My friend Carri, a voracious reader, recently turned me on to a wonderful new podcast, “What Should I Read Next?”
In it, writer/reader/blogger Anne Bogel asks guests to talk about three books they loved, one book they hated and what they are currently reading, and then she recommends three books they should read next.
Literary matchmaking. I love it.
In an episode featuring Tsh Oxenreider, author of “Organized Simplicity” and “Notes From a Blue Bike,” the writer tells Bogel she’s currently reading several books. Among them: “The Talent Code,” by Daniel Coyle.
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“I’m reading it because I, quote, ‘have to,’ ” Oxenreider says. “The school that my son is being enrolled in, they have parents read certain books.”
“That’s why you’re reading it? That is amazing,” Bogel says, incredulous. “I love your kid’s school.”
Me, too. What a fantastic concept – teachers or schools having required reading for parents.
Both my children have spent summers reading novels, short stories, essay collections and books such as “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” because they were assigned by English teachers. Why not expand that practice to moms and dads, suggesting titles that could aid their parenting, illuminate teaching practices or just help them better connect with their kids?
I posted a question on Facebook recently, asking friends to list books they’d suggest as required reading for parents. If you, like me, are constantly adding titles to your want-to-read list, go ahead and call up that GoodReads app.
▪ “Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life,” by Annette Lareau. “Eye-opening,” said my friend Polly.
▪ “Why Do They Act That Way,” by David Walsh. “Helped me understand the influences on a teen and how to better react to keep things calm,” my friend Cindy said.
▪ “The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups,” by Erika Christakis. Explains what good early-learning experiences look like “and how play is a child’s work, which must be supported by the adults in a child’s life.”
▪ “The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School,” by Haley Kilpatrick. My friend Kathryn and her husband, Jeff, plan to read this before their daughter starts sixth grade this fall.
▪ “Wonder,” by R.J. Palacio. Wichita mom and former teacher Liz Hamor says parents should read this middle-grade novel because “lessons of empathy, understanding, compassion and standing up for others are important for kids and adults.”
▪ “Daring Greatly,” by Brene Brown. Another Hamor suggestion, which has been on my must-read list for ages. Maybe this summer.
▪ “Last Child in the Woods,” by Richard Louv. Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the impact of too little time spent outside exploring. Coincidentally, this coming Tuesday he will release a new book, “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life,” which offers 500 ways to have family fun outdoors.
▪ “Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future,” by Tim Elmore. My teacher friend Sarah (and lots of others) says the book offers ways parents, teachers and coaches can “help kids while still allowing them a healthy dose of failure. Another local educator suggested Elmore’s “12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid.”
▪ “I Am Malala,” by Malala Yousafzai. Several teachers recommended this remarkable story of the girl from Pakistan who fought for her right to an education and became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Not surprisingly, I’m running out of room here. If there’s a title you’d recommend as required reading for parents, please share it with me, and we’ll continue this discussion next week.
In the meantime, Molly Lavacek, a teacher at Robinson Middle School in Wichita, offers this suggestion: Read some of your children’s own writing.
“Not to judge or edit, but to connect and be in awe of all they know and graced by all they feel,” Lavacek said. “Many of our kids spend time writing on their own – fiction and poetry – but rarely get to share it.”