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Five Parenting Reads Worth Your Precious Time

It’s one of my favorite days of the month – the day when resident MPMK librarian Janssen once again stops by and shares a new list of her favorite picks with us.  Did you guys have book orders at school growing up?  I used to get so excited when a new one would arrive. This kind of feels like that – Janssen always makes such amazing recommendations, I can never wait to devour her latest list.  Hope you guys enjoy as much as I do.


What’s the one parenting book (or book about parents and children) you’d recommend to your best friend? (Speaking of books – don’t forget to vote on our next Virtual Book Club selection here.)

In the last couple of years, I have become a non-fiction addict. My reading these days is probably split evenly between non-fiction and fiction.

As a parent, I find non-fiction wonderful because it gives me so many ideas of how to make my children’s lives the best they can be, whether it’s at the dinner table or in the classroom. I love seeing how other parents have dealt with picky eating or music practice. And I find it very helpful to learn from the experts about how to teach my child new skills, whether it’s how to navigate a map or read the classics.

These are five of my favorites:

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billion

This book focuses specifically on the eating aspect of raising children and how French families differ from North American families. I loved how helpful it was, with lots of great advice for how to help children eat well, even when you’re raising them in a North American food society that is full of junk food, snacking, and eating out.

I was so inspired and empowered after reading this book (of course, my daughter had soda and animal crackers today for lunch, so I might possibly need to read it again. Or at least make some healthier crackers).

There are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith

Have you heard of Rafe Esquith? He’s a fifth grade teacher in an inner-city school in LA and his classes have been doing almost miraculous things for nearly twenty years. I’ve read all his books and this is my favorite. It’s so inspiring to see how he helps these kids, many of them being raised in unbelievably dysfunctional home situations, learn to love school and see a new future for themselves at the best schools in the world.

This book, I think, is the most useful for parents (some of them are geared more toward teachers) and while you may finish the book thinking that Esquith is some sort of no-sleep-needing superhero, there are so many ideas for how to enrich your child’s education both at home and school.

First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents by Bonnie Angelo

This is a fascinating book about the childhoods of eleven presidents (from FDR to Bill Clinton) and how their relationships with their mothers helped mold them into the men that would become president. Each chapter is filled with fascinating stories and Angelo does a great job drawing parallels between their upbringings, even though these eleven men come from WILDLY different backgrounds; some rich, some poor, some with strong extended families, others with single mothers.  This appeals to the history buff in me as well as the parent. Just fascinating reading.

Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy

Lenore Skenazy came under fire when she wrote an article about how she let her nine year old son ride the New York subway by himself. This book is her response. It’s so easy to feel like your child is in constant danger of being snatched from your front yard, with all the media reporting any time something horrible happens to children, and I certainly suffer from some of this paranoia myself.

I loved her practical approach to helping parents let their children discover their independence and develop the skills they need to take care of themselves. I was really inspired also by her descriptions of how letting your children do things on their own really gives them a sense of pride and purpose.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

People have strong opinions about this book, and I happen to fall on the “loved it!” side of the spectrum. I’m not taking Chau as my parenting role model, but her book did make me think about many of my own views on parenting and how to treat my children, especially when we disagree about things. I picked this one for my book club last year and we had a great discussion on it.

Question of the day: 

What’s the one parenting book (or book about parents and children) you’d recommend to your best friend? (Speaking of books – don’t forget to vote on our next Virtual Book Club selection here.)


Want more great reads?  Check out the book nook.



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