Thursday, September 26, 2013

On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne

On A Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

Rating: 4.5 stars

"I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious," said Albert Einstein.

I love this quotation because it makes you think that everything about Einstein is approachable.  Right!  He was only passionately curious!  If I, too, was passionately curious, then I, too, could discover such wonders as he did.


But I'll keep my skepticism to myself, especially while reading this book with my kids.  I love taking the opportunity to teach them about a fantastically famous person through a well-written children's book, and On A Beam of Light is that opportunity.

Berne starts with autobiographical tidbits--Einstein was a late talker and a quiet wonderer when he did start talking.  He was insanely curious, constantly asking questions about how things worked.

(This part is perfect for my Ben, whose nickname is Mr. Question.  I've never added up the questions he's asked in an hour, a day, or a week but...he never really stops.  Sometimes I do need a break, so I sing him my goofy Mr. Question song that I made up especially for him.  It makes him smile and pause for just a few blessed moments--but then he gets right back to it, which of course I want him to do because I want to foster that passionately curious mind of his.  Just with a few breaks every now and then for sanity's sake.)

Albert began to read and study.
Along with asking questions, Einstein began to imagine, read, and study.  About gravity.  Light.  Magnetism.  Sound.  Math.  Big stuff, but kids are less intimidated than these subjects than you'd think. Wonderfully, "can't" isn't yet part of their vocabulary.

I have to admit that my favorite part of the book is when Berne shares that Einstein's favorite place to think was on his little sailboat.  She's quietly encouraging kids to have a favorite place to think--I love that.  And he even chose clothes that he thought would foster great thinking--saggy-baggy sweaters and pants, shoes without socks.  I love that--and love that maybe one day this school year my kids will get dressed in some (assuredly random) outfit that will foster creativity of one kind or another.

The back two pages are filled with more facts about Einstein--about his discoveries, experiments, personality, and of course some other books through which you can find out more information about him.

I plan on checking this book out every few months, just to keep providing inspiration into my kids' minds.  And then I'll remember to open (or close!) the door and step away so to provide the opportunity to be creative in their own way.

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