10 Life Lessons Found in the Pages of Middle-Grade Fiction by Melissa Roske

When writing for children, Madonna said it best: Papa, don’t preach. That means: no heavy-handed moralizing or high-horsey finger wagging. Kids get bossed around enough as it is, so why subject the…

Source: 10 Life Lessons Found in the Pages of Middle-Grade Fiction by Melissa Roske

10 Life Lessons Found in the Pages of Middle-Grade Fiction by Melissa Roske

Simply beautiful nuggets of wisdom and life lessons of inestimable value. One more reason why children and us all must rediscover and recommit to reading!

Nerdy Book Club

When writing for children, Madonna said it best: Papa, don’t preach. That means: no heavy-handed moralizing or high-horsey finger wagging. Kids get bossed around enough as it is, so why subject them to further instruction when they’re reading for pleasure? That’s not playing fair.

At the same time, finding inspiration in a great book can enhance a child’s reading experience significantly. It’s the icing on the cake; the cherry on the sundae. So, without further ado, 10 life lessons found in the pages of middle-grade fiction, new classics and old favorites alike:

harriet the spy

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

“Life is a struggle and a good spy gets in there and fights.” (p. 132).

When Ole Golly expresses this sentiment to her charge during an emotional goodbye outside the Welsch family home, it’s clear to the reader – and to Harriet, who tries to be brave in the aftermath of her…

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Proving God’s Love

a good read!


“How do you know that God loves you?”

This is a question that most people would have asked themselves at some point in their life.

Interestingly, I was asked this question by a young atheist lady and I found the whole experience rather surreal. I had never met a female atheist before (apparently they exist). So maybe she wasn’t an atheist, I mean she believed in the possibility of a Supreme Being and all, but her question to me was, ‘How can you prove this being loves you?’  My immediate response to her was, ‘How can you prove your biological father loves you.’

For believers, we have probably come up with different answers each time we ask ourselves this question. I believe that the answers we come up with are a reflection of who we are and/or the current situation we find ourselves in.

Some people say I know God…

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Vanity upon vanity


Noel Ihebuzor

Today’s readings from the Catholic liturgy remind us of the frailty and lack of wisdom in a life devoted to the pursuit of material things in this world. “Vanity upon vanity, all is vanity”. These are the eternal words of the wise man from the sacred book of the Christian faith. I am sure that words that radiate wisdom of such profundity and which call attention to the need for a balanced attitude to material things in this world exist in the sacred books of other religions.

As a child in commencing primary school in Makurdi in the sixties, I had to memorize these lines – “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul”? Phrases such as this one invite men and women to reflect with a view to leading them to a richer perspective on material acquisition. They are there for all to hear and heed but greed stands between men and women and the application of these words in their everyday lives. Greed has blunted our hearing and has led us and still leads us to make a flawed choice. That choice brings with it very severe consequences.

The unrestrained desire for more, greed, enslaves us and is the root cause of most other vices, especially that of corrupt enrichment. One of its fruits is the death of satiation. The others are envy, jealousy, untrustworthiness, falsehood, cheating, dishonesty and a debilitating sense of insecurity. We look for security in material things but cannot find it there. Our wealth fails to buy us real happiness, and we wrongly believe that with more wealth, the real happiness that eludes us can be eventually purchased. So we struggle to amass more wealth and the methods for amassing such is secondary, indeed, immaterial. This is the thinking of the mind that greed has invaded.

Greed invades and installs by slow accretion. But it needs you to open the door for its first entry.  We invite it in! We let it in! Greed is best likened to a virus which, once installed, progressively erodes all values, stifles decency, atrophies the conscience and corrodes the soul. It surreptitiously suffocates morality and eventually enslaves us to this cult of materialism which leads us to crave for more, the more we possess. This is what explains why someone who has enriched himself or herself by stealing from public or private coffers to the tune of millions and millions of naira can still steal more, grab more and grovel for more at the least opportunity. Our news media is replete with such mind-boggling accounts of “fantastic corruption”, a corruption that spares no section or segment of our societies. The corrupt person steals but cannot be filled. He or she eats but is forever hungry. In effect, the cult of materialism that greed shackles us to is an empty, hollow and hollowing one, one that breeds this infirmity that Owerri people call “Erima afo ejughi eju” – eating and consumption that know no satisfaction. Materialism warps our vision and deadens our souls and eventually leads us to death. God gave men and women dominion over the earth and the things in it. Materialism subverts that logic by granting material things dominion and control over the human mind and psyche. The readings for this Sunday forcefully brings these truths to us and invite us to take steps to turn from the enticing appeals and entrapment of these vices of greed and materialism. Our countries have suffered and still suffer their effects!

