He who has not been a determined accuser during prosperity should hold his peace in adversity. He alone who denounces the success has a right to proclaim the justice of the downfall.
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Who knows how easily ambition disguises itself under the name of a calling, possibly in good faith and deceiving itself, in sanctimonious confusion?
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Are You Teaching Your Kids About Personal Finances?


"Parents cannot abdicate the teaching of finances to the schools, because the schools aren't teaching it. It's astounding to think that you can get through elementary school, high school, and college and still not know how to balance a checkbook, or buy a home, or decide what kind of insurance you need. But, unfortunately, that's the norm."

You will find this paragraph in the introduction of the Money Matters for Teens Workbook by Larry Burkett with Todd Temple. For those of us who have children in public (and probably even private) school, this is a helpful reminder that we cannot depend on the schools to prepare our children for life. In addition to teaching practical matter of life (like finances), Christian parents have to remember that God has given us the responsibility to disciple our children (Deut 6:4-9; Eph 6:4). We cannot depend on others to fulfill this role in our children's lives (not even the church!). 

For those of us who homeschool our children, this norm only confirms our reasoning for home education. But it is probably still worth asking home educators: Are you making sure to include personal finance in your teaching plan? We are using this workbook as a part of ours. 

One more reason that teaching personal finance to our children is important: "It's sad that half of all marriages today fail and, overwhelmingly, the major factor is the mismanagement of money." 

[Photo by Olly Joy on Unsplash]

Discussing Great Books with Your Children

My daughter and I have both recently read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. This work definitely qualifies as a "great book." It includes a street-level look at the French Revolution, is written from a sound worldview, and presents a wonderful story of self-sacrifice. Here is a taste of the literary genius and insightful reflection offered by Dickens. This passage also emphasizes the importance of learning from history.

Along the Paris streets, the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh. Six tumbrils carry the day’s wine to La Guillotine. All the devouring and insatiate Monsters imagined since imagination could record itself, are fused in the one realisation, Guillotine. And yet there is not in France, with its rich variety of soil and climate, a blade, a leaf, a root, a sprig, a peppercorn, which will grow to maturity under conditions more certain than those that have produced this horror Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Raising Lifelong Learners

This is my first born’s senior year of High School. My wife and I are asking ourselves what areas of knowledge and skill we want to make sure we cover this year. So, it is time to make good on my promise: “No one graduates High School from our home unless you have worked through this book with Dad: How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren.”

Why is this book so important? Because one of the most critical skills I can impart to my children is the ability to learn. I don’t want to complete our home education only feeding my children fish. I want to teach them to fish. A person who has the skill of learning has the ability to find the information they need, to decide which books to read, to comprehend what is in those books, to critically evaluate their arguments, and to compare and synthesize this information with other sources. How to Read a Book teaches all of these skills! To learn more about why this book is important and what it teaches, you can listen to the workshop I gave at the Thrive! The NCHE Homeschool Conference, Raising Lifelong Learners.

I have developed a syllabus for my daughter and I to work through this year. I am sharing this syllabus with you so you might be encouraged to use this book as well. Ideally, the parent or teacher overseeing this class will read the book with the student. A sharp High School student could possibly work through it himself. I have designed this to be a portion of Bethany’s English credit for this year, taking about 22 weeks. If it were taken seriously, it could be completed as a semester elective for a half credit.

One more question: if you would be interested in having your student participate in an online course working through this syllabus with us, contact me at matthew@truthtofreedom.org.

Book Review of 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

My daughter insisted that I read 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson. A friend of mine, who knew that I enjoyed fantasy fiction, recommended it to me years ago. So, I finally got around to it and just finished devouring this story. I enjoyed it very much. This book belongs in the “children entering other worlds through secret doors” genre. With children as the main characters, it naturally appeals to young readers.

I give this book three stars, which is a pretty strong rating in my view. It is worth reading, especially if you enjoy fantasy fiction. Here are the positives:

  • Wilson delivers an intriguing plot and creative twist on engagement with other worlds or dimensions.

  • The “real-life” part of the book was grounded and realistic, which made the story more believable.

  • The reader meets an interesting and somewhat developed set of characters.

  • The story unfolds slowly and carefully, but not too slowly. Mystery is presented in helpful doses.

  • There is a clear presentation, and even the scent and feeling, of good and evil.

I give it three stars mainly because it is sometimes choppy and lacks depth. The story could have touched a deeper place in the reader if we had more glimpses into the  thoughts and feelings of the characters. The story mainly stayed on the surface, like watching a TV show. Wilson did not take full advantage of the opportunity that literature provides to take things deeper.

Despite all this, if I were rating this book from a young reader viewpoint, I would be tempted to give it four stars. And since it may appeal to young readers, parents should be aware that the book includes genuinely creepy characters and violence. It is probably appropriate for ages 12-13 and up, depending on the maturity of your child. 

It is important to point out that this is the first book in a trilogy. 100 Cupboards leaves the impression it was primarily a set up for the real story. We get peeks into other worlds and brief encounters with mysterious and powerful characters. We get snippets of a long history and ancestry that hint of epic developments in subsequent books (which I have not yet read). I assume we will get a more developed moral and metaphysical worldview as the story continues. I look forward to reading it!

Magic Alert: There is magic in this book, including what appears to be "good magic." If you do not believe such stories are edifying, then this book is not for you.

Have you read this book? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!