BOOK LIST (to print) -- SPAIN / SPANISH MAIN
BOOK SPOTLIGHTS FOR SPAIN:
- The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf A simple story of peace and contentment.
- Honor of Balboa, a Messner Biography I am sad that this book may be so hard to come by. This is a side of Balboa I had never heard of. These biographers whose writings were published by Julian Messner were known for their careful and scholarly research, but also had the gift of writing to reach hearts of young people. Columbus and Balboa have both been criticized for the horrible things that were done under their watch. But what a story like this teaches is how impossible it is to rule unruly men; what happens when greed seizes the heart. This story will begin to help your middle schoolers and older grasp the spirit of the times of these conquistadors and explorers. Brutality, disloyalty and treachery ran rampant. Yet, over and over, the stories show the power of those rare moments of civility, respect and honor. I am overwhelmed with the level of suffering and hardship these explorers and discovers passed through, thereby opening the world to the rest of us. For that, they deserve our gratitude. Let us learn from their lessons and do better in the future.
- Don Quixote by Cervantes The idea for this classic tale of the lovable woeful knight came to Cervantes while he was in prison. Some scholars list Don Quixote as one of the 4 most important novels ever written. I've linked several children's versions in the online library to help you begin to unfold this story to your children. Some can be read online; others are illustrated versions that I hope you can find used copies online or in your library. I've seen a couple of stage productions of the musical version--Man of La Mancha--and find the tears flowing every time. There's a lot to this story my heart understands that I can't even put into words.
- Brotherhood of Pirates, a Messner Biography Why would I encourage you to study pirates with your children? Well, children will often listen to stories of pirates because the sense of adventure is appealing. Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean even make them 'endearing'. But at some time, you'll want them to know the truth about who they were and this era in history when the lust for gold seized the hearts of practically everyone. The problem with the story of the pirates is there are no good guys and bad guys. It seems to be a story of bad guys vs. bad guys. Yes, the pirates were brutal and ruthless. The pirates of the Spanish Main sprang into existence to rob the treasures from the Spanish ships carrying gold back to Spain. But where did the Spanish get the treasure? From plundering and robbing and enslaving the Natives. Furthermore, the pirates were even protected by government officials who looked the other way because the pirates shared part of the dole. This is greed run amuck. And it's highly instructive to children in it's proper place. What will happen to America if our ideal is gold over freedom? What happens to men when the love of gold takes over their hearts? What depth of depravity will they sink to get it? The Brotherhood of Pirates is a good, easy to read introductory story to the true story of who these pirates were, where they originated, and what the world of their time looked like. I know it may be hard to find a copy....try an interlibrary loan. If you can't find it, no worries. There are lots of other choices.
- Treasure Island is Robert Louis Stevenson's classic literary masterpiece of pirates and should be part of every child's reservoir of stories. It's high adventure and entertainment at its best. I've linked you to N.C. Wyeth's illustrated version.
- Howard Pyles Book of Pirates And if you can't get enough pirate stories, here are the classics.
Art Credit: Stadsgezicht in Spanje by Francois Antoine Bossuet (1875)