The Books Showing Up on Christmas Wish Lists for Denver Moms
This holiday season, many parents are hoping only that Santa delivers the answer to their most pressing parenting issue. Why won’t my toddler eat anything but candy? How do I help my daughter make friends? Why is my son failing math? Why is every family but ours able to balance sports, an instrument and homework? Will she ever put that cell phone down? Our carpool is a disaster! A girlfriend!?
Dear Santa, please help!
So here’s a list of great books about parenting, our children and education. Some will make you laugh out loud at yourself or your kids. An occasional chapter may make you cry. They all provide guidance that you can take or leave. But the best thing about these books is that you realize you are not alone.
My favorite of 2013 was Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman. Wiseman is the best-selling author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, which I hear is the go-to book for mothers of girls as they approach adolescence. I happen to have three boys, so I fell for the subtitle, “helping our boys cope with schoolyard power, locker room tests, girlfriends, and the new rules of Boy World.” Apparently, asking boys how their day was as soon as you pick them up from school is totally wrong. Who knew?! This book made me laugh, changed our time in the car, and made me wonder even more about what makes my boys tick. Wiseman’s great interviews with boys are the backbone of the text, which makes her recommendations hit home in a such reasonable way. This is a book from which you will end up reading out loud to your friends over the phone. Great for book clubs!
A couple of years ago, I heard Madeline Levine speak to an auditorium filled with parents about her research on parenting. We laughed a lot. She was amazing. A practicing psychologist for more than 25 years, Levine has great stories to tell about parents and children who are struggling, with insight into why. One of her primary focuses has been on raising children in affluent families. The Price of Privilege uses examples from her work to demonstrate how many kids today are disconnected from even themselves and lacking in self-confidence. A really good read. Levine has also written Raise Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More than Grades, Trophies or “Fat Envelopes” to address today’s current trend pressuring parents and kids to be good at everything without feeling like they are good at anything. Levine is scheduled to speak in Denver before members of the Young Presidents’ Organization on January 16.
Levine’s friend and like-minded internationally known parenting expert, Wendy Mogel has also lectured in Denver at least once in the last few years. Her books Blessings of a Skinned Knee and Blessings of a B Minus both address the unrealistic and often harmful desire of today’s parents to protect their children from failure. Relying on teachings of the Jewish faith, but written for a universal audience, Mogel helps parents recognize the benefits of making mistakes, falling down and the small failures children experience everyday. Again, Mogel’s lessons are not preachy. As a parent, you see yourself clearly in her writing, but she enables her readers to laugh too.
Thinking that How Children Succeed by Paul Tough was going to teach me to help my three children have the grit, curiosity and character to succeed, I read this one too. That’s not what Tough writes about, but this is an amazing book for anyone interested in education, school reform, or lifting low-income children out of the cycle of poverty. Using examples from successful urban charter schools, chess clubs and mentorships, Tough shows what it takes for a child growing up in our nation’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods to graduate from high school and go to college. The young people he focuses on are certainly impressive, and the adults who mentor them are heroic. A great and inspiring book for parents and teachers!
There are many books out there for parents, so though those described above are just my recent reads, I have also included a handful of authors who have been helping guide parents for decades:
• Building Healthy Minds by Stanley Greenspan, a guru of early child development
• The Hurried Child, The Power of Play and others by David Elkind, long-time child psychologist and professor at Tufts University
• Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
Please comment if you have a great parenting or education book to add to the list!
Jennifer Kelly is a Marketing Communications professional with a focus on education. In 2010, that focus culminated in her founding Penny Jar Kids, which creates Global Giving Kits to engage children in philanthropy while learning about the cultures they choose to support. She also writes jennswondering, a blog that focuses on the joys and challenges of parenting, and has been published on Yahoo, Edudemic, Ed News Colorado and others.