Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Unschool in Kids' Books: What to Do About Alice
What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! by Barbara Kerley tells the story of Roosevelt's unconventional oldest daughter. She was a wild, physically exuberant girl. Before her family moves into the White House, she shudders as she watches the prim girls of a New York boarding school walk down the street while she has dreams of climbing trees and owning a monkey. When her antics in D.C. (including joining an all-boys club and requiring the boys to dress as girls in order to sneak into the White House to their club meetings) get to be too much for her father, he threatens to send her to that fancy girls' boarding school back in New York. After weeks of crying every day at the thought of going to school, she presents an alternate plan for her education to her father: she'll teach herself by using his extensive library. And that's what she does. Her antics continue into her adulthood, providing ample tabloid fodder, but she also becomes a very effective representative for her father, both at home and abroad. She also becomes one of his most trusted advisors. She eventually makes a savvy political marriage and remains a crucial institution (nicknamed "the other Washington Monument") in D.C. throughout her long life. We loved this story for its representation of independent learning enhancing the life of an irrepressible child.
New York Times review here.