Book Review: A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Every now and then I will read a book that marks an epoch in my life. A Circle of Quiet is one of those books. I stumbled across this book on Amazon while looking up copies of A Wrinkle in Time. I’m currently teaching Wrinkle to my seventh graders, so I jumped at the chance to do a little research about Madeleine.

After reading this book, I feel that I can call her Madeleine, because we are kindred spirits. This book touches on all of the things I am struggling with in my everyday life–what it means to be a writer, a teacher, and a Christian, how to balance a career with what your heart says you ought to be doing, everything.

The book is written reflectively, almost as a collection of essays or a conversation that all runs together smoothly. There are different parts and different chapters, but the book is cyclical: the same themes and topics recur again and again throughout. There were so many moments that spoke to my heart and led me into my own circle of quiet. The most notable was Madeleine’s habit of retreating into her own “circle of quiet” whenever she felt herself becoming negative or crotchety and out of sorts. I love this idea, and it makes my heart happy to think that I can guiltlessly retreat into a circle of quiet to get my heart and mind back in line with Christ.

Madeleine also writes poignantly of growing up, of maturity. These parts spoke to me especially–I think part of us always dreads growing up because we think it will be rules and responsibility all the time. A Circle of Quiet shows that growing up into maturity is truly the best expression of a childhood lived joyfully. We don’t have to fear age and maturity, because we can still retain our childlike sense of wonder with the world. When we can grow up into ourselves and be ourselves, then, as L’Engle puts it, we are living “ontologically.”

I won’t write more for fear of gushing, but this book has immediately earned its spot on my list of favorites, and I can’t wait to read it again and again whenever I need to quiet my heart and simplify my life.

 

You can find the book here.

Book Review: “Boundaries With Teens”

 

So my first attempt at writing this post was sadly deleted, but hopefully I can remember all the glowing comments I made!

This book was #32 of my 50 book goal for the year, and I am so glad that I picked it up right before school starts. It is written for parents of teenagers, but I picked up on a lot of things that will be really helpful for me as a teacher.

One of my biggest struggles during my first year of teaching was maintaining a firm classroom discipline routine. After reading this book I am genuinely excited to set boundaries in my classroom and see how the kids respond. There is no telling how much better my school year can be with kids who follow rules and act responsibly.

Here are some of my favorite parts:

  • “They need to learn that freedom is earned and that they can gain freedom by demonstrating responsibility” (11). Need I say more? This is a concept that I have always heard and know, but no book I have ever read gives such practical applications.
  • “Teens also need the safety, structure, and warmth of a loving home that offers them protection when needed” (17). Many of my students don’t have a home environment like that. This year I will focus on making sure my classroom is a safe space where students feel protected but also have the freedom to speak their minds.
  • “Adolescence is not a bad patch to be lived through. Rather, adolescence is a good and necessary thing. Adolescence is helpful for your child, and it is normal” (71). How often have I talked to my class or my friends and family about how crazy middle school is? That’s true, but it’s not something that needs to be merely “survived.” I hope to model to my students this year that middle school is good and necessary. It’s not this awful time of drama and hormones, but a preparation for all the responsibilities of adulthood.
  • The Anchors of Boundary Setting: 
    • Love: I am on your side.
    • Truth: I have some rules and requirements for your behavior.
    • Freedom: You can choose to respect or reject these rules. 
    • Reality: Here is what will happen if you reject these rules.  
    • (Pages 114-118)

The second half of the book is dedicated to diagnosing and solving many common teenage problems, which I found incredibly useful! I also love how Dr. Townsend gives you sample conversations between you and your teen. Often when I pull a student out in the hallway to discuss his or her behavior I end up ranting and they end up rolling their eyes.

You can pick up this book on Amazon, and I highly recommend you do!

 

Boundaries With Teens

By: Dr. John Townsend