They read my book

Joseph and Michael, students at the charter school, were looking at a book about tanks and discussing military hardware, various battles, our policy in Iraq . . . I was impressed by their knowledge. Joseph told me about a book about a young soldier sent into combat in France in 1944. It was The Beardless Warriors. I’d picked it up at a book store, read it and then donated it to the school. I told them it was my copy. “Oh, thank you!” Joe said. “I love that book! It saved my life in SSR!” (He meant Sustained Silent Reading, a daily period in which students must read a book of their choice.) Michael said he loved the book, too.

I’ve donated dozens of books to the school. And someone’s reading them! Neither boy has read All Quiet on the Western Front. I going to buy a copy and give it to Joseph.

About Joanne


  1. Kirk Parker says:

    > All Quiet

    Hmmph. Nothing new there.

  2. An intelligent Christmas

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    I know problably you know and do these things, but don’t be afraid to talk about it with your friends!

    So do your own act; because it’s easy to talk to stop wars, but where you don’t sow love, there is only hate that grows up.

    Domenico Schietti
    2010 Poverty Elimination

  3. I have a boy in my academic lab who checks out from the library these huge old-fashioned *boy* books from the 40’s and 50’s — adventures about pirates and cowboys and soldiers, etc. I find this so utterly charming, I have a hard time making him do his geometry. A bunch of the girls have been passing around copies of various Kurt Vonnegut novels. I find that pretty charming, too.

  4. There are ways to link geometry to “boy” interests. Navigation, ballistics tables, and structural design all have a base in geometry. Rather than tracking down the connection yourself you could give him that hunt as an assignment.

  5. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    A sensitive soul, very much of the ‘peace’ generation, got into a calculus class and asked for help. I reached back into my old engineering school days and found the textbooks. And the best fun of the whole semester, for both of us, was working with cannon projectile trajectories.

  6. jeff wright says:

    Joanne, how would one go about donating some books to the school?

  7. The school does need more books. Many students come from families that don’t own books. The address is:

    Downtown College Preparatory
    355 W. San Fernando
    San Jose, CA 95110

    Kelly Neal ( is the chief fund-raiser.

  8. So tell us, Joanne, what’s the list of books you’ve donated?

  9. You can always just give books to Toys for Tots. That’s what I do – always new hardback books because I think it would be terribly sad to not only hope for charity gifts, abut also unwrap “pre-owned” gifts.

  10. I went through my books and donated everything that I didn’t think I was going to read again. It’s a very eclectic list: Catcher in the Rye (marked-up copy originally belonging to my first cousin), Brothers Karamazov (extra copy), The Sea Wolf, some mysteries, etc. And when I see books on sale that I think the students would enjoy, I buy them and donate them. I just donated three Lemony Snicket books, for instance, and a comic book history of the Middle Ages.

  11. For “Insufficiently Sensitive” – go to the PBS Nova site ( and check out their on line presentation about pre gunpowder trebuchet machines! From the perspective of an engineer, the acomplishments in design, engineering, and ballistics without “proper math” that was done 600 – 800 years ago is just absolutely IMPRESSIVE!

  12. After watching the PBS special, my husband and child built a trebuchet, just for kicks. It flings water balloons very nicely, and probably would other things, if allowed.