Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lighting Their Fires by Rafe Esquith

As far as great teachers go, Rafe Esquith seems to fit the bill. He's a teacher in an urban Los Angeles school who has found ways to help many of his students excel in academia, the arts, and life itself.

Even Sir Ian McKellen is a fan, and, frankly, I could probably end this review right there, because seriously, what more do you want?

Esquith's latest book, Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children is less about Esquith and his kids, who put on well-received annual Shakespeare productions and more about laying out a gameplan of how you can help your kids reach their highest potential.

He presents important ideas to pack in your child's metaphorical backpack. All of his ideas are simple and seem obvious, starting with "be on time." As someone who is perpetually and chronically early, I agree with this and his other tenets, including, watch less (or no) TV, focus and pay attention, and learn to make the right decisions for yourself and not because others expect you to.

All these are lovely ideas and this book is full of great advice. I do have to say that the book and the writing style didn't entirely resonate with me. I felt a little bit preached to, and the tone seemed a little judgy. That's not to say that this isn't a book with great ideas and an important message. I was just hoping for more personal stories about the kids, a la Phil Done.

Even so, there was a lot of food for thought in this book. There are a lot of big ideas, and based on Esquith's success with the kids in his classes, those ideas work.

Honesty Clause: I received a free review copy of this book. "Lighting Their Fires" sells for $24.95, but you can find it for cheaper on places such as Amazon.