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Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World Hardcover – August 25, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021086
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #516,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his follow-up to Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, elementary school teacher Esquith focuses on financially disadvantaged but scholastically ambitious fifth-graders from Hobart Elementary School, located in the middle of a critically poor Los Angeles neighborhood. Directed primarily at parents, educators and administrators, this volume offers anecdotes and suggestions for inspiring and encouraging each child to live up to his or her tremendous promise. Framed by the story of a Dodgers baseball game to which he brings a small group of students, Esquith notes the values of his students in contrast to many of the adult ticket-holders: punctuality, focus, confidence, selflessness, humility, and others. He then probes the meaning of each value, like the way being on time reflects a belief in control over one's destiny, as well as a sense of responsibility. Celebrating his young students' everyday accomplishments, Esquith outlines the struggles and stakes that face them all, while making teaching (and learning) look easy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Rafe Esquith has taught at Hobart Elementary School for twenty-two years. He is the only teacher in history to receive the National Medal of Arts. He has also been made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. His many other honors include the American Teacher Award, Parents magazine’s As You Grow Award, Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life Award, and the Compassion in Action Award from the Dalai Lama. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Barbara Tong. Read CBS's news story on Rafe Esquith.

More About the Author

Rafe Esquith has taught at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles for twenty-four years. He is the only teacher to have been awarded the president's National Medal of the Arts. His many other honors and awards include the American Teacher Award, Parents magazine As You Grow Award, Oprah Winfrey's Use Your Life Award TM, and People magazine's Heroes Among Us Award.

Customer Reviews

I recommend this for parents and teachers alike!
Elizabeth L. Eddy
Filled with advice and anecdotes on teaching and parenting, this, like all of Esquith's books, is an important read.
Craig Michael
And most importantly, he teaches them values such as generosity, honesty, and humility.
Diane M. Davidson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Clayton Stromberger on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a night at the ballgame you don't want to miss.

"Lighting Their Fires" is not a prescriptive, I've-got-the-answers book. Instead, it's a precious opportunity to spend some time at a baseball game with five really remarkable young people, as teacher Rafe Esquith was fortunate enough to do last year in Dodgers Stadium. If you don't learn something from these five kids while reading this book, then you are a Scrooge indeed and perhaps in need of a midnight visit from the Ghost of Education Future, pointing a gnarled finger towards quite a few children being "left behind" if we keep going the way we're headed.

Rafe Esquith is onto something here. "Lighting Their Fires," like "There Are No Shortcuts" and "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" before it, is a gentle but firm wakeup call, reminding us, in a phrase he used often in his previous books, "I think we can do even better."

Where we can do better, Esquith says, is in helping our children ("ours" as teachers or as parents) become extraordinary -- not in their brilliance or test scores, though those have their place, but in their ability to develop their own code of conduct and then live it in a way that benefits everyone around them, from family members to classmates to strangers to even, thank goodness, their bearded and vest-and-tie-wearing teacher.

What Rafe and his students have discovered over the past 24 years in Room 56 at Hobart Elementary, it seems to me, is a new entryway into the ancient wisdom that great education is all about making us better people, not better test-takers. The energy and commitment level that is unleashed in these kids when they discover the joy of being selfless is a remarkable thing to behold.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Diane M. Davidson on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first heard Rafe Esquith speaking on the radio, I drove straight to a bookstore and bought his first two books, TEACH LIKE YOUR HAIR'S ON FIRE and THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS. As a former teacher, I can tell you that they are both excellent. When I saw Mr. Esquith had written a new book and, better yet, was coming to Denver, I had to attend. With his students performing Shakespeare (beautifully) and Mr. Esquith providing (superb) comments, I was not disappointed. The evening was phenomenal, and I highly recommend that readers and book lovers of all ages, not just teachers, try to get to one of his signings.
I just finished the book yesterday, and it was amazing. He teaches kids time management. (Is this taught anywhere else? It should be.) He teaches them life skills such as getting and staying organized. He gives them a love of learning, so that they do extra reading not just because it's assigned, but because the reading itself brings intrinsic rewards. And most importantly, he teaches them values such as generosity, honesty, and humility. The kids learn these traits and keep them for a lifetime.
(Although I am a Rockies fan, I didn't even mind that the book was set at a Dodgers game. Little humor there. Please don't write to me; I am a huge admirer of Joe Torre.)
The lessons Mr. Esquith imparts can work for all ages. We can all turn off the television and read more; we can all toss the video games and play a board game; we can all be more generous, honest, and loving, not just when someone is watching. I bought four copies of this book, and plan to buy more. I highly recommend it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Luke Reynolds on September 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Rafe Esquith's third book on working with and inspiring students is just as powerful as his first two. Vividly, Esquith captures the most important lessons teachers and parents can share with their students and children in ways that are tangible, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and always meaningful.

What initially strikes the reader about LIGHTING THEIR FIRES is that Rafe Esquith has no meticulous agenda he wants every parent or educator to prescriptively follow. Instead, Rafe offers keen insights on what matters most in the lives of children, and begins to offer tangible ways we might bring these lessons to life. His stories are precise and flesh out the lessons in moving ways. Furthermore, this educator's 30-plus year career lends credibility to his words, and also the ethos of longetivity. Rafe has the benefit of sharing how certain lessons impacted students from years ago, and then can fill us in on their current successes and endeavors.

The book moves nimbly from lesson to lesson, and readers will appreciate the clear, straight-forward prose style. My own copy is dog-eared like crazy, and I'm sure I'll return to many of these pages again and again as I continue to teach and parent.

Worth every cent!
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Format: Hardcover
...older books instead.

Having just read Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire and loved it, and There Are No Shortcuts and liked it, I expected more from this book in support of its subtitle, Raising Extraordinary Children. Instead, it's more about Esquith's extraordinarily effective teaching methods than about parenting. He does provide some suggestions, like: have your children write thank you cards, have them help with meals, teach them to be honest and humble. But: Hitting a Home Run: Teaching Techniques that Transcribe to Parenting might have been a better title. He starts out with a brief explanation of what he is and does--a teacher of over 24 years at Hobart Elementary School in the LA School District where he typically teaches poor, ESL learner 5th graders. In spite of that fact, he is able to help his students achieve a level of academic excellence above and beyond what those who ascribe to the idea that impoverished kids whose primary language isn't English can't achieve at the same level as their richer, English as a first language peers.

Because of his love of the sport, he recounts a particularly negative experience he and a group of his students had while attending a Red Sox game as the backdrop of the book, a sort of metaphor for "concepts that help children build character and develop enriching lives." If you know anything about Esquith, you know that the trip was nothing like your typical take-me-out-to-the-ball-game one might expect for 10 and 11 year olds, more like a lesson about life. *Note: the rest of this paragraph contains spoilers.* They arrive on time (note from RE: teach your kids the importance of time) to a nearly empty section and his students behave well, as expected.
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