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Lighting Their Fires    by Rafe Esquith order for
Lighting Their Fires
by Rafe Esquith
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

'Children are born with varying levels and intelligence, but possessing natural smarts and skills is no guarantee of success,' writes Rafe Esquith. 'It takes more than that; it takes work on the part of parents and teachers to cultivate these qualities, to instill in children the drive and character necessary to translate their natural gifts into extraordinary results ... It's a hard road, one that many parents and children ultimately find too demanding to pursue.'

Expanding the ideas presented in Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, Esquith helps families travel that hard road. He shares techniques that can make any child extraordinary. Using a class trip to a major league baseball game as an extended metaphor, this elementary school teacher moves inning by inning through the concepts that help children build character and develop fulfilling lives.

From time management to a step-by-step discussion on how children can become good decision makers, Esquith offers parents and teachers the guidance that will enable them to equip their children with the tools necessary to find success.

'Children are capable of learning astonishing things in the most unexpected places,' the author explains. 'With our help and patience, the cure for cancer or the next great novel might be sitting next to us at a ball game. And there are steps we can actively take to help children reach the kind of excellence that we dream about for them.'

As educational books go, this one is highly readable and the author is glib enough to make it entertaining as well. How valuable is it? As a former teacher (39 years in the classroom), I found it passable, although I found little that was particularly new or extremely original.

Its clever packaging will make this book appealing, especially to parents. Riding the wave of popularity generated by a number of national awards (President's National Medal of the Arts, American Teacher Award, Oprah Winfrey's Use Your Life Award and People Magazine's Heroes Among Us Award), Rafe Esquith has written a book worth reading if, for no other reason, that it shines a slightly different light on a well worn topic - rearing children to be successful.

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