending lots of time in groups at co-ops or in sports leagues. In some states (though not Texas), homeschoolers can even participate in some public school classes.

Sometimes homeschooling is used by families to maintain a separation from the world that can even be unhealthy. I found echoes of my own experience in Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (2015), which provides a glimpse into the world of a conservative Christian family through a daughter limited by its assigned gender roles. New York Times bestseller Educated (2018) is Tara Westover’s memoir of life in an abusive family which used “home schooling” in order to maintain their religiously-prompted isolation.

Of course, many people had a positive homeschooling experience, including Paula Penn-Nabrit, the author of Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African American Sons to the Ivy League (2003).Rachel Gathercole discusses the social benefits of homeschooling in The Well-Adjusted Child (2007). Quinn Cummings shares her experience of exploring homeschooling in The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling (2012). My own home education provided an excellent basic foundation for learning in high school and college.

Finding resources at the library

The library has many books on homeschooling—or home schooling, as it is spelled in the subject heading used in the records. Most of these books are found at 371.042.

Opposing Viewpoints is a series of books that gives both sides of a debate.

Some works focus on making the decision for whether or not to homeschool, including The Homeschooling Option by Lisa Rivera (2008). The Opposing Viewpoints volume Homeschooling (2010), edited by Noah Berlatsky, contains a variety of essays on many aspects of homeschooling’s pros and cons, including those unique to a Christian setting.

For those who decide to homeschool, many resources exist. Lorilee Lippincott’s The Homeschooling Handbook: How to Make Homeschooling Simple, Affordable, Fun, and Effective (2014) aims to make getting started easier. For those with younger children, The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life, by Julie Bogart (2019), focuses on how to create an environment conducive to curiosity and wonder. For those with ambition and a love of the classics, The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (2016) may be a source of inspiration. Using the classical (as in Greeks and Romans) framework of three learning stages, it gives a wealth of information and recommendations for education from pre-K through grade 12. And of course, a Google search will bring up a wealth of information and curriculum options. It is worth noting here that many homeschool curricula still have an evangelical Christian slant, especially in science.

No matter what decision parents make or are forced into in regard to education, we all agree that we want the best for our children. In these stressful times, hopefully that commonality will bring us together instead of apart.



As always, catch us on social media or comment below. If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email librarians@duncanville.com.

Introducing Library Granola

Granola (that crunchy-munchy goodness) is made up of a lot of different ingredients.

This blog will be like granola; posts may vary in style and they’ll definitely vary in content.

Some posts might be straight-up book reviews. Others might be commentary on daily happenings. Still others will let you in on a few of the library’s secrets.

All of them will offer recommendations of items from our catalog. There will be links to take you to our catalog so you can sign in and place holds on the items you find most fascinating.

We hope our posts will entertain, inform, and inspire you. Leave us comments to let us know what you think and to share your ideas. You can also catch us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Please keep your comments friendly and courteous. We reserve the right to delete any inappropriate comments.

If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email librarians@duncanville.com.


Getting Lost in Time Travel

Warning: there are a few spoilers. Then again, the spoilers might just entice you enough to crack open these really fun books.

Imagination gone wild

I often imagine after reading such a story how characters from that different era would react to the world today. (Covid-19 pandemic aside.) What would they think about zooming 60 or more miles per hour on a freeway? Getting to a place far away on a map in a short period of time compared to horse travel.  Cooking food in minutes in a microwave. I imagine how they would marvel at how cool a building can be with air conditioning. How immodest or bizarre would we look with our modern clothes? How would synthetic fabrics feel to them? I imagine the looks on their faces walking around in shoes that have comfy memory foam in them. What would they think of watching a movie on a big HD 4k TV, and the ability to stream hundreds of movies with a remote? What would they think about as we talk at a screen at a drive-thru and the result is getting hot food ready to eat? No butchering required! What would a trip to a grocery store feel like to them? So many choices! I like to put a favorite character in my imagination in these scenarios and think out how they would react to our way of life in their way with their personalities.

History made fun

The best stories have rich characters and relationships- not just romantic entanglements, but also rivalries, great friendships, and reading about what drives these characters.

Here come the spoilers

These exact things can be found in the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon. The series revolves around Claire, a WWII nurse who travels back and forth in time. She ends up being married to different men in the different whens, getting pregnant in one time and raising the child in another. She encounters numerous historical figures and has so many amazing adventures, both good and bad.  Her child and grandchildren also have the ability to travel in time. In this particular series, not everyone can time travel.

Staff thoughts

I asked other staff who love these books as much as I do what their favorite books and moments are. Tech Services Librarian, Hannah, said that she couldn’t pick a favorite book.  Community Services Librarian, Stephanie, says the second book (Dragonfly in Amber) was most memorable to her because of how it jumped in time 20 years. “It nearly drove me nuts thinking I had missed a book,” she said.

Hannah most enjoyed reading about the Revolutionary War. “That was the most fun to read for me. And the most memorable part was in ‘The Fiery Cross‘, which begins with an eventful day – which lasts over 100 pages,” she said.

Stephanie also enjoyed the scene where the men go off on a buffalo hunt, but one buffalo gets past them and winds up in the front yard of Claire and Jamie.

The author has crafted so many intriguing stories around the many characters in her books. This is the kind of series where you cheer on your favorite characters and hope bad things-I mean justice- will happen to the unsavory characters.

Bringing Jamie to life

In my imaginings, I bring Jamie, Claire’s second husband, to modern times. I imagine the things he would say, and how he would react to how we live. I imagine calming down the alarm he might feel and showing him the sights, explaining why certain things are done and others must not be done, like engaging in vigilante behavior. I imagine what kind of attention he might draw, especially if he insisted on walking around in a kilt. I also imagine what adventures we might have. Would we spring someone from jail who was unlawfully incarcerated, or rescue someone in peril? Would we hike around North Carolina, and would he hunt down something that would then be cooked on a fire? What could he teach me as we go along hiking? Who would we meet and how would those stories get played out?

Concluding hopes

I look forward to reading about Jaime in his own time in the next book. I hope the people who would do harm to his grandson meet his justice. I wonder if Bree, the daughter, will have another child. Will the Revolutionary War be brought up again in the story? And what graphic medical procedures will Claire be doing in the next book? Claire’s doings in her surgery bring up a mixture of revulsion and fascination in me.

Hannah is hoping for a family reunion and fewer intense situations of peril. Stephanie prefers not to think about it. She hates spoilers.


As always, catch us on social media or comment below. If you have a library question, call 972-780-5052 or email librarians@duncanville.com.