Monday, August 28, 2006

What's on Your Reading List?

What are you reading this summer? Do you read one book at a time? Or many?

I tend to read a lot of books at once. My mom reads one at a time - currently Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I can tell she's having trouble getting excited about it because she didn't finish it in 2 hours. My dad reads a lot of magazines and special reports. Fortunately for me, we like a lot of the same magazines - Wired, PC Magazine, and anything about computers. I have subscriptions to Boy's Life, Reader's Digest, and Shonen Jump (and I'm lobbying hard for Electronic Gaming Monthly).

My parents aren't too fussy about what I read. They very rarely put anything totally off limits forever, but things that are really inappropriate aren't negotiable. For example, when I read the prologue to Wicked, Mom asked me to wait before finishing the book. She thinks the author has some mature themes going and she wants to see how they resolve before letting me read it. So I have some hope of reading it soon. On the other hand, I won't be allowed to read any graphic, horror, or hentai manga in this lifetime.

Even when I am allowed to buy a book, I won't always get to read it. When I was 5, I read the first Harry Potter books. I had to stop reading them when I stopped behaving at school. Of course we later found out that I have Asperger's with ODD (oppositional/defiant traits) so that may have had something to do with my school troubles - but just in case Harry, Ron, and Hermione were the culprits encouraging me to disregard rules and defy adult authority, mom and dad pulled the books until 2nd grade.

Mom used to read every book before I did. Now, we both know the authors and types of books that I like, so I have carte blanche in most areas. She only pre-screens manga, non-child oriented literature, and some science fiction. (Yet, she always gets to the Harry Potter books first!) I personally stay away from books about demons, Germanic fairy tales, and anything with a pink cover. (Pink is the color of evil! Just Kidding). I've been known to have nightmares after reading something scary - even up to a week later. For example, the Erlking scared me to death. When I start shaking, crying, and can't sleep, I use a breathing relaxation technique to calm down and I repeat the Abbott and Costello "Who's on First" routine over and over in my head. If these things don't work, I go wake up my parents! (Sometimes its good to be a kid)

I am currently reading or re-reading the following (in no particular order, except Manga First!):

Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto
Hikaru no Go, Yumi Hotta
TeniPuri, Takeshi Konomi
Yuyu Hakusho, Yoshihiro Togashi
Trigun, Yasuhiro Nighto
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
The Tempest, William Shakespeare
Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov (The Robot Series)
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Del Tora Quest, Emily Rodda
The Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking
The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (The Series)
Time Travel in Einstein's Universe, J. Richard Gott
The Cuckoo's Egg, Cliff Stoll
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Samuel Clemens

Keep turning those pages!

Stephen

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Twice Gifted

Twice gifted is a term used for discussing and labeling gifted and talented children with special needs. Now, I'm not much for discussing and labeling - especially since usually I'm the one who is being discussed and labeled around my house (and these discussions are about me not with me, but more on that later).

Most of the gifted and talented kids I know have other issues (like parents, ha!). Twice gifted kids not only have issues, they have actual learning disabilities and other special needs. By special needs, I mean diagnoses such as autism, Asperger's, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, etc.

You think this is unlikely?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Christa McAuliffe Academy

The best advice given to aspiring writers is usually - Write what you know. At first glance, I'd say that advice is pretty limiting. The life of a 10 year old is pretty much school, family, and recreation. So, it seems fitting that in reviewing great gear for gifted kids my first post should be about something I know well - my school.

Christa McAuliffe Academy (www.cmacademy.org) is a fully accredited online school that is ideal for gifted students. It is ideal because it offers individual attention from professional educators in an environment that is self paced and focused on special interests.

I began attending CMA in January 2005 after many years of struggling in the public school system. I was a 4th grader when I started and am now in the middle of 7th grade. The courses are a combination of online work - taking classes and tests on a secure website and meeting with my teacher and classmates in a secure private classroom with voice and video capability - and offline work - including research, writing, art and physical education.

The best thing about CMA, from my perspective, is the ability to study things I'm interested in. Just this summer I've learned about African American history in Virginia, capoeira (afro-Brazilian martial art), Shakespeare (I'm reading the Tempest), video game design, and Japanese robotics. Even the things I'm not really interested in aren't too bad at CMA. This spring, for example, I had trouble with 6th grade fractions. Ugh! My teacher met with me online everyday and helped me work the problems until I really understood them.

I think CMA is the perfect school for a talented and gifted kid because it doesn't matter whether you are an overachiever, underachiever, or have special needs like me (I have a mild form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome), the classes can be formatted to draw on your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses.

If you are interested in learning more about the online learning experience that could be your gifted and talented kid's best opportunity at Christa McAuliffe Academy (www.cmacademy.org), tell them Stephen sent you!

Sayonara!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Grand Opening!

Welcome to Gifted Gear Reviews.

This space is dedicated to presenting my thoughts and opinions about the gear available to stimulate the minds and interests of gifted children.

Why should you care about my opinions? All I have to offer on the subject is personal experience, but that experience is exactly why I can tell you whether something is likely to educate, entertain, or amuse the gifted child in your life.

My name is Stephen. I'm 10 years old and considered bright (and sometimes annoying, but that's another story). I am currently finishing the 7th grade and for fun I enjoy high school and college courses and clubs. My academic interests are theoretical and quantum physics, Japanese language and culture, and reading. I'm also into creative writing, anime and manga, tennis, curling, and video game design.

I hope you enjoy reading my comments regarding the various items selected for profiling here. If you have any comments, suggestions, or concerns feel free to post them or send them to me at GiftedGear@GMail.com. My parents screen every email, but will make sure that I can answer your questions.

Thanks and have a great day!

Stephen