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Books you should consider reading and teaching your children about

1984 book gulag

I have repeatedly been asked for book suggestions, usually, it has to do with philosophy and mindset, but recently people have been asking me about politics.  I seldom want to push my personal opinion and always to convey information so that an opinion can be formed through education and thought.  This is important because we have a great many literary works available to us which have already explored these concepts.  I wanted to throw a list together of books, and articles/works, you should read and then have your children read (if they are old enough) and discuss as they have real-world significance.  

This is just a ten book suggestion, I may post another one in the future with ten more.  Most people do not read this many books a year, so I hope you will give this list a shot.

One other thing I would like to point out is that you should keep a journal whenever you read any book.  Have a black book and a decent pen with you while you read.  As you go through any book, write down notes.  Write down quotes, write down ideas that pop in your head.  This is a good practice for really understanding a book rather than just reading it. 

1. 1984 By George Orwell | Audible Audiobook

Published in 1949, this is an exceedingly rare and unique book on this subject.  It provides a view of a dystopian future, specifically talking about the perils of such a society under "big brother" and how it directly affects daily life.  Very much reflects Communism in the last 30 years.

2. The Gulag Archipelago Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, Forward by Dr. Jordan Peterson (newest version) | Audible Audiobook

This book was written between 1958 and 1968, only to be published officially in 1973.  This book is extremely detailed in the life of a person working in the camps of Soviet Communist Russia, from the most detailed explanation to a very broad picture of what was going on in the country at that time.  It paints a gritty and gruesome portrait of what it was like to defy communism in hopes of freedom.

3. George Washington's Farewell Address 1796 - full transcript

There are few persons in history who can stand up to the moral and ethical giant who was George Washington.  Having pushed the revolutionary army to a victory against the British, fighting for American freedom and independence, then becoming the first president of the United States, unopposed, he was given a choice.  He could stay the President, for his entire lifetime, which some did call becoming a King.  Instead, he chose to allow the American process to work through itself and evolve.  His Farewell Address, at the end of his presidency, is still read in the house chambers, it is still taught in some schools and colleges, and it was given to soldiers to read during great American-involved wars after his passing.  The above youtube link has it in audio version, the text link above has a transcript or you can download the full original version at the same website in his own writing.  This is very much an example of early American exceptionalism and "mainstream" thought at the time.  Well worth the time to read or listen to it.

4. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley  | Audible Audiobook

Originally published in 1939, this is a "modern" dystopian book very much like 1984 but also very much unlike it.  The search for truth is the main concept here and while there are clear hurdles like the (world) government, there are also personal hurdles like religion (traditional/old ways) versus new ways of technology.  A must-read if you weren't' assigned it in high school.  If you did read it in high school, the way you read it well into your life will very much provide a different impression than it did previously.

5. Animal Farm George Orwell | Audible Audiobook

I read this book in high school and then again in college and then again two years ago.  I believe it was originally published in 1945, towards the end of WWII, and that was good because there was a lot of blame to go around at that time.  "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" is a quote you've probably heard numerous times in your life, and if you have not read this book you do not truly understand the meaning of it, it's implications, and the modern real-world issues which are still clearly obviously at contention today.  

6. The Giver Lois Lowry

This is a book that I read in middle school and is still mandatory reading in many middle schools today, grades 5-8.  This is a very easy read for an adult, yet still, it offers a very unique point to consider, what happens when your government, when your society, when your teachers, when the people you trust to teach you are intentionally not teaching you everything you should know and your future is already picked for you?  What happens when there's an entire history you never knew and would have never known if you were not unique enough to be provided this information.  Rereading it as an adult really opens your eyes to certain things you may not have considered, about learning and knowledge.  Even more so applicable when you have children and they begin to ask questions about history, life and you have to deal with their school teachers.  

7. The Rape of Nanking Iris Chang | Audible Audiobook

This book came out in 1997, and I read it several years later.  This is a very gruesome book detailing the Nanking Massacre of 1937-1938, when the Japanese invaded China.  The reason why this book is on this list is that it very clearly depicts how brutal, sometimes evil, and disregarding of morality people can be.  It is based on a true event, and while in the US we are often not taught world history, especially atrocities that occurred elsewhere in the world before the internet, this is a great work to show just how brutal humanity can be.

8. Schindlers List Thomas Keanelly | The Movie 

Originally released under the title of Schindler's Ark in 1982, but was adopted for film and released in the early 1990's.  One of the few movies which are worth watching that were based on true events.  I would recommend watching this film with a late elementary school child if you want to time it correctly and then give them the book when they get older in high school.  This book, true story, and movie serve as a very grim lesson of what Nazi-type concepts can produce, what good and evil people will do to push or fight against those concepts.  It is a story everyone should be familiar with.

9. Ordinary Men Christopher Browning

This book was released in 1992, it is based on true events which followed drafted German men into the Nazi army to serve in the "Reserve Police Battalion" who were sent to Poland.  The question you should ask yourself before reading this book is, "Could I kill an innocent person, who is unarmed, under any circumstance?"  For most people, the answer is a solid and affirmative "No".  Read the book, and ask yourself that question again afterward.  This book should make you question the things you accept as true from your government, your media, and those around you.  It should also exhaust your personal ethical and moral compass, if it does not then you are not paying attention.

10.  The Declaration of Independence - Transcription

The above videos are one of many I have found to be very good at explaining the issues leading up (the preamble) to the writing and submission of the Declaration of Independence.  There are a few others out there, you can search for them yourself.  The issue I have personally found is that people do not understand the Declaration of Independence, the reasoning behind it, most have not even read it and if they have they did not understand it.  It is a historic document, bordering on legendary.  In ten thousand years it may be spoken about in the same manner as the ten commandments, except remove the religious parts and actually have the real-life proof of its existence.  To understand the meaning behind the Declaration of Independence is to understand the why of America.