May God protect us from such debilitating affliction.  May He lead us to eternal and true values where life and living are measured by love, caring and sharing – in such a world, poverty would be history as there would be enough for all. Let us turn to the words of God, for in them are found true abundance and the path to the true food which can feed our bodies and our souls. Every other food that does not grow from the words of God is vanity upon vanity.

Happy Sunday.




The beauty of numbers

By Noel Ihebuzor


Numbers have this quality and attraction of precision, indeed of elegant precision. “70 people were employed” is more elegant and more precise than saying a number of persons were employed. A large number of us are thus fascinated and attracted by numbers. Honest men and women lace their public utterances with numbers because they are verifiable. But, and alas, because claims made with numbers are verifiable, they are also falsifiable.


Remember the 97% and 5% inclusive development wahala? It was about numbers and precision. Lately I hear that some senior official of this government was quoted as saying that 70% of Nigerians are satisfied with this administration. That statement has the elegance of elegant precision, that is until you start querying how the 70% was arrived at in the first place. Was a study conducted? If yes, where and when and by whom? If yes, how was the sampling done? And what tools were used? And what steps were taken to ensure the validity and reliability of the tools so used? In the absence of valid answers to such questions, such use of numbers in public statements lurches to imprecision and to the abuse and misuse of numbers. I hear one other official said the other day that only a few Nigerians are complaining of hardship in our current situation. Now that is imprecision as the adjective few is not precise. One man’s few is another woman’s many. But the type of imprecision in claim implied by the use of few is honest imprecision because the speaker is also revealing that he does not have precise data to back up his claim. I prefer it to the use of numbers without empirical backing. Yes, it is “fuzzy-speek”, but at least, it is honest. Use of numbers without empirical backing is not and actually amounts to abuse and misuse of numbers, and we must all realize that numbers too have feelings and should be treated with some respect.


Incidentally, the assays of these two officials were indeed unnecessary as their principal had in a recent message appealed to Nigerians to bear the present hardships (which was caused by the last administration) with forbearance, implying that indeed, ground no level but say no be him cause am!! So, why these officials would be tearing their Christmas or Sallah dresses when their principal has owned up is something that beats me a 100% of the time!

A Tribute for Mohammed Ali – The champ is gone, long live the champ!


Noel Ihebuzor

I just learnt of the passing of this great man, this super athlete, this wonderful fellow who contributed in raising the status of boxing from that of brute pugilism to that of an art comparable to ballet. Yes, it is to Ali’s credit that he was able to transform what was before him an ugly physical sport into a delicately executed dance form with its beauty, its engaging fluidity, its glides and slides and its captivating elegance. Ali had this ability to execute what was a complex move with speed and grace and make it look simple!

The king is gone, long live the king! Here was a man who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. Here was the athlete’s poet to whom poetry came naturally and instantly and who bequeathed the world with strings of unforgettable lines. He sang and danced as he demolished Liston…he jabbed, jibed, jived and joked as he took out Foreman. With him boxing was art, it was fun, it was movement, it was strategy. And like all great people, he did great things and made them look simple.
He was the best, the prettiest, the smartest and the fastest. He even used his art, yes that was what his boxing skills became, to combat racism in his country and around the world. And this was no easy task – just read “To kill a mocking bird” to get a sense of the weight of racism that African Americans had to contend with in the states and which Ali (then Cassius M Clay) had to deal with as a young person. He refused to be put down by it, and even challenged it. When Parkinson’s disease assailed him, he parked it je-je in one corner and I remember watching him with moisture clouding my vision as he struggled bravely to carry the Olympic flame during the LA games!
Champ, gaa na udo! Iwu dimpka asato, okunrin mewa, iroko tree, gaa gaa na ogwu! You were that brave candle that defied the wind and whose flame shone in the worst of storms showing light to others and brightening lives.
Gaa na udo, Nwoke omam. The champ is gone but he lives on!
++ My unworthy tribute for one of the world’s greats!


Bright Eyed Monks


Noel Ihebuzor


When monks develop blurred visions,

their world also narrows,

shrinking, thoughts wrinkle

faces furrow with frowns,

consciences sorrow

at the dimming of the eyes

at the fading of sight ‪https://twitter.com/Anabagail/status/737032387863928834 …

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