4 French-Related Reads from Summer 2018

It’s September 11th here in Lyon and I find myself reflecting on Franco-American relations, books, and the state of the world. When I’m teaching on September 11th, I often share a condolence letter I received from a French acquaintance just after the attacks of September 11, 2001. My French friend was so kind to offer support; his thoughtful letter still reminds me how individual actions of encouragement can cause ripple effects wider than we realize.

What we read and write can shape others in significant ways.

Four years ago on this blog I recommended a fairly obscure book on childhood anthropology because it was a thought-provoking reminder that there are many ways to parent well. My book recommendation, The Anthropology of Childhood, was spotted by journalist Michael Erard, who read the book and in turn wrote a very impactful piece about it in The New York Times. I wouldn’t have known the impact that my book suggestion had on him were it not for a fellow blogger who shared his article with me, not knowing that I had recommended the book in the first place. The world is a more beautiful place when we can learn from each other’s reading!

Likewise, had it not been for blogger Gabrielle Blair’s mention of reading Global Mom in late 2013, I would not have sought out Melissa Dalton Bradford’s book and gotten to interview her here on the blog a few months later. I’m grateful for authors like her who write honestly from their experience, especially when their words spring from a place of grief and growth and healing.

Summer reading, though, on the whole, leans towards the light and leisurely; in July and August I hope you had a chance to read a novel or two that you loved. Here are three French-related non-fiction reads that I enjoyed this summer:

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Cité du Chocolat: A Family Day Trip from Lyon

Our family arrived in Lyon just over a week ago, so with another ten days before school begins, I decided we'd make a day trip to Valrhona's Cité du Chocolat--an educational experience (much like a hands-on museum) focused on chocolate. Located in Tain l'Hermitage roughly 50 minutes south of Lyon by train, Cite du Chocolat opened just five years ago (in 2013). Having had a delectable first visit in 2015, I was excited on this visit to see what was new (and to taste the high quality samples)!

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The Best History Theme Park in the World: France's Best-Kept Secret

In Northwest France, one hour from Nantes, there's a history-oriented theme park that puts on the most amazing and original shows you can imagine. Le Puy du Fou has been voted the best theme park in the world several times (Thea Awards, given in the USA), plus it attracts more than 2.3 million visitors per year and has top ratings on TripAdvisor. So why have you never heard of it?

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Reflections on a Semester of Teaching French

This past school year brought a different family season for us as we temporarily left homeschooling and I began teaching French full-time at a local high school because of their last-minute need. This meant a whirlwind of change for my family, but we agreed to try out this season of work and private schooling. For the first time, our older two children are attending school three days per week (in English, not French, unfortunately) but we expect to return to homeschooling after our stay in France next fall.

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Hawaii's Aquarium: Why Maui Ocean Center is Worth a Family Visit

If we lived on Maui, or visited frequently, an annual family pass to the Maui Ocean Center would definitely be on our wish list. Two years ago we visited the Newport Aquarium here in Oregon, and while it was fantastic to view creatures of the northern (colder) Pacific, it's a pleasantly different experience in Maui to admire the incredible creatures of the tropical Pacific.

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Inspiration for Bilingual Parenting: Adam Beck's Thoughtful Guidebook

Early in my quest to raise a bilingual child, I frequently read non-fiction books on bilingualism to help me grasp the requirements ahead. Eight years later, however, I'm now a homeschooling parent of three children, and my reading on the topic has slowed quite a bit. Since late last fall, however, I've been slowly savoring each little chapter of Adam Beck's indie-published book, Maximize your Child's Bilingual Ability. His book is neither a daunting tome of scientific research nor a fluffy anecdotal jaunt through his own parenting experience, but instead, it's the ideal guidebook for parents who are sure of their commitment to bilingual parenting but in need of ideas and ongoing inspiration. That covers every bilingual parent, including me!

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Casual Conversation on A Meaningful Day

Hello and bonjour! My goodness, it has been a long time since you last heard from me, and for that I am sorry. I've had to make blogging less of a priority the past few months, while being more intentional about other activities (which I will share in a moment). In the meantime, today is presidential Election Day here in the USA. While seeing democracy in action is an awesome freedom, this particular Election Day feels a bit like watching lemmings plunge off a cliff: we knew it would come to this, but was this really how it needed to go down? In any case, we Oregonians vote by mail, so my husband (a history teacher) and I turned in our ballots last week and I expect we'll be praying and waiting patiently for today's outcomes. How do you feel about this election? Maybe you'd rather not talk about it. Ha!

These three H's have been my focus lately (oh, and my husband, who's always part of my focus--love you, honey!):

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