Serendipity is one of my favourite things about the library. It happens all of the time around here – a customer says that they just finished watching a great documentary about bees and then six Sherlock Holmes (who was a beekeeper!) books are returned. I’m never sure why this happens but it’s like good fortune shines upon the library all of the time.
It can also happen with deliveries of new books, where several books will feature beautiful flowers on the cover, although the topics are not at all related. On many occasions we receive material about a particular subject because it has become so popular like with the Keto diet or when the hygge concept hit in 2016. I like it best when we have similar material arriving in our delivery but it is unrelated to a trend. Recently this happened with some gorgeous new parenting books. Their value is truly evergreen – my mother used to say that it’s impossible to stop worrying about your kids. Here are two fantastic books about parenting that might help (a bit) with that.
In her 2012 book, Teach Your Children Well, Madeline Levine was reporting that our fixation on higher test scores, over-scheduled kids and a focus on competition did not make for happier families or successful kids. With Ready Or Not : teaching your kids to succeed in an uncertain and rapidly changing world she further expands on this theme with more research to back it up. She isn’t blaming parents any more than she did in her previous book – thank goodness – she spreads her responsibility among parents, the education system, and our short-sighted vision that sheltering children from disappointment is the best approach.
In Ready or Not, she provides concrete ways that families can start to turn the tide and some of her suggestions sound a lot like things our own parents would have had us doing, in fact they read like a blueprint for the older generation’s conversations about age-appropriate chores and responsibilities when our kids were little, but it does give this book a more hopeful tone. Knowing that there are steps you can take always feels good. Madeline Levine is a child psychologist with decades of experience in the field and the book feels reassuring in this age where the news cycle is no longer limited to what you see when you open the newspaper. Who doesn’t deserve a little bit of comfort once in a while?
In The Kids Are In Bed, Rachel Bertsche is writing about parenting in a very different way from Madeline Levine. Her experience isn’t from 25+ years in clinical practice with children and families, instead it is as a parent and a magazine writer for Oprah and Parents. And she is looking at it from the “fasten your oxygen mask before your child’s” camp. Her book is similar in some ways to the first few books of Gretchen Rubin, of finding an opportunity to value those small moments of happiness, but Rachel is so funny and real. This book is like having a conversation with the friend that you always make time for because you just can’t miss it – the friend that makes you laugh so much you are refreshed after a coffee date. There are personal anecdotes and references to current research which support her main thought that parents need to remind themselves that they are doing enough. This is a practical (but never dry) book with the author making suggestions for how someone could carve out the time to be creative, enjoy spending time with friends, search for the perfect coffee shop, but it is also encouraging. Reading the book feels so good at any stage in the parenting journey even though this might seem like something for younger parents because the cover includes the words “kids” and “in bed”. Parenting guilt doesn’t end once they can go upstairs and brush their teeth on their own and a chapter or two with Rachel will help make some of the stress feel a little better.
As Madeline Levine writes it is “an uncertain and rapidly changing world” and using the resources of the library to try to keep up is a pleasure and a convenience no matter where you are in your parenting life – plus we have fantastic FREE library programs to encourage kids and families of all ages to have fun at the library. We receive new books, CDs, DVDs and magazines every week so whether you are trying to teach your kids to succeed as Madeline suggests or find time to be creative as Rachel encourages us to do the library has something for everyone.
— Penny M.