RebL Books

Freedom to Read ‘Em, 2022 Edition

On crisp autumn Friday nights in my collegiate hometown, visiting teams in the late 1980s who made strong plays against the Norman High School Tiger football team might hear “We have more National Merit Scholars than you do!” Maybe our team didn’t win every football game, but we were sure proud of our academic success. Of the six teachers I had my junior year, four held doctorate degrees. The two who didn’t were the yearbook advisor and the history teacher. Feeding straight into stereotypes, the history teacher was among the football coaches.

These days, Norman has two high schools. I presume football is still important to both the Tigers and whoever prances around in green on a campus haunted by spirits of Longfellow Middle School past. I am sure that residents of Norman will say academics are still important, but it’s hard to believe that they have the same level of support as back in the day when the town had never voted down a bond for education.

My English teachers had us read the classics, which consisted of nearly all the banned and challenged books of last century. With a few exceptions, these were books about white people written by white men. These offensive texts typically exposed us to profanity or religion or socialism/communism. My teachers didn’t seek banned and challenged books, but we students sure did! Thank goodness I wasn’t a teen mom. I would have named my kid Holden, and lord knows this planet has enough phonies in it.

A poorly drawn portrait of the main character from The Catcher In The Rye with the text Book Hate: I'm holden' Caulfield responsible for every phony I dated.

A RebL classic post from a platform lost to social media history.

Continue reading

RebL Books

Book Review: Jabari Jumps

Book Review: Jabari JumpsJabari is every child who has made a frighteningly ambitious goal. Jabari will leap off the high dive, definitely, at some point. He prepared for this moment by taking swim lessons and passing his swim test. While it looks easy from afar, it takes guts to face the big moment and Jabari casually puts the task off until he is ready. He stretches, he observes successful jumpers, and he even makes a test run up (and back down) the ladder. Dad recognizes Jabari’s need to do things in his own time and gently provides the support required for Jabari to summon the courage to make a big leap.
Continue reading

RebL Books

Book Review: Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. Hanscom

Reviewed by Jennifer Haas.

Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. HanscomAngela Hanscom begins Balanced and Barefoot by laying out the current state of American childhood. Without that introduction, I might not have believed that we need more evidence to persuade us to let kids be kids. She then gathers information from diverse disciplines to make her valid, if simple, point.

Kids need to play. Outside. Without constant adult interference.
Continue reading


Christmas Gifts

Gifts we gave. We made all our gifts this year, including zipper pulls for the cousins’ backpacks.

Gifts for the kids. The tree is propped up by presents especially selected by our loved ones for us. Some of us were excited and some of us played it cool.

The leather jacket emphasizes the cool, don’t you think?

Gifts for the dog. Toys marked “chew me” don’t last long around these parts.

Gifts for the future. I pray that I have enough of my children’s great grandmother’s genes to look this good in my mid 80s. She works out every day. Bleh.

Gifts to make me cry. Caddo Artist also gave handmade gifts. It’s too bad I couldn’t catch the detail on the beading along with the way it catches the light. Then again, all I’m trying to pass along is that people not on her Christmas list should be jealous. I’m jealous of myself!

My mom told me that I would have to wait until she died to get this scarf, just like she had to wait until my grandmother died. I didn’t have to wait and how nice is it that my mom is alive? She also recounted in a lovely illuminated letter the story of the scarf and a childhood trip with her mother to San Francisco.

Dreams of our new year. I can count my blessings at Thanksgiving, but I learn so much more about giving at Christmas. Between now and the new year, I’ll be considering the generosity of my family by birth and by choice. This season I’ve been put on notice that the world has the capacity to be beautiful, kind, and creative. I must respond likewise. I’ll have challenges, but I’ll have support. In this way, I (you are welcome on the journey) can continue to dream for a world in which every day we celebrate the best in each other (after you quit gagging, of course).