Monday, May 19, 2008

Excerpts for Bookworms

Being the good little library advocate that I am, I'm completely capitalizing on the library's parenting collection lately. Three has been kicking my tail and Almost Two is getting increasingly harder to discipline.

So... I come to you, Internets! Share with me your favorite snippets of parenting advice and/or wisdom - be it from a book, a friend, your dad, etc. - and I will share mine.

Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro
When I was pregnant with Finn my manager at the time couldn't recommend this book enough. She as smart, witty, and had raised three amazing people herself, so I went right for it. Now it's what I bring to every baby shower I go to... that and a copy of the Black on White books by Tana Hoban.

On toys:
"Have you ever noticed that when a toy does more, the kid playing with it usually does less? Wow, this violin plays music all by itself! Hey, this book reads the words for me! Gosh, this paper magically doesn't let me color outside the lines! I really wonder of this is good. It might be unthinkably bad. It might be turning our children into dimwits, dolts, and dullards. Not geniuses."

On competetive parenting:
"I wonder if we're giving our children the chance to really perform, if we're giving them and ourselves enough credit, as we pore over our parenting magazines and reference manuals. I wonder if we're getting in the way rather than out of the way, as we get sucked into the trap of comepting with other parents to raise the most exceptional child."
Um... irony, no?

The Wonder of Boys by Micheal Gurian

If I could read only one book in preparation for raising sons it would be this one. To summarize Gurian's points: boys need a tribe, boys need to DO, boys need mentorship, and boys need open dialogue about the intrinsic parts of their development.

It talks about how important it is to have a Village, how never before in history or culture it has been the parent's only responsibility to raise a child. How the I-can-do-it-all-by-myself parenting approach is completely retroactive to the well-being of children. How the education system and media and society as a whole needs to - "become more communal, more supportive of parents, more personally responsible..."

Now - this passage is taken out of context and is talking about societal support for single parents. Read it before you start trolling. I'm not one to think that Media is responsible for raising my sons, but I DO find it curious that we seem to hear "Why is this happening? Why is crime going up? Why do kids seem to be getting older beyond their years?" - and the most logical thing is to look at what kids are exposed to. Parents can't shelter them from media - it's everywhere now. It has infiltered every part of our lives. It's fun! But Media also needs to stop asking the questions and really look at its own influence. Some AWARENESS is in order if you're going to feel compelled to feature "Looking Back On Columbine" every anniversary of the tragedy.

But what do I know? My kids are Three and Almost Two. Come back to me in 20 years and then I'll recommend something on raising boys, like a labotomy. Unless I'm camped out in the psych ward by that time.

MY Favorite Book Of All Time? Why, I'm SO glad you asked!

(You are SUCH good friends Internets...)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
When I was a bookseller, I alked by this title countless times, never reading it. It wasn't until it was mentioned in my bookclub after reading Angela's Ashes that I thought twice about it. Now I've read it multiple times, each in a different stage of my life.

ATGIB is one of the reasons why I work in a public library:
The library was a little old shabby place. Francie thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church. She pushed open the door and went in. She liked the combined smell of worn leather bindings, library paste, and freshly inked stamping pads better than she liked the smell of burning incense at high mass.

"Yes?" The librarian did not bother to look up.
"Could you recommend a good book for a girl?"
"How old?"
"She is eleven."
Each week Francie made the same request and each week the librarian asked the same question. A name on a card meant nothing to her and since she never looked up into a child's face, she never did get to know the little girl who took a book out every day and two on Saturday. A smile would have meant a lot to Francie and a friendly comment would have made her so happy. She loved the library and was anxious to worship the lady in charge. But the librarian had other things on her mind. She hated children anyhow."

This passage broke. My. Heart. When I worked in youth services, NOT becoming this woman became my Muse.

Still need convincing? Listen to this little NPR review:
'Brooklyn Renders an Imperfect World, Perfectly
Now - go get it from your library. Or your bookstores - they'll all have it now for the school summer reading lists. When you do, make sure to read pages 81-86 very carefully. Those are the pages that tell you how to raise a child. Perfectly.

So. Feel free to toss me some recommendations in the comments. I'm always up for a good book.
It may be read in the bathroom or on the rare occasion I get to lunch alone, and it may be worked in between book club selections, but if you recommend it, I'll read it.


AmySandy said...

I wish I had a copy of ATGIB here in the house! You make me want to read it again! Oooh, that could be my summer reading, just like my students ;)

As for raising children, I really like the book "It Works for Us!" by Tom McMahon. It's a collection of advice from parents on everything from discipline to potty training to what to do with all the artwork to removing blood stains... useful stuff.

S2 said...

Did you catch Suburban Turmoil’s blog on Brag Hags? OMG. It’s fabu.

Thank you for the email re: my father.

When are you leaving for Costa Rica; isn’t that this month?

duchess said...

Thanks for the book ideas. I have to admit that I'm more of a do it yourselfer & don't usually use a lot of parenting books to go by. I think they can overwhelm the reader a little. Just go with what you believe & it all works out. Stages don't usually last that long, children eventually get potty trained & give up attachments before school starts.

I'll stop by again soon & enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

amanda said...

looks like i have some book shopping to do! thanks for th tips :)

happy POW-wow friday!!

McMommy said...

This is my parenting philosophy..."It's just a phase!"

I attribute ALOT to that.

heh heh.

Actually, I just read a FANTASTIC book!! It' called Momfidence. I'm telling's wonderful and helpful and hysterical...just my style.

Mamasphere said...

More books to add to my list! I'm definately going to get Slacker Mom and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Thanks for the recommendations!

As for mine, I haven't read a single parenting book, except for Dr Sears. I'm in desperate need to read some, though, now that my daughter is almost 4 and making my head spin in circles.

Leigh said...

happy pow!

Lisa said...

I found you on the POW WOW :)
I heart books--A Tree Goes in Brooklyn is one of my favorites.

I can so relate to your tiny car life--my older son lives and breathes them :)

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