Mar 7, 2014

(Review) The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius By Kristine Barnett

I was never much of a fan of non-fiction. Instead, I always liked to immerse myself into fictional tales of almost any genre – visiting far off lands and far off lives and being able to leave them when I closed the pages. Then I was bought a copy of “The Spark” the only book that has every caused me to make a life altering decision.

Kristine Barnett’s son, Jake, is diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Kristine and her husband Michael are devastated when they are told he is so badly affected he might never even tie his own shoe laces and they follow the expert advice to put him into a special
education program.

As part of the program Jakes interests – shadows moving across the room, the patterns in fabrics – are seen as distractions and he is made to focus on acquiring the basic skills that most people develop without thinking. As a consequence Jake withdraws even further from the world around him and eventually stops speaking completely.

Against the advice of the experts and the wishes of her husband, Kristine takes Jake out of special ed and begins preparing him for mainstream kindergarten in her own home daycare. Keeping play at the centre of his learning, relying on the types of ordinary childhood experiences most of us take for granted and being led by Jakes interests Kristine and her family help the spark within Jake ignite.

Such is the power of this story, my husband & I began to consider homeschooling our youngest son with autism. At first we worried that it wouldn't be best for him but after the move from kindergarten to first grade went very badly we took a leap of faith and withdrew him from school. As a consequence he is thriving so I can  truly  say that The Spark changed, not just my life – who’d have thought I’d ever be a home school mum? – but the lives of our entire family.

If you only read one non-fiction book this year make it The Spark – it’s not about autism, it’s about the brilliance inside us all.


  1. What a great story that so many families can relate too. There are so many dynamics to public education and it is not meant for every child

  2. Hi there. Just browsing through the Happy Kids, Inc: Bloglovin' Blog Hop and found your blog. Now following you via Bloglovin' and would love if you popped along to my blog and maybe even followed back!


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