Great Expectations


In celebration of our new page – Great Movies Among Dad & Daughters – we want to tell you about the film that started it all.

I am always searching the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel to find films that I think our daughters and I might enjoy watching together on the weekends. I learned several years ago that this channel can be a treasure to parents and caregivers of young families who are hoping to find something to watch that is not gruesome or laced with foul language and is not interested in shocking viewers with nudity or sex. There are not even any commercials! Simply put, it’s a concerned dad’s paradise when he wants to enjoy a good movie with his kids.

When I ran across the 1946 film version of Charles Dickens‘ classic literary work, Great Expectations, I was intrigued. This is a major book and one that would eventually be required of the girls to read in our local high school’s English class. Right now, though, they are 9 and 14 so I wondered if it would it be over their heads or vastly boring to them. I hit the record button anyway and decided we would watch it together and find out.

And wow!  What a movie!  What a story!  It has even inspired us to create a new page here at fatherknowsbooks titled ‘Great Movies Among Dad and Daughters.’ Check it out on our home page.

I can’t say enough good about this cinematic work, so see it whenever you can.

As the credits rolled over the final and very moving scene of the movie, the girls and I got into a conversation about why Dickens might have chosen to title his story “Great Expectations.”  It was a good talk but the most interesting thing happened – we decided that the one who experienced the “great expectations” the most in the story was us, the readers, the silent observers of the tale.  We expected certain things from certain people and were always surprised when those expectations were completely incorrect.  We judged based upon wealth and intelligence and kindness and beauty, never expecting that those very things were causing us to expect something that was not going to happen – in the way we planned it.

And that has me thinking…sounds a whole lot like real life to me.


Charles Dickens in the Old West

I can’t believe it.  Ben Cartwright, Little Joe, Hoss and…wait for it….Charles Dickens, all on the same show!  I was so surprised by this mixture of classic tv western and classic English author that I really had no choice but to write to you about it.  My father is an avid old west television and movie fan, so he has handed that love down to me in these past 40 years.  Bonanza remains a singular favorite and its rich story-telling is among its greatest assets.

Because of the literary angle, the particular show we wanted to share with you is from season five, episode two of the series and originally aired on September 29, 1963 on NBC.  It was titled “A Passion for Justice.”

Here is an especially good summary written by Charles Delacroix at about this fascinating episode:  “At Ben’s invitation, Charles Dickens comes to Virginia City to give a reading from ‘Oliver Twist’ while on a reading / lecture tour in America. While there, he stays at the Ponderosa. He becomes enraged by the townsfolk’s casual attitude toward distribution of copies of his stories published without protection of copyright laws. After confronting the local newspaper publisher, the newspaper’s office is destroyed. Already having lost the esteem of the townsfolk, Dickens now finds that the townsfolk blame him for the violence.”

If you have some time, I hope you’ll enjoy watching the episode as much as we did.  Thanks to youtube you can click below and enjoy it right away!


Be Their Book

“Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.” – Ed Asner

Be Their Book

There are two books that my three daughters are reading.  One, let’s call this first book Dad, is about the man named Dad and the life he is living in front of them.  The other, let’s call this second book Culture, is about everyone named Culture and the life they are living in front of them.  Here’s a synopsis of each…

Book OneDad, who says, “I’m a dad.  I have three daughters.  We read books.  We laugh with each other.  We talk to each other.  We eat meals together.  We watch movies together.  We do homework together.  We listen to music together.  We shop and argue and vacation and work and dream together.  I love them and I try to teach them that what they do and say and think matters.”

Book TwoCulture, who says,I’m everyone.  I have countless daughters.  We read books.  We laugh with each other.  We talk to each other.  We eat meals together.  We watch movies together.  We do homework together.  We listen to music together.  We shop and argue and vacation and work and dream together.  I love them and I try to teach them that what they do and say and think makes no difference at all.”

As a dad, I am not interested in giving culture the top teaching position within my daughters’ lives, nor am I interested in teaching my daughters to be perfect people (there is no such thing and teaching such a thing is ridiculous and futile).  What I am interested in teaching them is that they are human beings worthy of being respected and being respectful, of being intelligent and acting with intelligence, of being listened to and listening to others, of thinking well and being thought of well, with living and loving and working and caring about more than just themselves.

Here are two interesting columns on the topic:

1.  According to a new study by the Parents Television Council, underage girls are more likely to act in “exploitative” scenes on television than adult women. For the study, the PTC viewed 238 episodes of prime time television and found that about two-thirds of them had some sort of sexual content. A third were deemed to be exploitative. Underage characters were more likely to be involved in those scenes than adults, and about a third of the scenes were designed to be humorous. But PTC President Tim Winter is not amused. “Today the Parents Television Council publicly asks, ‘When is it appropriate to laugh at the sexual exploitation of a child?'” he said in a statement. “How are our children and our society being impacted by entertainment content that utilizes sexual exploitation as humor?” [,, 7/12/13]

2.  In our culture, instead of just focusing on the Miley Cyruses, we should recognize and applaud the many young adults who are making the right decisions. Teen pregnancy declined by 42% from 1990 to 2008, owing in part to the fact that teens are waiting longer to start having sex. In the period from 2006 to 2008, among unmarried girls ages 15 to 19, only 11% had had sex before age 15, compared with 19% in 1995. Making sure that people—particularly young people—know these facts and figures can play an important role in encouraging better behavior. Too much of our culture—from headlines in Cosmopolitan magazine to TV shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager—sends the message that promiscuity is ubiquitous and a rite of passage toward adulthood. But it’s not. Those who do take sex seriously are in good company.”  — National Review contributor Hadley Heath [, 9/19/13 stats]

In other words dad, be their book.  It won’t be the only one that gets read, but it will be among the only ones that matter.