Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

The Spark:a mother’s story of nurturing genius by Kristine Barnett

The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing GeniusThe Spark. Finished 8-16-13, 3.5 stars, education/inspiration?, 250 pages, pub. 2013

Jake was never expected to talk or to read, but his mother never believed that.  After his autism diagnosis and standard therapies, she took things into her own hands to reach Jake and bring him out of his autism.  This is her story, and his.

There is a lot to like in this story of a mother’s love and a child’s gift.  Barnett was running a day care out of her home and was pregnant with her second child when Jake was diagnosed at 2.  He started some home therapy through the state and then early intervention preschool,  When a teacher told Barnett that her son would never need his alphabet flashcards that he loved so much, Barnett understood her meaning to be that he would never learn to read, and she pulled him out of school and kept him home with her.  The lengths she went to for her son are staggering as was her creativity and commitment to other kids like Jake.  She had a vision for Jake and for other autistic kids too.  And Jake himself is an inspiration.  This boy who was never expected to read now has an IQ higher than Einstein’s!  The Barnett’s pulled him out of elementary school to go to college at 9 and he’s on track to make great discoveries as an astrophysicist, thanks in large part to his mother who encouraged his love of space at a very age.  Here is the website for Jacob’s Place and more about Jake.

I must say that Barnett seemed to find more hours in her day than most people.  She ran a daycare during the day, a preschool prep class for autistic kids in the evening, raised three young kids and also started weekend sports league for autistic kids. Oh, and somewhere in there she managed to have another child and a stroke.  I am happy if I actually get dinner on the table for my two guys!

There were things that put me off a bit and I hesitate to go into them because it seems like I’d be making a judgment on this hero of a mother and I don’t want to do that because I think she’s amazing.  I’ll just note the one thing that Barnett herself talked about. I was shocked at how cavalier she was with money. Or maybe she was just blasé?  It was something that came up often in the book and it drove me a little nuts.

If you are looking to find a roadmap on how to raise a genius, forget it.  But if you want to be inspired to be better mother then this book will do the trick 🙂

This book was from my personal library.

August 28, 2013 - Posted by | 3 Star Books |

6 Comments »

  1. I absolutely devoured this book. I could not pull myself away from their amazing story. I had already seen Jake’s Ted Talk (which you should totally watch if you haven’t), and I find their theories on play and learning fascinating. I already believed children learn through play, but this story showed me another side of what play can do. I will admit I judged the mother. The money she threw around is shocking. :O

    Comment by Jennifer | Book Den | August 28, 2013 | Reply

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one that was bothered by the money! I’ll have to look at Jake’s Ted Talk. I have watched a few shorter videos of him. Amazing kid.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 30, 2013 | Reply

  2. Yikes! She sounds like superwoman! And I commend her for taking time to work with other children. And whoa – a 9 yo going to college? I’ll admit, my first thought is that our schools really don’t get it, do they? When I read about kids from the 1700s learning 5 languages and mathematics/science, I wonder…

    I met a lady the other day that mentioned her daughter was home-schooled and when I asked her about it, she basically said the kid home-schooled herself and she had very little to do with it. wow, again.

    Comment by Care | August 29, 2013 | Reply

    • I would home school Gage if it was ever needed but he loves being around other kids so much that I don’t see the need for social interaction going away. Of course if he told me he was ready for college at 9 I might have to rethink his education 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 30, 2013 | Reply

  3. I fear that if I read this, I’d feel like I am failing as a mother lol – just reading about what she does everyday makes me tired already!!

    Comment by christa @ mental foodie | September 1, 2013 | Reply

  4. […] was sent to me months ago, and I put it on my shelf and promptly forgot all about it.  Then I read The Spark and it sparked a memory in my brain that I’d agreed to read another book by a mother of an […]

    Pingback by What Color is Monday: How Autism Changed One Family For the Better by Carrie Cariello « Stacy's Books | September 26, 2013 | Reply


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